Tuesday, May 28, 2013

QK Round 1: Colorblind versus Blinded Passions

Entry Nickname: Colorblind
Title: An Uncommon Blue
Word Count: 65K
Genre: YA Sci fi


A week before graduation, sixteen-year-old Bruno Nazaire accidentally murders someone outside his seventh period class. Even if the guy deserved it, now Bruno must become someone else to avoid being identified as the killer. That means a haircut, a change of wardrobe, and most important, getting rid of his once cherished Blue.

In Télesphore, the glowing color of a person’s palm determines their place in society, and touching hands with another mixes the colors permanently. Once a member of the Blue elite, now Bruno must do the unthinkable and dilute his color to stay one step ahead of the investigators. Suddenly he’s visiting parts town he never knew existed, and making friends with people he would’ve crossed the street to avoid only weeks ago.

But the officials hunting him are getting smarter, and in a city enclosed by jagged iron fences, there are only so many places to hide. At the last minute, Bruno’s parents arrange a deal to clear his name and get his life back. All Bruno has to do is turn his back on those in the Red slums that look to him as a leader, dump his new smoking-hot girlfriend, and let a Green boy die in his place.

First 250:

There are three unspoken rules in high school rugby.

1. Your team members are family.

2. You support your family.

3. This support must be shown periodically with an affectionate slap on the backside.

After four years as the starting right winger, I had almost gotten used to this. Almost. At least I no longer felt the urge to bloody my teammate’s nose when they tried it.

But in the middle of the hall? No way. During school hours my glutes were off limits.

I whirled around to explain this to whichever of my idiotic team members was behind me, only to find myself face to face with an attractive redhead.

“Hey, Bruno,” Drea said with a smirk. “Ready for the test?”

I opened my mouth but no sound came out.

Even with her super-short hair, Drea was stunning. Before last summer she’d often been mistaken for a boy. But that all ended when puberty hit. With both fists.

I recovered from my embarrassment enough to nod.

She leaned against the lockers. Her pale white skin reflected the light from her blue palm.

“History should be a breeze compared to pre-calc. I wanted to stab myself in the eye when I got to that section on antiderivatives.”

I mumbled something incoherent and fumbled with my lock.

Without warning she came up close and spoke in a half-whisper. Her hair smelled like coconut. “I know someone that likes you. If you hurry, we might have time to talk before the final.”


Nickname: Blinded Passions
Title: The Blinded Gardener
Word Count: 66K
Genre: Y/A Edgy Contemporary


Seventeen-year-old military brat, Aidan, can’t wait until he turns eighteen. He can finally break away from being his father’s personal punching bag. 

Once again, Aidan’s on the move, forced to leave sunny California for Beaufort, South Carolina, where there’s nothing to do but sit in boring classes, dodge his father’s drunken fits, and scope out new “scenery.” Women have always been Aidan’s best subject. They bat their eyelashes instead of giving him cracked ribs, kiss away his pain instead of bloody noses. High school is his hunting ground, the hottest girls, his prey.

But things change when he meets Danny, a blind boy who perplexes and intrigues him, by maneuvering the halls with ease. He can’t keep his mind off of him—how someone with such a disability could have things together. They develop a fast friendship, which gives Aidan something he’s never experienced for. Hope. Hope that he can be more than just a vessel for pain and sexual conquests.

When Aidan is accused of rape and barely survives a deadly blowout with his father, Aidan has no choice but to hide: Danny’s rundown historic home. But screams in the night reveal that Danny doesn’t have it together. He has a haunted past that scares Aidan more than his own. Aidan must decide whether he’ll go back to his old ways and find solace in women, or break out of what he knows to help Danny conquer his own demons before it’s too late
First 250 Words:

For as long as I could remember, Dad lived the job. He enlisted in the Marine Corps right after high school in the late ’70’s under the iron fist of Granddad. Shocking, isn’t it? It’s no wonder I’ll be next in line. Dad’s his carbon copy.

Granddad planned every second of his life and now Dad continued with this same time honored tradition.

