Thursday, May 24, 2012

Blog Hop hosted by Sharon Bayliss! My Entry:

To celebrate the release of YA fantasy, Wilde's Fire by Krystal Wade, Sharon Bayliss is hosting an editor-judged contest with Curiosity Quills Press! The judge is Curiosity Quills Acquisitions Editor for Young Adult, Krystal Wade, herself! 


How beautiful is this cover?




My entry for THE BEAUTY OF DESTRUCTION
Plot Summary:

A fifteen-year-old dead girl wakes up in Afterlife with no memory of her friends, her family, or her name. All she knows is that she’s too young to die, and she absolutely hates Afterlife’s suffocating serenity. She’ll do anything to escape – even agree to serve as Guardian to the lip-glossed and venomous Valerie Wittier in a North Shore Chicago suburb. Unseen and unheard, she must prevent Valerie from making fatal errors that, if not amended, will lead to a school shooting that kills six freshmen. But though Valerie holds the power to prevent – not cause – others to die, she’s too selfish and headstrong to care.


Feeling helpless and incompetent, the Guardian watches the week spin out of control in a kaleidoscope of rumors, fights, rivalry, and romance. She tries to redirect Valerie and save those in jeopardy of dying, but seems continually distracted by Valerie’s best friend, Grace Hewitt, aka Miss Perpetual Bystander. It’s Grace’s ambivalence towards wrongdoing (and blatant denial about her feelings for the reckless Will Pendergrass, who clearly adores her) that infuriates her to the point of obsession. By the time this amnesiac protagonist realizes she’s presiding over the last week of her life, it may be too late to save everyone involved.


THE BEAUTY OF DESTRUCTION is a YA thriller with paranormal elements in the vein of LOVELY BONES meets NINETEEN MINUTES. It is complete at 105,000 words.

First 500 words:

Valerie Wittier’s Awakening

Any minute now, Valerie Wittier will wake up, and I’ll remind her of what she’s done. I keep trying to picture her reaction: defiant, affronted, belligerent. Remorseful crosses my mind, but I don’t consider it seriously. Remorse doesn’t fit Valerie Wittier. While I’d like to think death has changed that, I’m not counting on it.
 Open your eyes. The Lights’ unspoken demand rattles through me like a booming crack of thunder. My heart races a little as Valerie begins to twitch beneath the spotlight.
Three Lights shine down from an impossibly high ceiling in a pitch-black room. They form a single cone-shaped beam and a perfect circle around Valerie’s body where she sleeps. Her face is wiped clean of her usual mascara, lip gloss, and manipulative smile. Her breathing is even and rhythmic. She looks so peaceful and innocent lying there. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think we were alike. I might even feel sorry for her. But I know too much about this girl to fall for that.
Valerie rubs her lids and stretches her arms like this is some lazy Saturday morning. I could see Valerie being the kind of girl that likes to keep people waiting just because she can. If that’s what she’s doing, I can’t imagine the Lights tolerating that for long.
Open your eyes, the Lights command again.
I smirk, just a little. Thought so.
Valerie finally opens her eyes. As she does, a blinding white light floods them. She jolts upright and blinks hysterically. Her hands fly towards her face to block the brightness. When she opens her eyes again, she sees the glaring light shining down in a circle around her body, and only her body. Beyond that, complete darkness surrounds her like a cloak of black velvet. She gasps. Her arms and legs flail as she scrambles to stand. She jerks and spins beneath the cone of light like a caged rat desperate to escape.
The Lights twinkle signaling me to begin. I take a deep breath. I bite my lip, and I step forward. Valerie jumps back as the darkness fades to a white milky haze like a leftover fog on an early winter morning. Tiny dots of mist reflect the Lights above. Everything around us is cast in shades of white like an old photograph bleached by sunlight.
Valerie’s eyes widen when she sees me. I walk towards her regretting that I didn’t plan what to say. I might not like that she’s about to get a second chance at life – something I was never offered. But the least I could have done was think of a good opening line. “You’re not alone,” I stammer. It’s the only thing I can think to say.
A calming aura drifts over her like a protective security blanket making her feel suddenly comforted. Valerie’s eyes no longer burn. Her body no longer aches. For an unknown reason, I bring comfort and release, which she willingly accepts.
            Valerie looks up to the Lights, and then back at me. “Where am I?” 

Thank you Sharon Bayliss for this fun opportunity! Good luck to all contestants! I look forward to reading your entries!
   


37 comments:

  1. Great query. Very intriguing. And I love your character voice. There were quite a few lines that made me laugh :). Great job!

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    1. Thank you so much for your note! I worry about making my character's voice distinct enough in this scene - I appreciate it!

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  2. Hmmm, leaves me wondering who the Guardian is? Very intriguing. Well done:)

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    1. Thank you so much for your comment and stopping by!

