Monday, March 25, 2013

Become an Agent #14

Title: Pot and Prejudice
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Word Count: 85,000

Sixteen-year-old Sapphire Bennet is so sick of her hippie parents she could puke, but then the family pot-growing business gets busted and everything changes in that one instant as they are sent to jail.

Now Sapphire and her little sister, Junie, have to move in with their aunt in Portland. City life is new and exciting, but Sapphire keeps running into snobby Patrick, who she just knows talked his friend into breaking her hometown best friend’s heart. Then Junie runs away and Sapphire feels like it is all her fault. She can’t believe it when Patrick ends up helping her find her little sister.

She almost starts liking him, too, until she gets wind of a rumor from an old family friend of Patrick’s that forces her to remember what a jerk he is. When, out of nowhere, he asks her out, Sapphire tells Patrick off big time. But then he surprises her with an email explaining his side of the story. Slowly Sapphire realizes she was so wrong about him, and just about everything else. Now it’s up to her to fix things with Patrick and try to get her family back, but is it too late?


  1. No - too vague and a bit confusing. Some clarification and remove the questions will help what promises to be a great premise!

  2. No. There's a lot going on here, and to me this query reads a little more like a synopsis than it should. You tell us SO much of the story - what I assume are the main plot points as this (if I'm reading it correctly) is a loose modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice. So let's start with that. In Austen's version, the book boils down to marriage and choosing a husband. Elizabeth's goal is to choose for herself, and even decide whether or not marriage is something she wants. I assume, since this is YA we're not talking about marriage, but what is it your MC wants? To find her sister? But that seems to come in later in the plot.

    I would also consider pitching it as the P&P retelling. That lets us know exactly what we're dealing with, and you could instead focus on what makes yours different.

  3. No. I like the opening comment about wanting to puke - that gives a good feel for the voice, but I feel that there's too much information for a query here. Try tightening it up, and I think you'll have something.

  4. I'm voting No as well because of the rapid-fire sequence of events. Consider focusing on the main conflict and taking out the details. Good luck!

  5. No but not due to the storyline. I liked it very much. But the query is wordy and a bit clunky. I’d look at the stuff you don’t need and cut them.

    Example: “She almost starts liking him, too, until she gets wind of a rumor from an old family friend of Patrick’s that forces her to remember what a jerk he is.”
    Edit this to: “She decides he isn’t so bad after all until a rumor changes her mind.”

    IMHO too much information spoils a query.

    CD Coffelt ponders at Spirit Called
    And critiques at UnicornBell

  6. No, but if I had an alternate, this would be it :) It does read more like a synopsis, and I'm not seeing much of Sapphire's character come through. Details are fine in my book, so long as they illustrate perfectly the central theme of the book. The last line about saving her family felt kind of thrown in as a last though, but the rest of it focused on Patrick, which threw me a bit too.

  7. No. The voice seems forced and inconsistent. For example: "She almost starts liking him" sounds young for 16. Also, this reads more like a mini-synopsis than a query letter.

  8. I'm on the edge of saying yes. Great adaptation idea of a classic storyline.

    "City life is new and exciting, but Sapphire keeps running into snobby Patrick, who she just knows talked his friend into breaking her hometown best friend’s heart." This sentence has too much going on. Try breaking it up.

    "She almost starts liking him, too, until she gets wind of a rumor from an old family friend of Patrick’s that forces her to remember what a jerk he is." This line starts off well but then fizzles out with a generic explanation. A little more detail would convince me that there is a solid conflict going on between them, aside from his earlier snobbery.

    Otherwise, good job.

  9. This is a no for me; as someone implied above, the voice is a little juvenile for a contemporary romance. As well, protagonists who rely only on rumors generally aren't logical enough to root for. Having said that, I've not read the source material, but I'm sure there's more to THIS story that can be brought into greater focus to set it apart.

