Posted by: Kathy Temean | April 30, 2021

April Agent of the Month – Andrea Walker – First Page Results

ANDREA WALKER – AZANTIAN LITERARY

April’s Agent of the Month.

First Page Results

Andrea Walker is an Associate Literary Agent at Azantian Literary Agency, actively building her client list representing authors/illustrators of picture book, middle grade, and young adult works.

She started her career in publishing through several internships, eventually joining Olswanger Literary as a contracts intern. It was there she first began building her client list. As a writer herself, Andrea isn’t afraid to rework something several times to make it shine and will be your champion along the way. Before publishing, Andrea earned her B.S. in Interdisciplinary Studies focusing on Creative Writing and Education from UCF and is currently working towards her Masters. When she’s not reading or writing, Andrea is enjoying time with her family and planning their next adventure.

Andrea represents PB, MG, and YA and is especially interested in seeing submissions from underrepresented voices.

BELOW ARE THE FOUR FIRST PAGES AND ANDREA’S THOUGHTS:

MAGDA OF PIEKNY HILL, A Tale of Long-Ago Poland by Marcia Strykowski –
Middle Grade Historical Fiction

Halfway up the craggy slope of Piekny Hill stood a rustic cottage. The small farmyard behind it lay silent in predawn darkness. Inside the weathered barn, Magda slipped her hand under a speckled black chicken named Stella. A warm smooth egg rested there. Magda grabbed it, brushed it off a bit, and tucked it neatly into one of her apron pockets. Then she reached under the big red-brown hen. Unlike Stella, Rozie clucked, twitched, and fluttered this way and that. Magda pushed her hand beneath Rozie’s feathers. The chicken whipped her head around and pecked at Magda’s arm. Not one to be steady on her feet, Magda almost tipped over entirely.

“Ouch,” said Magda. “You naughty chicken.” She continued to scold as she tried again to grasp the egg. This time she got hold of it and gently plopped it into her free pocket. “There, you go. Thank you, Rozie.” Grabbing her crutch and candle lantern, she exited the barn through long morning shadows.

“Another chore completed,” she said with satisfaction as she made her way to the cottage. Getting up first to complete tasks on her own made Magda feel more useful than a small girl her brothers always seemed to look down upon. Other times, no matter what she tried to do, they were always there ahead of her—bigger, stronger, faster. But during these early morning moments, it was almost as though she alone owned the dawn. It was fun to putter through her chores while the rest of her family continued sleeping. Especially on a day like today. It was Magda’s name day and she was determined to make it a good one.

A distant booming noise forced Magda to stop short. The earth itself seemed to shake. Her crutch slipped to the ground with a soft thud and her smile disappeared as she spun to look behind her. She caught her balance as the flame of her candle blew out. Although most likely far away, it was too loud to ignore. She’d heard gunshots before, but rarely, and wondered if that could be the sound. She couldn’t be sure. Maybe the Russians and Poles were fighting again, down in the

HERE IS ANDREA:

I like how you let us in your character by telling us how much she enjoyed the early morning. This helps the reader get to know your character and come to connect with them. Especially with the part about her brothers, which seems to be a bit of a sore subject to your character. You might try to vary the length of sentences some for flow and really use dialogue to highlight your character’s voice as Magda seems like an interesting character!

*******

IDEAL DOG by Suzanne Morrone – MG

Chapter 1 Atom Smasher

The corridor is so white and slick and clean, I imagine I’m an atom, shooting down the long clear tube of a particle accelerator. My trajectory is straight out of here, back to my own life. Back to Blueberry. I can almost smell his fur, feel his paw as he hits me, demanding I throw his ball. Being with him is the opposite of being here. I imagine the tickle of his whiskers, and smile.

I’ve forgotten, for the moment, that the point of hurtling an atom at super sonic speeds is to smash it to smithereens.

The hallway hisses under the glide of the wheelchair and light reflects off every shiny surface. Antiseptic smells fight with the cloud of aftershave hovering around the volunteer pushing me, an old man scent reminding me of Grandpa. He is about 400 years older than Grandpa though, and I’m worried pushing me will be the last thing he ever does, because we aren’t really going at supercollider speed. Sloth speed is more like it.

We pass one nurse’s station after another and get lots of sympathetic looks. Aimed at me? Mom? The old guy pushing me? I’m ejected from the relative solitude of the corridor into the busy lobby. Like the atom shattering, my quiet corridor splinters into a room filled with people.

I have to pass through all of them. And it feels like every eye is on me.

A boy my age pokes his mom, “That kid doesn’t have any ears!”

