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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Query Workshop 24--The Very First

Title:  The Very First
Genre:  Upper MG historical fiction



When German-born Katherine Brandt immigrates in 1938, her dearest wish is to become a real American girl. She even accepts the American nickname Sparky to try to gain acceptance. But before she can realize her dream, she’s going to have to learn the ins and outs of the unusual town and group of friends she’s joined.

Sparky is taken under the wing of Cinnimin Filliard, who teaches her a thing or two about American life and their strange Atlantic City neighborhood. Sparky wants to believe Cinni is steering her right, but Cinni has some conflicting attitudes. Cinni is nice and intelligent, but she often assumes a superior attitude just because she was voted Most Popular Girl. In particular, she seems to hate their rich neighbor Violet, whom Cinni is convinced is after her title.

Sparky will do almost anything to fit in, except compromise her Judaism. She longs to be Sparky to her friends while remaining Kätchen to her family and staying true to her values. Along the way, Cinni, who tries to tempt her into wearing shorter skirts and eating non-kosher food, slowly begins realizing that there’s more than one acceptable way to be a real American. Only one thing is for certain—on Sparky’s upcoming birthday, she’s going to wish to be a real American girl, and she wants that wish to come true, even if she has to make some modifications she once thought she’d never make.

THE VERY FIRST, a work of upper MG historical fiction with elements of social satire, is complete at 60,000 words.

I have a BA from [redacted] in history and Russian and Eastern European Studies,with a focus on 20th century Russian history and the World War II/Shoah era,and worked in the production room of an Albany, NY-based newspaper, The Jewish World, for five years, writing, researching, and proofreading articles.

Thank you for your time and attention.

6 comments:

amathenia said...

I'm so glad to see there are writers out there willing to tell real, straight stories that don't involve supernatural or speculative elements. I really miss those.

I'm glad you included your credentials from [redacted] because they add to the authenticity of the work.

Huntress said...

Suggestion: In 1938, German-born Katherine Brandt’s dearest wish is to become a real American girl.

I took what I think is important and deleted the rest. Of course, the words and grammar are a teensy bit jumbled but maybe you can translate:

...the American nickname Sparky to gain acceptance...

Sparky is taken under the wing of Cinnimin Filliard, who teaches her a thing or two about American life and their strange Atlantic City neighborhood. *what things?-Huntress*

Sparky will do almost anything to fit in, except compromise her Judaism. She longs to be Sparky to her friends while staying true to her values. Along the way, Cinni, tempts her into wearing shorter skirts and eating non-kosher food, realizing there’s more than one acceptable way to be a real American.

***
And the last sentence:
“Only one thing is for certain—on Sparky’s upcoming birthday, she’s going to wish to be a real American girl, and she wants that wish to come true,even if she has to make some modifications she once thought she’d never make.”
This sentence is rather incomprehensible and vague. What consequence does Sparky face by becoming too Americanized? Family? Faith? Tell us please.
It adds to the conflict.

Still, I like the premise and would read more pages.

mshatch said...

If I were to revise (my comments in parentheses): When German-born Katherine Brandt immigrates in 1938, her only wish is to become a real American girl (and put aside/forget her past?). She even accepts the American nickname Sparky to try to gain acceptance. But before she can realize her dream, she’s going to have to learn the ins and outs of the unusual town and group of friends she’s joined.

Sparky is taken under the wing of Cinnimin Filliard, who teaches her a thing or two about American life. (suggestion: Give us one specific thing Cinni teaches Sparky) Sparky wants to believe Cinni is steering her right, but Cinni has some conflicting attitudes. Cinni is nice and intelligent, but she often assumes a superior attitude just because she was voted Most Popular Girl. In particular, she seems to hate their rich neighbor Violet, whom Cinni is convinced is after her title.

Sparky will do almost anything to fit in, except compromise her Judaism(I’d substitute the word faith for Judaism). She longs to be Sparky to her friends while remaining Kätchen toher family (I’d stop this sentence here because it has more impact – imo) and staying true to her values. Along the way, Cinni, who tries to tempt her into wearing shorter skirts and eating non-kosher food, slowly begins realizing that there’s more than one acceptable way to be a real American. Only (get rid the word Only; it reads better without) one thing is for certain—on Sparky’s upcoming birthday, she’s going to wish to be a real American girl, and she wants that wish to come true,even if she has to make some modifications she once thought she’d never make.

(hope this helps! and I think this sounds like a cool story - something I would've read)

Charity Bradford said...

This is pretty good. It does feel a bit long, but not by too much. A little tightening can fix that. Here are some suggestions: * are where I cut words or made changes.

When German-born Katherine Brandt immigrates in 1938, her dearest wish is to become a real American girl. She even accepts the * nickname Sparky to * gain acceptance. *But to be really American, she * has to learn the ins and outs of the unusual town and group of friends she’s joined.

*I took out this paragraph to focus on Sparky/Katherine*

Sparky will do almost anything to fit in, except compromise her Judaism. She longs to be Sparky to her friends while remaining Kätchen to her family and staying true to her values. Along the way, she's tempted by her new friends to wear shorter skirts and eating non-kosher food. *I really like the 'more than one acceptable way to be a real American' line but cut it because I think you are talking about Cinni learning that?* One thing is for certain—on Sparky’s upcoming birthday, she’s going to wish to be a real American girl.* She wants that wish to come true, even if she has to make some modifications she once thought she’d never make.

Krystal Wade said...

This is good, but seems a tad long and telling. I don't "feel" anything when I read this. You need to create short, impactful sentences that speak to your readers.

When German-born Katherine Brandt immigrates in 1938, her dearest wish is to become a real American girl. She even accepts the American nickname Sparky to try to gain acceptance. But before she can realize [realizes, not can realize] her dream, she’s going to have to learn [she has to learn] the ins and outs of the unusual town [you haven't mentioned a town before, so this leaves me with the question "What town?"] and group of friends she’s joined [and her new group of friends maybe?].

Sparky is taken under the wing of Cinnimin Filliard [passive], who teaches her a thing or two about American life and their strange Atlantic City neighborhood. Sparky wants to believe Cinni is steering her right, but Cinni has some conflicting attitudes. Cinni is nice and intelligent, but she often assumes a superior attitude just because she was voted Most Popular Girl. In particular, she seems to hate their rich neighbor Violet, whom Cinni is convinced is after her title. [This is a really long paragraph. Condense to a couple key sentences.]

Sparky will do almost anything to fit in, except compromise her Judaism. She longs to be Sparky to her friends while remaining Kätchen to her family and staying true to her values. Along the way, Cinni, who tries to tempt her into wearing shorter skirts and eating non-kosher food, slowly begins realizing that there’s more than one acceptable way to be a real American. Only one thing is for certain—on Sparky’s upcoming birthday, she’s going to wish to be a real American girl, and she wants that wish to come true, even if she has to make some modifications she once thought she’d never make. [another long paragraph. Though I'm having trouble offering advice.]

Mark Koopmans said...

Hi,

My only comments here would be to explain where Cinni was voted Most Popular Girl and Sparky's parents' reaction to her being tempted "into wearing shorter skirts and eating non-kosher food..."

I liked the interesting concept and would read more.