Posted by: Kathy Temean | February 26, 2021

February Agent of the Month – First Page Results

ANALIEZE CERVANTES from Harvey Klinger Literary Agency – First Page Results!

Analieze is a graduate from Cal State San Bernardino where she studied English: Creative Writing along with a minor in Screenwriting. She has also worked as an Editorial Freelancer for Independent Authors. She started her career as an intern at a New York Literary Agency and was mentored by Saritza Hernandez. She then joined the Harvey Klinger Literary Agency in 2020. Analieze is currently building her own list and is looking for stories in YA and Adult Fiction. She specializes in Sci-Fi, Romance, Thriller, Suspense, and Mystery. Analieze is especially open to BIPOC and LGBTQ voices in the mentioned categories. She currently resides in Southern California with her five dogs.

As an Agent for The Harvey Klinger Literary Agency. I am looking for character-driven books that grip me from the first page until the very end. I want fantastic world-building, a clear plot, and want to know your main character’s desire by the time I get to page ten. Time shouldn’t exist when I read your manuscript. I want to be hooked and pulled into your world. Great writing is awesome, but your characters matter most to me. I want books that make me cry, laugh, and to feel connected to your main character. For thrillers, I want to be on the edge of my seat and have no clue on how your book is going to end. I want to vouch for your main character and cheer them on by the end of your story. I’m especially open to BIPOC and LGBTQ voices.

Below are the four First Pages Analieze Cervantes read and critiqued:

Hades Town x If I Stay by Cathy McKelway -YA-speculative

My father doesn’t believe in the afterlife. You die, you’re dirt is what he says, and he doesn’t like dirt. He likes down-on-your-knees-with-a-scrub-brush clean and he’s going to run his finger along door jambs and floor molding. Dust will be very bad for someone, me, most likely.

Mama made him stop washing me when I was ten. “Run, she said. “Run faster. And keep that bathroom door locked from now on.” I’m still locking doors five years later. I’d wager if he got the opportunity, he’d still try and clean me up good and tidy.

The census workers came around here last year with their clipboards asking all kinds of questions. Who lives here? How many rooms in your house? Own or rent? They went door to door asking, polite, but greedy for information.

Mama filled out the forms. “It’s just us three in this house now,” she said.

Shows what she knows. Death lives in my closet.

I been taking my own survey, but I’m not asking people how many rooms they got when I go door to door. It’s the afterlife that interests me. It can’t be big enough for everyone from the beginning of time to the end of time. Species that over-populate generally crash down smaller. Everyone knows that.

I take my clipboard and a plate of cookies down the block, and knock on Mrs. Henley’s door. She’s older than Methuselah and my guess is she knows something. The afterlife is probably breathing down her old wrinkled neck, and she’s got that one cloudy eye looking somewhere I can’t see.

“Why, aren’t you just the sweetest thing. How in tarnation did you know chocolate chip cookies were my favorite? And how is your mother? Better?”

Everyone opens wide for cookies and in I come with my clipboard and my questions.

HERE’S ANALIEZE:

Dear Cathy,

Thank you so much for allowing me to read the opening page of your MS. I was thoroughly engaged with your opening page and thought that you have a good premise. You have a strong opening which leads to a lot of questions as to why the MC’s father doesn’t believe in the afterlife. You also show us that something is wrong with the MC’s mother which is good because that leaves the readers wanting to read more.

Despite the things I like, there were some elements that you should focus on if you choose to revise.

1) Please make sure to introduce your MC in the best possible way. We should know their name, where they live and if they go to school, where do they go? That way you begin to build a relationship between reader and MC. The goal is to intrigue your readers enough so that way it causes them to keep reading 🙂

2) Try to refrain from asking questions, especially in your opening page because too many questions can cause many readers to stop—they don’t know the answers. The MC/narrator will reveal all to them.

3) Maybe consider teasing why the afterlife intrigues the MC. Don’t have to reveal all but showing the readers a glimpse of what makes the MC so interesting.

Regardless, I see value in your opening page. Thank you so much for allowing me to read your opening and I wish you the best of luck in your writing career!

Best,

Analieze Cervantes

*******

WELLSPRING by Suzanne Morrone YA Contemporary  

Knowing someone isn’t coming back doesn’t mean you ever stop waiting. I scan every crowd, looking for that one face. I race for the phone, the landline we keep no matter what. I open the door to every knock because there could be a chance they’re arriving with news. Every cell vibrates with the need to know. Lungs strain after years of holding in this desire unanswered. I have to come up for air, but like any seal in the arctic knows, breathing can be dangerous. They stick their nose out, and wham! Polar Bear breakfast.

So I wait. Every day, for two thousand, five hundred days, as I sit in the classroom, as I walk home from school, while cooking dinner, and later as I scroll through missing persons lists, I imagine each and every scenario, thinking this is the one, this is how we’ll find out. Who’d have guessed my dad would do the one little thing that finally catapults me into action.

