Monday, September 10, 2012

Pitch Polish #38

A.K.A. KILLER
Contemporary YA Thriller
92,000 words


Query:

In sunny Southern California, seventeen-year-old Ruby Rose is known
for her killer looks, her killer SAT scores, and even her killer taste
in shoes—but only her victims will know how killer she really is. Not
that child rapists and murderers who beat the system every time
deserve to be called “victims.”

Daughter to Orange County District Attorney Jane Rose and fallen SWAT
Sergeant Jack Rose, Ruby not only knows the law, she believes in it.
That is, until someone starts manipulating her into breaking it.
Thinking a cryptic text message is from her high school crush, Liam
Slater, asking her to Homecoming, Ruby heads down to the harbor.
Instead of the lame trail of roses she’s expecting, she hears a
child’s desperate call for help.  Someone has lured her here, and is
forcing her to choose between letting an innocent girl die or
committing “legally justified” murder to prevent it.

Torn between satisfaction that one less monster is roaming the streets
and guilt for the blood on her hands, Ruby tries to find the real
murderer behind it all. But in her search, the body count keeps
rising, turning her into something she never dreamed possible: A
teenaged serial killer. Ruby must find out who is using her and stop
him before she finds herself walking death row, wearing one of those
horribly baggy orange jumpsuits even Hollywood royalty can't pull off.
The closer she gets to the truth, the closer she gets to a long-held
family secret that threatens to destroy everything and everyone she’s
ever held dear.

A.K.A KILLER is my dark contemporary YA thriller complete at 92,000
words. It’s HEIST SOCIETY meets DEXTER.

First 150 words:


    Life shouldn’t involve so much calculation—and I’m not just
talking algebra. I’m talking about the calculated, premeditated
avoidance of life. I didn’t need a 4.0 GPA to know that sneaking out
of the city library at 9:00 on a Friday night didn’t win me any points
on the SPA (Social Point Average), on which I was definitely flunking.
     Pausing under the dark awning, I took a quick breath of briny
ocean air to regain my bearings. The old parking lot fluorescents
flickered behind the suffocating fog, making it hard to tell if the
rain was misting down from above or if it was coming in sideways from
the shore. In any case, the blacktop lay slick, full of potholes, and
speckled with math club kids who’d just love to report a sighting of
Recluse Ruby Rose.
     With a practiced stealth, I dashed through the night. Even in my
new Prada Peep-Toe Pumps—a.k.a. my Penelopes—I had speed.

8 comments:

JenfromtheBlock said...

This is pitch perfect! Awesome. Your only obstacle might be to sell such a dark concept for the YA crowd. Could be a crossover!

T Y said...

Love the premise and the dark/Dexter-like MC. I was just thinking the other day that the YA needed a new trend of seriously disturbed/borderline sociopath characters (no joke, as I love dark/twisty/morally ambiguous characters!)

The first line of your query completely hooked me. Love the use of 'killer' to define Ruby's situation and character. However, I find your query too long. You've included details that would work well in a short synopsis, but for purposes of keeping your query meat under 250 words, I think some of your details are irrelevant. For instance, you could leave out the complete names of Ruby's parents; we don't really need to know that her father was a fallen SWAT team member.
-You could cut the 'asking her to Homecoming' part as Ruby suspecting the text is from Liam is enough.
-You could cut 'wearing one of those orange jumpsuits..." while it adds flavor, you've already mentioned 'death row' and that's enough info.
For comparative titles: 'I Hunt Killers' by Barry Lyga is another possibility.

150 words:
You are a gifted writer. The opening flows very well and I found myself drawn in. This is where your gift of description works for you. You better believe I'd read on!

Jeannette said...

Yeah. So. This sounds awesome. I agree that maybe you could cut a few words here and there to speed up the read, but all in all, wow. I want to READ IT! Best of luck.

Kelley Harvey said...

Love your hook line in your query! Definitely makes me want to continue reading.
I wish I had some fabulous insight for you, but I simply concur with what has already been said. Pare it down and keep it to the necessary facts.

Good luck!

Jenna and Ashley said...

Holy cow! The title is great. Best query I've read so far. I can tell you've worked on it. Great voice. Great plot. I don't know if southern needs to be capitalized in the first sentence. Your hook is magnificent. I also get the sense that she's a normal teen with the "Hollywood royalty" comment. I don't have any suggestions on the query. I'm sure an agent would pick this up.

First 150:
-Absolutely adore the match club kids sentence and that you talked about her shoes. I totally picture Heist Society, so kudos.
-Would the word "briny" actually enter her head? If so, why? Because she's lived by the sea so long? I feel like that's a word for older ages and pirates.
-Great descriptions about the rain. I can picture the scene.

GOOD LUCK WITH THIS. I can't wait to read the entire book when it comes out on shelves across the country:)

-Jenna
Pitch Polish #28

Melodie Wright said...

Your query is great...except I couldn't figure out the tone of your MS. One moment you're mentioning child killers, and the next that the clothes convicts wear aren't high fashion.Is this black comedy or dark contemporary?

Your excerpt was smooth, well written...but again, had me wondering why the heck this teenager is wearing heels while dashing down a dock (or it sounds like she's on a dock.)Heels are noisy. Not conducive to running or sneaking and it makes your MC sound older than she is.

HOWEVER, you've only posted the first 150. I'd read on in hopes you're going to justify this smart girl's impractically weird choice.

Stephsco said...

I've read your pitch elsewhere on the net. This reads strong and I get a great feel for the type of story. Any comments I have are minor and pretty subjective so I'll just leave it at: Nice work.

I've seen agent interest online about an edgy Dexter-ish story, and if you do your homework (which I assume you have) you'll find those agents. This sounds different enough from Barry Lyga's I HUNT KILLERS, too.

I like the first 150, too. The only super minor nitpick I have is I note a few too many adjectives in there (dark awning, quick breath, briny ocean air all in one sentence). Not a deal-breaker by any means but watch for ways to show description using nouns and verbs and ditch over-adjective-ing ;)

I think you have a great pitch and premise. I hope you find the right agent.

Stephsco said...
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