Monday, February 4, 2013

Bouncer Post #121

Genre: YA Light Sci-Fi
Word Count: 101, 000


Seventeen-year-old Carina should be happy about winning the lottery, but the prize isn’t exactly something to cheer about—it’s a one-way ticket to Mars. As if leaving everything she knows isn’t bad enough, now she’s forced to wear a uniform, train for a life she didn’t ask for, and even swear off dating until they’re settled on the Red Planet. Never mind the fact that the mission is fraught with risks and she’s just plain terrified of outer space.

Life at the Mars Prep Colony in Antarctica is anything but stellar, a constant reminder of all she’s lost. But just as she’s about to begin the testing that will determine her assigned vocation, unexpected twists upset her regimented life—the blow of personal tragedy and the rush of new romance. Routine turns to risk when she meets and falls for completely off-limits Galen. All of the lies and sneaking around could cost her a good vocation or worse, jeopardize her family’s position on the mission.

As zero hour approaches, Carina discovers the mission leaders have secrets of their own—and what they’re hiding affects the entire mission. No longer certain who to trust, escape becomes an increasingly appealing option. With so many of her choices stripped from her, she finds she still has a very important one: she can go through with the launch despite what she’s learned or risk everything for a chance at the life she wants before time runs out.

First 250:

Might as well live underground. Buried alive. It’s not like I have a life anymore.

Callum waves the pamphlet around in front of me, his words echoing in my mind: “They’ve already sent a team of builders to Mars to get the colony there ready. Sounds like it’ll be a lot like the colony here but mostly underground.” He fails to recognize my expression for what it is—pure, unadulterated disinterest—as he points out the supposedly matching diagrams. I don’t bother looking.

“So what you’re saying is it’ll suck crud too?”

“Carina.” My mother’s voice is calm, but there’s a ripple of impatience there as well.

My brother is practically vibrating he’s so excited. Given that he’s mashed up against me, this only adds to my nausea. His long, bony legs bounce up and down as he reads aloud from the Hyperion Mission information packet. For, like, the millionth time since receiving it. I almost have the thing memorized from listening to him babble nonstop about it.

“Says here that the Mars Prep Colony is a former research station they redesigned for this mission and it’ll be used for future Mars missions going forward.” Future missions? Are they planning on failing this time around? Ugh. As if I didn’t already feel like a guinea pig.

“You don’t say.” I don’t even try to hide my lack of enthusiasm, exhaling and turning my eyes toward the window. We may be twins but our opinions on this couldn’t be more dissimilar.


  1. I'm intrigued by your query, but there was something about the blocks of text/info dump that made my eyes glaze over a bit. I think it can be punchier while relaying the same information. I think this line should stand alone:
    Seventeen-year-old Carina should be happy about winning the lottery, but the prize isn’t exactly something to cheer about—it’s a one-way ticket to Mars.

    That way, the Mars part will pop and stick.

    In your 2nd paragraph, I think you're a bit repetitive. I think this line: "But just as she’s about to begin the testing that will determine her assigned vocation, unexpected twists upset her regimented life—the blow of personal tragedy and the rush of new romance." But the two that follow it basically say the same thing. Either ditch the line before, or the two after, to keep it short and punchy. (also I was confused, re: her family's position on the mission, as I thought only she was training/going?)

    There are some lines I think can be tightened, but overall I think it's the three blocks of text that threw me. The content does what it needs to: I'd request pages if I got this query. Also this is obviously not your complete query -- would have liked to see your paragraph stating the title, world count, and ideally some comp titles.

    The 250 is strong -- you drop right into the characters/family relationship set-up and plot. I would read on.

    1. Errr, incomplete sentence. I think this line: -- I meant that to read "I like this line" :)

  2. I'm really intrigued by this premise. The stakes seem to be high and I could see this being a real page turner as I speed read to get her through the dangerous parts. LOVE your voice in your 250. This is a really strong writing sample. I agree with Alexa about your query, but the writing in the following 250 was strong enough to make me want to read more.

    Good luck!

  3. Thank you, Alexa! Your comment is very helpful. I'll have to tweak it some more based on your suggestions. :)

  4. Thank you, Jennie! This was much-needed encouragement. :) I'll have to fiddle with my query based on yours and Alexa's suggestions.

  5. First off, this is really strong and I love it. I would definitely read on.

    But I'm confused about how she got selected if she doesn't want to go. Are all teenagers enrolled in this? Have both she and her brother won this lottery? (Did he sign them up without telling her?) Or is this a family thing? Are family's selected by the lottery (so her parents are going too)?

    I think if you clarify that, this would be even stronger!

    ~Mandy (Entry #130)

  6. Thanks, Mandy! You know what's funny? Up until I submitted my entry to this contest, I always had Carina's family winning the lottery in the first sentence of my query. Whoops! Guess I should add that back in. :) Thanks for your suggestions and encouragement!

  7. Well, you already know I love your story, but I thought I'd stop by and remind you once again. Good luck in the contest! :)

  8. Like Erin, you know how much I love love love this novel! The voice is amazing and the story is wonderful! Crossing my fingers for you!

  9. Now that I look at this chunk as the first 250, I think it's a strong starting place. You get a lot of Carina's attitude and the family dynamic, plus a good idea of what's in store. I will join the fan club here in the comments section and wish you luck :)

  10. This sounds like a great story. I loved the voice in the first 250. The only suggestion I have is to make the stakes clearer in the query. It sounds like she doesn't want to go on the mission anyway, so it's not clear why the choice would be so difficult. Does that make sense? Overall, great job. I'd definitely keep reading. :)

    Good luck to you!


  11. I also really like the idea of unhappily winning the trip to Mars. I'd agree with Alexa that the second paragraph of the query has some overlap, so maybe you could trim a bit there. I wonder if adding something about the content of the secrets might make the stakes clearer.

    I loved your first 250, especially the voice. I would definitely keep reading. Best of luck!

  12. Thank you to everyone who left comments and suggestions! I really appreciate you taking the time to have a look. :)

  13. Um. Colony on Mars? YES PLEASE. (You're in!)

  14. Congratulations, Jaime! Good job!