Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Surprise Agent Invasion #45

Genre: Contemporary Middle Grade
Word Count: 32,000


Twelve-year-old Emily Pincus is half-Jewish, half-Mennonite, and the wrong half for both.

When Emily’s parents divorce, her mother takes her to live with her Mennonite grandparents. (Think coverings and no television, not horse & buggies and no electricity).  While her family loves her, Emily feels like an outsider.  It’s small consolation to be one of “God’s chosen people” when you don’t even know which Bible verse that comes from. 

After Emily’s cousin says that her parents’ marriage was doomed to fail because only Christians can know true love, Emily sets out to scientifically prove her cousin wrong.  She might not know Ishmael from Isaac, but she makes it her to goal to strictly follow all the rules in the Bible for being a loving person.  

Being perfectly loving is easier said than done, however, especially with an annoying little brother, a needy friend at school, and a cousin who seems perpetually irritated with her.  No matter how hard it is, though, Emily is determined to prove her cousin wrong because if she’s right, Emily’s prospects for a happy life are in jeopardy.

WHAT REMAINS is Are You There God?  It’s Me Margaret meets the Pennsylvania Dutch, in the format of Emily’s science experiment.  The pitch for this novel recently won The Book Doctor’s Pitchapalooza held in New Hope, Pennsylvania.  I am currently taking post-baccalaureate creative writing classes through the University of California, Berkeley, and I write for CBS Local’s Arts & Culture beat in Philadelphia.  

First 250:


A science experiment by Emily Pincus


·         To prove I can be a nicer person than my cousin Anna.
·         To prove my cousin Anna is an idiot.
·         To prove I can be a loving person.


Everyone knows that Jesus never stopped talking about love which means that if you’re Christian, you should be a more loving person.  That doesn’t always seem to be the case, though.  The world is full of nice non-Christians (case in point: me on a good day) and jerky Jesus freaks (case in point: Anna on a bad day).  This project looks at whether it’s possible to be a loving person without being a mega-Christian.  I, Emily Pincus, undertook this challenge over a 31-day period.  Throughout the experiment I experienced successes and failures, but if you want to know more, you’ll have to keep reading


Family History

I was born half-Jewish, half-Mennonite, and the wrong half for both.  See, in the Jewish faith you’re a Jew if your mom’s Jewish, but mine’s not—she’s Mennonite.  Mennonites follow the father’s line, but my father isn’t Mennonite—he’s a Jew.  That left me with too many religions, and yet not entirely enough.  


  1. Your concept has a lot of potential and the opening is very cute. I like her 'science experiment' and thought your voice was solid with the overly-serious tone of a 12-year old recording her data for all posterity!

    I wonder, though, if you should start the book a little differently? Even though I know what the story was about, when I started reading the abstract, I felt the book was going to be TOO much about religion and didn't feel like a fun read that as a 10-year old reader, I'd want to curl up and keep reading. I want to know more about her battle with her cousin! Or what it's like to suffer culture shock. You need to drag out the big guns for your opening page to keep kids reading.

    On a minor note, I'd suggest a title change. WHAT REMAINS has been used as a title for many an adult drama and mystery and will have the wrong connotations for what you want. Though your publisher will have a chance to change your title (and they often do), it's good to have a title that works well within your genre.

    I think you have a delightful premise. Good luck!

  2. I found this query really unique. I love the idea of your main character being caught between these two groups as she tries to prove herself to both. I do have some concerns on execution, though. I agree with Gina's comments above, as I felt that the opening was choppy. I wanted to see more about Emily's personality and family life before we got into her scientific goals. On that note, the experiment felt less scientific than social to me, and I wanted to know more about what type of love concerns her. Is she worried about never having true romantic love? Or is she concerned about receiving love from her family and friends? Or, on the flip side, is she try to prove that she has the ability to love others?
    All that said, I think this a great concept and I'm really interested in seeing more! Please send the first 50 pages, attached as Word document (.doc), to submissions@fullcircleliterary.com. In the subject line, please include my name and Agent Invasion. Looking forward to hearing from you!
    All my best,
    Taylor Martindale
    Full Circle Literary