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Stepping Stones (YA)


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#1 kacimari

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 02:08 PM

Let me start out by saying thank you first of all for anyone that helps! Secondly, this is my first post and I'm about having a heart attack about it. Please be brutally honest! That's the most anyone can ask for.

Kacey


Without loss, life wouldn’t be worth living.

Seventeen year old Onna is gliding through life, contented by the absolute normalcy that surrounds her. Family, school, friends, what more could she need? Enter Everett, the mysterious and oddly comforting stranger that Onna recognizes immediately—from her dreams. Everett is impassive when it comes to his life—his parents died in a car accident, but he doesn’t want to talk about it, he’s always in the right place at the right time, but he can’t explain how. Though he’s sincere and unassuming, Everett seems to know Onna better than she knows herself, but they’ve never met before now…right?

When a phone call shatters Onna’s world, she is forced to seek solace in Everett, though he terrifies her nearly as much as he excites her. After her devoted brother dies, her father falls into a deep depression that Onna can’t seem to remedy. Her mother, who has always been self indulgent, is off on an affair and seemingly oblivious to her ‘old’ family. With few options left, Onna must decide if she trusts Everett—weighing his sincerity against his secrets. Stepping Stones follows Onna as she traverses through Everett’s world—a world filled with doubt, lies, and fear. When everything is lost, Onna faces a choice that will change her life forever.

At 125,000 words, Stepping Stones is a complete Young Adult novel. With Broken Stones and Rising Stones to follow, Stepping Stones not only has the potential, but the promise of series. A complete manuscript is available upon request.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark.

#2 TansyRagwort

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 02:13 PM

125,000 words for a YA novel! That's a lot! My first question is: do you need all that?

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#3 A.M.Supinger

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 02:52 PM

Let me start out by saying thank you first of all for anyone that helps! Secondly, this is my first post and I'm about having a heart attack about it. Please be brutally honest! That's the most anyone can ask for.

Kacey


Without loss, life wouldn’t be worth living.

Seventeen year old Onna is gliding through life, contented by the absolute normalcy that surrounds her. Family, school, friends, what more could she need? Enter Everett, the mysterious and oddly comforting stranger that Onna recognizes immediately—from her dreams. Though he’s sincere and unassuming, Everett seems to know Onna better than she knows herself.

When a phone call shatters Onna’s world, she is forced to seek solace in Everett, though he terrifies her nearly as much as he excites her. With few options left, Onna must decide if she trusts Everett—weighing his sincerity against his secrets. Stepping Stones follows Onna as she traverses through Everett’s world—a world filled with doubt, lies, and fear. When everything is lost, Onna faces a choice that will change her life forever.

At 125,000 words, Stepping Stones is a complete Young Adult novel. With Broken Stones and Rising Stones to follow, Stepping Stones not only has the potential, but the promise of series. A complete manuscript is available upon request.

Thank you for your time and consideration,


125,000 is a lot of words for YA. This might be better advertised as fantasy/romance. Well, that is my assumption. I don't really know what the book is about. I am guessing Everett is a hunk, Onna is pretty and the birds, bees and hormones all play their respective roles.
Your conflict is ambiguous: a phone call. Did her parents die? Did her pet rabbit have babies? We are left too much in the dark, especially since Everett is labeled mysterious and we don't know anything about him.

So, my suggestion is to find the conflict. And give us more about Onna (cool name). Typically a query is between 250-300 words, so you have room to elaborate.
Good luck!
"Imagination is more important than knowledge." - Albert Einstein

#4 kacimari

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 02:58 PM

To A.M> Supinger:

Thank you for the feedback! You have some parts correct, though I am iffy about whether I want to put the book in Fantasy and/or Romance, when it is much more directed towards YA. As for the phone call, yes, her parents did die (At least one of them). I am trying to keep the mystery of story, but I understand that I may need to give a bit more. I will work on it. Thanks again!

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#5 Jemi

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 03:21 PM

Hi Kacey - I don't think you want to keep it as mysterious as you are. You have to give the agents a good reason to bite - if they don't see what makes your story unique and interesting, they won't. I'd suggest you start with the death of her parent and tell us how Everett comes into her life.

