Thursday, January 23, 2014

SVS 1: SCRIPTED, YA Contemporary

Title: SCRIPTED
Genre: YA Contemporary
Word Count: 54,000

My main character is most uncomfortable with:

 The blazing beam of the sun while she and her other nine siblings are out picking food in their ten-acre garden every day of summer. 


Query:

 Seventeen-year-old Dani is one of ten, soon to be eleven kids, who films YouTube videos rife with homespun goodness on the family farm. Although the videos are made for earthy, crunchy mamas, Dani is a-okay with doing them—anything for the family. With Momma determined to keep popping out babies until they can land their own reality show, Dani's too busy chasing the little ones to ask questions.

It isn't until she meets fellow YouTuber and high school reporter Duncan that she examines her life and her place in the family. After being blamed for an accident involving a sibling, Dani rebels by making a YouTube video that protests her individuality.

When the video goes viral it attracts a TV producer who offers them Momma's long-sought after dream. But there's a catch—the family must follow a carefully written script. Dani has to choose whether to accept the role the TV execs have planned for her, or to forge her own path, except doing so may oust her from the crazy family she loves so much.



First 250 Words:

It always happened in public. When someone, most notably an older woman, spotted all ten of us together—looking like clones, with eerily similar straight brown hair and blue eyes.This woman, middle-aged, deep hollows carving out her cheekbones, asked the oh-so familiar question. "Is your family religious?"

No. We don't have an inkling of religion in us. That wasn't counting Aunt Daisy's needle pointed inspirational messages that hung skewed on our basement walls.

I stayed on script with my answer, because our lives were so carefully rehearsed, especially in public. "Yes, we're Catholic," I fibbed, caressing the silver filigree cross that was looped around my neck. I had to reposition it so the cross stayed put, front and center. It kept sliding off to the side, where it was hard to see.

With a look of impatience branded on his face, my older brother waved at me to join him inside the grocery store.

"I have to go," I said to the woman. "Wait up for me, David!" I called out, dilly-dallying next to her. I waited for her to ask me my name—or more information.

"David! What a holy, precious name," the woman exclaimed. She grabbed my hand and vigorously rocked it between hers. "Honey, if ya'll are ever in need, just let me know." 

Removing her hand from mine, she dug around in her brown leather purse until she produced a thin, white card. "Here's my number and the church I work at. If ya'll ever need anything, you name it."

28 comments:

  1. Hey there, author of SCRIPTED! Mentor Sarah Marsh here. First of all, I want to tell you how much I love this concept. I think it's really unique, and I hope to read this book someday.

    As far as your query goes, you've got great voice in the first paragraph. My only question there is: how are these YouTube videos benefiting Dani's family? I'm assuming they're to try to get the notice of reality show producers by posting the videos, but I wonder if you could make that a little clearer up front. I like how you introduce the potential romance in the second paragraph, but some of the voice I loved in the first paragraph seems to be missing here. Since Duncan is only in the one line, he feels a bit thrown in, and I'd like to see one more sentence added about him and his significance in the story overall. I also wondered what you meant by 'protests her individuality' at the end there--I thought perhaps you meant 'proclaim' or 'declare' her individuality, trying to separate herself from the rest of her family. GREAT stakes in the third paragraph!

    In your first 250, I have to say again how much I'm digging the voice! These are just two little nitpicks on my part, but this line: "I stayed on script with my answer," didn't work for me with the title being 'Scripted.' I think you could say something like, 'I rattled off my usual answer, because our lives were...' and still get your meaning across/show how Dani's carefully rehearsed public role relates to the title. But others may disagree--that's just one opinion! Then in the paragraph where Dani is lingering next to the woman, I felt the "I waited for her..." line was a bit telling. Perhaps instead of telling us that Dani's waiting for her to speak again, you could show how Dani is waiting...maybe she watches the woman's face, or gives her a polite smile, or an impatient nod, or shows no indication of being ready to go join her brother. You get the idea!

    Nitpicks aside, I really enjoyed this opening. I liked seeing what sets Dani and her family apart straight from the first page. Well done!

