Thursday, May 17, 2012

Team Mónica #7 -- JUST THIS ONCE


JUST THIS ONCE
Contemporary YA
94,000 words


Query:

For Sydney Harrison, perfection is more than just a lofty ideal. It's her only hope of escape from the new life she will never accept. When her dad's second stroke left him disabled, she lost her best friend, her home, and her belief in God all at once. Now she's living in a broken-down trailer with her family of seven, eating donated food, and making big plans. Armed with only her scholarly prowess and unwavering work ethic, Sydney is working hard her senior year to trade in her thrift-store jeans for an Ivy League education. There is no room for distraction. But there's one thing she hasn't counted on: Sheldon Miner.

When Sydney gets stuck tutoring the rich, popular sports hero, her rigid focus on her goals becomes more of a floppy blur. Suddenly she can't remember why she should avoid mid-study-session snowball fights, or kissing boys in giant coat-closets lit with twinkling Christmas lights. Sydney is sure her only hope lies in holding rigidly to her plan. But maybe the right distraction can help her open her heart, share her fears, and accept her life as it is. If only that didn't mean forcing herself to try all the things that terrify brainiacs with plans—just this once.


First page:


My dad used his second chance at life to build a tree house.
            I worked by his side, watching his every move with awe. And I felt like a child again—Daddy's little helper.
            "Sydney," he said from his perch on the stepping stool, "can you hand me that board?"
            I passed him the cedar plank, and he lifted it over his head effortlessly. Then I stretched up on tiptoes to hold it while he fastened it in place.
            Though the days were growing steadily warmer, there was a cool breeze, and the clouds rolling in portended another spring rain. The new green leaves rustled, reminding me that everything had come alive again.
            After Dad's stroke in February, that hadn't seemed likely.
            Mom brought us lemonade—only an excuse to watch him. He was a gift, and she had to make sure he was real. She came onto the porch with her pitcher and stopped, her face transforming as she saw him. Joyful, yet tentative, somehow. My heart was in my throat as I watched her fill her eyes with him. My father—alive and strong. 
            He downed his lemonade in one long swallow. "Thanks, Evie," he said. "Should be finished with the roof by tonight."
            "I'm glad," she said. "The kids are going to love this. Just don't overdo it." She smiled, but then passed her trembling hand over her forehead, shadowing her features. And I glimpsed her fear. She still had trouble believing the miracle.
           

31 comments:

  1. Heart-wrenching and gorgeous. Reminds me of Sarah Dessen. Go Team Monica!!!

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  2. Beautiful, intriguing first line. Go Team Monica!

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  3. "her rigid focus on her goals becomes more of a floppy blur"

    Love this

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  4. Woo hoo! Love for all my fellow contemps in The Writers Voice! I'm LOVE that opening line--it just pulls you right in! :)

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  5. You've caught my attention. I'd love to read more.

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  6. I'm such a sucker for stories like this. LOVE it!!

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  7. This is my kind of story. And... you have the same mc name as mine. My Sydney has a pretty crappy life too (Check out Frosty on Cupid's site) And her rich boy also needs tutoring, in a way, but not from her. Funny to see the similarities. Good luck.

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  8. This hits shockingly close to home for me in so many ways, so I totally feel for this girl. I want to see how it works out for her! *tries to sniff over shoulder to see the other pages*

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  9. Arthur FunktasticMay 17, 2012 at 5:44 PM

    I would totally read this novel. Somebody publish it so that we can find out how the story ends!

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  10. This is exactly the sort of book that my wife loves to read. I'm intrigued! Sheldon sounds the sort of cat who was always elbowing me out of study groups or class projects in high school. I wonder whether he's really good enough for a smart cookie like Sydney.

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  11. "Sheldon sounds LIKE the sort of cat" ... is what I meant to say. Sheesh, Kluggur, how hard is it to type a three-line comment without tripping over your keyboard?

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  12. This is the best entry I've read so far. It's solid heartfelt YA contemporary like Sara Zarr. Nice work.

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  13. Gorgeous! The query is magical, and this opening already has me wondering when things are going to go wrong. Love it!

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  14. Aw, this is wonderful! I agree with Jamie - TOTALLY magical. Especially closets with twinkling lights *wink wink*

    So much luck!

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  15. Wow! This is wonderful! Great concept, and those first few pages are beautiful, fluid, and full of heart.

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  16. As a fellow brainiac over-planner, I'm already IN - I want to see her break out of her shell! And your writing in the excerpt is just lovely.

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  17. I love this. The opening is amazing. Such great imagery! Good luck!

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  18. What a touching first page. Beautifully done!

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  19. Great changes to your query. I really empathize with your MC. Would love to see what happens to her.

    Good luck!

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  20. Fabulous premise!! I love this query too! My heart already aches for the MC. Good luck to you!

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  21. You have such a great opening sentence. I love this idea!! Not big on contemporary YA and this is something that I would not be able to leave the bookstore without. Definitely a bookstore book. I wouldn't want a loaner copy from the library, I would need MY own!! Great job!

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  22. This premise is so powerful. I loved your description of the mother filling her eyes: beautiful.

    Good luck!

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  23. Sounds cool! I think my daughter and I would enjoy reading this book...where can I buy it?

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  24. :) Fingers crossed, Ej GA... Coming to an agent / editor / bookstore near you!

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  25. Really love this. Your query grabbed my heart and your opening page is just beautiful. I would definitely pick this book up. Good luck!

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  26. #7 JUST THIS ONCE

    Query:

    I can’t find much to critique about this query (except that “coat closets” shouldn’t be hyphenated). You spell out the important plot points and main characters clearly. It seems like a fairly quiet story, and I’m not sure how memorable the title is, though I find that that’s the case with a lot of contemporaries.

    First page:

    What a lovely first page. Your writerly mechanics are strong, and I think you do a good job of weaving in the backstory about the dad’s stroke without shoving it down the reader’s throat. I’d certainly turn the page.

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