When Onna's mom/dad is killed by whatever-kills-him/her, the only person who can keep her life from completely shattering is Everett - a stranger she recognizes from her dreams.

Or something much better than that to pull them right into what makes your story cool.

Don't worry about saying YA romantic fantasy or YA fantasy (as long as you make it clear in the query that it is a romance too) - I think agents prefer having that info laid out & YA is more a category than a genre.

Hope that helps you out a bit - good luck with your story! :smile:

#6 RileyRedgate

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 04:51 PM

Let me start out by saying thank you first of all for anyone that helps! Secondly, this is my first post and I'm about having a heart attack about it. PHsdjhkj don't! Please be brutally honest! That's the most anyone can ask for.

Kacey


Without loss, life wouldn’t be worth living.

Seventeen year old Onna is gliding through life, contented by the absolute normalcy that surrounds her. Family, school, friends, what more could she need? Enter Everett, the mysterious and oddly comforting stranger that Onna recognizes immediately—from her dreams. Everett is impassive when it comes to his life—his parents died in a car accident, but he doesn’t want to talk about it, he’s always in the right place at the right time, but he can’t explain how. Though he’s sincere and unassuming, Everett seems to know Onna better than she knows herself, but they’ve never met before now…right? No formatting.

When a phone call shatters Onna’s world, she is forced to seek solace in Everett, though he terrifies her nearly as much as he excites her. After her devoted brother dies, her father falls into a deep depression that Onna can’t seem to remedy. Her mother, who has always been self indulgent, is off on an affair and seemingly oblivious to her ‘old’ family. With few options left, Onna must decide if she trusts Everett—weighing his sincerity against his secrets. Stepping Stones follows Onna as she traverses through Everett’s world—a world filled with doubt, lies, and fear. When everything is lost, Onna faces a choice that will change her life forever.

At 125,000 words, Stepping Stones STEPPING STONES is a complete Young Adult novel. With Broken Stones and Rising Stones to follow, Stepping Stones nooo formatting. not only has the potential, but the promise of series. A complete manuscript is available upon request.

Thank you for your time and consideration,


I hesitated to make too many concrete comments, because I don't think you should use this as your basis. In my opinion, you're not doing your story justice. Why? You can clearly write. But you're not telling us what you're writing about. A girl has a good life. She meets a boy who is mysterious. Bad things happen in her life. She turns to him for comfort and finds out a bunch of stuff - and this bunch of stuff is the stuff WE want to KNOW! Don't hold back on us, girl! Show us how this story is the only one of its kind. Show why it shines. Also, don't be afraid to let Onna's personality appear. Is she timid? Sarcastic? Awkward?

I would start again. Tell us in plain and simple terms what Onna does - not necessarily what happens to her. You could turn the brother's death and affair into 'a series of family tragedies', honestly. I want to see your main character as active, not reactive. Generating plot points, not passively observing them.

Hmm. If this is fantasy, I didn't get a hint of it from this query. Dive into your genre! If you have a dystopia, for instance, you're going to want to show us how everything is really wrong. If you have a fantasy, show us the fantastic elements. And if you have a romance, then show us how Onna dives into Everett's world and the reason she stays there with him.

^This critique is a lot of imperative words. I get really into critiquing, but the above of course is all my opinion and should be taken with 100% natural sea salt. :)

author of SEVEN WAYS WE LIE and NOTEWORTHY

rep: Caryn Wiseman, Andrea Brown Literary Agency

 

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#7 kacimari

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 04:59 PM

I hesitated to make too many concrete comments, because I don't think you should use this as your basis. In my opinion, you're not doing your story justice. Why? You can clearly write. But you're not telling us what you're writing about. A girl has a good life. She meets a boy who is mysterious. Bad things happen in her life. She turns to him for comfort and finds out a bunch of stuff - and this bunch of stuff is the stuff WE want to KNOW! Don't hold back on us, girl! Show us how this story is the only one of its kind. Show why it shines. Also, don't be afraid to let Onna's personality appear. Is she timid? Sarcastic? Awkward?