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  2. I love this idea! I particularly like the fact that this is a YA book with LOTS of family -- so many seem to lack any real family interaction.

    I was a little confused by the first sentence of the query. I read it that Dani shoots the YouTube videos, but I'm not entirely sure if it is Dani or someone else in her family. Perhaps you can find a way to clarify that point? I know you clear this up in the 2nd paragraph, but I think you could tweak the first paragraph to make this more obvious. (Dani having the interest/skill to film You Tube videos is an interesting character point and I would emphasize that).

    In the second paragraph in the query -- Perhaps some hint of Duncan's personality. We know what he does, but not really anything about who he is. You could add a line after the first mentioning what type of videos Duncan likes to make, or something about his reporting (is he an investigative reporter who likes to dig for the truth? Is he into exposing corruption or an environmental activist, or....?) I also think you need something besides "protests her individuality". That phrase really doesn't work for me. She is declaring or staking a claim for her individuality, right? "Protesting" sounds like she is against having her own individuality. I would reword this.

    I like the last paragraph until the very end -- it feels like a run-on sentence to me. Perhaps you could break the last sentence into two sentences to give it more punch? That might highlight the final stakes (losing her family) a bit more.

    Great voice in the first 250 words. A few minor points:

    "When someone, most notably an older woman, spotted all ten of us together—looking like clones, with eerily similar straight brown hair and blue eyes."
    (I think this reads a bit awkwardly. Perhaps drop the "When" from the start and change "spotted all" to "would spot all ten...")

    "That wasn't counting Aunt Daisy's needle pointed (need a hyphen here -- "needle-pointed" ) inspirational messages that hung skewed ("askew"?) on our basement walls."


    "I have to go," I said to the woman. "Wait up for me, David!" I called out, dilly-dallying next to her. (This could be rephrased to read more fluidly, I think. Not sure you need the "dilly-dallying" -- Maybe end the sentence after "called out", then add an action that shows the waiting in the next line. Something like -- I fiddled with my cross, praying she would ask me my name... etc. )

    "David! What a holy, precious name," the woman exclaimed. She grabbed my hand and vigorously rocked it between hers. "Honey, if ya'll are ever in need, just let me know."
    (Not sure that you need the dialogue tag -- "the woman exclaimed." You could just cut that and change the "She" in the next sentence to "The woman...")

    I am looking forward to reading your revisions -- sounds like a great concept and the voice is definitely there.


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    1. Just wanted to add that I am a mentor on TEAM SNOW -- sorry I left that out!

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  3. Unique premise. Pop culture refs (YouTube, reality shows) mingled with darker issues (a mendacious and mercenary parent, unconventional home life) are an interesting and complex mix.

    For me, the line about staying on script worked. I wanted to know immediately what that meant; it implied there was some specific, unusual problem in Dani's life, and I wanted to know more. I agree that the line about "I waited for her..." is unnecessary.

    Interesting idea, nice voice.

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  4. Mentor of Team Snow, Copernicus Nerd here! It's all subjective in this grand 'ol writing world of ours, but I hope whatever I have to say helps out at least a little!

    First off, love the concept of a YouTube / Reality show cross over. This is absolutely huge now so this is definitely going to catch some glances!

    Starting with your query, you've got the nitty gritty parts down but I wanted to offer a few suggestions. In the first paragraph, I feel like I'm getting a tad too much back story, and I'm trying to look for a hook line in there but I can't really seem to find one. If you can somehow implement the hook of meeting Duncan changing her mindset, since obviously by the way the 2nd paragraph is worded he has a huge effect. (not sure what it is? you may want to hint at that as well)

    It's strange though I feel like the hook is more in the 3rd paragraph then the first 2. The fact Dani is left with the critical choice leads me to think that perhaps this conflict should be introduced sooner in the query, just so we can be drawn in as the concept is so unique.

    One thing I do love about your query is that you manage to pull your voice into it without it being to overbearing. Very hard thing to do, but done very well here!

    On to your 250 -

    In the second sentence, I don't believe you need to start with "When," - it throws me off a little bit, but that's just a minor quirk.

