Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 29, 2019

November Agent of the Month First Page Results

Kat Enright is an Associate Agent with the Seymour Agency and she is actively seeking MG and YA of all genres, Adult SFF, Romance, and select nonfiction.

Prior to joining the Seymour Agency, they worked in a variety of departments in publishing, including Sales and Editorial, and they have a keen understanding of the many stages that a book must go through in order to reach bookshelves. As someone who lives on the corner of many intersections, they are most especially interested in elevating voices of marginalized authors.

MG: In Middle Grade, She’s most especially drawn to voice—the perfect blend of whimsy and magic. Though I tend to lean more SFF, she will not turn down a good contemporary that explores the world through an authentic, diverse lens.

Contemporary YA: She is looking for twisty, dark tales with compelling protagonists—give me your mysteries and your thrillers! I’m especially drawn to found-family stories and stories that emphasize and explore female friendship. Additionally, I am seeking stories that explore what it is like to grow up outside of the typical white, straight, affluent experience.

Historical YA: She loves a good historical YA but is particularly interested in stories that explore what queer people and people of color were doing in that time (She says, “even more shockingly, queer people of color! Yes, we do exist”).

YA and Adult SFF: In both YA and Adult SFF, she’s looking for vibrant worlds that draw from traditionally underrepresented cultures. Though she is not best fit for hard sci-fi, she’d love to see an expansive, high-stakes space opera that has the feel and heart of Mass Effect. She is particularly excited to see fresh takes on common tropes and would love to see epic fantasy that explores the variety of roles and power that women seize. (Give her your Sansas and your Aryas and your Cerseis and your Margerys)

Romance: In romance, she’s open to all categories. Her favorite romance tropes include: hate-to-love/enemies-to-lovers, STEM heroines, religious angst, and soft male leads. In paranormal, she is less interested in alpha/beta dynamics and more interested in the exploration of the human and the monstrous.

Cookbooks, Coffee table and Gift books: For cookbooks, she is particularly interested finding books of traditional recipes with a modern flair and would love to connect with bloggers who have a strong platform. In coffee table and gift books, she’d love to see something that’s fun and geeky or that explores unique and odd topics.

In all areas, she is looking for new, fresh voices from traditionally underrepresented communities. Kat seeks stories that represent the diversity of the world we live in (including, but not limited to, all ethnicities, sexual orientations, mental and physical health, and socio-economic statuses).

BELOW ARE THREE FIRST PAGES THAT KAT CRITIQUED.

I sent Kat one page in lyrical pose she did not feel qualified to critique, since she doesn’t not represent them. I have sent another first page to Kat and will add it when I receive it back from Kat.

Note: Kat’s comments are in bold black with parentheses around the comment.

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THE BARN by Jane Resides – MG Novel

What could I tell about what I had seen before the first flames began to lick the sides of the barn. (For an opening sentence, this has too many clauses. I had to read it a couple of times to parse out the meaning. I’d recommend something simpler.) Would anyone believe? I had just come up the hill, through the fenced pasture, where Gram’s cows grazed peacefully, when I saw… (Honestly, I’d rework this to be less contemplative. Make it so that it’s action. She sees the fire and responds to it.) 

I raced up to the barn bridge, hoping to do something, (whatWhat,)  I didn’t know. But it was too late. There was what sounded like an explosion, and the huge double doors flew open. The gust from it blew me back onto the ground. There was nothing I could do but watch the flames fill the sky. Something flew off the barn and hit my head. (Great place to add a bit of physicality and emotion. What does she feel here?) 

Everything went black. I don’t know how long I was out, but when I awoke, there wasn’t much left of the old gray barn that had risen into the sky, blocking sight of the fields beyond. I stared, mesmerized by this dramatic change.

…and when the solid bank of smoke became pierced and (A: Passive voice. B: Pierced by what?) then was just angry wisps, I could see what had always been on the other side of the barn. It was strange this new view (This new view was strange)— punctuated by chard timbers poking randomly toward the sky, as if pointing to where every other bit of it had disappeared.

