Query Critique

Monday, November 30, 2015

Hi, everyone!  I'm back to work after a whirlwind of slightly dangerous Black Friday shopping with my mom.  There are no pictures of my Thanksgiving dinner, because, sadly, my first attempt at Thanksgiving ended with John bringing home turkey and potatoes from the restaurant...


Anyways, it's 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!  And don't forget to post any questions you want me to answer in the comments section with the hashtag #IHAVEAQUESTION!

T Minus 3

Monday, November 23, 2015

Happy almost-Thanksgiving!  This holiday is going to be a weird one for me, because I'm not going home.  My mom has decided that she wants to go Black Friday shopping in the city with me, so she's not doing Thanksgiving for the first time in my memory.  They're going to my cousin's on the day of, instead, but since John is working at the restaurant, I have no idea what we're going to do.


Well, I had no idea what we were going to do.  After obsessing about having a solitary Chinese-food Thanksgiving in the apartment, I went on the Cooking Channel and found a bunch of two-person recipes for roasted turkey breast, mashed potatoes, stuffing, etc. and am going grocery shopping tonight.  I don't know if John is going to fully appreciate a surprise, mini Thanksgiving when he gets home after midnight after being surrounded by turkey all day, but that's what I'm doing!

Admittedly, I'm no Mark Bittman, but he's cooking in a kitchen about my size.

Also, our wedding photographer (who is not John Lennon) promised to have all our pics ready before the holiday, so hoping that mini Thanksgiving at midnight is going to be followed by lots of pictures of me looking beautiful!!!!  

I hope everyone else has a great holiday, and I'll be back next week!  If I remember in time (and if they're not all of me breaking down in tears over the stove), I'll post pictures of my tiny cooking adventure :)

P.S.  It's not official yet, but DEAL #9!!!!!!!!!!!  That news made me feel sooo much better after losing out on a Pitch Wars author I had been working with revisions on previously and that I really wanted to rep.

Real Life

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Back to real life and working hard to get in some more deals before the end of the year!  I also participated in Brenda Drake's Pitch Wars and requested a lot of great manuscripts to read during all the holiday traveling that is to come.

I was busy canceling Connecticut wedding stuff that is now obviously no longer needed and sadly learned that the Norwich Inn doesn't do deposit refunds.  That frustrated me about as much as opening joint checking and realizing that I have to go to the DMV and SS office for new IDs.  Marriage is a joy, but...

Switching gears, in very exciting news, I'm so happy to report that Sara Joiner's AFTER THE ASHES was named an Outstanding Science Trade Book by the National Teachers Association!  Congrats, Sara!


Prospect Agency has also added another wonderful agent to the fold: Kirsten Carleton, formerly of Waxman Leavell.  Like me, she is an Amherst alum!!  Linda and I are going dinner with her tonight, and I'm hoping to have an interview with her to share with you guys next week.  Til then!

Query Critique Winner

Monday, November 9, 2015

Lee Kelsall is the winner for this month's query critique!  Yay for Lee!  Here is her original query:

Dear Ms. Pestritto,

Separated by one hundred and fifty years, tragedy will bring two young Australian women together, seeking to fulfil a promise which echoes across the centuries.

2016, and seventeen-year-old TAYLOR knows she’s completely normal. Actually, maybe a little better than normal; she’s hooked up with the hot lead singer of Stoned Drifters, there are only four weeks until graduation, and most days her thighs don’t resemble cottage cheese. Her parents’ impending divorce is sure as hell not her problem—until Mum drags her fifteen hundred kilometres across the country. And the haunting dreams start.

In 1876, seventeen-year-old ANNA rises at four each morning, milking the cow before fetching water from the creek and stoking the oven. Maybe if her parents stayed in Europe, instead of moving to the wilderness of South Australia, things would be different—civilized, as Mother likes to say. But if that happened, she never would have met handsome fellow settler, LUKE HARTMANN. Nor would she bury four siblings and face a raging bushfire, her reputation as blackened as the burnt-out scrub.
Taylor knows she is sliding into madness, the dreams of a life almost two centuries earlier so vivid she has trouble distinguishing them from reality. But Anna’s minimalistic, often harsh life seems appealing compared to the fraught drama of her life.  Yet, when tragedy tears apart Anna’s world, Taylor must discover if there is any truth behind the dreams, or her own heart—and possibly her mind—will remain broken.

