Monday, September 10, 2012

Pitch Polish #81


Title: Dandelion Teeth
Genre: New Adult - contemporary
Word Count: 55,000
Query:
At twenty-three, Julia Marsh considers herself an expert in dealing with families in crisis – after all, she’s a damn good social worker – but when her father dies she can’t help her own family. Her mother is constantly on the verge of a meltdown and her younger sister blames Julia for their father’s death.
When an estranged uncle shows up at the memorial service, he reveals an extended family Julia never knew existed. Could this be what her father was coming to tell her when his plane crashed? Or was he going to reveal Amy, a girl listed as his eldest daughter in his will? Julia’s search for the truth becomes all-consuming. She pushes her mother and sister away and ignores her most important case, a three-year-old girl about to be sent back to an abusive home.
The disturbing truth she uncovers may not be worth losing her family and her job.
Dandelion Teeth is a 55,000-word new adult work that takes place in Kentucky.
First 150 words:

Julia Marsh stood in front of O’Hare Airport’s Gate B-20, staring at the check-in counter. She’d made it through security without a problem, but she couldn’t bring herself to walk those last few feet. Her roommate Natalie tried to talk her out of flying home, insisting that a car ride would be more calming. Calming, that’s how she’d put it.
“Are you lost?” a woman in an oversized Navy Pier t-shirt asked. She stood on the edge of the gate area carpet, careful not to let her bright, white tennis shoes touch the same tiled floor that Julia stood on. Instead, she leaned forward. A mixture of maternal worry and tourist fear tugged at the corners of her mouth. Her husband watched nervously as he guarded their bags.
With round glasses and a thinning comb-over, he looked nothing like Julia’s father, yet that’s all she saw. Her father was everywhere in the airport.

7 comments:

Adriana Ryan said...

At twenty-three, Julia Marsh considers herself an expert in dealing with families in crisis – after all, she’s a damn good social worker – but when her father dies, she can’t help her own family. Her mother is constantly on the verge of a meltdown and her younger sister blames Julia for their father’s death.

When an estranged uncle shows up at the memorial service, he reveals an extended family Julia never knew existed. Could this be what her father was coming to tell her when his plane crashed? Or was he going to reveal Amy, a girl listed as his eldest daughter in his will? (MY THOUGHT WAS: IF THE UNCLE TELLS HER ABOUT AN EXTENDED FAMILY, WOULDN'T HE TELL HER ABOUT THE DAUGHTER, TOO? WHY ARE THESE LISTED AS TWO SEPARATE INCIDENTS?)

Julia’s search for the truth becomes all-consuming. She pushes her mother and sister away and ignores her most important case, a three-year-old girl about to be sent back to an abusive home. (THIS MAKES HER A BIT UNSYMPATHETIC TO ME.)
The disturbing truth she uncovers may not be worth losing her family and her job. (BY SIMULTANEOUSLY CALLING IT "DISTURBING" AND THEN SAYING IT'S NOT WORTH LOSING HER JOB OVER, I FEEL LIKE YOU'RE GIVING US CONTRADICTORY INFORMATION. PERHAPS USE A DIFFERENT PHRASE THAN "NOT WORTH LOSING HER JOB OVER"?)

Dandelion Teeth is a 55,000-word new adult work that takes place in Kentucky.

First 150 words:

Julia Marsh stood in front of O’Hare Airport’s Gate B-20, staring at the check-in counter. She’d made it through security without a problem, but she couldn’t bring herself to walk those last few feet. Her roommate Natalie tried to talk her out of flying home, insisting that a car ride would be more calming. Calming, that’s how she’d put it. (I DON'T UNDERSTAND THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THIS LAST SENTENCE--WHY DOES SHE POINT OUT THAT NATALIE USED THE WORD CALMING?)
“Are you lost?” a woman in an oversized Navy Pier (IS THIS A BRAND? DO WE NEED THAT QUALIFIER HERE?) t-shirt asked. She stood on the edge of the gate area carpet, careful not to let her bright, white tennis shoes touch the same tiled floor that Julia stood on. (WHY? MY THOUGHT WAS THAT THE FLOOR WAS DIRTY OR JULIA HAS A DISEASE, BUT THEN I SEE THAT PERHAPS THIS IS MEANT TO CONVEY THAT SHE DOESN'T TRUST JULIA? I MIGHT CONSIDER REVISING IT TO MAKE THAT CLEARER.) Instead, she leaned forward. A mixture of maternal worry and tourist fear tugged at the corners of her mouth. Her husband watched nervously (MAYBE SHOW HOW HE'S NERVOUS?) as he guarded their bags.
With round glasses and a thinning comb-over, he looked nothing like Julia’s father, yet that’s all she saw. Her father was everywhere in the airport. (I MIGHT CONSIDER CHANGING IT TO--"HER FATHER WAS EVERYWHERE" FOR MORE IMPACT.)

Hope these comments help a bit! I think you're off to a solid start. :)

Richard said...

First 150 words.

You switch point of view three times. I'm not particulary bothered by this, but some purists are. Why you're giving us this woman's and her husband's point of view, I don't know. I'm assuming they are minor characters; if they play a major part in the story, then I'd temper my comments a bit.

Cheryl Hettick said...

I like your premise but in case you weren't already aware, 55K words is too few for a NA novel. You may want to expand your plot a little more, perhaps by going deeper intot he story. (YA word count is typically between 65K - 90K words.) I can't read your MS but this will cause an automatic rejection from a lot of agents. Also, your query reads more like a synopsis but in order to hook the reader, you need to convey what the MC wants, what's keeping him/her from getting it, and what will happen if he/she doesn't get it. I hope this helps and I'd appreciate a critique of mine (I'm #80). Cheers and good luck!

Dee Ann Waite said...

I love your first sentence. This is a hook for me, and I am interested further. The fact that her younger sister blames her for her father's death also has my attention and making me wonder.

When an estranged uncle shows up at the memorial service, he reveals an extended family Julia never knew existed. Could this be what her father was coming to tell her when his plane crashed? Or was he going to reveal Amy, a girl listed as his eldest daughter in his will? THIS WHOLE BEGINNING TO THE SECOND PARAGRAPH HAS ME CONFUSED. I WOULD THINK AMY WOULD BE CONSIDERED ONE-IN-THE-SAME WITH THE UNCLE'S REVEALING OF AN EXTENDED FAMILY, AND HER FATHER POSSIBLY EXPLAINING AMY'S POSITION IN HIS WILL. Julia’s search for the truth becomes all-consuming. She pushes her mother and sister away and ignores her most important case, a three-year-old girl about to be sent back to an abusive home. I UNDERSTAND HER BECOMING SO WRAPPED UP IN HER OWN AFFAIRS AS TO PUSH HER FAMILY AWAY, BUT IN THE BEGINNING YOU SAID SHE WAS A DAMN GOOD SOCIAL WORKER - I FIND IT DIFFICULT TO BELIEVE SHE'D TURN HER BACK ON A 3 YEAR OLD.

The disturbing truth she uncovers may not be worth losing her family and her job. CONFUSING SENTENCE - DISTURBING TRUTH MAY NOT BE WORTH LOSING HER FAMILY AND JOB? IN SITUATIONS LIKE THESE ALL TRUTHS ARE DISTURBING. ARE YOU SAYING THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN SOMETHING THAT COULD HAVE HAPPENED THAT WOULD MAKE LOSING HER FAMILY AND JOB ACCEPTABLE?

Dandelion Teeth is a 55,000-word new adult work that takes place in Kentucky.

