MG/YA lyrical contemporary--looking for long-haul CPs
/me waves enthusiastically from Denmark
I’m currently querying a YA contemporary; I have fulls and partials out with agents and am starting a new MS while waiting. Depending on agent feedback, I may be looking for help brainstorming or reading revisions of that MS, but mostly I have an eye toward the new project. I’d love to find someone who likes the whole process–brainstorming-over-text on through reading a completed draft. The new MS is right on the border of MG/YA (the No-Man’s-Land of a 13-14yo protagonist). I know I need to sort that out and pick one, but it’s quite early in planning/drafting. ? I’ll get there.
I write contemporary (though this new one might be contemp with a twist, flirting with some unexplained, magicky events). Since this box asks me to explain why I write: I do it to better understand the world and how I fit in, and to offer readers a way to see the world..and to find a way they, too, might fit into it.
Other things to know?
- Plot matters to me (and I’m annoyingly good at poking holes in plot logic), but I am primarily a character-focused writer with a lyrical bent.
- I have lots of experience speaking publicly and acting, giving me a decent ear for dialogue.
- A sense of humor is vital! I want a CP who takes craft seriously, but not themselves.
- Earnestly seeking someone who wants (and gives) sharp-eyed, clear, comprehensive critique: the good and the bad. I will tell you everything that I think can strengthen your book (note that I do mean YOUR book, not the book I want you to write), and I will praise what you’re nailing, but I don’t follow the Official Critique Sandwich. I have a strong background in lit studies, so I tend to analyze your book–I’ll tell you what it’s conveying to me and why, helping you figure out whether you are or are not achieving what you want with it. I can do everything from a comprehensive edit letter to line-by-line feedback, but I’m not a good fit for someone who struggles with grammar and mechanics. (It’s time-intensive, and it’s not something I love.)
- I am a “rising tide lifts all boats” person. I want a CP who is comfortable sharing opportunities and resources, who sees the relationship as a collaboration, not a competition. I’m the sort of person who will send you info on anything I come across that might be helpful to you, from conferences to contests to articles to MSWL items from agents! That works best when it feels reciprocal.
- Non-writing: I love bicycles, public art, the natural sciences, birds/bugs/jellyfish/what-have-you, underdog sports movies from the 90s, superhero movies, food and cooking, plants, learning languages, theater and acting, and the weirdness of being human. I admire people who are good at making physical things (carpentry, knitting, pottery), but I tend to go in fits and starts in that regard.
- 3D characters, esp feminist (A Thomas, LH Anderson, S Zarr, A.S. King, R Williams-Garcia)
- gorgeous writing (Jandy Nelson, N Yoon, M Marchetta, A-M McLemore, E Danforth)
- vibrant families (THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE, SIMON VS., JANE THE VIRGIN)
- ride-or-die girl friendships (UNDEAD GIRL GANG, CODE NAME VERITY; teen Lea/Rita from RITA season 4)
- popular girl, drawn fully (7 WAYS WE LIE; EXIT, PURSUED BY A BEAR)
- slow-burn relationships
- confined plots: 24-hour period; train journey; escape room; Groundhog Day scenarios
- YA or MG
- unique retellings (e.g., SCORPIO RACES; EXIT, PURSUED BY A BEAR; D. Eliot’s BULL; CLUELESS), magical realism (McLemore), contemp, contemp-with-a-twist, gorgeous fantasy (GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON, REAL BOY)
- love letters to other books (WHEN YOU REACH ME)
- careful research, thoughtful representation
- innovative structures
- anything that shows the messy & the hard of life while not losing sight of the joy
- one-note mean girls
- jerkface love interests
- rape as a plot device/motivation
- graphic physical brutality, esp against characters from the margins (FEMALE OF THE SPECIES was tough to read but absolutely phenomenal due to McGinnis’ nuanced handling of text and themes, same for Rita Williams-Garcia’s JUMPED. WINGER was too much, FIGHT CLUB made me sick for a day, I quit watching Game of Thrones after season 2, close to quitting THE BRIDGE in season 1 when homeless population was targeted)
- I’m not anti-high fantasy, but it’s rare that one grabs me from the get-go. Same for sci fi. I can fall quite in love, but I’m lukewarm on many. Character development and personal stakes matter a lot for me here, and I tend to prefer things where the spec fic is a light touch. (I love THE HERO AND THE CROWN, SCORPIO RACES, ON THE EDGE OF GONE)
Six forgotten giants. Two inseparable brothers. A bike thief. An arsonist at large. A family, unraveling.