As my seventeenth birthday approached, the conversations of my military career took on a life of their own. Dad insisted I join the JROTC. I put up a fight, but, as always, his means of persuasion won out. The cracked rib was very effective.

The JROTC training was grueling. I hated everything about the military. And I mean everything, from the sheared hair to the spit-shined shoes. In a short time, I got myself thrown out. It took a lot, too. The program wouldn’t chuck out the son of a Marine Corps Captain just for nothing. It had to be big. It was.

The final act I committed was juvenile, but effective. I spiked the officers’ food with red chili powder during a seminar. All of it.

How did they find out it was me? Simple. I told them.

Dad almost stroked out. His eyes bulged like Jim Carrey’s in THE MASK when he saw Cameron Diaz. But his tongue didn’t roll out onto the floor. Too bad, I would’ve really liked to have seen that.


  1. This comment is reserved for the judges' votes

    1. Victory to ColorBlind. I loved the concept, would have liked a bit more specifics in the query regarding the murder. Solid opening. I was a big fan of the rules. Great job!

      To Blinded Passion, I thought your query was solid but felt the first 250 held a bit too much exposition. Great writing though!

    2. Victory to Colorblind

      Colorblind, I really loved this premise and the color chaste system is great. They really have to be careful not mix colors and I hope you bring that into the story. I wondered if the different colors lived in separate districts. But then the superior blues wouldn't do blue collar jobs, would they? So they would have to intermingle. Make sure to clarify in the query how he murdered the boy in the hall. Also wouldn't he know what he mumbled or tried to mumble under his breath at the end of the scene?

      Blinded Passions, I love this premise and I've seen this before. I tried to get some sympathy at the end of the query. How does he have to help Danny? Does he have to learn to respect women in the end? I have to say that I preferred the original opening page to all this exposition up front. Try to sprinkle this information as the story unfolds, right now it's too info. dumpy.

      Great stories!

    3. Argh! Sorry for the typos - it's late.

    4. Victory to Colorblind: Great world-building elements. The query laid out the stakes with only minor areas where I would like more information. The first 250, Awesome! It was easy for my tired brain to digest and left me hungry for more.

      Blinded Passions: You're funny! Loved the humor in the first 250. I would've like a little less exposition, but I enjoyed what I read.

      Another difficult choice. Good luck.

    5. Victory to: Colorblind

      Colorblind: Fantastic query, fantastic 250. Loved every bit of it. I have no complaints.

      Blinded Passions: I like the idea, but I didn't get much plot from your query, and your 250 was a shopping list of telling "this happened, and then this happened, and then this happened." I'd love to get a better idea of how Aiden and Danny meet, how that friendship develops, etc. Great writing though!

      Good luck to both of you :)

    6. Victory to Colorblind

      I really enjoyed that these were both YAs with male protagonists. Seems we don't see enough of those. That said, both of these appear to need a little more thought perhaps in making the MCs more relatable and sympathetic. At least in the queries. They can be ambivalently moraled, certainly, but a little more assurace in each that's there's a growth arc would be nice to see.

      The flag in the AN UNCOMMON BLUE query is, of course, not just the killing but the shirking of responsibility for it, especially if it was accidental. (Sidenote: I don't believe you can accidentally murder someone. Murder is premeditated.) Sure, a 16-yo may well be scared enough to run, but it's not till he's faced with a real ultimatum that it appears he even thinks about taking responsibility. As for the 250, the voice is casual and easy, a just-right voice for a beta teen guy.

      In THE BLINDED GARDENER's query, I think we get a clear picture of Aidan. What's not so clear is what the 'before it's too late' in the last sentence means. I'm not certain why the choice Aidan has is an either/or when it comes to finding solace in women or helping Danny conquer his fears. As for the 250, I'm not sure about Aidan breaking the fourth wall with the reader questions he asks. Other than that and the pop culture reference to The Mask, I think the first page is quite competent.

    7. Colorblind—I love the query, and the premise is fantastic. I also love the 250 and the voice. However, it’s almost as if I love them separately. I wouldn’t be able to tell the 250 is for your query if they weren’t right next to each other. Any way to fix this? They are both great, but separately great.

