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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Free Fall Friday, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Free Fall Friday

CALL FOR ILLUSTRATIONS: Still need illustrations for the month of April/May. Would love to show off your illustrations during one of my daily posts. So please submit your illustrations: To kathy (dot) temean (at) gmail (dot) com. Illustrations must be at least 500 pixels wide and include a blurb about you that I can use. 

ANYONE HAVE AN EASTER ILLUSTRATION? Would love to use it for Easter.

GUEST CRITIQUER’S for APRIL 2014 – Jenna Pocius and Samantha Bremekamp

Jenna PociusJENNA POCIUS, Assistant Editor, Bloomsbury

Jenna Pocius is an Assistant Editor at Bloomsbury who works on everything from picture books to YA. Before joining Bloomsbury, she worked for Abrams BFYR. She has edited numerous books including Dragon’s Extraordinary Egg by Debi Gliori, A Soldier’s Secret by Marissa Moss, and the upcoming Mad Scientist Academy series by Matthew McElligott. She’s most interested in YA with strong voice and emotional depth, and she is particularly interested in contemporary realistic fiction, magic realism, and well-crafted fantasy and science fiction with a contemporary voice. She’s interested in middle grade that is quirky and character-driven, particularly girl-centered stories. And she loves picture books that are poignant and sweet or humorously clever. She is also a sucker for dog stories.

samanthafor litagency bioSamantha Bremekamp is starting out as an agent at Corvisiero Literary Agency. She started her career in publishing in 2008, and quickly realized that she preferred working directly with authors from the other side of the industry. She runs critique groups and writing groups for fun, as she also loves to write and help others to fulfill their writing ambitions. She is fully aware of how hard of an industry it really is in this day and age.

Her favorite writing is children’s, middle grade, young adult, and new adult. There is something so pure about each building block of life these book groups represent. Although there may be a difference between a three year old and a 33 year old, maybe, Samantha finds that all of life’s challenges in these age groups really show the potential for amazing growth in a character.

Samantha’s background is in English literature, communications, and Spanish. She really thinks that if a writer is confident and believes in their work, their work will show that without having to showboat to prove it via a pitch.

Follow Samantha on Twitter at @LiterallySmash

Samantha loves reading Children’s, MG, YA, and NA fiction. She is open to any genre within those age groups, but prefers speculative fiction, mystery, and quirky romance.

Below is the April picture prompt for anyone who would like to use it. 

albaas-chapter1-b

The above illustration was done by Elizabeth Alba. She works in watercolor and gouche. Elizabeth was featured on Illustrator Saturday in March. Here is the link: http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2014/03/08/illustrator-saturday-elisabeth-alba/

Here are the submission guidelines for submitting a First Page in April: Please “April First Page Critique” or “April First Page Picture Prompt Critique” in the subject line. Please make sure you include your name, the title of the piece, and whether it is as picture book, middle grade, or young adult, etc. at the top.

Please attach your first page submission using one inch margins and 12 point font – double spaced, no more than 23 lines to an e-mail and send it to: kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com. Also cut and paste it into the body of the e-mail and then also attach it in a Word document to the email.

DEADLINE: April 24th.

RESULTS: May 2nd.

Use inch margins – double space your text – 12 pt. New Times Roman font – no more than 23 lines – paste into body of the email

You can only send in one first page each month. It can be the same first page each month or a different one, but if you sent it to me last month and it didn’t get chosen, you need to send it again using the April’s directions. Of course, it doesn’t have to be the same submission. It can be a first page from a work in process or you can use the picture prompt above.

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: opportunity, submissions, Writer's Prompt Tagged: Bloomsbury Children's Books, Corvisiero Literary Agency, Elizabeth Alba, First Page Critique, Free Fall Friday, Jenna Pocius, Samantha Bremekamp

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2. Free Fall Friday – April

The New Jersey SCBWI June Conference opened for registration yesterday and it is already one third full, so don’t wait too long to register.  Here is the link: https://www.regonline.com/builder/site/Default.aspx?EventID=1427434

CALL FOR ILLUSTRATIONS: Still need illustrations for the month of April. Would love to show off your illustrations during one of my daily posts. So please submit your illustrations: To kathy (dot) temean (at) gmail (dot) com. Illustrations must be at least 500 pixels wide and include a blurb about you that I can use. Thanks!

Below is the April picture prompt for anyone who would like to use it. Guest Critiquer will be announced next week.

albaas-chapter1-b

The above illustration was done by Elizabeth Alba. She works in watercolor and gouche. Elizabeth was featured on Illustrator Saturday in March. Here is the link: http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2014/03/08/illustrator-saturday-elisabeth-alba/

Here are the submission guidelines for submitting a First Page in April: Please “April First Page Critique” or “April First Page Picture Prompt Critique” in the subject line. Please make sure you include your name, the title of the piece, and whether it is as picture book, middle grade, or young adult, etc. at the top.

Please attach your first page submission using one inch margins and 12 point font – double spaced, no more than 23 lines to an e-mail and send it to: kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com. Also cut and paste it into the body of the e-mail and then also attach it in a Word document to the email.

DEADLINE: April 24th.

RESULTS: May 2nd.

Use inch margins – double space your text – 12 pt. New Times Roman font – no more than 23 lines – paste into body of the email

You can only send in one first page each month. It can be the same first page each month or a different one, but if you sent it to me last month and it didn’t get chosen, you need to send it again using the April’s directions. Of course, it doesn’t have to be the same submission. It can be a first page from a work in process or you can use the picture prompt above.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, Competition, inspiration, opportunity, Places to sumit, Writer's Prompt Tagged: 2014 NJSCBWI Conference, April First Page Critique, Elizabeth Alba, Free Fall Friday

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3. Free Fall Friday – Results

randy_gallegos_emperor_of_the_merfolk

The above picture prompt was used for the story below:

he Neptune Diet by Karen Fortunati – MG Fantasy

What is this?  Some kind of underwater optical illusion?  Because I’m ripped.  Totally freaking cut.  Even with my vision blurred by these crappy goggles in the steamy murkiness of the hot tub, there’s no doubt about it.  My brand new biceps, triceps and deltoids bulge and clench as I wave my hands through the white froth.  Whoa! These beauties, usually held hostage under a thick layer of “baby fat,” now rise up separate and defined, dancing under my skin.  Where did they come from?

Lungs ready to burst, I stick my nose and mouth out of the water and the chill of the October afternoon hits my face.

“Teddy!  Get out of there!” Mom yells from the open sliding door.  “You’re just getting over your cold.”  Her orange crocs move across the splintery deck, towards me.

I rise from the water like a Greek god.  And wait for her screams.  What did you do to yourself?  What did you take?  Steroids?  No baby! You’re only in eighth grade!   

            But there’s not one lousy scream. Instead she tosses a towel next to the hot tub.  It lands on the empty Twinkie box and dented can of Diet Mugs Root Beer.

            “Well, mother?” I ask.  “Notice anything about your favorite son?”  I twirl, allowing her to visually feast on my eight-pack abs, whittled waist and pecs of steel.

Mom ignores my physique.  Instead, open-mouthed, she points to the carved stick of driftwood lying next to the hot tub.  The one I dropped as I got out of the water.  The one I borrowed yesterday from the maritime exhibit at Harriman House as Mom was giving a tour.  But just as I’m about to explain my temporary need for “Neptune’s Walking Stick,” I catch sight of my reflection in the slider.   What the?  My body has morphed back to its normal, depressing, pudgy shape.

Below are Zack’s comments:

The Neptune Diet

There’s definitely some cool stuff going on here. The magic piece of driftwood that gives one a godlike physique has fun potential, both for comedy and complications. As a fantasy nerd, I’m already wondering what the rules for the driftwood might be, and imagining the ways Teddy can get in trouble with it. You have some nice details in there, too: the crocs on Teddy’s mom, the food laid outside the hot tub, all do a nice job characterizing this family. As a first page, though, I think there’s definitely some fine tuning to do. This feels almost like the first page of a second or third chapter. I imagine that, because you’re writing with an image as a prompt, you want to dive right in to the exciting part—Teddy discovers the power of the driftwood and becomes the figure we see in the illustration—but there’s some narrative work still to accomplish. The driftwood is going to be life changing for him, so I’d like to get a brief view of the life that will be changed, and witness Teddy “borrowing” the driftwood from the exhibit. There’s obviously a story there—is it funny, ominous, both? I wouldn’t just bury it in exposition. Even the first line, “What is this?” seems to reference something we’re missing, rather than giving us something intriguing to chomp onto. I’d suggest leading with the hook—since this is in first person, maybe Teddy talking about how his life went to hell (or was saved, whatever the angle is) because of a piece of wood—and then spending the rest of the time showing us how he got there.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Marooned by BettelynnMcIlvain – MG

Cycle 22: Planet Earth.

The big fish the planet’s inhabitants call whales were particularly annoying this morning. Their curiosity will be my early demise. I can only hope that the calls they make to one another satisfy spotted sonar. Clearly I am being hunted.

Cycle 23: Planet Earth.

A lone whale calf I have named, Grail, has been following me. He has soulful eyes and a talent for getting into trouble. This morning small cans of explosives were released from my hunters. To me, puffs of smoke disturbing the currents.  “Away!” I yelled as Grail swam into the field of eruptions. Had I not grabbed him, the youngster would have died. Bubbles from my warning rose to the surface. The ships are now sure of my existence – at least in their waters. At dusk, out of range, I rise to the land.

Cycle 25: Planet Earth.

My plans to make ground have been foiled. Not by the ships I left in the middle of the ocean, but by two earth children who clearly love the sunset. My last trip here I learned about these creatures. I was much younger then, much smaller.  I could move about undetected, splashing in the waves near the beaches as if I was a hallucination from the sun in their eyes. This trip I picked a jagged mountainous coast to come ashore.  Who would have thought children could climb these rocks? I have decided to stay in the water using the towering boulders dotting the coast as shields. At least for a while.

“Look, Austin! Whales!” the young girl points as if her arm is an arrow.

“Whales? Naw. Whales never come this close to shore. Not this time of year. Not at this hour,” the boy calls to her.

“I’m going to swim out to them!” she shouts, deftly jumping from rock to rock until she reaches the edge of a calm pool feeding into the sea.

Here is Zack’s comments:
Marooned
Lots of interesting elements at play: the alien that’s being hunted by someone, the sweet bond that it forms with a whale calf, and then throw two spunky kids into the mix. All the pieces are here, but I think you need to do a bit more work up front figuring out (and showing us) who and what this narrator is. We don’t yet even have a name to go on, or any details about what it looks like or what it’s doing here. It even took me a while to figure out that it was deep underwater. (Swimming? Wearing a suit of some kind?) It seems to know some things about Earth, but misses others—like understanding sonar, but confusing whales with fish. I think in your own mind you need to have a clear vision of where this being came from. Most of its reference points seem to be human. Does it have fish on its own world? What makes the whale’s eyes seem “soulful”—does it have a concept for soul, or does it mean the whale seems intelligent? Is it familiar enough with “arrows” that it would compare a girl’s pointing arm to one? Creating a completely alien creature and plopping them into our world is tough, especially when that alien is the narrator. They need to be both believably different from us, and yet familiar enough that we can understand them. I think I’d suggest actually showing us the creature’s arrival for your first chapter. Set the stakes and make it clear the alien is marooned early in, then slow down and make a bit more of its escape from the ships that hunt it. Does it have a ship of its own somewhere? Did it crash land? I’m sure there’s an exciting opening chapter in all that.
_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Who Stole Ben Franklin?  By Susan E. Harris  Middle Grade Mystery for Boys

There might have been a bag of jewels and coins, or an ancient Hindu dagger or even a set of swords.  John had seen endless possibilities before opening the footlocker.  But now it was open and…

“There’s a uniform.”  His cousin pulled out an olive green jacket and pants.  “Ewww, and it smells like stinky feet.  Get it?  Footlocker?  Feet?”

“Yep.  I get it, Will.”  John felt a small trickle of disappointment.

Evidently the smell didn’t really bother Will because he yanked the jacket on.

There’s got to be some kind of treasure.  But the next item John found was a pair of brown lace up boots.  “Speaking of stinky feet—”

“Hey, let me have those.”  Will tugged them from John, stuck his feet in and tromped around the kitchen.  Dirt fell off in puffs, leaving a faint trail behind.  “I really wish we could have watched that old Indiana Jones movie.”

John nodded.  He’d been looking forward to the movie himself.  What could be better then adventure, treasure and mystery?  But a fierce summer storm had hit that morning and knocked the power out.  John and Will had made a trip to the basement to find the portable DVD player in hopes of still watching the movie.  Instead, they’d found a plywood box with metal bands on the corners and faint letters spelling out U.S. Army on the lid.

Will continued to stomp.  “Anything else?”

“Just these letters.”

“Letters?!”  Will snorted.  “Boring.”

John didn’t disagree and yet he was still curious.  Picking up the bundle, he untied the string.

Here is Zack’s Comments:

Who Stole Ben Franklin?
Nice first page. John and Will are clearly drawn and distinct. Your writing is clean and you’ve got lots of great details interspersed throughout. And I’m definitely interested in what’s in the bundle of letters. (Though I wonder if you could have some kind of hint up front that these are more than meets the eye. Some symbol or scribbled phrase that has the whiff of mystery?) I was a little curious why John expected there to be treasure here. Whose basement are they in? John’s? Will’s? What gave him the idea that he’d find a bag of jewels in this footlocker? I’d also suggest maybe giving Will a better zinger to lead with, rather than the foot pun. (Since no one actually called it a footlocker in dialogue, I was a little confused where the stinky feet joke came from.) This is your first chance to impress, so show off Will’s best cornball material. Lastly, considering the power is out, it might be worth spending a little more time with mood-setting descriptions. I imagine the basement is pretty dark, and they are searching around with flashlights. What does that look like? Can they hear the storm raging outside? Doesn’t have to be a lot, but I think you’ve got a nice set up here, and it can only get better with some moody sensory elements.
——————————————————————————————————————————————————

QUEEN OF THE WHALES by Liliana Erasmus – MG Fantasy

There was a pool, not a large one, a regular swimming pool: rectangular with glazed blue tiles, stainless steel ladders and underwater lighting that illuminated the tropical patio at night. Magaly stood on the edge, gazing into the clear, bottomless water. Did she just see what she saw? The warm pavers underneath her bare feet were real and so was the island breeze that swept through her hair and the smell of chlorine she was inhaling through her nose. She lifted her cotton slip, got down on her knees, then bent forward to take a better look. The shadows were still floating in the depth of the pool, some disappearing and others growing towards her or emerging. This wasn’t real, it couldn’t be.

She looked around. The garden was deserted. Except for the large cacti, the flowering agave plants, the lounge chairs, the clicking and chirping of geckos and other night time critters, there was no one to help her understand what was going on. Screwing up her eyes against the bright water and blinking, she started to realize that there was something she could do. By standing up and backing away very slowly, she was able to flee the sight, enter the villa that belonged to the pool, wake everyone up – if there was anyone inside – and demand an explanation. It was the most logical thing to do.

Magaly stood up, but instead of running and screaming her way to the house, she walked straight to the ladder on the right. Hands on the handles, one foot on the step, another in the water and no way back.