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  3. Ooooooh . . . I so want to read this! (so does my co-worker, fyi - she read the query over my shoulder :D).

    My only thought - the correct title of "Lovely Bones" is "The Lovely Bones", so you'll want to change that in the query :).

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    1. Good one! I don't think I ever realized that the title was "The Lovely Bones." I appreciate your comment and the encouragement from you and your co-worker. ;)

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  4. I thought your query was good and your first 500 words were written well, however I'm feeling a little less connected to the character as I don't know her name. I want something tangible about her, if that makes sense? :)

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    1. That's exactly what I worry about Jade. My narrator doesn't remember much about her life - nor does she want to think about it. I get to that...but not in the first 500. It also makes adding details about her challenging. I've reworked this beginning many times trying to get my reader to connect to her. Might have to rework it a bit more. ;) Thank you so much for the feedback.

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  5. Hello Kimberly, thanks for entering! I loved the twist in the query, definitely sounds like the plot has promise. I found a few things in the query confusing, in light of the first 500. If the MC is Valarie's guardian, then I assumed Valarie was alive, but in the first 500 it looks like she's dead. I didn't really think about the name thing, until I read Jade's comment, but it makes me wonder....maybe you don't say the name because the MC really is Valarie or Grace? Maybe I'm way off, but it definitely makes me think you have cool twists in store. My only concern about the first 500 is that the POV feels fuzzy. This section especially, "A calming aura drifts over her like a protective security blanket making her feel suddenly comforted. Valerie’s eyes no longer burn. Her body no longer aches. For an unknown reason, I bring comfort and release, which she willingly accepts." If we're in the MC's POV, we really shouldn't know how Valarie is feeling.

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    1. Very good points. Twists - yes there are a few, which, of course, are hard to convey in the query. ;) You're right, I don't mention Valerie's also dead getting a second chance to fix her mistakes as a redo opportunity. I'll add that. I also like your comments about the POV. While I have an explanation for it, it isn't clear in the first 500 which makes it confusing. I'll work on that too. Thank you so much for your comments! I really appreciate the helpful feedback!

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  6. Does this Guardian have a name? Referring to her in the query by a title is distancing.

    The excerpt was interesting, but I felt that the point of view shifted between the Guardian and Valerie from one paragraph to the next. Which I see Sharon also mentioned. Unless the POV is omniscient, the reader can only know the thoughts and feelings of one character at a time.

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    1. Well, she does, but she doesn't know it. She doesn't remember the details of her life...name included. ;) Thank you for your feedback! Valid points!

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  7. I'm with Sharon about thinking Valerie was always alive from the query, then finding out she's not in the first scene.
    But that's minor. The rest? VERY intriguing! Great job!

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    1. Thank you for your notes! I appreciate the feedback. I'll add that to my query. ;)

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  8. - I understand your dilemma with the Guardian not remembering her name. Would it be possible to give her a name that she goes by in the afterlife? That way it would be a bit less distant and ambiguous when you're referring to her. Something to personalize her a bit. Even though she doesn't remember anything, we can see her personality coming through, but it's hard to connect without knowing what to call her.
    - I really noticed the POV problem in the paragraph about the calming aura. Maybe you could describe Valerie's physical reaction (relaxing muscles, etc) as the protagonist observes them. If she knows her aura has this calming effect, maybe you can state this in a different way. I assumed that throughout the rest the protagonist had a connection with "the lights" to be able to interpret their unspoken commands?
    - Definitely address in the query that Valerie was brought back from the dead.
    -"It’s Grace’s ambivalence towards wrongdoing (and blatant denial about her feelings for the reckless Will Pendergrass, who clearly adores her) that infuriates her to the point of obsession." I thought the final part of this statement was a little ambiguous. The final "her" is referring to the guardian?
    - Overall it sounds like a great premise, and something that I would enjoy reading.

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    1. Thank you for your feedback! This is very helpful. I've thought of giving her a name that she goes by in Afterlife for the very reasons you mention. Then in life she has a nickname she goes by to still have the twist in there. I guess I was hoping to accomplish that with giving her a title. Perhaps I'll revisit my other idea.

      I greatly appreciate your critique! Thank you for offering it!

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  9. Kimberly, this is very well done. Your query and your 500 words are both well written and enjoyable to read! I like the story line.