I don’t know how long I’d been sitting there on the ground, covered with flakes of soot. I touched a wet streak on my face and didn’t flinch. I knew the blood was there all along, just as I knew now what lay on the other side of the barn. Why, as a child growing up, visiting here every summer, had I never been to that side of the barn?

I heard a screeching noise. Then the tallest of the blackened timbers fell slowly – as if someone or something had pushed it.

This opening could use more immediacy and emotion. It’s a bit too reflective, and there is a tendency to use the passive voice. Great content, but you can really use this pivotal moment to draw the reader in.

*******

Oskar Moone by B.Doherty – MG

Oskar Moone was incredulously (Word choice?) normal, as far as ten-year old boys go. His ratty-brown hair was never brushed, his school shoes were scuffed, and he despised the ocean so much that Poseidon often haunted his dreams. Sometimes he finished his homework in time for class, other times he preferred to draw electric-blue dragons in the margins.

It was one particular morning(,) as the mist rose from the river their house looked over(,) that Oskar noticed his mother’s hand was vanishing. She had just handed him his usual bowl of flaked cereal when Oskar realised he could no longer see her apricot-coloured nails, and soon her entire freckled forearm had dissolved in front of them.

‘Um, Mum,’ he uttered (said), pointing to her transparency.

‘Oh bother,’ replied his mum. ‘I forgot it was Tuesday.’

Then with a sudden BANG!

And a fizzling POP!

Oskar’s mother, Lydia Moone, vanished.

For a moment, Oskar simply sat at the dining table staring where his mother had just been standing. She’d already slid on her work shoes – black and shiny with a wedged heel. And she’d ironed her shirt the night before in preparation for work at her accounting firm like any other normal day.

Oskar racked his brain for any clues his mother might have mentioned. Had she told him she was leaving while he’d been reading a book? If so, that information had definitely not sunk in.

It was then(,) that he noticed his dad’s newspaper folded in half on the end of the kitchen bench.

What a fun opening! You really got the reader’s attention with this – it immediately sets of the tone and the mystery! Well, done!

Only real piece of advice – watch your commas!

*******

BROOKLYN MAGIC AND MISCHIEF By Emily Damron-Cox (Middle Grade Fantasy)

Mac felt woozy. It was getting near dusk and he’d been traveling all the way from Arizona, first on the plane and now this long cab ride. Through the window, a block of three-story row houses whizzed by in a blur of spiky fences and trees.

A strange news report on the taxi’s radio caught his attention.

“This morning, twelve dead squirrels were found covered in green slime after Celebrate Culture Day in Prospect Park. The gooey substance is being analyzed by NYPD forensics. No motive has yet been assigned, but Ms. Greenaway from the Parks Department disputes claims that local immigrants (Okay, I really don’t follow the logic here. I’m sure that you’re going for a point, but why would people blame immigrants for this? It doesn’t track.) were to blame. ‘Everyone was out enjoying a day in the park with their families,’ she said. ‘I don’t believe they had anything to do with it.’”

The taxi driver clicked off the radio and frowned at Mac in the rearview mirror. “Always blaming the immigrants.”

Chills spread down Mac’s arms. Squirrels killed by green goop? His friend Billy would probably say it was aliens. (This is more logical than the immigrants, honestly.) He wondered what Dad would think. Mac leaned forward until the seatbelt nearly cut off his breathing. Noting the driver’s ID on the dashboard, he asked, “What about that green slime, Mr. Mason? Who would do that?”

The walnut-complexioned driver(?) stopped for a light and pushed back the brim of his fedora. From the rearview mirror, his warm hazel eyes seemed to take Mac’s measure. “I have my suspicions, son. But it has nothing to do with immigrants…or aliens.”

Mac stared open-mouthed at the driver’s reflection. How did Mr. Mason know he was thinking about aliens? He tested it out silently. Are you a mind reader?

The man nodded modestly. “We all have our talents—you, too, I’ll warrant.”

This is an interesting opening – I like the mind reader! – but I am concerned that it is a bit passive. Is there a way for the opening to be more active than simply hearing a news report?

*******

Thank you Kat for sharing your time an expertise with us. It helps a lot of writers and is much appreciated.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


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