Monday, January 14, 2013

Bouncer Post #39

Genre: YA Contemporary
Word Count: 84,000 words


Sixteen year old Cassie Harris gathers memories, accumulates secrets, and stockpiles mistakes in THE MEMORY BOX. An 84,000 word contemporary YA novel where THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE meets ROMEO AND JULIET.

Cassie is the youngest child in a family beset by sadness. Each sibling has disappointed her parents in some way, with the most devastating instance being her brother James, who died of a drug overdose.

Cassie’s parents have vowed to protect her while she has spent her life trying to be the perfect child and playing the chameleon to fit in: she’s the good girl at church, the perfect student at school, and a secret party girl with her best friend, Meghan. But she is starved for genuine friendship, feels crushed under the weight of her parents’ dreams, and hates pretending to be someone she’s not to keep friends. She’s looking for independence and a chance to escape it all.

Cassie’s search begins when she meets rumored bad boy, Travis Beck. Travis, a mixture of dimples and bruises, is extremely observant when he catches Cassie fake drinking at a party. Embarrassed but busted, she has no other choice but to admit that she does it to fit in. While her best friend is passed out on a sofa, Cassie and Travis spend the night in a dimly lit hallway finding something in each other that no one else has ever given them before, acceptance.

When her best friend finds out, she isn’t happy. Her church friends warn her that Travis is toxic. But Cassie doesn’t see him as anything but in.toxic.ating.

For the first time in her life, Cassie stands up for something she wants and her life is finally looking up - she’s happy and making new friends - but the ball drops when her parents inform her that Travis’s father, Chris Beck, may have been the reason for her brother’s death. Their pasts and dark family secrets collide, testing their loyalties, and revealing the real reason Cassie has always safeguarded her memories.

Now, Cassie’s parents’ are determined to keep them apart and her mother, who she’s dubbed “Elaine Hussein, the tyrannical ruler of her household,” has a regime not many will defy.

Cassie must fight harder than she ever has before, and in order for their families to heal, Travis must let go of the past and unearth grave family secrets from that fateful night twelve-years ago.

First 250:

Object: Glow Bracelet
Obtained: Chase Morgan’s spring break party
Memory: Meghan said Chase wanted to meet at midnight, so we tip-toed through the house and sprinted across my front lawn to his jeep waiting at the corner. We entered the party exchanging five dollar bills for glow bracelets. This allowed us access to the keg and alerted the boys to which girls were drinking. Talking, joking, dancing, drinking games, and then my mother busted through the front door.

Sitting in church on the first Sunday of September, I watched as familiar faces filtered in through the arched doorway to my far right. Besides my frame of mind, it was like any other Sunday I’d spent in this church since my birth. There were the same wooden paneled walls, the same golden carpet blanketing the floor, and the same hard pews I cursed at every week, for sixteen years.

I closed my eyes and opened my ears to the peaceful hymn floating down from the sound system above me, hoping it would calm my mood.

It didn’t work.

In an attempt to amuse myself, I pulled out a pen and started to doodle on the church program in my lap, decorating the corners with paisleys, hearts, and flowers. At the top of the page, Pastor Grey’s sermon was titled, Inviting God to Fight your Battles. I wondered if I invited Him to fight my mother, if he’d help.

Using the words on the program, I started to make acrostic poems.

C assie
H ates
R ules !!
I s being
S lowly
T ortured


  1. Just wanted to say I think this sounds awesome! I love the idea of going through a box to get a story. And it sounds a little bit like My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick with that twist in there! I hope this one goes through!

  2. This sounds great! I love the voice and THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE is such a wonderful comp title to have :D :D :D
    The only thing I would try to do is to cut down the query a bit. You give a lot of background information (for example on the family/parents and maybe you could remove some of it without losing the main points).
    But again, I think the concept is very original and the first 250 would definitely keep me reading!

  3. This looks interesting, but in my own small opinion I'd cut back on your query a bit. The first few paragraphs seems to be back-story and it looks like maybe it should start at Cassie seeking independance and a chance to escape it all... Also I was a bit confused at the last paragraph when Travis was confused about the night 12 years ago? If Travs is approximately the same age as Cassie then this "thing" happened when he was about four years old? I know parents often keep the past alive, but would that be realistic? Would it be that dramatic to him, if he was four?

    Anyway, it seems like the story is good, but your query needs some tweaking. :) I like the part about the memory in the first part of the 250 words though.

  4. I agree that you can cut down your query. Try taking out small details, like Travis catching her faking and what she calls her mom, and focus on who she is, what she wants, and why she can't have it. I love the idea of the memory box. I hope you start every chapter with a memory. But it may need some explanation. I was expecting her to be closing the box or something in the first scene. It's only because I read the query that I understood what the first part was.

    I also wondered about the timing of what I'm assuming is her brother's overdose. Twelve years is a long time and if they were only four it seems like they would have been impacted but not have clear memories to unearth. But I'm sure there's a good reason it happened when it did and I would know that if I was able to read the whole story. Nice, tight writing. Good luck with it!

  5. I like the voice in the first 250, and I like the idea of some kind of list of things/memories to obtain, but your query lost me. First of all, it’s MUCH too long. Your query should be 250-ish words, and just whet our appetites for more. This reads more like a synopsis, to me—you’re telling us the whole story, including background, rather than just giving us a taste of the plot.

    To start, check out the back of a few books. Then figure out clearly what your MC wants, what’s getting in her way, and the choice she has to make, and try to outline those in a succinct, exciting way. (I know, easier said than done!) I can tell this is an interesting story, but right now the story is lost in details.

    Good luck!

  6. I like the non-traditional stylistic choices you make in your first 250, but the length/wordiness of the query makes me wonder if you've edited your manuscript enough.