Since this is still in its very early stages, this is teaser and not query. It is a contemporary at the moment, though there may be a touch of magical realism by the end. And the protagonist is on the line between MG and YA–I’ll have to make that call as well.
I know there’s not a ton here to go on, but in an ideal world, I’m looking for a CP relationship that extends beyond this work. Please check out my crit style, reading preferences, and samples from the work I am currently querying. And drop me a line! I’d love to swap some pages and see how we mesh.
This is from the MS I’m querying, not the WIP.
Name: Zade Kendall
World Lit, Period 3
Reflection 1: As we prepare to read The Arabian Nights, make an argument foror againstthe choice of such an old text. Can Scheherazade offer anything to modern readers?
What makes a story valuable—wherever or whenever it’s from—is that it matters to even one person. This story matters to me.
I am Scheherazade.
I mean, I’m supposed to be.
Dad named me, which is a good thing. He claims—claimed, that is, past tense—the conversation went like this:
MOM: Let’s call her Clementine.
DAD: Is our daughter a fruit?
MOM: Oh, come on. You remember that actress who named her kid Apple. Cute, right?
DAD: Do you remember the student I had in Western Civilization last year?
DAD: Obviously, yes.
DAD: Kale. I want to make sure before we proceed that you are aware food names are a tough sell in, for example, college classrooms.
MOM: [grabbing a baby name book] What about an herb? Something subtle. Sage? Or…look! Paprika!
DAD: Maybe we should consider myinterests as we weigh this monumental decision.
MOM: What, you want to name her Athena? Oooh—Persephone could be good!
But of all the gods and heroes in the myths, folktales, and fairy tales he loved so much, the name my dad chose for me was Zade, a nod to Scheherazade, the storyteller who told a thousand and one tales in TheArabian Nights.
He always wanted me to be the brave one. The one who would risk everything to save someone else, the way Scheherazade stepped in to rescue her people from a king who took a new wife each night and murdered her at dawn. He wanted me to be the clever one, capable of inventing a string of stories compelling enough to snare a bloodthirsty king. Spinning an endless thread of cliffhangers, Scheherazade survived nearly three years before the king told her she no longer had to worry about losing her life at sunrise.
The MS currently out with agents (YA Contemp):
When Mom refuses help after a string of seizures, 16yo Zade takes a dangerous gamble. She covers for Mom to keep them together. But Mom’s getting worse & Zade’s lies—& life—are falling apart
#YA #CONw/ loss, fairytales, & 1st love
More broadly: I’d like to write both YA and MG, especially stories focused on family and friend relationships and break-ups. I’ve published MG poetry, nonfiction articles, and short stories, as well as a ton of curriculum materials in my day job.
Here are some best practices for reaching out to a potential CP:
- Include the link to your own CP Match profile! You can find it on your Dashboard. Don't have one yet? What are you waiting for? Anyone with a WriteOnCon.org account can make one!
- Introduce yourself a little, and say what appealed to you about their listing.
- Respect what's listed here in their profile. They took the time to fill it out, and they've included this information for a reason. Don't send a message about a book they specifically say is a Hard No, for example.
- Offer to swap a small sample of your works, so you can see if you're really compatible. First chapters are a good starting place.
- If one party no longer wants to continue the interaction, it's nobody's fault. Sometimes finding the right CP takes time.
Happy writing and CPing!