Monday, January 21, 2013

Bouncer Post #44

Genre: MG/YA
Word Count: 150,000


In a magical world full of political unrest, a sheltered Princess gets the chance of a life time to discover life beyond her kingdom, adventure, unexpected danger, and the love of an honorable prince when she is invited to participate in the renowned Princess Games.

The Princess Games is fanciful story about Princess Ava, who has spent the last seventeen years waiting to discover the gift her fairy godmother gave to her as a baby.  Without this understanding and confidence of who she really is, she has to compete against a hundred other talented princesses in five intense games of knowledge, logic, presentation, talent, and courage.    The winner receives the privilege of serving as the only woman representative in the King’s Court.  For Ava, this is not only a chance to represent what she believes in, but to escape the fate her parents have chosen for her, which comes in the form of a very unsuitable groom.  Things are further complicated when it becomes clear that someone in the games does not want Ava to win.  In the midst of rumors of war, and life-threatening situations, Ava discovers that she is capable of far greater things than she ever believed, including deserving the love of her heart. 

The Princess Games is my first novel, and its sequel is in the makings.  I have a B.S. of University Studies with a double minor in English and History.  

First 250:

It was a rare time when magic and humanity actually enjoyed each other’s company.  Grandmother Genevieve knew that tonight was one of those times, and it made her old body alive with anticipation.  Moments like this made up for generations of selfishness and unrest.  She turned to look at her granddaughter lying peacefully in her cradle.  This child had been born a Princess, and Genevieve knew there was even more reason than royalty that this girl would be special.  Tonight she would be given her gift from her fairy godmother, and her destiny would be sealed.  Genevieve could feel in her bones that because the babe had been born on the sacred day of the fairies—a day that few knew about because it only came once every century— that she would be destined for greatness.
Grandmother Genevieve leaned over the elegant cradle and proceeded to hover and poke at the infant in order to ascertain any signs of significance in the child’s eyes.  Her daughter Virginia shooed her away, and gently covered the baby in a silk blanket. 
Genevieve watched her daughter. 
Virginia glanced furtively to the dark, evening skies.  Despite the warm autumn night, a cold whisper of wind tickled past the back of her neck and she shivered.  Virginia turned and pulled the soft blanket tighter around her baby.  Her uneasiness about the night’s proceedings was as evident as the goose-bumps running down her arms.  Virginia pulled her shawl closer, but this would not warm her thoughts.


  1. I think you have an interesting concept but I think you have a lot of work still ahead of you. The first decision is whether or not this is middle grade or YA, it can't be both. They have very different voices and an agent/publisher needs to know where to place it on the bookshelf. I know it's a tough decision because it's something I struggled with early on, but to me this sounds like it's a middle grade fantasy.

    The next issue is your word count. 150k is on the long side for YA and extremely long for MG. For a good guide, I'd recommend this post

    I love the voice in your first 250, and I love the opening line. Unfortunately this section is a lot of telling instead of showing. Instead of telling us that the granddaughter is special and that she is about to get a visit from her fairy godmother maybe just show what happens when the fairy godmother shows up.

    I think your query needs some work as well. You do a good job of setting up the conflict, but what are the consequences if she wins, or doesn't win. What's at stake? Your statements like "For Ava, this is not only a chance to represent what she believes in, but to escape the fate her parents have chosen for her," need more specifics. State what she believes in and what her parents chose for her.

    Also be on the look out for cliche phrases and statements that could be cut altogether that add no voice and just take up space.

    Ex: Things are further complicated when it becomes clear that someone in the games does not want Ava to win.

    It's much clearer and more interesting to say something like "The difficulty of the challenges Ava faces is magnified when someone in the games does X to sabatoge her.

    I think you've got a really interesting story, a bit of a cross between Cinderella and Brave, but I'd spend some time revising first. I hope to see more of this in the future, because I really like your idea and I think Ava sounds like a strong determined heroine that kids would enjoy reading about.

    1. Jamie, thanks so much for all the great advice! I agree that I need to be more specific in my query. Your ideas/examples give me a great place to work from. To be honest, my word count has been my biggest concern. There is just so much good stuff ;). I had way too much fun writing it!

  2. I'm going to second what Jamie said above. I'll add that you'll need to factor in the age of your MC when deciding whether the novel is MG or YA. Generally, age 13 or under is MG, and 14 up is YA.

    I LOVE (LOVE!!) that Ava is competing for a chance to be a representative, and is willing to break gender barriers for that. What a unique twist on the usual princess stories! :)

    Your first 250 is well-written, but it seems almost as if it's a prologue since the MC is just a baby. Maybe weight whether it's essential to the story, or whether you can convey the information given in this scene in a different way (perhaps sprinkle it into the story as needed).