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    1. Thank you so much for stopping by and reading my entry! I appreciate the encouragement! ;)

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  10. Hi Kimberly! Nice to meet you! SO the narrator is the guardian, right? I was wondering how the narrator would know so much of how Valerie feels... but if its the guardian, then that makes sense.
    Very intriguing premise! I think it's a great voice. Best of luck!! :)

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  11. Hi Kimberly and thank you so much for stopping by my blog :) I'm now following your blog, too! I really enjoyed your first 500 - great voice and a the tone of the story was immediately set. But, I agree with some of the others who commented on the POV confusion. There were things that the MC knew about how Valerie was feeling and experiencing that weren't explained and so, felt like POV slips. Also, I think your query doesn't quite do your story justice and wanted to offer my opinions on improving it. Hope the feedback helps :)

    A fifteen-year-old dead girl wakes up in Afterlife with no memory of her friends, her family, or her name.<-This first line is distant and makes it sound like the 15 yo girl is not the narrator of the story (and if she is, then how does she know she was 15 when she died - she doesn't have any memories, right?). Maybe you could try something like, "She wakes in Afterlife without a single memory, not even her name."

    All she knows is that she’s too young to die, and she absolutely hates Afterlife’s suffocating serenity. <-How does she know she was too young to die? Also, she's already dead, so it should be written in the past tense - "she was too young to die".

    She’ll do anything to escape – even agree to serve as Guardian to the lip-glossed and venomous Valerie Wittier in a North Shore Chicago suburb. Unseen and unheard, she must prevent Valerie from making fatal errors that, if not amended, will lead to a school shooting that kills six freshmen. But though Valerie holds the power to prevent – not cause – others to die, she’s too selfish and headstrong to care. <-Love this paragraph. The premise is really interesting and the voice comes through here - This starts to build a connection between the reader and the MC. My only criticism is that "fatal errors" is too vague. Does she bully someone one too many times, putting them over the edge and they go on a shooting spree? Or does she take a more active part in the shooting?

    Feeling helpless and incompetent, the Guardian watches the week spin out of control in a kaleidoscope of rumors, fights, rivalry, and romance. <-Wasn't sure what you meant by "the week spin out of control". Does she only have one week to prevent Valerie from making the "fatal errors"?

    She tries to redirect Valerie and save those in jeopardy of dying, but seems continually distracted by Valerie’s best friend, Grace Hewitt, aka Miss Perpetual Bystander. It’s Grace’s ambivalence towards wrongdoing (and blatant denial about her feelings for the reckless Will Pendergrass, who clearly adores her) that infuriates her to the point of obsession. <-Who does "her" refer to in this last sentence - Grace or the Guardian? Also, this sounds like a subplot which might not belong in the query. I was invested in the story of the Guardian and Valerie and want to see how that ends/what the final stakes are. Imo, you could save the Grace subplot for the synopsis and use this paragraph to really get your reader completely hooked on the main conflict of the story.

    By the time this amnesiac protagonist realizes she’s presiding over the last week of her life, it may be too late to save everyone involved. <-This sentence is really distant and seems to be going to great lengths to hide the MC's true identity. Imo, you shouldn't keep this secret from the reader. Is the Guardian really Valerie? If so, say it and also say why it may be too late to save everyone involved.

    THE BEAUTY OF DESTRUCTION is a YA thriller with paranormal elements in the vein of LOVELY BONES meets NINETEEN MINUTES. It is complete at 105,000 words.

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    1. Thank you so much for the detailed feedback and suggestions. This is very helpful for my revision!

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    2. You're welcome :) Glad you found my feedback helpful!

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  12. I think all the comments I wanted to make have already been said, so I'll just tell you that I like your premise and I think with a little tightening it will be amazing! :) Good luck on the contest!

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    1. Thank you for the encouragement! Good luck to you as well!

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  13. THIS: "By the time this amnesiac protagonist realizes she’s presiding over the last week of her life, it may be too late to save everyone involved."


    Holy smokes. That ALONE could be your query! lol! It says sooooooo much in one sentence. I REALLY want to read this book!

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    1. Thank you so much Jessa! I appreciate you stopping by and, of course, your kind words. ;)

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  14. This is a very fascinating premise! I got the premise clearly via the query, but wonder if it will work to have a MC who doesn't even have a name. THe suggestion of a name she goes by in the afterlife might work...

    I very much enjoyed your first 500. The line about comfort that others mentioned did stick out to me, too, but I figured it had to do with the MC being a Guardian (or at least an authority figure/helper of some kind), so it didn't bother me.

    Anyway, well done, and good luck!

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    1. Thank you so much for your feedback! Good luck to you as well!

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  15. Still love the premise. :) I enjoyed your excerpt. Good luck!

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  16. I think the tiny little things I would have said have been mentioned (the POV switch and the 'her' in the query) so I can skip to the good part :) I love your premise and think your writing is excellent! I would definitely keep reading! Good luck :)

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    1. Thank you so much Hope! I appreciate it!

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  17. I was confused by the name thing as well. Everything else was gOOd fOR me:) Good luck!!!

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  18. I really like this idea and your 500 were very cool. The only thing that threw me off was when you refered to the MC as guardian in third person in the query. I had to go back to make sure that was someone different. Other than that, great job! Good luck!

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  19. It looks like it has been said, but I still wanted to wish you good luck:) GReat idea and great work. I am excited for you!

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