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Thread: All Things Middle Grade

  1. #1801
    Not an actual kid...or goat. The Kidd's Avatar
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    They're co-ed, but everyone inside is at least a half sibling (except the one cabin belonging to Hermes' kids who will take in anyone, but still risk another cabin mate being a brother or sister.)
    Good point. I guess I wasn't thinking straight. By the way, thank you for the blog post on how to make mock covers. I was just reading it.
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  2. #1802
    Guinea pig in the laboratory of God timp67's Avatar
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    This is how Lego marketed to girls in 1981. Wouldn't it be nice if toy companies still marketed to girls this way?

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  3. #1803
    careful...you'll end up in my novel RuthD's Avatar
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    That's awesome, timp. What a cute kid.

    Has anybody tried this site? 750words.com

    I thought I might give it a whirl ... not for personal journaling so much, but to brainstorm, toss around character development, worldbuilding ideas, etc. Maybe even to add to my ms--could copy and paste it into my word doc each day.

    It gives all sorts of fun stats when you finish an entry. I'm hoping it will add the sort of accountability that I find motivating with NaNo, but with less pressure.
    My blog: Readatouille

  4. #1804
    practical experience, FTW
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    I have a question about word count for MG. My completed upper MG novel is at 60,000 words. I have read that this is considered too long and that 50,000 should be the maximum word count. Naturally, I read this just hours after sending off my first batch of carefully researched queries, where I stated that the book is complete at 60,000 words. I'll just have to see what happens with those queries.

    Currently I'm working on a version with a target word count of 55,000, which means cutting some description, shortening some paragraphs, but no major alterations to the plot. I also have a way of cutting one chapter, to get closer to the required 50,000, which is a shame as I like the chapter, but it can be done.

    My question is whether that very fact of going to 60,000 words is really going to handicap any further queries I send out? Is it better to get to the 50,000 before querying again? Or, go for the middle ground, retain the chapter, and query for 55,000?

    I don't know if it is relevant, but I am not a new author, and am well published, but not in MG.

    Any insight would be very welcome.

  5. #1805
    Reads more than she writes. AW Moderator Smish's Avatar
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    You're fine at 60,000 words. I can't imagine an agent rejecting an upper-MG manuscript based on that word count. Good luck.
    Revision is where you earn your money - and if you haven't made any money yet, revision is where you pay your dues. Sara Zarr

  6. #1806
    Britwriter, what's the genre? If it's science fiction or fantasy, I'd say you're definitely fine, as these genres tend to be longer. But even if it's not either of those, you're probably still okay.

    You should trim the novel if you think it will improve it. Otherwise, I suggest you leave it alone, at least until you have an agent or editor telling you differently.

  7. #1807
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    Quote Originally Posted by timp67 View Post
    This is how Lego marketed to girls in 1981. Wouldn't it be nice if toy companies still marketed to girls this way?



    I spent hours with Lego's as a kid making stories and using my imagination to its fullest. It's a shame that imagination isn't centered around toys anymore. I loved making my own worlds and playing out the stories.

  8. #1808
    Guinea pig in the laboratory of God timp67's Avatar
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    I've had a lot of people correct me that it is actually Lego marketing to parents of girls, but the parents are their proxies, so I think it applies.
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  9. #1809
    practical experience, FTW JoyMC's Avatar
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    As the parent of a girl, it definitely applies. And while the advertising may have been targeted more at the parents in the 80's, it's definitely targeted directly TO the kids now. I had the delusion of avoiding the Disney Princesses -- since we weren't doing preschool or watching television with my daughter, I thought it was possible. And yet Disney Princesses found her - in the grocery store, bookstores, the LIBRARIANS set aside Disney Princess books for her.

    So. Yeah. That "Lego's for girls" news in the last week was highly irritating to me. (For those who didn't see, they're releasing a new line of pastel Lego's that are "for girls.")

  10. #1810
    practical experience, FTW MsJudy's Avatar
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    Now, folks, let's go easy on the Back in my day, everything was better chats. I can assure you, kids today still love to play with Legos. And playdough. And puzzles. And blocks. And marbles. And stuffed animals. And crayons.

    Oh, and by the way...anybody read the latest issue of Newsweek? A rundown of the latest research on how to make yourself smarter. Number 14: Play video games. Seriously! It quickens your reactions, improves multitasking and reduces hostile feelings after a stressful day.

    Number 24: Write by hand. It engages more of the brain than typing does.

    And my favorites:

    Number 11: Eat dark chocolate.

    Number 12: Knit.

    No wonder I'm so darned brilliant!
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  11. #1811
    practical experience, FTW JoyMC's Avatar
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    I'm not saying kids don't play with Lego's. I'm saying they do. Girls do. And they don't need to have special pink and purple Lego's made "for girls" to be interested in Lego's.

    The critique is of the gender restrictions in marketing techniques, not the activities of children today.
    Last edited by JoyMC; 01-05-2012 at 10:30 AM.

