Here we go...
Thank you to everyone who sent in pitches – this was a fun contest and it was very difficult to just settle on five entries. The winners though, really grabbed my attention and made me eager to read more. Of course, if you didn’t win, I do hope you’ll still send me your query letters to consider.
Here are my thoughts on selecting the winners:
THE SWEET SPOT by Kristine Carlson Asselin: Ms. Asselin’s entry is (excusing the pun) pitch perfect. The pitch showed me the risks and plan of the main character, along with a touch of danger in the blowtorch (as well as raising the question – what kind of damage can you do with a blowtorch to a golf course?). The excerpt gave me a nice sense of Ms. Asselin’s voice in her attention to detail and painted a picture of Kate squaring up to the tee with a look of cool determination on her face.
With the family golf course on the verge of bankruptcy, Kate decides she's going to be the first girl to win the Junior State Championship to draw the crowds back, but her plans are derailed when her best friend and crush is accused of vandalizing the course with a blowtorch.
"A girl has never won." He winked. "Yet."
Her father's words rang in her head as Kate Anderson breathed in her favorite smells; freshly mowed grass and the perfumey scent of rose hips that grew wild at the property line. She walked to the edge of the tee box and bent to pluck a handful of crab grass. It was easy to pretend the grass was lush and green, not brown and dry. Coming back to the patch of dirt where she'd teed up the ball, she threw the grass into the air. The blades fluttered down gently to her left side. She'd have to adjust her swing to account for the breeze. No problem.
FRIENDS WITH DEATH by Christine Nguyen: Ms. Nguyen’s pitch made me smile and then her excerpt made me laugh – a key way to judge if I’m going to like a book on the whole. The image of a hot Death making eyes at the main character was pretty funny, and brought to mind a lot of uncomfortable situations. Mary Kate’s wanting to get out of a test by way of wished-for vehicular assault rang true in the way of teenagers’ sometime callous disregard for others (without meaning it, of course).
When the charismatic Death makes 17-year-old Mary Kate Stewart choose between saving her dying boyfriend or her gift - the ability to see when people are going to die - she can't help but wonder if he wants to be more than just friends.
Mary Kate Stewart secretly hoped that her Calculus teacher would get hit by a taco truck. It was Monday, 1:15 p.m. when she had that thought. She knew the exact moment because that’s all she was doing – staring at the clock and wishing for the demise of Mr. Randolph Hagen. She didn’t want him to actually die, but if the accident caused the kind of amnesia where you forgot one specific thing and that thing just happened to be Friday’s Calculus test, she’d be all for supporting careless lunch truck drivers.
STATE OF DISARRAY by K.C. Friese: This pitch packed a shotgun of information, but did it in an accessible and fun way. It also raised questions about the alternate history goings on (why is NoCal seceding?) and how the main character’s plight connects to it all. The excerpt is a tad jumbled, but K.C. successfully gets across a migraine attack overtaking Augie, and so it’s fair to say the writing reflects that traumatic event.
It's December of '41, the country is hours from war, Northern California is seceding from the Union, and Augie Matayzel couldn't care less - he's a little drunk, a lot in love and running for his life from the sheriff.
Augie Matayzel used the brief moment to reflect that religion is not what The Lord had in mind. He might have gone on - layering the thought with examples of religious fervor run amok - had he not known a very painful message was, in that same instant, rising to his brain like so much bread dough. Instead he allotted the time remaining to dropping the pry bar, falling to his knees and clamping shut his eyes. He battled an additional impulse to crumple to the ground and cry like a kitten, then lost that fight when a white flash ignited between his temples. "S**t!" he said, hitting the dirt.
THE GLASS HOUSE by Amy Sue Nathan: Ms. Nathan’s pitch was solid, but didn’t totally grab me. What did grab me, and what I thought should have been her pitch, was the first line in her excerpt. It’s a great contrasting image. That line made me very curious about the rest of the book and the subsequent paragraph was a nice layout to what’s to come for Evie Glass.
Amy Sue's pitch:
Amidst a torrent of grief, betrayal and bake sales, Evie Glass convinces herself, and a town full of nosy neighbors, to redefine the meaning of family.
Amy Sue's excerpt:
Evie never expected to get divorced, let alone sit Shiva for her ex-husband in a house with a Christmas tree. Yet there she was.
The imitation pine tree was dressed in tinsel and shiny red balls. Hallmark ornaments masquerading as heirlooms dangled from its branches. Stockings hung from the mantel above a card table topped with a green velveteen runner, holly-stamped paper plates and a Lucite platter heaped with lox, cream cheese balls and a mountain of seeded bagels. Richard had mocked Christmas folderol until he married Nicole a year before. Now he was being mourned in the company of a motorized Santa. Evie shook her head, unsure which was more shocking – the attempt for cultural balance or Richard’s sudden death.
THE AWAKENING OF ANNA BRIGHTON by Caroline Tung Richmond: Ms. Richmond’s pitch is great sci-fi – the newly birthed hero, a savior to the human race, but at what cost to their own humanity? The excerpt needs some polish, but it conveys that moment of birth and terror very well, showing Anna’s introduction to the world.
Fifteen-year-old Anna Brighton has spent her entire life sleeping in a steel incubator; but on her sixteenth birthday, Anna is finally awakened to fulfill her purpose—to bear the children for her sterile city.
I awaken in a flood of water.
The freezing liquid pours into my mouth and gushes down my throat.
My arms flail.
My legs kick.
My fingernails scrape against the metal box that surrounds me.
But the water overtakes my body.
As my muscles go slack, the top of the box tears open and my eyes fill with light. Somebody's hands plunge into the water and grip onto my shoulders, hauling me out. I slam onto the floor. Shivering. My lungs gasp for air, but I cannot breathe. Something has lodged in my mouth.
Thank you everyone!
- Jason Yarn
WINNERS: Congrats! Please email me (elanajohnson(at)querytracker(dot)net for instructions on how to get your query and first 10 critique from Mr. Yarn.
EVERYONE: Thanks for a great contest.
MR. YARN: You rock!
And PS: Mr. Yarn said he liked some others as well, and would be contacting those people directly. Squee!
Have a happy Friday!