Monday, January 14, 2013

Bouncer Post #26


Title:  NEARLY PERFECT
Genre:  Young adult
Word Count:  81,000

Query:

Annabelle knows the senior TESTS will determine her fate:  whom she marries, her career, and every success in life, but she still shrugs them off like a parka in summer.  In the year 2100, seniors take final TESTS in IQ, knowledge, and appearance, to ensure a capable workforce and “eliminate” strife and envy.  

Annabelle isn’t surprised when she fails because of her crooked nose and that stupid mole…and she’s never been a math genius either, but the last thing she ever expected was to be thrown into a prison cell when she refuses to conform.  She won’t be made into a Barbie doll, and she certainly won’t work for the Mayor in his inner circle.

A prison guard is a secret member of the Rebels.  She leads Annabelle to an escape route, which means running from the police and the government’s painful penalties for rebellion.  Meanwhile, Annabelle’s friend Xavier uncovers an antique diary, and they commit treason by just reading it since the government controls all relics and knowledge of the past. 

Annabelle and Xavier risk their lives to follow the Diary’s clues that could lead them to the truth about the past, and maybe freedom for their future.  She finds that Xavier’s smile could light up a moonless night, and voilà—the first fluttering of love, making the ultimate test that much harder:  Xavier’s life or hers? 

Annabelle must discover if she has the courage to challenge the fate of her world, no matter how impossible the odds.

I have taught high school English for fourteen years and have a master’s in library science.  I’m an American citizen teaching at the International School in Kuala Lumpur. 

 First 250:

Annabelle had a hard pebble in the pit of her stomach.  It felt like she’d eaten a peach whole and forgotten to remove the pit.  The senior TEST week was finally here, and she knew she’d probably disappoint her parents.  Again.  Just like she’d disappointed them when she repeatedly refused to get her mole removed.  Tomorrow’s appearance TEST would certainly reveal if that had been a royal mistake, if she even got to the TEST tomorrow.  Today’s results would determine if she did.  A passing score would move her on to the next exam, but failure meant an immediate exit to another year of study, rinse, repeat. 

This week the Mayor’s office would begin to separate the smart from the stupid, the pretty from the ugly, the best from anyone less than that.  This threat should have spurred her on somehow, but in fact her knee wouldn’t stop bouncing and her lip kept twitching.  Her mother called it test anxiety.  She thought it was more like dumbcilitis. 

Before she entered the school that morning she’d stopped to puke outside the front door.  Breakfast had been little more than a sugarless bowl of oats (all sugar was limited), but even that she couldn’t keep down.

Annabelle rubbed her tired eyes.  The TEST had been going on for so many hours, she felt like her brain was freezing up.  She knew she should have studied more.  All those Sundays spent leisurely reading e-novels when I should have been taking prep-TESTS.  Ugh.  

12 comments:

  1. I would so read this book. =)

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  2. Thanks, Alice! My day is instantly brighter!

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  3. This is an awesome premise and I, too, would love to read more. I think your query should be tighter. It starts very strong -- the idea that looks and intelligence dictate her future. The stakes become a little ambiguous in the last two graphs. You could add some specifics without giving away the story. Good luck!

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  4. Durango Writer--Thanks for your positive feedback, and the suggestion for the query is excellent. I will work on that last part of the query even more. I appreciate your comments!

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  5. This novel sounds like one I would enjoy sharing with my students! I hope I get to see more!!

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  6. Thanks, Anonymous! I hope so too. Fingers crossed, for everyone!

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  7. This book sounds so promising; lots of thrills and romance. How on earth do you find time to write with your teaching job?

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    1. well...something like "Teacher by day, Mommy by evening, and writer by night." I'm sure many can relate!

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  8. Hey Tracy! It sounds like you have a really fun story here! From your first 250 words, I can already tell that Annabelle (great name by the way) is the type of character I’d like to keep reading about.

    I like your query, but I think you could make it even stronger. It’s a little long (a lot of people said this about mine too), and a few parts of it read more like a synopsis than a query.

    You might want to think about getting rid of your first paragraph. I think starting your query with, "Annabelle isn’t surprised when she fails her Senior TESTS…” could be a great place to start. I liked this line, and I think it’s strong, even without us you telling us specifically what the senior TESTS are, because who gets thrown into prison for having a crooked nose and mole? Very intriguing –this also gives us a good idea about the TESTS.

    I like that you tell us Anna won’t conform or be turned into a Barbie doll, but I was a little confused by the line about the mayor’s inner circle. You might want to think about either cutting it or expanding on it, since you don’t really mention it again.

    I’m glad Annabelle escapes from prison, but I’m not sure we need to know that doing so means, “running from the police and the government’s painful penalties for rebellion.” I feel as this is kind of implied. I’d like to know more about this Diary!

    You say, “Annabelle and Xavier risk their lives to follow the Diary’s clues that could lead them to the truth about the past, and maybe freedom for their future.” This is pretty vague. Is there any way you could be a little more specific regarding the truth about the past?

    I think it’s great that Anna is going to have to choose between Xavier’s life and her own, but I think we might need a little more here. I don’t think you need to give us any spoilers, this line just seems to come out of the blue. Maybe if you could lead up to it just a little with something like, “As Annabelle get’s closer to the truth, she learns such and such, or such and such happens, and then maybe tie that in to the choice she’ll need to make between her life and Xavier’s.

    I’m not sure if any of this helps, but I really hope it does because it sounds as if you have a great story here!

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  9. Thank you, Stephanie, for your thoughtful comments. Really great advice, and I will definitely be making some changes. Stay tuned!!! THANKS!

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    1. I'm so glad I could help! I always get so nervous critiquing people's queries (especially people I don't know). But I think it sounds like you have an awesome story! If you need someone to take a look at a revised version, totally let me know!

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  10. New Query!

    It’s the year 2100. Annabelle isn’t surprised when she fails her senior TESTS because of her crooked nose and an unregulated mole, but the last thing she ever expected was to be thrown into a prison cell. She won’t be made into a Barbie doll, and she certainly won’t work for the Mayor in his inner circle no matter how “special” they think her brain is.

    She discovers an escape route, and enlists the help of her friend Xavier to evade the eager clutches of the Mayor’s gorillas. Xavier finds an ancient Diary under the floorboards of an old cabin. But real paper is banned…it can’t be hidden or altered with the click of a button, so just reading it is treason.

    Annabelle and Xavier risk their lives to follow the Diary’s clues in the hopes of finding freedom. On their journey she feels that first fluttering of love and uncovers an artifact beyond their wildest dreams.

    As they get closer to discovering the truth that their world is less “normal” than they ever realized, she must find the courage to make the ultimate choice: if she allows Xavier’s capture, she’ll be free; if she turns herself in to face the consequences of rebellion, they’ll let Xavier go.

    …But how can she change the fate of her world if she’s dead?

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