Posted by: Kathy Temean | August 6, 2018

Page Street Publishing – YA First Page Results – Lauren Knowles

Lauren Knowles is an editor at Page Street. She graduated with a masters degree in English Literature from Portland State University, and worked at the New York Public Library before accepting her job at Page Street. 

She loves unique fantasy, magical realism, lyrical writing, gothic romance, and character-driven contemporary. An f/f contemporary romance with a happy ending is at the top of her wish list, but she is always looking for inclusive stories and diverse voices.

Editor at Page Street Publishing

  • Epic fantasy with LGBTQ main characters
  • f/f contemporary romance with a happy ending
  • Stories about diverse witches
  • Diverse sci-fi
  • Gothic romance with a unique twist. I’m a sucker for Jane Eyre, Beauty and the Beast, and the enemies-to-lovers trope.
  • Literary writing paired with magical realism
  • Historical–the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries are my favorites. I would also be interested in something set in the 1920s.
  • I am always looking for inclusive stories and diverse perspectives

Fiction: Young Adult
Non-Fiction: Cookbooks, Crafts/DIY, Humor, LGBTQ

HERE IS LAUREN AND HER THOUGHTS ON THE FIRST PAGES:

Skye Ryder by Robin Lange – YA

Skye was lost, very lost.  But she was tired of losing, so she stayed put.  It always took her longer to do the math and this time was no different.  She’d get it right if she just took her time.

Late afternoon light streamed through the treetops, illuminating Skye’s logbook.  The grubby gold compass in her hand clicked and whirred as it honed in on the somber gravitational pull of the magnetic north.  The inscription on its curve worn smooth over time was beginning to fade almost completely as if it were being reabsorbed by the polished metal.  “NOT ALL WHO WANDER ARE LOST” it read, but Skye was beginning to think the truth of that familiar old quote was wearing thin just like its inscription.  She tapped the side of the compass on a tree trunk trying to get it to simmer down, to stop making all those clunky noises.  But it was no use.  The old thing had a mind of its own.

She was disoriented in this strange part of the forest.  Following the clues off the usual path and out of the familiar glen of beech trees to this shadowy tract of impossibly tall white pines had brought her into foreign territory.  The forest was more dense and dark.  The weft of the underbrush thick as tapestry but somehow soft like a quilted blanket gently winding through the tree trunks as if wrapped tight against the chill of the dappled gloom.   All in all it was a murky place – halfway between the known and the unknown.

She knew bears and mountain lions frequented these hills and she didn’t want to stumble on a lion’s den or worse by simply wandering around.  So, not really sure of exactly where she was, she simply waited.

The trees sighed high above her as a dampish breeze whiffled through her hair and then silence.  The forest was hushed – holding its breath for just a moment.  Listening, she tipped her head to one side scrutinizing the smallest vibration in the woods.  At first there was nothing, the air

LAUREN’S NOTE: I enjoy the atmosphere you’ve created here. I want to know more about her situation, why she’s lost, and what she’s waiting for. I know this is only the first page, but I would be careful of focusing too much on description. You want to be sure to introduce some tension to keep the reader hooked. This doesn’t have to be the introduction of major conflict or action—it can be quiet too. A quiet beginning is the perfect opportunity for the reader to develop an attachment to the main character, especially since she’s placed in an uncomfortable situation. Here, Skye feels a bit passive—she decides to wait rather than do something—but a slight adjustment could change that. What if she attempts the math again? Or what if someone told her to wait and she goes against what she was told? Going against what’s expected is a great tactic to keep people reading.

Overall, this is a strong first page and an interesting start!

********

Spying Ivy by Wendy Decker

1958

“Release and Resist!” Mother Superior shouted as her cold, cerulean eyes glared at us from behind the severe habit headdress. Next, she strolled up and down the rows poking at the contents of our purses spread out on the desks with her long metal skewer. On sunny days, a ray of light would shine upon her face and I could see the little patch of whiskers on the tip of her chin. And always, one girl got caught with something Mother Superior seemed to be expecting to find. She stopped abruptly at the side of Helen Ayres’ desk, which was next to mine, Ivy Jean Munroe.

“What else is in there, Helen?” She tapped the outside of the girl’s red and gold tapestry purse.

“Nothing . . . M-m-mother,” she stuttered.

The nun tucked the skewer underneath one arm, and grabbed the purse by its handle.

“An elaborate purse for school, Helen. Not at all appropriate, where did you get it?”

“My mother’s closet,” she said and folded her arms.

Mother Superior turned it upside down and shook it. Lipstick, sanitary napkins, tissues, and three individually wrapped packs of Bazooka gum clattered onto the desk. Mother handed Helen the empty purse and then scooped up a pint-sized vodka bottle that had fallen from it by its capless neck with the skewer, and she held it up for all to see.

LAUREN’S NOTE: I like how you set up a scene that introduces conflict and tension. Your story doesn’t begin with telling, which is great. However, this time period is difficult in YA. I often find that novels set in the 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s are a hard sell. Mostly because it can be difficult for teen readers to connect to those voices—they come across as adult fiction instead, as the audience leans more towards adults who are interested in reading about the time periods they grew up in. All of that said, from the look of this first page, this seems to be a concept that could be moved into our current time period.

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

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


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