    But wow, is your voice addicting in this 250. I'm already loving the MC's attitude and demeanor and I can already tell so much about Dani just by the personality of the character alone. And great job on the descriptiveness of the woman. I can totally picture her.

    A few other minor tid bits that might be able to work better if re-worded? I'm not sure if I like the use of dilly-dallying. I know it was mentioned previously, by another mentor so it might be something to consider changing.

    The line "I stayed on script...." seems a little off. I think it's the break with the "because" in the middle. Then again, it might just be me. But if you want to try to work with that line a little bit it might work out a bit better. Especially since I think it's a strong line right at the beginning of the story.

    Great work so far! Interesting concept and a killer voice! Looking fwd to see what you do with it!

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  5. Query: Killer concept! This got my attention right away. A few suggestions:
    “crunchy mamas”- I love what you’re going for, but it made me think about crunchy people for a moment. I might re-word :)
    Is Dani the oldest? Close to oldest?
    “Momma determined to keep popping out babies”—the dad isn’t mentioned. “Parents determined…”? It made me wonder if it was just the mother who wants this lifestyle.
    Duncan looks like he’s barely involved in the conflict. Can you show more how he affects Dani’s decisions? What’s his involvement here? Showing that could add complexity and a nice twist to the conflict.
    The accident sounds like a major event. Can you give us more specifics? Is it a young sibling and a serious accident? If so, I’d mention that.
    You have fantastic conflict in your final paragraph. It packs a punch! I’d definitely go on to read pages of this.

    First 250:
    I love the fact that life in public is featured in your first line. That sounds huge to the story. I can also hear her world-weary sigh in the first line, which tells me a lot about the voice of the story.
    In your 2nd sentence, do you mean “usually an older woman”? “Most notably” seems like these women are the most notable ones out of a crowd of other types of people, when it sounds like what you mean is it was almost always an older woman.
    “Needle-point” should have a hyphen.
    I love her struggle with keeping the cross centered—nice subtle applications to her struggle with the whole issue.
    “With a look of impatience branded on his face”—can you show us specifically? What’s an impatient look for him? Is his posture showing it, too? Dropping his name there seems too intentional, too. People don’t usually call out a sibling’s name when it’s clear who they’re talking so, so I’d trim that out.
    Does she want the woman to ask her name, or is she hoping she won’t? It sounds a bit like she wants her to, so I’d clue us in to her thoughts there. I’d also love to see her thoughts after the woman grabs her hand. This would be a weird and uncomfortable moment, especially for a teen, and I’d love to see your character reacting to the intrusion!
    You did an excellent job with this woman’s character, by the way. I don’t like her at all, even though she’s trying to help. :) This is tightly written and kept my attention. Your voice is solid and consistent, and I can see lots of conflict under the surface. Awesome job here!

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    1. Shoot! Team Snow mentor, by the way! :)

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  6. Ok, this is my first one so I might be going overboard here!

    I love this concept. The voice is great, the sample page is fabulous, I’m all in! If I were an agent, I’d definitely want this ms.

    The only thing I’m not in love with is the query. I would suggest making it tighter and sharper. These are just my suggestions, feel free to ignore whatever doesn’t work.

    Seventeen-year-old Dani is one of ten, soon to be eleven kids, who films YouTube videos rife with homespun goodness on the family farm. (The problem with this opening sentence is that it makes it seem like Dani is one of 10 kids making the videos.) Although the videos are made for earthy, crunchy mamas (Are they for the videos for crunchy mamas or to get a tv deal?), Dani is a-okay with doing them—anything for the family. With Momma determined to keep popping out babies until they can land their own reality show, Dani's too busy chasing the little ones to ask questions.

    It isn't until she meets fellow YouTuber and high school reporter Duncan that she examines her life and her place in the family. (I would pep this sentence up.) After being blamed for an accident involving a sibling, Dani rebels by making a YouTube video that protests her individuality. (I love this, but again, I’d make it stronger.)

