Sunday, February 10, 2013

Bouncer Post #168

Genre: YA Sci-Fi
Word Count: 82k


Seventeen-year-old Jayne discovers her missing father’s ancient alien conspiracy theories are true the night a spaceship lands in her backyard.

Taken hostage and whisked across space, Jayne finds herself at the center of a galactic conflict between opposing alien civilizations, both preparing for war, both with something to hide and both with different reactions to her and the supposed secrets about the true origin of life her father hid in a coded journal.

On one side she must resist an enigmatic alien rebel who desires to use her father’s secrets to overthrow a ruling alien dynasty, destroy all life in the galaxy and start anew – demanding Jayne decode these secrets or die.

On the other side she must resist falling for steadfast young Orin, a Protector reluctantly pledged to keep her alive, at least long enough to ensure the power-hungry rebel never obtains her father’s journal.

Deciphering her father’s secrets could result in the destruction of life, aliens and earthlings alike, but it also might be her only chance to find him lost among the stars. Jayne must find a way to keep her father's secrets from falling into the wrong hands without losing him forever. 

First 250:

Jayne stood rigid at the window, heart frozen in her chest, breath arrested, eyes glued to the blue light blasting through the blackness of the night, illuminating the jagged forest just beyond the backyard fence.

A spaceship.

No, not a spaceship. Just because her father believed in aliens didn’t mean UFO’s were real. Get a freaking grip, already.

The windowpane shuddered, sending a shock wave up both hands splayed against the glass. Jayne squinted against the blistering light that appeared ready to land in her backyard.

A fierce panic erupted in her chest. She stumbled from the window in her father’s study, throwing the heavy drape against the glass as if it could somehow stop the intrusion. The blue intensified, casting an eerie halo about the drapery.

Then darkness.

Seconds passed, maybe minutes, maybe years. Jayne’s heart thumped rapidly like a drummer on speed. She tiptoed to the window and pulled back the drape. The yellow desk lamp from behind cast a soft glow upon the glass, outlining the mound of strawberry blonde curls that spilled about her pale, freckled face. She scanned the moonless night. The lights in the sky were gone.

Lights in the sky fly by. She repeated the mantra ten times, letting each familiar word comfort every frazzled nerve. She gently reminded herself that there was no unidentified flying object in her neighborhood, only a low-lying plane headed towards the private airstrip only miles away.

At that moment, Jayne resolved to stop drinking coffee late at night.


  1. Your query is well organized but I didn't get any sense of voice. In your first 250 I can hear a 17 year old in lines like "Get a freaking grip already." I would suggest adding more of that kind of tone.

    Good luck!

  2. Your description of the arrival of the spaceship was very multi-sensorial and cinematic. I love a tightly plotted space opera--the romance, the political drama, the interweaving relationships--and this one looks like it's going to deliver.

  3. your query is so polished. there's a lot of info in there, but it's not heavy or weird; everything seems important and interesting. the way you've organized it is really clean. and, overall, it's just the right amount of information balanced with tease. jealous.

  4. I really liked the 250, thought your query was easy to follow, but I agee about the voice, if it was just a tiny bit stronger i think the query would be a real show stopper. Good luck.

  5. So organized and clean! I love the premise. I'm wondering, though, if the huge action isn't starting too soon. I don't feel her surprise because I don't know the character at all yet. Good luck!


    1. Then again - it's a spaceship landing. I don't think you need to know a character to accept that that would shock them...?

  6. I like that you jump right into the excitement in your 250. You're definitely a good writer, but I'm going to contribute a (hopefully) helpful criticism: this first page comes off a bit overwritten, for example your first sentence: "Jayne stood rigid at the window, heart frozen in her chest, breath arrested, eyes glued to the blue light blasting through the blackness of the night, illuminating the jagged forest just beyond the backyard fence." You've got an overwhelming amount of sensory information in a borderline run-on sentence. You could trim out some adverbs and description later as well. Maybe read it to yourself out loud and listen for the extra words and clauses?

  7. Really like the premise and it sounds like a fun read.

    As for the query, it is really good, but I had an issue with one line:

    "Deciphering her father’s secrets could result in the destruction of life, aliens and earthlings alike, but it also might be her only chance to find him lost among the stars."

    I had to look back at that line to figure out that you meant that her dad was lost among the stars. Maybe wording something more like "but it also might be her only chance to find her dad, lost among the stars."

  8. Nice premise! It looks like fun. I, like some of the other commenters, noticed a lack of voice in your query. It sounds good right now, brisk and interesting, but I think it could really shine if you add in some of your main character's personality. For example: "desires to use" and "destruction of life" feel a little dry right now. Also, some of your sentences run pretty long. The general advice for queries is to keep the sentences short. If you can't say it in one breath, it's too long.

    As for your first 250, I agree with Editrix that your first sentence would probably make me skim. Otherwise, I'd have to slow down and read it a few times to fix each sensory description in my mind, and that's something an agent will almost never do. Try breaking it up, and sprinkling some of the description into the action. I like the visual of her throwing the drape against the glass, the irrationality of hoping it will keep the spaceship away. That showed some nice voice.

    One last thing, and this is totally subjective, so don't take just my opinion on this--but to me, the premise and the first 250 almost sounded more middle-grade than YA. I'm not sure why. It probably has something to do with the feel of the voice, at least to me.

  9. Wow, lots of comments already and I probably won't say anything that hasn't already been said. I really like this premise! Aliens are popular right now, but you've got a fresh take on them. You've got beautiful imagery, but maybe just a little too much (especially the first paragrah). As for voice, I would try to infuse more of it in the first couple of paragraphs. I really only felt like I was getting to know Jayne when I read the last line: At that moment, Jayne resolved to stop drinking coffee late at night.
    Great line, BTW.

    -Good luck and thanks for your comments as well. Entry #152

  10. I think this looks like a fun read! I was reading the comments and trying to figure out the voice issue. I think, for me, there was a little distance because it was a 3rd person narrator instead of the 1st person, and so much of the YA I've been reading is in 1st person. But having said that, the 3rd person narrator is what drew me in because it was different :)

    The coffee line and the get a grip line really showed me something about Jayne. Maybe if you rewrote a few of the descriptive lines so they revealed more of Jayne's personality that would help?

    I liked it, though. :)
    Best of luck!
    Leslie (#177)

  11. Lori A. Goldstein (@_lagold)February 12, 2013 at 8:34 AM

    The eternal (at least mine) pitch problem: how to infuse voice and still get out your plot in the short space allowed. As a reader, I'm drawn in by your first pitch paragraph and think the second is good and tight, but then the next two describing each side makes me skim a bit. I'd suggest losing those--I think you've given us enough by then and perhaps that'd give you more room for voice. The last could use some tweaking like others above suggest. But I applaud telling us so much so concisely!

    For first 250, I was wondering if you might consider starting with "A spaceship." The next line is good and gives us voice instantly. You could add "Jane" to the end of the "get a grip" line and then orient us that she's at the window in next paragraph with some of the imagery you have currently in your first line. Just a thought. Love the coffee line.

    As a copy editor, one nitpick. It's UFOs. No apostrophe.

    Good luck!
    Lori #153

  12. Nice query. You organized a lot of information very well, and it was easy to follow.
    I liked the surprise in the 250. I didn't see it coming!
    ~Just Jill (#139)

  13. Thanks to everyone! Your comments are inspiring me. Amy

  14. Congratulations! You're in!

  15. Spaced Out Gal, you're out of this world! Congrats on moving on.