I’m back! I thought I’d share my thoughts on an agent I had an experience with recently: Kelly Sonnack with Andrea Brown Lit. I got a positive response to a query I sent her back in September and traded three or four rounds of subsequent emails with her before I was ultimately rejected.
Ms. Sonnack was very polite. I can find no fault with the professional nature of her emails, as I could with other agents. She formatted all of her criticisms with “I like… but…,” the exact style I encourage wherever I can.
She did say one thing that got under my skin. She didn’t like the narrative choices I had made with my story, and at one point she expressed this in a way that made my writing sound like a mess that needed to be “put together.” That may simply say a lot about my sensitivity, though.
Overall, she was helpful. Based on her criticism and the concerns of a few other of my trusted critics, I began another rewrite. I reworked the narrative into a simpler if less compact form.
Another positive experience!
I decided to read this book because I’d heard multiple times that it was good and I have resolved to do the smart thing and keep informed about what’s good and bad in my genre. Yay for me and my step up in maturity level.
The premise is one of those dystopian “Why didn’t I think of that?” ideas. In this future, every 16-year-old undergoes an operation to make them gorgeous–and exactly the same as everybody else over 16. The main character, Tally, is looking forward to her transformation until she makes a friend with different ideas.
The writing is clear, a nice pane of glass, I suppose. I understand the appeal of the adventure sequence. A city girl can’t embark along on a quest of “evil” through dangerous wilderness without evoking a certain amount of thrill. I love the themes and the way the author uses them.
For me, however, the book was unsatisfying. The characters were not well fleshed-out. Their beliefs are strong and show through their actions, but the writing isn’t intimate for this alone to let them to come to life. I needed more little things, likes and dislikes, quirky memories, elements of crazy awesome reality.
Other parts of the book are told and not shown. For example, on a certain return trip, Westerfield deprives the audience of the development of the love story, saying “Tally can’t remember.” This annoyed me.
It also bothered me that the book was clean enough for a children’s shelf. Not a curse word, a speck of blood, or a raging hormone in it. They’re 16. Get real.
Kids looking for a fun read will like this book. Tally’s adventures are fun enough to show up in readers’ dreams. Those looking for high-level writing or strong emotional connection with characters, however, will be disappointed.
Sorry for the delay. I have to do my summering sometime. I am 18, after all.
Well, I have an update. I haven’t queried for a month because the literary agent considering my work required a period of exclusivity. Very annoying to someone with a time schedule. However, working with her was a pleasant experience. Around 40 days passed since I sent her the partial, so I emailed asking for an update. She responded quickly with a thoughtful and positive review (strong preface, engaging narrative), and even went so far as to ask that I query her with future ideas. This project, however, wasn’t perfect for her.
Who is she? Mollie Glick of Foundry Media. The cool thing about my experience with this agent was getting to meet her. She was the agent-in-residence at the Southeastern Writer’s Workshop Conference this year, so I got to sit down and talk with her about my writing about the industry. She had not read my chapters yet when I spoke with her, but it was a bonus to get that face time.
Sorry I haven’t posted the review yet. I promise they will come. As soon as the summer funk wears off.
More later! ❤
The Printz Award first caught my eye on the cover of White Darkness (Geraldine McCaughrean) in the media center at my high school. The more I learn about the literary nature of the books that receive them, the more I think it may be a main marker of this “Literary Little League” the wall street journal mentioned. That article, by the way, is here. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204261704574275941028138178.html
The more I learned about the Printz Award and the kinds of books that receive it, the more I like it. I’m very interested in reading the list of winners, including the 2009 winner, Jellicoe Road (Melina Marchetta). Perhaps this would be a good study for me, and even help me develop yet another dream, another goal.
More about the Michael L. Printz Award here:
I love it. Sym’s voice is one of the best I’ve read. The themes, patterns, and writing are all lovely and fitting for a YA audience. It even received the Printz Award–a high-level YA contest–in 2008.
And get this: When I asked for this book at Barnes & Noble here in Texas, I was told that the store didn’t carry it. Nor did any of the stores close by. Looks like the major bookstores know of it, but no more.
I guess Sym is hard to relate to. The reader finds out that she’s unusual so quickly, it takes us a few chapters for us to relate to her. I think the complete click with her doesn’t come until the end. Perhaps Ms. McCaughrean could have done something about the narration of this book to bring the horrific moments that haunt the end home closer to the beginning.
That, however, is the only criticism I can make. I love the themes that flow so naturally through this book, the patterns. The end is glorious. Just thinking about a certain moment–and if you read it you’ll know which one–still gives me goosebumps.
Love & Peace!
I thought I’d blog a little about what’s going on in my own life today and update everybody on how my dreams are going. =) I attended the SWA Conference a few weeks ago, which I blogged about. I repeat: This conference is an IDEAL beginner experience.
Thanks to this experience, my manuscript is in the hands of a literary agent I like very very much. Keeping my fingers crossed. We’ll see.
The last few days, I’ve been outlining Sunlight, the sequel to Sunrise. No, I’m not completely satisfied with that title. Bubbles would be more appropriate, but it sounds too much. like the name of a poodle. Le sigh. I think I’m going to start updating my second book’s word count on my blog just to add some accountability.
At the SWA Conference this year, I also got a definition for that mysterious thing I’ve been hearing about called Dragoncon–it’s an anime convention, a writer’s conference, and a sci-fi/fantasy convention combined.
Can you say My Paradise? How cool is that
It must be humongous. Apparently there are even something like 1500 registered Storm Troopers in Atlanta. My little brother wants to register and keep his helmet in his car so he can put it on whenever he sees a state trooper
I’m going. =D At least, I’ve got some of my anime friends interested, not to mention my Star Wars-fanatic parents. (Which might be an Oops….)
That’s the general past, present, and future of the moment though. I’ll keep everyone updated.
More soon ❤
Word count: 4000