Monday, September 10, 2012

Pitch Polish #29


Let My Life Be Proof
YA Contemporary
60,000

Query:
 
LET MY LIFE BE PROOF is a 60,000 word Contemporary YA novel.  At nineteen, prodigy Emme Sawyer flew through her undergrad work and was well on her way to being a doctor when the money ran out. Drawn in by the promise of a free education, Emme joins the Navy.  Twenty weeks at Field Medical Service School and Emme earns the title of Hospital Corpsman, a position which attaches her to a Marine Battalion and gets her deployed to Afghanistan.
With the front lines blurred, Emme’s goal of becoming a doctor fades as she embraces the men under her care.  Blind to the danger, Emme holds her own with the men of her battalion, fighting side by side and doing whatever she can to protect her Marines. Her greatest fear is not being there when they need her.  
When the bullets start to fly Emme learns that training can’t always prepare you for war and being a girl doesn’t make getting killed off limits. Emme struggles against the cultural biases of a foreign land and the limitations her unit is put under while trying to push the Taliban out.  After her best friend is killed by an IED, Emme shuts her emotions off.  That is until she begins to have feelings for her commanding officer, Raven.  Feelings she doesn’t want and isn’t supposed to have for a member of her team.  When Raven reciprocates, Emme learns that sometimes love might just be worth the risk. When Emme sustains life threatening injuries in an IED attack, and is shipped home, her life begins to crumble.  Faced with the nightmares of her deployment and unresolved feelings for Raven, Emme must choose to move forward in a world she no longer feels a part of or figure out how to get back to the men she left behind. 
Thank you for your consideration.       

First 150 Words:
     
             The quiet of the evening was broken when the fsst of a bullet buzzed my head— impacting the wall and sending a cloud of dust into my face. 
“Shots fired, left flank.” The unit moved to cover me and the wounded man I was working on.  “It’s okay.  You’re going to be okay.” I said.  I tied tourniquets around his legs then gave him a shot of morphine.
“You’re a girl,” the soldier groaned.
“I’m a corpsman.”
“You’re voice sounds so good,” he drawled. 
I laughed, then covered him as an RPG blew down on us.
“We need an extract!” I brushed the dust from him the best I could.
“Do you want to go on a date,” he tried to grin.
“Let’s see how you feel when we get out of here.”  
 Another round hit the wall behind me.  I coughed up dust.
            “I need cover!” I reached out for the soldier’s rifle.

10 comments:

Mia Celeste said...

Great action in your opening scene. Lots of vivid details. I'd read on. :)
All the best,

Jaye Robin Brown said...

I like your first 150 very much.

One little point to consider, however. Young adult, particularly contemporary YA usually cuts off at the summer after senior year in high school. This seems to be pretty much industry standard. There's a movement toward a category or genre called New Adult, though publishers don't seem to be embracing it, just yet.

Elaine Smith said...

I enjoyed the excerpt very much. I would want to read on.

Jodie Andrefski said...

I really enjoyed your 150, it definitely drew me in and made me want to read more. Great voice.

I think the query may be a bit long though. While I certainly haven't mastered them yet (by a long shot), I know the advice I keep getting is that they shouldn't be reading like a synopsis, but instead tell enough to draw the reader in, give some of the storyline, and list the stakes. Not really give a play by play.

Great job otherwise!

Jenna and Ashley said...

Query:
-Put title and word count at the bottom somewhere and start with "At nineteen..."
-Par. 3: "When the bullets start to fly," (add comma)
-I think "being a girl doesn't make getting killed off limits" can be reworked. It doesn't live up to the rest of your sentences. I think the getting is throwing me off since it's such a dead verb. What about: "death doesn't care whether or not you're a girl."
-"After her best friend is killed" comes out of nowhere. Work on transition, because right now, it's so passively happening. "Then, an IED explodes, killing her best friend. Emme shuts down her emotions as a matter of survival."
-Is Raven a girl or a boy? Is it his last name? Because if you're using her first name, you might think about using the officer's first name, even though they don't do so in military. I was just confused. It'd probably be better to say his rank then name if Raven is his last, now that I think about it, since she'd think of him not by his first name. If Raven is a girl, I'm sorry!
-Two sentences in a row that start with When in last plot paragraph. Rough transition between the two, almost feels like an info. dump.