I would start again. Tell us in plain and simple terms what Onna does - not necessarily what happens to her. You could turn the brother's death and affair into 'a series of family tragedies', honestly. I want to see your main character as active, not reactive. Generating plot points, not passively observing them.

Hmm. If this is fantasy, I didn't get a hint of it from this query. Dive into your genre! If you have a dystopia, for instance, you're going to want to show us how everything is really wrong. If you have a fantasy, show us the fantastic elements. And if you have a romance, then show us how Onna dives into Everett's world and the reason she stays there with him.

^This critique is a lot of imperative words. I get really into critiquing, but the above of course is all my opinion and should be taken with 100% natural sea salt. :)



So, perhaps a stupid question. But should I really just throw out there what Onna spends half the book trying to figure out? Doesn't that ruin the point of the story? Or at least the anticipation? Thanks for the help!
Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark.

#8 TansyRagwort

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 05:04 PM

Most agents I've seen ask for a synopsis as well or shortly before they ask to read the actual MS. The story is going to be ruined at one point or another. Just get them to read it and look at your writing. Some secrets aren't worth keeping if it turns off the agent. These guys will tell you what those are better than I can though. Listen to their awesome advice.

http://www.immortali...ify.php?book=25

http://www.immortali...books.php?id=25

 

THE IMPENDING DEMISE OF THE GIRL WITH BROWN EYES coming Dec 2013 from Immortal Ink Publishing.


#9 RileyRedgate

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 05:21 PM

So, perhaps a stupid question. But should I really just throw out there what Onna spends half the book trying to figure out? Doesn't that ruin the point of the story? Or at least the anticipation? Thanks for the help!


Bella Swan spends a large amount of Twilight-time trying to figure out what Edward Cullen's deal is, but I'll bet you anything that Steph Meyer didn't leave out 'he's a vampire' in her query.

Think of it this way - agents love a good read, of course, so purely for personal enjoyment they wouldn't want you to tell them. But if it's from a publishing/selling perspective, they're going to want to know what they're requesting, and what they're considering for representation.

Even after Onna discovers said deep dark secret, there's more conflict, right? Focus on that. If I'm not mistaken, in the mystery genre, the focus is on the set-up/the premise because the actual conflict is the search for information. But in other genres, we need more. If the reveal is your plot, you have a mystery on your hands. If there's another conflict, then that's what you need to show us in your query.

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rep: Caryn Wiseman, Andrea Brown Literary Agency

 

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#10 Decreed

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 06:54 PM

So, perhaps a stupid question. But should I really just throw out there what Onna spends half the book trying to figure out? Doesn't that ruin the point of the story? Or at least the anticipation? Thanks for the help!


You're getting a ton of great advice, so I'll just add: You know my query that you rocked at editing? Well, Rian doesn't learn that Eirian's an angel (Even Eirian doesn't learn Eirian's an angel) until about CH 10. But the agent learned in the first paragraph.

Also, you can still sell the mystery without actually having the mystery. "Edward's a vampy. But Bella sure doesn't know that. Continue synopsis."
In good writing, there are two kinds of sentences. Ones that lull the reader into a false sense of security, and ones that punch the reader in the mouth.

#11 kacimari

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Posted 10 April 2011 - 09:01 AM

Thank you for the suggestions! I will work on a rewrite today! Here's to giving it all away...
Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark.

#12 kacimari

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Posted 10 April 2011 - 10:07 AM

Here is an edit. I'm feeling rather frustrated by it. Thanks for comments!

Everett was sent to Onna to save her from herself, to Comfort her through the painful process of losing her entire family. And then, Onna was supposed to die. Somewhere along the way, Everett fell in love with her and decided instead to betray the only life he’s ever known.

Seventeen year old Onnaleigh Moore is gliding through life, contented by the absolute normalcy that surrounds her—until she meets Everett. Their connection is instantaneous, though Everett is mysterious and impassive about himself. Always in the right place at the right time, Everett seems to know Onna better than she knows herself.

