Monday, January 21, 2013

Bouncer Post #60

Genre: MG Contemporary
Word Count: 50,000


Twelve-year-old Chloe Demirjian-Carter dreams of waving to the crowd from center ice, gold medal around her neck and bouquet of roses in her arms. She follows the perfect practice schedule, eats the perfect athlete's diet, and perfectly follows her coach's instructions. She even skates the perfect program. But when the judges award her less-than-perfect scores, Chloe lets them know exactly what she thinks – in not-so-perfect words.

Kind of a huge mistake.

Dumped by her coach and kicked out of her prestigious training rink, Chloe finds out that no one wants a skater with a big mouth – no one except the misfit Fallton Figure Skating Club. But joining Fallton may be the second-biggest mistake she's ever made. “Fall Down” is where skaters' careers go to die. Chloe's not ready to give up yet, and neither are her new teammates. They're more than ready for a comeback. Chloe has to find a way to change the judges' minds about Fallton or she can forget about winning Regionals. There's just one little problem.

She's not as brave as everyone thinks she is.

Complete at 50,000 words, DON'T FALL DOWN is a middle grade novel pitched as the movie STICK IT meets Kate Messner's SUGAR AND ICE. The manuscript won an honorable mention in the 2012 SCBWI Midsouth Fiction Contest. I am a member of SCBWI, and I have several years of experience in competitive figure skating.

First 250:

I have my fingers crossed for a gold medal.

Not where everyone can see them, of course, but hidden in the sleeve of my maroon and white Ridgeline Figure Skating Club jacket. If I win this competition, it'll show the judges I'm the skater to beat at Regionals in October.

My stomach rumbles. It's almost three o'clock, and the last thing I ate before I performed was a bowl of Toasted Oats early this morning. The concession stand popcorn smells like something gourmet. I try to ignore it and stand on the tiptoes of my plastic blade guards to look for my friend Ellery. I can't spot her in the sea of girls in sparkling dresses crowding the hallway.

“Aren't you cold, Chloe?” Mom pulls her wool coat tighter around her.

I shake my head. I'm rolling back and forth on my blade guards. Heel. Toe. Heel. Toe. Mom and Dad got me the guards that light up for my twelfth birthday. Every time I move, the lights blink and reflect off my coach's shiny black boots.

Mom checks the time on her phone. “Where are the results?”

Like magic, a competition volunteer threads her way through the anxious crowd in the hallway and tacks the results to the bulletin board. Everyone swarms forward. The volunteer has to elbow her way to safety.

A tingling feeling shoots through my body. This is it.


  1. Love this! The bio details in your query show you're the perfect person to write this.

    I can't think of anything I'd change.

    Best of luck!

  2. I adore this!! I love the STICK IT meets FIRE AND ICE comps.

    Your query is pretty tight in my opinion and your 250 are too.

    Love that first line.

    Yay!! Good Luck!

  3. I love the idea of your MC picking herself up and trying again to get her dream (very realistic). I would love to see a line in the query where it specifically says how Chloe is going to change. Overall, it looks like you have some strong writing here. Good luck!

  4. There are several things I love and ice skating is one of them. I love the concept of your query and I'm sure Chloe is a MC I'm going to love.

    I love your voice and your writing it concise and tight. I would read on for sure!!

    It looks like you've pretty much got a great start and I don't see anything you need to change. Good work and good luck.
    Thanks for your comments on my entry!

  5. Lucky CP weighing in here to say that I've read this manuscript and it's every bit as adorable and fun throughout as here on the opening page! Love, love, love!!!!!

  6. This query and 250 are so full of voice I want to hang out with Chloe already. And the insecurity/vulnerability in this one sentence, "She's not as brave as everyone thinks she is," makes me want to root for her already. Such great stuff! :)

  7. Nice work on both your query and first 250! The voice is there and you certainly have the expertise to write about figure skating.

    Chloe is definitely the kind of MC I'd want to hang around for an entire book. Your query captivated me with the line, "Chloe lets them know exactly what she thinks – in not-so-perfect words." What a great scene to look forward to!

  8. Your query letter is excellent—it spells out the plot concisely without giving away the ending, and it has nice middle-grade voice. If you want to condense it even further, I think you could combine the second and third sentences (dropping “and perfectly follows her coach's instructions” and replacing it with “and even skates the perfect program”), but really, it’s solid as it is.

    Your first page is really strong, too—we’re right in the thick of an exciting moment for the MC, and the writing is very smooth. My only concern is that this story may not have a big enough hook to stand out in today’s market…but your writing is so solid that I’m going to put you through to the next round anyway and give you a chance to prove me wrong on that count. =)

    YOU’RE IN! Congratulations.