Monday, January 21, 2013

Bouncer Post #46

Genre: MG Fantasy
Word Count: 89,000


Thirteen-year-old Parker Ward never believed his little sister's stories about monsters, until he was mistaken for one. After his sister dies, Parker hops on the wrong bus and—like going from the black-and-white world to the Technicolor Land of Oz—finds himself at Underlake Academy. The school is a quirky, supernatural refuge from his grief, but unlike his classmates, his body parts don’t grow back. How is a hemophobic human boy expected to be a convincing vampire if he is to survive?

Parker adapts to this new world where valkyries blow things up for fun, Cupid’s arrows have real barbs, and the school’s favorite sport has rules against unnecessary decapitation. Just as he starts to fit in, his dead sister begins to haunt him, warning him of an ancient evil threatening Underlake, determined to destroy the supernatural. Parker must choose between sacrificing himself or once again being the only survivor among all he has grown to care about.

First 250:

The shadow slid under the door and across the Berber carpet. That was where it usually appeared. Sometimes it drifted from behind the lamp, or snuck in through the window, but only on occasion.

The bedroom door whipped open. Her tiny feet scurried across the carpet and the shadow returned as her companion. A sniffling nose, a quick tug of covers, a soft plea.

There would be no sleep for Parker Ward tonight. Bonny was running from monsters.

“They’re not real.” Parker stroked his little sister’s hair as she curled up beside him.

She answered with tears. They dripped onto his arm, where she’d laid her head.

Parker wiped her cheeks with the soft edge of his blanket. “Let’s go look under your bed.”

She burrowed closer to him. They weren’t going anywhere.

Her nightmares began a few years ago, around the time he’d seen the first bruise. Welts on her arms and legs, deep scratches on her shoulder—she’d never tell who was hurting her. So he kept a spare blanket draped over his footboard—the one thing he could do for her.

He tucked her head under his chin. Another moment of looking into her teary eyes would break him. He would have taken her place.

Bonny seemed perfectly fine during the day. Perfectly fine, not perfectly normal. Unusual, eccentric, one cookie short of a full box—all reasonable descriptions for his little sister, especially when she wasn’t running from monsters. Parker never understood how anyone could be scared of things that didn’t exist.


  1. I think your opening line to your query letter is spot on! I just felt as if the rest was a bit jumpy. How does the sister die and why does your MC happen to hop on the wrong bus? And is there a reason behind him ending up at this school, or is it all in the hands of fate?

    Also is he just finding out that he's a vampire? If so you can even change the first paragraph to read something like "Parker ward never believed his sisters stories about monsters, until he found out he was a vampire."

    Think about his stakes, what is he risking, and why does he have to sacrifice himself? And a survivor to what? I guess the query is just making me ask more questions. Better to be blunt with the facts, as its just a bit vague right now.

    As for your first 250 - I'm liking them. I like how the story starts out and I love the brother sister relationship already, but I'm already feeling bad that she's going to end up dying (since I know in the query lol).

    I would say work on your query a bit, tighten it up and give us a bit more information and raise the stakes. Other than that, you're on your way!

    Good luck!!

  2. I think what she's saying is that he's mistaken for a vampire, so he isn't one, right? Love the first 250!

  3. Bingo! He's 100% human and isn't supposed to be at Underlake. Thanks for the feedback!

    1. Well that changes everything! That's probably just me having a brain fart :)

  4. No worries Copernicus! You gave me some great feedback. Thanks again.

  5. I just loved the opening line of this query. Totally unexpected and makes me want to read on. The rest does not disappoint. It may have vamps, but I think this is done in a way that it could work. Also this is obviously not PNR and that seems to be where most of the oversaturation with vampires is.

    It sounds like some previous commentors tripped over some things in your query, but personally I thought it was stellar (there's subjectivity for you, the sneaky little beast!)! It is a little short, but I feel as though you get to the heart of the story quickly so I don't think that's an issue. That said, you might be well advised to add a brief line between the last two lines of the query that clarifies why he has to be the one to make that sacrifice. I'm assuming it has something to do with him being the only human at Underlake, but it's best to make that clear :)

    I was a little nervous at first when reading the 250 because your total word count is high for middle grade. However, the writing in the first page doesn't feel bloated by any means, in fact, it's clear and lovely and has a great voice to it. As long as every word counts throughout, a high word count can be gotten away with (though, I will say, you may want to check for extraneous plot threads or scenes that could be combined, etc to see if you can at least get it under 80K. It may be a turn off to some).

    I really enjoyed the creepiness with a sense of impending stakes, plus how you show the relationship between Parker and his sister and how he wants to take care of her. I’d keep reading.

    Anyway, great job and YOU'RE IN! :D

  6. Bouncer Starfruit,

    Thank you for the opportunity and the wonderful feedback!

    I know my WC is a little on the high side. I've had multiple people go through it and hired an editor to get it down to 89K. Hopefully some agents will look past the WC to see what's inside :)

    Thanks again,