Here is Zack’s comments: 

Queen of the Whales
Well, I’m very curious what’s at the bottom of the pool! Great job setting the suspense. There are lots of wonderful details here, too. I can totally picture the shifting water and feel the island breeze. I also like how much attention you gave to this being a normal, ordinary swimming poolclearly whatever is happening inside the pool is very extraordinary. It was funny having Magaly think of all the ways she should be responding to what she’s seeing , and then promptly ignore them. My biggest comment here would just be to keep on eye out for language economy. A good editor would be able to help you with this, but I found myself tripping over a few parts. 

For example, the sentence: “The warm pavers underneath her bare feet were real and so was the island breeze that swept through her hair and the smell of chlorine she was inhaling through her nose.”
There are so many rich sensory details here, but the sentence runs long. It’s trying to do too much in one breath. I’d chop it up a bit, and even cut the nose stuff, since we can infer that she’s smelling with her nose. “The warm pavers underneath her bare feet were real. So was the island breeze that swept through her hair, and the smell of chlorine.” It might also be good to clarify what you mean by “real.” I assumed you meant Magaly was assuring herself that she wasn’t dreaming, but that’s not totally clear from the text.
Thank you, Zack, for sharing your expertise with all of us. The time you spent is appreciated so much.
Talk tomorrow,
Kathy

Filed under: Advice, Tips Tagged: First Page Session, Free Fall Friday, Scholastic, Zack Clark

2 Comments on Free Fall Friday – Results, last added: 9/29/2013
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4. Free Fall Friday – Guest Critiquer and Winners Announced

CALL FOR ILLUSTRATIONS: Please remember to send in your illustrations for October. It is a great way to get seen and keep your name out there to get noticed. Send them to Kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail.com with October Illustrations in the subject area. Please submit .jpgs at least 500 pixels wide.

emilys13croppedEmily Seife associate editor at Scholastic Press, has agreed to be our Guest Critiquer for October’s First Page winners. She works with award-winning authors such as Cynthia Lord, Philip Reeve, Daphne Benedis-Grab, James Proimos, and many others. She is an editor on the Infinity Ring multiplatform series, and is the author of The Hunger Games Tribute Guide. Emily is especially looking for: Young adult and middle grade fiction: stories with a strong voice and emotional core, contemporary humor, magical realism, mystery. She says she is not a good fit for: high fantasy, paranormal.

kristiPenguinChaChaCover500

http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/09/07/illustrator-saturday-kristi-valiant/

hazelOne Word Pearl Cover

http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/09/14/illustrator-saturday-hazel-mitchell-2/

cherry money babyClick this for the original link for Book and Agent John Cusick’s Interview.

If you didn’t win, check back on Sunday for a chance to get your hands on Cherry Money Baby.

Winners please send me your physical address, so your book can be sent to you.

You can still leave a comment for a chance to win the following books:

Click this link for Dianne Ochiltree’s Firefly Night. Winner announced on Sunday.

Click this link for Pink Cupcake Magic written by Katherine Tegan and illustrated and given away by Kristin Varner. Have to Dec. 1st to leave a comment on this link.

shawnadb29e71ae31d781af37fb29dbb5a5c18

For writers who like using a picture prompt, you may use the above illustration by Shawna JC Tenney for inspiration. Shawna was featured on illustrator Saturday April 20th. http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/04/20/illustrator-saturday-shawna-jc-tenney/

WRITERS Sending in a First Page: Please attach your double spaced, 12 point font, 23 line first page to an e-mail and send it to kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com. Also cut and paste it into the body of the e-mail. Put “October First Page Critique” or “October First Page Picture Prompt Critique” in the subject line. Make sure you have your name on the submission, a title, and indicate the genre.

DEADLINE: October 24th

RESULTS POSTED: November 1st.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: opportunity Tagged: dianne Ochiltree, Editor Emily Seife, First Page Critiques, Free Fall Friday, Hazel Mitchell, John Cusick, Katherine Tegan, Kristi valiant, Scholastic, Shawna JC Tenney

2 Comments on Free Fall Friday – Guest Critiquer and Winners Announced, last added: 10/16/2013
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5. Free Fall Friday – Editor Announced

CALL FOR ILLUSTRATIONS: Only one illustrator sent in something for March. Surely you have something to show off, so please look to see if you have an illustration that would go well with the month or any illustration that might go with a writing or illustrating post. Same as always: At least 500 pixels wide, sent to kathy (dot) temean (at) gmail (dot) com, and include a blurb about you. Thanks!

I am pleased to announce that Susan Dobinick, Assistant Editor at Farrar, Straus and Giroux has agreed to be our Guest Critiquer for March.

susan-dobinick

Susan wants to work on everything. Right now she is especially looking for funny middle grade girl novels. In the young adult realm, I’d like to see books that tackle big social issues but aren’t preachy. With picture books, I like short and funny; I prefer quirky stories over cuddly. Across all formats, I’m a fan of books that have depth but are accessible—so that both kids and critics will love them.

Susan assists two children’s trade imprints. She works with fiction and nonfiction, ranging from picture to young adult books. Her specialties include children’s trade publishing, picture books, chapter books, middle-grade books, young adult books, educational publishing, textbooks, and teacher editions. She holds a B.A. in English from Chicago Goucher College.

Susan is Edith Cohn’s editor for Spirits Key, which is coming out in September. Edith has a nice interview with Susan on her blog. Here is the link:

http://edithcohn.wordpress.com/interviews/interview-with-my-editor/

Here are the submission guidelines for submitting a First Page in March: Please attach your double spaced, 12 point font, 23 line first page to an e-mail and send it to: kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com. Also cut and paste it into the body of the e-mail.

DEADLINE: March 21st.

RESULTS: March 28th.

Put “March First Page Critique” or “March First Page Picture Prompt Critique” in the subject line. Make sure you have your name on the submission, a title, and indicate the genre.

You can only send in one first page each month. It can be the same first page each month or a different one, but if you sent it to me last month and it didn’t get chosen, you need to send it again using the March directions. Of course, it doesn’t have to be the same submission. It can be a first page from a work in process or you can use the picture prompt above.

Please include your name, the title of the piece, and whether it is as picture book, middle grade, or young adult, etc. at the top.

BELOW IS THE MARCH FIRST PAGE PICTURE PROMPT for anyone who would like a little inspiration to spark their first page.

markgatortrain

Always thought there was a story with this picture illustrated by Mark Meyers. Mark spends his days drawing and painting pictures filled with kids, escaping circus monkeys, and everything in between. He was featured on Illustrator Saturday. Here is the link: http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/10/05/illustrator-saturday-mark-meyers/

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Editor & Agent Info, Middle Grade Novels, opportunity, picture books, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Chicago Goucher College., Farrar Straus Giroux, First Page Critiques, Free Fall Friday, Susan Dobinick

0 Comments on Free Fall Friday – Editor Announced as of 3/14/2014 2:27:00 AM
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6. Free Fall Friday – Results

susan-dobinickSusan Dobinick, Assistant Editor at Farrar, Straus and Giroux is our Guest Critiquer  for March. Read the four winners and read Susan critique below:

Susan assists two children’s trade imprints. She works with fiction and nonfiction, ranging from picture to young adult books. Her specialties include children’s trade publishing, picture books, chapter books, middle-grade books, young adult books, educational publishing, textbooks, and teacher editions. She holds a B.A. in English from Chicago Goucher College.

Susan is Edith Cohn’s editor for Spirits Key, which is coming out in September. Edith has a nice interview with Susan on her blog. Here is the link:

http://edithcohn.wordpress.com/interviews/interview-with-my-editor/

 

ELLIE AND THE KING by Anita Nolan MG Novel

“I’m adopted. It’s the only possible explanation.”

The Piercing Pagoda kiosk at the mall provides excellent cover for my friend Lindsey and me while a group of kids from school—the popular ones—stroll past, but I duck lower anyway. I don’t know why I worry. I’m one of the more invisible people at school. But if anyone connects me with the man dressed as Elvis standing across the way, my name will be texted to every student in Cranford Middle School, and possible the entire state of Pennsylvania.

Lindsey glances at the older ladies—it’s always older ladies—lined up to meet my dad, and shakes her head. “There’s only one problem with the adoption theory, Ellie. How do you explain your eyes?”

That is the problem. I’ve tried to convince myself that I look nothing like my father—and I don’t—except for my dark green eyes, complete with little blue flecks. I guess the adoption theory can’t be right, but as Dad bursts into song, I wish it were.

The kids from school hang at the edge of the crowd, pointing at Dad and laughing. My faces flushes. I have a hard time swallowing. I wish he would keep the Elvis stuff out of the mall and away from anyone I know.

Gram says I shouldn’t be embarrassed. Everyone has a few skeletons in their closets. Unfortunately, my skeleton is the one dressed in gold lame singing Love Me Tender in front of the Cinnabon.

All Lindsey and I wanted to do was buy a few yards of silky white polyester. It wasn’t our idea to turn a trip to the mall into a media event. But apparently Dad decided to promote the upcoming Philly Salutes Elvis Tribute, so here he stands, dressed like Elvis, talking like Elvis, and acting like Elvis. Dad’s best friend, Norm, who is also Lindsey’s father, pretends to be Dad’s bodyguard—as if he needs one. But Elvis always had a bodyguard, so Dad does too.

HERE’S SUSAN DOBINICK:

Ellie and the King

I like the voice in this—the writing feels very authentically middle grade girl to me. I am not sure the author is choosing the right place to focus this energy, though, especially at the beginning of the book. Ellie is the one who I am interested in, but her dad is stealing the show (as, of course, an Elvis impersonator is apt to do). I think it is common for kids to be embarrassed by parents and there is certainly room for books that talk about navigating these relationships, but I want the child protagonist to be at the forefront here. More Ellie and Lindsey, please! What are they going to do with that fabric? Then, once we know and love Ellie, we can see more about the relationship with her father and relate more to her embarrassment. I also would caution against leaning too heavily on Elvis as a joke throughout the whole book—I am not sure that kids would love that joke as much as adults—so be sure to keep the ways in which Dad embarrasses Ellie relatable to people who don’t know much about Elvis.

*******

 

HALF-TRUTHS by Carol Baldwin                    Young Adult/Historical Fiction

Women can’t be scientists. At least that’s what Daddy always tells me.

But now I have proof he’s wrong.

I pick at the frayed edges of The Story-Lives of Great Scientists and stare out the kitchen window. If Marie Curie could make exciting scientific discoveries, why can’t I?

But I know better. Only a few colored kids make it to college. And if they do, it’s just to colored schools to become teachers. Not to big universities where important scientists get their start.

Science has always been my favorite subject. My best friend Darla rolls her eyes when I say the PTA should buy more microscopes for chemistry and biology. She thinks the money should go towards a gym. We can’t ever agree on that one.

I look at the clock above the kitchen sink. It’s four already. Any minute my big brother Sam will push through the screen door wondering what’s for supper. Momma, Daddy, and Big Momma will come in talking about work and expecting to smell dinner cooking.

“Gloria!” I yell out the window to my younger sister. “Get yourself in here and wash up the breakfast dishes!”

She looks up from the tea party she’s having with her Shirley Temple doll. “Let me finish pouring tea. I’ll be in soon!” She waves away a chicken that’s wandered over.

I doubt that’s going to happen. It’ll be me, not Gloria, catching heck if Big Momma comes home to a sink full of dishes. Sometimes I feel like everyone’s maid—something I swear I’ll never be. I wish I could spread a pair of wings and fly away.

HERE’S SUSAN DOBINICK:

Half-Truths

Well, this has a lot of interesting premises that drew me in right away. I’m a sucker for a strong female protagonist. I especially love books with characters who overcome societal expectations to succeed—and you just know that this character is going to find a way to succeed. I do think the author is putting all of her cards on the table right away, and I would like to see some of this develop more slowly—so, for example, she thinks that she can prove her father wrong that women can’t be scientists, but then shoots herself down quickly because people of color can’t even go to college. What would it be like to see her keep with the Marie Curie excitement a little longer, and then feel her disappointment when she comes to this second realization?

My caution with YA historical fiction is that it can be a bit of a tricky sell—when I am looking at these submissions, I am looking for historical plus a big hook; day to day life is a bit harder to reach a wide audience.

*******

 

MRS. HENNESSEY’S HENS     by Susan E. Harris     Picture Book

Mrs. Hennessey had six speckled Sussex hens. They were cheerful and chubby. Curious and cuddly. Feathery and friendly. So friendly they were more like dogs than hens.

When Mrs. Hennessey ate breakfast on the patio, the hens ran to greet her.

When she enjoyed a cup of tea under the stars, they nestled at her feet.

And when Mrs. Hennessey took her daily walk, they always wanted to walk with her.

But Mrs. Hennessey worried. “You may think you’re dogs but you’re not. You are hens! And it isn’t safe for hens to take a walk.”

One day, Mrs. Hennessey left for her walk. “My, what a windy day,” she said and headed down town. <Gate stays open and hens follow>

At the post office the wind blew hard. “Goodness,” said Mrs. Hennessey, “there goes all the mail! I must go help the mailman. Never mind. Those little dogs fetched his mail. But I’m glad my girls are home. I’m sure those dogs would’ve chased them.” She started her walk once more.

At the library Mrs. Hennessey stopped. The librarians were hanging a banner. The wind blew harder still and pulled the banner from their hands.

“My, how I wish I could help them,” said Mrs. Hennessey. “Never mind. Those little dogs caught the banner! And look how they’re hanging it on the library. But I’m glad my girls are home. I wouldn’t want them flying so high.”

She bought an apple-tart from the bakery and went to sit in the park.

In the park some children were flying a kite. The wind blew it’s hardest yet and sent the kite into a tree.

“I’m sure those little dogs will help the children. After all, they can fly.” Mrs. Hennessey thought about what she’d said. “Wait a minute! Dogs can’t fly!”

HERE’S SUSAN DOBINICK:

Mrs. Hennessey’s Hens

You know, it’s funny—my colleagues and I were just talking about liking chicken books the other day. I think the sentence length here is really spot on for picture books, and the author has a good sense of how to move the story along. I am having a logic problem, though—is Mrs. Henessey actually mistaking her hens for dogs? I just don’t know that a pet owner, especially one who clearly loves her pets so much, would make that mistake, even if she is absent-minded—and though picture books are fun places for fantastical adventures, I am a stickler for logic, so I would rather see a story that really embraces hens being hens. (Of course, I suppose the hens could dress in dog costumes—but I still am not sure that the costumes would be that believable to hide that the dogs were really hens…)

*******

 

THE THREE WIGGLY WORMS BLUFF by Wendy Greenley     383 word Picture Book

“Melting snow is swamping the soil! Time to head to higher ground,” said Papa Worm.

Papa, Mama and Baby Worm squirmed to the surface and wiggled up the grassy slope to face—the dreaded sidewalk.

“Ow! It’s rough,” said Baby.

“Go as fast as you can.” Mama gave him a pat. “And keep a lookout for birds.”

Baby wiggled as fast as he could.

But he was only halfway across when a robin swooped down.

“I’m going to slurp you up and take you to my babies!” the robin squawked.

“I’m a baby myself. Barely a bite, and not worth your flight. Mama is coming, she’s more than a morsel. Why don’t you wait for her?” said Baby.

The robin thanked Baby and sent him on his way.

When the coast looked clear, Mama wiggled as fast as she could.

