Monday, February 4, 2013

Bouncer Post #113

Genre: YA contemporary
Word Count: 76,000


Career Match 101 has revealed two things to seventeen year old Olivia Clayton; she’s entirely average, and the career in writing that she longs for is nothing but a far-fetched dream. Yet instead of choosing a safer career path, she decides to prove that she’s got what it takes and sets out to write an unforgettable article for the school newspaper.

While investigating her topic, a doctor rumored to sit on his porch naked, she encounters the much too hot Kade Steele, a photographer out to make money for his freshman year at college. Joining forces seems like a brilliant plan, especially when she discovers Kade’s supernatural powers and his connection to the doctor who’s involved in a conspiracy of experimental genetic manipulations.

Only Olivia finds more than her story...she finds love. And submitting an article about Kade is out of the question. So she prints an alternative piece which totally backfires and shatters her dreams of a writing career. And to top it all off, she discovers that Kade has a shadowy past he’s been hiding from her. But when Kade risks exposure to save her life, she comes to realize that no matter what career path she chooses, all she truly needs is love, friendship, and the ability to forgive.   

First 250:

Career Match 101. It was the subject for Norwalk High juniors, the one class that was supposed to give Olivia a clear picture of what she wanted to do with her life. Instead all it told her was that she didn’t excel at anything career-worthy and that going into the writing field was nothing more than a far-fetched dream. But she wasn’t about to give up her dream, even if it took desperate measures to prove herself…like spying on the small town gossip magnet, Doc Tucker.               

Crouched and cramping a field away from historic house number 1986, Olivia Clayton patted the palm-sized notebook in her sweatshirt pocket. Mentally, she ticked off her list. 1. Prove that Doc Tucker comes out on his porch naked at four PM every day.  2. Submit article about said subject to Norwalk High’s newspaper. 3. Show I can be more than average, that the career-assessment test was wrong. 4. Convince myself that I can make it as a writer. She smiled. It was the perfect solution. 

Glimpsing movement on the porch, Olivia grabbed her camera and squinted through the lens. Her quick breaths through the cold air spawned a film of humidity over the camera’s housing.    

“I don’t believe it.” It did look like all the doctor was wearing was skin. Gross. She scrunched up her nose. “Give me something worth writing about, doctor.”  Hitting the zoom button with her thumb, Olivia squeezed her eyes shut. Chicka.


  1. In your query, the experimental genetic manipulations sound intriging. I wonder if Kade's supernatural powers make your novel more YA paranormal than contemporary though?

    I'm not sure I understand the central conflict Olivia is facing. Maybe removing the first paragraph and jumping right into what happens when she starts watching Doc Tucker would help. I think it would be helpful if you could show what kind of decision she has to make - to print the article about Kade or not (for example) and what the consequences might be if she fails.

    I think the final sentence of the query gives too much of the end away, and I'd suggest you remove it.

    Like in the query, in your first 250, I think starting with Olivia spying might be better. You could sprinkle in the background of the Career Match 101 later in the chapter. I liked the last two paragraphs.

    Good luck!

    1. Michelle Heisel #113:

      Thank you so much for your input! I think you may be right about the genre. It might work better as a YA Paranormal Romance.

      My first two paragraphs were meant to set up the direction of the story. However, it might be more effective to begin with paragraph three.

      Olivia's central conflict is the choice of friends or fame. I will try to clarify that in the query.

      Great suggestions and good luck to you, too!

  2. The part of your premise that grabbed me the most was the experimental genetic manipulations. Very intriguing! I think Laura's suggestion to reclassify your story's genre as paranormal (or even sci-fi, depending on how Kade got his powers) is a good one. I also wonder if you might want to be more specific about what Kade's supernatural powers are as this could be a bid drawing card for your story. Best of luck in the contest! :)

    1. Sorry, that was supposed to say "big" drawing card. Oops!

  3. Love the idea of the genetic manipulation, but I'm not so in love with the idea that Kade has supernatural powers.... It kind of makes it not contemporary YA, but supernatural or paranormal. And I'm not sure I really understand what Olivia's central conflict is. Is it the writing career or Kade?

    In the 250, I think the opening paragraph is a little telling. Maybe rather than explaining Career 101, show us doing a seminar or survey, or getting the results back so we can see why she's so sure she has no future.

    1. I really appreciate the comments! I agree that Out Of the Shadows probably fits better as a paranormal romance. And I've already revised - the first two paragraphs no longer exist. It's much, much better. :)
      Olivia's central conflict is her choice between distinction as a writer or keeping Kade's secret. I really need to do a better job of making that clearer.
      Thanks again for your input. Michelle Heisel

  4. Like those above, I love the idea of a crazy doctor and genetic manipulation. Intriguing! Combine that with an ambitious writer and I think you've got the makings of a very rich story.

    Your above statement about Olivia's central conflict could make a great ending hook for your query, something like: After discovering Kade's abilities could be linked to the doctor himself, Olivia must choose between printing the story of a lifetime or keeping Kade's secret.

    Best of luck, this sounds awesome!

    1. Thanks Rina! Awesome suggestions. I'll be working on implementing them into my query today. :) Good luck to you, too! Can't wait to see yours in the upcoming round!

  5. From the genre and the opening paragraph, I thought this was going to be a cute contemporary romance - until you mention supernatural powers and genetic experiments and I was like, wait, what? I would take out all of the Career 101 stuff in your query and pages, and leave out that she's average too. We don't want to read about average characters, we want over-the-top, exciting, driven characters. I definitely think you have something interesting here, it just needs to be focused a bit better. And the same with your opening 250 - if you start with her spying on the guy, and then get into the reasons why after we're in the scene with your character, your opening will be much stronger. Good luck!

    1. Thanks so much for the advice! My 'new and improved' 250 begins with the 3rd paragraph and lets us know why she's there and what's at stake. I also revised my query to portray a stronger Olivia that's more consistent with her character throughout the story. I appreciate both your encouraging words and your critique. It inspires me and, at the same time, helps me improve my writing.