Query Critique

Monday, May 22, 2017

Query critique time!  For everyone who enters (and those who don't) spread the word so that even if you don't submit a query, you encourage others to read and comment.  Thanks :)



If you're not familiar with how to enter, take a look at my previous post to read the rules.  Good luck!  

Prom, Cats, and Books!

Monday, May 15, 2017

I was home last weekend for Mother's Day and also for my brother-in-law's prom, which was really cute!  Or I guess I shouldn't say cute, because that isn't very teen-appropriate.  Micheal's prom was really wavy

Even though we had a really full weekend, I still managed to make a decent dent into my queries and requested a handful of partials that I'm looking forward to reading!  Other than that, my week was pretty laid back.  We bought a laser toy for our cats, so the majority of our weekday entertainment involved ordering pizza and watching them lose their minds.  And because I love you guys, please see below for your viewing pleasure...


video


Oh yeah, and I've been bugging my editor friends for ARCs of the BEA books I've been reading about in Buzz Books.  I already got MR ROCHESTER and was reading it on the train back and forth...I can't wait to get the others!!!!




I Am a Magpie

Monday, May 8, 2017

Hi, everyone!  So this past week, I registered for BEA, which as many of you know, is my hands-down favorite publishing event of the year.  In preparation for the glory that is to come, I downloaded the 2017 BEA Buzz Books, booklets with excerpts of upcoming adult and young adult titles that are generating a lot of excitement in the community.  The books are free to download and I highly recommend them!!  





As I was reading, I started making a list of the ones that blew me away:
...and now I feel like a thwarted magpie.


It's me!


I think that literary agents are, by nature, magpies, because we love collecting all the beautiful, shiny writing and authors that cross our paths.  I have built up an awesome hoard of shiny authors, but I always want more, and reading through the Buzz excerpts made me simultaneously want to pre-order the books and steal the authors.  It's good, though, because now I feel super energized to dive into all the queries that I've been letting pile up lately.  If you download the books, let me know which authors/stories you would steal if you could!!

Query Critique Winner

Monday, May 1, 2017

Hi, all!  Sarah was the lucky critique winner this time around--congrats, Sarah!  Here is her original query:

Dear Ms. Pestritto:


Twelve-year-old Addie should avoid Maple Lake. After all, her twin brother Amos drowned there only a few months ago. But the notebook he left behind, filled with clues pointing to the existence of a mysterious sea creature, keeps drawing Addie back. When she’s offered a summer internship studying pollution in the lake, Addie accepts, despite the initial wishes of her mourning parents. 

 Measuring phosphorous levels becomes the focus of Addie’s internship, but it isn’t her only mission on Maple Lake. Fueled by memories of Amos, Addie investigates a different kind of evidence too: the cryptic clues he left behind. The more time Addie spends out on the water, the more she rediscovers why her brother loved it so much: Maple Lake might be magic.
 

Eventually Addie traces the primary cause of pollution in the lake to surrounding dairy farms, including the one run by her aunt and uncle. When fellow researchers call for environmental reforms, Addie finds herself caught between scientific proof, the magic her brother believed in, and the only family she has left. Against a backdrop of grief, Addie must decide how to fight for mysterious Maple Lake without endangering her community’s livelihood.


Blending magical realism with a STEM focus, THE LIGHT IN THE LAKE is a contemporary middle grade novel that traces Addie’s journey from sadness to hope. Its lyrical style and connection to the natural world will appeal to readers of Beth Hautala’s WAITING FOR UNICORNS, Ali Benjamin’s THE THING ABOUT JELLYFISH, and Lindsay Eagar’s HOUR OF THE BEES. The full manuscript is complete at 44,703 words. 
 

I live in rural northeastern Vermont, where I teach high school English. I have previously written for various news and literary publications, and my creative nonfiction chapbook was awarded publication by the Michigan Writers Cooperative Press.

 
Thank you very much for your time and for offering this query critique contest.
 Sincerely,

Sarah 


And here is my critique:


Dear Ms. Pestritto:


Twelve-year-old Addie should avoid Maple Lake. After all, her twin brother Amos drowned there only a few months ago. When Addie's twin brother drowned in Maple Lake, it felt like a horrible accident that she never wanted to think about again.  But in the notebook he left behind, filled with clues pointing to the existence of a mysterious sea creature, keeps drawing Addie back to the scene of the crime. When she’s offered a summer internship studying pollution in the lake, [This part about Addie being offered an internship is a little confusing to me.  Do 12-year-olds do internships or is this a stretch and she needs to be older/this need to be YA?] Addie accepts, despite the initial wishes of her mourning parents. 

 Measuring phosphorous levels becomes is the focus of Addie’s internship, but it isn’t her only mission on Maple Lake. Fueled by memories of Amos, Addie investigates a different kind of evidence too: the cryptic clues he left behind. the cryptic hints in his journal and the discovers a surprising reason her brother was so obsessed with Maple Lake: The more time Addie spends out on the water, the more she rediscovers why her brother loved it so much: Maple Lake it might be magic.
 