But she was barely halfway across when the robin hopped out from a bush.

“I’m going to slurp you up and take you to my babies!” the robin squawked.

“I’d make an adequate dinner, but if you want to treat your babies to a feast you might want to wait for Papa worm. He’s coming next,” said Mama.

The robin thanked Mama and sent her on her way.

Papa did calisthenics, warming up his wiggle. Between the birds and the pavement heating up, He needed to be fast!

Papa wasn’t halfway across when the robin landed in his path.

HERE’S SUSAN DOBINICK:

The Three Wiggly Worms Bluff

I like that this has a good seasonal hook—I could imagine a class of kids reading it right at the end of winter or the beginning of spring. I also think it builds in a satisfying way—it’s an old and simple trick, but using patterns of threes (three characters, three problems, etc.) tends to work well, especially in picture books. I am not sure why the family keeps throwing each other to the mercy of the bird, though—the baby can’t actually want the mama to be eaten, or the mama for the papa to be eaten, right? I think you could get rid of the worms suggesting the bird eats the others and still have each worm outsmart the bird in a different way.

*******

I want to thank Susan for sharing her time and expertise with us. These type of critiques can help all of us improve our writing skills. We really appreciate you helping take us to the next level. Thanks again!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

 


Filed under: Advice, Editors, inspiration, Middle Grade Novels, picture books, revisions, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Farrar Straus and Giroux, Free Fall Friday, March First Page Critiques, Susan Dobinick

2 Comments on Free Fall Friday – Results, last added: 3/31/2014
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7. Free Fall Friday – Results – Melissa Faulner

melissafaulnerBelow are the winners for May’s First Page Critique with MELISSA FAULNER, Editorial Assistant, ABRAMS Books for Young Readers and Amulet.

Hope you enjoy what the winners sent in and reading Melissa’s thoughts on the four.

THE BALLOON FIX (PB)
By Jennifer Ann Reinharz

Willa loved her balloon. The Grand Marshal gave it to her. It was pink, happy and just the right size for her hands. She did not like the long ribbon. It always got in the way.
{Illus. note: So she cut it}

Snip. Snip. Snip. Hiss. The balloon shrunk. Smaller. Smaller. Smaller. Until it looked like a flat, rubber, pancake.

“Mommy, fix it!” she wailed.

“Sweetie, the balloon has a hole. There’s nothing I can do.”

“Daddy, my balloon popped! Fix it!”

“Take a deep breath. I can’t fix it, but I’ll get you a new one.”
Willa took a deep breath.

She opened the junk drawer and found a screwdriver, a pencil, and a purple glue stick. Lining up the tools, she began to sing, “My balloon broke. It’s ok. I’ll fix it.” But the screwdriver pinched, the glue clumped, and the pencil was too thick.
{Illus. note: to plug the hole in the balloon}

So Willa went back to the drawer. This time she found a stack of sticky notes, a bunch of paper clips, and an elastic band. “My balloon broke. It’s ok. I’ll fix it.”

When that didn’t go very well, Willa took another deep breath.
“Help me,” she begged her brother.
{Illustrator note: He is coloring. Crayons are stored in a coffee can}

“Your balloon deflated. You can’t fix it,” he said. “Just do something else.”

Willa spotted his coffee can. It reminded her of the marching band. She dumped the crayons out.

HERE IS MELISSA’S CRITIQUE:

THE BALLOON FIX
Jennifer Ann Reinharz

What a great concept! I think that most children (and their parents) can absolutely relate to having that one object to which they form a swift and lasting attachment, and sadness that follows when it inevitably breaks (or pops as the case may be). What I really liked was Willa’s resourceful attitude, and her conviction that she can fix the balloon—this teaches children creativity, problem solving, and perseverance, even in the face of doubt.

The narrative style here is light and clean, which I think works well. However, I found myself wanting just a bit more detail at times (nothing that would overwhelm the text). For example, it says that the Grand Marshal gave Willa the balloon, but I don’t know that it will be clear to young readers what a Grand Marshal is, and why he/she would have balloons to give away. Additionally, while I like that Willa runs to the junk drawer to fix the balloon herself, it doesn’t feel as though this action logically follows talking to her parents. Her dad mentions he can’t fix it, but perhaps we need to see that moment of decision when Willa decides to fix it herself. I also like the use of her song to create repetition, but, again, this doesn’t feel quite connected to the rest of the story/Willa’s character. Why does she sing this specific song? Does Willa love to sing? I think a lot of these questions could be addressed by developing Willa a bit more as a character. Is she the type of little girl who loves to fix things herself? Is she always tinkering with things? Answering questions like these might also help flesh her out and better highlight her initial decision to trim the ribbon herself.

Overall, this is a good start! I think the author just needs to work to further develop Willa as a character, which will help inform the decisions she’s making and her actions throughout the story.


The Seven League Boots by Joyce McPherson (MG Fiction)

Once upon a time a girl named Madeline lived in the village of Villamyra in the kingdom of Myristica, a peaceful kingdom seldom bothered by ogres or sorcerers or even fairies, though there was a kulack who attended the king in the castle. Madeline lived in the inn with her father, who was the innkeeper. She liked to listen to the tales travelers told of journeys and quests, but in all her ten years she had never been farther than the Myra Bridge at the edge of the village.

One day in late spring, Madeline hugged a basket of laundry as she made her way to the clothes line behind the inn. She imagined she was carrying a treasure chest across a barren waste to ransom a forgotten princess. The castle loomed in the distance. Her arms ached, but it was just a few more steps and she would be there.

At last. She set down the basket with a bump, and the smell of soap wafted upward. She glanced at her treasure and saw only a limp heap of laundry. It was hard to be a treasure hunter while smelling soap. She reached for a dish towel and wondered why nothing ever happened in Myristica.

By the time the first row was hung, a fresh breeze had sprung up and snapped the towels like sails on a ship, or…like flying, she thought. She caught up a rag and held it above her head, then raced as fast as she could, braids whipping behind her, across the yard. “I’m flying like a bird,” she called.

“You don’t look like a bird.”

Madeline glared in the direction of the voice and saw Herbert coming around the corner where the chicken house stood.

“I thought you were helping your dad in the smithy today,” she said.

“He had enough help for one day. Somehow the bellows caught on fire.”

He looked so glum that Madeline instantly forgave him for his first comment.

HERE IS MELISSA’S CRITIQUE:

THE SEVEN LEAGUE BOOTS
Joyce McPherson

What works well about this opening page is that the reader is quickly pulled into the detail and imagery of the story. Madeline is clearly an intriguing character who has spirit and dreams which extend far beyond her seemingly adventure-free life. (Doing laundry is an adventure no one is excited about!) I also really enjoyed the line about the towels snapping in the breeze “like the sails on a ship.” What lovely imagery!

My biggest overall concern, however, is exactly how much information is packed into this first page. While I think it’s good to include a lot of relevant details early on to help establish the reader in the story, a lot of the world-building details here are being “told” to the reader instead of “shown.” If Madeline is our main protagonist, then perhaps it would make more sense learn about the kingdom using her as a lens. Her character has to be able to carry us through an entire novel, so the reader should feel a strong connection with her. For example, since she’s interested in adventure, perhaps as she’s walking with the laundry, she’s also keeping a weathered eye out for ogres or sorcerers who might steal her treasure chest, even though Myristica is a peaceful kingdom seldom bothered by magical creatures, etc. That’s one possibility to organically work in the details about our setting/the world while also learning a bit more about the protagonist. I think that will also help to slow down the pacing a bit, which, even on the first page, feels a bit rushed.

Definitely a strong and intriguing start. I’d definitely flip to page two!


MOUTH OF THE SOUTH by Patricia Nesbitt – MG historical

Fingers of July sunlight snaked through the interlocking foliage overhead and scattered brown diamonds across the lazy waters of Sugar Creek. Patsy and Olivia paddled barefoot, ankle-deep, down the main channel, stopping ever so often to turn over a rock or scoop up petals blown into the water from near-by mimosa trees.

They tucked the feathery mimosa clusters into their hair and behind their ears. Sweat beads still sprinkled their foreheads from the bike ride down Arnold Drive to the creek.

“Does it have to be for two weeks?” whined Olivia. “Why not just one?”
Eleven-year-old Patsy shrugged. “Dunno. Just is, I guess.”

“You’re NOT going to like it, you know.”

“That’s what you keep telling me—for a gazillion times now. But this is Girl Scout Camp, not church camp. It’s bound to be different.”

“ALL camp is the same: bad food, hot cabins—it’s JULY, for crying out loud–, and boring crafts.” Olivia bent over to scratch a chigger bite. “Not to mention the other obnoxious campers whose parents sent them to camp to get rid of them for two weeks. Tell your mom you feel sick and can’t go.”

Patsy turned over a large rock, watched a crawdad wiggle away, and swished her hands in the water to clean off the mud. Olivia isn’t usually such a sour-puss, she thought. I bet she’s worried about something.

“No can do,” said Patsy. “You know how Mom is…Money’s already spent.”
Olivia batted at a low-hanging cluster of leaves. “Besides, Miss Queen of I-Hate-Change, why on earth would you want to spend time away from home with a bunch of total strangers?”

“Well, I’ve been thinking camp might be…,” began Patsy.

“I know an adventure,” finished Olivia. “You’ve said that for weeks. But what if…”

HERE IS MELISSA’S CRITIQUE:

MOUTH OF THE SOUTH
Patricia Nesbitt

I’m a definite sucker for rich imagery and detail, so I really enjoyed this opening paragraph! There’s a sort of tangibility to the prose here that really pulls the reader in, allowing them to immediately sink into the setting. However, it’s a good idea to be vigilant about overdoing it, since an overload of detail can sometimes cause confusion. In the second sentence, for example, it says they paddled barefoot (which makes me think of swimming), but were only ankle-deep in the water? It’s also good to be aware of making sure the details included feel organic and don’t disrupt the flow of the story.

The great thing about this first page is that we really get a strong, immediate sense of the dynamic between Patsy and Olivia and the conflict between them (though it isn’t clear from the first page, obviously, whether Girl Scout Camp will be the focus of the entire novel). These are clearly two girls who have been friends (probably best friends) for a while, and it seems as though we’re being set up to read about a summer during which that dynamic is changing. My concern, though, is that it’s not entirely clear which of the girls is the protagonist of the story. We’re given insight into Patsy’s thoughts (though, I’m always a bit wary of that particular device as it can feel a bit overused), but opening with Olivia’s question threw me a bit. Perhaps it could help to work on developing more of the details through Patsy, if she’s the intended focus.

Additionally, I had a question about the categorization of this as middle grade historical fiction. A lot of the dialog feels very contemporary, especially words like “sour-puss” and “gazillion.” If this is indeed intended as historical fiction the author will definitely want to check certain phrasing to make sure it’s appropriate to the setting.

This is a great start—I’d definitely keep reading.


CALL OF THE CROW by Debbie Emory, middle grade fantasy

The last breath of spring floated in the air as Festy, a bright blue boggart, flew out of the dark forest that stood behind the town library. The moon cast light through the glass walls, giving the books inside a mysterious glow.

A bucktooth hung down either side of Festy’s snout as the small dragon-like creature drew in his widespread wings and crept into the library through the book return slot. He knew exactly where to go.

Once inside the lobby, Festy flung open the double doors as though they weighed no more than his big toe. Blue dust shot out of his tail as he flew to his favorite corner to perch on a polished wooden shelf. He ran his claw across a line of books until he found the familiar worn cover. “There you are,” he said.

He tapped on the front, but the face of the world famous human did not move as it normally did. “William? You there?” Festy said in his British accent.

“Celebration is starting soon.”

The ghost of a dark-haired gentleman floated out of the book. He wore an old-fashioned plush velvet suit with puffy sleeves. The high collar of his white ruffled shirt made it look as if his head sat on a large platter.

“Tis I.” The ghost of William dusted off his clothes before pulling a tall wool hat out of the book. “Shall we join the others? I do hope we haven’t missed the dance of the gnomes. Charming fellows.”

Before the two could leave, Festy heard the slam of the metal flap on the book return slot. His pointy ears stood up straight. “Hear that?” He knew no one in the small southern town of Caryville would be dropping off anything so late at night.

HERE IS MELISSA’S CRITIQUE:

CALL OF THE CROW
Debbie Emory

A very intriguing first page! It’s a wonderfully descriptive opening, that strikes a nice balance between a playful tone and the mystery involved with sneaking into a library at night in order to fetch a book ghost (who I assume is William Shakespeare). This may be something that’s addressed later, but I immediately began to wonder at the mechanics of summoning the ghost of William. Is he the only ghost that can be summoned from the books in the library? If there are others, why aren’t they joining as well? With fantasy, I find it’s good to be very clear about the limitations of the world.

I also think that the use of dialog here is nice, and includes a nice flow of detail that feels very natural. Though, I did wonder about calling attention to Festy’s British accent—if he’s going to be the protagonist of the story, does this need to be drawn to the reader’s attention? Perhaps there’s a more subtle way to do this? Maybe the author could call out William’s more posh accent in relation to Festy’s?

The pacing here also feels just right for a younger middle grade read. There’s a good balance of detail and plot development, and you’ve set some nice conflict at the very end of the first page that definitely has me curious about who just entered the library!


Melissa, wonderful job! I’m excited about meeting you at the June Conference. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and expertise with us. I know it is very appreciated.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, authors and illustrators, revisions, Tips, writing Tagged: Abram's Books for Young Readers, First Page Critique, Free Fall Friday, Mellisa Faulner

2 Comments on Free Fall Friday – Results – Melissa Faulner, last added: 5/31/2013
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8. Free Fall Friday – Frist Page Critique and Call for Illustrations

anna2CALL FOR ILLUSTRATIONS: Please remember to send in your illustrations for June. It is a great way to get seen and keep your name out there to get noticed. Send to Kathy.temean(at)gmail.com. Please submit .jpgs at least 500 pixels wide.

Anna Olswanger has agreed to be our Guest Critiquer for June’s First Page. For those who like the picture prompt, you will find it at the bottom of this post.

Anna Olswanger is a literary agent with Liza Dawson Associates in New York. Anna has been a literary agent since 2005 and has sold to Boyds Mills Press, Marshall Cavendish, Dutton, HarperCollins, McElderry, Pomegranate, and Random House Children’s Books, among other publishers. Specializing in: middle grade and young adult fiction and nonfiction, some adult fiction and nonfiction, children’s illustrated books, and Judaica.

Anna is particularly interested in working with author-illustrators.Anna enjoys discovering new authors and illustrators. She is looking for “voice,” the sound and rhythm of an author that could be no one else’s, and has a special interest in children’s picture books (author-illustrators only), adult nonfiction, Judaica, animal stories, and ghost stories. Contact her at queryanna@LizaDawsonAssociates.com.

In addition to being an agent, she is the author of the picture book Shlemiel Crooks, a Sydney Taylor Honor Book and a Koret International Jewish Book Award Finalist.

You may have attended some of her workshops, like Why Was My Manuscript Rejected? 3 Agents, 3 Opinions, with two other agents (see www.3LiteraryAgents.com). Writers in the Northeast may also know Anna, because she coorinated the Jewish Children’s Book Writers’ Conference at the 92nd Street Y for many years. In addition, she founded the website http://www.Host-a-Jewish-Book-Author.com

Anna’s own website is www.olswanger.com.

