Posted by: Kathy Temean | August 2, 2018

Page Street Publishing – YA First Page Results – Ashley Hearn

Ashley Hearn Associate YA editor at Page Street Publishing. First Page Results.

Ashley Hearn Associate YA Editor at Page Street Publishing

Prior to Page Street, she worked as an Editorial Assistant at Entangled Publishing and as a producer for the Badger Sports Report. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Communication Arts: TV, radio, and film production. When she steps away from her desk, she can be found sampling craft beer, armchair-quarterbacking for the Green Bay Packers, or haunting her local coffee shop.

Ashley is seeking only YA at this time. She’s drawn to high concept stories with a unique twist and an unforgettable voice. She’s especially interested in fantasy, paranormal, horror, magical realism, quirky contemporary, character-driven contemporary, romance, and historicals—with a special affinity for atmospheric stories that offer a strong sense of place and time. In all genres, she’s actively seeking inclusive stories and diverse voices.

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HERE IS ASHLEY FIRST PAGE CRITIQUES:

The Jersey Devil: a YA Novel with Songs by Pegi Deitz Shea

…Long before man

heard my roar,

my ears could scent,

my eyes could hear,

my fingers could call

the salt the trees

the sand forever

my own.

“There, finally,” I said, [Can cut the dialogue tag here and use the action tag instead] pushing my pencil through the spiral part of my lyrics notebook. That ending was the hardest ever to write. Took me twenty drafts. It didn’t come to me ‘til I stopped thinking like a human. [Hmm. Interesting!]

As I dressed for school, I sang my new song under my breath, keeping the words mine, feeling them painting the insides of my cheeks, tickling the roof of my mouth, sliding silently down my windpipe. [Very beautiful imagery!]

Silently ‘cause Pop was still in bed. Late for work again.

God smite me for saying this, [Great voice!] but I liked life better when he was only a hippie pothead. We’d been gone [Going? The dialect here threw me out of the story a bit. The voice is strong enough elsewhere without having to slip into dialect] to Albert Hall every Saturday night, listening to folk songs and stomping to bluegrass. Daylight, [Not sure what the use of ‘daylight’ here implies. Do you mean “In the daylight” or “by day”?] Pop used to take us kids fishing, camping, canoeing, tracking over every inch of the Pine Barrens. ‘Course, high as a kestrel, he pointed out “amazefulls” and “wonderations” we couldn’t see no matter how hard we squinted. Whatever we wanted to do, Pop’d say, “Cooool.” He loved experimenting.

Then this Dwayne from Newark moved into that old fishing shack down the sand road.

He got Pop crazy on his homemade Jersey Lightning and God knows what city shit…

ASHLEY’S NOTE: This is very interesting! I love that I can feel what the MC is passionate about. It instantly gives me something to connect with them over. The conflict simmering under the surface between the MC and their Pop is a nice undercurrent to pull me in and make me interested in reading more.

My suggestions are mostly about tightening up some lines and pointing out a few places where the dialect threw me out of the text. As I said above, your voice is strong enough that you don’t need to force it with dialect, which can lead to stereotyping your characters. Overall, very strong start! 

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Human Lands by Rebecca Louise Cowan – Young Adult

The sting of nettles punctures my pasty skin and grazes [string is the subject, which is singular, so it should be “punctures” and “grazes”.] past my ankles. The motion feels as if they [I’m not sure what ‘they’ is referring to here, the nettles? Is there a way to clarify?], too, are slowing down my descent. The dirt beneath my flat shoes creates its own wet, slippery [wet and slippery is redundant… if it’s slippery, it’s most likely wet. Only need one adjective] barrier. My feet slip [repetitive with ‘slippery’ in the previous sentence. Revise one of the two] occasionally as I trip up on my own feet but push on regardless [“Feet” is repeated twice in this sentence, suggest revising one of the two]. I pump my arms as fast as they will go without falling off of my shoulders, just like I had learnt [American style guides typically prefer –ed endings (learned) over –t endings, you may have to change this to fit house style ;)]. I guess that was one valuable, true thing I had learnt in the land of Boid. Way back when life was easier:

“Pump those arms, Atlas!” Coach Quabeck shouted next to my ear. She was always shouting but no one ever listened to her. My heart beat erratically in the best way possible and I was determind to win this time. [Win what? Could you give me some more context here? Because I don’t know what the MC is trying to win and why, the goal doesn’t resonate with me as deeply as it could.]

“I’m on your heel!” laughed my good friend, she was a Boid. [I’m not sure what ‘she was a Boid means. I could use a little more world building to help ease me into the language.]

“Don’t make me laugh!” I squealed and laughed [Laughed is pretty repetitive here] along with her, the motion [Squealing and laughing aren’t motions, they’re sounds. Clarify?] slowing me down even more. I knew she would win, [Two complete sentences. Should be separated by a period or a semi-colon] she always won.

The corner of my left eye filled with the side of a smiling face as she passed me, [this sentence is a bit tough to parse. Suggest simplifying the description. Maybe something like… “Out of the corner of my eye, I saw her smiling as she passed me.”] her metal legs practically bouncing off the concrete floor as I slowed in defeat.

“Next time!” I shouted to her retreating form,”next time I’ll win!” [not sure how to picture ‘shouted to her retreating form’. Clarify?]

She turned her neck around to face me, sticking out her tongue as if to say “loser!”

Boids are faster than Humans due to their enhancements, and by that I mean they do not have a set of lungs tiring them out. I have only beat one Boid in a race which was my adopted baby brother Quan. The only reason I lost [I thought he said he just beat his brother… now he’s lost? Having trouble following here] was because his legs were too small to move at such a speed, given another three years and I’m sure he would have beaten me. [Run-on sentence. Suggest separating into two.]

“Come back human,” a Roboid says, its mechanical voice whirring. [Is Roboid related to a Boid? Could use some explanation.]

Pushing the tracking button on the side of my watch, it indicates the Roboids are six steps behind me. Six steps that I cannot mess up, otherwise I am in trouble.

ASHLEY’S NOTE: Very interesting! But I wonder if you’re beginning this story in the right place? While the action gets started right away, I found it a bit difficult to ground myself in the story because I don’t have much context. I’d like to know more about how this world works—the relationship between humans and Boids, is this Earth or space?—who the character is, and what they want. This way, as a reader, I can connect more with the action going on around them.

On a line, level, be very careful of repetitive words and run-on sentences. A few typos is fine—no one’s going to catch everything—but too many one the first page can raise red flags. I’ve found that one of the best ways weed out pesky typos and repetition is to read the story out loud. If you stumble over it when reading out loud, your readers are most likely going to stumble over it, too. Good luck!

THANK YOU ASHLEY FOR SHARING YOUR TIME AN EXPERTISE WITH US. I KNOW IT WILL HELP MANY WRITERS.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


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