Wednesday, October 21, 2020

October 2020 Pass or Pages Entry #3

It's time for the Pass or Pages feedback reveal!  We're so thankful for our awesome agents Dr. Uwe Stender, Kelly Peterson, Shannon Snow, Jennifer Herrington, and Torie Doherty Munro for taking the time to critique these entries.  And a shout out to the brave authors whose work will be on the blog this week.  You are awesome!



Query letter

WISH I WAS HERE[SS1] is a 67,000-word YA contemporary with a speculative element.

Ana feels invisible in high school—that is, until she literally turns invisible[JH1]. When masked men come for her best friend, Isaac, she swallows the invisibility pill he made to avoid being kidnapped[US1] alongside him[TDM1]. Now Ana must rescue Isaac before he’s forced to create another pill[TDM2] for the highest bidder[KP1]. If she doesn’t find him and get an antidote within a week, she’ll remain invisible forever[JH2]. That could mean insanity or death[US2][SS2][TDM3][KP2].

Desperately searching for clues to locate Isaac, Ana finds hidden messages from him, including a love letter she never saw coming. Her feelings are further muddled when rookie cop Ben, her former crush, comes looking for her, believing she’s responsible for Isaac’s disappearance. With her time running short, Ana must decide whether or not to trust Ben with her secret[KP3], knowing he could either help her, or arrest her[TDM4]. Little does she know, Ben has a secret of his own[JH3][TDM5][KP4].

WISH I WAS HERE could be a stand-alone, though I envision a trilogy[KP5]. This novel should appeal to fans of the TROUBLE IS A FRIEND OF MINE[KP6] series by Stephanie Tromly and OVERTURNED[KP7] by Lamar Giles[JH4]. WISH I WAS HERE features a main character of mixed race who learns she was donor-conceived[TDM6].

Uwe's comments:
[US1] Why didn’t he take one, too?
[US2] The entire concept feels familiar, so it is not for me, but it could certainly be a good fit for someone else.

Kelly's comments:
[KP1] I’m confused. She stole the pill he made for himself and ate it, and Isaac is still visible because she betrayed him? Can you explain a bit more?
[KP2] Not needed, as you already have stakes in the sentence before. If these stakes need to be included, they should be merged into the sentence before that includes your other stakes.
[KP3] But if she’s invisible, how is she supposed to tell him? And how is she able to get arrested if she’s invisible? I’m confused!
[KP4] Great, but what does this have to do with Ana’s stakes? Where are her stakes? What’s her drive? Why does any of this matter to her? Why should we as readers care and connect with her?
[KP5] It’s a “stand-alone with series potential” =)
[KP6] Italicized, not capitalized! Capitalization is for manuscripts and unpublished books.
[KP7] Italicized, not capitalized!
Shannon's comments:
[SS1] I would move this sentence down to the last paragraph.
[SS2] Great. Conflict and main point stated immediately.
Jennifer's comments:
[JH1] Great opening line!
[JH2] Great stakes!
[JH3] Intriguing paragraph that gives me the necessary details to understand what the book will be about.
[JH4] Good comparative titles.

Torie's comments:
[TDM1] There is a LOT of information in just this one sentence – it’s a little overwhelming, between the masked men and the invisibility pill and Ana’s near-kidnapping. I might lead by introducing Isaac and the invisibility pill, let the reader absorb that information, and then move onto the masked men and the kidnapping.
[TDM2] This is a little vague – is it another invisibility pill, or a whole other type of pill?
[TDM3] This seems to be the heart of what’s at stake – that Ana has just one week to find Isaac so he can give her the antidote, or her invisibility will be permanent. I think the line about Isaac having to create another pill for the highest bidder distracts from that.
[TDM4] This is a little vague. Is Ana’s secret that she’s invisible? And why would telling that to Ben lead to her arrest?
[TDM5] By the end of this paragraph, it feels like the focus of this query has shifted from finding Isaac/becoming visible again to something more focused on Ben and his secrets. It’s hard to know what to make of the story when it feels like it’s being pulled in two opposite directions.
[TDM6] I’m not sure this is necessary to include in your query. It doesn’t really feel relevant to the rest of the details you’ve included.

First 250 Words

I had sometimes wished I was invisible[KP8], just to make life easier. That was the ironic part[TDM7].

Thursday--Day 0

When the bell announced the end of fourth period, jolting me back to the present[KP9], my thoughts scattered along with the notebook and pen on my desk. Someone behind me snickered, but I was used to that. I took a moment to reorient myself to clase de espaƱol. As usual I’d been daydreaming about this one guy I know. Or used to know. Sort of. Whatever[TDM8].

I sighed, collected my stuff into my bag, and filed out of the classroom with my fellow sheep. In the hallway, students were gathered in clusters around their lockers, but I kept moving[KP10]. Someone spotted me and said, “Hey, Ana. Where were you last period? The moon?”

Another kid slapped the first’s arm and said, “No, Uranus,” then laughed at his own joke.

When are they going to grow up?

At an intersection[TDM9], Isaac fell into step beside me[KP11], his sandy blond hair flopping over his green eyes. He pushed it aside, only to have it fall back again. "How many?" he asked.

“Two just now. For a while I thought today would be a shut-out for you. How’d you do?”[TDM10]

“I think Brad was feeling nostalgic. He tried to trip me, but I hopped over his foot.”

“Nice.” I held up a hand. He slapped me a half-hearted five.[TDM11]

“Then Jim called me Beaker Brain.”

“I’ve always liked that one. The alliteration alone.”[SS4][JH5][KP12]

Uwe's comments:

Kelly's comments:
[KP8] A bit wordy, passive, and proper here. Can we cut this down and incorporate a YA voice?
[KP9] I didn’t know she wasn’t in the present, as the beginning of this sentence implied otherwise!
[KP10] This is usually implied, so I’m not sure it’s needed. What would Ana notice?
[KP11] This makes it sound like Isaac is one of the boys who was making fun of her because he’s introduced immediately after those boys are? Is that true?
[KP12] I can see the potential in this one, but your query needs to be a bit more specific around Ana’s motivations! You voice gets stronger as we work our way through this first page, but I would love to see a bit more authenticity to her voice! For now, this is going to be a Pass.
Shannon's comments:
[SS4] Like this submission.  The pages are clear.  I get a sense of character up front, with a little hint a the fact that these are people who may be bullied a bit. Intriguing in a short period of time.

Jennifer's comments:
[JH5] I liked the opening line, but I wasn’t immediately connected with Ana. I liked the idea of the brief slice of life with her being bullied to pull the reader in, but I didn’t get a good sense of who she is to start the book.

Torie's comments:
[TDM7] I like this opening!
[TDM8] This feels like filler – it’s not adding anything to our understanding of Ana or her relationship with this unnamed guy.
[TDM9] This makes me think they’ve left school, but I’m not sure. I’m having a hard time getting situated in Ana’s world.
[TDM10] This is confusing – I don’t know what they’re talking about.
[TDM11] This makes me think they’re counting how many times they got bullied today, but it’s still not totally clear. It’s good that you’re establishing a rapport between these two characters, but I feel like I’m playing catch up.


Uwe Stender: Pass
Kelly Peterson: Pass
Shannon Snow: Pages!
Jennifer Herrington: Pass
Torie Doherty Munro: Pass

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