    This is such an awesome concept. Wishing you the best of luck with it! :)

    Gail (#60)

    1. Gail, I was very sure on my genre being YA, until I had three of my younger nieces read it and fall in love. I was curious what input everyone would give me. So, I appreciate you taking the time to point that out. Yay for great feedback! And yes, my first 250 were part of my prologue. It is definitely a crucial beginning to my story.

  3. First off - love the premise. It's really great to see something that you can relate to events within reality and place it in a fantasy world. But you do so with a lighthearted nature to target your audience, which deserves another round of applause.

    But, I'll agree with the above posters as well. I would say the concept and the voice definitely come across as being targeted towards a YA audience. I feel that a MG audience wouldn't be able to hang on for the ride. Especially due to the age of your MC, and the word count. It really says "I'm a YA book." - not that there is anything wrong with that!

    I'm a little worried about word count. 150k is a lot, especially for a debut. I would see if you can break this down beneath the 100k barrier, and even see if you can separate it into two books? (would really have to read the MS to give you a real suggestion though)

    Regardless, I do like your voice. I especially loved the second paragraph. But you do have to be careful. As Jamie stated there is a bit more telling than showing. It's not easy, trust me :)

    All in all, just by the premise alone I can see this going places. I would love to read this in its completion one day!

    Good luck!

    (Copernicus - post #43)

  4. Copernicus (can I call you that?), thanks for being so positive! And, if you are volunteering to read my book… the answer is YES! Lol!

    1. Always looking for some crit partners!! And feel free to call me Copernicus lol

    2. Sweet! So am I! Shoot me an email at if you want to swap stuff (preferably after the contest).

  5. I have spent the last hour reading a lot of the queries on the site and so far, this one is my favorite! I love the premise for the book and the query and the first 250 words pull me in. I love YA books and could definitely see this as a YA book. I am not a writer, but just an average person who loves to read. Great job to the author.

    1. Thank you! Hopefully someday you'll find it at your library and you can read the rest!

  6. I’m afraid I’m not bouncing your entry in, but I do have some feedback and thoughts for you that I hope you'll find helpful.

    • Overall, great query – good stakes and conflict, and very cool premise. In fact, I ADORE this premise, but I felt there were too many other red flags.
    • 150K is too long for ADULT Fantasy, let alone MG. That’s the size of three average MG novels. It makes me worry the book is over-written.
    • Also a red flag is the MG/YA – which is it? Category is more than just an age – It’s determined by a variety of things including what sort of issues the MC deals with and how they view the world. It can’t actually be both. This makes me worry that you don’t know where your book would fit.

    First page:
    • It’s supposed to be YA or MG, but starts in the POV of the grandmother – then abruptly switches to the mom. I was really hoping this would live up the premise, but it sounds very much like this is starting in the wrong place and with the wrong people. That combined with the bloated word count is troubling. There’s a great idea here, but I think this needs a lot of work and editing before it’s ready to put in front of agents.

    Anyway, I hope you find something useful in my thoughts - keep writing, keep revising, and thanks for entering the contest! :D

    1. Very useful feedback! Thank you! I am going to go with YA genre. I have felt that way all along until recently I had younger nieces read it and love it. I really wanted some expert opinion, and boy did I get it! I am confident now in where I stand.

      As for my 250... it was my prologue, and I had no idea until the contest started rolling that people were expecting differently. Grandma and Mom's perspective is limited to the prologue ALONE. I couldn't really have a baby describing her fairy godmother scene! I really like the two perspectives on what the outcome is going to be. I think it adds to the suspense! Opinions, anyone??

      I was concerned about the word count, but rationalized that a lot of books I love are long! I enjoy immersing myself in a character, and you just don't get that with the shorties. However, I realize that could mean the difference of an agent taking a look at my book or not. That said, my scissors are out!

      I have never really seen a contest like this before, but I am so glad that I had the courage to enter. The feedback has been priceless. THANK YOU!!

  7. Reading this entry as an average reader, not a writer, I think the query explains the concept of the book very well and pulled me in wanting to know more about the story! What is Ava's gift and fate from early on in her life? How will she prove it in the Princess Games? Who doesn't want her to win? Who is her "prince charming"? Will she win?... all these questions would make me pick this book up in a heartbeat!
    The first 250 words is a great prologue to Ava's future and leave me wanting to find out more and excited to see her as a teenager competing in the "Princess Games."

    1. Thanks for the positive feedback! I had so much fun writing this story, and hopefully someday others will have as much fun reading it!