After her devoted brother dies, she is forced to seek solace in Everett, though he terrifies her nearly as much as he excites her. Onna’s father falls into a deep depression with the loss of his son, while her mother skips town on an affair, oblivious to her ‘old’ family. With few options left and her world spiraling out of control, Onna must decide if she trusts Everett—weighing his sincerity against his secrets. With the rules of Comforters strictly enforced, will Everett protect Onna, or trade her to save himself?

At 125,000 words, Stepping Stones is a complete Young Adult novel. With Broken Stones and Rising Stones to follow, Stepping Stones not only has the potential, but the promise of series. A complete manuscript is available upon request.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark.

#13 kacimari

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Posted 10 April 2011 - 08:15 PM

After staring at this all day, I have decided that I almost hate it. It's very informative, but it's not nearly as eloquent as my previous query. I need to find a way to mesh them together somehow. I would appreciate some feedback today. Thanks to anyone that has the time to take a look.

Kacey

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#14 A.M.Supinger

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Posted 10 April 2011 - 08:37 PM

Don't get frustrated. Queries suck - BADLY. Everyone hates them. You're not alone!

I am intrigued by this query. I think it has voice, but the third paragraph is my least favorite bc it does feel "informative".

I would suggest leaving your query alone for at least a day...trust me, when you obsess over a query you don't get good results.
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#15 RileyRedgate

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Posted 10 April 2011 - 08:39 PM

Hi Kacey. Don't feel too frustrated...revisions are sort of always frustrating, yeah, but don't let it get to you. You're moving forward, and that's better than doing nothing. Also, imo, this revision is strong. Definitely a step in the right direction.

Everett was you mentioned that you feel this is 'tell'-y - start by putting this whole paragraph in present-tense. "is". sent to Onna to save her from herself, to Comfort her through the painful process of losing her entire family. And then, Onna was is supposed to die. 'but'? some sort of transition here Somewhere along the way, Everett fell falls in love with her and decided instead to betray the only life he’s ever known. I'd make this bit a 'must' clause. In fact, I'd directly steal/combine this with your current closer, since I have a suggestion about that bit too. "and must decide whether to protect Onna, or trade her to save the only life he's ever known."

Seventeen year old Onnaleigh Moore is gliding through life, contented by the absolute normalcy that surrounds her—until she meets Everett. Their connection is instantaneous, though Everett is mysterious and impassive about himself. Always in the right place at the right time, Everett seems to know Onna better than she knows herself.

After her devoted brother dies, she is forced to seek solace in Everett, though he terrifies her nearly as much as he excites her. Onna’s father falls into a deep depression with the loss of his son, while her mother skips town on an affair, oblivious to her ‘old’ family. With few options left and her world spiraling out of control, Onna must decide if she trusts Everett—weighing his sincerity against his secrets. With the rules of Comforters strictly enforced, will Everett protect Onna, or trade her to save himself? Don't ask us this question - we can already guess what the answer is. Move onward. keep going; keep telling us the story! Instead of a rhetorical question, what I'm guessing you need is something like this: 'But then Onna discovers what Everett truly is, and when he refuses to give her up, he breaks the code of the Comforters. Insert antagonist and ultimate conflict here.'

At 125,000 words, Stepping Stones all caps is a complete Young Adult novel. With Broken Stones and Rising Stones to follow, Stepping Stones not only has the potential, but the promise of series. A complete manuscript is available upon request.

Thank you for your time and consideration,


It's always hard trying to retain voice and flow while revising, but I think you're doing an admirable job. Keep it up, girl.

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rep: Caryn Wiseman, Andrea Brown Literary Agency

 

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#16 Jemi

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Posted 10 April 2011 - 08:42 PM

Okay – I’ll give it a shot too - you've got some good advice up top. I’m assuming the story is seen through Onna’s eyes – right? If so, start off with her. Also, keep the entire query in the present tense – makes it more immediate.

Start off with what makes your story unique. The entire concept of the Comforters should be part of your hook. Also include the event that triggers the story. Usually a query is a recap of the 1st 30 pages or so with a tease at the end that gets the agent to want to read more.

You need to show what makes Everett both compelling and terrifying – saying it isn’t enough. You might also try to tighten it up a bit. Instead of telling all the details of her family you could try something like.. when her brother dies, her family falls apart, leaving Onna alone.