First 150 words:

Julia Marsh stood in front of O’Hare Airport’s Gate B-20, staring at the check-in counter. She’d made it through security without a problem, but she couldn’t bring herself to walk those last few feet. Her roommate Natalie tried to talk her out of flying home, insisting that a car ride would be more calming. Calming, that’s how she’d put it. IS THERE RELEVANCE TO THE WORD 'CALMING'?
“Are you lost?” a woman in an oversized Navy Pier t-shirt asked. She stood on the edge of the gate area carpet, careful not to let her bright, white tennis shoes touch the same tiled floor that Julia stood on. WHOSE POV IS THIS? SOUNDS LIKE THE WOMAN'S. Instead, she leaned forward. A mixture of maternal worry and tourist fear tugged at the corners of her mouth. THIS SOUNDS LIKE JULIA'S OBSERVATION. Her husband watched nervously as he guarded their bags. WHY WAS HE NERVOUS? DOES JULIA LOOK LIKE A TERRORIST? WOULDN'T HE BE MORE CONCERNED FOR HER, THAN NERVOUS ABOUT HER?
With round glasses and a thinning comb-over, he looked nothing like Julia’s father, yet that’s all she saw. Her father was everywhere in the airport. 'HER FATHER WAS EVERYWHERE' MAKES HIM SOUND OMNICIENT. PERHAPS REWORDING IT SOMETHING LIKE, 'HER FATHER'S PRESENCE LOOMED IN EVERY CORNER'.

THE PREMISE SOUNDS GREAT, AND TRUTHFULLY I WOULD ENJOY READING THIS. GOOD LUCK WITH IT. :)

Leslie Karst said...

Query: I like the opening a lot. But how about "At twenty-three, social worker Julia Marsh considers herself an expert in dealing with families in crisis. But when her father is killed in a plane crash, she can't even help her own family." Then change "his plane crashed" in next para. to "he died."

You use "when" twice to start sentences (okay, one's an independent clause) in the first 2 paras.

1st 150 words: Maybe "her roommate Natalie had tried to talk her out..."? To show the reader that it had already happened. Love the description of the helpful tourist.But I don't understand the bit about her being careful not to touch the tiled floor.

lizhellebuyck said...

This story looks like it would be a great read! I just have a few comments/suggestions for you:

At twenty-three, Julia Marsh considers herself an expert in dealing with families in crisis AN EXPERT AT ANYTHING WHEN YOU ARE THAT YOUNG? MAKES HER SOUND EGOTISTICAL. – after all, she’s a damn good social worker ALSO MAKES HER SOUND EGOTISTICAL. – but when her father dies she can’t help her own family. Her mother is constantly on the verge of a meltdown and her younger sister blames Julia for their father’s death.
When an estranged uncle shows up at the memorial service, he reveals an extended family Julia never knew existed. Could this be what her father was coming to tell her when his plane crashed? Or was he going to reveal Amy, a girl listed as his eldest daughter in his will? Julia’s search for the truth becomes all-consuming. She pushes her mother and sister away and ignores her WORK. [I THINK YOU CAN DELETE "most important case, a three-year-old girl about to be sent back to an abusive home."]
The disturbing truth she uncovers may not be worth losing her family and her job.

DANDELION TEETH is a 55,000 word new adult.
First 150 words:

Julia Marsh stood in front of O’Hare Airport’s Gate B-20, staring at the check-in counter. She’d made it through security without a problem, but she couldn’t bring herself to walk those last few feet. I HAVE NEVER BEEN TO AN AIRPORT WHERE CHECKIN IS AFTER SECURITY. YOU USUALLY HAVE TO HAVE A TICKET TO MAKE IT THROUGH SECURITY. MAYBE I'M MISUNDERSTANDING WHAT THE COUNTER IS FOR. Her roommate Natalie tried to talk her out of flying home, insisting that a car ride would be more calming. Calming, that’s how she’d put it.
“Are you lost?” a woman in an oversized Navy Pier t-shirt asked. She stood on the edge of the gate area carpet, careful not to let her bright, white tennis shoes touch the same tiled floor that Julia stood on. Instead, she leaned forward. A mixture of maternal worry and tourist fear tugged at the corners of her mouth. THE WOMAN'S husband watched nervously as he guarded their bags.
With round glasses and a thinning comb-over, he looked nothing like Julia’s father, yet that’s all she saw. Her father was everywhere in the airport.

Jess Schira said...

I don't really have much to add. I like the concept of this story, and I adore your title. The one thing I do want to mention is that a few agents say that they don't like queries that mention New Adult. The argument was that it's not a large enough genre for them to easily pitch it to publishers.

Good luck!