Monday, January 28, 2013

Bouncer Post #86

Genre: YA Speculative Fiction
Word Count: 80,000


Trapped in an dark cult, sixteen-year-old Naomi Aren has lived a
quiet, albeit unhappy, life nestled deep in the hills of the Ozarks.
With uncut hair, denim skirts, and only roses for friends, Naomi
seldom questions why her life is different from other kids at school.
Until the day her abusive father, who is also the cult’s leader,
announces her wedding. Naomi must marry Dwayne Yerdin, a bully who
reeks of sweat and manure and is the only one person who scares her
worse than her father.

Then she meets Kai, the mysterious boy who brings her exotic new roses
and stolen midnight kisses. Kisses that bring her a supernatural
strength she never knew she had.  As the big day approaches, Naomi
unearths more secrets of about her father’s cult. She learns she has
power of her own and while Kai may have awakened that power, Naomi
must find a way to use it to escape Dwayne and her father—without
destroying herself.

First 250:

The sink looked odd next to our front door.  My mother had it
installed after I kept tracking in dirt and fertilizer.  I washed the
soil off my hands with the warm water and used a file to clear the
dirt out from under my nails.  Then I exchanged one dirty pair of ugly
tennis shoes for a pair of clean ugly tennis shoes and made my way
into the kitchen.

Paint on the cabinets peeled away in white curls.  A single light bulb
gave enough light to cook but not enough to read a recipe.  My mother
stood by the tiny window, her bottle blonde hair twisted in a bun on
the back of her head. She wiped her hands on her apron, then smoothed
a stray hair from my braid.  I knelt down to tie my shoes, anything
to avoid her touch. Physical touch burned, even something as little as
a finger brushing my forehead.

“Wash your face.  We have guests for dinner.”  My stomach knotted.  I
tied and untied my shoes three times, wondering how to respond.  Years
ago my father had closed our home to visitors. No one crossed our
threshold.  And I was allowed to leave only to go to school and to
church. Well, if you want to call it that.  I’ve watched movies in
school and I went to the Baptist church until I was eight and our new
church, Crusaders of God, was a bigger shock than no more pants.


  1. This sounds amazeballs!!

    your query is tight and the first 250 are as well!


    Good Luck!!!

  2. Kim, you have a lot of really lovely details in here...I particularly liked the white curls of paint--I could really see them.

    I do feel like your query ought to say more about what Naomi's new, mysterious supernatural strength is. Do you mean literally that she becomes physically strong? If so, give us an idea of how strong. Or, if it's something else (telekinesis, mind control or whatever), we'd need to know that.

    Not sure if anyone else agrees, but maybe a hint more specificity in the last graph of the query, in general? I'd love to know what more I can expect other than the romance and push-back against the creepy father/groom. And ideally a hint about physical touch causing pain, since it's important enough to come in the very first 250 words.

    If you want a comp for your query, I suggest Struck by Jennifer Bosworth. Good luck! --Robyn #101

  3. I am very intrigued about why physical touch burned, and I have the same questions as the previous commenter, Robyn had, about the depth of her "power" and how it's really going to help her overcome her obstacle. I am fascinated about your subject area (cults) and I would keep reading if I had more, to see where it goes.

    Virginia #91

  4. I think Robyn gave some really great advice.

    Like her, I'd like to know a bit more about what supernatural powers Kai's kisses gives Naomi. I think it would really help the query sing.

    Also, I'm not really sure what to make of the "dark cult" in the beginning. Can you describe it a little better? Cults are usually considered bad anyway so when I read the word, I automatically thought that her situation wasn't good. Maybe it's oppressive or--I don't know. I'd just like a little more there.

    The first 250 were great. I can feel in her voice how trapped she feels which is wonderful!

    -Amber (#102)

  5. I love your writing style. The first 250 hooked me in. But the query was a bit vague. Some of the terms are more general and doesn't give me an idea of the MC's specific situation. Instead of saying 'supernatural strenght', you could give us an idea of her specific ability? Also 'dark cult' - in what way? You don't want to give out too much information or clutter up the query, but using more specific terms would give this query the uniqueness it deserves. Best of luck!

  6. You're in! I loved this premise, and I think the market will be open to a YA about escaping a cult marriage. Good thinking!

    Fix one thing, though. Her mom had a sink installed, but they are super-poor and no strangers ever cross the threshold? This matters so much because it's the second sentence people will read. The ladies above are giving you great advice too.

  7. Thank you! Wow. I'm speechless. :-).