      Blinded Passions—I think you can cut the first two sentences and “Once again” and start with that as your hook, but others might disagree so do whatever works best for you. I have a slight qualm about the subject matter, though: everything I’ve read and heard about homosexuality shows that Aidan would never have been attracted to women in the first place. He’d know from a while back that he was gay, and it would just “spring up.” At least, that’s what I’ve heard and read and I think that’s the truth—but others may prove me wrong. Because of that, I’m having a slight trouble for your premise. But gosh darn it, if that slight qualm was fixed, I think this would be an AWESOME book. The drama and characters and voice are amazing in the query. The 250 is awesome too. I really really like this entry.

      Victory to Blinded Passions. Colorblind was amazingly strong, but you were up against a very good entry, and the premise, writing, and voice of Blinded won me over (and I’m also trusting that you know more about your subject matter than I do!).

    8. Victory to Colorblind

      Blinded Passions: Won't reiterate what the other judges said about the pages, but they are right. Though I loved everything you have (even the info dump), I don't like the execution.

      To Blinded Passions: Great entry, great rules, and you made me laugh. Great job.

    9. Ugh...too early. The second Blinded Passions is supposed to be Colorblind...sorry.

    10. Colorblind: I was stopped dead by accidentally murder, because it just didn’t seem right. You can’t accidentally murder. Perhaps kill would be a better word choice. The first paragraph doesn’t inspire my sympathy for the character. He accidentally kills, then runs away. I need a strong reason for that. Why run? The rest of the query shows a real inventiveness. I do like the way their world works, but again, I’m brought right back around because the last sentence brings us back to the same character choice. Will he do the right thing?

      Blinded Passions: I hope you won’t mind my saying that there is some rough grammar in the query. You could cut the ‘for’ after ‘experienced.’ I’m not sure why the colon comes after ‘hide’ but feel it would do better as a simple sentence. But the structure and the way you disclose the plot was well done. I see a lot to like in the first page, including the imagination in the last paragraph about the eye bulge.

      A difficult choice but Victory to Colorblind!

  2. In Uncommon Blue, I think a little more specifics on the accidental murder that kicks off the story would be helpful. Without knowing anything about who the someone was or why they might have deserved it, it's hard to get a handle of the character or the story. Great voice in the first page.

    The Blinded Gardener seems like a unique story and concept. I'm feeling like the first page, while well written is opening with too much telling and back story.

  3. In Uncommon Blue, I had an issue connecting with the MC in the query because it says the death was an accident but also he maybe deserved it, it's hard to be sympathetic when the MC is a murderer and we don't know why. The idea about the colours determining your place in society is neat though, and the stakes at the end are pretty intense.

    In The Blinded Gardener, I actually have a similar issue with the MC. I get that his father is horrible, but from the way he's described as treating girls, I have a hard time sympathizing with him. Like he describes the girls as "prey" but then he's apparently falsely accused of rape? I'm not sure I believe it. I also agree with Eric about there being a tad too much info in the opening. I also feel like the Mask reference may be dated for YA unless the MC really likes movies from the 90s or something. I do think the military aspect of your story is really interesting, and it's definitely something that would like to read about.

    A side note, it's interesting that both novels here have boys going into hiding for things they are maybe not guilty of! Definitely intense premises. Good luck to both of you.

  4. In both stories I have exactly the same issues mentioned by Zoe. In Uncommon Blue the parents arrange a deal to clear his name and then ASAP he's got a smoking hot girlfriend. Seems a bit flippant.You'd have to really work sympathy into the protag.You're writing is easy to read and flows. In The Blinded Gardener the violence against women is a bit icky although I see you're trying to craft the story around a wounded protag. Again you'd have to be careful to make a good job of that. I like the military slant and the writing is smooth.Good luck!

  5. Colorblind- The caste system premise works but I had a little trouble connecting with Bruno. I want to care about him more and suspect that he grows into a much more likable character as the novel progresses. When Drea smacks his ass there's a lingering moment I wonder more about her motivations and history than Bruno's. I want to read on to find out who likes him, but it better be worth it! Good luck!