Eventually Addie traces the primary cause of pollution in the lake to surrounding dairy farms, including the one run by her aunt and uncle. When fellow researchers call for environmental reforms, Addie finds herself caught between scientific proof, the magic her brother believed in, and the only family she has left. Against a backdrop of grief, Addie must decide how to fight for mysterious Maple Lake without endangering her community’s livelihood.


Blending magical realism with a STEM focus, THE LIGHT IN THE LAKE is a contemporary middle grade novel that traces Addie’s journey from sadness to hope. ["...journey from sadness to hope" is a little too general.  Can you think of something more high-concept to say about the story?] Its lyrical style and connection to the natural world will appeal to readers of Beth Hautala’s WAITING FOR UNICORNS, Ali Benjamin’s THE THING ABOUT JELLYFISH, and Lindsay Eagar’s HOUR OF THE BEES. The full manuscript is complete at 44,703 words. 
 

I live in rural northeastern Vermont, where I teach high school English. I have previously written for various news and literary publications, and my creative nonfiction chapbook was awarded publication by the Michigan Writers Cooperative Press.
 

Thank you very much for your time and for offering this query critique contest.
 Sincerely,

Sarah 

Chime in with thoughts and comments below!  Sarah, I hope my critique is helpful.  This critique is in good shape already and you have a very interesting premise for a story.  I was drawn in by the way you framed the story and think that with a little editing and thinking about age range, this will be ready to go out.  Best of luck!

Wheeling and Dealing

Monday, April 24, 2017

Spring has sprung!  I've been so happy with the gorgeous, warm weather that has been gracing the city, and have been making an effort to enjoy being outdoors more.  I've even been thinking about getting leashes for the cats and taking them to Central Park... 



When I was talking about all the submissions I have out last week, I forgot to announce another great thing: I have two new clients, the wonderful Shauna Holyoak and Kalyn Josephson!  This news-sharing is coming a bit late in the game, but I love, love, love their projects and am pumped up to be going into the summer with new things to work on.  Shauna's project actually just sold to Disney-Hyperion in my FIRST EVER "very nice deal," so I am over-the-moon pumped!!!!!!!

Which leads us to...DEALS!  I sold Shauna's book to Disney, Taylor Zajonc's new thriller THE MAW to Skyhorse, and LZ Marie's  sexy mythology short story collection to Cleis pretty much one after the other!  That was an awesome three days 

I was so worried at the start of the year that I was moving too slow, but now it seems like things are being sent out and selling left and right

Good thing I have so many AMAZING manuscripts on my roster!



Back on Track!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Hi, guys!  I am back on the wheel and feeling great!  I have four great deals underway for:
  • Janice Broyle’s YA inspirational THE SECRET HEIR (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)
  • Dean Haycock’s nonfiction TYRANTS (Pegasus)
  • Erin Peabody’s exciting secret project…more to come!
  • Lauren Smith’s audio book of LEGALLY CHARMING (Tantor)

Whoo!  I’m also pretty psyched to have a lot of submission out to new rounds of editors and because I’m so excited about these projects, I thought I’d give you an inside look into the letters I sent to editors about them!



THE FIRST MARTIAN

 Welcome to the world of 13-year-old Tian Slack, who has spent his entire life on the Mars research dome with his mother and the rest of her team--in fact, he's famous on Earth for being the first human born on Mars.  Of course he's not a handsome prodigy like his nemesis, 18-year-old Ishaan, but his vid channel gets millions of views.  
 However, when a shuttle arrives with new scientists, one of their daughters--a girl named Una who is Tian's age--removes the filters on Tian’s com pad so that he can see that not everyone on Earth thinks his outer space antics are awesome.  To top it all off, now that the blockers are off, Tian and Una discover that someone has been making terrorist threats against all VAST facilities on Earth, Mars, and the Moon...and it may be Tian's father, who left the dome mysteriously when Tian was a baby.
 Through holo-classes with Moon settlement children, Tian figures out that his father used to be a part of a group called Earth Is Home before joining the MIRD crew, although nothing is known of him after he left the Mars settlement and went back to Earth.  When a reality show lands a crew of stars for its new series near the research dome, Tian starts to wonder if one of them may be the "inside man" one of his moon friends told him about.
 Tian must prove that he's worthy of the approval he craves--to Una, to Earth, and to his fellow dome-dwellers. When the dome's nuclear power plant (which provides the dome with air, pressure, water, and gravity) shuts down in the middle of a dust storm, Tian must set aside his new insecurities to become the hero he once thought he was--for real now--or everyone he cares about will die. 

 REVOLUTION OF FIRE AND BLOOD

 I am so excited to talk to you about my author Kim Graff and her #ownvoices, LGBTQ, YA fantasy, REVOLUTION OF FIRE AND BLOOD.  It tells the story of sixteen-year-old Cyntha Kartal, who is trapped in Gobberbon prison with her girlfriend Lu.  They are political prisoners whose families rebelled against the Luceren government and were subsequently slaughtered, and as a result, Cyntha’s Talent--a unique ability that elite humans have--has been locked into her body with a spinal tattoo that prevents her from unleashing it.
 After a scuffle with a guard who tries to attack Lu, Cyntha finds herself face-to-face with her father, the Chancellor of Luceren.  He tells her that he has been searching for her ever since her mother took her and ran away to lead the rebels, but Cyntha doesn’t believe him for a minute.  Her father is an extremely powerful and dangerous man--he believes that only the Talented should govern and that Norms, those without abilities, should be governed harshly and kept as lower class citizens.


