Title: I Didn't Meet a Single Geezer
Entry Nickname: The Golden Geezers
Word Count: 30,000
Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary
But when Oscar goes missing in a window-shattering Oklahoma storm, Promilla calls off the party in search of him and realizes she's become more attached to Oscar than she expected. Having been the one person to actually listen to his ramblings, Promilla may be the only one who can find Oscar before he gets lost in the lash and thunder of the storm for good.
For more than twenty years I was a Long Term Health Care Administrator at both nursing home and assisted living facilities. Currently I serve as the moderator of the Writers of Chantilly. Several of my short stories have been published. This book is co-authored with Edgar Brown, who adds the special perspective of a youthful octogenarian and a former Justice Department lawyer.
So here are my choices: Harry's Garage and Gas, Elena's Psychic Parlor, The Monroe County Trash Depot, or The Golden Sunset Home and Rehabilitation Center.
Yep. You guessed it. I will be spending the best part of my summer in a nursing home. All because I snuck one of Grama's rabbits into Mrs. Thompson's desk.
Sometime I guess I'll have to get out of bed. Through my open windows, I hear the chickens clucking in the yard. Magic jumps onto my mattress and smothers me in kisses. Sun beats onto his gold-and-black fur. At least he didn't forget my birthday.
I don't blame Grama for forgetting and I don't expect any presents. But I smile when I see a card slipped under my door. It might even be the same one as last year.
The smell of bacon and blueberry pancakes finally convinces me to rise. I throw on some clothes and retrieve the card.
Downstairs, my arms wrap around Grama and I kiss her wrinkled cheek. "Thanks for remembering. And wow!" I point to the chair where I usually sit for breakfast. "Is that Oklahoma U sweatshirt for me?"
Grama laughs. "Who else? Your parents loved that place."
"I remember," I say.
Grama's long silver hair is always tied in a bun. She has a heavyset body with muscular arms and legs. There is a dark scar on her chin that she got at the age of eleven when the tractor she was driving struck a boulder and catapulted her off it.
Entry Nickname: Be Grateful For Cookies
Word Count: 40,000
Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary
Thirteen-year-old Lizzie will do almost anything for a cookie. Sadly, her mother banned them from her life months ago, replacing sweets with tasteless foods and a gym membership. Her mom claims it’s for her own good, even though her skinny sister can still eat whatever she wants.
Doomed to a life of flaxseed and broccoli, Lizzie joins what she believes is an after school cooking club, hoping to make chocolate anything on the sly. When the teacher announces they'll also be sewing, Lizzie discovers a knack for designing stylish plus-size clothes, something she desperately needs. After the owner of a local boutique sees one of Lizzie's shirts with the message BE STRONG sewn across the back, she convinces Lizzie to reveal her inspirational clothing to the public with a fashion show. Lizzie hesitantly agrees—it's a lot of work, and she’s never been comfortable being the center of attention.
Faced with an overpowering mom, a group of relentless school bullies, and some embarrassing mishaps at the gym, Lizzie realizes how important it is to BE YOU, as she sets out to prove there's more to a person than the size of their waist.
From the moment I stepped out onto Aunt Teri and Uncle Joe’s patio, they taunted me. My eyes darted away, trying my best to ignore them, but I knew they were there. Every summer my aunt and uncle hosted a huge neighborhood cookout. Mom had warned me on the car ride over to be good. She knew that they’d be there … waiting … and she reminded me how important it was to stay away from them. Hearing Aunt Teri behind me, my heart began to race. She was getting closer. No doubt she had them with her.
You can do this, I reminded myself. You’re better than they are.
“Lizzie,” Aunt Teri called.
I felt her hand on my shoulder. She twirled me around.
“It’s so lovely to see you. And my, look how big you’ve gotten. Chip?”
She thrust the dreaded bowl in my face. They were the kind with ridges. The kind covered with that powdered sour cream and onion stuff I loved. I forced a smile.
“No thanks. I’m good.”
She shrugged and began to walk away.
“Wait!” I yelled. “I mean …” Rushing over to her, I dug my chubby fingers into the bowl, emerging with a fistful of my forbidden fare. “Maybe just a couple. Thanks.”
Looking up, I saw my mother staring down at me through Aunt Teri’s kitchen window. I threw the chips in the trash and grabbed a piece of celery off the veggie tray instead. I was in for a long afternoon.