Submission Guidelines for Anna Olswanger:

I only accept email queries (no snail mail queries, please.)

Please insert (cut and paste) the first five pages of your manuscript into the body of your email. (I’m leery of opening attachments from addresses I don’t know.)

Queries to: queryanna@LizaDawsonAssociates.com

shawnaghost4

June’s Picture Prompt illustration was created by Shawna JC Tenney. She was recently featured on Illustrators Saturday. http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/04/20/illustrator-saturday-shawna-jc-tenney/

WRITERS Sending in a First Page: Please attach your double spaced, 12 point font, 23 line first page to an e-mail and send it to kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com. Also cut and paste it into the body of the e-mail. Put “June First Page Critique” or “June First Page Picture Prompt Critique” in the subject line. Make sure you have your name on the submission, a title, and indicate the genre.

SUBMISSION DEADLINE: JUNE 17th .

The four chosen and their critiques will be posted on June 28th.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, Editor & Agent Info, opportunity, Writer's Prompt Tagged: Anna Olswanger, Call for Illustrations, First Page Critiques, Free Fall Friday, Liza Dawson Associates, Shawna JC Tenney

0 Comments on Free Fall Friday – Frist Page Critique and Call for Illustrations as of 6/14/2013 12:31:00 AM
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9. Free Fall Friday – June Results

bookopenI’d like to thank Anna Olswanger from Liza Dawson Associates for sharing her time and expertise with us this month. Your first page is the first thing anyone sees of your story, so the more we can hone the beginning, the better off we will be in writing a successful book. I know we can all learn from these sessions. Even if it is not your first page, you can make note of the thoughts of an editor or agent after they have critiqued the page.

Here are the four first pages picked this month and Anna’s thoughts:

Hope Grietzer                    The Carousel Keeper                Middle Grade Novel

A parade of green swells rose and sank in the murky water beneath the boat. The deck of the ferry dipped again, and for a moment Sadie felt weightless.

“Just ten more minutes,” she thought, gripping the rail as the ferry climbed the crest of the next swell. A gusty wind tugged at her baseball cap like a passing pickpocket, and Sadie’s hand flew up to protect her cap. She squeezed her eyes shut.

“Bit choppy today,” a voice said.

The steward approached, the ends of his white jacket flapping in the breeze like seagull

wings. Red hair hugged his head, and his ears stuck out like pot handles.

“Anything I can do for you, Miss?”

“Can you send me back to Ohio?” Sadie forced a small grin.

“I would, except I promised your uncle I’d deliver you to the island safe and sound.” He

glanced around the crowded ferry. “Follow me.”

Sadie eased away from the rail. The mischievous deck sank before her sneaker could reach it, and then rose so that her foot smacked it hard.

“Feels like I’m walking on the moon,” she thought, hobbling after the steward.

The man paused and gestured toward a vacant seat. “The ride should be smoother here.”

A mother with a squirmy toddler shifted to make room as Sadie sank onto the bench. Across the aisle, a wiry man in a brown suit coat gave Sadie and the child a nervous glance and tugged his briefcase closer. Sadie gave him her best smile but he scowled back, his thick eyebrows drawing together like a blackbird’s wings.

Sadie wished her brother Jamie was here. He had a knack for making friends. But Sadie

traveled alone, sailing toward Summer Island while her parents flew to Brazil. They broke the

news to her last week.

HERE’S ANNA:

The Carousel Keeper

I would keep reading beyond the first page to find out what life will be like for Sadie on Summer Island. (Will she find a friend? Will she see the steward again? What is her uncle like?)

I do think some minor details are distracting: the image of red hair hugging the steward’s head, for example. What is the point of that detail, or of the detail of his ears sticking out? It feels as though the author may be trying to fill up space. The deck being “mischievous” feels like overwriting, and what is it like to walk on the moon? The reader has been experiencing the choppiness of the ride, so would walking on the moon be “choppy?”

Is there a significance to the bird imagery? The stewards’s white jacket flaps like seagull wings. The man in the brown suit has eyebrows that draw together like a blackbird’s wings. Make it clear if an image is part of a theme. Otherwise, the details seem arbitrary.

The hint of Jamie at the end is nice.


Annina Luck Wildermuth

Ned Bunting, Ghost Spotter & the Ghost with the Hooded Cloak Middle Grade (ages 8 – 12)

Ned was two hours into his watch, crouched behind the old elm at Walnut Hollow graveyard, when he spotted his first ghost of the night.  Of course, he’d seen all kinds of ghosts the week before when he was still in training with his older brother Tom, but this was different. He was alone now.

As his luck would have it though, he could already see that this one was a poor excuse for a ghost. All its potentially distinguishing marks were obscured by a voluminous hooded cloak.

The horse it rode was equally undistinguished, poking its way among the graves, slow as molasses.

How am I supposed to identify this ghost? wondered Ned, starting to worry. As Walnut Hollow’s new ghost spotter, he was supposed to identify and log in all the ghosts who came through the town and make sure that they were obeying the local haunting laws.

He fumbled now to produce Ghosts of the Thirteen Colonies & Their Classification from inside his vest. Satisfied that the horse and rider were making slow progress at best, he thumbed the book’s worn pages, his lantern flickering beside him. Ghosts were portrayed in great detail with identifiable characteristics.  There was General Whitelsby, the angry, old red-coat in his unmistakable British uniform and Abigail, the Quaker in her fancy white neck ruff. The mad horseman from Sleepy Hollow always carried his head under his arm. Ned’s eyes darted to the graveyard, and he groaned inwardly. Nothing.

And then the wind whipped up, blowing through the tree’s branches and whistling its way between the gravestones. It twirled around the ghost and lifted its cloak into the air to reveal a small, cross girl in the frilliest dress Ned had ever seen. She looked straight at him and wailed: “How am I ever going to accomplish my mission, now that I’ve been so rudely unmasked?”

HERE’s ANNA:

Ned Bunting, Ghost Spotter

This first page ends on a nice note of suspense, so I would want to read further, but the first sentence is too long and clunky. Try to clean it up, since that is an editor’s first impression of your manuscript.

It’s not clear why you have the detail that this ghost was a poor excuse. Tom is logging in ghosts and making sure they obey the local haunting laws, so his luck is not that this ghost is a poor excuse, but that it has no distinguishing marks.

The use of a book implies that this is a contemporary story. Is that what you intend, or is the story set in the past? If it’s set in the past, then shouldn’t the book be manuscript pages with handwritten notes?

When Ned’s eyes dart to the graveyard, he groans. If he’s groaning because he still  can’t identity this ghost, then make it clear that he is looking at the ghost, not at the graveyard (in general) to eliminate any confusion.

The last paragraph is perfect.


Liliana Erasmus - Song Of The Sentinel - paranormal middle-grade.

What is father doing here? I told him to stay out of it. This isn’t his battle to fight. His glorious days of vigilance are over. Gone. It’s my turn now. Why doesn’t he get it? He is dead. I am not. And he knows I’m here, I can feel his light shifting closer. His presence. My lantern blows out.

“Go. Away,” I urge him in silence.

I don’t even turn around to look into his empty eyes, or at that ridiculous horse that carries him around, for what? To attract all the hungry creatures in the neighborhood and make my life more miserable than it already is? I have to keep position and here he comes, shimmering behind me like a lighthouse signaling, Look here! You see ‘m? Now suck his life out!

They’re coming. I’m not sure how many this time. Three? Four?

“Father, for God’s sake, leave! Let it be.”

Once again, he backs off, his light dimming and I know he’s further away, but never for long, never too far from danger… from me.

The September wind has fallen, the trees stand breathless, moonlit tombs lie in repose and I still get that paralyzing chill down my spine. The buzzing in my ears is getting louder, it’s growing until it becomes a constant whistle in my head, ticking me off. If I jump now, they’ll know what to do with me. I’m on my own. They are with one, five… eleven, damn! I have to wait for them to stick their tongues into the earth before making any sound. One of them is not sniffing the graves. It’s holding back for some reason, tilting its snout in the air, tail high and stiff, while that foul smell of decay reaches my nose, making me gag. I swallow the sourness without blinking. The furry carcass is staring right at me.

HERE’S ANNA:

Song of the Sentinel

I would probably keep reading this manuscript, but this page is confusing. Here are my concerns:

The narrator speaks in both vernacular and formal language: “stay out of it” and “doesn’t he get it” don’t work with “His glorious days of vigilance are over.”

It also doesn’t make sense for the narrator to say, “he knows I’m here” when it’s the narrator who can feel the father’s presence.

The phrase “my life more miserable than it already is” is vague. The reader needs a hint of what has been going on. Miserable in what way?

Who says “Look here! You see ‘m? Now suck his life out!’ The reader can’t tell.

Who says “They’re coming. I’m not sure how many this time. Three? Four?” Again, the reader can’t tell who is speaking.

What does it mean for tombs to “lie in repose?” It sounds as though the author is trying too hard here to be literary.

What does it mean that the narrator “still” gets that paralyzing chill down his or her spine? Has this happened in the past?

“Ticking me off” sounds too slangy, and too trite.

What does it means to swallow the sourness “without blinking?” What does sight have to do with taste in this instance?

I like the images in the last paragraph, and I especially like the suspenseful last sentence. I would continue reading, but the author should clear up all the confusion on this first page so that an editor will feel that the author is in control of her craft.


Meg Eastman Thompson, THE TRUTH ABOUT JUSTICE. MG/YA novel

Restless as a yellow-jacket at a barbecue, I bounded down the sidewalk to fetch the bread and milk for supper as Mother had ordered, heading for the Piggly Wiggly. I was lonely, missing Effie more than ever. Wondering where she and her family had hidden. Not wanting to believe they’d never come back.

When Missy and I had promised Effie we’d stand by each other no matter what, we’d taken our vows seriously. It hadn’t mattered back then that Effie was colored. We three were true friends. As I passed Liberty High and turned left toward the grocery store, there was not a friend in sight. Most everybody had been sent away, what with the coloreds asking to come to our school.

My next-door neighbor and sometime friend, Missy Pridemoor, and nearly everyone else, was having fun at church camp. I had begged to go, but Daddy insisted I was too old to be a camper. When I’d protested, he made it clear that, three years away from college, I was too young to make my own decisions. As usual Mother stuck by him.

When I was little, she’d always say, “Amelia Justice Queen, your Daddy knows what’s best for you.” But it was 1963 now and I was changing, along with everything else in our country. Even Mother was starting to speak up. When she told Daddy that camp was nothing but a non-stop revival meeting, it got me thinking. I didn’t need to be saved. Nor did I want to waste the end of my summer vacation listening to some preacher baying like an auctioneer. I stopped complaining. At fifteen, going on sixteen, I was smart enough to pick my battles.

Besides, I wanted to enjoy my last days of freedom. I skipped along. Released from their impossible overprotectiveness, which had only grown worse since stopping integration was once again on the school board agenda, I was determined to make the best of my trip to the store.
The Piggly Wiggly’s deep freeze was heavenly. I lingered by the ice cream treats.

HERE’S ANNA:

The Truth About Justice

Although I think this manuscript has potential because of the voice and content, I found the first page so full of exposition (and some of it confusing), that I don’t think I’d continue reading. Look at the first sentence and how long it is—the first page feels a bit like this (stuffed with information).

I don’t understand who the narrator is and what she wants: In the first paragraph, she is lonely for Effie; in the second paragraph, she seems to be missing her friends in general; in the third paragraph, she wants to go to camp; in the fourth paragraph, she decides she doesn’t want to go camp; and in the fifth paragraph, she seems just to want to enjoy her freedom. All of these motivations feel like too much for one page. The narrator has to have one overriding motivation that will take her (and the reader) through that first page—and on through the book.

It’s also confusing that in the third paragraph, the mother sticks by the father, but in the next paragraph she tells the father that the camp is nothing but a non-stop revival meeting.

And, finally, a fifteen-year-old protagonist is a bit too old for a novel that has the feel, at least in this opening page, of a middle grade novel (the narrator skips). If the author could lower the age and focus the narrator’s motivation, she should have a first page that an agent or editor would want to keep reading.

Thank you everyone for participating. Happy revising.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, Agent, Author, revisions, Tips, writing Tagged: Anna Olswanger, First Page Critique, Free Fall Friday, Liza Dawson Associates Literary Agency

5 Comments on Free Fall Friday – June Results, last added: 7/1/2013
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10. Free Fall Friday

CALL FOR ILLUSTRATIONS: Please remember to send in your illustrations for July. It is a great way to get seen and keep your name out there to get noticed. Send them to Kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail.com. Please submit .jpgs at least 500 pixels wide.

johnreturn_of_the_wizards

For those writers who enjoy doing the picture prompt for their first page, above is July’s Picture Prompt illustration which was created by John Manders. He was featured on May 25th. Here is the link: http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/05/25/illustrator-saturday-john-manders/

WRITERS Sending in a First Page: Please attach your double spaced, 12 point font, 23 line first page to an e-mail and send it to kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com. Also cut and paste it into the body of the e-mail. Put “June First Page Critique” or “June First Page Picture Prompt Critique” in the subject line. Make sure you have your name on the submission, a title, and indicate the genre. 

SUBMISSION DEADLINE: JULY 18th .

The four chosen and their critiques will be posted on July 26th. I will announce who our Guest Critiquer is next Friday.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Artist opportunity, authors and illustrators, Contests, inspiration, opportunity, Writer's Prompt Tagged: First Page Critique, Free Fall Friday, John Manders

5 Comments on Free Fall Friday, last added: 7/5/2013
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11. Free Fall Friday – News and Call for Illustrations

Literary agent Frances Black and media relations executive Debra Caruso have announced the formation of E-Lit Books. The epublishing company is focused on helping issue titles by their clients when they are unable to find acceptable homes with major publishers. “We have so many wonderful authors whose manuscripts are not getting attention from the big publishers, but that doesn’t mean they’re not writing great books,” Black says in the announcement. She adds that the inclusion of “media relations, both social and traditional, will be the ‘it’ factor in our delivery system.”

At Henry Holt, Serena Jones has been promoted to senior editor, while Paul Golob moves over as executive editor while continuing to manage the imprint’s relationship with the New York Times. Both Jones and Golob will report to Gillian Blake.

At Harlequin, Tina James has been promoted to executive editor, Love Inspired.

Jessica Regel has joined Foundry Literary+Media as a domestic agent and Foreign Rights Associate for the agency’s children’s list, further growing Foundry’s Books for Young Readers department. She spent the past 11 years as an agent at Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency.

Shannon Hassan will join Marsal Lyon Literary Agency at the end of August. Previously she was an agent at the Warner Literary Group.

HarperCollins Canada will handle sales and distribution for UK-based children’s publisher Usborne Publishing Ltd.

Rachel Hecht is re-joining Mary Anne Thompson Associates as executive director of Children’s/YA scouting. In addition, the scouting firm has been appointed North American scout for Baltos Lankos in Lithuania, covering the adult market.

