Wednesday, September 12, 2012

CAGI Entry #51

Genre: YA fantasy
Word Count: 64,000


Sixteen-year-old Harper Page is the most closely-guarded secret of the Fellowship, the group that protects the world’s mythical creatures from discovery. (Except Bigfoot. That attention whore is a total lost cause.) Harper’s bloodline is so far on the down low, even she’s surprised to learn the truth. She’s half-human, half-muralet—a direct descendant of Mother Nature herself. The last descendant, actually. And her blood is the most magical thing this side of ever, increasing the powers of any creature who drinks it. Unfortunately, this means the power-hungry creeps who've made her an endangered species would really like to drain her of her performance-enhancing blood.
 At least there's an upside: Seth, the mentor and protector who never lets her out of his sight. Which is fine by Harper, because, dear God, those dimples, and the way his dark eyes go all serious when he looks at her….Yeah, life in the Fellowship isn’t looking bad at all. But after groups of harpies and doppelgangers find ways to break through Seth's protection, Harper realizes even the Fellowship can't keep her safe anymore. If she can't get her magic up to speed and figure out who she can trust, she’ll end up dead and discarded like every muralet before her.
First 250:
It’s the third day in a row Sam’s driven us home, and the third day the ducks have decided to cross the road just as we’re coming up on the last curve before our house. I’m certain they lie in wait until they see our car coming. Sam can’t stand it. He pulls the car to a stop and flops back in his seat with a huff as the ducks wobble past. I don’t mind. I think it’s nice to slow down every now and then.

The wind picks up and a collection of leaves catches my eye, lifting and trailing through the air. I watch them dance, swirling through the overgrown weeds at the edge of the road and leaping across a fence. A lone tree rises from the field on the other side. The leaves spiral toward it and then dash upward. As I follow them, I catch sight of something else. The curve of the branches, the gathering of the leaves, the shadowing of the sunlight—

I grab Sam’s arm. “What is that?”


“That.” I point toward the tree. 

He leans forward, following my finger. “It’s a tree, Harper.”

“No. Hang on. Let me find it again.” The car lurches forward. “Wait! Give me a second.”

Sam sighs and turns the wheel to the right, driving until the car sinks into the grass. I ignore the attitude. It’s not like I’m holding up traffic. There are three cars that travel this far down this old, one-lane road, and the other two belong to our parents.


  1. I like the query - it sounds like a good story! Maybe we could get more of a sense of what Harper wants? I definitely like the bit about bigfoot. (Sorry I'm not that flash with query advice.)

    Ducks crossing the road is a little at odds with the rest - somehow, I expected it to start with more of a bang. The query sounded so interesting and I kind of though. Oh. Ducks. There's nothing wrong with the writing - I think that's definitely well done. Maybe you could start straight up with the thing she's seeing - perhaps that could work? (Also seeing as I'm the first comment others might totally disagree).

  2. I heart the ducks. I remember this from WOC and the ducks got a LOT of attention there, too. I lived on a farm for a lot of my life so stopping on a road to let ducks go by was really common and I love that this detail is in here. It really throws me back to my farmlife days and makes me want to keep reading to find out more about their life.

    And Bigfoot! Wonderful quirk in an awesome query.

  3. I LOVE your opening!! This was one of the few entries both here and at WriteOnCon that made me laugh out loud. (And you made me do it twice!)

    I love how your sense of humor comes through in your writing. And the last part of your opening had me intrigued and I definitely want to read more.

    If I were an agent I would totally request this! Great job and good luck!

  4. I also stalked this query at WriteOnCon. I loved the query then and I love it now. There is SO much voice in it that it just hooks you right in. I, personally, like the duck part too, but I live on a farm on a one lane road that only three cars drive down, so maybe I am an exception :) Now, the one thing I think is that Harper's voice doens't come across as well in the first 250 as it did in the query. First she is all like, "Bigfoot is an attention whore" then she says "I like to slow down once in a while", its like she goes from sarcastic funny to hippie. I feel like a single voice-y comment about the ducks would pretty much clear it up for me.
    Best of luck!!

  5. Ducks. You love 'em, or you hate 'em. I think it's a simple thing that really shows how rural they are, without going into a full paragraph of description. I love the voice in the query, and the very simple, laid back introduction in the 250. We know things are going to happen, and this sample does a good job of letting us know how much things will change.