    When the video goes viral it attracts a TV producer who offers them Momma's long-sought after dream. But there's a catch—the family must follow a carefully written script. Dani has to choose whether to accept the role the TV execs have planned for her, or to forge her own path, except doing so may oust her from the crazy family she loves so much. (I love this. I would just divide the last sentence up.)

    So here’s my suggestion. Again, take it or leave it!

    Seventeen-year-old Dani is the oldest of ten, soon to be eleven kids, living the dream of homespun goodness on her family’s farm. Or at least that’s what her YouTube videos geared toward the crunchy earth mothers (is this true?) would have you believe. With Momma determined to keep popping out babies until they can land their own reality show, Dani's too busy chasing the little ones to figure out how she feels.

    It isn't until she meets fellow YouTuber and high school reporter Duncan that she begins to question her “anything for the family” attitude. Especially after she’s blamed for her sister/ brother’s accident. Suddenly Dani is turning the cameras around and making a YouTube video that will shock everyone. (or something that is clearer about what protesting her individuality means)

    But when the video goes viral, suddenly there’s a TV producer offering them Momma's long-sought after dream. But with a catch—the family must follow a carefully written script. Dani has to choose whether to accept the role the TV execs have planned for her, or to forge her own path. But if she chooses the latter, it may oust her from the crazy family she loves so much.

    But again, I think this is fabulous! Good luck!
    Natalie (Team icy cold SNOW)

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  7. Team Snow mentor Kat here!

    I think this is such a great concept, and the story sounds like it's going to be a real rollercoaster. Reading through your query and what the other mentors have said, I agree with pretty much all of it - you start with a great voice, then I had questions about what Duncan's role in it was. I always think if it's not clear what role the love interest plays other than being the love interest, make it clear or don't mention them, just like you wouldn't mention there's a squirrel fight in chapter 3, or the 4th sibling wins the school pageant... these aren't a part of your main plot.

    In the final paragraph, you really neatly set up the stakes. Your query has a lot going for it, and I think Mentor Natalie's revised version above incorporates the changes you need to make it great.

    Your first 250 is pretty stellar. Starts in a good place, draws the reader in and gets them asking all the right questions right away. I agree with the little tweaks the other mentors highlighted, but wouldn't go crazy making any big changes.

    Good luck!

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  8. Okay-full disclosure, I'm writing a YA about a girl with lots of siblings on a farm! Crazy! (that's where the similarities end, but obviously I love this world!)

    You've already gotten some great ideas for clarifying your query, but it seems really solid to me. I get who she is, what she wants, who her love interest is, and a great idea of the conflict and stakes. :)

    And I think once you clean up your first 250 it'll be great. I am getting a great sense of what her life is like and how tedious it must be to be her at times. One question: she wears a cross just to fend off questions like these? That seemed a little odd to me. Also, is she just putting up with the old lady? Does she think it's kind? Tiresome?

    Anyway! Good luck with this. I think it could be really interesting to meet all of her siblings and get a glimpse at her life. I would definitely keep reading!

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  9. Team Snow mentor here!

    First off, I love your premise. Love, love, love. I think it's timely and relatable, and it has the potential to hit a lot of resonant notes with your audience.

    QUERY:

    I think almost all the parts are here, but it could use some rearranging. I feel like the beginning is padded with a little too much backstory, as another mentor's already mentioned. Launch into your hook right off the bat. What's the driving concern behind your story that will make people want to read it? It's not that Dani's family makes YouTube videos. Just from what I've read, it's the position she finds herself in once her life is played out in a not-so-real reality tv show. THAT is interesting. Don't bury that so far into your query. You don't want to bore whoever is reading right off the bat.

    And on that note, I need more Duncan. Who is he? Why is he so important? He's just kind of tossed into the mix here like he's not terribly significant, but if he's important enough to impact Dani's way of thinking, then their connection must be pretty strong. Don't waste the opportunity to explore that idea, even if just briefly.

    Like I said, everything you need is there, you just need to really take a look at what should be prioritized.

    EXCERPT:

    I like that I get a sense of who this character is right off the bat. I'm going to disagree with one of the other mentors and say that I like the line about staying on script. It's specific. It's not a vague throwaway that could be reinterpreted any other way. And it acts as our first hint that something's not right in the water, you know what I mean?

