Oct 30, 2017

NoQS Agent Round: Just Jo

Title: JUST JO
Genre: YA Contemporary with speculative elements
Word Count: 77,000

My MC and MA (main antagonist) are dressed as:

Jo is dressed as a chef: white fitted jacket, black pants, and some comfortable Converse. The antagonist, her social anxiety and self-doubt, also dons a chef’s jacket, only its face is that of Gordon Ramsey, who follows her around the party whispering sweet nothings of “You’re a disgrace to that jacket” while throwing spoiled vegetables at the back of her head.


For years, fifteen-year-old Jo Bennett has sliced and diced at her crippling social anxiety through cooking, hoping to get into culinary school before graduation. She is content spending her time in her Grams’ kitchen and hanging out with her friend, Pete—never mind that he’s an imaginary one.

Her mom, however, has a different strategy for conquering Jo’s nervousness. Forced into marching band to help her “break out of her shell”, Jo makes her first real friends. Friends who encourage her cooking and help her cope with her debilitating anxiety. Together they conquer freshman year, and Jo starts sophomore year with confidence and new recipes. But just as she begins to let go of her past and imaginary Pete, his real-life version strolls into her homeroom.

Jo barely has time to get over the shock of Pete’s high school debut—along with his casual flirting and irritating avoidance of questions about where he came from—when she’s stunned by more news: one of her two best friends has a rare form of cancer. With the culinary school application deadline looming, Jo struggles to balance her personal goals with the failing health of a friend and the very real possibility that Pete’s intentions may be more traitorous than tantalizing. If she can’t keep her focus in the kitchen, her anxiety under control, and her heart on the recipes she loves, her dreams of culinary school will deflate faster than bread without self-rising flour.

First 250:

My imaginary friend once told me that the best recipes were the ones you created on your own. A pinch of this. A dash of that. Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo in the pan, and BAM. A dynamite dish.

What a load of crap.



Recipes had teaspoons, ounces, cups—specific measurements to guarantee the finished product came out exactly as you envisioned it.

If I did pinches and dashes with these biscuits, I’d be screwed, and Grams would crush me with her bare, hangry paws. Three-quarters cup of milk and one tablespoon of baking powder for this mix. No bibbidi-bobbiding before 8 AM.

My fists kneaded the soft dough with the rhythm of the percolating coffee pot. Warm sunlight streamed through the windows, making the dots of flour and baking soda dance to the music of the paper-boy’s bicycle bell.

“Work with me today, okay?” I pleaded with the mound on the counter.

I sprinkled flour over a wooden rolling pin and pushed it back and forth across the dough until it flattened to an inch thick. No air bubbles. No cracks.


“Good girl,” I whispered, rubbing my hand over its surface. “Good girl.”

The creak and groan of a chair made me freeze as the familiar scent of lavender with eucalyptus drifted into the kitchen.

Son of a monkey bread.

“Do you need a moment alone with your…dough, Josephine?” Grams asked while snorting into her cup. Her long fingers drummed its edges, sounding like water dripping into an empty sink.


  1. I have to SHRIEK for this! Please send a full synopsis and sample to crubinobradway AT lkgagency DOT com.

  2. Scream! Please send the full ms as a word attachment with the query in the body of the email to kristy[dot]hunter@knightagency[dot]net. Please put "NoQS: TITLE" in the subject line. Thanks! Looking forward to reading.

  3. Shiver! Please send me first 10 pages via email to clelia@martinliterarymanagement.com. Include a query letter and please indicate #NoQs in the subject line. Thanks!

  4. Shiver! Would love to see a bit more of this. Please send the first 10 pages as a word attachment to Jocquelle@serendipitylit.com.

  5. Shriek! Please send your pages and query letter to querycarlisle at fuseliterary[dot]com and put NoQS: Title in the subject line.

  6. Shriek! Please query and upload the first 3 chapters to http://QueryMe.Online/1067. Thanks!

  7. I'm SHIVERING for this! Please send your query, 1-2 page synopsis, and the first ten pages to queries at azantianlitagency dot com with "NoQS: TITLE by Name" in the subject line. Thanks! I look forward to reading on! -Jennifer Azantian