Judges can reply with their feedback and vote here.ReplyDelete
Thoughts on Geezers:Delete
- The 2nd sentence of the query is confusing.
- I don’t think the word “dock” means what you think it does. Try log instead.
- I want more about the relationship with Oscar. You go directly from telling us he’s a nuisance to Promilla feeling determined to save him from a terrible storm. What happened in between to make her want to do this?
- In the 250—I didn’t realize you could do community service with a psychic? Is this a thing?
- I would clarify that Magic is the dog.
- Your writing style is unique—short, choppy paragraphs and sentences—and it throws me off, but I am but one person.
- I’d like more about Promilla in the opening, and less about Grama. I also think, knowing what the prank was now, you should mention it in the query and talk about Promilla being spunky, not Grama.
- Overall, I think with some polishing, this will be a very nice query. I do worry though, that the concept may not stand out, as I’ve seen a number of MG novels published this year featuring farm animals and spunky country girls solving problems. If there’s something you know will make this one stand apart, I would mention it right up front.
Thoughts on Plus-Size
- I love this immediately. It feels like the little sister to the forthcoming FAT GIRL ON A PLANE.
- I don’t have any suggestions on the query, actually, except that if this is #ownvoices, please mention that.
- The 250 is perfect. I relate so much. Excellent work.
I think my choice will be obvious—based on the readiness of the query and the 250, combined with my personal preferences, victory to PLUS-SIZE!
Query: I’m not sure what your story is about. The first paragraph had me thinking it was all about how Promilla was supposed to grow through what she learned in the nursing home. And that’s good. It’s a classic theme and if done right can lead to a fantastic story. But then the storm came, and you mentioned how given her unique knowledge pertaining to Oscar, Promilla was the only one who could find him. This had me really intrigued. It seems like you’ve taken a classic theme and given it a mystery twist that would really have me interested in reading this. However, I’m not sure that’s what’s going on because of the structure of the query. If the nursing home is just a setup, and the prank is just a setup for the setup, then I would limit that first paragraph and expand the second. If that’s not the case, I’d consider making it the case. There are a lot of MG’s with the nursing-home-type setup. There aren’t very many where the MC uses the knowledge they learned there to solve a missing person case. That is a book that would sell.
Also, please try and put the age of your MC in the query. I see that you put Junior high in there but I also saw graduation and immediately thought high school. When an agent or intern is reading through these very quickly that can be a point of confusion that leads to a rejection. Luckily it’s an easy fix.
250: And Peggy has covered everything the 250 needs. If you can focus on Promilla, that would make the opening much stronger. Good luck in the competition.
There is absolutely nothing I can say to make the query or the 250 any better. well done. Victory to Plus size
Ahh! Another tough match.Delete
So for Geezers, the query had a lot of intriguing details. I liked the rural setting and I think that having a young character spend time with older people covers a topic that I think many teachers, parents and librarians would like to see in MG. However, the query and the first page left me with bunch of questions. How old is this character? The query makes it sound like Pomilla is entering junior high, which would be 11-13 depending on the schools in your area. But the whopping 200 hours of community service (apparently outside of the supervision of a parent), the reference to having a set of wheels and the presence of the university sweatshirt (on the first page) made it seem like this was a much older character. I also personally felt that the voice in the selection was geared way more toward YA than MG.
I have to say I loved Plus-Size. There's not a lot that I would change. If anything, if the stakes could be heightened or clarified, that would be great. What will happen if Lizzie doesn't succeed in her quest to prove that people are more that just their size? But this is minor and I would read this book in an instant.
Awesome entries but victory to PLUS-SIZE!
I really loved both of these so this was a hard choice!Delete
Golden Geezers: I love that the MC gets to know and feel close to an elderly person who isn't in her own family. However, I felt confused about the series of events and felt more explanation was needed in the query concerning her relationship to Oscar. It jumps from her feeling annoyed with him to her feeling sad that he is missing. You also say she called off the search party, which didn't make sense to me...maybe just add a little detail there explaining why she would want them to stop searching for him. If she cared for him, why would she do that? And who would give a young kid that kind of authority? (Did you mean to say "forms a search party" instead of "calls off the party in search of him"?)
Plus-size: I really loved this concept and the execution! Good job!
