Sunday, February 17, 2013

Bouncer Round 6 #34

Genre: YA Dystopian
Word Count: 98,000


A chime on Livvy’s tablet notifies her that she’s reached her quota for profane language. Again. She has a penchant for swearing and a talent for insulting even the nicest of boys. Whenever seventeen-year-old Livvy Moore is matched to a potential date by her ever-present tablet, her foot finds its way right to her mouth. Where the government encourages teens to find a permanent match by eighteen and speaking some of her favorite words is a punishable offense, none of this bodes well for Livvy.

In her seventeen years of life, no one new has ever entered Sector Two of the American Northwest Territory. Just weeks before graduation from one of ten Academies that feed into the central government, though, Livvy meets her first stranger. Everything has always been the same, from identical homes, to pristine landscape design, right down to the uniform Livvy wears every day (save for her butt-kicking boots...those are hers alone). This stranger, Wes, makes Livvy wish she was better at flirting. But more than his mysterious appeal, Wes needs her help.

Wes has lost his ability to speak, and Livvy’s father, a renowned psychologist in the Department of Psychological Defense, is treating his condition. Livvy’s final project is the last step before she follows in her father’s footsteps, and Wes agrees to be her subject, expecting her to succeed where her father has not. When Livvy induces lucid dreaming, a therapy once used to help her escape her own nightmares, Wes utters his first words to her. He reveals to Livvy what he’s been trying to hide. The government she’s about to join has brought Wes here to end his life.

The Administration plans to execute Wes once he gives them the whereabouts of his mother, someone involved in a psychological experiment that involves Livvy, Wes, and all other final year students in Sector Two's Academy. Livvy’s contact with Wes somehow triggers the return of her nightmares, and if she believes one of them, it means she will kill him in the name of the Administration. Escaping the fate of this dream means turning her back on her family, her future, her entire existence as she knows it. Staying loyal to her government will mean Wes’s life. Livvy must decide whether to trade hers for his.

First 250

A name stares at me from my tablet. This is the first in a while with potential. His name is the second of two required dates this month. The Administration made a huge mistake with the first, especially knowing our history, but I won’t speak openly about that.

Pausing briefly, I open the door to my home away from home, Joe.

He’s there, sitting at my favorite table. This has to be a good sign. When I walk in, he stands to greet me. Another sign.

“Hey, Livvy.” Though we’ve known each other all our lives, there is a shyness to his voice I have not heard before.

“Hey, Will.” The tiniest break in mine betrays my nervousness too.

I sit, and the tabletop scanner reads my identity from my tablet. My order history pops up, and Will laughs.

“Quite the purest, aren't you?”

According to the stats, I've been to Joe each day for the past week, my order always the same—large black coffee, dark roast.

“Is there any other way?” He brings out the smile in me, and I think maybe I’m not so bad at this flirting thing.

His blue eyes fix on mine. The faint sprinkling of freckles across his nose and cheeks are boyish reminders of playground chases and jumping off swings. But boyish he is not. I want to memorize the newness of Will Connelly in this moment, recreate him later on my sketch pad. His smile is warm, and my cheeks flush. That’s when I realize I’m staring.


  1. This is a great idea . . . there is a lot of possibilities. I thought you did a great job on your query, just a little long. The first 250 was good, liked the voices.


  2. I am a fan of YA Dystopian and I think you did a great job with it. I agree with the previous post that the Query is a little long but with the right editing it could be really tight. Good job on the first 250.


  3. I really like your concept. It feels a little bit like Matched by Ally Condie. You query does a great job of setting up the story, but I think it reads more like a synopsis at points then a query. There are places where I think you can trim down on the detail, especially in the first two paragraphs. Your last paragraph does a really good job of setting up the conflict, especially the last two sentences.

    I like your first 250. It does a good job of setting up a date that I'm sure won't end well. I was a little confused by what Joe is in this line "I open the door to my home away from home, Joe." is it the place where she meets dates? Maybe throw in a small clue to tip off the reader. Otherwise, I'm curious to see where this goes.

    Good luck with your entry :)
    Jamie #36

  4. Thanks for the feedback, everyone! Still getting the hang of this query thing. First time around I wasn't giving enough. Now I'll work on trimming it down. Joe is a coffee shop, like "cup of Joe." :)
    I think I get to that after the first page.

  5. Query's are the worst and, even though yours is a bit long, it's really the writing that people need to worry about...and you nailed that. Your voice is impeccable and I would love to read more. If you can just trim the fat in your query and hit the essential points, you're golden. Phenomenal job.


  6. Oooh! This sounds like a fun book! I do agree with the others about your query being a little long, but the most important thing about a query is whether or not it makes us want to keep reading and yours definitely did! I like the conflicts you set up in your query, and I love that your opening 250 start off with a date. I would totally keep reading!

    Best of luck!


  7. I love the first 250 words and I remember I really enjoyed your kissing scene too!!! Like everyone else has said, the query is long, but I do think it tells the conflicts. If there is anyway to tweak it to shorten it while keeping the vitals, I'd say give it a shot. But GREAT JOB! I'd keep reading!

    Virginia #9

  8. Ok, I love the voice in this and in your query. I'd echo what others said that the pitch needs to be shortened (250 words max), but you've 100% got me wanting to read more!

    One other tiny thing I noticed in the first 250 - do you mean "purist" ? instead of "purest" It's kind of a fun play-on-words either way, but just checking!

    Carissa #24

    1. Oh man, thanks for catching the typo, Carissa. Ha! Totally should be purist. Durn spell check doesn't catch real words used incorrectly! Could work, sort of, as a play on words, though! As for the query, I know. Too long. My original was too brief. Trying to find that happy medium. Thanks so much for the feedback, everyone. This is all super helpful.

  9. You've already had some feedback on your query. I just wanted to say I LOVE the last paragraph of your first 250. :)

    Larissa (#18)

  10. I love this 250! The dialogue is perfect and totally captures the feeling...great job. I would question using the first paragraph as is? Something about it threw me, being nitpicky (as we want to be for a first paragraph?) I went back and re-read it a couple of times. I think it's the line "His name is the second of two required dates this month." His name isn't the required date, but HE is the required date. Wouldn't that be more clear? Just a thought! Great job on this scene and good luck!

    Tracy --#10

    1. Thank you, Tracy! Will work on clarifying that first paragraph.