Sunday, February 5, 2012

Bouncer Post #18

Genre: YA fantasy
Word Count: 54,000


Mamo dreads becoming chief of the island on his eighteenth birthday. It’s bad enough his people can’t speak to him, touch him, or look him in the eye, but now he will have to marry someone he’s never met and wear that pretentious feather cape. His father certainly doesn’t sympathize. He revels in the cold and loveless life of a chief. Mamo’s only solace is his secret ability to transform into a rare and exotic bird, giving him a sense of the freedom he longs to have.

At a chance meeting with sixteen-year-old Kila, all he yearns for crashes into him like a welcome ocean wave. Her loose tongue, forward personality, and brazen stares give him such a thrill, it rivals the sensation of flight itself. Even her simple touch provides a comfort Mamo hadn’t realized he needed. Best of all, she doesn’t know he is the son of the chief, her ignorance a gift from the gods themselves.

As their relationship grows, Mamo must decide between his inherited responsibility and the girl he is falling in love with. When rumors of warring islands reach their shores, the people anxiously await the guidance of their new young ruler. The choice should be simple, especially when Kila’s father arranges her marriage to another. But Mamo soon learns with a girl like Kila, nothing is simple.

First 250:

Kila stepped into the breaking surf, letting the saltwater of the Pacific dampen the hem of her kapa skirt. A wind from the south pinned the bark cloth to her legs and sent her long black hair into a frenzy about her face. She closed her eyes and raised her arms, willing the wind to carry her away from the island.

“Kila, where are you?” her father, Wana’ao, shouted from the taro fields in the distance.

She smiled and ran to the grassy bank beyond the sand, pausing at the open-air hut where the family’s wa’a sat on stilts off the ground. As always, the wooden engravings along the side of the canoe transported her imagination to another time. The carvings weaved together the story of the ancient chief Akua. She traced the weathered shapes of his many forms: a shark, a sea turtle and a goose stirred beneath her fingertips. Kila longed for such a transformation. Akua’s tale spoke of adventure and freedom. She withdrew her hand and brushed it against her hip, wiping away the temptation with a sigh.

“Kila, hele mai!” Her father’s shout was closer now.

She jumped into the canoe, cringing as it groaned against the stilts. Lying as flat as a banana leaf, Kila tried to silence her breathing so as to not give herself away. When the only sound she heard was the lapping of waves on the sand, she grinned in triumph.

Aue,” her father said leaning over her. “Nice try, but you are not five anymore.”


  1. I love this excerpt. Love it. The rich feeling of culture feels unique among entries, and I was completely sucked into the setting in 250 words (and it had me wishing I was on an island beach). It could be seen as a little heavy on the description, but it didn't feel that way to me. Again, I really enjoyed this. The last line left me smiling.

  2. This query sounds great. I'd love to read this. Good luck!

  3. I had no problem grasping the imagery of your 250. I would read on. Well done!

  4. This one stands out. It has that "something different" quality to it that agents are always looking for. "You're in!"

  5. This has gorgeous imagery, and a wonderful premise to boot. Congrats! :)

  6. I feel immediately transported into your world. It does have that "something different, something special" quality. I love this entry!!

  7. Love the entry :) Just a head's up though. It's spelled Auwe not Aue :)

  8. I wonder if the query needs to focus more on one or the other characters. The query is all about the boy (almost) or from his POV then he is absent from the sample and it is all about the girl. The sample is good - no question - but I wonder if the query needs rethinking to avoid confusion - or, at least, a diffusion of attention for an initial agent contact.

  9. Thanks everyone! I am so excited for some agent exposure. And many thanks to the Bouncers and Cupid for their time and service.

    Anonymous-actually, you can use either aue or auwe (in Hawaiian at least - most other Polynesian languages just use aue), but both versions should have a kahako on the e and alas, I don't know how to type that on my keyboard. :)

    Owl-The novel flip flops between viewpoints of Kila and Mamo, but for the sake of simplicity I stuck with just Mamo for the query. Idk, we'll see how it goes.

  10. This sounds like way awesome! Congrats and good luck in the next round! Crossing all appendages for you :)

  11. LOVE THIS! It's definitely something special. I was smiling all the way through.

    I see owl's point, in that I expected it to be in Mamo's POV and was a little surprised to hear from Kila. You could just mention in your closing that you alternate POVs. But the query is really good, your first 250 back it up, so I wouldn't mess with it.