CALL FOR ILLUSTRATIONS: Please remember to send in your illustrations for August. It is a great way to get seen and keep your name out there to get noticed. Send them to Kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail.com with August Illustrations in the subject area. Please submit .jpgs at least 500 pixels wide.

randy_gallegos_emperor_of_the_merfolk

For writers who like having a picture prompt may use the above illustration by Randy Gallegoes for inspiration. Randy was featured on illustrator Saturday August 3rd. http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/08/03/illustrator-saturday-randy-gallegos/

I do not have the Guest Critiquer confirmed yet to announce, but you can start sending in your first pages for September’s critique.

WRITERS Sending in a First Page: Please attach your double spaced, 12 point font, 23 line first page to an e-mail and send it to kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com. Also cut and paste it into the body of the e-mail. Put “September First Page Critique” or “September First Page Picture Prompt Critique” in the subject line. Make sure you have your name on the submission, a title, and indicate the genre.

SUBMISSION DEADLINE: September 19th.

The four chosen and their critiques will be posted on September 27th.

Talk Tomorrow,

Kathy

 


Filed under: Artist opportunity, inspiration, News, opportunity Tagged: E-Lit Books, First Page Critique, Free Fall Friday, Jessica Regel, Rachel Hecht, Randy Gallegoes

0 Comments on Free Fall Friday – News and Call for Illustrations as of 9/6/2013 3:05:00 PM
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12. Free Fall Friday – Zack Clark

zack clarkI am so happy to let you know that Zack Clark, Assistant Editor at Scholastic will be September’s Guest Critiquer. He edits mostly middle-grade adventure and fantasy, but also likes fast-paced, plot-driven YA novels.

Check back next Friday to read Zack’s bio.

CALL FOR ILLUSTRATIONS: Please remember to send in your illustrations for August. It is a great way to get seen and keep your name out there to get noticed. Send them to Kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail.com with August Illustrations in the subject area. Please submit .jpgs at least 500 pixels wide.

randy_gallegos_emperor_of_the_merfolk

For writers who like having a picture prompt may use the above illustration by Randy Gallegoes for inspiration. Randy was featured on illustrator Saturday August 3rd. http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/08/03/illustrator-saturday-randy-gallegos/

I do not have the Guest Critiquer confirmed yet to announce, but you can start sending in your first pages for September’s critique.

WRITERS Sending in a First Page: Please attach your double spaced, 12 point font, 23 line first page to an e-mail and send it to kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com. Also cut and paste it into the body of the e-mail. Put “September First Page Critique” or “September First Page Picture Prompt Critique” in the subject line. Make sure you have your name on the submission, a title, and indicate the genre.

SUBMISSION DEADLINE: September 19th.

The four chosen and their critiques will be posted on September 27th.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, Editor & Agent Info, opportunity Tagged: Assistant Editor, Free Fall Friday, Free First Page Critique, Randy Gallegoes, Scholastic, September Guest Critiquer, Zachery Clark

0 Comments on Free Fall Friday – Zack Clark as of 9/13/2013 1:14:00 AM
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13. Free Fall Friday – Zack Clark Guest Critiquer

zack clarkI am so happy to let you know that Zack Clark, Assistant Editor at Scholastic will be September’s Guest Critiquer. He edits mostly middle-grade adventure and fantasy, but also likes fast-paced, plot-driven YA novels.

Zack Clark is an Assistant Editor at Scholastic. He’s an adventure addict, having cut his editorial teeth on the GUARDIANS OF GA’HOOLE series by Kathryn Lasky. He’s also edited the ANIMORPHS relaunch, KILLER SPECIES by Michael P. Spradlin, INFESTATION by Timothy J. Bradley, and was the lead editor for the recently launched SPIRIT ANIMALS multiplatform series, editing the books and writing and editing the online game. He’s had the incredible privilege of working with such authors as Brandon Mull, Katherine Applegate and Michael Grant, Maggie Stiefvater, Garth Nix and Sean Williams, Shannon Hale, and Ben Mikaelsen. His tastes tend toward genre fiction—fantasy, sci-fi, and adventure are all good. Plot-driven narratives with clear hooks will draw him into a world, and rich, conflicted characters will keep him there.

CALL FOR ILLUSTRATIONS: Please remember to send in your illustrations for August. It is a great way to get seen and keep your name out there to get noticed. Send them to Kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail.com with August Illustrations in the subject area. Please submit .jpgs at least 500 pixels wide.

randy_gallegos_emperor_of_the_merfolk

For writers who like having a picture prompt may use the above illustration by Randy Gallegoes for inspiration. Randy was featured on illustrator Saturday August 3rd. http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/08/03/illustrator-saturday-randy-gallegos/

WRITERS Sending in a First Page: Please attach your double spaced, 12 point font, 23 line first page to an e-mail and send it to kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com. Also cut and paste it into the body of the e-mail. Put “September First Page Critique” or “September First Page Picture Prompt Critique” in the subject line. Make sure you have your name on the submission, a title, and indicate the genre.

See Results Next Friday.

The four chosen and their critiques will be posted on September 27th.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Editor & Agent Info, opportunity, Places to sumit, Writer's Prompt Tagged: Assistant Editor, First Page Critique, Free Fall Friday, Scholastic, Zack Clark

1 Comments on Free Fall Friday – Zack Clark Guest Critiquer, last added: 9/20/2013
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14. Free Fall Friday – Zack Clark Guest Critiquer

zack clarkI am so happy to let you know that Zack Clark, Assistant Editor at Scholastic will be September’s Guest Critiquer. He edits mostly middle-grade adventure and fantasy, but also likes fast-paced, plot-driven YA novels.

Zack Clark is an Assistant Editor at Scholastic. He’s an adventure addict, having cut his editorial teeth on the GUARDIANS OF GA’HOOLE series by Kathryn Lasky. He’s also edited the ANIMORPHS relaunch, KILLER SPECIES by Michael P. Spradlin, INFESTATION by Timothy J. Bradley, and was the lead editor for the recently launched SPIRIT ANIMALS multiplatform series, editing the books and writing and editing the online game. He’s had the incredible privilege of working with such authors as Brandon Mull, Katherine Applegate and Michael Grant, Maggie Stiefvater, Garth Nix and Sean Williams, Shannon Hale, and Ben Mikaelsen. His tastes tend toward genre fiction—fantasy, sci-fi, and adventure are all good. Plot-driven narratives with clear hooks will draw him into a world, and rich, conflicted characters will keep him there.

CALL FOR ILLUSTRATIONS: Please remember to send in your illustrations for August. It is a great way to get seen and keep your name out there to get noticed. Send them to Kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail.com with August Illustrations in the subject area. Please submit .jpgs at least 500 pixels wide.

randy_gallegos_emperor_of_the_merfolk

For writers who like having a picture prompt may use the above illustration by Randy Gallegoes for inspiration. Randy was featured on illustrator Saturday August 3rd. http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/08/03/illustrator-saturday-randy-gallegos/

WRITERS Sending in a First Page: Please attach your double spaced, 12 point font, 23 line first page to an e-mail and send it to kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com. Also cut and paste it into the body of the e-mail. Put “September First Page Critique” or “September First Page Picture Prompt Critique” in the subject line. Make sure you have your name on the submission, a title, and indicate the genre.

See Results Next Friday.

The four chosen and their critiques will be posted on September 27th.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Editor & Agent Info, opportunity, Places to sumit, Writer's Prompt Tagged: Assistant Editor, First Page Critique, Free Fall Friday, Scholastic, Zack Clark

0 Comments on Free Fall Friday – Zack Clark Guest Critiquer as of 9/20/2013 3:32:00 AM
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15. Free Fall Friday – Results Delay – Places to Submit

Due to the Holidays, I was not able to get the December Critiques back in time to post today. I have moved a post planned for next week to replace Kate Sullivan’s critiques and will post the critiques next week when I receive them. I apologize for the delay. Kate has the critiques, but I have been sick for the last two weeks, which might have factored into missing this deadline. Hope all of you and your family are healthy and enjoying the holidays.

chroniclebooks2

They are looking for projects that have a unique bent—be it in subject matter, writing style, or illustrative technique—and that will lend our list a distinctive flair. We are interested in fiction and nonfiction books for children of all ages as well as board books, decks, activity kits, and other unusual or “novelty” formats.

Books for younger children may be submitted in their entirety without querying first. Projects for older children should be submitted by query letter, synopsis, and three sample chapters.

NO MATERIALS SUBMITTED WILL BE RETURNED

• Do not include a self addressed, stamped envelope.

• Chronicle does not accept submissions or queries by fax, via e-mail, or on disk.

• Chronicle will not respond to an unsolicited submission unless interested in publishing it.

If we are interested in your submission, you can expect to hear from us within six months after we receive your submission.

Chronicle Children’s receives more than 1,000 submissions every month. For this reason, we do not track receipt of submissions. If you would like confirmation that your materials have been received, please include a self-addressed, stamped postcard with your submission. This postcard will be returned to you before your submission is evaluated, as proof that your submission was received.

If your proposal is a simultaneous submission, please indicate this in your cover letter. When submitting artwork, either as a part of a project or as samples for review, do not send original art. Anything from photocopies to tear sheets will do. And please, always keep a copy of your project; we are not responsible for any submitted materials, including dummies, prototypes, slides, etc.

Please send submissions to:

Chronicle Books; Children’s 680 Second Street San Francisco, California 94107

_________________________________________________________________________________________

charlesbridgelogo2

The Charlesbridge Trade Division publishes high-quality books for children, with a goal of creating lifelong readers and learners. We believe that books for children should offer accurate information, promote a positive worldview, and embrace a child’s innate sense of wonder and fun. To this end, we continually strive to seek new voices, new visions, and new directions in children’s literature.

Charlesbridge publishes both picture books and transitional “bridge books” (books ranging from early readers to middle-grade chapter books). Our nonfiction books focus on nature, science, social studies, and multicultural topics. Our fiction titles include lively, plot-driven stories with strong, engaging characters.


EXCLUSIVE SUBMISSIONS POLICY Charlesbridge accepts unsolicited manuscripts submitted exclusively to us for a period of three months. “Exclusive Submission” should be written on all envelopes and cover letters. Due to the high volume of submissions, we respond only to manuscripts of interest to us. All other manuscripts will be recycled. If you have not heard back from us after three months, you may assume we do not have a place for your project and submit it elsewhere.


WHAT TO SEND Please submit only one or two manuscript(s) at a time. For picture books and shorter bridge books, please send a complete manuscript. For fiction books longer than 30 manuscript pages, please send a detailed plot synopsis, a chapter outline, and three chapters of text. For nonfiction books longer than 30 manuscript pages, please send a detailed proposal, a chapter outline, and one to three chapters of text.

We are not actively seeking alphabet books, board books, coloring books, activity books, or books with audiotapes or CD-ROMs.

Manuscripts should be typed and double-spaced. Please do not submit material by email, by fax, or on a computer disk. Illustrations are not necessary.

Please make a copy of your manuscript, as we cannot be responsible for submissions lost in the mail. Please include your name and address on the first page of your manuscript and in your cover letter. Be sure to list any previously published work or relevant writing experience.


WHERE TO SEND IT Please send your work to the attention of: Submissions Editor Trade Division Charlesbridge 85 Main Street Watertown, MA 02472


GET TO KNOW US To become acquainted with our publishing program, we encourage you to review our books and visit our website (www.charlesbridge.com ), where you will find our catalog. To request a printed catalog, please send a 9″ x 12″ SASE with $2.50 in postage.

_______________________________________________________________________________________

nshomepagelogo2

NewSouth Books and Junebug Books Submission Guidelines

Due to sufficient manuscript volume, NewSouth Books is currently closed to picture books, general adult fiction, and poetry. We are reading on a limited basis young adult fiction and nonfiction. Please email acquisitions at newsouthbooks.com to be notified when submissions resume.

NewSouth is home to the book publishing imprints NewSouth Books and Junebug Books. Our editors read manuscripts for both imprints, each of which has different requirements, as outlined below. Please query by email before submitting manuscripts to us. A good query will consist of a cover page briefly stating who you are, a description of your book, and why it is appropriate for one of our imprints; a synopsis or outline; and an author bio.  Full manuscripts should not be emailed until requested; manuscripts will not be considered unless the author has received prior permission to email them after submitting a query.

Queries should be emailed to our acquisitions at newsouthbooks dot com address. We try to reply promptly, but we are a small company and it may take a while for us to read and consider a submission. Be patient, and try to resist the urge to call to check on our progress.

Queries should not be submitted by mail, only by email.  Please retain original copies of any materials sent by email.

NewSouth Books publishes quality works of non-fiction, fiction, and poetry, with a special interest in regional history, biography, autobiography, non-fiction, folklore, African American, Native American, and civil rights subjects.

Junebug Books publishes quality, illustrated and non-illustrated works of fiction and non-fiction for young readers. We are especially interested in biographies of African Americans and in concise, interesting books that make understandable to young readers such complex subjects as slavery, segregation, the Civil War, the civil rights movement, and human rights. We are primarily but not exclusively interested in Southern people and Southern settings. We are more likely to publish chapter books than picture books, but will look at the latter if on the subjects mentioned above.

Please watch the NewSouth blog for submission guideline updates and tips for querying authors.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: children writing, opportunity, Places to sumit, publishers, submissions Tagged: Critique Delay, Free Fall Friday, Places to submit, publishers, What Publishers are looking for

3 Comments on Free Fall Friday – Results Delay – Places to Submit, last added: 12/28/2012
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16. Free Fall Friday – February

Each Month I try to give Writers and Illustrator a chance to be noticed and further their craft. Writers can use the picture prompt below by Lisa Anchin to help inspire their first page for Free Fall Friday or they can submit a first page from something they are currently writing.  Lisa was featured on Illustrator Saturday on October 27th last year.  Take a look to see more of her great artwork.
http://wp.me/pss2W-5yi

The Promise of Adventure

WRITERS Sending in a First Page: Please attach your double spaced, 12 point font, 23 line first page to an e-mail and send it to kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com. Also cut and paste it into the body of the e-mail. Put “December First Page Critique” or “February First Page Picture Prompt Critique” in the subject line. Make sure you have your name on the submission, a title, and indicate the genre. Also let me know which steps you took, so I will know how many times to put your name in the basket. If you end up doing more things to get additional entries, then e-mail me by February 23rd. The four chosen and their critiques will be posted on March 1st.

AUTHORS: If you have a new book coming out and want to be considered for a post, please e-mail me at: Kathy.temean (at) gmail.com

Call for illustrations for February: You can send anything, but it may not get used for February, unless I have a post that will go with it. I will try to use all illustrations that reflect the month. You do not have to wait, I will post the illustrations as they come in. Please make sure the illustration is at least 500 pixels wide and include a blurb about yourself and a link to see more of your work. Please send it to kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com and put “February Illustration” or “General Illustration” in the subject box.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, Blog, inspiration, opportunity Tagged: Call for Illustrators, First Page Critique, Free Fall Friday, Lisa Anchin

0 Comments on Free Fall Friday – February as of 2/8/2013 12:36:00 AM
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17. Free Fall Friday & Book Winners

twobooks

And the book winners from last week are:

Donna Marie Taylor for i haiku you and Wendy Greenley for Bug Patrol

If you are a winner, please email your address to me, so I can arrange to send your book.

I will report who our guest critiquer is as soon as I can confirm. Sorry for the delay.

