Monday, September 10, 2012

Pitch Polish #55


Title:  Maybe Forever
Genre: YA science fiction
Word count: 64,000 words

Query:

Clocks predict your death, but they can't tell you how you'll die.

Keller knew full well her dad was going to die; his Clock had been nearing its final countdown for a while. But she wasn't prepared when that truck—the one with the dent in the right door and the peeling red paint—slammed into the driver's side of their minivan. Now her mother is gone, her father is gone, and her older brother thinks he can act like the parent.

Before her father's death, Keller was a straight-A student, a wall flower, a daddy’s girl. But things change when she meets Sebastian. She makes a list of things she wants to do to push the pain and sadness away. First is smoking, next her first party, where she gets drunk. She wants to steal something, to break curfew, to have her first kiss, and she wants to do all of those things with Sebastian.

But Sebastian has a secret that could ruin everything.

First 150:

Bourbon-spiked punch doesn’t stop the gnawing in my gut. Grandma’s kisses can’t still the shaking of my fingers as I raise another plastic cup to my lips. A sun the size of my pain, shining through the living room windows, fails to warm the numbness inside of me. The whispers creep in—family members talking behind their hands, eyes on me.
            I slide trembling fingers over my tulip-pink skirt and tuck my hands into the pockets. My fingers curl around my father’s timepiece there.
            Someone named Marcus, or Malcolm, tells me how sorry he is for my loss. He says he’s my father’s cousin, but I’ve never seen him before.
            Marcus-Malcolm shakes my hand. His wife gives me a soft hug and her weak body trembles. When she pulls away, I notice the chain around her neck, the Clock ticking there.
“Eight days,” I say, reading the numbers counting down.

9 comments:

Johana Vera said...

I really like this concept. It's very original. That last line in the pitch was awesome. It definitively made me curious to figure out more about Sebastian. My guess is that he had something to do with her father's accident and that's why you're so specific with the truck's description. At least that's what I gathered from it.
But where has her mother gone? Did she die too or just abandoned them?
Also, if she knew her father was about to die, why was she unprepared when it happened? I'm aware that people in that situation have a hard time accepting the loss of a loved one, specially when it's sudden, but perhaps you could phrase it better. Just a suggestion.

But over all, a really interesting premise. I've been checking a few other entries but this is the first one that catched my attention enough to leave a comment, mainly because it's something I'd read. There wasn't anything wrong with the other ones, but I liked yours more:)

Anyway, good luck.

Bluestocking said...

I agree--interesting concept.

Though I too wonder why she's so surprised. And why she wasn't expecting her mom to die as well--wouldn't she be able to tell from her clock, like she can with her dad's?

The way she deals with her grief is a bit familiar, and I don't think you need to devote an entire paragraph to her emo-ness. I would spend a bit more time talking about Sebastian though and hint just a touch more about his secret to really make this query stand out even more.

Jeannette said...

I really like your concept and this is something I'd read.

I wondered about the last bit of the query though. If her plan is to lose herself in recklessness, and Sebastian has a secret that could ruin everything, does this mean he could ruin her plan to ruin herself?

The clock thing is super-cool. Is there a way to mention a bit more about its relevance to the story within the query (besides just at the beginning?)

Good luck with this! I loved your first 150.

Patrice said...

This is strong, very strong...the first line of your query hooked me and the last line sold me. I didn't need to read the first 150 but I did.

Yes you could go into Sebastian's secret a little more unless its something you really want to be more of a complete surprise hook that will draw the agent in.

I do wonder about her surprise about her mother's death though. But the part about her father's death...knowing it would happen but not how, great.

Good luck with this, I really wish it was already published, I'm dying to read more.

--Please, check out my Pitch, #27, if you have the time :)

J. A. Bennett said...

Very cool idea about the Clocks, you have a great hook that pulls me right in and the second and third sentences follow really well.

The last line of the 2nd paragraph is a bit confusing. I feel a little confused when you say her mother is gone, I want to know how and I also want to know what you mean about the brother acting like the parent. Is he old enough to take custody of her, or is he just playing the 'man' card and claiming he's in charge?

The third paragraph starts great once again but when I get to the sentence "first is smoking" it feels a bit choppy. I understand you're trying to convey a list here, but maybe you should start with the focus of the list rather than the items on it. A suggested rephrasing might sound something like "She wants to smoke, drink, steal, break curfew, and have her first kiss, all with Sebastian."

The last line is weak compared to everything else you've been leading us up to. In fact, I was really hoping that with her list you mention how much time she has left on her clock so why not live it up? If Sebastian's secret has something to with the clocks I would really stand up and take notice. Hook me at the end the same way you did at the beginning. Bring your first sentence into your last and I'll be left with chills.

As for your first 150 I immediately loved your writing style and thought it was great. I really don't have any comments :)

J. A. Bennett said...

Oh and good luck! I really hope you get an agent :D

JenfromtheBlock said...

I agree with everyone. I love your first 150, especially the tidbit about how she's clutching her father's timepiece at his funeral. Nice touch. The clock thing is intriguing. I'm wondering how people can function with clocks ticking away their life forces. I'd definitely read on to find out!

Melodie Wright said...

Agree with those who said your last line is weak. Suggest tying in the parents' death with Sebastian's secret...which I was confused about. Sounds like MC's life is pretty messed up. So how could a secret "ruin everything"? What are the stakes here? What does Keller want, and what'll happen if she doesn't get it?

The first graph of your excerpt is confusing. Sounds like Grandma is right there raining kisses down on her while she swigs bourbon. Otherwise, LOVE the image of the clock around the weak woman's neck. It's very strong, which contrasts with the awkward descriptions earlier.

Tamara said...

Okay. Wow. The first one-fifty is killer. I remember this from WoC and I remember liking it then (although i think I just saw the sample, not the query) I don't know if I'm recollecting right, but this seems to read smoother than the one you had up on WoC. NICE job on this.

I agree with what everyone else said about the query. I thought J A Bennett's suggestion about condensing the list of things she wants to do works really well.

I'd also like a little more hint of Sebastian's secret and whether or not it somehow ties back into the thing with the clocks.

I LOVE the clock concept. So cool. And I really loved the "Marcus-Malcolm shook my hand" Her not knowing his name was something so relatable that it was just one of those perfect lines.

Anyway, I wish you luck with this. I just started a blog I'm trying to get off the ground and I'm really excited about meeting other people in the YA community. I'd love it if you'd stop by and say hi!

Sorry I wasn't able to "critique" more but I think this is really awesome. :)