    I know it's only 250 words, but I did feel a bit lost. Are they currently being filmed? Can random people, like that old woman, just wander on screen if they're being filmed? Was the situation set up? Maybe all these questions are answered in the next paragraph, so don't read this as a criticism so much as honest questioning. I don't quite have a sense of the circumstances surrounding this encounter. I want to know where Dani is, physically and psychologically.

    You've got her voice down, now I just want to be able to really picture the scene like I could live in it.

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  10. Hi!

    So the thing that hit when reading this was both voice and conflict. It feels like your query is giving us background rather than the real meat of the story. Distilled down, I totally see what it's about: it's a quirky premise about a girl who comes from a massive family (side-note: I'm a quadruplet who was once mildly famous for that fact!) who feels a bit trapped--so what she wants, ultimately, is to break free of the identity; the mould of being one-of-ten.

    Is that a fair reading? So maybe stress the want rather than the set-up more.

    It's just the inciting incident doesn't sound "inciting" enough to hook [me]--one kid gets blamed for another kid's accident. That kinda stuff happens all the time. I was forever in trouble for things my brother did--and I got into A LOT of trouble, but it was never enough to push me to make a video. And even if I had made a video, there would have been much awkwardness and silence, but I don't think it'd lead to my family threatening to kick me out, essentially.

    So I guess what I'm trying to say is that maybe you should lessen the backstory and focus on the plot. What does Dani really want? How does she get it? What goes wrong? Being blamed wrongfully just doesn't seem like a strong enough inciting incident right now.

    Just my two cents.

    Cheers!

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  11. Hey there! I love contemporary and this is a great concept. I am so impressed that you've written a whole book with a MC with this many siblings---most authors don't even want to deal with one other sibling. (Or maybe that's just me!)
    Feel free to use what you like or what may echo other mentors' advice or feel free to ignore everything but the praise. : )

    Query:

    Seventeen-year-old Dani is one(CAN YOU PUT HER PLACEMENT IN HERE--OLDEST, YOUNGEST, MIDDLE. OR say the third of ten kids-going on eleven?) of ten, soon to be eleven kids, who films YouTube videos rife with homespun goodness on the family farm. Although the videos are made for earthy, crunchy mamas, Dani is a-okay with doing them—anything for the family. (This sentence falls a little flat for me. Maybe it's the a-okay along with the structure of it) With Momma determined to keep popping out babies until they can land their own reality show, Dani's too busy chasing the little ones to ask questions.

    It isn't until she meets fellow YouTuber and high school reporter Duncan that she examines her life and her place in the family. After being blamed for an accident involving a sibling, Dani rebels by making a YouTube video that protests her individuality. (Get a little more specific here--Don't worry about giving away a major spoiler by telling what happened or more about Dani's video).

    When the video goes viral it attracts a TV producer who offers them Momma's long-sought after dream. But there's a catch—the family must follow a carefully written script. Dani has to choose whether to accept the role the TV execs have planned for her, or to forge her own path, except doing so may oust her from the crazy family she loves so much. REWORK THIS LAST SENTENCE. Something like: If Dani doesn't accept that living her Momma's dream comes with a price, she'll lose more than her role in America's next favorite show. And this is where you add more stakes---I need to know more about what bad might happen and perhaps some other subplot (the boy stuff??) stakes here as well.

    Good luck to you. I'm excited to see how this turns out! : )

    As for your first 250, I was a bit thrown off. I wasn't sure if she's wearing the cross so she can explain it to people that way when they ask her nosy questions in public OR if that's part of the script and she's already in the reality show. If you can make that clearer, IMO, you'll be just fine.

    Wishing you much success with this! : )

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  12. TeamSun mentor Sharon here.

    Query

    Straight up – I think this is a really interesting premise with a lot potential. I found a lot of the sentences in the query a bit awkward and had to reread them through.

    Does Dani film the videos, or is she in them? The first sentence sounds like she films them, so behind the camera. Then what is a crunch mama? (This could be a cultural barrier as I’m an Aussie).