I wonder if he thinks I can’t hear him, or just doesn’t care? And worse, his mom turns and stares too. So what if I only have holes where my ears are supposed to be? Some kids at school call me lizard-boy, but it’s not like I’m covered in green slimy scales. I’m not a point-at-and-shout worthy freak. I’m more of a snicker-behind-your-hand type freak. Maybe they don’t get much to point at around here in this small town.

I try again. “Sir, really, I can walk from here. I’m ok.”

“Hospital rules,” he croaks.

HERE IS ANDREA:

The voice of your character shines here. The comparison to him being an atom tells us so much about him and his interests. Still, I found myself wanting to know more about the character and a touch less about his surroundings, but I’m sure as it goes on we’ll continue to learn more about him. The phrasing in the third paragraph, “The hallway hisses under the glide of the wheelchair” made me stumble a bit. Your opening leaves me with questions about your character and interest to know why he’s been in the hospital to keep reading. Great job!

*******

SOUP KITCHEN SAM by Jeanne Balsam – PB

“Mom, look!” said Nikki. “There’s the dog I told you about!”

Nikki worried about the thin dog nosing through the trash.

The dog looked up, spotted them, and ran. Where was he going?

Nikki grabbed Mom’s hand and started off after the dog.

They followed him down the block and around a corner. He slipped into a doghouse behind an old building.

Suddenly the back door squeaked open.

“Sam!” the woman called. “Sam! Dinner!”

The pup wiggled out and gobbled the bowl of food.

“I’m sorry it can’t be more,” she said.

But he wagged his tail like it was a Thanksgiving dinner.

Nikki asked Mom if they could buy him some dog food.

Before Mom could answer, the woman said, “Hello! Did you need something to eat?”

“Umm, no … we’re fine,” said Mom. “Your dog seemed a little hungry, and …”

“Maybe I could help feed him! Oh, and I’m Nikki,” she said.

The woman beamed. “How kind! I’m Naomi. Won’t you come in?”

“This is our soup kitchen,” said Naomi. “I serve a hot lunch every day. Lately it’s been tough. We’re getting low on food.”

“Maybe I could help feed Sam and the people who come here to eat.”

“Sam and I would be grateful for anything you might do,” said Naomi.

She explained how Sam had just showed up one day and decided to stay. “He’s very sweet, but doesn’t seem to belong to anyone.”

HERE IS ANDREA:

Well, I love Sam already and I’m left wondering what else happens with your characters and Sam since he is also the title. The last sentence about him not belonging to anyone could make a great next series of scenes depending on how Nikki reacts to it, and it could come full circle discovering he belongs to the soup kitchen. I’d like to see more about his role there, too. Great job leaving room for the illustrator just keep in mind word count for the remainder of the text.

*******

A BOOK THAT TELLS HOW by Lou Ann Gurney – Picture Book

Andrew skidded to a stop and dropped his bike. He’d never been inside the grand downtown library before. He always biked past on his way to the skatepark. He didn’t like to read. But just then he needed a book.

He climbed to the top of a mountain of stairs. With two hands, he pushed the heavy door open and stepped inside—the dusty old book smellin’—row upon row of word garden—whispery hollow cave soundin’—library.

Squeak! His sneakers screeched when he crossed the polished marble floor. He stopped, then walked more carefully.

The librarian smiled at him from behind the counter.

Andrew began, “I need a book that tells how . . .”

“I am delighted,” interrupted the librarian in a booming voice, “to see a young man in the library on Saturday afternoon!”

Andrew thought people were supposed to be quiet in libraries.

But the librarian dashed out from behind the counter, exclaiming, “I am thrilled indeed! A book that tells how, you say?

“We have books that tell how to tickle an octopus, how to frighten an echo so it loses its voice, and how to pilot a pelican to the Pleiades for a picnic.”

“No, ma’am. None of those,” Andrew said. “I need a book that tells how . . .”

HERE IS ANDREA:

I like the subject already! This reads like a longer work. With picture books, the word count is low but you also need to account for around 28 spreads or scenes. The descriptions you use are great for longer work but not always necessary with picture books, as this is where the illustrator will come in. This is such a fun start, just consider for picture books where you can trim the text.

*******

Andrea, thank you for sharing your time an expertise with us. I am sure many writers will be able to apply your thoughts to their own writing. Great job! Thanks. Feel free to send me any of your good news. I will share it with everyone to help celebrate your successes.

Link to Andrea’s Intro

Interview Part One

Interview Part Two

Interview Part Three

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Responses

  1. Hi Kathy, I am so excited to have been chosen for Andrea’s critique, and wanted to submit the whole MS to her. I thought I’d read here that she was accepting submissions, but Query Manager says she’s closed. I’m confused. Can you confirm? Thanks! Jeanne

    Like

  2. What a surprise! Andrea, thank you so much for your thoughts on my first page. I really appreciate your feedback. And thanks to Kathy for making it happen!

    Like


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