    Also, Seth is the hottest thing EVER.

  6. I agree with Jess Montgomery above me. I think your query has a lot of voice, but I don't think your 250 come off the same. It's beautiful writing, don't get me wrong and I really like your query a lot, Meg, but I just wish there was some semblence of gorge writing in your query to allow the future agent to be prepared for the writing in the first 5 pages. I don't know...maybe we could get a voice-y comment in the first 250 words or some of Harper's snark. I also was a little confused who Sam was - her brother? her friend? I'd love a little bit of clarification on that. Other than that...LOVE IT and can't wait to see the agents arguing over it :)

  7. I don't have much useful to say about this. I love the query - the voice, the descriptions everything is so fantastic!

    I like the ducks in the first 250, because it seems like they show what Harper's mindset is at that moment, that they're the ordinary world which is rapidly going to change and become extraordinary. It's a really cool set up. I just love all of it!

  8. I saw this at WriteOnCon, too. Loved it then, love it now! The query has great voice, the premise is intriguing, and somehow in one sentence I have a crush on Seth. ;)

    I really like the tone of the first 250. It has just a hint of something eerie. I also love the dynamic between Harper and Sam, and even though I read the first 5 pages at WOC, I'm still wondering what the heck she sees in the tree! I would totally read on. Good luck!!

  9. Ok, so I love the query line about Bigfoot and also the entire concept of a descendant of Mother Nature. Every time I read it, I'm like, why hasn't someone written this before? And then I remember, it was waiting for you to write it. I do love the voice of the query and the snark but I can see what Rachel is saying about it not quite matching the first 250, but then again it's just the first 250. I also vote for keeping the ducks, very interesting little tidbit, makes me curious right away about the "coincidence" of them doing that. Great entry, beautiful writing, and unique premise. Love it!

  10. Ack! I'm dying know what she saw. I sooo want to keep reading. Like seriously, do you need a beta? I really like this--premise, query, 250. I'm trying to think of something to critique just to be helpful, but I'm coming up short. Great job!

    P.s.--WHAT'S IN THE TREE? Seriously, I need to know!

    Amber (entry #1)

  11. This is so good. The Bigfoot line made me laugh. Awesome stuff! Good luck! This is really great.

  12. Just chiming in on the ducks: I like them. I think that line gives a good idea of the setting without talking going on about the setting, if you know what I mean?

    I saw a couple comments about adding a line of Harper's funny/snarky voice in the first 250 to connect better to the query, and I think that's a good idea since Harper's voice is so great, but I love it in general!

  13. This is great! I already heart Seth, and it totally sounds like something I'd read. In fact, it sounds a little like the PARANORMALCY series (have you read it?).

    One thing I'd like to bring up: Does Sam remain an important character? Because Seth and Sam are very similar names and it may become confusing for us skim readers if we have to deal with two short names that start with the same letter. Just a little something to think about.

    Good luck!

  14. Great voice! I love how she is fascinated with nature. It ties in her connection to Mother Nature without directly stating it.

  15. This is already a really tight query, and I love the Big Foot line. I'll admit, we see a lot of supernatural secret societies in the query inbox, but your voice makes this one really stand out from the rest.

    My main concern is that we don't get much of a sense of who Harper is as a person from the query. I'd like to know a little more about her life before she discovers this truth about herself. There's a lot of inf about the Fellowship and her mentor, which is great - I get a good idea of the stakes - but I kinda want to know more about who she is too. We don't need a ton of info, but maybe a line or two about who she is and what she cares about/wants?

    I really liked the opening 250 words (again, the voice is great), but I was confused by who Sam was. He isn't mentioned in the query (and since Sam is similar to Seth, I first thought it was Seth driving). I'm sure it's explained in the next few pages, but I wonder if he can be worked into the query too, somehow, to avoid confusion. But overall, this is great!

    1. Just read the other comments, and I'll add that I liked the ducks. It immediately told me they weren't in the middle of a big city, but somewhere more rural.

  16. Loved the voice of the query. I also thought the ducks was an offbeat way to show setting. It was a vivid 250 words. Best of luck.

    1. Oh - adding one more thing. I love the word muralet. :)