  12. #1812
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ferret View Post
    Britwriter, what's the genre? If it's science fiction or fantasy, I'd say you're definitely fine, as these genres tend to be longer. But even if it's not either of those, you're probably still okay.

    You should trim the novel if you think it will improve it. Otherwise, I suggest you leave it alone, at least until you have an agent or editor telling you differently.
    It's humor, with a serious story hidden in there, set in middle school. If it were fantasy, the word count wouldn't worry me, but I'm not sure about humor. The closest book I can think of is I am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil, but for a younger age group.

    As for improving it, I don't think cutting it improves it, although it can be done. One chapter can be cut, for example, and the story tweaked to still work. But then, a rather hilarious incident gets cut out. That's my dilemma, I guess.

    Maybe I shall wait on the first batch of queries I sent out. But the trouble is, if they don't get requests, I'll still not know if it's the word count, the query itself, the subject matter, or just that it wasn't a good fit for those agents. Or, of course, that it sucks. But I don't think it does.

  13. #1813
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoyMC View Post
    I'm not saying kids don't play with Lego's. I'm saying they do. Girls do. And they don't need to have special pink and purple Lego's made "for girls" to be interested in Lego's.

    The critique is of the gender restrictions in marketing techniques, not the activities of children today.
    As a mum of girls who most definitely play with Legos, I would say that I was frustrated when they got beyond the basic sets and all kits were based on action movies - often violent ones - that my girls had no interest in, aside from Harry Potter. Fortunately, my girls retained their interest, but it was hard to shop for them. Not that Barbie or Disney Princesses would have worked for them, they wanted something far less gender specific. Thankfully, they then discovered Lego Robotics, where you can be as creative as you like, and they never looked back. We'd run out of Lego kits that they actually wanted to own, because they just didn't like the themes.

    My 11 yo daughter actually teaches a Lego Robotics class, and it fascinates me that the balance is something like 24 boys to 6 girls. And two of those girls are my daughters. They were the only girl team to complete the Lego challenge for our County fair last year.

    I do wonder if the balance would be different if the themes of the kits beyond Duplo were more generic, or if the themes, when they use them, were more universally appealing.

  14. #1814
    practical experience, FTW MsJudy's Avatar
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    *sigh*

    Another full rejected today. Very nice feedback, but discouraging. Basically, in her opinion the book is too quiet. Which sort of goes along with the first agent, who said the story wasn't compelling enough.

    I've waited on sending out more queries to see if I should do more revisions before moving on. But this... would mean a complete and total rewrite to turn the book into something else. And I'm not even sure that I can! Of all my books, this one has what I feel is the strongest plot. My last one, agents said even the premise was too quiet, no point asking for the full.

    Before I opened my email, I was going to post a yay-me post, because I've already met my writing goal for vacation and I still have 4 more days. But...the new WIP is just as quiet. So am I wasting my time?

    I would love to write something BIG! and EXCITING! and ADVENTUROUS! but it seems like my imagination just doesn't run that way.

    So... I guess I'll send out another round of queries and see if other agents feel the same way, that Agatha is too quiet. But in the meantime... I wonder if I should put the current WIP on hold and try to brainstorm something with a more action-oriented plot.

    Don't have a clue what that might be, though.
    represented by Jenny Bent of the Bent Agency. Most happy.

  15. #1815
    Guinea pig in the laboratory of God timp67's Avatar
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    Judy, I subbed TBWH so long that I stopped counting the Rs after a hundred or so. When my agent called out of the blue to offer rep I thought she was a telemarketer! Never give up, never surrender.
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  16. #1816
    practical experience, FTW SheilaJG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MsJudy View Post
    *sigh*

    Another full rejected today. Very nice feedback, but discouraging. Basically, in her opinion the book is too quiet. Which sort of goes along with the first agent, who said the story wasn't compelling enough.

    But in the meantime... I wonder if I should put the current WIP on hold and try to brainstorm something with a more action-oriented plot.

    Don't have a clue what that might be, though.
    I'm so sorry, Judy. I will join you on the pouting couch, as I got a full rejection this week, too. It's funny, I have sort of the opposite problem - agents seem to love my premise, but not so much the execution. I was lucky enough to get some great tips for improving it, and an offer to resubmit after I workshop it, but it's a rejection nonetheless.
    something

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  17. #1817
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    Quote Originally Posted by MsJudy View Post
    *sigh*

    Another full rejected today. Very nice feedback, but discouraging. Basically, in her opinion the book is too quiet. Which sort of goes along with the first agent, who said the story wasn't compelling enough.

    I've waited on sending out more queries to see if I should do more revisions before moving on. But this... would mean a complete and total rewrite to turn the book into something else. And I'm not even sure that I can! Of all my books, this one has what I feel is the strongest plot. My last one, agents said even the premise was too quiet, no point asking for the full.

    Before I opened my email, I was going to post a yay-me post, because I've already met my writing goal for vacation and I still have 4 more days. But...the new WIP is just as quiet. So am I wasting my time?

