Monday, February 4, 2013

Bouncer Post #114


Title: EMBROL
Genre: YA Sci-fi/romance
Word Count: 80,000

Query:

Seventeen-year-old Olivia Ryan knows her grief has finally broken her when two boys she’s only met in her dreams show up at her mom’s funeral.

Jack, the boy she’s been kissing in her dreams, is a welcome distraction. But when she finds out he’s not only real, but he was driving the truck that killed her mom, she just wants to forget he ever existed. His claim that, like him, she’s a member of a powerful alien race, the antecedents to humans, only seals her desire to push him away.

Kole, the boy from her nightmares, has no interest in kissing her. Not yet, anyway. In his demented alien mind, Olivia is the reincarnated daughter of the universe’s creator. He believes if he can control her in the dream world, he’ll have unlimited access to her power—a massive force hidden within the earth more than 75,000 years ago. He plans to use that power to hijack the universe. And of course, when he’s done with that, she can take her place by his side as queen. Clearly, he’s a total nut job, but even if he’s the sanest man in the galaxy, Olivia’s sure he has the wrong girl. Jack and Kole both do.

But when Kole almost succeeds in trapping Olivia in a dream, she’s forced to choose. She can continue to reject her true self and risk involuntarily destroying the universe with her own hands. Or she can find a way to trust Jack, the only one with the power to protect her and train her to use her abilities. The choice should be simple, but trusting the boy who killed her mom might be beyond the capabilities of even her advanced alien heart.

First 250:

My art teacher says the eyes are the window to the soul. Apparently, I have no soul.

I studied the self-portrait lying on my worktable. Dull, lifeless eyes stared back. Yup, definitely soulless. Next thing I knew, I’d be wandering the streets in search of brains. The stiff paper crumpled beneath my fingers. Why can I draw anyone, anything else, but I can’t draw myself?

Mr. Unrealistic-Expectations—aka my art teacher—was two tables away, making his daily rounds to check everyone’s progress. So what if this was the fourth time I’d started over? This assignment was impossible to complete, and on Friday, when I’d told him as much, he’d said, Olivia, you’ll never survive Pratt with that attitude.

Yeah, well, maybe I didn’t care. Maybe I was tired of living up to my potential.

He reached my table as the bell rang. “You destroyed another one?”

“I’ll work on a new one tonight,” I lied. I shoved all my papers into my portfolio and hopped off my stool. Working on this stupid project was the last thing I intended to do today. Birthdays are supposed to be fun.

Before he could offer his assistance, I shouldered the door open and headed out to the crowded outdoor locker area. I smiled at the heavy clouds overhead, breathing in the damp smell that always accompanied a rainy day in Mesa, Arizona. At least something good was happening today.

23 comments:

  1. Great writing and great voice. I loved the opening line. I'd definitely read on :)
    Mara Rae #119

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    1. Thanks, Mara Rae! You totally made my day! :)

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  2. I think you did a great job of showing the stakes in your query. I especially like the 4th paragraph. Good hook! Totally nitpicky of me, but I'd suggest you remove "her" before grief in that first sentence. Also, I don't think you need this sentence: "Jack and Kole both do."

    I like your first 250 and the self-portrait issue, and especially the first paragraph.

    Best of luck!
    #112

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    1. Thanks, Laura! I really appreciate the feedback. :)

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  3. I love the 250 words. I get a real sense of Olivia's voice. I absolutely adore calling her art teacher "Mr. Unrealistic-Expectations". I've had a number of teachers like that myself.

    I found the query a little confusing, only because on my first read through I wasn't sure if Olivia knew she was an alien or not. On my second read through I caught that it says that Kole tells her she's an alien. Maybe there is a way to clarify that? Or maybe I'm the only person who had that problem and it's not a big deal. :)

    I love the conflict of Kole being the one who killed her mom. That's a hefty obstacle to get across, and I'm really interested to see where you take that.

    ~Mandy (#130)

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  4. Love the first line of your 250! Only thing I'd suggest is keeping it in the same tense of the rest of the piece. Great tone, voice, and premise!

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    1. Thanks, Amy! I've gone back and forth on the opening lines a thousand times. I know technically it should be past tense, but it doesn't feel right. No matter how I phrase it, it always comes back to this: saying "Apparently, I had no soul." sounds to me like she's already resolved the issue. Not that it's really an issue, but it does tie into the ending in a pretty significant way.

      And changing the first line to past tense gives it a reminiscing feel, like she's remembering something far in the past. But then the next lines are more in the moment, so it always feels a little jarring to me. I don't know if that makes sense at all outside my head. I'm sure I'm totally overthinking it.

      Anyway, sorry about my crazy rambling. I really appreciate the feedback! It's definitely something I need to consider/research a little more and make sure I'm not ruining my chances from the start. :)

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    2. Ha! You are not rambling. I totally get it. Tense is tough. My MS is in first person present, but there are times when I really wish I could change it up. It's a great entry. Congratulations on making it to the agent round. Your comments on my query are so helpful. Will be using them to revamp for round 6. Good luck in the next round!

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  5. I'm really interested by your premise, and I feel like you've presented the conflict very clearly in your query. I'd definitely read this! Good luck with the contest!

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  6. I really enjoyed your first 250! The voice is great and you give a lot of information without it feeling info-dumpy. (I find that so hard to do!)I would definitely read more! :)

    #121

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  7. I love your premise! I am totally here because I was in love with your kissing scene and had to read more about the project! I like the query, but I could see how it could confusing and little bit long. I adore the obstacle you've put in their way--it's going to be hard for her to get over that, to trust him because of what he's done. I LOVE your opening line. What a beautiful way to start a novel. I'd keep reading if I had pages. I'd gobble them up!

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  8. First, I want to say that your comments on other people's stuff has been amazing. You're so spot on with your critiques and have given some really good advice.

    Now, on to you! This idea is really cool. I love the two dream boys (one from good, one from nightmares) showing up. Just based on premise alone, I want to read more. I found your opening sentences and the following paragraph (in your first 250) intriguing given that she hasn't accepted who she is - and that she might be the reincarnated daughter of the universe's creator. Excellent job! I want to read more, more, more!!

    Best of luck!!

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    1. Thanks, Jennie! People don't always appreciate my thoroughness, but I know the types of critiques I would like to get so I try to do unto others... ;) So happy you liked my premise and my opening. :)

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  9. This is a strong entry but at first glance I was a little unsure about the dreams and love triangle aspects, which are both somewhat common in YA right now. You might want to redo your query to not focus on these things so much, because I think a lot of agents might pass without reading on, which would be a shame. Your query has some unique and interesting elements and strong voice, as do your opening 250. I'm a bit concerned you might be starting in the wrong place, but the voice stands out enough that if this was in the slush I'd keep reading to see what happens.

    YOU'RE IN!

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    1. This... I just... I don't... Really, there are no words for how excited/freaking out/happy I am right now. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! You totally made my week! :)

      And thank you for all the awesome feedback. There actually isn't a love triangle in the story (unless you count the one in Kole's head), but I can see how that might come across in the query. Thanks so much for pointing that out. I never would have seen it on my own.

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  10. Congratulations! See you in the next round!
    Laura, #112

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  11. Ah, Mesa, AZ! My home town! I love that she's excited about the rain. Thunder storms used to be my favorite. Good ole monsoon season. :) The writing here is fun and deep at the same time, and I really like your query. The only thing that stuck out to me in your query was the 'But' at the beginning of the last paragraph. I think it's stronger without it. I'd totally read this. In fact, I hope I get the chance.

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