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If you followed a link here from a comment I made on somebody's google blog, I would love to have you visit my blog, but this is no longer it. While I may occasionally post things here again once in a long while, virtually all my content will be at www.labyrinthrat.com from here on out. If you were curious enough to come this far, why not give me one more click?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

I Has a Pitch

Many adolescents feel invisible, like nobody sees or notices them. But for fourteen-year-old Chris Westbrook, it’s literally true. Chris has the ability to blend in, to completely escape notice when he wants to. When his drifter father and his “Uncle” Danny, a petty con-man with delusions of grandeur, find out about his ability, they are only too happy to use Chris in their grifts. After Chris is forced to take part in one particularly nasty scam, he decides he must get free of the two men--but not before trying to beat them to one final score.


Vanishing Act, my completed 100,000 word Young Adult Modern Fantasy novel, is the story of Chris’s struggle to escape from an abusive life and find a real family--one rooted in love, not opportunism. It will appeal to readers of all ages who enjoy stories with a speculative fiction element about young people trying to take control of their own lives, such as those who enjoyed Steven Gould’s Jumper and Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonsong.


In fifteen years as a teacher of students ranging from sixth grade to college freshmen, I have worked with nearly two thousand young people and developed a sense for what issues matter most to them, such as control of their lives, their bonds within their families and communities, and their sense of justice. I believe Vanishing Act addresses these themes in a way adolescents will find compelling.



I also has one more chapter, but I've got to run. I'll blog about it later.

Only the epilogue left to go!

EDIT: Fixed the formatting glitches. Dang Blogger's interface can be annoying at times.

7 comments:

bish said...

"ability to blend in, to completely escape notice when he wants to."

brilliant. it would have been so easy to use invisible. thank you for giving your reader some credit. i like writers who assume their readers have a brain. Somw writers write for idiots.

I digress.

Nice work.

A Paperback Writer said...

Oh, is invisibility how this work is fantasy, then? I couldn't tell from the pitch, so I was just about to ask -- until I read bish's comment. I guess I'm one without a brain in bish's description then -- because the opening paragraph sounded like a suspense novel to me.
This potential query letter flows nicely, though. sorry I got confused.
I just dropped over to your blog because you said you'd been over to mine. It's nice to see another teacher who writes. Do you use your students as beta readers? I do. Kids'll do anything for a few points of extra credit..... :)

Joe Iriarte said...

Hey paperback! Yeah, his disappearing/invisibility is the fantasy element. I didn't call it disappearing because it's more of an effect on people's perceptions. Like if he does it while standing in a crowd, nobody will bump into him. They'll accommodate him and walk around him, but never consciously notice having seen him.

Sorry for not posting when I visited your site; I'm still a blog newbie. I basically was like, "I recognize this person--let me go see who she is."

I have a lot of online friends who live in Utah. Are you by chance a fan of Orson Scott Card?

Joe Iriarte said...

Oh, I haven't used students as beta readers yet. Maybe if I get in a situation where I have a reasonably polished draft (I'm still somewhere between first and second on this one). I worry, though, because my community, as much as I love it, can be a bit on the uptight side. I worry about it if I have my kids read stuff with cursing or with something their parents decide is inappropriate. I might consider picking very trusted kids, and not just opening it up to my classes at large.

Sprizouse said...

Your query sounds interesting. I think you're missing the chance to really nail it though. Firstly, get rid of the passive voice and use more vivid words; the query isn't going to young adults after all.

How I'd write it:

"...petty con-man with delusions of grandeur discover his ability, they press-gang Chris into assisting with their grifting. (Too young to survive without supervision... unable to escape their anti-disappearing ray-gun?) Chris follows orders but a nasty scam ensues (that bankrupts a church? leaves one person dead? injured?). Chris plots a desperate escape from the two men--but not before trying to beat them to one final score."

I think you need to explain how his dad and uncle are able to force him into their schemes if he can just disappear, a la Jumper. Also, outline the big conflict and reasons he wants out of Uncle/Dad's service.

Just my $0.02

Joe Iriarte said...

D'oh! Passive voice!

Thank you for pointing that out to me! I've already thought of a few other ways to tweak it. This is definitely a work-in-progress, so I very much appreciate the feedback.

Chris doesn't leave because he doesn't think he can survive on his own in the world. He has lived with his father as long as he can remember, and actually spends most of the novel desperately afraid of being abandoned. It's actually the threat of abandonment that his father and Danny (mostly Danny) use against him.

Sprizouse said...

I had a viciousl composition professor in college who constantly berated us for passive verb usage. I don't hate passive verbs like she does, but I do believe query letters sound better without 'em.


Either way she'd probably be horrified at this comment, which is definitely suffering from Muphry's (not Murphy's) Law:

If you complain about someone else's poor grammar, spelling or punctuation, your complaint will itself contain an error of grammar, spelling or punctuation.