After school, I shove the front door open, battling the pile of mail on the floor.  Colors from the square stained glass panels rainbow the wall. Silence makes the colors brighter, while the house hunkers down, waiting. Down the hall, Dad’s study door is shut. Like usual. Why can’t he come out and pick up the mail, at least some of the time? It would pile up into Mt. Everest if it were up to him. I dump my books on the hall table, and kick at the pile, fanning the mess across the entry.

A heavy ivory colored envelope with an engraved return address is lurking among the thicket of bills and advertisements. Goosebumps pop up on my arms. Dad’s lawyer. I slit the envelope: Filing date court date. Deadlines. An unwanted laugh escapes. Deadlines. That’s appropriate. He’s petitioning the court to make it official. I run my hand over the words, touch the crisp edge.

HERE’S ANALIEZE:

Dear Suzanne,

Thank you so much for allowing me to read the opening page of your MS. I was thoroughly engaged with your opening page and thought that you have a good premise.

I really enjoyed your opening page and that you intrigued me by what the MC is talking about and wanting to know about the missing person. I also enjoyed you showing us that the MC’s father is hiding in his office, indicating that something is off.

Despite the things I like, there were some elements that you should focus on if you choose to revise.

1) Please make sure that you show some movement in your opening page. I feel like there was some pacing issues because it felt like she was reiterating in different ways that someone is missing or hinting that someone is dead.

2) Add more tension and more of the MC’s feelings instead of what she’s thinking. I want to know how the MC feels when they grab the court filing envelope because that will not only show the readers that this is what they are feeling. It will also make the connection stronger between reader and MC 🙂

Regardless, I see value in your opening page. Thank you so much for allowing me to read your opening and I wish you the best of luck in your writing career!

Best,

Analieze Cervantes

*******

The Pied Piper of Hollis by Amy Greenhouse – MG

        The rat squatted on the front steps of the apartment building, licked red sauce off its paws and then took another bite from the half slice of pepperoni pizza. 

“Move!” Nabeel shouted.  

“Yeah, move!” Sarah repeated. 

Their voices were drowned out by the Q110 bus rumbling down Jamaica Avenue past the autobody shop, the Columbian coffee shop, and the Haitian bakery. Nabeel just wanted to go back into his building and forget that tomorrow was the first day of seventh grade. His sweaty hands almost dropped the plastic bag bulging with notebooks and a pencil case. They would have been home before dark if Sarah had not insisted on going to the 99 Cent store. Nabeel stared into the plastic bag. The Hello Kitty pencil case stared back.

Nabeel knew that, if anything was going to frighten the rat, it was going to be that stupid, mouthless, pink bow-wearing cat. He plucked the Hello Kitty pencil case from the bag and raised it above his head.  

“No!” Sarah wailed. “That’s mine!”

She jumped up and tried to grab the case. Nabeel lowered his arm and shoved it into Sarah’s hand.  

“Chill, I wasn’t going to throw it. Just wanted to scare it. Hello Kitty is creepy. She’s got no mouth.”

Sarah glared at him and hugged the case to her chest.

The rat kept its yellow beady eyes fastened on the squabbling siblings as it gnawed away at the pizza crust. The rat was as big as a chihuahua. Its brown fur was matted by sewer waste and its tail was slicked in black grease. It must have just been in a fight. Fresh claw marks slashed into its back.  A flap of bloody mangled skin dangled from its left ear.  

This wasn’t their first encounter with the rat. The rat and its family made its appearance two weeks ago, after city maintenance workers broke up the blacktop on Jamaica Avenue to

HERE’S ANALIEZE:

Dear Amy,

Thank you so much for allowing me to read the opening page of your MS. I was thoroughly engaged with your opening page and thought that you have a good premise.

I really got a sense of your world and it genuinely made want to read it. I also enjoyed you showing us Nabeel in a bus on his way home (I assume) as well as the visual of the rat 🙂 You did a really good job in having the siblings fight a bit over the Hello Kitty case.

Despite the things I like, there were some elements that you should focus on if you choose to revise.

1) I suggest in writing a stronger hook because I wasn’t immediately drawn into the story and you want to hook the reader from the first line to the very last. I think if you can find another hooking strategy I think this opening can work because you showed us where Nabeel is. I enjoyed seeing the passing buildings while on the bus.

2) Add a little more movement to the opening page (you have great visuals) but adding more movement would allow the readers to feel like they are moving with the story rather than not. Maybe also hint as to why Nabeel isn’t looking forward to 7th grade 🙂

Regardless, I see value in your opening page. Thank you so much for allowing me to read your opening and I wish you the best of luck in your writing career!

Best,

Analieze Cervantes

*******

GOOD GIRL by Gail Wood Miller – MG

“Alaska!,” Ms. Gaseou hissed over my shoulder, “Come with me.”

Ms. Gaseou grabbed my wrist.  My head and arms slid from the table that supported them, pro forma, during first-grade rest time.  She pulled me from the long, pine table.  I was sitting next to Gina, whose round eyes became larger as she astutely kept her head on the table.  Ms. Gaseou’s firm, fleshy arm yanked me into a closet with a blurry, windowed door.

She shut the door, picked up a ruler as a kind of baton.  “Young lady, this is quiet time.  You shall have detention.  I will have the office call your home.”  I had whispered to Gina.  She should have given me an award.

