Sunday, February 12, 2012

Bouncer Post #54

Title: SLEEP
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Word Count: 72,000


Sleep isn’t easy for fifteen-year old Lia Lewiston. Since the night of her parent’s car accident when she was five, she’s dreamed of being chased through the forest by a hunter wielding a ruby-hilted knife. She believes her nightmares are simply leftover trauma – until the hunter who slays her in her sleep shows up at her new school.

Now, Lia doesn’t know what to believe. Every night, he stabs her through the heart, but by day Colson Vane becomes an unexpected friend. Bonded by their foster-children status and mutual disgust for the Gentry, the school’s ruling elite, Lia finds herself turning to Colson—especially when her god-sister Catherine joins the Gentry, and sneers at Lia’s faery-touched oddness. Because Lia has a secret—a secret her parents died to protect—about the seven pixies she inherited at her christening, and the gift of faery sight.

But she’s not the only one with a secret. When Lia is attacked at school by a vicious faery, Colson comes to her rescue. Colson, who shouldn't be able to see the invisible folk. Then her reoccurring nightmare changes, and the terrifying Faery Queen steps out of the woods, revealing another christening gift—a curse kept hidden from Lia, of death on her sixteenth birthday to stop a faery prophecy from coming true. Now Lia must decide if she can trust the boy she has fallen in love with, or fight for her life—at the cost of his—against the hunter cursed to kill her.

SLEEP, a YA urban fantasy retelling of Perrault’s dark Sleeping Beauty tale, is 72,000 words. While intended to be first in a fairy-tale quartet, which includes the stories of Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, and Cinderella, this is a stand alone novel.

First 250:

Black clouds puff from the trees, trailing up like wispy smoke. Fear prickles my palms with sweat, because I know what happens next. He’s coming. Same as he has in a thousand other dreams.

The surrounding trees beckon me with pointy fingers, and a shiver bristles from the base of my spine to my scalp, but I keep my gaze forward. Pretend not to notice their hollowed eyes or their grinning mouths as they reach for me. CAUTION, the crooked road sign ahead warns. I need to run but I’m rooted in the middle of a gravel road.

When I hear it – the crunching of gravel paces ahead – my stomach jumps to my throat.

Crunch. He moves closer.

Crunch. Closer still.


The hunter moves into sight, fingers clenched white around the ruby-encrusted hilt of his knife. My heart screams for me to run, and when my feet pull free of the road, I whip around, pitching forward.

The grinding footsteps behind me signal the chase is on. I fly down the road, and even though I know what happens next, I pray that maybe this time my dream will change.

But the hunter is faster. He grabs my arm. Hooks my leg with his foot and I fall face first. Then he is on me, breath warm on my neck.

“Don’t do this!” I beg as he jerks me onto my back. “Please!”

The hunger in his eyes eats me up.


  1. I think your query is fantastic! Best of luck to you.

  2. Your query left me a little confused (is your MC a faery or human or half and half?) but I loved the opening pages! Good luck.

    1. Thanks, Kimmy! I'll be sure to clarify.

  3. I found the query to be very confusing. I think it needs some focus and rewriting to be more clear what is going on and who has knowledge of the bigger picture. Is Colson aware of his status in her dreams I wonder. Also, the "sneer" at her "faery touched oddness" left we thinking Huh? There is information thrown in but none of it is explained. As for the first 250 the attempted imagery is admirable but a bit over the top and incongruous. I don't think the notion of sweat being prickling makes sense. Same with the hollowed eyes or grinning mouths of the trees. I get what you are oging for but it seems more like a writer trying to turn a literary phrase instead of just concentrating on the visceral danger of the scene. But, probably with some rethinking of the query and a little less attempt at florid language and description this could have the kernel of something interesting in another draft.

    1. Thank you, Happy Dolphin - lots to think about here!

  4. I have been lucky enough to read this book. From the get-go the danger and the romance are gripping. Lia and Colson's chemistry blister the whole way through.

    I admire Happy Dolphin's thorough critique, but I have to say that THIS draft is riveting and has way more than just a kernel of interest. That last line may be over the top after having read only 250 words.

    1. :) Thanks so much for your support!!

  5. I like that you make it clear that the beginning is a dream. It makes the vivid description believable. I like that the dreamer wishes the dream would change.I think the first 250 are great, and the query makes clear why the dream is important.

  6. Here the things I do not like about the query:

    -too many names mentioned. Lia and Colson need to stand out in those two paragraphs.

    -"she’s dreamed of being chased" threw me off because "dreamed of" is usually associated with a lifelong wish. I think it would help to clarify that it's a nightmare.

    -too many words for a query.

    What I liked:

    -the premise sounds like something that would do well right now.

    -how it's revealed that Colson can also see faeries.

    Overall, a successful query is just a revision away. I'd like to see a shorter, more succinct version that really shows the tension in Lia's heart.

    1. Thanks so much for your help! :)

  7. As a huge fan of fairy tale retellings, I was excited to read this--and then so, so glad when I ended up loving it. I actually, at one point, had a flash of wondering why I was even trying to write when this book already existed and was so awesome...

    But seriously, if you like retellings, SLEEP is worth reading. The setting alone makes me want to move there and just kick it with all the secrets and the dangerous fey and the creepy's a dark and lovely story that makes me wish the rest of the books were already written so I could spend more time there.

  8. I actually only skimmed and passed on this one my first time through because the query was so muddled. But I'm glad I took a second look, because the first 250 are great and the premise sounds promising. You're in! Good luck!

    1. Ah!! Thank you, Bouncer Iheartbooks!!!