Each Month I try to give Writers and Illustrator a chance to be noticed and further their craft. Writers can use the picture prompt below by Lisa Anchin to help inspire their first page for Free Fall Friday or they can submit a first page from something they are currently writing.  Lisa was featured on Illustrator Saturday on October 27th last year.  Take a look to see more of her great artwork. http://wp.me/pss2W-5yi

The Promise of Adventure

WRITERS Sending in a First Page: Please attach your double spaced, 12 point font, 23 line first page to an e-mail and send it to kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com. Also cut and paste it into the body of the e-mail. Put “December First Page Critique” or “February First Page Picture Prompt Critique” in the subject line. Make sure you have your name on the submission, a title, and indicate the genre. Also let me know which steps you took, so I will know how many times to put your name in the basket. If you end up doing more things to get additional entries, then e-mail me by February 23rd. The four chosen and their critiques will be posted on March 1st.

AUTHORS: If you have a new book coming out and want to be considered for a post, please e-mail me at: Kathy.temean (at) gmail.com

Call for illustrations for February: You can send anything, but it may not get used for February, unless I have a post that will go with it. I will try to use all illustrations that reflect the month. You do not have to wait, I will post the illustrations as they come in. Please make sure the illustration is at least 500 pixels wide and include a blurb about yourself and a link to see more of your work. Please send it to kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com and put “February Illustration” or “General Illustration” in the subject box.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, Contests, opportunity, picture books Tagged: Book Winners, Bug Patrol, First Page Critiques, Free Fall Friday, i haiky you, Lisa Anchin

3 Comments on Free Fall Friday & Book Winners, last added: 2/15/2013
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18. Free Fall Friday – Jenne Abramowitz

jenneHere are the four winning first pages critiqued by Sr. Editor Jenne Abramowitz from Scholastic:

Raise and Release (contemporary fiction – coming-of-age) by Betty Vanderwielen

“Dad! A raccoon!”

The shoulder belt bit into Lance’s chest as his dad slammed on the brakes. Lance barely registered the car’s swerve, the final jerky stop, his dad’s arm thrust out toward him. His eyes stayed on the grayish-brown creature launched to the side of the road. And something spiraling off into the underbrush, something it had been carrying in its mouth.

Lance held his breath as the raccoon landed and lay still. He watched it push itself upright, stagger, fall, force itself up again, stumble into the woods.

“Are you all right?” his dad’s voice broke through.

“She’s hurt,” Lance said, pulling the seat belt release with one hand, reaching for the door handle with the other.

His dad pulled him back into the seat. “What do you think you’re doing?”

“She’s not dead. But she’s hurt. We have to help her!”

“Don’t be stupid, Lance. You never approach an injured animal. That raccoon would claw your eyes out if you tried to touch it.”

“But, Dad, it’s our fault.”

“My fault!” His dad released Lance’s arm. “It’s not like I tried to hit it. The thing had no business on the road. Put your seat belt back on.”

“She had something in her mouth. A baby I think. It got thrown over there, in that brushy section.” Lance pointed, but his dad’s head was turned the opposite direction looking for oncoming traffic. “Let me go see, Dad. A baby can’t survive without its mother.”

“It’s not a baby. Probably just something it caught for food,” his father answered without turning around. “A deer mouse maybe.”

“But what if it’s a baby raccoon? On Animal Channel they showed a mother raccoon carrying a baby in her mouth like that.”

Jenne’s Response to: Raise and Release by Betty Vanderwielen

Immediately, I can sense the tension between Lance and his father. It’s clear they have very different values when it comes to animal welfare, and I’m guessing this is going to be a cause for major conflict over the course of this manuscript. And it’s also clear that Lance’s father is more deeply engaged with his own inner thoughts than he is with his son’s beliefs or feelings. When Lance wants to take responsibility for this accident, his father immediately reacts in a defensive, aggressive manner. I suspect this book will explore this relationship and how it affects Lance’s choices, which could make for a really interesting emotional narrative.

I do wonder, though, about where this first page initially drops the reader. It can always be exciting to begin a story in the center of the action. But sometimes this doesn’t allow readers to get to know characters well enough before asking them to care about what’s important to them. In this first page, we immediately meet Lance who wants to help the raccoon and her baby and his father who just wants to get out of the situation, and they’re depicted in fairly black and white terms. Lance is on the side of good and right, and his father, who goes as far as calling his son stupid is clearly not. I would have liked to see a bit of non-raccoon-related interaction between Lance and his father before the accident to help show how the dynamics between them are oriented in general rather than just on the topic of animals, and to give the reader a more nuanced sense of each of them so that we are introduced to them as layered three-dimensional characters rather than simpler archetypes.

Additionally, at times the characters narrate action which might be more naturally conveyed to the reader through description. For example, when Lance explains that he thought he saw a baby raccoon thrown into the brush, he’s overly explaining an event that his father may have seen. If the reader were shown Lance observing this instead, the information would be conveyed in a more believable way.

 

The Art of Being Remmy

(An illustrated, middle grade novel of about 40,000 words)

By Mary Zisk

Miss Krasner, the art teacher, stood so close to my desk, I could smell her lily-of-the-valley perfume mixed with a whiff of cigarette smoke. While she shuffled through my drawings, I watched the red nails on her fingers dance and I bit my lip.

All the eyes of my third grade class were on me, except for my best friend, Debbie, who was busy drawing hearts on a pink piece of paper with a magenta crayon.

Miss Krasner crossed her arms, narrowed her dark Cleopatra-lined eyes, and puckered her lips.

“My, my,” she said and broke into a wide smile. “You’re a regular little Rembrandt, aren’t you?”

Rembrandt? A famous artist?

My pal, Billy, grinned and winked at me.

With a pat on my shoulder, Miss Krasner leaned down and whispered, “I think you have a special spark, Rosella. Don’t lose it.”

A spark. I had a spark.

Miss Krasner didn’t know then that her declaration would lead to my nickname, Remmy. The important thing was that she had stamped me with her seal of approval. I was an Artist with a capital A. It was my dream and then I knew it was also my destiny. Nothing could stop me.

Until last year.

Seventh grade.

1963.

Jenne’s Response to: The Art of Being Remmy by Mary Zisk

There are so many wonderful details in this first page. With her lily and cigarette smell and her dancing red nails, we definitely get a visual image of what the kind of woman Miss Krasner the art teacher is. I do wonder though about the voice of this character. The compliment she pays Rosella has a bit of arch humor to it, and comes off a bit sarcastically to me. Which both made me question what I’d previously thought of this character and also of how I’m supposed to interpret Rosella’s artistic ability. Is she actually talented? Or is she so bad in art class that she’s given an ironic nickname? Details like the smile and the pat on the back the teacher gives Rosella answer these questions, but I’m still left with a conflicted picture of this character. And since she’s being used to set-up reader expectations for how Rosella sees herself, I wonder if it might make more sense to be clearer about all of the details that show us who she is.

I quite like the tone of the writing in this first page. It’s intimate and personal, a bit wistful and full of hints about what’s to come. The last few lines on this page are a great set-up for the drama to come as Rosella aka Remmy’s story unfolds. But the timeline of this piece does confuse me a bit. This initial scene takes place when the character is in third grade and quickly jumps to an allusion to what’s happened later in seventh grade, from the point of view of after events have transpired, all of this transpiring in the past. Which is a lot to sort out. I wonder if it might be clearer to simply begin with the events of seventh grade in 1963 to streamline the reader’s understanding of the setting.

All-in-all, I’d definitely keep reading this manuscript.

 

MAG-NIF-I-CENT by Betty H. Matthews

 

It was sunrise in the garden. Willie the caterpillar munched, and crunched and slurped his way across a

crisp hibiscus leaf. He looked up and found himself surrounded by a crowd of BIG eyes. Then he heard a crowd of BIG voices.

They ooh-ed and aah-ed, “It’s outstanding…exquisite in every way.”

The loudest BIG voice gasped, “It is truly magnificent!”

Willie peeked up. It was an orange hibiscus blossom.  Must be nice to be mag-ni-fi-cent…whatever that means,thought Willie.

His friend, Pete, wiggled over.

“Pete, do you know what mag-nif-i-cent means?”

“I don’t have a flea’s idea,” said Pete. “Ask Mrs. Quail.  She knows lots of words.”

Willie wiggled down to the tomato plants.  “Mrs. Quail, I need your help to figure out what mag-nif-i-cent means.”

“Well,” said Mrs. Quail, “it has to do with art.  Look up.  Do you see all of the colors in the morning sky?”

“Yep, I sure do,” said Willie.

“It’s a masterpiece,” said Mrs. Quail. “It’s magnificent.  That’s the perfect word.”

“But I can’t paint a picture like that.  What can I do to be mag-nif-i-cent?”

“Might ask Sylvia Hen. Too-da-loo!”

Willie wiggled to the hen house. “Good morning, Mrs. Hen.”

“Hi, little feller. Whatcha need?”

“I’m looking for MY mag-nif-i-cent. Do you know where to look?

Mrs. Hen looked down at her nest. “I ‘jest’ might be able to help you.”

He heard a little cracking sound and then a whole little chick stepped right out of that shell.

Sylvia Hen clucked and cooed, “My, oh my! Hal-le-lu-jah! If this ain’t magnificent, I don’t know what is.”

Jenne’s Response to: MAG-NIF-I-CENT by Betty H. Matthews

The genre of this first page wasn’t labeled, but based on the young tone, lovely restraint in description, and the well-balanced structure, I’m going to assume this is a picture book manuscript. One of my favorite things about this page is the occasional specificity of language (“Too-da-loo!”)  in dialogue that really brings the characters to life. Sylvia Hen’s southern mothering is an especially nice touch. I do find myself wishing Willie’s voice had that same specificity of language. He’s a bit less fleshed out than many of the other characters we meet here.

I find the premise of this manuscript both sweet and a bit confusing. On the one hand, Willie is going to collect lots of examples of things that can be considered magnificent, and I can already see in Mrs. Quail’s description of art and Sylvia Hen’s brand-new chickadees, that these examples will be charmingly varied in their depictions of big, bold conceptual ideas and small, personal moments. On the other hand, the premise is nestled in Willie’s exploration of what the word “magnificent” means, when it seems clear he already at least knows it’s something wonderful. He doesn’t question what “exquisite” or “outstanding” mean, he recognizes oohs and ahs, and concedes that it must be nice to be magnificent. Which tells me this book is really more about him finding the magnificent in the world around him and in himself than it is an exploration of unfamiliar vocabulary. I think the premise would be more effectively set up if that were clearer for the reader.

 

Words Can Hurt by Janice Milusich  -  middle grade

 

The house was dark, but from her room Talia could see the glow of the kitchen light, when she looked down the hallway.  Her stomach knotted. Dad would be home soon.

Mom shuffled a deck of cards. They slapped the kitchen table as she dealt them: king, queen, jack, ten—solitaire. Mom played it every night while she waited.

Dog-earing the page of the book she’d been reading, Talia tucked The Secret Garden under her pillow, and clicked off her light.  Closing her eyes, she pictured a garden full of sweet roses, honeysuckle…  Raising her snub freckled nose, she could almost smell their sweetness.

BAM!  The front door shuddered. Talia snatched at her covers. She shoved her arms to her side and straightened her legs.

Mom turned on the light and crossed the hall.  Talia’s eyes followed her, until she couldn’t see her anymore.

“Why was it locked?” asked Dad.

Mom trailed him across the living room. “Why’re you so late?” She sounded tired.

 “Late—?  Late for what? ” Dad was ready for a fight.  He stopped in the hallway.

Through her lashes Talia saw his back was turned.  Tall, his body all squares and

rectangles, he towered over Mom.  He turned toward Talia’s room. Her leg twitched—that was all it took.

“Talia Maria Keens, come out to the kitchen.”

The only time Dad said all three of her names together was when she’d done something wrong, or he thought she had.

“Talia, I said come out here.”

Jenne’s Response to: Words Can Hurt by Janice Milusich

The tone of this first page is dark and ominous and does a really effective job of drawing the reader in. There are so many fabulous descriptions, from the cards “slapping” the table to the front door “shuddering,” that all fit together to create this really tense scene. I’m wondering what  the history of this family is, and what is going on with Talia’s father to make her and her mother both anticipate his anger so severely. And I’m also wondering what specific incident is driving the confrontation that brewing here. Because of the details chosen to introduce us to Talia (her observant, thoughtful voice and the fact that’s she’s reading a classic novel), she comes across as a quiet, well-behaved girl. So the possibility of wrong-doing, even if only in her father’s eyes, really piques my interest and makes me want to find out more.

The one element that’s not quite working for me here is the way the author’s tried to convey physical descriptions of Talia. The mentions of her “snub freckled nose” and the way she looks up through her lashes feel a bit forced into the scene to help show the reader what she looks like. But I’m not sure these details are necessary in this first moment, and might be better served by introducing them at a more natural point in the story that focuses on self-reflection rather than anxiety directed outward at her family.

I want to thank Jenne for sharing her expertise with us.  It is greatly appreciated. Remember you have a chance to meet Jenne at the New Jersey SCBWI Conference in June.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: children writing, demystify, Editors, inspiration, revisions Tagged: First Page Critique, Free Fall Friday, Jenne Abramowitz, Scholastic

1 Comments on Free Fall Friday – Jenne Abramowitz, last added: 3/1/2013
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19. Free Fall Friday

WRITERS Sending in a First Page: Please attach your double spaced, 12 point font, 23 line first page to an e-mail and send it to kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com. Also cut and paste it into the body of the e-mail. Put “March First Page Critique” or “March First Page Picture Prompt Critique” in the subject line. Make sure you have your name on the submission, a title, and indicate the genre. Also let me know which steps you took, so I will know how many times to put your name in the basket. If you end up doing more things to get additional entries, then e-mail me by March 23rd. The four chosen and their critiques will be posted on March 1st.

bettonfloating500

The above is the First Page Picture Prompt for March. Illustrated by Jen Betton. Jen was featured on illustrator Saturday if you would like to see more of her work. http://wp.me/pss2W-6bk You can also visit her website: www.jenbetton.com or her blog: www.jenbetton.blogspot.com

AUTHORS: If you have a new book coming out and want to be considered for a post, please e-mail me at: Kathy.temean (at) gmail.com

Call for illustrations for March: You can send anything, but I am especially looking for illustrations that reflect the month of March. Last month I did not get many of your illustrations. I hope you will send something in. You do not have to wait, I will post the illustrations as they come in. Please make sure the illustration is at least 500 pixels wide and include a blurb about yourself and a link to see more of your work. Please send it to kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com and put “March Illustration” in the subject box.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Artist opportunity, authors and illustrators, marketing, opportunity, submissions Tagged: Call for Illustrations, First Page Critique, Free Fall Friday, Frist Page Picture Prompt, Jen Betton

2 Comments on Free Fall Friday, last added: 3/10/2013
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20. Free Fall Friday – Agent Announced

Janie Hauber 2013smallI’d like to introduce you to JANINE HAUBER, Agent, Sheldon Fogelman Agency. She has agreed to be Guest Critiquer for March. She will read and critique 4 first pages and will be part of the faculty at the New Jersey SCBWI Conference in June.