    I would love to write something BIG! and EXCITING! and ADVENTUROUS! but it seems like my imagination just doesn't run that way.

    So... I guess I'll send out another round of queries and see if other agents feel the same way, that Agatha is too quiet. But in the meantime... I wonder if I should put the current WIP on hold and try to brainstorm something with a more action-oriented plot.

    Don't have a clue what that might be, though.
    Aww Ms Judy, please don't lose heart. From all the advice and suggestions you give on these boards I find it hard to believe you haven't written a completely beautiful book. I'm sure you know as well as anyone that not every child is into full-on, in your face action. I'd say persevere and give your book every possible chance to meet the right agent.

    Ooops Sheila - just noticed your post. Sorry to hear you got a rejection too. Stay positive, it sounds like you're so close!
    Last edited by monkeymum; 01-06-2012 at 01:20 AM.
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  18. #1818
    Reads more than she writes. AW Moderator Smish's Avatar
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    Hugs for Judy and Sheila. You're both very talented writers. You impress the heck out of me.
    Revision is where you earn your money - and if you haven't made any money yet, revision is where you pay your dues. Sara Zarr

  19. #1819
    practical experience, FTW JoyMC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MsJudy View Post
    Before I opened my email, I was going to post a yay-me post, because I've already met my writing goal for vacation and I still have 4 more days. But...the new WIP is just as quiet. So am I wasting my time?
    Well since you didn't, I'll write a Yay, you! post. Yay, you! Four more days to totally exceed your writing goals. That's tremendous. Forget quiet - do you love the new WIP? Are you invested? Write what you've got to write and sort out the marketplace later. Thanks goodness Jeanne Birdsall didn't make herself write something BIG! and ADVENTUROUS! because that's what the market wants, right?

    Quote Originally Posted by timp67 View Post
    Judy, I subbed TBWH so long that I stopped counting the Rs after a hundred or so. When my agent called out of the blue to offer rep I thought she was a telemarketer! Never give up, never surrender.
    Thanks for sharing that, Timp. It's always encouraging to hear these stories.

  20. #1820
    Hero, villain, angel, demon AW Moderator Sage's Avatar
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    Haven't gotten any bites on my queries for my Christmas MG. I would gladly say that my query must suck, except so many authors told me they loved it. I suspect hoping for requests on a Christmas novel anytime before, say, next fall is probably going to be a waste of time.

    Hero/Villain: Fixing, thanks to betas
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    This week, I'm in: Ohio

  21. #1821
    Reads more than she writes. AW Moderator Smish's Avatar
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    Hugs for Sage, too.
    Revision is where you earn your money - and if you haven't made any money yet, revision is where you pay your dues. Sara Zarr

  22. #1822
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    Sorry Ms. Judy, Sage, and Sheila. I have like 8 rejections stocked up and one full request. It's hard not to get your hopes up when a full's out, I know how that feels now. It really is. This is only my first time getting a full request so when it gets rejected it's probably going to sting...a lot.

  23. #1823
    practical experience, FTW MsJudy's Avatar
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    Thanks for the hugs, everyone. You're right, it's much too early to give up on Agatha. Actually, she's the one I won't give up on. If I can't find an agent for her, I'll try one of the small presses or self-publish. I suppose that's why the rejection stung so much--because I really feel like the plot is strong, and I can't imagine rewriting to the extent the agent suggested. It just wouldn't be the same story at all.

    But as for the WIP... I don't know. It isn't demanding to be written the way Agatha was. So I wonder if there isn't something else I need to be doing...

    I'm going to open myself up to new ideas for a while and see what happens. The WIP is far enough along that I can come back to it later if I want to.

    Sheila, Sage, group hug, 'kay?
    represented by Jenny Bent of the Bent Agency. Most happy.

  24. #1824
    practical experience, FTW sissybaby's Avatar
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    Wow, I wish I hadn't posted over in the bouncy castle now. But I'll probably be over here needing hugs soon, too. I'm sorry Sheila, Sage and msJudy.

    Judy - you can't give up on Agatha. So what if someone thinks it's quiet - sometimes a quiet book is just what a reader is looking for. And I don't think she's all that quiet, IMO.

    I know there are a lot of authors who have heard from someone that their book wasn't right for some reason or another. Then they turned into a blockbuster when the stars lined up right.

    Don't any of you give up. And don't decide that self-pubbing is the only option. Things are changing every day, and epubbing (I don't know if that's one b or two) is becoming more and more popular. For the prices, I'd download all of your books!

  25. #1825
    careful...you'll end up in my novel RuthD's Avatar
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    Quiet? Quiet is in the eye of the beholder. I just read an amazing MG about scrabble, for crying out loud! Hang in there, Judy and Sheila and Sage--you just haven't found the right agent yet. It's probably less about the manuscript than about finding that exactly right fit. Maggie Stiefvater talked about this topic recently on the blue boards; her post (and the rest of the thread) might be of interest.

    http://www.verlakay.com/boards/index...5462#msg695462
    My blog: Readatouille

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