Nice Things Agents Have Said to Me

A number of people have read my first, so far unpublished novel (Full Term) at this point. Friends and beta-readers, mostly, but in the process of submitting it various places at various times, some agents have read it too. In the video above is a small selection of their thoughts, from when I pitched Full Term at last year’s SCBWI conference. And below are snippets of feedback I got when submitting traditionally.

All such lovely, wonderful comments that made my heart happy.

You might wonder why, if they liked it so much, I still don’t have an agent, so for context, I will also put in their reason for turning it down, too. As is often the way of things, it’s usually not an actual fault with the book. Marketing reasons. Timing reasons. All things out of my (and their!) control.

I just thought it would be interesting to collect the comments and decisions here, in one place. So have a look – and then read right to the very end, where I have an announcement.

Here’s the very first one I got, containing both praise and reason for rejection succinctly in one sentence:

I really like your writing and found this very engaging, but I’m afraid in the current YA market I’m not confident of being able to place it with a publisher.

Side Note: I thought about putting names beside each of these quotes, but then thought it might be considered bad form. If you’re really interested in who said what, you could turn it into a very difficult guessing game (that I’ll never admit the answers to).

Agent Two:

The writing is pretty good, pretty strong. You’re a good writer but with the YA market not as strong as it was and the amount of competition out there….

Agent Three – a matter of personal preference: (This one read and requested the full manuscript)

I think you have a really gripping premise and setting here, and that you are a very talented writer. Despite this, I am sad to say that I am going to pass on this. I appreciate that Mya’s experience is realistic of a vulnerable young person but it is simply a bit too dark for me.

One agent read my submission and was really positive about it, but told me the subject matter hit too close to home. Which is fair.

Here’s another one: Continue reading

Of Life and Death

So, I just finished reading Turtles All The Way Down by John Green and it got me thinking. John’s books are great for that. In this recent one of his, my favourite parts were the beginning and the end – the way he introduced his thoughts and the character, and the way we said goodbye to both.

The main character, Aza, muses a lot about life and death, beginnings and endings (as well as a lot of other things!).

She thinks that happy endings aren’t really a thing – that they usually turn out to be, on closer inspection, either not that happy or not an actual ending. Aza also thinks that the only real ending there can ever be is death and/or extinction.

I have thoughts on both these points, but what I think is actually more interesting is the reply Aza’s best friend gives, saying it’s not really about all that, but about the frame with which we look at such things.

It reminded me of a quote by another well-loved Young Adult author, Rainbow Rowell. She’s asked pretty frequently about the ending of her book Eleanor and Park and why she left it open, and the official answer on her website is, “I don’t believe that 17-year-olds get happy endings. They get beginnings.”

I like that answer. There’s a lovely truth to it. But here’s the other side of that coin: it’s scary when it’s not true.

Let me unpack that for you:  Continue reading

Six Months of Books

Now that half the year is gone, it really is high time I got around to summarising everything I’ve been reading. I set myself the goal of fifty books this year, and I’m very pleased (not to mention surprised) that I’m well ahead of target with thirty-seven already down (74% of target, 13 books ahead of schedule).

Here is a breakdown of those thirty-seven books:

Poetry

Through a Hedge Backwards by Rene Greig, Reflections from the Enler by Alex Dempster, The Orchard by Isobel Gamble, The World’s Wife and Feminine Gospels by Carol Ann Duffy, Famous American Poems edited by Gene Baro, The Goose Tree by Moyra Donaldson, Undying by Michel Faber, Crow by Ted Hughes, and Stranger Baby by Emily Berry.

Audiobooks in the Dresden Files Series

Turn Coat, Changes, Ghost Story, Cold DaysSkin Game, and Side Jobs all by Jim Butcher.

Young Adult Novels

No Life But This and Spinning Thorns by Anna Sheehan, Terror Kid by Benjamin Zephaniah, Amoung the Ghosts by Amber Benson, Simon vs the Homosapien Agenda by Becky Albertalli, Life and Death by Stephanie Myer, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, and Inish Carraig by Jo Zebedee (audiobook)

Adult Novels

Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austin (audio), As You Like It by Shakespeare (audio), Where Three Roads Meet by Salley Vickers, and The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.

Non-Fiction

Where Am I Now? by Mara Wilson, Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert (audio), The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck and Get Your Sh*t Together by Sarah Knight (audio).

Novelty/Gift Books

In the Garden of Happiness by Dodinsky, Doug the Pug by Leslie Mosier, and Inside HBO’s Game of Thrones by Bryan Cogman.

Other

The Female Line edited by Ruth Carr (poetry and short stories), and a novel-length fanfic.

*sighs a deep, contented breath* What have you guys been reading?


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