Wednesday, September 5, 2012

CAGI Entry #28

Genre: YA Paranormal
Word Count: 54,000


Sixteen-year-old Gypsy Rawnie Stevens spent months fantasizing about her first kiss with Seth Carlson, but the second their lips touch she has a vision of his future murder. 
With her mom MIA on the carnival circuit and her grandmother unwilling to mention the word gypsy, Rawnie seeks help from her BFF to research some answers. Armed with an endless supply of sweet tea and mad skills that could make Bill Gates blush, Jenny is the only person in their ultra-conservative southern town that believes in the Stevens family craft.  
While the premonitions continue, Rawnie is stunned when someone actually sees her in one. After tracking down the life-long carny Bode in real life, he leaves her with more questions than answers. Not sure if it’s a result of his elusive lifestyle or if he’s truly keeping secrets from her Rawnie can’t bring herself to trust him, but he’s the only one with any insight into the gypsy culture and her gift.
Determined to stop her boyfriend’s murder by finding out when it will happen and who’s behind it, Rawnie continues to dig up her family’s past. When she learns that Seth is only a pawn and she’s the real target, she must find a way to save them both without exposing her secret-the one thing the killer hopes to find.
First 250:
Most normal sixteen-year-old girls didn’t see their boyfriend’s murder during their first kiss.  Unfortunately after locking lips with Seth Carlson, I realized that normal just wasn’t in the cards for me.
After nearly a month of “hanging out,” the perfect ending to our first official date as a couple inched so close I could smell the cherry on his breath from his swizzle stick.  Cyndi Lauper squealed in the background about girls wanting their fun while my heart thumped in unison with the pulsing screams of the Tilt-A-Whirl spinning behind us.   Seth’s fingers grazed the back of my neck sending rows of goose bumps racing down my arms.  I wanted to touch him, but an invisible layer of super glue pinned my hands to my thighs. 

He tilted his head slightly causing strands of sandy brown hair to swoop across his forehead.  My cheeks burned as his eyes studied every inch of my face before zeroing in on my mouth.  I stopped breathing when his arms slipped around my waist locking our bodies together.  

What if I was a terrible kisser?  Attempting to fight off the fear I decided to go for it.  I threw my arms around his neck to hold on for dear life.  Sadly, when I dove forward I managed to plant my lips directly on his neck, missing his mouth by at least six inches. Forget the passionate Scarlett O’Hara-Rhett Butler moment I fantasized about, the still-frame of my first kiss belonged in the dictionary under the word choke. 


  1. I like the opening lines of your 250 - nice work! You've got some great imagery, but I do think you could tighten up in a few parts e.g.

    If you dropped: 'on his breath from his swizzle stick'; 'about girls wanting their fun', maybe the pulsing screams of the Tilt-A-Whirl spinning behind us.' It might flow a little better - they're good, don't get me wrong, I just think less might be more.

  2. I love the idea of a gypsy girl and her name is really cool. The first 250 words were super cute and definitely drew me into the story. However, I found parts of the query to be a little confusing. Mainly:

    While the premonitions continue, Rawnie is stunned when someone actually sees her in one. After tracking down the life-long carny Bode in real life, he leaves her with more questions than answers. Not sure if it’s a result of his elusive lifestyle or if he’s truly keeping secrets from her Rawnie can’t bring herself to trust him, but he’s the only one with any insight into the gypsy culture and her gift.

    Do you mean Bode sees her in a premonition? How does she know? Does he track her down and tell her or do they already know each other? Is he a family friend or another carny who knows her mom? I think this paragraph needs to be a bit clearer.

    Also, I re-read the query and, to me, it works just as well without this paragraph. It seems clearer to just leave it as she's researching how to stop this murder she saw and then she finds out she's the target etc...I love the way the query wraps up a lot.

    Good luck with this!! I'm number 29. If you'd take a look at mine, I'd really appreciate it. It seems that the further down in numbers you go, the harder it is to get comments, so us lower numbers have to look out for each-other :) Thanks!!

