Thursday, October 27, 2016

NoQS Minion 11: WE BURN TOO BRIGHT, YA Contemporary

Genre: YA Contemporary 
Word Count: 85,000
My Main Character's Most Stressful Relationship is:

My MC, Wella, is most stressed by her relationship with her stepfather. Now that it’s summer, Mark is constantly on her case to get out of bed before noon, give up her late night delivery shifts at Lola’s Pizza, and return to working at her father’s store. All of this, of course, is so he can watch her every move and debate whether the therapy is working—which it isn’t. One more missed curfew, and Mark has promised to lock Wella in her room and personally escort her to therapy until she acts normal again.


All seventeen-year-old Wella Scotland recalls from the night her best friend threatened her is a full moon glinting off the knife he held to her neck. The argument started when she found out Finn planned to move without telling her; the next thing she remembers is running away from him. Everything in between is a black hole.

Almost a year later, Finn is nowhere to be found and Wella still can’t understand how this gentle boy—the one who made her whole world—could ever hurt her. She buries her overwhelming sorrow under mind-numbing pizza deliveries and sleeping pills, but when signs that Finn has returned begin to pop up around town, she can no longer ignore that a more complicated story hides underneath her missing memories.

Enter Tusk, the quirky, relentless guy from group therapy, who insists on helping Wella discover the truth about what happened the night Finn left. As they track down leads, Wella uncovers how Finn really felt about her, forcing her to rethink everything about him—and herself—she once believed. And when Wella and Tusk become unlikely allies, learning from each other about the effects of loss, she questions if she and Finn can ever reclaim the friendship they once shared. Each revelation pushes her closer to deciding if she should try to save her relationship with Finn, though it may be too broken to fix, or let him go, and risk losing herself as well.

First 250 words:

Drowning is often quick and unspectacular.

Finn left that quote for me in one of our hiding spots years ago. An innocent scrap of torn notebook paper rolled up tight and stuffed into the hollow of a chestnut tree. I think of those words now as I stare through the window of the Historical Society, blinking in disbelief at the anomaly within the miniature model of downtown Juniper. Positioned on Main Street, exactly where I stand in real life, a cork-sized ceramic polar bear glares back at me. He’s powder white and glossy, with a swipe of black paint leaping down his tapered snout and two inquisitive dots for eyes.

And just like that, I know Finn is back.

The realization hits me like a sudden, rogue wave. Before I can stop them, fragmented memories of last summer flood my mind. I shiver on the beach where Finn and I fought, hear the red flags snapping, smell the sharp ocean salt. The knife in his hand flashes silver in the moonlight just before its sharp edge grazes the sensitive skin at my neck. Every time I think of that moment, the last time I saw him before he disappeared, I’m submerged, lungs begging for air—quickly drowning.

As my legs loosen, I lean forward, so close my forehead knocks against the window. It holds me upright while I gulp oxygen, panting, breath fogging the glass.


  1. Shriek! I'd like to read more. Please send me the first 50 pages using my online submission form:
    Please be sure to enter the query contest name as #NoQS. Thank you.

  2. Shriek - first 50 as a Word doc please with query and synopsis in the body of the email to NoQs in the subj line. Thanks!

  3. Shriek! Please send the first 50 ages as an attachment to Please use REQUESTED: Nightmare on Query Street: WE BURN TOO BRIGHT in the subject line. Looking forward to reading more! Jennifer

  4. Shriek! Could I please see the first 50 pages, as well as the synopsis, attached as a Word doc and the query in the body of the email to jjohnsonblalock[at]lizadawson[dot]com? Thank you!

  5. Shriek! Sorry to be late to the party! Please send query and 1st 50 pages as an attachment w/ NoQS in the subj line to kristy[dot]hunter@knightagency[dot]net.