Wednesday, September 19, 2012

An Agent's Inbox #17

Dear Ms. Marini,

My middle grade manuscript, SILVER POOL OF LIGHT, seems to fit into the wish list on your website well. It has an element of magic and a dash of the workings of the space-time continuum.

Eve Tilton is the kind of eleven-year-old you would expect to be much more interested in shopping for her next celebrity gala than anything that happened a hundred years ago. But Eve is captivated by Jane Mayhew, who lives on Martha’s Vineyard in 1872, because Jane writes to her. In an old diary, through time. From 1872. Eve and Jane’s letter-writing and eventual friendship across a century is so, so much better than shopping for party dresses, even for a girl on the fringe of celebrity.

Their differences lie in the fact that Jane, who barely remembers her mother, has a passionate desire to sail the seven seas while Eve, who was with her mother when she drowned, has a passionate fear of the ocean. Since they live 140 years apart and communicate through letters, it doesn’t seem to be a problem until Jane is invited to go on a whaling voyage around the world, and Eve finds out, to her horror, that the ship is doomed. Eve’s focus on saving Jane is splintered when she is suddenly invited deeper into the polished world of her famous friends. The best friend Eve’s ever had is about to die, and every choice she makes seems to lead Jane to a horrible, watery fate.

SILVER POOL OF LIGHT is about the importance of true friendship, family secrets, and how we are connected to everyone around us, living or not. It is complete at 46,000 words. Comparison titles could be Bigger than a Breadbox by Laurel Snyder or When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. I have completed novel writing workshops at the University of Iowa, Emerson College, and SCBWI.

Best of luck to you at Gelfman Schneider and thank you for reading the contest entries.



Not all attics are full of shadows, spider webs, and ugly hatboxes dotted with evidence of unwelcome creatures; those are the kind of attics where children get locked away. Some attics smell like lavender soap, are strewn with wonderful treasures, and if the right child should come in at the right moment, are full of possibilities.

The treasures in Aunt Tibby’s attic were mostly old diaries. Crooked, nearly toppling stacks of antique journals and ships’ logs covered the wooden floorboards and wide shelves, because the museum had run out of room and Aunt Tibby wasn’t about to throw them away. Heavens no.

Even if she’d wanted to, Eve Tilton, Aunt Tibby’s grandniece, would never have let her. Somewhere, in one of the piles of old leather and cloth-covered books, was a diary of particular interest to Eve. Its author was a girl also named Eve, and eleven years ago, Mama read it. Then she named her baby after this diary-writing Eve.

Eve Tilton wondered what was it about diary-writing Eve that had impressed Mama? Daddy wouldn’t say. He didn’t like to talk about Mama, ever; he said it still hurt too much. He said it was better to focus on The Now.

Aunt Tibby had forgotten which diary it was, so for months, every time she visited her great-aunt on Martha’s Vineyard, Eve searched. She scoured, explored, and rummaged around in the attic. Maybe diary-Eve would have advice on how to act when she felt too tired to be cheerful or too lonely to be kind.


Janice Sperry said...

I love your premise. On the 250, I'd suggest leaving out the description of the attic and show Eve digging through boxes. This is exactly the kind of book I would love to buy for my daughter (and then steal while she's in school.)

Unknown said...

What a great idea! I love time-bending books and I love the contrast between one that wants to travel and the other that is horrified of water. I agree with Janice that the narrator telling us what's happening is a lot more "picture book" whereas I want to see this girl right away and let that backstory sneak past me.
While the query was super intriguing to me, it seemed a little formal and wordy. Could you infuse a little of Eve's personality into it?
Evidence of unwelcome creatures. Ha!

Unknown said...

Wow! Great concept. I think the writing is beautiful but instead of telling us about the attic maybe you should show Eve in the attic like the others suggested. I also agree with showing action and then sneaking backstory in. Great job!

Victoria Marini said...

I love this concept, and I'm intrigued by the dueling themes of intimacy and celebrity. I think that could make for a wonderful character transformation. Not to mention the whole same-place-150-years-apart-pen-pals thing.

As the others have suggested, I think the focus here should be less on surrounding, setting, and back-story and more on action: digging through the boxes, searching for that specific journal she needs etc., while peppering with back-story.