VICTORY GOES TO PLUS-SIZE!
This one brought back memories for me, because I volunteered at a retirement home when I was around the MC's age! As for the query... I think the first paragraph is too big, and you'd probably benefit from splitting it in two. I also think you can merge the first two sentences together, and leave more room for the MC's relationship with Mr. Oscar.
I also agree that you should vary the sentence structure on the first page. As-is, it reads kind of mechanical because all sentences are alike, structure-wise.
This one ALSO brought back memories of being a plus-size girl in school. I love that she starts her own line of plus-size clothing, and my one suggestion is to make the stakes more obvious. What will that line of clothing prove to the MC's mom? What will happen if the line flops, aside from soul-crushing despair?
On the first page (and going forward) beware of passives such as "She was getting closer."
Other than that, I don't have anything to add beyond what's been said. I almost feel like I have a personal investment in both, but due to the first page being more ready, VICTORY TO PLUS-SIZE!
Replying as Chief Doodler!Delete
I agree with most of the feedback given! I wasn't sure about her age, or why she needs to do 200 years of community service. As an aside, I really love her name. I think it's quirky and super cute. I almost want her personality to match her spunky name. From the pages, I was missing her voice!
Omg. I love this query, the concept. This is a book I'd totally read over and over! My big nitpick are the stakes. As in, where are they? I love this story is about a girl learning to be comfortable in her own skin, but I do want there to be some tension as well. What happens if Lizzie doesn't succeed? What will she lose? Maybe incorporate something with the fashion show? Who is the antagonist in the story? Who/what stands in Lizzie's way of getting what she wants?
Loved the 250 words!
My vote goes to PLUS SIZE!
coming down to the wire here, so I'm going to vote and *IF YOURS IS THE ENTRY THAT DOESN'T MAKE IT THROUGH* and you want/need more feedback aside from what's already been posted - reach out to me via the tag on twitter (tag both my name #sailorsun and #querykombat) and I'll find you. I'd be more than happy to work with you on the query + first chapter.Delete
VICTORY GOES TO: PLUS SIZE (lovedddd this one)
Critique: The Golden GeezersDelete
This is really charming, and I just have a few questions here:
1. Promilla needs to complete 200 hours community service to graduate junior high, correct? It might be nice to give us Promilla’s age.
2. If you can, it might be nice to tell us what the big prank was.
3. Why does Promilla call off the search party if she likes Oscar? Presumably it is because she knows where he might be? However, if she likes this guy, it seems like it is odd for her to call off the search.
Other than that, I just love it! I think a heartwarming story between people of vastly different generations is something we need more of. I really like the overall concept, I just wish some of the things mentioned in the query were a bit clearer.
First 250 words:
I like this, but wish we got an idea of what this epic prank was.
Critique: Be Grateful For Cookies
This is so commercial. I like that I can picture the entire novel from this pitch, but not in a way that would make me not want to read it. The only concern I have is that the sayings are a bit…boring. I’d want them to have a lot of edge as Lizzie seems to.
First 250 words:
I really like all this, my only not is that I wish she would notice something about the fashion people are wearing. Something that makes us know she’s get an eye for it.
Verdict: Both The Golden Geezers and Be Grateful For Cookies feature things I like. Whether it is learning you can make friends with someone much older/younger than yourself or seeing that size is far from everything there is about a person. So…my usual default of “what do I want to see more of?” isn’t helpful here. Therefore I have to give it to Be Grateful For Cookies based on the fact that I found the query easier and smoother.
WINNER GOES TO: Be Grateful For Cookies
Posted for Silent Siren
The query has a strong voice (which is good for MG). While I really like the opening line, it focuses more on the grandmother (who doesn’t get mentioned again) than the MC. Also, while it does portray the obvious danger of the situation, it doesn’t really provide any stakes. What risks does Promilla take to find Oscar? What does cancelling the party cost her? If the MC isn’t making compelling choices, how is the story going to maintain reader interest?
First 250 Words:
While I do like the voice in general, the narrative as presented feels overly choppy, consisting of only one and two-line paragraphs. It provides no sense of flow, and I would suggest pulling together some of the smaller pieces to form larger ones. Also, in the opening paragraph, I would suggest having her describe the places she has to choose from rather than naming them. Names are difficult for the reader to remember, especially when you throw out four all at once. As a side note, 200 hours of community service for hiding a rabbit in a desk seems overly harsh.
