Monday, August 2, 2010

Fancy Girl By Jasen Sousa Query Letter, Synopsis, and Introduction

Query Letter

Dear Prospective Literary Agent,

Fancy Girl is a young adult novel written in free verse about a 19-year-old single mother who is struggling to raise her daughter inside of the Mystic Housing Projects.

The novel is told from the perspective of Deanna Keight, the young female protagonist trying to find some sense of stability and morality for herself and her daughter in an unforgiving environment. This is a story of a young woman without any opportunity who tries to lift herself out of poverty by the only means she can find, selling her body.

Along the way she confronts violence and abuse, the drug addiction of a friend who brought her into the life, an attack and kidnapping by the father of her daughter, and the death of the one man who seemed to really care. By the end of the narrative she begins to discover who she really is and who she wants to be. This is a story not just about courage, but the maturing of self under the worst circumstances possible.

Fancy Girl is complete at 17, 132 words. I’m twenty-seven, and live in Somerville, MA. I have an M.F.A. from Pine Manor College in Writing for Children and Young Adults, and am the founder of a small press that publishes poetry books for young adult writers.

Thank you for your consideration. I hope to hear from you.

Kind Regards,

Jasen Sousa

Book Synopsis

Fancy Girl by Jasen Sousa is a lyrical urban tale comprised of a novel in free verse which tells the coming of age story of Deanna Keight, a teenage single mom who is struggling to raise her daughter Madelyn inside of the Mystic Housing Developments in Somerville, MA.

Without the support of her family members, Deanna finds herself alone and depressed trying to raiser her daughter, and find happiness inside of the gritty Somerville projects.

One day, Deanna is approached in the park by Alissa, a local neighborhood new breed of independent prostitute who offers to teach Deanna the tricks of the trade so she can save up enough money to move out of the projects, to get out of Somerville, and find peace in a new environment.

Without many options available, Deanna accepts Alissa’s offer as she is even more desperate to disappear from Somerville as she has recently found out that the father of her child, Machine Gun Mike, who is away doing time in jail, will be getting out earlier then expected. Machinegun Mike becomes enraged, and jealous after learning that Deanna has been selling herself, and has plans to come home and reunite with Deanna and Maddy so that they can be a family.

At night, Deanna leaves Maddy in the care of her elementary school crush, Johnny J, the only guy in her life that she trusts. Johnny J goes along with this plan at first as he sees it as a logical way for Deanna to save up enough money, but over time, his feelings for Deanna grow, and he becomes disgusted with the idea of sitting at home while strangers feel up every inch of her body.

Fancy Girl is the story of a young teenage mother living in an unforgiving environment, and her journey to do whatever she has to in order to secure a new, and better life for herself, and her daughter.

Introduction Sample


The Playground

Madelyn bursts,
like water out of a gutter,
down the slide, toes up,
and I sit watching her
on a wooden bench,
that’s what good mothers do.

Some girl, her heals sinking
in soggy woodchucks, still strutting
and I see it’s Alissa,
the one every Somerville guy
has on speed dial.

“You be Deanna, right? she asks.
“I be, different things, to different people,” I say.

She sits down next to me, and my wandering eyes. Short,
short skirt, and stockings, careful
not to let splinters stab her thighs.

Maddy smiles and waves
from the top of the slide, our project
building standing behind her.

“She’s beautiful,” Alissa says.
Maddy crash lands and says
to the older boy who plays
without anyone watching him,

“Bet you can’t go down faster than me!”

“She has your eyes.”
“She has my everything,” I say.
“She was lucky. Being born
with all of my beautiful genes,
not her father’s.”

“I heard things have been rough
for you lately with your mom dying
and all. If you’re looking for a way
to make some extra cash, I might be able to help
you out,” she says.
“I know it’s not easy to make it out here on these streets.”
“Plus, it gets lonely. I would love to have someone to hang with.”

The buildings of the Mystic Projects draw a shadow
over Alissa’s face, she looks away from me, sparks a Newport,
and blows smoke towards a setting Somerville sun.

A Number’s Game

Money’s not easy
to come by. I wonder
how having the lights
on for the entire month would be like?
Letting Maddy watch
her shows?

How hard could it be?
Guys do it all the time right?
That hit and run stuff. I just
need to leave my feelings at home.
I just need to think more like a guy,
and not have love be part of sex. Yup.

I could stack up the money
faster, get Maddy
out of the projects, out of Somerville.

It’s just sex, right?
Jobs are hard to come by these days.
I would be stupid if I didn’t at least try.

Where did I put Alissa’s number?

My Pimp?

“Are you going to be my pimp?” I ask.

“No, honey. We are a new breed
of call girl. We don’t answer to nobody,
except ourselves,” Alissa says.
“All you have to do is post your ads
like I do on Craigslist, and your just drive
yourself to the appointment. You keep all the money
you make. I’m just here to help
you out. I mean, if you wanted to slip me some cash
for tutoring your ass, but trust me, I don’t expect
nothing from you.”