    I’m left wondering where the dad is in all this and is getting a TV show really the reason why someone would pop out babies? It’s hard work!

    Tighten up the last sentence:

    Dani must choose between accepting the role and helping her family or forging her own path and risk being ousted from the crazy family she loves so much.

    Opening

    I found the opening contradicted the premise for me a bit. Why is she going to have an issue sticking to a script if she’s already been doing it? If something else is going on then make it clearer in the query (I do realize there is an incident where she changes her mind and starts to rebel, but it doesn’t sound from the query like she’s being scripted from the start).

    Best of luck


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  13. Just a reminder to take the feedback that works for you when revising for the agent round. It’s a lot to take in, but you’re the expert on your story and know best. If you have any questions about the next round you may ask here or on twitter.

    Thought you’d like to know why you were picked. There was something very fresh about your concept. Your first page jumps right into the title. Here's the MC following a script for the public, which makes me want to see the real her as the story progresses! And loved the detail of the needlepoint sentence. Little things like that set this apart.

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  14. A lot of the little things I noticed have already been mentioned, such as adding a little more on the accident that drove Dani to rebellion. Your voice is amazing and your concept sounds very unique.

    I wish you the best of luck!

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  15. Hey there. #TeamSun mentor sneaking in today to see what's going on at #TeamSnow. You've already got a lot of great advice here, so I'll just chime in and say that I love the concept and voice. This all feels really fresh. Looking forward to seeing your revisions based on the great mentor suggestions I see! Good luck!

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  16. I love your voice but in your query I am looking for how all these actions affect the character. She seems sweet and loving in the beginning, but does that change by the end?

    I really liked your first 250 and you hooked me! Good luck in the agent round!

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  17. Hello, fellow Team Snow member!

    Your premise makes me so curious about your story! Of course, with the number of kids, I had a mental image of the 19 Kids and Counting clan, but Dani's voice tips that vision on its ear. I want to be there when she has to handle the professional cameras (no longer YouTube video) demanding a world that’s different from what she’s always known. There's such promise for great stakes in your idea, since we're all familiar with the unravelling of families during/after reality shows. I want to see Dani’s experience unfold, and I want to see how Mom’s TV wish fulfillment affects her and the family dynamic!

    As others have said, in your query, I want to know more about how Duncan factors in and how his influence ups the stakes. I also think the accident Dani's erroneously blamed for needs a bit more fleshing, since it's a catalyst.

    “I had to reposition it so the cross stayed put, front and center. It kept sliding off to the side, where it was hard to see.” This line really strikes me as symbolic for Dani (especially paired up with the query line about Dani rebelling to protest her individuality). It also may be why--along with her description of the sameness of her family and slight disdain for the public--I don’t get a consciousness about her love for her crazy family that you suggest in your last query line. Perhaps rewording to “…except doing so may oust her from the crazy family she *never knew* she loves so much.”

    I wish I could read this now, to find out how the scripted life she thinks she's going through with YouTube vids is turned on its ear when the REAL script comes along!

    Best of luck to you!

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  18. Hi, fellow Team Snow member here. Following are my suggestions, for what they are worth.

    I don't usually read this kind of thing, but your query made me interested—so that's a plus right.

    "It isn't until she meets fellow YouTuber and high school reporter Duncan that she examines her life and her place in the family." This line left me wondering why she is suddenly questioning her life.

    "Dani has to choose whether to accept the role the TV execs have planned for her, or to forge her own path, except doing so may oust her from the crazy family she loves so much." So this sounds awkward to me, like it is two sentences squished together. Maybe replace "except doing so" to "which" or "a choice that."

    needle pointed – Not sure but should this be needle point?

    Good luck in the agent round!

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  19. Hello! Author of #5 here, swooping in to leave just a few comments. You already have a TON of solid advice here. This concept is so interesting. After all, we all hear about/watch/obsess over these reality TV shows, but little thought goes into what goes on behind the scenes. I am hooked just by the idea of seeing what happens on the other side of the camera.