I don’t like talking, usually.  That’s why I spent two years in kindergarten.  The principal suggested it to my parents, saying the extra year would bring extra confidence.   I don’t even like to look at people, let alone look them in the eye.  I do sometimes, either because I’m told to, or because I want to figure out what people are saying through the expressions on their faces.  I prefer looking at people when they can’t see me.

The old school, called Up, Up, and Away, was so small that all of the students fit into a little, yellow school bus, driven by the principal’s wife.  This also meant everyone knew everyone–even short, quiet me.  I liked that.

Up, Up, and Away didn’t have a gym.  Instead, Ms. Principal drove the whole elementary school to a stable every Wednesday afternoon for horseback riding.  My brother, Montana, a year behind me, sat as far from me as he could.  (My mother wants to travel. My father likes staying put.  She especially wants to go to Alaska.  She figured the closest she’d get there was to name me, her firstborn, that.  My father agreed to name all three of us children after states with a promise of adventure.)  Montana knows I can be

HERE’S ANALIEZE:

Dear Gail,

Thank you so much for allowing me to read your opening page of your MS. I was thoroughly engaged with your opening and thought that you have a good premise. I really enjoyed that you stated why she was named Alaska because her dad promised adventure. I also enjoyed the little background you showed us so quickly in the first page. I think that was really cute 🙂

Despite the things I like, there were some elements that you should focus on if you choose to revise.

1) Please make sure to not begin your story with dialogue and here’s why:

-It’s a slow start to the story.

-They should have an idea on who they should be invested in (initially, I didn’t know who Alaska was) until I read on.

-The MC—building the relationship to the MC because they are the ones who are going to carry the readers through the story.

-You need to set up your world. What does it look like? The setting? Imagery? The curiosity of your world and the story—the complications of how the MC will get out of detention after it’s revealed. All of that, is important when setting up your story and it needs to be told. It needs to be shared. The whole purpose is to get your reader invested from page 1 until the very end.

2) Making sure to show us what’s going on. I had questions on what Alaska did and what made her get detention (was it because she was being loud?) I was curious to know why she was okay with going.

Regardless, I see value in this first page. Thank you so much for allowing me to read your opening page of your manuscript and I wish you the best of luck in your writing career!

Best,

Analieze Cervantes

*******

Analieze, thank you for sharing your time and expertise with us. I am sure your comment will help many writers reading this.

ANALIEZE IS ACTIVELY SEEKING PROJECTS IN THE FOLLOWING CATEGORIES:

FICTION:

Commercial
Literary
Sci-Fi
Romance
Thriller
Suspense
Mystery
Crime
Young Adult
Favorite sub-genres: Contemporary Romance, Contemporary YA, Cozy Mystery, Domestic Suspense, Psychological Thrillers, Romantic Suspense, Suspense

What I’m Looking For:

I am looking to represent Writers for Middle Grade, Young Adult and Adult Fiction and am actively building my list in the following categories:

Middle Grade:

Contemporary (something really cute, out of the box, character desire that molds the MC)
Mystery (twists & turns, young detective who has a desire to solve the case, something out of the box, cute voice)
Sci-fi (cute voice, a young scientist/inventor on the brink of discovering something that shapes the MC and is meaningful to the MC, think Meet the Robinsons)

Young Adult:

Sci-Fi (a Dystopian feel, think Divergent, hacking, neurolinks, AI blend with reality)
Contemporary Romance (think If He Had Been With Me and To All the Boys)
RomCom (a love story that provides comedic elements, meeting in a unique moment/setting)
Mystery (think Riverdale, twists & turns, should not give me any hints)
Paranormal (vampires, werewolves, blend of reality & fiction with a love story) No Zombies.
Crime Fiction (thorough investigation for murders and other cases, strong MC with a desire)
LGBTQ (a love story that progresses over time, no triangles)
Thriller/Suspense (cliffhangers, want to be on the edge of my seat)

Adult:

Physiological Thriller/Suspense (think Karin Slaughter’s The Good Daughter)
Mystery (twists & turns, want a surprise ending, should not give me hints on who “dun” it)
Contemporary Romance (a love story that conquers all, no love at first sight)
Romantic Suspense (a love story with suspense elements webbed in)
RomCom (a love story that provides comedic elements, meeting in a unique moment/setting)
Paranormal (vampires, witches, etc. blend of reality & fiction with a love story) No Zombies.
Sci-Fi (soft sci-fi, blending the two worlds)
Crime Fiction (want to feel connected to the MC and clearly shows MC’s desire to solve a case)

SUBMISSION INFO

Direct queries through QueryManager: QueryManager.com/AnaliezeCervantes

To query me, please be sure to follow this link and fill out all mandatory blanks. Submission Guidelines: Please submit a query, 1-2 synopsis, 1-sentence pitch, and a 5-page sample of your manuscript.

*I am not accepting emailed submissions, if you email me your query. They will be unopened and deleted.*

Guidelines & Details

Vital Info

analieze@harveyklinger.com@author_analiezeFacebookLinkedinWebsite

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


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