Sunday, February 5, 2012

Bouncer Post #15

Title: WHAT COUNTS
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary/Magical Realism
Word Count: 70,000 words

Query: 



When the panther that’s been haunting her dreams slips into her waking life, fifteen-year-old Katie McKaid realizes she is being hunted. Not only is the panther stalking her, but it’s also after her seven-year-old brother, Shawn. As if this summer isn’t already a nightmare, her father left to live with his new girlfriend and her mother has fallen into a downward alcoholic spiral. Now, Shawn has just pitched a bright, orange tent in the middle of the living room, and refuses to take it down.

When Katie’s new neighbor, sixteen-year-old skateboarder, Tim, begins to suspect something, he starts poking around inside Katie’s world, unraveling the truth about her mother’s drinking and her father’s infidelity. He also discovers that the only thing hunting Katie is the damaging, psychological effect of a parent’s addiction, a secret Katie is willing to bend reality to hide. For Katie, trying to protect your family isn't always easy, but it is WHAT COUNTS.

WHAT COUNTS takes a unique look at love, family, addiction, and the fears that bind us. With a careful blend of magical realism and contemporary romance, WHAT COUNTS will interest readers of Laurie Halse Anderson’s WINTERGIRLS and Sara Zarr’s STORY OF A GIRL.

First 250: 



I could always hear them arguing. They would talk in spitted whispers, like they were trying to spare us. But eventually, the sounds worked their way up through the maze of the heat duct, slamming and clanking against the metal walls and exploded from the vent in my room. Tonight they just gave up, and even though I never knew how it started, I always remembered how it ended.

I’m not sure what was said to grab my attention, but I couldn’t tune it out any longer. Pushing my battered math book aside, I slid off the edge of my bed to press my ear to the ground. The metal grated vent was cool against my cheek and a few moments later, I heard a click. Shawn, my seven-year-old brother closed my bedroom door behind him and crawled along the floor toward me. His shaggy, sandy blonde hair wagged in front of his eyes, like a dog that was overdue for a trip to the groomers. He dropped to his belly, inches away from my face, and leaned over the vent.

“Katie, they’re fighting,” he whispered. His breath smelled like peanut butter.

“I know.”

“He’s going to leave, isn’t he?”

“No.” I lied. I was a good liar. Sometimes I couldn’t even tell when I was lying. It wasn’t even a conscious decision anymore. Instead, a lie was just a knee-jerk reaction, a survival mechanism. Something that had to be done to save myself from the truth.

“Maybe it will make Mom get better,” he said before popping his thumb into his mouth. 

17 comments:

  1. Very intriguing! I can see already that she's going to want to protect her brother, and as a psychology student I think the whole premise is great. Good luck!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! I minored in psych and was always intrigued by kids of addiction. I really hope this story can help people.

      Delete
  2. The first paragraph just pulls me in! These characters are the type you want to root for!!!! The psychological aspect is such an awesome spin.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And the peanut butter, right? ;)

      Delete
    2. Most definitely the peanut butter!

      Delete
  3. Very intrigued by what I have read so far. I especially appreciate this writer's ability to take us directly into the scene. More, please.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think most kids have been there, hovering above the heat vent listening to their fate below. It broke my heart to write this scene, but it was so needed to kick this story off right

      Delete
  4. I would love to be in your brain for a day. Seriously. My mind could never turn this kind of story. Incredibly intriguing - I could definitely pass this snowy day reading the rest!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It took a few dozen drafts to get it right-- but I am soooo happy with the results. I wrote the story I needed for myself at 15 and went from there.

      Delete
  5. I know a few people who went through similar experiences in their own families, and it would have been great for them to have a book like this at the time. And if their friends had read a book like this, they may have been better prepared to offer support.

    It looks great. I'm looking forward to reading more!

    ReplyDelete
  6. As far as the query, I don't quite understand what the Panther has to do with the rest of the story? Is the panther supposed to be her depression or emotional state that's just eating at her? That's what I'd guess, but it didn't feel very clear.

    I loved the first 250. I don't think it's a book that I'd pick up myself (I prefer to read YA with slightly older characters, 17 to 21 ish) but I think you did a great job of really bringing the scene to life. Great job! Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Bouncer IheartbooksFebruary 6, 2012 at 6:02 PM

    I would want to read more. Good luck! You're in!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yay! Congratulations Valerie!!! THAT'S MY CP YALL!

      Delete
  8. Sounds interesting. I tend to prefer contemporary over fantasy, but I really like the concept of the magical realism. Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I'm highly impressed by this author just by reading this small section. As a writer myself, I look for stories that paint a vivid and interesting picture, and she definitely does that here! I don't even read fantasy novels and would absolutely pick this one up. Well done!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Very well presented, raising enough questions to pull me into the story and pique my interest in the plight of the characters. Best of luck.

    ReplyDelete