Thursday, June 7, 2018

QK Agent Round 2: Got Me A Daddy Map, MG Contemporary

Title: Mama's Chicken & Dumplings

Entry Nickname: Got Me a Daddy Map

Word Count: 38K

Genre: #Ownvoices MG Contemporary


Query


Ten-year-old Allie’s anger can be a hot-comb sitting on the flame of a stove. Sometimes that copper pressing comb of emotion turns red hot and she does things she later regrets. She wants to stay calm. But emotions are hard to handle, especially when you live at a time when people think your Mama’s an improper woman. But Allie knows—it’s not Mama’s fault she isn’t married yet has herself a child. The only reason she’s breathing is because of that no-good man who forced himself on Mama. Why Mama didn’t leave her on the steps of the A & P, Allie isn’t sure. One thing’s certain. Allie’s got a hole inside her that's full-up with empty, and she’s going to fill it by getting Mama married.

That’s why she and her cousin Julius Caesar are determined to find her Mama a good man—one who likes to sing, who kind-smiles, and most importantly loves her mama's chicken and dumplings. During their hunt for potential suitors, they place a red heart on her daddy map. But soon after she and Caesar decide on the perfect man for Mama, Allie finds herself covering over his red heart with black. And she's left with nothing but believing that her insides will never feel like a bucket brimming with sweet-smelling rain. Mama’s Chicken & Dumplings is a 38,000-word, middle-grade novel with a colorful backdrop of Chicago's South Side’s better days of the early 1940s.

I've been writing for kids for more than a decade and am still enrolled with IIT--the Institute of Imaginative Thinking. And yes, I'm working hard toward earning my MFA--a mighty fine attitude. My major is in re-writing. I have placed nonfiction work with Highlights for Children and Cricket. Last year, my poem appeared in Ladybug. I recently completed two work-for-hire projects and will therefore have a book about killer whales forthcoming from Scholastic! (WOOT!) As a freelance writer, I have worked for ten years on editorial assignment for an award-winning, regional, family magazine. Back in 2012, I had a middle-grade published by Pugalicious Press, but the new publishing venture went kaput just three months after it was published. I am a longtime SCBWI member who serves as the content editor of our region's newsletter.


First Page


I’m sitting on the stoop of our brownstone, brushing my old doll’s hair when the fat man comes, smiling his fat smile. He’s come to collect the rent. But I ain’t worried. Whenever Mama comes home from cleaning, she goes straight to her coffee tin and in goes her money. Clink. Clink. She ain’t spared not even a penny, not even to me, though I shed me some tears.

“Please, please,” I’d say. “Let me run down to Mr. Malone’s store and get me a Mary Jane.” Mama’s real tight with pennies, so I’m sure she’s got enough. Least, I hope.

The fat man rings the bell. Ring. Mama will know that’s for her. If he’d rung it two times together—ring, ring, like that—crazy Miss Zelda in her housedress with shout-out colors and a scarf round her head would’ve come from the second floor. Had it been three times, old Mr. Potterfield, who’s up on the third floor, would’ve opened his window and hollered “Who!” And if it wasn’t anybody he knew, he’d grumble like the back of a garbage packer squeezing down trash and slam the window.

One ring is all, and Mama will be at the door, letting the fat man in.

Course, I could let him in, but since he’s acting like he can’t see me sitting here, right up under his feet, I decide I ain’t paying him no mind at all. And I ain’t letting him in. He’ll have to wait for Mama.

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