Be Grateful for Cookies
This reads as a solid premise. What missing from the query is any sense of setting up stakes or trying to hook the reader. What will it cost Lizzie to do the fashion show (e.g., will people make fun of her, etc.)? What specific fears will she have to overcome? In my thinking, everything in the last paragraph needs to be incorporated earlier and expanded upon. And then the hook at the end needs to be less of a summary and more of a hook to grab the reader’s attention (usually hinging on a choice the MC needs to make).
First 250 Words:
Solid narrative voice in this opening page, and a great introduction to the character. I will note that the issue of a character struggling with weight has been done a fair amount, but I think the voice here is enough to give the story a unique outlook.
While I think both entries offer interesting stories, I feel the writing in the second one is much closer to being polished and ready to go, so it’s victory to BE GRATEFUL FOR COOKIES!
Golden Geezers - The query has a decent amount of voice, but the 250 reads a little more generic. That could be at least partly because you've started with a "waking up" opening, and it's a challenge to get past the generic-ness of that. If this is the best place to start, you need a little more zing to make up for it.ReplyDelete
My other concern is that I'm confused by the opening paragraphs. From the query, I know she's talking about the choice of where to do her community service, but on the page, there's nothing to point me in that direction. The other entries aren't ones where you'd obviously do CS. (And honestly, at that age, I would have chosen the psychic parlor over the retirement home.) The other thing that threw me out of the story is that 200 hours seems like a lot for putting a rabbit in the teacher's desk. Seems more like a week of detention. Is there more to that story? If so, maybe hint at that. Is that why she doesn't expect her grandmother to acknowledge her birthday, because of the prank and the CS? 'Cause that also seems like an over-reaction. I'd expect a spunky granny to laugh about it then shrug and tell her she has to take her punishment along with her fun.
Plus-Size - This is a painfully relatable topic, and my heart breaks for Lizzie since it seems like her mom is doing more harm than good. Unfortunately, I don't like stories that revolve around bullying, but that's more of a personal preference. Not everyone is going to feel the same way.
In the query, I'm not sure I'm getting a good sense of the conflict. Her mom's weight-loss obsession and the bullies being mean make Lizzie unhappy, but how do they get in the way of her efforts to show her line of clothes?
In the 250, I'm not crazy about italicizing "them" repeatedly but not naming them. Are they other kids from school or from the neighborhood? If so, why would Aunt Teri have them with her? Are they Teri's kids or other family members? If it's that, give us that information.
The moment where she gives up what she wants to eat only because someone else is watching and judging rings true in a big way. Good job capturing that emotion.
Two good entries. My nitpickings follow:ReplyDelete
Entry Nickname: The Golden Geezers
Tiny typo: wih on line 6
“Having been the one person to actually listen to his ramblings, Promilla may be the only one who can find Oscar before he gets lost...” – Isn’t he already lost? I’d put a period after Oscar and omit the rest.
Also, I don’t see the connection between Promilla having listened to Oscar and her being the only one capable of finding him, not unless he ran away and she has an idea where he would hide.
First 250-words: Try varying the sentence length. It makes the text easier to read.
Entry Nickname: Be Grateful For Cookies
“After the owner of a local boutique sees one of Lizzie's shirts with the message BE STRONG sewn across the back, she convinces Lizzie to reveal her inspirational clothing to the public with a fashion show.” From 1 shirt to a fashion show? That seems like a big jump to me.
First 250 words: Nice characterization, but I don’t like the suspense on ‘they’ and I’m not a big fan of using italics to change the meaning of a word (I think the writing should convey ideas, not the formatting). As Abbe mentioned before me, I was confused on what ‘they’ meant. I first I thought it was the bullies, but they I started suspecting the chips... or maybe they were the cookies in the entry nickname?
I Didn't Meet a Single Geezer:ReplyDelete
*"Initial first impressions begin to crumble..." But which impressions? The ones she thought were funny and quirky, or the "scary residents"?
*"she doubles down..." Should this be "she will double down at the local..."?
I love the idea of living with a grandma who "wrestles chickens and fixes her own tractor". I bet she'd be a hoot!
