Monday, March 25, 2013

Become an Agent #11

Title: Jacob's Ladder
Genre: MG Fantasy
Word Count: 57,000

Sixth-grade loner Jacob Tsosie already knows that string games like cat’s cradle are mystical and even dangerous. After all, Navajos like Jacob have a taboo against playing them in the summer. If you do, the stories say, spiders will glue your eyelids shut. Or maybe pee on you.

But even Jacob can't believe string figures can be used to do magic, until he sees "Stringcasting" for himself. When he’s with the other Stringcaster kids, Jacob finally feels like he's part of something special. But Stringcasting isn’t all levitating and making it rain. Worse than urinating spiders, there are dark Stringcasters, and their leader Belinda is using a “spellbinding” theater show to steal kids' natural magic, taking away their creativity and ability to dream. Determined to help stop her, Jacob tries to sabotage the show. That’s when he finds out who Belinda really is, and becomes her next target.

Now Jacob and his new friends are on the run. They have to learn as much as they can—as fast as they can—and try to stop the show before they’re caught. If they don’t, they’ll lose their magic forever; they could even lose their lives.

JACOB’S LADDER is complete at 57,000 words and has series potential. Those readers who would like to learn “Stringcasting” along with the characters can take advantage of simple instructions included in the footnotes to make the various string figures mentioned in the text. I am a member of the International String Figure Association, and a Children’s Storyteller. Thank you for your time and consideration.


  1. YES! I love this premise and think the query is solid and clean. Great job!

    One thing to consider is the voice... seems like the query is written a little older than MG? This might suggest the book is written this way as well, which may be a turn off for some MG agents.

  2. Yes. This is a really unique and intriguing concept. You do a good job of showing what I presume is the book's tone - it's funny, while still being mystical and mysterious and tension-filled. I do, however, think you can make this a little stronger by removing that last paragraph --> "Now Jacob and his new friends are on the run. They have to learn as much as they can—as fast as they can—and try to stop the show before they’re caught. If they don’t, they’ll lose their magic forever; they could even lose their lives."
    For some reason, for me it really dissolved the tension, whereas ending it on trying to sabotage the show and Belinda's connection to him just wraps it up in wonderful mystery. I want to read on.

  3. Yes! I find the premise very intriguing. I think I'd leave out the paragraph, "Now Jacob and his new friends are on the run..." The tension is better without it.

  4. Yes. Hooked to a T. Or H, maybe. Great Voice. I’d cut a few extraneous words like ‘already’ in the first line and a couple of passive verbs. But other than a little tightening, excellent reading material.

    CD Coffelt ponders at Spirit Called
    And critiques at UnicornBell

  5. I like the humor in this, and it has an interesting and unique premise. My only gripe would be that I didn't get much sense of personality from Jacob, except for adjectives like 'loner' which is telling. I'd love to see you show some of his personality in the third paragraph, maybe with some more Navajo flavor.

    Yes vote.

  6. If I could have had 4 yes-es, then this one would have passed. The query is well-written, however, the last paragraph fizzles a little. This is where some detail about what's at stake would come in handy.

  7. Yes. I agree with others about removing the last paragraph and needing a bit more about the protagonist, but the unique premise has so much potential that I'm mentally imagining a YA sequel as I write this. Well done!

  8. No, I like the involvement you've mentioned in the last paragraph, but throughout the query I felt myself very confused. I'm still not really sure what the story is about.

  9. No. I'm intrigued, but sort of confused about what these kids' magic entails and who Jacob really is as a person. I love the concept of cats-cradle being magical, but I'm having a hard time picturing it. Also, as others have mentioned, there is a lack of voice here.

  10. Congrats on 2nd place! I like the simplicity of the story, like in Neverending Story, where the issue was that kids had stopped reading, so the world in the book was dying.