Monday, January 14, 2013

Bouncer Post #6

Genre: YA Contemp
Word count: 88,000


Yesterday, Bix was Simon Rook.

Today he's Bixby Darwin.

Yesterday, Bix was avoiding the get-to-know-my-son lunch his mother
insisted on having with her current boyfriend, Omar.

Today, Omar is blown up along with his shop.

Yesterday, Bix suspected Omar was a terrorist.

Today, Bix learns his absentee father is an assassin.

Now, he’s a little concerned about what tomorrow will bring.

In my 88,000 word YA Contemp novel, Son Of A (Hired) Gun, 16-year-old 
Bixby Darwin’s life is thrown into a state of flux when Witness Protection
relocates him to small town with big secrets. Secrets that could get him 
or someone close to him killed.

First 250:

I have imaginary conversations with my dad.

Some people call it blogging. But seeing as he abandoned us when I was still incubating, it’s the one way I have to tell him about my day, my thoughts, my life. I imagine that he stumbles across my blog, Simon Says, and realizes that this Simon—this short but witty sixteen-year-old—is the son he left without a trace.

 I like to think he regrets this loss. I like to think —

 “Simon,” Mom calls down the hall to me. “If you make us any later I’ll—.”

 “I’m ready.” Heading her off, I save my latest blog.

You’d think we were having lunch with someone more important than her latest boyfriend. Now that she’s reached the critical get-to-know-my-son juncture in this relationship, she’s a little on edge. Or ready to jump off one.

I take out my phone and tweet. @Simonsays: Lunch at Melting Pot with Omar. Rather stay home than break bread (and dip it) with Mom’s florist/terrorist boyfriend.

Jury’s still out on whether Omar is actually a terrorist but it does make good blogging and tweeting. It’s not like anyone takes me seriously anyway. That’s kind of the problem when you’re sixteen and look like you’re twelve.

 “Simon?” Mom’s yell borders on hysteria. “You’ve got to stop calling him a terrorist.”

 “I can’t help it if I think he’s a terrorist.” Although last week, after I heard him talking Russian, I was pretty sure he was KGB.


  1. I think this sounds great. I love your unusual query. It is an unorthodox approach that works well. I also like your voice. I would love to read more. Good luck.

  2. I agree with aereichert! I thought your unique query style totally worked and I loved your title (so cute). I don't want to be too gushy, but I really thought all this was great! I enjoyed your first 250 words, especially the first line! I would definitely keep reading. Great job!

    Good luck!

    1. Ohh, Stephanie, feel free to gush. I can take it :).
      Seriously, thanks so much for the compliments.

  3. I like this, and it surprised me. The unusual query works for me. I have a feel for the book in a few lines. Interesting.

    I also like the blog/tweet contemporary thing mixed with assassins. Gossip Girl-for guys-with killers? ;) I do hope the Dad is a good guy. I'd read this. Good Luck!

    I'm #12

    1. I'm full of surprises. Thanks for the kind words.

  4. Great first lines, both query and opening. What kept me reading was the voice though, fresh and young without sounding forced or fake. I don't write YA but I read it often and this I really like!


  5. I love this! The voice totally drew me in and the unusual query really works for me too :-)

    Best of luck!!!


  6. I've seen this in other contests and still love the concept and the voice. :) I really like your unorthodox query, I think it works (at least for me) in setting up the voice of the book. You've made a few tweaks to it since the last time I saw it and think it's improved.
    Good luck from entry #1!

    1. Thanks Saybe--I loved yours too. We assassins need to stick together.

  7. I want to start out by saying I really like your query. It's a giant leap away from the norm and that is refreshing.

    I do have some concerns though. Though your query is unique, I don't know how it fits together. Why did Simon get put into witness protection? Does the CIA/FBI know Simon's father's identity and his general whereabouts...and that's why they relocated him? If that's the case, why move him to a town that his father has potential ties to? But that last question is an assumption that the town's secrets have something to do with Simon's father. Omar's terrorist cell could be station in the town for all I know. But I don't know, and that could be a big turnoff for agents. We have these great puzzle pieces that could potentially create a masterpiece...if only we knew how to put them together.