I'm not getting a sense of the stakes. What happens if she doesn't present her designs to the world? What if she can't prove the importance of BE YOU? And, since BE YOU is capitalized, is this the name of her fashions, by chance? If so, maybe clarify. I totally love the concept of Lizzie being a plus-size person and creating her own fashion that has interest from professionals...because CLOTHES!!!!
Very cute premise here. I wish you could elaborate on what exactly she did to get community service; "a schoolyard prank" sounds rather vague, so I think some specifics here could really make your query pop. I'm not sure why calling off the search party would cause her to realize she's attached to Oscar; it seems like the structure of this sentence is just a little off, because the cause and effect doesn't seem to have the right flow. That being said, I'm not sure why a kid in junior high would have the authority to call off a search party. I think you could completely delete "calls off the party in search of him and".
I'm enjoying your opening and the way you can say a lot with so few words. The final paragraph, though, feels like a bit of a "blah" ending to your first 250. Of course I don't think you should remove it, just maybe move it a little later so we can have a better hook at the end of the first 250. But all in all, I really like your entire entry!
Be Grateful for Cookies
This sounds really good! Good job on turning a phrase and making your entry stand out.
Wow, this is great. We can really feel Lizzie's tension and frustration here, and we get a good sense of how she navigates her world. Bravo!
Both the premise of this story and the voice of the first 250 strike me as more YA than middle grade. Just something to think about. I do love the voice itself! I think the first paragraph of the query could be tightened quiet a bit--jump straight to the meet of Promilla needing to perform community service and being stuck at a nursing home. I think some specifics on what starts winning her over to the home and it's people might be helpful--although that seems contradicted by the last line of this paragraph, which says she still can't wait for there time there to end. Also, in the next paragraph, confused how Promilla is in a position to be calling off the search for Oscar? A little more insight into how exactly she's best equipped to find this lost man would also help to ground readers in the specific of your story.
But again, I really love the voice in the first 250, and the spunkiness of Grama, too.
Agree with some of the previous posters, that I think the query can be strengthened by clarifying more of what Lizzie wants for herself, and how her mother's own obsession with weight and appearance throw a wrench in her plans. I'm presuming her mother won't be keen on her designing a line of plus-sized clothes ... but that's me speculating. Adding specifics like this, about Lizzie's goals for herself, her Big "story goal," will also ground this query in specifically what is unique to this story, and about Lizzie herself. But, great voice for MG here!
I love the idea of this story! What a fun concept.
The first paragraph is a bit long. Could you break it into two?
Also, what is it about Oscar that Promilla likes? I want to know more about their relationship. We know what he’s like, but we don’t know what he’s like with her personally.
I loved this opening, until the description of Grama. It went a little long and pulled me out of the story. Maybe try to cut it down to one sentence. But great job here! I’m invested in the character and the story.
BE GRATEFUL FOR COOKIES
Um…I love this story idea and I want to read this book now! I love that you mention the embarrassing mishaps at the gym. That sounds like it’s going to be fun (and relatable) to read.
Great opening. I can feel the struggle and the emotion of this poor little girl.
My only concern here is that the chips need to be cookies (or in your query the cookie line needs to be about chips). Make it consistent. What is the food she would do anything for? Is it cookies or chips?
Geezers- I love the query. As for the 250, I feelnlike you might be starting in the wrong place. I'd love to see the incident with the rabbit in the drawer. Also, when she saw a card shoved under her door, I expected her to read it, but instead she was suddenly downstairs. I found the sudden change of place jarring.ReplyDelete
Cookies- I love the concept. I agree with the previous posters about starting with an unknown they. I at first thought it was bullies until I realized it was food. Keeping it unknown for one sentence is fine, but after that i want to know if I guessed right or not.
Geezers Query: Very nice concept! You mention grandmother in the first line and then she doesn't appear in the rest of the query, which tells me maybe she isn't that important to the main plot and you can probably cut this line. Definitely want to know more about the relationship between Promilla and Oscar. What specifically about her listening to him gives her the only key to finding him now?ReplyDelete
250:I would love to see this start with some action, maybe Promilla standing in front of the retirement home. As an elementary teacher, I've read hundreds of stories written by students that ALL start with the M.C. getting out of bed and/or having breakfast. Don't do this. I think Promilla has so much promise as a character, I would love to see what makes her unique!
Cookies Query:Great voice right from the start! "Doomed to a life of flaxseed and broccoli," made me laugh. The ending feels a little rushed, and I would like to see this fleshed out more.
