Posted by: Kathy Temean | September 30, 2022

September Agent of the Month Lynnette Novak – First Page Results

SEPTEMBER AGENT OF THE MONTH
LYNETTE NOVAK

Agent Lynnette Novak at The Seymour Agency

Prior to joining The Seymour Agency, Lynnette spent 17 years freelance editing. She worked with new writers, advanced writers, as well as the New York Times and the USA Today bestselling authors.

Lynnette earned a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Manitoba, where she specialized in English and French. She excelled in Advanced Creative Writing in university and studied writing for children and teens through the Institute of Children’s Literature. She was a Pitch Wars mentor in 2015 and 2016. Both her mentees acquired an agent.

Although Lynnette was born and raised in Manitoba, Canada, she now lives in Minnesota with her husband, twin girls, and many pets. Her personal interests include reading, writing, exercising at the gym (okay, that’s a love/hate relationship), working on an assortment of crafts, all things having to do with animals (if she could own a farm, zoo, and animal shelter, she would), and enjoying time with family and friends.

She loves dark and suspenseful, mysterious twists, unique worlds, light and funny, a good love story, and lots of voice. Lynnette is always looking for diverse and LGBTQ+ authors and wants to share more of these marginalized voices with the world.

Currently looking for: (Always looking for marginalized voices, diversity, and LGBTQ+!!!)

In adult fiction: thrillers, psychological suspense, contemporary romance, romantic comedy, and mysteries (traditional, amateur sleuth, and cozy).

In young adult fiction: thrillers, psychological suspense, horror, contemporary, mysteries, and fantasy.

In middle grade fiction: contemporary, horror, fantasy, action/adventure, mystery, humor, and novels in verse.

In children’s fiction: picture books (non-rhyming preferred).

In graphic novels: chapter books, early readers, MG, and YA.

To Query: https://QueryManager.com/QueryLynnetteNovak

Email for Other Concerns: lynnette@theseymouragency.com

Twitter: @Lynnette_Novak

*******

FIRST PAGE CRITIQUES WITH LYNNETTE:

Debbie Vilardi                         Grandma’s Bat Mitzvah                    Contemporary Picture Book

Grandma caught up to Shanna at her cousin Sarah’s Bat Mitzvah. “I wish I could read Hebrew like you. You read beautifully.” [LN1]I’m not sure you’re starting at the right place. This feels like a narrator, but farther down, Shanna is narrating.

Shanna paused. [LN2]What is she pausing? I don’t think you need to tell us. If she had been reading and now she’s replying to Grandma, the reader will understand that she’s no longer reading. With picture books, especially, you need to make sure every word is necessary. But you read. I heard you.” [LN3]When? Where?

“I read the transliterations,” Grandma explained, [LN4]Telling “the English letters that sound like the Hebrew. In my day, Hebrew school was for boys.”

“That’s not fair.” Shanna couldn’t imagine being kept from Hebrew school. That meant no tasting fruit from Israel, no helping older kids with service projects before their Mitzvah celebrations, no Chanukah parties, and no Bat Mitzvah. [LN5]This is great! I can already imagine the illustrations! How could you skip the celebration that meant you were a grown-up Jew?

The following Thursday afternoon, Shanna jumped from the bus . [LN6]Why then? Why not decide during that conversation? Not to say she should necessarily. If she doesn’t, we need to know she’s been thinking about this and Thursday is when the idea came to her. Ground us. Let us know Grandma is there waiting for her. “I’ll teach you Hebrew.”

“Oh, no. That’s okay. My time is past.”

“No, it’s not. First, you’ll learn to read like me and then you’ll have a Bat Mitzvah. Come on.” Shanna raced home.

Once inside, Granma caught her breath. [LN7]How old is Grandma? Would they really race? “I can’t learn Hebrew now. I have to start dinner.”

Soon the smell of diced onions filled the room. Shanna offered to peel carrots. [LN8]I’m not sure how much of the story will be in the kitchen cooking, but I wanted to let you know editors are telling agents the market is saturated with grandparent/grandchild cooking stories. “So, is this what you learned instead of Hebrew?”

“Yes, and how to keep Kosher and the blessings for the candles. Things needed in a Jewish home.”

HERE IS LYNNETTE:

This is an interesting beginning. I think it’s cute that Shanna wants to teach Grandma how to read Hebrew. Great idea!

