Sunday, February 10, 2013

Bouncer Post #172

Genre: YA Contemporary
Word Count: 69,000


Sixteen-year-old, Lily O’Brien is a beautiful loner that has been cast out of the popular high school clique.

She tries not to focus on high school drama or her dysfunctional family, but rather on her dream to become a singer. However, when her high school cancels all performing arts programs, including singing, that dream seems beyond reach. With the help of her fired singing teacher and mentor, she sets a plan in motion to win a scholarship to a boarding school that has a nationally rated singing program.

With enough to worry about, the last thing she needs to deal with is a new neighbor, the rich, cocky, and too cute for his own good, Aiden Cohen. Lily is reluctant, but to pacify her grandmother she agrees to be friends with Aiden.

What she doesn’t expect is how genuine and broken he is, and that the Cohen’s are not the epitome of the perfect family they portray. Lily helps Aiden deal with his dark family secret and they give into their mutual attraction. She falls for Aiden, but his reluctance to commit to their relationship and his lies leave her heartbroken.

Heartbroken and trying to nurse her Gram, the matriarch of the O’Brien family, back from a sudden heart attack, Lily puts her dream on hold. When she learns her alcoholic father gambled away the family’s money that was to pay property taxes, Lily does everything in her power to save their home, Seven Oaks Ranch. Normally, entering a Hollywood singing competition would be a dream come true, but not when the fate of Lily’s family home and their legacy all ride on her vocal talents.

First 250:

I have a plan. I will sing my heart out, survive high school, and earn a scholarship to Berkley, where I can sing my heart out some more. Graduate and find a way to make money singing my heart out. Hey, at least I’m consistent. 

Yesterday I found out said plan might blow up. Stressing, I hardly slept. I’m so tired, I’ll need toothpicks to keep my eyes open at school.

It’s not the jostling of the school bus that pulls me out of my zombie like state, but I overhear a few band members confirm what is the worst news of my life. The School Board canceled our drama and singing programs, but kept the band program.

I get off the bus a shell-shocked. I need this confirmed and head towards Mr. Lancalotti’s office or as we call him Mr. L. He’s not only my singing teacher, but I consider him my mentor.

Peeking through his office window, the first thing I notice are boxes. He’s packing. Crap, not a good sign. I take a deep breath and knock lightly.

“Come in.”

His face softens when he sees it’s me and motions me in.

“Good morning, Lily.” His tone is tentative.

“Good morning… uh, I overheard some stuff on the bus, not good stuff, about our program, and I wanted to know if you could confirm it for me.” My stomach twists.

He swallows and can’t look me in the eye. “Yes, I’m afraid what you heard is true.”


  1. I have a soft spot for singers. The Hollywood singing contest sounds really fun. Query - my only note would be to add your true conflict to the opening. Right now, after the first sentence, I think this is a story about a girl being ousted from her clique. But then I see the conflict with the singing program being cancelled leading down towards the contest later. So, I would state in your first sentence she dreams of being a singer but her program is being cut. Just my opinion.
    First 250: I would combine the first and second sentence for more of a punch. I love the toothpicks to keep her eyes open.
    Best of luck. Amy (#168)

  2. I agree with spaced out gal. I also wanted to add that my day job is in the performing arts and instead of "singing" we say "voice", as in a "voice instructor/coach" or you could also say "vocal" as in "vocal competition".

    Thank you for your well wishes on my entry! Good luck to you as well!

  3. I also agree with Spaced Out Gal in the sense that your query letter is way too much info. The idea is to get the agent to read your pages, so you don't have to tell them everything in the query. You've got to pick one line and stick with it. I think it's strong enough leading with she wants to make her dreams come true, but then realizes she "has to" make her dreams come true to save her family. Great first 250 words, though! Good luck!

  4. Query gives a lot of info. Bit like a synopsis. Like to 250 words too.

  5. I think you've got a unique premise, but I'll voice my agreement w/ what the other commenters have said about your query being too long. The focus should be on the guy and the competiton to win her ranch back.

    I love the voice in your first 250, especially the first paragraph. Only one suggestion in the 2nd paragraph, I was pulled out of the story with the word "Stressing." I don't think you need it. The previous sentence confirms her anxiety, and then you can jump straight to saying...I hardly slept. Great line about the toothpicks!

    -Good luck from Entry #152

  6. Thanks for the feedback everyone. I really appreciate it. I've struggled with the query process and one of the reasons I entered this contest was to get advice.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!