    You definitely have an intriguing query, and I wouldn't change the format if I were you. You just need to tie Simon's father, Omar, whatever gov't agency put him in WP, and the small town together.

    I hope this helps.

  8. To add one more thing to the above post...

    Your query is separated into to parts: the yesterday, toady, now part and the rest. If you read them separately, apart from the common name, they could be a part of two queries for two different stories.

  9. I think the query is interesting. You've said a lot in a few words. I love the voice in the 250--awesome. :) I would read more. (In fact, if you need a crit partner, look me up. (I'm also entry #11.)

    Good luck!

  10. You have an intriguing premise here. I think your pushing the envelope on format and content is really refreshing and ultimately the right way to go. Your voice is solid, and you've definitely set up a wealth of questions for the reader to puzzle over right out of the gate. Great work.

    But I do think a little polishing would make this piece even better. For example, though your query is refreshing and new, it might seem to some agents a little gimmicky. I'm NOT suggesting you revert your query to the same 3-paragraph format everyone else is using, though. I would, however, consider switching up the order of things a little and beefing up some of the sentences you currently have.

    Here's what I'd suggest: "Yesterday, sixteen-year-old Bixby Darwin was Simon Rook. Today, he has a new name and a new home, courtesy of Witness Protection. Yesterday, he was avoiding the get-to-know-my-son lunch his mother 
set up with her new boyfriend.
 Today, said boyfriend is dead, victim of a bombing at his flower shop. Yesterday, Bix tweeted as a joke that his mom's new boyfriend was a terrorist. 

Today, he finds out that the father he's never met is an assassin*. Now he's living in a new town which seems to be hiding as many secrets as he is, so he's more than a little worried what tomorrow will bring**. SON OF A (HIRED) GUN is complete at 88,000 words." *I'd add a little bit more about the assassin thing in this sentence--is he an assassin for the government? for the mob? for the fun of it? Just a tiny bit more information here would make your query juicier, IMO.

    As for your first 250, great job bringing in the 21st century! I loved that you added stuff about blogging and tweeting. I know for a fact that 16-year-olds do both those things. A lot. So it's refreshing to see it incorporated in your story. And you do a great job of integrating it in a way that sounds like it's taken for granted. This is very important for realism, I think. Social media is a part of ordinary life now, so it shouldn't be treated like, 'Hey, look at this shiny new thing I'm doing! I'm capitalizing it and explaining it overly in ways normal people would never do!' So excellent job on that. I also like that you're setting up the tweet to be the cause of the inciting incident (or at least I'm really, really hoping you are, because that would SO ROCK). I also like Simon's voice. I can see him in my head already (he looks remarkably like my youngest brother did at that age), and I think that's important. But I do wonder about starting out the whole story with his angst about his father. He's never even met his father, so would it be at the forefront of his mind just then as he was getting ready to go out for dinner? Maybe it would since he's going to meet his mom's new beau. But the issue just seemed a bit too close to the surface, or maybe that I was going too deep into the character too fast. Consider starting the story while at the gloriously awkward dinner with Omar (I'm imagining it's gloriously awkward), so that we can see our hero in action, in conflict, and we can get the measure of him straight away. You could even have him tweet about it under the table, thus setting off the inciting incident (again, if I'm even right about that). And then bring in the blogging to his dad a little later in a quieter moment. Just a thought. :-)

    Anyway, once again, great entry. It was so hard to choose from all the fabulous entries I had to judge. You're doing great, and your ideas are solid, so keep up the good work!

    1. Bouncer Z--while I'm disappointed not to make the final cut, I so, so appreciate your critique and suggestions. I love your ideas for my query. And I'm sorry to disappoint you, but the tweet doesn't have anything to do with Omar being blown up and Omar is blown up before they get to actually get to dinner.

      Thank you so much. You are so kind to give us such detailed feedback. It's been a pleasure to be rejected by you :)

    2. Bummer! I hate it when I guess wrong. Ah, well. I really do think you've got a great thing going here. Please, please keep getting it out there. I feel confident it will find a home very soon.