This is a great way to do your homework and get a feel for Janine. Check out the other faculty who have been Guest Critiquers:

Jenne Abramowitz Senior Editor, Scholastic

Heather Alexander Associate Editor at Dial BFYR

John Cusick, Agent, Greenhouse Literary

Liza Fleissig, Agent, Liza Royce Agency

Rachel Orr, Agent, Prospect Agency

Janine has been with the Sheldon Fogelman Agency since 2010, where she has worked with award-winning clients such as Jerry Pinkney, Peggy Rathmann, Karen Beaumont, Mo Willems, Diane Stanley, and T. A. Barron. As foreign rights manager, Janine has licensed translation rights in more than 20 languages and represented the agency and its clients at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair.

She’s actively building her own list and is open to representing picture books, middle grade books, young adult books – all types of children’s books of all genres.

WRITERS Sending in a First Page: Please attach your double spaced, 12 point font, 23 line first page to an e-mail and send it to kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com. Also cut and paste it into the body of the e-mail. Put “March First Page Critique” or “March First Page Picture Prompt Critique” in the subject line. Make sure you have your name on the submission, a title, and indicate the genre. Also let me know which steps you took, so I will know how many times to put your name in the basket. If you end up doing more things to get additional entries, then e-mail me by March 23rd. The four chosen and their critiques will be posted on March 1st.

bettonfloating500

The above is the First Page Picture Prompt for March. Illustrated by Jen Betton. Jen was featured on illustrator Saturday if you would like to see more of her work. http://wp.me/pss2W-6bk You can also visit her website: www.jenbetton.com or her blog: www.jenbetton.blogspot.com

AUTHORS: If you have a new book coming out and want to be considered for a post, please e-mail me at: Kathy.temean (at) gmail.com

Call for illustrations for March: You can send anything, but I am especially looking for illustrations that reflect the month of March. Last month I did not get many of your illustrations. I hope you will send something in. You do not have to wait, I will post the illustrations as they come in. Please make sure the illustration is at least 500 pixels wide and include a blurb about yourself and a link to see more of your work. Please send it to kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com and put “March Illustration” in the subject box.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Agent, authors and illustrators, inspiration, opportunity, Places to sumit Tagged: Free Fall Friday, Guest Critiquer, Janine Hauber, New Jersey SCBWI Conference, Sheldon Fogelman Agency

6 Comments on Free Fall Friday – Agent Announced, last added: 4/8/2013
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21. Free Fall Friday – The Results

April illustration Elena Caravelaforkathybunnydance

Elena Caravela’s Dancing bunnies helps us celebrate the results for April’s First Page Critique winners.

Elena is the illustrator of The Birds of the Harbor,  A Night of Tamales and Roses, and author/illustrator of Portrait of a Girl and Her Art.  You can see her process on Illustrator Saturday and find her work at www.elenacaravela.net www.elenacaravela.wordpress.com     www.portraitofagirlandherart.wordpress.com www.behance.net/elenacaravela       www.bluecanvas.com/elenacaravela

Here are the winning first page entries for April. Meredith said, “Hope these are helpful to the authors–all four of these first pages were very strong. I enjoyed them all!”

Half-Truths by Carol Baldwin – Young Adult Historical Fiction

Chapter 1: Lillie

Lillie hated the Dinsmore’s front door.

Standing on the sidewalk, she glared at the imposing entrance flanked by six white pillars. Even though she’d visited Big Momma at work a million times, she’d never once pushed the brass doorbell button, heard the musical chimes, or watched the elegant door swing open for her.

Not once.

No matter that she matched the color of the ivory pillars flanking that door, Lillie still couldn’t walk through it.

Thunder boomed and the gray clouds that had threatened all day opened up.  She raced around the house and came in the back door.  “Hey, Big Momma! How you doing?” she hugged her grandmother, who was taking cookies off a baking sheet.

“Girl, you gave me a fright!” Her grandmother shook her off. “You’re sopping wet! Go dry yourself and don’t you dare track no mud into this kitchen! I got me enough work without having to clean up after you now too!”

Lillie slipped a biology book out from under her jacket and laid it on the table. Good, it was still dry.

Big Momma eyed it and shook her head. “You know you is wasting your time studying that book. Ain’t no colored girl on earth ever gonna be a doctor.”

Lillie ignored Big Momma’s comment. In her grandmother’s mind, colored women were put into this world to serve white folks.

“When’s the company coming?”  Lillie put her tennis shoes by the backdoor and sniffed. The cinnamon smell of snicker doodles filled the kitchen.

Meredith Mundy’s Critique – Half-Truths

The author has managed to squeeze a great many important details into this first page—it’s easy to imagine the imposing front entrance of this grand house, and the feelings it might conjure in a young woman who is not allowed to enter except through the back door.

I’m interested in the fact that this book is labeled “Historical Fiction Young Adult.” Simply going by the first page, I would definitely have assumed that this character was much younger—perhaps belonging in a middle grade novel. The fact that she “hates” a front door and visits her grandmother immediately after school for hugs and snickerdoodles makes her seem quite young. If she is an older teen, we’ll need more immediate clues to help us see her more clearly. Her voice should be coming through right here on the first page.

Based on the title of the first chapter (“Lillie”), I am assuming—but I could be wrong—that the book’s narrative will switch off between different characters’ perspectives, and that each chapter title will let us know who is picking up the story. All the more reason to establish who Lillie is immediately so that the reader has a firm foundation for her before moving on to the next voice.

I like it that the conflict is established right away—Lillie is a young person who dreams of being a doctor at a time when that seems completely impossible—but I think the author will face quite a challenge in avoiding the predictability trap. I hope the character suffers some highly believable set-backs so that her road to success is not too smooth and easy to follow.

Also, there’s a somewhat fine line between authenticity and caricature, so the author has definitely set up a challenge for herself by giving Big Momma such a broad, Southern dialect. I’m no expert on dialect, but I think it would be well worth the author’s time to see how other authors have handled it. Does it need to be toned down? Fine-tuned?

In any case, I would definitely keep reading!

_______________________________________________________________________________

“Kyte’s Revenge,” a YA novel by Connie Goldsmith

I feel it first on the back of my neck – that prickly, squirmy feeling you get when someone’s watching and you don’t know it. Sort of like insects crawling under your skin.

I turn off my iPod and look around. Pull out the earbuds and listen. No one.

Off in the distance, live oaks strung with Spanish moss punctuate the landscape. The air smells of flowers and the herbs that I’ve tugged from the earth.

I scan the trees. Still no one. Must be my imagination.

Thunder booms and rain clouds threaten to let loose, just like every summer afternoon in this part of Florida. The electricity in the air stirs my hair, sends it flying around my face. Time to go. Time to get back to Baba’s house and start dinner.

I brush the dirt from my hands and grab the basket of herbs I’ve gathered. Baba needs them for the tambor tonight: sweet herbs to attract good luck and love; bitter ones to ward off evil. At the last minute, I spot the curly leaves of the wild lettuce my turtle likes best and add a handful of them to the basket.

The world changes in an instant. Footsteps thud behind me, twigs snap beneath a heavy stride.

“Hey, Kyte! I been looking for you, babe.”

The boy’s voice cuts through the sticky afternoon air and slices into my spine. I spin around to face him. When I see who it is, the basket slips from my fingers and spills to the ground. Herbs and wild lettuce scatter at my feet.

It’s Cole. He wears a Confederate bandanna tied around his forehead to keep his long blond hair off his face. Like always. “What . . . what are you doing here?”

“Like I said, I’m looking for you.”

Meredith Mundy’s first page Critique for – Kyte’s Revenge

This first page is extremely descriptive, loaded with natural imagery and tangible details. The author has done a great job of establishing information about the main character and her setting by showing rather than telling. (Much harder than it looks!) The iPod clues us in that this is a contemporary story; we know it takes place in Florida in the summer; someone close to the main character practices some kind of magic; and Cole, who is set up as the antagonist, is very likely one scary dude.

Kyte is already an intriguing character on the page—smart, intuitive, observant, able to spot the specific type of plant her turtle likes to eat with a quick side glance. Already we can see that she will be a resourceful and generous character, but clearly all is not well in her world. The title sets us up for something dramatic and dark, as does her tense interaction with Cole. The contrast between Cole’s casual tone and Kyte’s frightened reaction is striking. He feels free to call her “babe,” but clearly she is far from comfortable with him and therefore his loose, jocular tone is jarring. There’s no way to tell at this point what the tension between these two is all about, but by introducing Kyte’s obvious fear of him so early in the story, an unsettling dynamic is nicely established. I’m curious to know how old the characters are. Kyte hears a “boy’s voice,” but Cole feels older, more threatening than a young boy. Especially since his voice is capable of “slicing” through Kyte’s spine!

I wonder if the line “The world changes in an instant” might be too dramatic. Clearly Kyte is startled, but has the world really changed?

And I would take another look at the first lines. I like the ominous tone that is established from the outset, but the “insects crawling under your skin” verges on cliché. The idea is great in these first lines, but it would be an interesting exercise to rewrite them twenty different ways and see what starts to emerge. An even stronger, sharper ignition point may strike the author.

_______________________________________________________________________

LEFT OUT LOUIE by Patricia Newman                                            610 words / picture book

I love my zoo. Not to brag or anything, but my black-footed penguin pool rocks. I’m the tall good-looking one.                                     [Louie is a South African black-footed penguin.]

Every day, I race underwater with my buddies. Visitors listen to us sing and watch us dance. At night when we’re alone, we tell scary orca stories.

One day the wire crate comes out. My buddies and I cower in the corner. The penguin that leaves in that crate never returns.

Today that penguin is me. My buddies sing a sad song as I leave them.

At my new zoo, I hear a lion roar and a monkey chatter. My new pool has rocks, clean water, and a window for us to people-watch. It’s not home, but I like it.

I stick out my flipper. “I’m  Louie.”

My new pool-mates cross their flippers and stare at me. “This is Tux, Waddles, Tutu, Poppi, and Fatso. I’m Oreo,” Oreo says. “And you, new guy, are in our way.”

Fatso’s feet slap across the rocks to breakfast. Tux and Waddles stampede over me in their rush to beat Fatso. Oreo flaps his wings as if he expects to take off. (Earth to Oreo: Penguins don’t fly.) Tutu and Poppi squawk out a love song. (For each other, not me.)

No worries. I’ve played tough colonies before. I dust off my feathers and throw back my wings. I can do this.

I try a sincere compliment. “Waddles, your feathers are so shiny I need sunglasses.”

“Eew, you’re molting,” she says.  “Go away.”

I swallow hard. Molting?

My scruffy reflection mocks me. I slap my wing over a bald spot, but refuse to give up.

I try a friendly greeting. “Poppi my man, slap me some flipper!”

He shoves me. There’s no talking to some penguins before their morning fish heads.

Meredith Mundy’s First Page Critique – Left Out Louie

This penguin has class, style, and strong self esteem—characteristics that come through splendidly in his clear, certain voice. I found it refreshing that this was not another story about a character fearfully dreading a move away from home and adjusting poorly to his new environment. Louie takes life as it comes and is not afraid of meeting new penguins. He sets a great example for readers by not giving up, even after being repeatedly rebuffed. His confidence makes him very likable indeed. I’m also pleased to see that this is not another typical story about bullying—Louie is a character who will stand up for himself, and surely will not be “left out” for long.

The specific details included in this first page are terrific: the penguins don’t just tell scary stories at night; they tell scary orca stories! The window in Louie’s new enclosure is for people-watching, of course! I also admire the sly and unobtrusive way that numerous facts about penguins have been woven into the text. In a very small space we have learned what a penguin’s natural enemy is, their favorite food, the fact that they are flightless, etc.

This first page definitely makes me want to keep reading—I’m curious to know what the specific conflict will be and how Louie resolves it. Since his musical talents are mentioned at the beginning, surely he will be bringing some song and dance to this tougher new home of his.

I would definitely suggest that the author create a rough turning dummy for the whole text to make sure the pacing feels right. Is there too much here at the beginning, leaving not enough room for the rest of the story to spin out comfortably in 32 pages? Hard to tell from what’s here, but it’s a very promising beginning.

______________________________________________________________________

Tercules by Marcy Pusey, picture-book

The egg bounced. It boinged; it rolled; it rocked; it swayed; it swiveled; it tilted and tumbled. The nest beneath it crushed and crumbled as the little turkey chick freed himself.

“Too wild!” squealed the other baby turkeys.

“Too wild?” repeated the newly hatched baby.

“Just right,” beamed Momma Gobbler.

“He’s so big and strangely strong, I’ll call him Tercules,” Momma Gobbler said lovingly.

On his first flight, Tercules sent wind-storms of trees tumbling. Not to mention his brothers and sisters.

“Too windy!” whined Gobbeldy.

“Too windy?” asked Tercules.

“Just right,” flapped Momma Gobbler, spiraling through the air.

Perched on a branch beneath his momma’s wings, Tercules felt an itch.  The branch bounced low as he strained to relieve the tickle. Scratch, creak, scratch, crack. Suddenly, split, splat! Tercules and his family were in a heap on the ground.

“Too bouncy!” cried Poultrina.

“Too dangerous!” wailed Frank.

“Too bouncy? Too dangerous?” worried Tercules.

“Just right,” shushed Momma Gobbler from beneath her poultry pile.

Meredith Mundy’s First Page Critique – Tercules

I’m tickled by the fresh premise here—I’ve definitely never seen a tall tale about a Herculean turkey!

The first few lines nicely set up for the reader the exaggerated action to come, and I like the energetic language here, though there are perhaps a few too many alliterative pairs. Consider removing one or two so that the story can get going a bit more swiftly. (I’d vote to toss the first pair: “boinged” is the weakest of the examples here and sounds like a made-up word.) Also watch the wording in the third line—it’s not the nest that’s doing the crushing; it’s the egg.

The refrain that ends with Momma Gobbler’s sweet affirmation that her youngest child is “just right” works nicely—readers will recognize the rhythm from “Goldilocks” and appreciate the twist. Interesting to see how much is revealed about Tercules just by having him repeat his siblings’ criticisms: we see that he’s a bit insecure, not wanting to offend, and nothing like the braggart he could be based on his superior strength. It lends him a sweet uncertainty, and we like him immediately.

This story’s beginning sets up for the reader what Tercules is capable of—he crushes a nest just by escaping his shell; he causes a windstorm just by flapping his wings; he knocks his family out of the tree just by scratching an itch. After this series of three examples, I’m assuming that the story really gets going and a plot emerges. I’d like to see that happen a tad sooner, which could be accomplished by letting more of what is described in the text here be shown in the art. The first page definitely made this reader want to find out what happens next.

I worry that the second and third examples of Tercules’s strength are perhaps too similar—I imagine the art for both showing the turkey family’s tree swaying and shaking; feathers everywhere; turkey chicks off balance and tossed every which way. Is there another example—maybe something even more extraordinary—that would add variety in action and setting but still demonstrate his unusual strength? If the author keeps the current examples, I’d suggest saving the flying episode for last—it seems too abrupt to have Tercules born and already in flight within two pages.

I’d be curious to know if other readers tripped over the title. Once I got the joke, I thought it was very funny, but the spelling threw me off. Would “Turkules” create a more immediate connection in a reader’s brain between “turkey” and “Hercules”? Will the picture book audience know who Hercules is? Momma might have to—swiftly—clue her other babies into why she chose that name, thereby clarifying for readers, too. Or perhaps we just need a clever subtitle to seal the deal.