    Query: I had some of the same issues as above commenters. The final sentence of the query threw me off. Where you want a PUNCH NOW GIVE ME THE STORY, I was going back and rereading to make sense of it. I also want to know where Dad is in this story, even a small mention. "With Momma determined to keep popping out babies until they can land their own reality show, [and Dad (Papa?) always distracted by..., Dani's too busy..." I also want to know more about Duncan. Is he just there to help her examine her life, or does he play a larger role in the story? Is he a love interest?

    First page: I would change "most notably" to something more common. Most notably makes me think of one time, where a word like "usually" tells me this happens on a regular basis. I am also confused as to why she is giving a scripted answer when a main plot point is that she doesn't want to be scripted. The answer to that may be in the next pages. I love how you are already giving us a glimpse into Dani's disillusionment with being one of ten kids, rather than her own person.

    All that said, I would definitely pick up this book and keep reading. Nice work!

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  20. This is a very timely concept, especially with the popularity of reality TV. I thought the query and excerpt showed a lot of voice. The query, in particular, was concisely written. Your hook is kind of hidden in the last paragraph and I wonder if you should move that front and center.

    Lastly, and this is nitpick. I did not get this sentence: "Although the videos are made for earthy, crunchy mamas."

    Thanks for sharing your writing! Good luck to you.

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  21. Hi! Fellow Team Snow member here....

    Love your concept, and I think I saw this in a one-line pitch contest, where I loved it as well. I will say that in that other contest, you mentioned that Dani would be cast as the villain in the "reality" show, and I thought that was an intriguing and important element that I'd love to see in your query as well. The mention of the cross she wears was subtle and well-done. I'd like to see a little more of a hint of the possible romance with Duncan.

    Based on your first page, you're a good writer, and you have a unique and engaging concept. Best of luck to you!!!

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  22. Oh, this looks so interesting. I agree that the voice is wonderful. I was a bit confused about the video part. I get that your MC is making the video's for her family but maybe showing us one might help. I'm not sure what kind of video they are. The potential romance does seem thrown in, show us more of that. Make sure to tighten this up for the revision. How does your MC protest her individuality? Good luck!

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  23. Howdy, team SNOW mentor Matt of Elephant's Bookshelf Press here. I'm not a huge reality show fan, but I recognize that a lot of people are. My initial impression of the family isn't too positive (they seem repugnant, actually -- Octomom gone even crazier), but to some degree that's a credit to your voice. We can see the people and the conflict, so that's to your credit. The first 250 keep that going, so I like that the query voice and the ms voice are in accord.

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  24. Acting as a critique faerie today.
    First, I want to say that, as with everyone else, your voice really shows in your query and excerpt. That's half the battle won!
    Now for some thoughts. I agree that this can be tightened, meaning more choice words and less vagueness can really make this query pop. Your premise is unique, and though I'm not a reality show watcher, I think this has a large appeal. But we need to understand what's at stake for Dani. I think we need a little insight behind why her mom is hell bent on getting a reality show. I can assume, but I think that clarifying is a crucial piece to understand Dani's motivations and again her stakes. Also we need to know a little more about what the deed is she is wrongfully accused of. That seems to be the catalyst. We also need to know more of what her connection to Duncan is.
    The 250 words. I agree with other comments. The first sentence is catchy, the rest is clunky. I was confused. Is Dani recalling an instance or is this woman speaking to her? I realized it was the latter, but I had to reread. We need to be grounded first in the scene before we get the older woman's statement.
    The rest of the passage really piques my curiosity. Why does she lie about being Catholic? Why does she dally when her brother calls her? Is she trying to get money or sympathy? I almost want one little zinger line, an insight to her mother/family or her thoughts on them and as to why she's been "programmed" to do these things.
    The first 250 words are always hard, but good job and Good Luck.

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  25. When I read your entry I fell in the love with the unique concept immediately. Like mentor, Vicki, I love that it revolves around family too, which I think is a key element missing from YA.

    Good Luck!

    #TeamSun Leader Amy

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  26. This is such an interesting idea! Best of luck to you!

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