Thursday, May 17, 2012

Team Mónica #10 -- KISSED


KISSED
Speculative YA
70,000 words


Query:

Trapped in a dark cult, sixteen-year-old Naomi Aren has lived a quiet, albeit unhappy, life nestled deep in the hills of the Ozarks.  With uncut hair, denim skirts, and only roses for friends, Naomi seldom questions why her life is different from other kids at school. Until the day her abusive father, who is also the cult’s leader, announces her wedding. Naomi must marry Dwayne Yerdin, a bully who reeks of sweat and manure and is the only one person who scares her worse than her father.

Then she meets Kai, the mysterious boy who brings her exotic new roses and stolen midnight kisses. Kisses that bring her a supernatural strength she never knew she had.  As the big day approaches, Naomi unearths more secrets about her father’s cult. She learns she has power of her own and while Kai may have awakened that power, Naomi must find a way to use it to escape Dwayne and her father—without destroying herself.


First page:


Birthdays are supposed to be special.  Like my Kaiser Wilhelm rosebushes.  They bloom once a year, huge violet and crimson cups full to bursting with petals.  When I part the petals with my nose and inhale, I go weak in the knees from the fruity perfume.  But my birthdays are more like the daisies that grow alongside the roses.  Ignored.
                                                           
#

The sink looked odd next to our front door.  My mother had it installed after I kept tracking in dirt and fertilizer.  I washed the soil off my hands with the warm water and used a file to clear the dirt out from under my nails.  Then I exchanged one dirty pair of ugly tennis shoes for a pair of clean ugly tennis shoes and made my way into the kitchen.
 Paint on the cabinets peeled away in white curls.  A single light bulb gave enough light to cook but not enough to read a recipe.  My mother stood by the tiny window, her bottle blonde hair twisted in a bun on the back of her head. She wiped her hands on her apron.  And then smoothed a stray hair from my braid.   I knelt down to tie my shoes, anything to avoid her touch.
“Wash your face.  We have guests for dinner.”  My stomach knotted.  I tied and untied my shoes three times, buying time to think of how to respond.  Years ago my father had closed our home to visitors. No one crossed our threshold.

35 comments:

  1. Awesome setting AND an awesome romance? Yes please!

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  2. Love love love....yay!!!! So excited!!!

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  3. So much Drama! It is engaging from the first paragraph, definitely literature falling into the "can't put it down" category!!

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  4. Yay! I love the idea of her living in a cult!

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  5. Love that opening paragraph! I'm hooked!

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  6. Fascinating. I would live to read on. Need a beta?

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  7. Loved it first time I read it, still love it, so yeah love it!

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  8. Great stuff!! I love mysterious boys and midnight kisses. *sigh*

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  9. I still love the descriptions in this. Go Team Monica!

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  10. This is such an intriguing premise with great writing... I would definitely read on!

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  11. Have really enjoyed reading bits and pieces over Virginia's shoulders. Once I 'm not working 15 hour days i'll have to read the whole thing... Good luck

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  12. This is really, really excellent. I'm completely hooked.

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  13. This looks very interesting. I'd definitely read it. Good luck!

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  14. The first page is thoroughly engaging and beautifully written. I absolutely want to read more.

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  15. Really interesting premise - the query immediately has me asking what sort of powers she has and the opening is already full of dread and suspense. Love it!

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  16. Wow. Love the image of a girl in her rose garden. So innocent and so weird at the same time. Definitely some creepiness and suspense going on here - awesome! Good luck!

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  17. I loved this the first time around, and I still love it. Your use is details in your excerpt is amazing!

    Good luck!!

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  18. Oh wow, I just love the feel of this! Sounds very awesome and romantic, and what a great premise! I love the rose garden thing! :D

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  19. This just looks so intense and the opening is so well-written!

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  20. Absolutely love this. Your changes are perfect. I can't wait to see this on shelves! Good luck!

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  21. Love this! And who doesn't love midnight kisses?! Good luck!

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  22. Foreboding! Loved where this ended, leaving me wanting to know WHY nobody has been invited in.

    Good luck!

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  23. This is fantastic. I liked it on the first round, but it moves so smoothly now. Great job.

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  24. I agree - this leaves me wanting more. I loved your query too - the last paragraph especially. Good luck to you in the contest!

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  25. I really want to read this entire book! And wow was this powerful: a bully who reeks of sweat and manure and is the only one person who scares her worse than her father. Awesome job!!

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  26. Great concept! It's very unique. And you have a great voice. Good luck!

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  27. I vote for you!

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  28. #10 KISSED

    Query:

    I like how economical this query is—you lay the story out for us without too much beating around the bush.

    A few nitpicks: The word “nestled” in the first sentence to describe Naomi’s life threw me a little bit; I think it would be OK to describe a town as “nestled in the Ozarks,” but not a life. I think you can just lose that word and the sentence will be cleaner.

    And I think that the fragment “Until the day her abusive father… wedding” would be more effective combined with the previous sentence: “…other kids at school—until the day…”

    First page:

    I LOVE the first paragraph—a simple and perfect introduction to the character’s life and her rose passion.

    You have some lovely descriptions in the rest of it, but I don’t understand why, if the MC lives there, she would be suddenly noticing all of these details about the cabinet paint and her mother’s dyed hair. It feels like the author trying to give me information that the character would be used to already. Perhaps you could work those in later, as she reflects on how poor they are, or something?

    Also, I associate “tracking” with feet, so I don’t see how the sink would help with that, since she doesn’t wash her feet in it. Is the sink really important? Because you could impart the same information just by having her need to change her shoes.

    So, a couple of logic problems for me, but I really like the writing and think that this could be really strong with a few tweaks.

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