Thank you Meredith for sharing all your time and expertise to help authors to improve their writing skills. It is much appreciated and very helpful. If you are attending the NJSCBWI June conference, you will get to meet Meredith and I promise you will love her. Remember deadline to sign up is April 30th.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, Editors, inspiration, revisions Tagged: First Page Critiques, Free Fall Friday, Meredith Mundy, Sterling Publishing

2 Comments on Free Fall Friday – The Results, last added: 5/8/2013
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22. Free Fall Friday – Melissa Faulner

MelissafaulnerMELISSA FAULNER, Editorial Assistant, ABRAMS Books for Young Readers and Amulet has agreed to share her expertise with us and critique the four winning first pages for us in May.

Thank you everyone who sent in something for April. I read them over and each month wish I could pull off getting a critique for each one, but the editors are being very generous with their time, but please know I enjoy reading them. Feel free to resubmit a first page and try again. 

I am looking forward to meeting Melissa at the conference and reading her critiques for May. Next week I will include a short interview with Melissa on Friday. 

May’s submission deadline will be May 22nd, due to the Memorial Day.

Below is this month’s picture prompt for those of  you who like them. This illustration is by Maria Bogade. She was featured on Illustrator Saturday on Feb. 9th 2013 and I missed showing off this illustration. Thought it might provide some inspiration for a story. You do not have to use it. Feel free to submit a first page from a work in progress.

bogadeMariaBogade_Coverillustration2011

WRITERS Sending in a First Page: Please attach your double spaced, 12 point font, 23 line first page to an e-mail and send it to kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com. Also cut and paste it into the body of the e-mail. Put “May First Page Critique” or “May First Page Picture Prompt Critique” in the subject line. Make sure you have your name on the submission, a title, and indicate the genre. Also let me know if you were able to post of facebook or Tweet. You will get your name in the basket for each time you comment, tweet, or mention on facebook, giving you a better chance of being picked. If you end up doing more things to get additional entries, then e-mail me a note by May 20th. The four chosen and their critiques will be posted on May 31st.

Call for illustrations for May: Thank you to everyone who sent in an illustration for April. There are a couple that I didn’t get up. I promise I will use them in the days to come.

You can send anything, but I am especially looking for illustrations that reflect the month. I hope you will send something for May. This is a good way to get your work seen. Don’t wait, I will post the illustrations as they come in. Please make sure the illustration is at least 500 pixels wide and include a blurb about yourself and a link to see more of your work. Please send it to kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com and put “May Illustration” in the subject box.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Artist opportunity, authors and illustrators, inspiration, opportunity, submissions Tagged: Abrams BFYR, First Page Critique, Free Fall Friday, Maria Bogade, Melissa Faulner

1 Comments on Free Fall Friday – Melissa Faulner, last added: 5/3/2013
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23. Free Fall Friday – Interview

MelissafaulnerMELISSA FAULNER, Editorial Assistant, ABRAMS Books for Young Readers and Amulet has agreed to share her expertise with us and critique the four winning first pages for us in May.

Melissa was kind enough to answer a few questions I thought you might be interested in reading. Here they are:

1. This is the first time we have had someone from Abrams BFYR. Could you share what makes Abrams different from other publishers?

Abrams is a smaller, boutique publishing house, so we’re able to provide a level of personal attention to authors and illustrators that a lot of larger houses aren’t able to achieve. Because of our size, we don’t really have a “mid-list.” Abrams’ is also deeply rooted in design and art having begun as an art book publisher, so there is a strong visual sensibility to every book we publish.

2. Do the editors at Abrams work as a team or do they chose books independently?

While editors do acquire books individually, we very much work as a team on projects. We have weekly editorial meetings where we discuss potential acquisitions with the entire department before taking them to an acquisitions board meeting. It’s also not unusual for editors to ask other editors to read manuscripts or look over covers just to get a second opinion, or to bounce around ideas.

3. Does Abrams try to stick to a certain ratio or PB, MG, YA, Fiction, and non-fiction with each catalog?

We generally try to have as balanced a list as possible for each season (we have two a year). We’ve always had a very strong non-fiction publishing program in both our Books for Young Readers and Amulet imprints, which is really great since so many publishers are now looking to acquire more non-fiction.

4. What is the ratio of debut authors to published author on your list?

It’s generally a fairly even split, though some seasons it may weigh more heavily in one direction or the other. We’re equally enthusiastic about bringing new talent to Abrams as we are about developing and nurturing our house authors.

5. The industry has been changing quite rapidly, do you think the mid-list authors are finding it harder to stay on the list?

I think at a lot of larger houses, authors are finding that they have to be a stronger advocate for themselves. Most aspiring authors know it’s essential to have built a strong platform before their book has been acquired, but it’s also essential to maintain that engagement and build even after their book has published. It can be daunting, but today, authors are fortunate to have so many avenues of engagement to pursue.


May’s submission deadline will be May 22nd, due to the Memorial Day.

Below is this month’s picture prompt for those of you who like them. This illustration is by Maria Bogade. She was featured on Illustrator Saturday on Feb. 9th 2013 and I missed showing off this illustration. Thought it might provide some inspiration for a story. You do not have to use it. Feel free to submit a first page from a work in progress.

bogadeMariaBogade_Coverillustration2011

WRITERS Sending in a First Page: Please attach your double spaced, 12 point font, 23 line first page to an e-mail and send it to kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com. Also cut and paste it into the body of the e-mail. Put “May First Page Critique” or “May First Page Picture Prompt Critique” in the subject line. Make sure you have your name on the submission, a title, and indicate the genre. Also let me know if you were able to post of facebook or Tweet. You will get your name in the basket for each time you comment, tweet, or mention on facebook, giving you a better chance of being picked. If you end up doing more things to get additional entries, then e-mail me a note by May 20th. The four chosen and their critiques will be posted on May 31st.

Call for illustrations for May: Thank you to everyone who sent in an illustration for April. There are a couple that I didn’t get up. I promise I will use them in the days to come.

You can send anything, but I am especially looking for illustrations that reflect the month. I hope you will send something for May. This is a good way to get your work seen. Don’t wait, I will post the illustrations as they come in. Please make sure the illustration is at least 500 pixels wide and include a blurb about yourself and a link to see more of your work. Please send it to kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com and put “May Illustration” in the subject box.

IN DOYLETOWN,PA – Tomorrow:

Princess Party postcard

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Editor & Agent Info, Interview, opportunity, publishers, Writer's Prompt Tagged: Adrams BFYR, Call for Illustrators, First Page Critique, Free Fall Friday, Melissa Faulner

3 Comments on Free Fall Friday – Interview, last added: 5/11/2013
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24. Free Fall Friday – Kudos and Industry News

MelissafaulnerKUDO’S:

BETH FERRY’s PIRATE’S PERFECT PET, in which a captain, who considers himself practically perfect in every way, decides that he’s just missing one thing — the perfect pet — and goes on a wild search to hunt that pet down, was sold to Mary Lee Donovan at Candlewick, by Elena Mechlin at Pippin Properties.

INDUSTRY NEWS:

Emily van Beek has been promoted senior vice president at Folio Jr., the children’s division of Folio Literary Management.

Joe Perez has joined the Random House Publishing Group as senior art director. Previously he was art director at Portfolio.

At AtheneumEmma Ledbetter has been promoted to assistant editor.

Christina Pulles moves up to assistant editor at Simon & Schuster Children’s.

Congratulations everyone!

Remember that the deadline is May 22nd to submit a first page to win a critique with MELISSA FAULNER, Editorial Assistant, ABRAMS Books for Young Readers and Amulet.

Last week Melissa answered a few questions. Here they are, again:

1. This is the first time we have had someone from Abrams BFYR. Could you share what makes Abrams different from other publishers?

Abrams is a smaller, boutique publishing house, so we’re able to provide a level of personal attention to authors and illustrators that a lot of larger houses aren’t able to achieve. Because of our size, we don’t really have a “mid-list.” Abrams’ is also deeply rooted in design and art having begun as an art book publisher, so there is a strong visual sensibility to every book we publish.

2. Do the editors at Abrams work as a team or do they chose books independently?

While editors do acquire books individually, we very much work as a team on projects. We have weekly editorial meetings where we discuss potential acquisitions with the entire department before taking them to an acquisitions board meeting. It’s also not unusual for editors to ask other editors to read manuscripts or look over covers just to get a second opinion, or to bounce around ideas.

3. Does Abrams try to stick to a certain ratio or PB, MG, YA, Fiction, and non-fiction with each catalog?

We generally try to have as balanced a list as possible for each season (we have two a year). We’ve always had a very strong non-fiction publishing program in both our Books for Young Readers and Amulet imprints, which is really great since so many publishers are now looking to acquire more non-fiction.

4. What is the ratio of debut authors to published author on your list?

It’s generally a fairly even split, though some seasons it may weigh more heavily in one direction or the other. We’re equally enthusiastic about bringing new talent to Abrams as we are about developing and nurturing our house authors.

5. The industry has been changing quite rapidly, do you think the mid-list authors are finding it harder to stay on the list?

I think at a lot of larger houses, authors are finding that they have to be a stronger advocate for themselves. Most aspiring authors know it’s essential to have built a strong platform before their book has been acquired, but it’s also essential to maintain that engagement and build even after their book has published. It can be daunting, but today, authors are fortunate to have so many avenues of engagement to pursue.


May’s submission deadline will be May 22nd, due to the Memorial Day.

Below is this month’s picture prompt for those of you who like them. This illustration is by Maria Bogade. She was featured on Illustrator Saturday on Feb. 9th 2013 and I missed showing off this illustration. Thought it might provide some inspiration for a story. You do not have to use it. Feel free to submit a first page from a work in progress.

bogadeMariaBogade_Coverillustration2011

WRITERS Sending in a First Page: Please attach your double spaced, 12 point font, 23 line first page to an e-mail and send it to kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com. Also cut and paste it into the body of the e-mail. Put “May First Page Critique” or “May First Page Picture Prompt Critique” in the subject line. Make sure you have your name on the submission, a title, and indicate the genre. Also let me know if you were able to post of facebook or Tweet. You will get your name in the basket for each time you comment, tweet, or mention on facebook, giving you a better chance of being picked. If you end up doing more things to get additional entries, then e-mail me a note by May 20th. The four chosen and their critiques will be posted on May 31st.

Call for illustrations for May: Thank you to everyone who sent in an illustration for April. There are a couple that I didn’t get up. I promise I will use them in the days to come.

You can send anything, but I am especially looking for illustrations that reflect the month. I hope you will send something for May. This is a good way to get your work seen. Don’t wait, I will post the illustrations as they come in. Please make sure the illustration is at least 500 pixels wide and include a blurb about yourself and a link to see more of your work. Please send it to kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com and put “May Illustration” in the subject box.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, Editors, Interview, opportunity, Places to sumit, Writer's Prompt Tagged: Abrams BFYR, Call for Illustrators, First Page Critiques, Free Fall Friday, Melissa Faulner

1 Comments on Free Fall Friday – Kudos and Industry News, last added: 5/17/2013
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25. Free Fall Friday – June’s Guest Critiquer

anna2Anna Olswanger has agreed to be our Guest Critiquer for June’s First Page. Deadline will be June 18th, so I wanted to give you an early heads up. For those who like the picture prompt, you will find it at the bottom of this post.

Anna Olswanger is a literary agent with Liza Dawson Associates in New York. Anna has been a literary agent since 2005 and has sold to Boyds Mills Press, Marshall Cavendish, Dutton, HarperCollins, McElderry, Pomegranate, and Random House Children’s Books, among other publishers. Specializing in: middle grade and young adult fiction and nonfiction, some adult fiction and nonfiction, children’s illustrated books, and Judaica.

Anna is particularly interested in working with author-illustrators.Anna enjoys discovering new authors and illustrators. She is looking for “voice,” the sound and rhythm of an author that could be no one else’s, and has a special interest in children’s picture books (author-illustrators only), adult nonfiction, Judaica, animal stories, and ghost stories. Contact her at queryanna@LizaDawsonAssociates.com.

Ms. Olswanger has a background in editing and has worked with the author Mary Ann Schaffer on the adult novel The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, which became an international bestseller.

She represents Jim Carroll’s THE BOY AND THE MOON (Sleeping Bear Press), Nell Dickerson’s GONE (BelleBooks), Luli Gray’s ANT & GRASSHOPPER (McElderry), Michael Hall’s MY HEART IS LIKE A ZOO and PERFECT SQUARE (Greenwillow), Zack Miller’s TRADESTREAM YOUR WAY TO PROFITS: Building a Killer Portfolio in the Age of Social Media (Wiley), Margaret Peot’s INKBLOT (Boyds Mills Press) and THE SUCCESSFUL ARTIST’S CAREER GUIDE (North Light Books/F+W) Barry Rothstein’s EYE-POPPING 3-D BUGS (Chronicle), Jennifer Sattler’s SYLVIE (Random House Children’s Books), CHICK ‘N’ PUG and PIG KAHUNA (Bloomsbury Children’s Books), and upcoming books by Allida Black (Penguin Classics), Cathy Fishman (Cavendish), Brett Hartman (Cinco Puntos), Michelle Markel (Balzer & Bray, Eerdmans, and Chronicle), Patricia Hruby Powell (Chronicle), Alan Rabinowitz (Houghton Mifflin), Vince Vawter (Delacorte) and composer Marvin Hamlisch (Dial).

In addition to being an agent, she is the author of the picture book Shlemiel Crooks, a Sydney Taylor Honor Book and a Koret International Jewish Book Award Finalist.

You may have attended some of her workshops, like Why Was My Manuscript Rejected? 3 Agents, 3 Opinions, with two other agents (see www.3LiteraryAgents.com). Writers in the Northeast may also know Anna, because she coorinated the Jewish Children’s Book Writers’ Conference at the 92nd Street Y for many years. In addition, she founded the website http://www.Host-a-Jewish-Book-Author.com

Anna’s own website is www.olswanger.com.

Anna Olswanger, Literary Agent

Liza Dawson Associates 350 Seventh Avenue,  Ste. 2003 New York, NY 10001 Direct tel.: +1-201-791-4699

www.olswanger.com www.shlemielcrooks.com www.host-a-jewish-book-author.com

Submission Guidelines for Anna Olswanger:

I only accept email queries (no snail mail queries, please.)

Please insert (cut and paste) the first five pages of your manuscript into the body of your email.  (I’m leery of opening attachments from addresses I don’t know.)

Queries to: queryanna@LizaDawsonAssociates.com

Lisa Dawson Associates says:

  • We understand the priorities and passions that motivate editors, publicists, sales directors, and marketing directors.
  • We consider each of our books to be an exciting kernel that can grow – into an international bestseller, into a movie, into a calendar, into a career. That’s the power of a thrillingly told story, and that’s what people expect from our submissions.

Liza Dawson Associates

350 Seventh Avenue, Suite 2003

New York, NY 10001

www.LizaDawsonAssicates,com

shawnaghost4

June’s Picture Prompt illustration was created by Shawna JC Tenney. She was recently featured on Illustrators Saturday. http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/04/20/illustrator-saturday-shawna-jc-tenney/

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Agent, Editor & Agent Info, opportunity, Places to sumit Tagged: Anna Olswanger, Critique, Free Fall Friday, June Guest Critiquer, Liza Dawson Associates Literary Agency, Shawna JC Tenney

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