Sunday, September 9, 2012

GUTGAA Pitch Polish Blog Hop

For GUTGAA, I'm participating in the Pitch Polish Blog Hop. Below are my query and first 150 words of me MS. Feedback is welcome! *grits teeth, bites nails, smiles sheepishly*

Genre: YA thriller with paranormal elements
Word Count: 102,000

The easiest way for fifteen-year-old Mia to cope with her own vicious murder is to forget about it.

When she wakes up in Afterlife, Mia’s blocked out everything – her death, her friends, her family, even her real name. All she knows is that she’s too young to be dead, and she absolutely hates Afterlife’s suffocating serenity.

Mia will do anything to escape it – even serve as Guardian to the lip-glossed and venomous Valerie Wittier. Unseen and unheard, Mia must prevent Valerie from making fatal errors that, if not amended, will lead to the 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, Mia 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 Mia to the point of obsession. By the time Mia 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 that holds enough unexpected twists to prove that first impressions are often deceitful, especially in high school. In the vein of THE LOVELY BONES meets NINETEEN MINUTES, it is complete at 102,000 words.

FIRST 150:
My Awakening
I was falling, tossed through the sky like a shirt in a dryer. Hair whipped across my face. My arms and legs flailed around, spinning me in circles. I couldn’t tell which way up or down, but I knew I was dying. I remembered once hearing that when you fell in a dream, you never hit the ground. If you did, you’d die. The thought made my chest constrict so tightly I wondered if my life was squeezing out of me, preparing me for a giant splat of my body against the pavement. A small part of me clung to the hope that I’d never stop falling – that I’d go on like this forever. But, of course, that didn’t happen.

I stopped with a jerk like I’d been riding some rusted carny ride and found myself standing with my eyes tightly closed. I was pretty certain that my bones weren’t broken. My guts weren’t splayed across an empty sidewalk. But I didn’t exactly feel good or safe. I felt like I was waiting, hanging in that moment of uncertainty where nothing had been confirmed... 


  1. Hi Kimberly - LOVE your query but to be honest I wanted some more from your first 150 words. I wanted to hear, smell, taste what Mia is reacting to, so I guess my suggestion is to include some more sensory stuff if possible and a little bit of setting, too. I think Mia has a great voice and I'm interested to one day read ;) BEAUTY OF DESTRUCTION. And wow 102k is a lot! Good luck with this piece though.

    (Also sorry if we're not supposed to crit this. I can totally delete this post.:))

  2. I think your premise is great and I love your comps.

    Here are my query comments.

    "and save those in jeopardy of dying" - I'd cut of dying since we know already they are supposed to die

    "But though Valerie holds the power to prevent – not cause – others to die, she’s too selfish and headstrong to care." This line makes me feel like Valerie knows it's going to happen, is that true? Just wondering.

    "but seems continually distracted" - swap out seems for 'is'

    "It’s Grace’s ambivalence towards wrongdoing (and blatant denial about her feelings for the reckless Will Pendergrass, who clearly adores her) that infuriates Mia to the point of obsession." I would cut the Will Pendergrass part. I'm not sure that is necessary and it kind of pulls me away from what's important.

    As I said, this sounds like a terrific story, one I'd definitely read. Good luck!

  3. So she's trying to do all of this from the dead? Neat twist.

  4. great premise! love the twist!

    couple of suggestions...
    too many names, stick to the main two
    give us more of mia, let us hear how she would explain the situation
    and unfortunately, being over 100,000 words for ya is not a plus...
    these bits of advice are from what i've read, just trying to help!
    sounds like a great ya thriller!

  5. Good luck Kimberly... great premise!

    In third paragraph of query I would cut "But though" and move a "but" to before "she's."

    Fourth paragraph I would take out "aka Miss Perpetual Bystander" b/c you pretty much explain it right after that.

    I agree you may not need to mention the obsession with Will... it does not tie in to the infomation in the query, even if it may be more relevant in the book.

    Firt paragraph of 150 I think you need the word "was" between way and up here "I couldn’t tell which way up or down...

  6. The voice in the sample words is excellent. The query voice isn't as strong. The premise of your story is awesome. I was confused in the query letter with the line about Valerie holding the power . . . I wasn't sure what you meant by that and how her being selfish relates to not being able to help.
    Also in the middle paragraph there is a lot of names mentioned and I was confused about what was going on with who.

  7. Honestly, this will probably be the most useless comment you'll ever get, but I honestly can't see a thing wrong with your pitch or your sample. In fact I adore both.

    Still, I can see what Jessica's saying above, so maybe you can just polish your query to pick a way of saying the same thing in Mia's voice?

  8. I think the others have covered anything that might tighten up the query. I totally enjoyed reading through it, only got hung up around the Will Pendergrass part, was totally excited to find out if Mia is Grace and loved the first 150 words. So, I guess you have a fan! :)

  9. I know good writing when I see it, but I'm not an expert query letter adviser:(

    I loved the first 150. Nice strong voice. Great suspense. I can see conflict building. I feel her wonder. So I think you have put everything possible int 150 words.

    As for the query, it read more like a short story, but to me, that's how I write mine, too. So I don't really know what to tell you. How about best wishes this month?
    Oh, and I love it!

  10. Hi, popping over from GUTGAA! Great concept and voice here. I have no crit. Nice job and good luck!

  11. Hi,
    Great premise. I was intrigued from the very beginning. Good luck!

  12. I guess I'll be the voice of dissent... sorry if this sounds harsh, but I figure honest criticism is always the best route to go. :-)

    I was confused by the query. I had to read it a couple times and there are still questions in my head... but not the good "I have to read this so I find out what happens" kind of questions. I don't know how Mia is supposed to influence anyone or anything if she's unseen and unheard. "But though Valerie holds the power to prevent – not cause – others to die, she’s too selfish and headstrong to care." Given the genre, I wasn't sure if you were alluding to some sort of supernatural type power, but I figured you meant it more in the sense that her words and actions can prevent it. Still, it sounds like Valerie knows she can stop the shooting, and I'm not sure if that's what you meant to imply.

    The last paragraph of the plot description had me scratching my head. How/why is a dead girl whose mission it is to stop this shooting obsessed with Valerie's best friend? Does this distract her from doing what she's supposed to be doing to prevent the shooting? I thought maybe yes, though you don't really say so. And if it doesn't raise the stakes, then maybe you don't need it in your query.

    Finally, the last line "By the time Mia realizes she’s presiding over the last week of her life, it may be too late to save everyone involved." She's presiding over the last week of WHOSE life? The way it's written it made me think Mia's own life, but Mia's dead. So it can't be that. Do you mean the last week of Grace's life? Or Valerie's?

    Good luck with the contest!