Asy’all know, I’ve been working on a young adult thriller novel since the beginning of time. (It was actually August 2016, but it feels like I’ve been working on it since the beginning of time.) This little project of mine was the brainchild of an independent study I completed my senior year of high school and an idea that I’ve had for a novel since the beginning of time (and this time, I actually mean it). After eighteen months of drafting and revisions, it’s time for me to share it with you.
I grew up encountering the spy narrative. I was (and still am) religiously dedicated to the Gallagher Girls Series by Ally Carter. My dad and I bonded over movies like “The Bourne Identity” and “National Treasure” and other epics of the early 2000s. The idea of leading a secret, less-than-savory life fascinated me not only because the concept makes a great movie, but because there’s so much complexity to be found. Being a spy, going undercover, knowing what evils lurk in plain sight: how does a person live with that? I didn’t ask that question to imply any discontent, but rather to look for an answer. How does working in the shadows influence the parts of your life that still touch light?
So I started running with it. The story started as something drastically different from what it is now, but over the course of too many years, I ended up with a novel about a girl named Eleanor Rush, and what happens when an undercover assignment turns into a deadly game. This story, Eleanor’s story, is called Postcards from Langley.
When I needed to work through any plot points or discuss a character arc, my mom was the first person I called. She’s been listening to me map out novels since I could speak and has gotten to know Eleanor almost as well as I have. In these conversations, we don’t refer to Eleanor as a fictional work, a synthesis of my ideas. To us, Eleanor is a living, breathing, existing individual who is complex and tarnished and has a kick-ass sense of humor. What started as a name almost four years ago is now the voice in my head, reminding me to take a goddamn risk every once in a while. Pieces of myself are woven into her character and vice versa, which is why I’m so excited to share the narrative of her dark and twisty life.
Here’s where you come in: I want to publish this thing. Writing novels and sending them out into the universe is my desired profession. It’s why I’m majoring in Creative Writing. It’s why I spend far too many hours staring at my computer. The idea of being a published author gets me up in the morning and keeps me up late at night as I imagine how lovely my life can and will be as a writer. To polish my manuscript, I need second opinions. I enjoy reading it, but I also wrote and edited it. You can see how my perspective might be biased.
So I need beta readers. I need intelligent people (just like you) to read this manuscript of mine and tell me what they think. If this sounds like an opportunity you want to pursue, keep on reading, my friend.
Here is the quick and dirty working synopsis of Postcards from Langley:
Postcards from Langley is a young-adult thriller about Eleanor Rush, spy-in-training and world-class enigma. Eleanor is looking forward to finishing her final year of training and working as an operative, but her plans are threatened when someone starts leaving postcards in her room, telling her to do things she shouldn’t be doing. Things that could get her, and the people she loves, killed. As the conspiracy unravels, Eleanor has to choose between protecting her family and protecting herself as her career hangs in the balance.
Like all good thrillers, the plot gets way more messy and complicated and fantastic than this, but this is an overarching, general summary. There are subplots and *romances* and plenty of unhealthy deception to keep the days interesting.
At this point in the process, I’m looking for critiques on the plot and structure of the novel. I want to know what’s missing, what’s too prominent and what should be more prominent. I want to know what you think comes next, and if you could see any of the major plot twists coming. I love me a good line edit and the time will come for being nitpicky, but I’m mainly interested in the big picture stuff.
If you are interested in being a beta reader for Postcards from Langley, there’s a form at the bottom of this page that you can fill out as a formal application. Don’t let the word “application” fool you: I don’t intend on “cutting” people but want to make sure that you’re the kind of reader I’m looking for. Beta reading is an intimate process: I’m sharing something that I love more than Chik-fil-A (which, if you know me, is a lot) with y’all and giving you free license to rip it to shreds. You’ve gotten to know me through this blog, and I want to get to know you before I send my work your way. (Also, I’m unbelievably type A and love making Google Forms.) There’s more information about the length and how I’m structuring the process within the form itself.
Here is the form:
Thank you for reading what I write. I could say it a million times and mean every word.