Sunday, February 17, 2013

Bouncer Round 6 #24

Genre: YA Futuristic Fantasy
Word Count: 89,000 words


Sixteen-year-old Minna Gray’s new life in Emerald District is shattered when the two boys she’s babysitting are kidnapped. Guilt turns to panic when she discovers no one is looking for the boys. No one else remembers them.

It’s as if they’ve been erased. 
Meanwhile, Minna’s started to see things, hear things that others can’t. She can even speak to trees. A strange letter from her deceased grandmother leads her to Corrin - a boy who knows about the disappearances. They aren’t isolated events. Every day more are taken. Corrin claims Minna has a magical ancestry, and that her visions will reveal how to prevent the kidnappings.

Corrin thinks there’s help in the Outlands – the infected waste beyond the city walls. Going there may be the only way to hone her powers, but no one survives the Outlands and Minna’s not sure she’s ready to trade life in Emerald for a slow suicide. She’s not even sure her ally is trustworthy.

But soon she’ll have to decide. She must race to decipher the visions before anyone she loves is taken.

First 250:

She’d seen one once before - years ago, with Cameron, by the seaside. Its little round body flitted between palm fronds like a tiny jeweled fairy. They were supposed to turn it in. But they hadn’t. They’d watched it all afternoon, until it leapt into the sky and flew away, back over the Outer Wall. Their secret.

This one seemed even more out of place, amidst the asphalt and early evening glow of the podcar lines. For a second, she thought she was imagining it. But then Ethan saw it too.

“What is it?” he asked, gaze transfixed on the emerald blot making its way across the dull bronze shine of the hood.

“A beetle.”

His brown eyes widened. “A real one?”

Minna nodded. “Don’t touch it.” But she was mesmerized too.

“It doesn’t beep.” He frowned, waving his PestDetector over it.

“Maybe it’s not infected.” Yet. 

They watched its twiggy, spindle-legged progression from latch to windshield. 
“I don’t want anyone to kill it,” Ethan whispered as he backed away.

Technically it was a vector. Technically they were supposed to destroy it. But it was so small and round and innocent. Suddenly, it lifted off. Humming, it vanished into the flurry of the nearby jasmine. Minna exhaled the breath she hadn’t realized she was holding.

“Probably escaped from a DomeZoo.” Ethan said with a shaky laugh.

 “Probably, but you still need to disinfect.” Minna puffed her emergency spray, enveloping the two of them in shivering white mist. Silently they counted out the seconds: eight, nine, ten. Safe.


  1. This sounds like a really intricate thriller! The first 250 intrigue me and leave me wanting to read further. Really well done!

  2. Wow! I'm hooked. Fantasy and dystopia all together it sounds like, and those are two genres I love! Your first 250 already paints a vivid picture of the emotional atmosphere of your world as well as a glimpse of the duality in environment between "here" and "there". Great job, and good luck!
    -Amy (#34)

  3. Very engaging pitch. It makes the reader want to follow her journey and anticipate her decisions.
    Just a small point...where are her parents in all this?
    Is your sample page your first page...or from the middle of the novel. It seems more like the middle.
    Dianne Scott #13

    1. Thanks for your kind words!!

      The sample is the first 250, but hmm - is it reading too abrupt?

  4. Children being erased really grabs your attention and trying to figure out what has happened to them and how Minna's powers will help makes you want to know more.
    You have also done well revealing her world in the first 250 with just the presence of a beetle.
    I would love to be able to talk to trees,too and wonder what they tell Minna.
    Great job! Good luck!


  5. I think you've reworked the query to read better, which is good. But I still want to know more of her personal motivation. I get she doesn't want others to be taken, but what introduced the ticking clock (which is great)? Does she get wind that 5 days after they are taken they are killed, etc? Maybe that is more my curiosity than needed in the query :).

    Still like your first 250 words. Nice work and good luck. :)

  6. Wow kidnapping, mind erasing and magical ancestries, you definitely have my attention. I do however agree with Mia, I'm not overly clear on her motivations and what happens if she stays vs goes with Corrin and what kind of help there is in the outlands. I also felt left hanging with the missing kids, and whether or not she plans to find the missing kids or not. I think you are almost there but you are missing a couple of details that need to be fleshed out.

    I love your first 250 especially the world building in it and the description and mystery surrounding the beetle and I'm curious to see where it goes, however I'm confused as to how the first 250 fits in with the query.

    Good luck with your entry :)
    Jamie # 36

  7. Hey I think it sounds great. The wall gives me a real Stardust feel. I was a little lost in that a good example of the power she has is talking to trees. Just seemed a little random. I love the easy conversation they have in your first 250.


  8. I find this excerpt very intriguing and would definitely be interested in reading on. Even in the first 250 words, you do some great world building. I disagree that the opening reads as too abrupt; it provides a nice little jump into the middle of this dystopian landscape. My main criticism is that the atmosphere evident in the excerpt isn't very apparent in the query. It isn't until the third paragraph that you provide any indication (aside from the brief, unexplained mention of "Emerald District") that this story isn't occurring here and now. The setting is so important that you may consider mentioning it right at the beginning; you will then be free to concentrate on Minna's motivations.

    Good luck in the round...

  9. This sounds like a great story here! I like it. I am wondering if you could add more action to the query? Otherwise, it's very well-written and engages us...nice job, but it seems like a lot of what the situation is and not much about what happens? So does she head to the Outlands? Can the ending give us even MORE of a cliffhanger? It's good but I sense it can be even better. The first 250 is really well-written, smooth and interesting dialogue, but I agree that it doesn't really seem like a first page? Good suspense but I want to know a few lines sooner what it might lose a new reader if you let us go too long without knowing what it is? Just some thoughts. This piece is very strong, what a great premise! Good luck!

  10. I really love the voice and world building in your first 250. I liked it as a first page because it gives us lots about the world and Minna as a character without info dumping at all. WELL DONE! :)

    Larissa #18

  11. You totally had me at the kidnapping and mind erasing! Although I do agree with a few of the other commenters about providing more about Minna's motivation in the query, I find both your query and first 250...completely AWESOME! I really enjoyed your world building; it's delicately served in bite-sized pieces that increases a reader's appetite as they go.

    Good luck!
    Bonnie #12

  12. Everyone else already chimed in with excellent critique, so I'm not going to echo that same train of thought. This is really engaging, and sounds very interesting! Your 250 are well-written and I enjoyed the sample!

    Virginia #9

  13. I was hooked after the first paragraph of your query! I love mystery and fantasy and it sounds like you've done a great job of weaving the two together. I would love to keep reading this!

    Best of luck!