Don’t get too frustrated – queries are HARD! And they usually take tons of rewrites. :tongue:

Hopefully some of that makes sense and can help you out a bit. Good luck with it!

#17 kacimari

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Posted 10 April 2011 - 09:51 PM

Bam, rewrite! I mostly like this one now, although I think I need a better hook, but am unsure how to make that come about. Thank you so much for all the comments, they really helped! (I hope...)

Seventeen year old Onnaleigh Moore is gliding through life, contented by the absolute normalcy that surrounds her—until she meets Everett. Their connection is instantaneous, though Everett is mysterious and impassive. Always in the right place at the right time, Everett seems to know Onna better than she does.

Everett has been sent to Onna to save her from herself, to Comfort her through the painful process of losing her entire family. Even though Everett knows Onna is supposed to die, along the way he falls in love with her, deciding instead to betray the only life he’s ever known.

When her devoted brother dies, Onna is forced to seek solace in Everett, though he terrifies her nearly as much as he excites her. Almost painfully, the truths fall into place. Everett knows Onna’s thoughts, he knows her future, and he knows how she will die. With her world spiraling out of control, Onna must decide if she trusts Everett—weighing his sincerity against his secrets. With the rules of Comforters strictly enforced, they must fight to save the one thing they have left: each other.

At 125,000 words, STEPPING STONES is a complete Young Adult novel. With BROKEN STONES and RISING STONES to follow, STEPPING STONES not only has the potential, but the promise of series. A complete manuscript is available upon request.

Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark.

#18 RosieSkye

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Posted 11 April 2011 - 12:23 AM

I'm afraid I don't have a good idea of their relationship. He's supposed to Comfort her, yet he excites and terrifies her. Is that because he's breaking the rules and telling her things about herself neither of them should know?

And I agree that 125,000 is too long. My first manuscript was that length, and I did a pass and cut 20,000 words without even trying, and without losing a shred of anything important. It was overwritten, plain and simple. Just a suggestion.

#19 kacimari

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 07:19 PM

Dear [The Dream Keeper]

When seventeen year old Onnaleigh Moore loses her brother, she doesn’t expect to uncover a secret organization she never knew existed. Crippled with grief, Onna turns to mysterious and sensitive Everett, but that's just what they expected.

Everett, Onna’s Comforter, is privy to her deepest secrets, her thoughts, and her future. He knows how she will die—and why. Blinded by his unexpected love for Onna, Everett is willing to disobey the laws of Comforters and give up the only life he’s ever known—if only he could save her.

After the death of her parents, Everett confesses a secret that will force Onna to choose between the permanence of death and a lonely life of servitude—a life that won’t include him.

With Onna’s mortality looming, they must fight to save the one thing they have left: each other.

At 125,000 [and cutting!!] words, STEPPING STONES is a complete Young Adult novel. A complete manuscript is available upon request.
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#20 Stephanie Diaz

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 07:30 PM

I think this is MUCH better than the previous versions, and having read some of your novel I believe it gets it across very well :)

Dear [The Dream Keeper]

When seventeen year old Onnaleigh Moore loses her brother, she doesn’t expect to uncover a secret organization she never knew existed. Crippled with grief, Onna turns to mysterious and sensitive Everett, but that's just what they expected.

Everett, Onna’s Comforter, is privy to her deepest secrets, her thoughts, and her future. He knows how she will die—and why. Blinded by his unexpected love for Onna, Everett is willing to disobey the laws of Comforters and give up the only life he’s ever known—if only he could save her.

After the death of her parents, Everett confesses a secret that will force Onna to choose between the permanence of death and a lonely life of servitude—a life that won’t include him.

With Onna’s mortality looming, they must fight to save the one thing they have left: each other.

At 125,000 [and cutting!!] words, STEPPING STONES is a complete Young Adult novel. A complete manuscript is available upon request. (I've been told by many not to include this last line, as manuscripts should always be complete before they are sent!)


EXTRACTION_FINAL_COVER.jpg

Extraction | Rebellion | Evolution

St. Martin's Griffin

 

www.stephaniediazbooks.com





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