  10. Yes, I love the storyline, it sounds interesting and you've got me wanting to read more. I like the information you're giving but I'm not crazy about how it's set up, it seems like a lot of 'and then this happens, and then this'. If you could keep the same information but tighten it up a bit, I think you'd have a real winner!

  11. The last part of the first paragraph felt like the voice vanished. You could cut 'in that one instant' and try to get some more playfulness into that line.

    Why not use 'prejudiced' instead of 'talked his friend into'? ...who she just knows prejudiced his friend into breaking her hometown friend's heart. That would be easier to read. It seems like you were trying to avoid the title word instead of taking advantage of it.

    The 'pot' part of the story sort of disappears from the query. I'd love to see that brought up again at the end.

    This query reads a little synopsis-like to me. First this happens, than this. Most of us know the plot from P&P. Worry less about what happens when and more about getting in the voice you have in the first line.

    I do love P&P and this sounds like something I would grab off the shelf. But the query needs a little more of that Lizzie Bennet snap.


    When the family pot-growing business gets busted and sixteen-year-old Sapphire Bennet’s hippie parents are sent to jail, Sapphire’s resolve to study law only grows stronger.

    Now she and her little sister, Juniper, are shipped off from rural Oregon to Portland. City life is pretty cool, but Sapphire keeps running into snobby Patrick D’Archie, who has been prejudiced against her ever since they met at Barter Fair in her hometown. She can’t even avoid Patrick at the groovy bookstore where she’s trying to get a job as a barista. But when Juniper runs away on her second day at public school, Sapphire kind of freaks out and, shockingly, it’s Patrick who ends up helping her figure out where to look for her.

    Sapphire starts to think he’s not so bad…yeah, until she finds out that he lied to the cops two years ago, causing the wrongful arrest of an old D’Archie family friend. The day after she hears this rumor, Patrick surprises Sapphire by asking her out. She totally tells him off, of course. So, when he responds to all of her accusations with a very long email, Sapphire can’t even believe it. Only after she finally chills out does Sapphire really read what it says and admit that she was wrong about more than Just Patrick. What follows is an unlikely romance that Sapphire never saw coming.

    POT AND PREJUDICE is a modern day retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice complete at 85,000 words.

    1. I like the way this starts. We get a better understanding of who Sapphire is, what she believes in, what she wants. A lawyer type with potheads for parents - it's amusing. Second paragraph works really nice, we get some back story, some sense of the world they live in, and conflict - Juniper runs away. (I might change the "Sapphire kind of freaks out" about this to something stronger. If my sister ran away, I'd be panicked)

      Middle of the 3rd paragraph still needs a little bit of work, though. You can tell us that she begins to trust him because he's helping her find her sister, we couldn't blame her for that, but I'm unconvinced that we need the bit about him asking her out and her telling him off. It's Pride and Prejudice, we know that happens, so maybe leave us some of the mystery to be imagined. If the main conflict in the book is finding her sister, bring the focus back to that. In the original, the main conflict was finding husbands before Mr. Bennet died and the estate went to Mr. Collins. It doesn't sound like that's the case here, so bring that conflict with the sister back to center stage. What are the risks if she doesn't find her? Maybe there are risks to trusting Patrick to help her find her? I do think you're almost there, the end of that last paragraph just needs a bit more tweaking.

  13. I like the opening, but I feel like the 'Sapphire's resolve to study law grows stronger' is a bit out of place. Something along the lines of 'Sapphire decides to study law to bust them out' (that's really rough) would work better.

    After reading this, I feel like this is more of a synopsis than a query.And it also begs the question: Did they ever find the runaway sister? That was never clarified. What are the stakes, where is the danger/sense of excitement? What does her resolve to become a lawyer have to do with anything?

    From your hook, I was expecting a slightly different kind of story. But that aside, I think you're telling too much in your query. A query should end near the climax...yours goes all the way to the resolution.

    Hope this helps.
    Oh, and I love your voice throughout your query. It's very groovy.