  3. P.S. If you decide to put the Bode part in,I think it would also be helpful to touch on exactly what his premonition of her was. :)

  4. Thanks so much for the comments ladies. @Jess-You are so amazing for commenting on all the entries. And they are all so thoughtful. So a huge thank you.

    @Tamara-I've gone back and forth about dropping the Bode part. I think he was out in the original. He's such an important character, but so complex I have a hard time keeping is simple. Maybe it would be best to cut it all together. I definitely don't want to confuse the query. Thanks! And I commented on your entry. :)

  5. I love your premise and I've always had a thing for gypsies so I would definitely want to read more just based on that alone!

    I agree with some of the comments above, that your query can be tightened up a little. If you squeeze just the most important things out of it and leave out the rest, I think it will definitely be stronger.

    I love some of the details, i.e. the swizzle stick and the tilt-o-whirl, etc.

    Great job and good luck!

    Mine is entry number 43 if you want to take a look. :)

  6. Hey meredith :)

    Let me start with how much I like this! Here's my suggestions :) I'd mention the BFF's name right off. Having BFF and Jenny in 2 seperate sentences made me have to go back and reread to make sure I had all the names straight. I'd also cut the 3rd paragraph... It confused me a bit, but without it this query is great!!

    On the 250--I'd cut the first 2 sentences since they're a prelude and jump right into the story, just make sure to mention his name instead of "he" in the second paragrph if you cut the intro :)

    Towards the end you have a sentence that starts with "Sadly". I'd stear clear of this b/c it tells us ahead of time that something bad is going to happen. We don't want to know ahead of time, we want to know when it happens, just like Rawnie does. (This rule should apply to either tense--past or present) and in the last sentence, I'd put a period after "about" and make it into 2 sentences IMO :)

    I really like the premise and would read on. Good luck!!!

  7. Query:
    “mention the word gypsy” maybe “mention their heritage”? Though “mad skills…blush” has a nice voice, what does it mean? That she can start a software company? Also, why would her being good at whatever make Bill Gates blush…wouldn’t it make him jealous? “town that believes” should be “town who believes” (since it’s talking about a person). “craft” is a weird way to describe their gift.
    “While the…in one” is awkward. Part of this is the passiveness, part is that I’m not sure if Rawnie is seen while having a vision or in the vision. Then, who/what is a “life-long carny Bode”? I have no idea what that phrase means. “more questions than answers” is vague. What exactly does she want to know? What’s motivated her? We’re on the third paragraph, and we don’t know what the conflict is. I’ve almost forgotten about the “future” murder” because it’s been so long with such unrelated things. Last sentence of 3rd paragraph is awkward.
    “Determined to…behind it” can be cut a lot, all the way down to “Determined to stop her boyfriend’s murder, Rawnie searches her family’s past for clues about when it will happen” BUT that still doesn’t answer why she thinks her family’s past will solve the mystery. Lastly, the last sentence is too vague…it hints at something cool, and if it’s so cool, why isn’t it a hook? Use your cool elements to hook the agent, don’t just tell us you have something cool: show it :)
    So the main problem I’m having here is that your first couple paragraphs are in summary—you’re summarizing what’s happening, not letting us experience it. And it’s not because you’re starting the MS in another spot, because the third paragraph gives us the action as its happening. Keep us in the moment don’t use retrospection right from the start, and then launch into a summation of the past month.
    Love the awareness of the third paragraph, but watch out for commas. There are a couple that are necessary (after slightly and after waist) that are missing.
    In the last paragraph, I want less narration (“Attempting…go for it” sounds like she’s retelling this to her friends, not actually living the moment) and more story. The next few sentences sound way too dramatic. Phrases like “for dear life” and “dove forward” make her seem desperate. Nice last sentence :)

  8. Meredith. I kind of agree with beginning the story with the third paragraph. In fact, I think your first paragraph or a slightly altered version would make a great logline.

    Good luck! Still waiting ;)