Thank you for the chance to read. This industry is subjective, so use the feedback that works and toss the rest.

Best,

Lynnette

*******

MAGAWA’S MISSION (PB) by Hannah Roy LaGrone – 508 words + back matter

Baby Magawa [LN1]We need an art note that tells us what kind of animal this is. At first, I thought it was a human baby. Then, I thought maybe a rat, but bananas, peanuts, and watermelon made me wonder if it was something else… is four weeks old when he opens his eyes for the first time—and immediately begins his HeroRAT Training.

In a lab in Morogoro, Tanzania, he prepares for a mission that will take him five thousand miles away, to sniff out buried weapons of war.

Magawa starts with baby steps: interacting with the scientists who train him to get comfortable around humans and wearing a harness so he can later walk on a lead and explore.

Then, at ten weeks, he learns to follow clicks.                                                                                   Each one means a delicious reward! [Art: bananas, peanuts, watermelon]

Explore…                                CLICK! Snacktime! YUM!

find targets…                          CLICK! Snacktime! YUM!

and sniff out a certain smell.   CLICK! Snacktime! YUM!

He’s searching for TNT, a material that makes weapons explode. Humans’ noses [LN2] Human noses…  aren’t powerful enough to smell the dangerous material, but with Magawa’s super sniffer, he’s a champion TNT-finder.

As an African giant pouched rat, Magawa’s body is perfect for this job:                                          a sensitive nose to sniff out hidden weapons,                                                                              a lightweight body to quickly explore dangerous ground without causing any explosions,   and a brilliant brain to easily complete his HeroRAT training.

CRUNCH!                                         [art: eating peanuts when he successfully finds TNT]

He practices searching larger and larger areas for the smell of TNT buried underground.

Check!                         CRUNCH!                                         [art: eating peanuts]

He learns to avoid smells that aren’t TNT.                             [art: buried decoy targets]

Finally, he takes his field test. [Art: Field is 8600 sq ft.]

Magawa faces an enormous land plot. His trainers have buried TNT, as well as other smells to try to trick him.

Sniff, sniff, sniff! Just a decoy. Kkeep moving.

Sniff, sniff… wait! Scratch! Yes. Ignoring the trick smells [LN3] This bumped me. Can you find another way to say this?, he finds every hidden TNT target.

Magawa is ready. And he’s not a baby anymore. He’s a full-grown, one-year-old HeroRAT.

HERE IS LYNNETTE:

This is an interesting topic, one I haven’t come across yet. Good job! I think kids will like the sounds (click, crunch) and I could see them making those sounds as someone reads the book to them.

Thank you for the chance to read. This industry is subjective, so use the feedback that works and toss the rest.

Best,

Lynnette

*******

 

IDEAL DOG by Suzanne Morrone

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. [LN1]I’d like to see a hookier first line. Plus, we need to be grounded more than this. Let us know he’s in the hospital. My trajectory is straight out of here, back to my own life[LN2]Interesting. We know the kid likes science. Back to Blueberry. [LN3]I want to know a little more about him. Why did they call him Blueberry? If that’s too much to explain here, you can wait, but I’m sure readers would like to know. I can almost smell his fur, feel his paw as he hits me, [LN4] Maybe he taps Nick? Hit sounds harsh. demanding I throw his ball. Being with him is the opposite of being here[LN5]I think you can dig deeper here and be more specific. . I imagine [LN6]You already used “imagine” in the first line. Can you try something else here to keep the writing fresh? the tickle of his whiskers, and smile. I’ve forgotten[LN7]Some people will say that since we’re in his POV, he wouldn’t be able to tell us he’d forgotten this. Others might think it needs more, like the thought isn’t finished. I think you added it for humor, but what hit me when I read this was the image of the dog getting smashed to smithereens. I wonder if you couldn’t try something else to end this paragraph or simply cut this line. , for the moment, that the point of hurtling an atom at supersonic speeds is to smash it to smithereens.

Grandpa once told me that like the atom, things in life can shatter, and in the end, it can turn out to be the best thing for you. But that’s not how it seemed to me [LN8]We’re in his POV, so you don’t need this. when I ruined our vacation by falling and knocking myself out[LN9] I was bumped out of the story because I had to go back and read the previous sentence again. I’m not sure it works to compare “things in life shattering” to “ruining a vacation.” Plus… and this might be because I didn’t realize we were in the hospital…I didn’t understand that this happened recently and that he was in the hospital because of it.. My newest freak accomplishment.