Told in alternating chapters from Taylor’s 21st Century and Anna’s 19th Century perspective,  OUT OF TIME is a 80,000 word YA Contemporary/Historical Timeslip.

Best,

Lee

And here is my critique!

Dear Ms. Pestritto,
Separated by one hundred and fifty years, tragedy will bring two young Australian women together, seeking as they seek to fulfill a promise which that echoes across the centuries.
It is 2016, and seventeen-year-old TAYLOR knows she’s completely normal. Actually, maybe a little better than normal;--she’s hooked up with the hot lead singer of Stoned Drifters, to the envy of all her friends, there are only four weeks until graduation and freedom, and most days her thighs don’t resemble cottage cheese. [The part about her thighs usually not looking like cottage cheese doesn't quite work here.  I suggest saying something about her body/body image in a different way--maybe something like "...and she's just been voted one of the finalists for Miss Michigan State."]  Her parents’ impending divorce is sure as hell not her problem [Why not?  Does it really not affect her or does she pretend that it doesn't?  What is her relationship with her parents like?  From what we have before she, she sounds a little shallow.]—until Mum drags her fifteen hundred kilometres across the country. [Say something describing it country and how different it is.] And the haunting dreams start.
In 1876, seventeen-year-old ANNA rises at four each morning, milking the cow before fetching water from the creek and stoking the oven. Maybe if her parents stayed in Europe, instead of moving to the wilderness of South Australia, things would be different—civilized, as Mother likes to say. But if that happened, she never would have met handsome fellow settler, LUKE HARTMANN. Nor would she bury four siblings and face a raging bushfire, her reputation as blackened as the burnt-out scrub. [I'd like to see more detail here.  At first, it sounds like Anna is happy she is not in civilization because of Luke, but burying four siblings and facing a bushfire is definitely not a positive.  Why do burying her siblings and having to deal with a forest fire ruin her reputation?  Give a stronger hint here of what happens and what people think, while also making it clear that although living in wild South Australia has its charms for Anna, there are definite cons.]
Taylor knows she is sliding into madness must be going insane,. tThe dreams of a life almost two centuries earlier so vivid she has trouble distinguishing them from reality. But Anna’s minimalistic, often harsh life seems appealing compared to the fraught drama of her life drama going on in hers [It sounds here like Taylor isn't having any problems distinguishing Anna's life from her own based on their vast differences.  Where does the gray area of reality come into play?] Yet, when tragedy tears apart Anna’s world, Taylor must discover if there is any truth behind the dreams, or her own heart—and possibly her mind—will remain broken or risk losing her grasp on her mind and her heart forever.
Told in alternating chapters from Taylor’s 21st Ccentury- and Anna’s 19th Ccentury-perspective,  OUT OF TIME is a 80,000 word YA Contemporary/Historical Timeslip.
Best,
Lee


What do you guys think?  This sounds like a fantastic read to me, full of intrigue and tension that will keep the reader glued.  Once some of the ruffles in the writing are ironed out, this query should be good to go!  Weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section below.  And don't forget to post any questions you want me to answer in the comments section with the hashtag #IHAVEAQUESTION!

I Got Married

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Surprise!!!!  John and I eloped over the weekend.  Our immediate families came down to the city and went with us for our ceremony at City Hall, and then out to dinner afterwards.  It was the perfect day, with so many wonderful memories.  I am very happy to say I am now Mrs. Houlihan!  Or rather, because of a slight moment of feminist panic, Mrs. Pestritto-Houlihan.  Not sure if that's going to stay, though...it's a very long signature.



We had an amazing photographer, Jon Lemon, come and take our pictures.  This one is just from someone's iPhone, so I'll share more when I have them from him!

 
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