Great 150. Right in the heart of the action! Change the "Do you want to go on a date?" to have a question mark. Everything else is great.

This is awesome! YA needs more military-related books.
-Jenna
Pitch Polish #28

Melodie Wright said...

I agree with Jenna - love this premise! It's timely and definitely could use the exposure.

But unfortunately, pitching this as YA might not fly. Your MC is 19 and in the military. That puts her into adult. You could try NA but only a handful of agents (that I know of) really peddle stuff specifically NA. Most go straight into adult.
Also, your query is basically a synopsis. IMO, you need to chop this down to a few small paragraphs concentrating on the first 1/3 of your MS. Visit a few of those sites Deana has listed for help. A good word count to shoot for is 250. TOTAL.

In your excerpt, you've used the wrong your. "Your voice sounds so good." And "Do you want to go on a date?" Punctuation matters in an excerpt bc it signals professionalism. And if an agent is teetering on the edge of a request, don't give them a reason like bad punctuation to turn you down.
Good luck!

Sarah J Schmitt said...

Query: I hate to echo the comments made above, but I agree your query reads more like a synopsis. Every novel is about three things: The Goals of the MC, what motivates them to go after the goals and what stands in the way of the MC achieving their goals. This happens on the internal level, external level, or both. In your "query", you touch on these things, but I wonder if you could streamline your thoughts using these "guidelines". If you rewrite, let me know and I'll take a whack at it.

Sarah
Pitch #40


First 150 Words:

The quiet of the evening was broken when the fsst of a bullet buzzed my head— exploding the wall behind me and sending a cloud of dust into my face.

“Shots fired, left flank,” said [Someone who would yell out that warning]. The unit moved to cover me and the wounded man I was working on. Would the entire unit cover her or just the nurses and maybe a tech working around her table?

“It’s okay. You’re going to be okay.” I assured him, quickly tying the tourniquets around both his legs and giving him a shot of morphine.

“You’re just a kid,” the soldier groaned.

“I’m a corpsman.”

“You’re voice sounds so good,” he drawled. This is awkward... a minute ago, he sounds like he's on death's door and now he sounds like he's hitting on her. I half expect him to buy her a beer... I would either expand the interaction or have him pass out after she gets defensive.

Another RPG [insert something distructive it does].

“We need to extract!” I brushed the dust from him the best I could.

The soldier's eyes fluttered for a moment and then he said, “You're pretty [or something equally cheesy a guy who's probably going to loss both his legs or worse would say}.” He tried to grin, but it looked more like a grimace than anything else.

“Let’s see what you think when I'm not covered in plaster.”

Another round hit the wall behind me. I choked on the dust.

“I need cover!” I reached out for the soldier’s rifle. Why would she do this? She should have her own.

Again, to echo the previous comments, yes, she's in the "New Adult" category, but this is war which makes it adult to me. Still, I'm interested in what someone so smart would think of the front so I would probably pick it up and read the first few chapters to see if I connect with the character. (That's actually saying alot, since I pretty much only read YA.) I don't know your background, but make sure you do your homework on both the medical and war side of this story.

Carrie-Anne said...

In your first 150, I couldn't help but notice this line:

“You’re voice sounds so good,” he drawled.

It should be your, not you're. I'm a stickler for grammar and spelling, and it's like nails on a chalkboard when I see your and you're being used incorrectly.

I agree about age 19 being a bit too young for YA, unless it's a case of a character starting out younger and then aging up during the course of the novel. I'm in a similar place with some of my historicals, since the kind of situations young people were in earlier in this century aren't the kinds of situations, roles, and responsibilities we associate with modern teens or even "new adults."

Carrie-Anne said...

Sorry, that should say that 19 is a bit too old for YA, not a bit too young!

Valerie Ipson said...

The 1st 150 really draw me in because she's in the middle of things. I do like Sarah J's suggestions for revising it just a little. The query needs to read more like a hook---like pull me along and leave me hanging and wanting to know more.