The hallway floor hisses under the glide of the wheelchair and light reflects off every shiny surface.

“Sir, really, I can walk. I’m ok.”

Antiseptic smells fight with the cloud of aftershave hovering around the volunteer pushing me, an old-man-scent reminding me of Grandpa. This man [LN10] I changed this because “he” would refer to the last male mentioned, which was Grandpa, but that’s not who you mean. 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.    [LN11] LOL

“Hospital rules,” he croaks. [LN12]I recommend using invisible dialogue tags like said, asked, and those that show volume like yelled, mumbled, whispered, shouted, etc. All others distract and can bump readers from the story.

Mom pats my shoulder[LN13]Where is she? Was she there all along? If so, we needed to know that earlier, so it doesn’t seem like she just appeared. If she did just come up to him, we need to know that too. More grounding needed.. “We’re almost out of here, Nick. Just a few more minutes[LN14]Buried dialogue, so I moved the next sentence to the next line to fix it..”

Her way of saying it’ll be okay. She knows there are snakes twirling [LN15]I know you’re trying to avoid the cliché, which is great! However, this needs a little tweaking. Can the snakes be slithering or rolling in his stomach? Twirling doesn’t seem to fit those creatures. in my stomach, and the one thing that calms them down is Blueberry[LN16]Most agents/editors prefer Times New Roman. You sometimes use Times, but this is Cambria, which isn’t used in the industry.

My little sister, Lucy, lags behind as usual[LN17]Where has she been? Bring her into the scene. Is she saying anything? Complaining? Stomping? Show us how she’s feeling by how she’s acting and then he can react to that., since she thinks being seen with me is like having a bucket of cooties poured over her. Cooties were big in second grade, but she is almost in third grade now. I’m hoping cooties are just a phase. [LN18]I think this needs a tweak. He’s smart enough to know cooties are just a phase, so maybe instead of this, he can hope she soon outgrows that phase?

HERE IS LYNNETTE:

This is a nice start and it has potential to be more. I don’t know how old Nick is, but this reads like middle grade. If that’s the right age group, great job! If he’s older, you’ll need to take a closer look at his voice.

Thank you for the chance to read. This industry is subjective, so use the feedback that works and toss the rest.

Best,

Lynnette

*******

MIRACLE JONES GOES HOME

MG Novel-in-Verse

By: Marci Whitehurst

MIRACLE

Even though Miracle is my name

(for real, not even kidding)[LN1]Love the voice here.

I can’t make a miracle

happen.

I have tried a lot in twelve years:

planting money trees,

wishing on stars,

saying magic words.[LN2]Because having more money is his ultimate goal, I would put that last. Maybe he wishes on stars, says magic words, and when those don’t work, he plants a money tree.

I’m older now and know better.

What I can make,

is toast

d

r

i

p

p

i

n

g

with butter,

soft and chewy,

with a little cinnamon and sugar,

tasting like dessert.[LN3]I need more here. We know he can’t make money and that he can make toast, but we don’t know why we should care about that. Everyone can relate to wanting more money, but I don’t know that making toast is a big enough accomplishment in this case. However, it could be. We just have to know what makes that accomplishment special.

MONEY

What I want to make

is money.

Money might would get us places one day,

if we had it.

Our station wagon,

Blue Betty,

broke down in Washington,

after limping us through Oklahoma,

Colorado,

Idaho,

and coughing us into the outskirts of Seattle.

Momma wants to see the Space Needle.

And get as far away from Missouri as

a snowman from a heat wave. [LN4]This doesn’t seem to fit with the tale of the car that broke down. Maybe this can go somewhere else?

HERE IS LYNNETTE:

This is a great start. I have a good sense of your voice, which is lovely in this format. I think this has good bones and, with a few tweaks, it could be a strong beginning.

Thank you for the chance to read. This industry is subjective, so use the feedback that works and toss the rest.

Best,

Lynnette

*******

Lynnette, thank you for sharing your time and expertise with us. It is really appreciated.

Talk Tomorrow,

Kathy


Responses

  1. Wooohoo!!! Thank you so much for picking me for feedback, Lynette! I really appreciate your thoughts. And thank you, Kathy, for the opportunity.

    Like


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