    Blinded Passions- As with Bruno above, I want to connect with Aidan but I just have this aversion to his objectification of females. I sympathize with him in relation to his father though and would read on hoping to see some character growth as he deals with his problems. Your writing flows nicely and reads smoothly! Good luck!

  6. Victory to Colorblind - Ultraviolet
    Although you both have writing talent, I had some trouble connecting with both MCs. In terms of the 250, I found the fumbly Bruno more engaging than the bitter Aidan. The Marine father as abusive/demanding tyrant doesn't seem all that original, and perhaps lapses into typecasting (and I'm not saying it doesn't happen, just seems overly predictable). The women-as-prey mindset is also off-putting (again, it exists, but isn't necessarily a draw for me as a reader). I also found Blinded Passions' query a little overly mysterious when it came to Danny and his troubles, and what does "too late" mean?
    Colorblind - I'm hoping that when Bruno goes "slumming" you manage to avoid the pitfalls of stereotyping when it comes to the disenfranchised. I also hope you show us lots of character growth on the part of Bruno, and not just that he's surprised by finding a Red girl appealing. The promise seems to be there in terms of indicating he becomes a rebel leader and is faced with a difficult moral choice in terms of the Green boy.

  7. Colorblind: Great concept, well written query, except for idea of MC committing murder. As others have mentioned, we need motivation so that we're on MC's side or at least willing to find out more about why he killed someone. Your voice in the first 250 is great- engaging, sounds like a teen.

    Blinded Passions: The concept of two wounded, lost guys helping each other is cool. We see this a lot with YA girls, but not so much with guys. I agree that your first pages have a bit too much backstory and telling instead of showing. Maybe open with a scene of Aidan fighting with his Dad, or encountering Danny for the first time.

    Good luck!

  8. Colorblind: Your query completely rocks. One sentence more about why Bruno had to kill would help put us more firmly on his side at the beginning, but that said, I found myself on his side by the end anyway. We know he's the good guy. And I am all on board with the human-aspect he's going to discover while mixing with the new people he'll meet. Great concept! Nothing about the first 250 strikes me as off, except that the focus seems to abruptly shift from rugby to girls... but I'm not a teenage guy, so that's probably as fast as they actually move on, lol. Overall, very well done on both!

    Blinded Passions: I think the uniqueness here is the friendship that will develop between the boys, but as it is right now, the query is more Aiden-centric. Consider moving their relationship to the forefront of the query, to give your story's uniqueness more of the spotlight.

    Best of luck to both!

  9. Psst. Bilnded passions, I'd love to read this if you'd like a new beta reader. My entry is Tricks Aren't for Kids if you'd like to see what my style is like. I think your story sounds great. If not, that's cool. Just an offer!

    Both of these are great but I'm a sucker for an awesome gritty contemporary. Good luck to both of you!

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  11. Overall, two really interesting male POVs that I'd be interested in hearing more about.

    CB: This is a really cool concept, and I'd really like to hear more about this world and its structure. I also enjoyed the 250 and felt the writing flowed. The first page felt like a contemporary though, and I wished there was a hint of the SF aspects so it was less jarring. I also wished there was one more line to the query to show the MC's reaction/ambition/attitude. Even though it's obvious he's not going to go with the deal, I want to hear it from him so I can get behind him.

    BP: I think this has potential to be a really powerful novel, and I felt like there was good voice and good writing here. I wished the query focused a bit less on the backstory and a bit more on the character arc and friendship. Likewise, the 250 was really engaging, but it felt like a ministory in itself rather than a starting point that links to a bigger picture.

  12. Colorblind: I've seen this before and I still love it! The query has a very interesting opening and the color concept definitely grabs me. Your voice in the 250 is strong and I'd happily read on!

    Blinded Passions: It's great to see a contemp with a male POV but I enjoyed your 250 much more than your query. The pitch drags a bit for my liking, but the idea is a great one!

  13. Blinded passions: I posted this on your comment on my matchup but incase you didn't see it: email me Gstac2006@yahoo.com