Sunday, 7 December 2008

Desperately Seeking Beta Readers

Peanuts

As you will have noted in my previous post I am now working on my eleventh novel - oh my god, give it up already. :) Book ten the fabulous (ahem!) The Poisoned Apple is the most successful to date with three full requests from three top agents, a few partial requests and a lovely personal letter from the Darley Anderson agency that I've pinned to my memo board. Unfortunately, all three full requests (and the partials) came back with no's, in fact one didn't even come back with a no from the agent - she had her assistant do it (that's not good, right?). So here is where I beg for help...

I need some beta readers who are willing to be brutal and tear the story apart. I am see-sawing at the moment between keeping my original plan of 11 short MG books (because Lily is 11) or maybe joining the first book and the second 'Strange Bones' into one book and tying the story off with a neat bow and trashing the idea of a series. I'd love to know what people think of the first book and of course what is wrong with it.

Here's the blurb:

Lily Sunday is not having a good eleventh birthday. Her father went out for a newspaper and hasn’t returned, her birthday party is cancelled and her mother is preoccupied with her new friend, Fyodor Lavoisier, and teeth. Oh, and thanks to a dodgy birthday wish, she is bundled into a car and left with her Aunt Beatrix in the town of Corpsetithe, where summer is winter and garden gnomes scare away beasts.

Her suitcase tries to eat her, a blizzard blows into the house, the woods are full of zombies known locally as Dead Feet, oh and she has to go to school. Lily very much wishes she could go back to being ten-years-old, but her friend Larry Bones’ time-shifting watch does not wind backwards.


It's 24,000 words long and aimed at 8-12 year olds. If you are interested in reading it my email is firemaiden (at) blueyonder (dot) co.uk - and please feel free to ignore this post.

10 comments:

Jeremy D Brooks said...

One thing I've started doing recently is stalking agent and publisher blogs, almost obsessively. There was just a big industry conference recently, and a few of them posted their discussion talking points. Here is one that may interest you (the topic was Children's, not sure if that is inclusive of YA, but good insight nonetheless, I think):

http://pubrants.blogspot.com/2008/11/in-childrens-realm.html

I'd love to help read, but as I don't really know what the heck I'm doing at this point, I would be afraid of giving bad advice...I'd be happy to give feedback as a reader (as opposed to an author, I suppose), if you'd be interested, though.

Catherine J Gardner said...

Let me think about this one - does the man who wrote Mrs Marsupial's Tea Party know anything about writing. Scratched chin - grateful it's not hairy. :)

I'd love it if you would read it - and of course, if you have a manuscript you want me to read feel free to send it at any time.

Jeremy D Brooks said...

:-)

Kim Kasch said...

Just hang in there. It will happen.

I have a couple comments on the blurb, if you want to email me. I'll email you back my thoughts. Just one person's input on one part of the process.

Catherine J Gardner said...

Hi Kim,

I've sent you a pm via Verla Kay's board.

Cate

Natalie L. Sin said...

Expect an email from me : )

BT said...

What sort of time line are you looking at for responses, Cat?

I'm a little snowed under till the 19th, but I'm happy to do a crit for you any time after that.

Catherine J Gardner said...

Thanks, Natalie.

BT - I'm in no hurry at all. :)

Robert said...

I don't read much YA, but this blurb definitely sounds interesting ... though, in my opinion, it's much too busy. You present the protag, which is good, but I don't have any sense of conflict. I mean, there's a lot of conflict going on, it seems, but what's that ONE conflict that she needs to overcome in this first book?

As you've had success with your pitches in the past (you must have, with all the agent nibbles), I think it's worth taking a look at the query pitch Marcus Sakey did for his first novel THE BLADE ITSELF. Every time I see it I can't get over how well-done it is:

"For Danny Carter, retired thief turned respectable businessman, a normal life sharing a Lincoln Park condo with his loving girlfriend seems like the ultimate score--until his former partner comes looking for him. A hardened killer fresh out of Stateville, his partner wants to kidnap the son of Danny's millionaire boss, and he needs help to pull it off. Doing the job could cost Danny his career, his relationship, and his freedom.

"Refusing could cost him his life."

Simple, to the point, but with a punch, you know?

Catherine J Gardner said...

Thanks for your comments, Robert. The wonderful Kim said it was a little busy too. Much appreciated.