Monday, January 14, 2013

Bouncer Post #15

YA contemporary
56,000 words


Jackie knows making out with her cousin is a bad idea. Something like that rarely has a happy ending, but she hasn’t been able to call it off since he kissed her that first time on a dare. He’s her best friend, but that only makes it harder to quit. She and Marcus have been close since their parents combined households in an attempt to be ecofriendly. Marcus insists their deal is only physical- they both know they can’t date each other. That relationship would be almost as weird as their parents’ swinger lifestyles.

But Jackie is falling in love with Marcus, so she calls off their deal, afraid the whole town will find out and their parents will split their families up. She can’t tell Marcus why she ended things, because then she’d lose his friendship, too. Clearly hurt and angry, Marcus starts dating the new girl, Sylvia.

When a stranger nearly kills Marcus in an car accident, and Jackie starts seeing the same person everywhere she goes, she thinks someone else is hiding a secret too, and she suspects it’s Marcus’s new girlfriend. Sylvia knows more than she should about a murdered classmate, and Jackie’s certain there’s a connection between her secrets and the man threatening Marcus. Her suspicion of Sylvia drives a wedge between Jackie and Marcus, and she has to decide if he’s really the boy she wants. Either way, Sylvia’s secrets may mean their bodies will be the next ones the police dig out of the Missouri woods. 

I’m an intern with a literary agency, an editorial intern with Entangled Publishing, and a high school English teacher.

First 250:

My mom was a pothead in college. I'm convinced this is how we got to where we are now. I’ve seen her college pictures- denim shorts and waist-length braids. A guy-stopping smile. Mom and her brother are all-natural, free-thinking types. Their pot-smoking days are the reason my uncle convinced her to move our family to Missouri, and Missouri is the whole reason we even had a produce stand for Marcus and me to be working behind the day I met Sylvia Young.

Sylvia walked across the grass, each step of her sandaled feet bringing closer the ruinous end of my contentment. Marcus tilted his head.

He didn’t tilt it much, but I knew what it meant. He did that any time he saw my tan line or I wore an above-the-knee skirt. I narrowed my eyes.

“Hi,” she said. “I’d like a cabbage and six tomatoes.” Just like that. She wanted a cabbage and six tomatoes.

Marcus arranged the vegetables in brown paper bags. “Are you from around here?”

Of course she wasn’t from around here. We’d know her if she were.

“Just moved from St. Joseph. I’m Sylvia Young.” She smiled. The breeze toyed with her dark hair, tossing short wisps around her high cheekbones. She seemed perfectly friendly. Of course. My contentment exhaled its dying breath.

“Going to Manson High in the fall?” Marcus creased the tops of the bags.

She nodded. “My dad’s teaching science.”

I smiled. Manson High went through teachers with alarming regularity. “Three bucks.”


  1. I've already read the ms so I know it's awesome. Great job bringing out the tension in your query. And I still love your first line. Good luck!

  2. I like this! Very nice writing...I would keep reading. Good luck!

  3. I want to choose this one, but unfortunately I can't. I think there's too much information in the query and the pages need work as well. I love the first two paragraphs of the query, considering how much is at stake for the main characters, but then the conflict became not about them and their feelings -- but about other stuff going on that just isn't as interesting. I loved the book FORBIDDEN. It was a fantastic wreck of a novel and I just couldn't stop reading. You need to read that book and see why it works.

    I want to care about your characters and know why they are attracted to each other and why they are messed up. By adding all this unnecessary conflict to the story, you're diluting the real stuff that's at stake... e.g. hooking up with your cousin is against the law, and it's gross, and people will ridicule them!

    What you need to tell us in your query is: who is the main character, what is her conflict, what are her choices, and what does she stand to lose if she makes a certain choice? Figure all that stuff out and you'll have a very interesting premise on your hands.

    Good luck!

  4. I really like the sounds of this story! I found the query intriguing, and the first 250 are really strong and well-written. I do kinda agree with Mr Spock about there seeming to be kinda two stories here, one in the forbidden romance and one in the suspicious Sylvia, but without having read the story I can only speculate on how important the former is to the latter. The query makes it seem like the nature of their romance isn't important at all to the later events. If it *is* important, perhaps clarify how within the query. If it's not, perhaps consider removing it and just making them friends-with-benefits or something; I think that if it's not important to the story it will just end up being a distraction. But either way, I think it sounds really interesting!
    Best of luck with this! From entry #1.

  5. Sounds great! I felt the query was a bit too much going on as well, it can def be simplified and still keep the meat and need to know interesting, grabbing bits. Good luck! This sounds so good!

  6. I love your first 250 :) I'll be keeping an eye out for this in future competitions!