Monday, February 13, 2012

Bouncer Post #97

Genre:  Middle Grade/Fantasy
Word Count:  81,700


None of the stories you hear as a child tell you to be wary of the fairy godmother, but that is just what twelve-year-old Autumn is about to learn.

Autumn finds herself trapped in a vacant house, which transports her to a strange town in another era:  1948.  Confused and on her own, Autumn must accept the help of a local bar owner, who asks no questions in return for her assistance in the kitchens. She soon finds that the man and his son are intent on making her life as miserable as possible. Nothing, however, prepares her for facing one of their customers - the Shaky Man.

The way the Shaky Man looks at Autumn with his cold eyes, drained of all humanity, convinces Autumn the Shaky Man means her harm. When she catches her hosts discussing her with the Shaky Man, Autumn begins to suspect they are conspiring with him. Worse yet, she learns that others have been in her place before and did not meet happy endings.  Desperate to escape, Autumn finally meets someone who may be her saviour, but fears he is just as dangerous as the Shaky Man.  Autumn must keep her wits about her if she is going to find her way home - before it is too late.

My novel is a classic fairy tale told in a modern style and is a mixture of recreating the world we know, while exploring a new one.  I am influenced by authors such as Philip Pullman, Madeleine L'Engle, Guillermo del Toro, Neil Gaiman, the Brothers Grimm, and Charles Perrault.  Though I have published a number of legal articles in journals and magazines, this is my first novel.

None of the stories you hear as a child tell you to be wary of the fairy godmother, but that is just what twelve-year-old Autumn is about to learn.  

First 250:

How long should you wait before giving up on someone?  Autumn stared at the cardboard box sitting on her floor.  It was clear that for Kayla’s mom and dad a year had been enough.  That’s how long Autumn's best friend Kayla had been missing. 

The police had no clue what had happened to her.  Autumn’s parents no longer talked about it in hushed, or for that matter regular, voices.  The posters with Kayla’s picture and last known whereabouts still hung all over town, but now showed signs of age.  People seemed to simply accept the fact that an eleven-year-old had vanished, as if it was a part of the norm.  Something that just happens.  Or maybe it was because, like Autumn, Kayla had always just blended into the background. 

Two things served to remind Autumn that Kayla was missing.  First, Kayla’s mom could not look at Autumn without tearing up and walking away.  It was like she didn’t want – or couldn’t stand – to be reminded.  And it was obvious that Autumn brought back the pain that can come with memory, of what was now gone from her life.  That was because of the second thing: Autumn’s own deep belief that Kayla wasn’t gone forever.  Autumn knew what her face showed every time she looked at Kayla’s mother.  She’ll be back. 

Now there was a third thing:  the items in the box in front of her.  These items should be in Kayla's room, not on Autumn's floor in a cardboard box.


  1. I really like your first 250. I think you did a good job of framing the events through the eyes of a girl on the brink of her teens. Well-written and heartbreaking. Good luck!

  2. Your query didn't grab me, but your first 250 did. (Having said that, I'm not at ALL the best judge of queries.) Autumn's thoughts/reactions seem authentic, and I connected with her immediately. Good luck!

  3. I'm so fascinated by this concept and the first 250. All the best!

  4. I love the concept and enjoyed the first 250!

    I would only suggest that you remove the last paragraph of the query (since it is a repeat of the first paragraph) and trim it down a little further.

    Good luck!

  5. I thought both the query and the first 250 were solid. I would want to read more and I like the whole mixing of time periods. The only thing i did not like was her belief that no one cared anymore about the missing girl. That seems devoid of insight. BUt perhaps its age appropriate to a person of that age who truly believes they are the only one who cares about anything. People care but reality catches up with them. That would be my only criticism - if the narrator can't see that then she might be too selfish and self-absorbed for my taste.

  6. Thanks all! And the last paragraph of the query was an unfortunate typo. My email has a problem with adding too many additional spaces between paragraphs, so I had to clip into Word and cut and paste, and unfortunately that is what came up. I double checked my entry this morning when I saw the repeat (which I had triple checked, I thought, before posting) and it was there. So totally my fault.

    As for the character. It is not that she is too selfish, but more that she is frustrated and can, in her youth, only really assume that the grown ups have given up. She is just waking up to the realities of things being more grey than black and white. More explanation on that in the rest of the chapter. But I hear you.

    And thanks all for your comments!

  7. Before I even got to reading the query, I noted that the WC seems really high for MG--closer to the YA mark. The narrator does sound young so I don't think it's something you can just flip over by changing her age.

    However, I could be wrong. Kristin Nelson is currently doing a series about page length for YA/MG on her Pub rants blog if you want to consult an expert.