“I don’t own you,
and no one owns me.”

“True beauty
is being free.”

First Things First

My eyes are open wide, can’t blink,
the rest of my body is frozen too. What
is this chick doing to my gear? She’s raiding
my closet and tossing my clothes out onto the floor like junk.

“We’re going to have to get you
into some new clothes. Those,
Timberlands, sweatpants, and wife beaters
are going to have to go,” Alissa says.

“No guys, especially the rich ones, are going
to pay top dollar for some female thug.
You need to become a lady,
and quick.”

“And stop sitting like a dude
with your legs all open.
The only time a girl should have
her legs open is when she’s on her back.

“Making men wonder what you got under there
is what it’s all about.
“Keep them crossed and closed
until you get you hands on those
money rolls.”

Learning How To Walk

A large set of stairs
leads from The Mystics
up to the elementary school
where us project kids get educated.

Alissa says this will be the perfect place
to learn to walk in heels.
My feet fear what is left of the stairs,
the railing shakes, empty cup cake
wrappers, half-drunk bottles
spilling with the butts of urban models.

I fall up the stairs a second time, blood
drips, not sure if it’s coming from my knee
or my mind. My toes are not used to being confined,
no room to wiggle. My feet are having the life
sucked out of them, I continue the climb.

I reach the top of the stairs, down below
Alissa, she claps, punches her fists in the air.

“You go girl!”

I Can Get Used To This

Alissa gave me
a bunch of old dresses that
are getting too small

for her. I have been
trying them on before my
first appointment. I

like getting dressed up.
It feels like I always have
somewhere important

to go. It beats going
to sleep in the same sweats you
throw on in the morning.

I think I can get
used to this. Getting fancy
each night of the week.

For Sale

Nobody dreams
of selling herself for money. I never
thought that would be me, only something
those other girls do.

I went to high
school like every other girl
in my neighborhood, well at least
up until sophomore year.

I did my homework,
got decent grades and even
played JV b-ball.

I wanted to be the first
person in my family
to go to college.

Yeah, that was my dream,
but back then,
dreams were supposed to
come true a lot more
than they do now.

Sounds of the City

There are a lot of
sounds from my childhood that
I don’t really want
to remember,

like when my dad would stomp his feet
on his way to the refrigerator,
or the way he would bang the table
and make the silverware jump
because his supper was too hot,
or too cold.

When my window’s open
car alarms, horns, exhausts,
and bumping systems boom, but

fade when the church bells ring.

All my distractions disappear
for a few seconds,
and all I can think about is


My Madre.

Some Proof

As a little girl
all I ever

was to be beautiful
and have girls stare at me
the way I used to stare at them, jealous
of their pretty dresses and shoes.

To have someone look at me
and wish they looked like me,
even if it was only for a short time.

I wanted,
even it was only for a day,
to be the prettiest girl in Somerville.

I wanted
my dad to think I was pretty.

I wanted
my mom
to think I was pretty.

I wanted
my friends
to think I was pretty.

I remember
the same pair of sneakers I had to wear
for two years.
I remember
the blisters that became part of my feet.
I remember
the dress with a stain on the waste
that I got pretty good at hiding with my empty purse.

When you come from an ugly place
you tend to spend most of your life

proving you’re not ugly.

Somerville, My Hood

In my neighborhood,
nobody really knows
who they are.

Like Phil Bailey.
A 40-something-year-old dude
with coke bottle glasses, and a backwards
Bruins cap who plays ball with the kids at the playground,
and then recruits them to sell drugs for him.

Like skinny-ass Sherri.
A twenty-something year-old lady
who looks like she is fifty, but still
dresses like she’s a teenager. A straight-up
case of what living in Somerville does
to a person’s skin, and to their soul.

Like the Sledgehammer or Zoo-Nikki,
two old school Irish cats who pretend they’re mobsters
roughing people up in their scaly caps,
jean shorts, and white sneaks always with no socks,
that they wear no matter what season it is.

Like Megan.
She’s a chick in her twenties
who doesn’t have a home of her own. Her
parents kicked her out for stealing the TV
and sofa and selling them for a hit. You
can still find her roaming around her crib,
trying to find new ways to break in.

Like Cadillac Chris
who’s in his twenties and is covered
with the worst tats you have even seen! You know,
the ones that are done by a friend of a friend for cheap money
at a house party. They ain’t even black, they’re like green,
now that’s gangsta! I guess…
Yup, Cadillac Chris with his green Cadillac
logo tattooed over his heart. Everyone needs
to love something, right?

Like me.

In Somerville, sometimes you just become things
to be something.

You feel me?

I Won’t Miss You, Slumerville

I’m going to get
up out of this place, and I
don’t care how many

nasty men I have
to bang, and blow to save enough
cash and get out of

for good.

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