Sunday, February 5, 2012

Bouncer Post #1

Title: AGENDA 21, DISTRICT 14 
Genre: Dystopia
Word count: 70,000


Maria struggles for survival in a dystopian world. In this society, the sacred Earth must be worshipped and protected. Citizens intone Praise be to the Earth, Praise be to the Republic at mandatory Social Update Meetings and are required to walk on friction boards to produce energy. People seem to live in peace, now that their schools have been closed and they have forgotten the carnage of the “before-times.” Raised by protective parents, Maria is unaware of her world’s dark history until her father and young husband die under suspicious circumstances.Maria gives birth to a daughter who, in accordance with the law, is immediately taken to be raised by the childrearing group at the Children’s Village. Her mother, who has fallen into depression and ceased to be productive, is hauled away to a mysterious, forbidding building within the District, and never seen again. Left alone to survive in a society she now strives to understand, Maria’s innocence is shattered. She realizes no one is safe. Desperate, she makes a dangerous decision: to rescue her daughter and run away, to teach her daughter all that has been forgotten. But first, she must awaken the others of her District to the bloody price their society has paid for the illusion of harmony.

I have been published in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, My Dad is my Hero anthology and six Voices from the Atticanthologies from Carlow University (Pittsburgh, PA). I also received an honorable mention from an Atlantic Monthlystudent fiction writing competition, and am an active member of Carlow University’s Madwomen writing program.

First 250:

Humanity stands at a defining moment in history. (Preamble, Agenda 21, U.N. Conference, Rio de Janeiro, June, 1992)
[The purpose of Agenda 21 is:] To promote patterns of consumption and production that reduce environmental stress and meet the basic needs of society. (Agenda 21, Chapter 4, Objective 7.a)

Chapter One

They took Mother away today.

I was on my energy board when they came. They didn’t knock. They just came in, men in dark blue uniforms. Enforcers. I shut off my board and stumbled off, hitting my hip against the metal sidebar. They didn’t say anything but held up their hands in a way that told me to stop and not come any closer. My meter was only halfway to finish. Mother had gotten off her sleeping mat when she heard them at the door and just stood there, head down, looking at the floor. How tangled her hair looked, gray and matted.

They asked what sleeping mat was hers. She pointed to mine. I started to say no, that’s mine, but she gave a little shake of her head so I didn’t say anything. One of them rolled up that mat and put it under his arm. The other one tied short, dirty ropes on her wrists.

Mother hadn’t done her duty walking since I was paired with Jeremy two days ago. She had just stayed curled up on her sleeping mat, her face to the wall, her back a row of bony knobs.


  1. Honestly, your query lost me...BUT your first 250 won me over. You're in! Good luck!

  2. I just want to join the "Madwomen writing program."

    1. Why, thank you! We'd love to have you. It's a great group. . .all ages, all genres, all supportive, gently critical, spot on suggestions. Super mentor. I should have run my query by them to make it better. How important is the query in this point of the competition?

  3. Hmmm. I suppose the importance of the query depends on the agent and whether your premise and writing alone can capture them. If you end up querying again, you might want to consider reworking the query and pruning it down to the story's essentials.

    For what it's worth, I think the one long paragraph threw me a bit, and it was a lot of information to take in at once. If you're up for it, the query crit forum over at Absolute Write is super helpful. Good luck!

  4. I'm with Bouncer. I got lost in the query. Part of it is a formatting problem. You need to break it up into smaller paragraphs. And you have lots of complicated sentences. Keep it simple.

    But your first 250 words rock! If you can infuse your query with some of the voice you have in your story--you are gold :)

  5. Angela and Bouncer Iheartbooks: Thanks for your comments. I will definitely check out the query crit forum at Absolute Write!

    Angela: What are you doing up at 2:09 am? And Bouncer. . .you're up at 1:08 am?

  6. I think you can save some of your query for a short synopsis and just hit the high points for the actual Q. I think it might be important especially for those agents who don't ask for sample pages or for those who don't even read the sample if the query doesn't grab them. But, I really enjoyed the sample 250. I liked the casual mention of details that showed the new reality that the MC lives in. I would definitely keep reading.

  7. Owl: It's a lot more fun writing a book than writing a query! But the suggestions you are making, well, they make sense!I know I can do a better query if I stick to the voice of the novel. I'm glad you liked the first 250.

  8. Is it too late to post a sharper, shorter query? I think I made some kind of stone soup between query and synopsis in my entry. Yuck.

  9. Very cool! The query felt fine to me, but then I'm definitely NOT the (just check out the comments on mine - #39).

    I'd totally keep reading and I'm really not a fan of dystopian these days. Sounds like you've set up a very plausible world with this one, though. Reminds me a little of "The Giver"--my most fave dystopian ever! :)

    Good luck!

  10. New query. (It's got to be better than the one I submitted originally!)

    Maria learns the brutal, murderous history of her society and realizes no one is safe. She fears for her newborn and knows she must do whatever it takes to save her. Authorites, Enforcers and Gatekeepers be damned. Desperation is a powerful weapon.

    Okay. . .I'll keep at this query thing until I get it right.