Brought back to Luceren’s capital, Cyntha quickly learns that Gobberbon was nothing compared to the gilded trap she finds herself in now.  Her father agrees to lift her tattoo if she will obey him (and because his Talent involves controlling peoples’ minds, she is scared to agree); her twin brother insists that he has been trying to quietly undermine the government because he is secretly gay; and his sexy best friend, Seth, shows her banned books of poetry and says they hold clues to the whereabouts of resistance meetings.  Cyntha has no idea who to trust or what to believe, but she knows one thing: she will do whatever it takes to unlock her Talent and take her revenge.

 MY PAPER ROUTE AND OTHER DEADLY THINGS

(This is a for a new client!!!  I’m thrilled to be working with Shauna Holyoak and so glad Pitch Wars brought us together!)
 I am very excited to share a new MG project with you: Shauna Holyoak’s MY PAPER ROUTE AND OTHER DEADLY THINGS, about Kazuko Jones, a hilariously sassy and determined detective who never quits, much to the chagrin of her traditional Japanese mother and the rest of the town. 
 However, Kazu knows the recent spree of dognappings happening around her community is a case she can and WILL solve.  With the help of her best friend March and Japanese mastiff Genki she narrows down her list of suspects to a creepy man on her paper route.  However, the more they dig into the case, the more dangerous things become.  The dognapper is getting bolder and when their search leads them to a dogfighting ring and Genki is taken, Kazu realizes that solving real crimes and knowing when to do the right thing is not always as easy as it is in detective stories.

 MISS ANTHONY AND GRACE

 In the late 1800s, Grace Adelle Woodworth was an unusual woman.  She had her own business, working as a photographer, and roamed Rochester, NY as she pleased, meeting various people and taking their picture.
 That is how she met Susan B. Anthony.  Grace struck up a friendship with Miss Anthony and took a picture of her on her 85th birthday--a picture that is now famous and has appeared around the world in magazines, newspapers, and schoolbooks.
 Anne O'Brien Carelli, Grace's descendant, discovered Grace's relationship with the famous women's rights activist and has written a picture book, MISSANTHONY AND GRACE, about how Grace came to take Miss Anthony's photograph.  It is a charming, unique story that I would love to share with you if you are interested!

THE EMPEROR’S ASSASSIN

 What would you do if Nero had you under his thumb?  Meet Locusta, a rich Gaul who gets swept up in the intrigues and dangers of life at Nero's court.  
 Originally only dreaming of making a perfect match and continuing to lead the innocent, pampered life she is accustomed to as a member of the Parisiis of Gaul, Locusta is forced to travel to Rome to ask the emperor to lift the taxes on her family's vineyard after her father's health deteriorates.
 While she is there, family friends take her in and introduce her to the wild life of Rome's elite, where multiple affairs and machinations are de rigeur.  When she uses her skills as an herbalist to perform an abortion for a young noble girl, word of her talents reach Nero's ears, and he immediately commands her to work for him, alternatively brewing up tonics to release inhibition and poisons to murder his enemies.
 But when Rome is set aflame and Locusta is forced to flee, she must decide whether she can depend on the city's nobility (and the playboy son of her family friends) or if she will put her trust in a solider whose faith in the new religion is the opposite of everything she has learned in the Eternal City.

 RUNAWAY

 I am so excited to introduce you to Kristin Lenz's contemporary YA novel, RUNAWAY, about what happens when a suburban teenager named Charlotte finds herself drawn to a boy from the streets of Detroit.

Just after her father returns from his tour in Afghanistan with PTSD, a vicious rumor about Char's supposed secret sex life spreads through her school and her former best friend, Ella, disappears.  Unable to confide in her parents, who are struggling to help her father re-adapt, Char has no one to turn to. She desperately decides to go to Turning Leaf, the teen runaway shelter where Ella was last seen, and meets Aiden, a charismatic, homeless teen with a mysterious past.

Even though there are certain suspicious things about him, Char can't help but be attracted to his sweetness and confidence.  After he escapes from Turning Leaf right before police come to arrest him on unknown charges, Char decides to sneak away from the shelter and find him.  What follows is a turbulent journey of danger, self-discovery, and friendship that will leave Char forever changed.
 

What do you think of these submissions—which is your favorite?  And let me know if you have any questions about the submission process from agents to editors!  

Query Critique (A Little Late)

Monday, April 10, 2017

Query critique time!  For everyone who enters (and those who don't) spread the word so that even if you don't submit a query, you encourage others to read and comment.  Thanks :)



If you're not familiar with how to enter, take a look at my previous post to read the rules.  Good luck!  
 
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