MG/YA lyrical contemporary--looking for long-haul CPs
/me waves enthusiastically from Denmark
I’m finishing up an R&R for a YA contemporary, which I’ll be sending back to a handful of agents who had the full and querying others (in Feb/March 2020)
I am currently looking for support brainstorming solutions (still hoping to reduce word count) or reading parts 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. I’m experienced and skilled as both a reader and an editor.
Although my first MS has a 16yo protagonist, 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. (I can help with grammar/mechanics, but it’s time-intensive, and it’s not something I love.) TL;DR: I give professional-level feedback and am seeking the same. 🙂
- 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, as was FIGHT CLUB, just for an idea of where my line is)
- 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. (I love THE HERO AND THE CROWN, SCORPIO RACES, ON THE EDGE OF GONE, CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE)
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.
We have to get rid of everything.
I know that, I do, and yet here I am in the lawless warehouse attached to the St. Vincent de Paul donation center and resale shop, chasing an over-permed elderly woman named Bonnie around tables heaped with Beanie Babies and old waffle irons, begging for access to the boxes Kenzie and I dropped off yesterday morning.
Because we aren’t getting rid of literally everything. That might have been easier, striding into the Arizona sunset with nothing at all. Like this is the movies, and Mom and I can trust the world to unroll like an enchanted carpet in front of us because we’re the protagonists and we already did the hard thing—the hardest thing. When we get to the starting-over part, it’s supposed to get better.
I think that’s how the story goes.
“It’s a really thick old book,” I say. “Hardcover, no dust jacket. Faded red fabric with a gold title. Fairy Stories-something-something.”
“The morning volunteers have all gone home. I got here at one o’clock and I haven’t seen it, but—” She swirls a blue-veined hand at the chaos around us.
My and Mom’s story goes like this: we’ve had four weeks to figure out exactly how much of our life we can afford to haul across the country and how much we can afford to leave behind. Mom went back to work in June, because Doing All the Things is how she deals, which means it’s also how I need to deal. Specifically, my summer has been allocated to ransacking the hollows and hideaways of our century-old home for all the things we’ve accumulated over the past sixteen years so I can list them for sale, pack them, toss them, or donate them. During the hours Mom’s at work, I’m responsible for gathering each individual scrap of our lives, holding it in my hands, and weighing whether we can or should replace it if we leave it behind.
Mistakes have been made.
The R&R I’m finishing (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!