Saturday, December 4, 2010

#24 YA Urban Fantasy: Ink Wash (BAKER'S DOZEN AGENT AUCTION)

TITLE: Ink Wash
GENRE: YA Urban Fantasy

Sixteen-year-old Katie moves to Japan and crosses paths with her school's arrogant and gorgeous kendo star, whose drawings come to life in sinister ways. When Yakuza gangsters hone in on Tomohiro's dark talent, Katie has to decide whether to stay away from the one person who's come to understand her, or to face running from the Yakuza--and from an even more dangerous gang that holds the key to Tomohiro's abilities.

I made it halfway across the courtyard before I realized I was still wearing my school slippers. No lie. I had to turn around and slink all the way back to the genkan, the stifled laughs from other students trailing me as I mustered what slippered dignity I could.

God, way to scream foreigner. I hoped it didn't get around.

I pulled open the door and lifted myself onto the raised wooden floor, sliding between the rows and rows of shoe cubbies looking for mine. It wasn't hard to find--it was the only one with a pair of leather shoes sticking out approximately a mile, surrounded by the neatly tucked-away slippers in everyone else's boxes.

As I reached for my shoes, a girl's high and whiny voice echoed from the hallway, muffled by the sliding door. I rolled my eyes--yet more drama. I pulled off the first slipper and then the other, clunking my shoes onto the floor and sliding my feet in.

And then the genkan door slid open with a crash.

I crouched down, jolted by the footsteps stomping towards me. I did not want in on this performance.

The girl's voice rapidly churned out Japanese words I didn't know yet. I caught a particle here and a past tense there, but I could only make out one thing--she was seriously pissed.

And she was definitely ranting and raving at somebody.

I peeked around the wall of cubbies, hugging the wooden frame so they wouldn't see me.


  1. Love the voice here. Didn't know what kendo was, so I watched a youtube clip. :) I like how your MS clues me in to another culture.

    I got a great feeling for the setting in these few words and felt grounded.

    Funniest line for me: "God, way to scream foreigner."

    At the end, I thought you might not need the 2nd to last sentence about ranting and raving. Unless your MC can see the other person, it may be a POV issue, and the "she was seriously pissed" line before it took care of the overall effect.

    Best of luck!

  2. I love your setting - you did a great job putting me there. I'd definitely read more, too.

  3. Um, towards doesn't have an "s" on the end. Sorry, this is the only thing I can come up with here. The rest is great!

  4. Uh, Holly, towards is a perfectly acceptable spelling of toward - it's the writer's (or the publisher's) choice.

  5. Great log line, though you might say 'facing the yakuza' rather than face running from them. You want your MC to be brave.

    Perhaps she can climb up onto the raised wooden floor. You can't really lift yourself.

    Parg 5 - maybe cut 'and then' which will turn a passive sentence into an active one.

    All nitpicky comments because the excerpt works really well.

    My two cents on toward and towards - I was always taught it was toward, and the example always given was, you wouldn't go 'backs' to someone, so you wouldn't go towards them either. Somewhere along the line, I read that in America it should be toward. In England it's towards. Have no idea if it's true or not, but think that in all likelihood, it probably doesn't matter today. It's probably in the same category as alright and all right.

  6. Love the premise, and the writing and voice are solid! Japanese culture has always intrigued me, and I was able to visualize everything very well.

    Log line works for me, too. :)

  7. I really liked the logline and excerpt. Great job!

    I agree with Barbara that "face running from" really doesn't work in the logline. I also felt it went on too long. How about: "...or to face the dangerous gang that holds the key to Tomohiro's abilities." Mentioning two gangs gets a bit confusing. Just a thought.

    I felt let down at the end that no conflict had actually happened, but I would definitely read more.

  8. Love it. I was just wondering if shoes shouldn't be "They weren't hard to find" but I might be mistaken there.

  9. I like that this takes something so small as leaving your slippers on when going outside and makes a big deal of it. It may not seem like a big deal to Americans, but as someone who made this mistake while I was teaching in Japan,it's a huge deal. This little detail adds a lot of credibility to the author's voice and this story. Either this author has been to Japan, or has done a lot of research. I'd definitely keep reading just to see what other mishaps the foreigner gets into. And to see if there's as much detail/accuracy when it comes to kendo, since I studied that a bit as well.

  10. Logline:
    Interesting! This is unlike anything I've seen out there before!

    Line comments:
    -"way to scream" seemed a bit ambiguous

    -Loved it. This is great. What an interesting setting and cool conflict. This is definitely something I'd like to read.

  11. The logline makes the book sound realy interesting, though it could do with tightening a bit for clarity (is Tomohiro 'the one person who's come to understand her'?). I like the voice and writing on the first page, but I think you take too long to not say very much, I want to get on and find out what the argument's about. Still want to read more though.

  12. Oh, what the hell? 25 pages.

    Danielle Chiotti, Upstart Crow Literary

  13. I bid 30 pages.

    Laura Bradford
    Bradford Literary Agency

  14. 40

    Laura Bradford


  16. Love it! I'm hooked by stories that know what they're doing with Asian settings, so to see Japanese culture so seamlessly woven in is nice. I'm hooked.

    Except that I do wonder about the yakuza getting involved. Sure, we don't have a whole lot of yakuza stories here in the US, but we have plenty of mob stories, and that's what the yakuza are. So the novelty (as in, there aren't enough stories set in Japan) of the setting would need to outweigh the slight cliche-ness of a mob story.

    And you do that with the drawings-coming-to-life in the logline, so I'd want to read more to find out. Though I'm not sure why this is from her point of view if it's her friend that has the magical talent. In what "sinister ways" do his drawings come to life? Be more specific. But also be aware that best-selling author Brandon Sanderson just sold a book to Tor that uses the same concept with chalk drawings. The setting is much different, so it should be fine, but you should be aware of how high-profile books/movies can overshadow similar magic systems.

  17. By the way, I personally think this would be even more interesting if the main character were Japanese American (it's not specified) but not know a lot about Japanese culture, because the expectation of the Japanese would be that someone who looks Japanese would know better. (And, hint hint, it could be submitted to me if the main char. was a person of color.) But that may be too complicated, and the story may hinge on her being European-looking, for all I know. Just mentioning it, just in case.