- The Grand Prize Winner will be invited to submit a query plus the FULL MANUSCRIPT.
- Runners-up will be invited to submit a query plus the first fifty pages.
*Incidentally, I can juggle. My high school double-booked the swimming pool one semester during my junior year and, since most of the other equipment and space was already spoken for, we were asked to choose between juggling or hacky-sack. Your tax dollars at work. =)
QUESTIONS: 1. What kind of therapy would a teenage girl go through after she's been in an abusive relationship? 2. Are there any books or websites you could recommend for more information dealing with therapy post break-up? 3. Since there is a new love interest in the MC's life, would he be involved in any sessions? 4. Is there a way for him to learn how to be there for her, or is that something that is never considered? 5. From what I've read, girls who've experienced relationship abuse may have posttraumatic stress disorder after it's over. Do you have any other resources you'd recommend?
With the family golf course on the verge of bankruptcy, Kate decides she's going to be the first girl to win the Junior State Championship to draw the crowds back, but her plans are derailed when her best friend and crush is accused of vandalizing the course with a blowtorch.
"A girl has never won." He winked. "Yet."
Her father's words rang in her head as Kate Anderson breathed in her favorite smells; freshly mowed grass and the perfumey scent of rose hips that grew wild at the property line. She walked to the edge of the tee box and bent to pluck a handful of crab grass. It was easy to pretend the grass was lush and green, not brown and dry. Coming back to the patch of dirt where she'd teed up the ball, she threw the grass into the air. The blades fluttered down gently to her left side. She'd have to adjust her swing to account for the breeze. No problem.
When the charismatic Death makes 17-year-old Mary Kate Stewart choose between saving her dying boyfriend or her gift - the ability to see when people are going to die - she can't help but wonder if he wants to be more than just friends.
Mary Kate Stewart secretly hoped that her Calculus teacher would get hit by a taco truck. It was Monday, 1:15 p.m. when she had that thought. She knew the exact moment because that’s all she was doing – staring at the clock and wishing for the demise of Mr. Randolph Hagen. She didn’t want him to actually die, but if the accident caused the kind of amnesia where you forgot one specific thing and that thing just happened to be Friday’s Calculus test, she’d be all for supporting careless lunch truck drivers.
It's December of '41, the country is hours from war, Northern California is seceding from the Union, and Augie Matayzel couldn't care less - he's a little drunk, a lot in love and running for his life from the sheriff.
Augie Matayzel used the brief moment to reflect that religion is not what The Lord had in mind. He might have gone on - layering the thought with examples of religious fervor run amok - had he not known a very painful message was, in that same instant, rising to his brain like so much bread dough. Instead he allotted the time remaining to dropping the pry bar, falling to his knees and clamping shut his eyes. He battled an additional impulse to crumple to the ground and cry like a kitten, then lost that fight when a white flash ignited between his temples. "S**t!" he said, hitting the dirt.
Amy Sue's pitch:
Amidst a torrent of grief, betrayal and bake sales, Evie Glass convinces herself, and a town full of nosy neighbors, to redefine the meaning of family.
Amy Sue's excerpt:
Evie never expected to get divorced, let alone sit Shiva for her ex-husband in a house with a Christmas tree. Yet there she was.
The imitation pine tree was dressed in tinsel and shiny red balls. Hallmark ornaments masquerading as heirlooms dangled from its branches. Stockings hung from the mantel above a card table topped with a green velveteen runner, holly-stamped paper plates and a Lucite platter heaped with lox, cream cheese balls and a mountain of seeded bagels. Richard had mocked Christmas folderol until he married Nicole a year before. Now he was being mourned in the company of a motorized Santa. Evie shook her head, unsure which was more shocking – the attempt for cultural balance or Richard’s sudden death.
Fifteen-year-old Anna Brighton has spent her entire life sleeping in a steel incubator; but on her sixteenth birthday, Anna is finally awakened to fulfill her purpose—to bear the children for her sterile city.
I awaken in a flood of water.
The freezing liquid pours into my mouth and gushes down my throat.
My arms flail.
My legs kick.
My fingernails scrape against the metal box that surrounds me.
But the water overtakes my body.
As my muscles go slack, the top of the box tears open and my eyes fill with light. Somebody's hands plunge into the water and grip onto my shoulders, hauling me out. I slam onto the floor. Shivering. My lungs gasp for air, but I cannot breathe. Something has lodged in my mouth.
How often do you ask writers to revise before you offer representation? Why do you ask these writers to revise before instead of after you offer?
Ms. Paquette: The decision of whether to ask for a revision before or after offering representation usually depends on the type of work the manuscript needs. If the changes required are fairly substantial, or if I want to give a project a little more time to test out how strongly I feel about it, then I will ask for revisions first. If I'm so persuaded of the need to represent this project that I can't bear the prospect of it getting away, then I will offer right away. It's all about getting the manuscript to the point where it strikes magic; it can happen early or late, but when it happens we'll both know it.
What kind of things do you most often request in the pre-offer revision?
Ms. Paquette: This completely depends on the case. Two things that usually hook my interest in a project are (1) a strong voice, and (2) a unique premise. When I read sample pages that have these two factors, I'm then looking for a certain flow of language that resonates with me, a smoothness of pacing and a readable quality that's hard to put into words. Those things are more challenging to infuse if they are lacking in a manuscript. But if a project has these elements but is weak in other areas--in world-building, for example; or the story begins too slowly; goes on too long; needs to go deeper within the characters; needs a smoother arc or more complete resolution at the end--those kinds of things can be fixed. I think what I'm looking for is a project that feels so close to being ready that I can easily articulate a few fixes that I feel would bring it to that point where I could fall in love. Those are the kinds of revisions I would ask for before signing.
What are the most common kinds of mistakes you see in revised material? What is your primary reason for rejection?
Ms. Paquette: One big mistake I frequently see is writers who return the revision too quickly. Sometimes there is a perception that interest from an agent should be capitalized on as soon as possible or it will expire; unfortunately, this can result in manuscripts being sent back before they're fully ready. Don't be afraid to take all the time you need to do a thorough revision; get some additional readers; let it sit a while and then come back to it with fresh eyes. It doesn't have to take a supremely long time, but there are no special benefits from a super-speedy turnaround--and sometimes, to the contrary, it can be a red flag of an inexperienced reviser.
Why do I usually reject a revised manuscript? Truthfully, there's no one reason. Before I sign a client's manuscript I must truly fall in love with it. So, put simply, I'm looking for the revision to knock my socks off--to make it so I can't pass it up. That's what I'm looking for.
When would you recommend a writer not revise for an agent?
Ms. Paquette: If you don't agree with the direction an agent proposes for a project and you wouldn't feel comfortable having these changes in your final book, then don't make them. Otherwise, it's a case where you are being provided with an insider's critique and input on your manuscript which, even if the end result doesn't end up resonating with the requesting agent, will hopefully result in a stronger finished product that can go on to even greater things elsewhere.
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Once again, I thank Ms. Paquette for taking time out to answer questions for QueryTracker. More can be found about Ms. Paquette and the Erin Murphy Literary Agency on QueryTracker.net.