Wednesday, September 12, 2012

CAGI Entry #53

Genre: YA Contemporary Fantasy
Word Count: 60,000


Written off as "crazy" after witnessing her parents' abduction when she was four, Avery Carmichael bounces from foster home to foster home. Worse than that, no one believes her side of the story. The police insist her parents weren’t taken—they were murdered. And now, thirteen years later, her dreams are coming to life. 

But no one listens to her—except Mason Greer. 

He knows Avery is a Dreamer—a person with the ability to bring their dreams to life. He also knows what really happened to her parents. She was right, they weren’t killed; they were kidnapped by a sinister group called the Dream Catchers. These people will do anything to get their hands on a Dreamer—especially one as powerful as Avery will become—and harness her power for evil.

Now Avery must fight her fear of trusting others because Mason is the only link to her past. He’s the only one who can help prove what she’s known all along. And he’s the only one who can help her escape the Dream Catchers. Because if they fail and Avery falls victim to the Dream Catchers, they could use her dreams to change the world into a living nightmare.

First 250:

Despite my attempt to block it, his fist connects with the left side of my rib cage, forcing me down onto my back. He appears above me, eyes tight, lips pulled into a thin line. His gaze searches my face, judging me. Waiting to see what I’ll do next.

"Again," I say through clenched teeth as I pick myself up off the ground. My clothes are caked in mud, soaked through to my skin from melting snow. He’s knocked me on my ass today more times than I care to count. Or admit. The majority of the time I put up a better fight.

"The problem is son," Dad says, crouching into a fighting stance, "you're thinking too much. You’ve got to relax. Your life, as well as the Dreamers, depends solely on you."

"Easier said than done,” I say. He’s not the one being shipped south. He’s not the one risking his life.

Dad shifts his stance, his body language telling me to charge. I run at him as fast as my bruised legs will allow. But he dodges my attack and it’s not long before he hits me. Hard. My body slams into the ground forcing air from my lungs. I lay down on the cool earth until I can breathe again. At least he doesn't squash me. Yet.

"You know what to do, most days. You’ll be fine if you keep your head in the game. Just don’t forget the sunscreen.” His laugh echoes across the empty practice field.


  1. The 250 totally threw me, because I wasn't expecting a male character. I was expecting the MC described in the query. I like the sameple, don't get me wrong (well, perhaps it could be cut back a little, as you could probably show what you're trying to show in a shorter space) but I'm guessing this is Mason. Maybe focus more on him the query?

  2. Hi, 53! I’m crazy in love with this concept! Avery sounds interesting and Mason is sexy as hell. But it confuses me that you list the genre as Contemporary Fantasy. Are you sure you don’t want to call it Urban Fantasy? Though I understand what you mean, to me, contemporary and fantasy are conflicting terms.

    You have a lovely query, but the last sentence of the first paragraph doesn’t quite make sense. How are Avery’s dreams coming to life? You need to add something about the dreams to make the connection between her past and her dreams.
    Also, for a YA query, you should include Avery’s age.
    Bring “their dreams to life” sounds like she can exclusively bring her own dreams and Mason’s dreams to life. I would cut “their” unless that’s your intention.
    I have a little issue with the following: “especially one as powerful as Avery will become.” How do we know Avery will become powerful? Is she destined or prophesied to do so? Some rephrasing would make it clearer and less awkward (something like, “especially one as powerful as Avery is destined to become.”)
    The “fear of trusting others” comes out of nowhere. If it’s important to your story, I’d mention it before this point is the query; but this fear detail seems unnecessary. The stakes are high already with the missing parents, the links to Avery’s past, and the possibility of these Dream Catchers capturing her.

    My best guess is that this story is shifting POV. It’s a little jarring that the query focuses on Avery and the first 250 focuses on Mason. You’ve got some options here: 1. Rewrite your query with more of a focus on Mason; 2. Restructure your story so Avery’s POV comes in first; or 3. Leave it as is and put a “Mason” heading above the 250. That would be the easiest, but possibly not the best option.
    Additionally, the first sentence could be stronger. Opening with a dependent clause is tricky because the reader doesn’t know what it modifies yet. When it comes to the first sentence of your manuscript—the most important sentence—I would avoid it. Reordering would strengthen the prose.
    The following feels a little like head hopping: “His gaze searches my face, judging me. Waiting to see what I’ll do next.” If you make it clear Mason knows what his father is thinking, then it could work nicely.
    “Easier said than done” is a little cliché. Mason needs to respond in a Mason-like way that will begin the development of his character.

    Lots of luck to you! If you have questions, ask below in the comments or find me on Twitter (@novelista85). -Jessica