250:You start us instantly with Lizzie's struggle, and it's so real. My heart breaks for this girl, and I'm already pulling for her to succeed in everything. I like the concept of "they" but it took me a second. I imagine it could be confusing for mg readers. Maybe a line like: "There THEY were, the bowl of dreaded chips."
Not a judge. Just a fellow Kombatant. Take this for what it’s worth…opinion.ReplyDelete
Geezers Q - Great query and unique idea. I’m hooked already and want to read more. A few ideas. Initial first impressions can just be first impressions. I don’t get the “doubles down at the ice cream parlor”
Geezers 250 - I love the writing. You have a strong voice and I already have a good feel for Promilla on the first page. The first two paragraphs don’t seem to fit with the rest of the 250. Maybe there is a way to introduce that idea later. Or acknowledge she is worried or contemplating this in bed. Or maybe Grama asks if she’s decided and then lay out the choices? Or just keep the way you have. You are the writer and know your story best…all of this advice from others feels strange sometimes.
Cookies Q - This is a strong query. You hit all the right notes and it’s well polished. Love it. Maybe switch sadly with but in the second line, but not sure.
Cookies Q - I love this so much! In 250 words, you set up the whole story. I feel like I know Lizzie already. And I’m rooting for her. Not much to change here either. Maybe take out the word “out” in the first line. I laughed out loud at the “Chip?” line. And the description was perfect. This is such a great topic to write about and one that many will be able to relate to. I want to read more.
Fellow Kombatant here, not a judge.ReplyDelete
Two really charming entries.
I think you've got a pretty solid query, which is just in need of some tweaking. I agree with other commenters that it would resonate more for me if Promilla is the spunky one, rather than Grandma. I want to fall in love with Promilla and get pulled into her story. Probably better to focus your description on her rather than secondary characters. I would like to know more about Mr. Oscar and Promilla's relationship, though, since he clearly is an important part of the story. Even just another sentence after "she'd become more attached to Oscar than she expected" to show the reader why she's motivated to help him even at the expense of her own safety.
I really like the voice in the first 250, but I wonder at your choice of community service options. Usually, it's only nonprofits or government organizations where one can fulfill those types of hours, so a gas station and psychic parlor don't really make sense.
Also, in the last paragraph, do kids really think of adults as heavyset or muscular? Is that bit of description even necessary? I think the scar is good because it speaks to Grandma's character (that spunk you mentioned above), but her physical characteristics don't really have the same effect.
Overall, I like you're premise and voice. I can definitely see myself reading this book and enjoying it. Good luck with your revisions.
Really love your premise. Such an important topic to address for kids these days. I'm primed to really root for your story from the get go. I wonder about the very first sentence in your query, though. "Lizzie will do almost anything for a cookie." That seems to play right into the tropes about overweight people being gluttons, when it's actually a much more nuanced set of circumstances and body issues which lead people to be overweight. I wonder if you want to tweak that first sentence so that you emphasize the fact that she's desperate for a cookie because her mom's depriving her, not because she's just a stereotypical overeater who got fat as a result. The rest of the query I think is very strong. Love the "flaxseed and broccoli" line, and the fact that Lizzie discovers hidden depths in herself. Love the fashion angle, too, because I know it can be hard for plus size people to find fashionable clothes, so that's also very on-point.
The first 250 are terrific. I really feel right away how awful Lizzie's situation is. I hate Aunt Teri and her horrible passive aggressive comments. Ugh. My heart hurts for Lizzie right from the start. Well done. Can't wait to read this book once it hits the shelves.
Query: I think the first paragraph can be pared down significantly (I think you can, for example, delete the sentence beginning with "Initial first impressions...) and the first sentence of 2nd paragraph moved up.
First 250: I liked how it set up the relationship with the MC and her Grama. One minor question on first sentence - can you do community service for a psychic parlor? I was a little confused with the sentence "I don't blame Grama for forgetting..."; it made me think she already forgot, so when a card was pushed under the door I thought at first it was from someone else. Maybe clarify that a bit in the sentence?
Query: I love this premise and having been a chubby child relate to it personally. One question I had was what the specific stakes are for the MC. Is it the fashion show or is there another specific conflict she has to face?
First 250: Loved it and hit home personally. Great description!