Monday, September 17, 2012

Rd 1 Agent Pitch Contest #14 - CONFESSIONS OF A CORNHEAD

Confessions of a Cornhead
Middle Grade Contemporary
38,000

Query:

Twelve-year-old Bernie Taylor wants to be an actress but not a typical country-music lovin’, cowboy-boot wearin’, beef-eatin’ actress you’d expect from Cornville, Illinois. No way. She wants to go to Chicago to be a real actress, just like her mom did the summer before she died of breast cancer. Bernie keeps a journal that her Mom gave her and writes down all her confessions, the deepest feelings of her heart, ‘cause she doesn’t want any of those regrets Mom talked about. Regrets sound too much like those bubbly blisters she keeps getting on her feet from trying to fit into a two inch high pair of last year’s designer knock-offs. But it’s not easy to pursue those dreams with a dad who doesn’t understand living a life where people don’t look cockeyed at you for wearing a bolero to school.

Then, during the announcement of the sixth grade play, Bernie’s teacher reveals that there will be one scholarship to a prestigious performing arts camp in Chicago. Bernie knows it’s her one big chance to achieve her dream. She spends too much time dreaming of the lead role in the play (which includes kissing Cameron Edmunds) and not enough time practicing her audition lines. She bumbles her lines, blows her audition, and battles her bully, Dixie Moxley, reigning Jr. Miss Corn Harvest Queen. She digs in the heels of her hand-me-down knee-high boots, determined to win that scholarship-somehow. If she doesn't, she'll be stuck in Cornville forever, far away from the fame she craves.

First 150 words:

Chapter 1: I’m gonna win an Oscar someday.

Best Actress in a Leading Role: Bernadette Taylor…Thunderous Applause…Walk to stage, careful not to trip on my one-of-a-kind, single-shouldered, midnight blue dress......I’d like to thank the academy for recognizing my talent. Ryan, Taylor, Johnny…to be able to act with such fine Hollywood legends has been a dream.

I write my acceptance speech in my math notebook, along the edge next to the spiral binder. I'm having a hard time getting through class today. Is algebra even necessary? I don’t know too many Hollywood actors who thank their math teachers in their acceptance speeches for teaching them algorithmic equations. I won’t be the first.

“What are you writing, Bernie?” I know that corn syrup voice, sugary, and fake.

“None of your business, Dixie.” I shut my notebook and gather my books, waiting for the bell to ring and bring me one day closer to getting out of Cornville Middle School and into Chicago where I’ll be a big star, just like Mom.

7 comments:

SugarMagnolia said...

Thanks for participating! My plan is to read through all the entries and then begin my comments and critiques. I will give out my top ten my votes when I'm finished.

Best of luck to you, and stay tuned!

Cat said...

You can cut everything from "Bernie keeps a diary" to "bolero to school." It's nothing but backstory and will surely be explained in the novel. Cutting this will tighten the query.

The sample is a great introduction to the main character.

Jayme said...

Still love the voice in this one! Good luck. :)

gailecn said...

Still love this one! Such a unique voice. :)

SugarMagnolia said...

(Hi again! I plan to give out comments during this round, and then I'll give out my top ten votes as soon as I have critiqued everyone's queries.)

I love your first 150 words. This give us a great glimpse into Bernie's character, and it gives us a sense of her narrative right away.

I also like how you've translated Bernie's voice into your query. This is sometimes a very difficult thing to do, but I think you've pulled it off very well.

I do feel like you could probably condense your query just a little bit. I'm usually a fairly dense writer myself at first, and I always have to go back and take out a few of my descriptions and phrases.

I think you could probably do the same here--which is hard, because your phrases are all so great. It just seems like you have so many that their weight gets lost a little. If other sections were streamlined, I think the phrases that remain would pop even more.

Does that make sense? Great job!

The Rooster said...

I loved the voice and story idea. Just didn't have enough votes. I do think you can condense your query. But make sure you don't remove Bernie's voice when you do. (Love the name, btw) I'd keep the query to the main conflict.

Good luck in the future with this!!

The Rooster said...

I loved the voice and story idea. Just didn't have enough votes. I do think you can condense your query. But make sure you don't remove Bernie's voice when you do. (Love the name, btw) I'd keep the query to the main conflict.

Good luck in the future with this!!