Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Surprise Agent Invasion #34

Genre: YA Alternate Historical 
Word Count: 89,000


A one-way trip to Gallows Point.  That’s what sixteen-year-old Beatrix will inherit when she’s named “next-of-kin” to her grandfather, a notoriously brutal pirate who eluded capture his whole life.  In accordance with the Transgressions of Pirates decree, no act of piracy goes unpunished.

Landlubber Beatrix would much rather sketch a square-rigged ship from the safety of her drawing room than set sail on one.  She’s out of harm’s way only because there is someone standing between her and the hangman: her father, the current next-of-kin.  A sea captain in his own right, he’s proving to be just as elusive as her pirating grandfather.  But when a weathered old sailor arrives with news that her father is missing, presumed dead, and she will soon be named next-of-kin, she's forced to seek refuge on her father’s old ship.

Standing upright and hanging onto the contents of her stomach are the least of Beatrix’s problems.  The man who replaced her father as captain has yet to look her in the eye, the hardened crew can barely disguise their contempt for her, and ever since someone broke into her quarters, she has been sure the traitor responsible for her father's disappearance is hiding in their midst.  Her only hope for an ally is Boone, a young jack-of-all-trades who was given the dreaded punishment of keeping an eye on her.  If she can earn his respect on the ropes, then maybe he'll help her spy on the suspicious captain and teach her to wield a dagger.  Because until she uncovers the traitor's plot, she's a sitting duck like her father was before her; and those ominous, black sails growing on the horizon are telling her that time is running out.  

First 250:

A man on horseback was in their path of retreat. 

Beatrix was used to keeping her head down in Sheepshank, so she felt Miss Black tense up beside her before lifting her eyes and spotting him where the cobblestones turned to packed earth.  He hardly seemed a threat, but Miss Black considered everyone a threat.  Even ruddy-cheeked, barrel-chested men who couldn’t keep their periwigs on straight. 

“Hallo there, Miss Black,” he called, approaching at a trot.  Oily black curls bounced beneath his wide-brimmed planter’s hat; his orange feather plume sagged upon his shoulder.  His clothes were smartly tailored, his stockings freshly bleached, and he wore a long formal coat that was ill-suited to the heavy heat of the afternoon. 

Just the sight of it made Beatrix reach for the waxy leaf she had folded into her skirt pocket, but with one small noise of disapproval from Miss Black, she came up empty handed.  She was too old to be fanning herself with banana leaves.  Now was not the time to draw unwanted attention by acting like one of the ratty boys who ran around the docks. 

“Good day, Mr. Reed,” Miss Black greeted.

He doffed his hat but didn’t bother to dismount.  “Headed to the trial, are you?”  
They were, in fact, headed in the opposite direction of the courthouse.  Beatrix wasn’t sure if Mr. Reed had weak powers of deduction or if he was merely too distracted by Miss Black’s figure to notice.  His eyes seemed to be traveling the length of her. 

Miss Black gave him a tight-lipped smile.


  1. The writing in your sample was certainly quite good. You introduced items like the banana leaf, the docks, the planter's hat to quickly create a sense of the place. But as I've noted in other opening pages, I suggest making it about the main character. You mention her keeping her head down, but from then on, she isn't really mentioned, it's more about the interaction between Ms. Black and the man on horseback. I like that first page in give us a sense of your main character and this gave us a bit but could go better.

    I hope my comments make some sense! Good work and best of luck!

    But though I think there could be potential here, and it sounds like you've got a nice touch with light humor, the query didn't give us a really compelling plot. The main character takes refuge on her father's old ship where (understandably), the crew isn't too taken with her. There seems to be a bit of danger lurking about, but it's muted, since someone simply broke into her cabin, there wasn't an attempt on her life. I just wasn't seeing the storyline as all that riveting. Not a strong romance plot, the danger is very understated and the emphasis was on whether she was or was not accepted and respected by the crew. If this isn't really reflective of the crux of your story, I'd refocus the query.

  2. Would love to see more. Please send query, synopsis and full to Esubmissions (at) SarahJanefreymann (dot) com.

  3. I adore the hook, especially that a 16 year old would be held accountable for the crimes of her Grandfather. I am hoping for romance and some reluctant swashbuckling on the heroine's part. It isn't totally clear from the blurb how much adventure is in this, but I hope it's A LOT. I'd love to see the 1st 100 pages + synopsis hardcopy. My mailing address is on my website, www.bradfordlit.com

  4. I'm not usually one for historical fiction of any kind, but this has certainly caught my interest. Wondering if it's a bit of a throw-back to The True Confessions Of Charlotte Doyle by Avi? Please send the full manuscript via email attachment as a Word file to alison (at) therightsfactory (dot) com. Looking forward to reading!

  5. This sounds really interesting, and I was also taken with the idea that she's held accountable for family crimes. I do think your query needs some clarification about the central conflict, and the first page doesn't seem to open in quite the right place, but I like your writing. I'd love to see more. Please send the first 50 pages, attached as a Word document (.doc), to submissions@fullcircleliterary.com. In the subject line, please include my name and Agent Invasion. Looking forward to hearing from you!
    All my best,
    Taylor Martindale
    Full Circle Literary