Wednesday, September 12, 2012

CAGI Entry #100

Genre: YA Contemp
Word Count: 92,000


Yesterday, Bix was Simon Rook.

Today he's Bixby Darwin.

Yesterday, Bix was avoiding the get-to-know-my-son lunch his mother
insisted on having with her current boyfriend, Omar.

Today, Omar is blown up along with his shop.

Yesterday, Bix suspected Omar was a terrorist.

Today, Bix learns his absentee father is an assassin.

Now, he’s a little concerned about what tomorrow will bring.

In my novel, Son Of A (Hired) Gun, 16-year-old Bixby Darwin’s life is thrown into a state of flux when Witness Protection relocates him
to small town with big secrets. Secrets that could get him 
or someone close to him killed.

First 250:

 I have imaginary conversations with my dad.

 Some people call it blogging. But seeing as he abandoned us when I was still incubating, it’s the one way I have to tell him about my day, my thoughts, my life. I imagine that he stumbles across my blog, Simon Says, and realizes that this Simon—this short but witty sixteen-year-old—is the son he left without a trace.

 I like to think he regrets this loss. I like to think —

 “Simon,” Mom calls down the hall to me. “If you make us any later I’ll—.”

 “I’m ready.” Heading her off, I save my latest blog.

You’d think we were having lunch with someone more important than her latest boyfriend. Now that she’s reached the critical get-to-know-my-son juncture in this relationship, she’s a little on edge. Or ready to jump off one.

I take out my phone and tweet. @Simonsays: Lunch at Melting Pot with Omar. Rather stay home than break bread (and dip it) with Mom’s florist/terrorist boyfriend.

Jury’s still out on whether Omar is actually a terrorist but it does make good blogging and tweeting. It’s not like anyone takes me seriously anyway. That’s kind of the problem when you’re sixteen and look like you’re twelve.

 “Simon?” Mom’s yell borders on hysteria. “You’ve got to stop calling him a terrorist.”

 “I can’t help it if I think he’s a terrorist.” Although last week, after I heard him talking Russian, I was pretty sure he was KGB.


  1. I've seen this before. Loved it then--love it still. Seriously, nothing to critique! LOVE!

  2. This is great. Love the query.

    Two really nitpicky things in the excerpt (that I don't think will stop anyone from loving your work, but stood out to me): You say latest twice and pretty close together and you tell us Simon is 16 twice. Like I said, nitpicky.

    Good luck! This is the kind of voice I really enjoy reading.

    1. OMGosh, thank-you, I totally missed those. Definitely going to be making a tweak or two.

  3. I like this, but I wasn't quite sold on the query. I actually found it kind of vague and, though I admire the structure, I triped over a few parts. Perhaps consider, instead of separating them into three, arranging your early paras into single before and after. It's certainly a compelling premise, though. Well done.

  4. Okay. Let me just start by saying that I LOVE the first 150. Simon has an awesome voice that made me laugh. If I picked up this book, I'd definitely keep reading, based on that alone.

    That being said, I do have a few comments about the query. This line felt just a tiny bit confusing:

    Yesterday, Bix was avoiding the get-to-know-my-son lunch his mother
insisted on having with her current boyfriend, Omar.

    First I thought Omar was getting to know his new son and that's what it meant. I might have just been being a moron, but it read oddly to me. I had to read it twice. It felt like it might be a little clearer to just say:

    Yesterday, Bix was avoiding the "get-to-know-each-other" lunch his mother insisted he have with her latest boyfriend, Omar.

    And then this: Yesterday, Bix suspected Omar was a terrorist.

    Today, Bix learns his absentee father is an assassin.

    The jump from Omar to his absentee father was a little confusing, especially since his absentee father is an assassin, which automatically makes me think his father blew up Omar-the-possible terrorist. It almost felt like both sentences should be about the father. Maybe something like:

    Yesterday Bix could daydream that his absentee father was someone he could look up to.
    Today he learned his father's a terrorist.

    Obviously not exactly that-but I just wanted to give an example of what I meant. I'm not sure if you have to get in the Omar being a terrorist into the query (since I don't know the story) so maybe that's a crappy suggestion. It just felt like pairing Omar up with his absentee father in those two sentences could lead to some confusion.

    Also, in the last part, "state of flux" doesn't seem to have enough punch. I don't know. Maybe thrown into chaos? Or something along those lines?

    I do really like the formatting of the query though. The repeated jump from yesterday to today seems like an awesome idea that should help your query stand out in a crowd. I think you did a really good job on this. Good luck!

    1. Tamara, thanks so much. Love those suggestions! My mind started spinning when I read them.

  5. I LOVE this! My sister and I both read it and decided it was something we would read. Simon's voice is so much fun and we laughed quite a few times!

    If I am being SUPER nit-picky, I would say the convo between Simon and his mom seems a bit stiff. On the other hand, that could work because Simon and his mom obviously don't get along. I would just be sure none of your other dialouge is stiff.

    Great work! Your query is odd, but I think it works, at least personally for me. I would definately love to read more.

    Best of Luck!
    Jessica #96

  6. Awesome job! I love the voice. No. I ADORE it. It's super fun and it made me laugh a few times. That's great :)

    Now- when it comes to the query, it was a bit confusing. It seemed to switch from Omar to Simon's father a lot, and I had to read it a few times for it to make sense. Just make it super clear as to what's going on- you don't want agents to have to wonder about it. If they have to read it more than once, they might move on! And this voice is too fun for an agent to miss it!

    I'd maybe bring in the witness protection thing a lot sooner. If that's the meat of the story, bring it forward!

    LOVE this. Good job!

    1. Thank you, Lindsey! You had me at adore :)

      I think the changes I'll make based on Tamara's post might clear up the query confusion. And you're right, the witness protection is the "story" so, I'll work on getting that up there.

  7. I love this - your voice is so fantastic. You had me from this line: "But seeing as he abandoned us when I was still incubating..." Just the use of the word "incubating" shows so much of your character's personality. Awesome job!!

  8. I love this, love your voice. You got me with the first line, when the melancholy slipped right through the smart-ass!

  9. I love this story. Bix's voice shines right through.

  10. I like this story. Your voice is great, too.


  11. LOL. Such snappy dialog. Sounds just like a teen.

    Kitty DuCane

  12. This is SO good! I've had the pleasure of reading the whole thing and it is a total page turner all the way through. I LOVE Bix!! I've got my pom-poms ready. I can't wait to buy my own copy!! Rah! Rah!

  13. Thanks to everyone for the cheers and support. I so appreciate it!

  14. Fabulous! The voice is fun with a hint of sadness. Love the dialog and Bix's internalizations. GOOD LUCK!!!

  15. Ok, when I saw this didn't make it I wanted to rush over here and say, it was one opinion. I love this and can't fathom why this isn't top 40. Don't get too down, I have complete faith in this story!

  16. Amber--that is about the sweetest thing anyone's ever done for me in a contest :) Well, you know, besides selecting me as a winner. Thank you so much. Did you have an entry?

    Thanks so much--you made my day :)

  17. I also can't understand it - I loooved this one. Re-reading it just reaffirmed that! Must have been too many good ones in your batch!

  18. Margie,

    Mine was entry #1. I also didn't make it, but when I saw 100 wasn't on there I knew it was just subjectivity. I would have picked this hands down!!! Please keep entering contest... I'm sure there's a spot for this in the market ;)