Friday, November 29, 2013

(28) YA Contemporary: THIS IS NOT A LOVE STORY


When party girl Ava Grace gets knocked up by her best friend’s boyfriend, Harvard-bound Oliver Douglas, keeping the baby puts Ava’s spot at her elite private school in jeopardy. Pregnant and friendless, Ava must figure out how to make it to graduation – and accept that maybe she can’t do it alone.

I think tonight is a tequila night. One more year behind me, one year closer to San Francisco.

As soon as we walk in Malia’s room I get down to business. First, pull the curtains closed so I can’t see the windows. Then clothes. Then makeup.

I watch Malia’s face in the mirror as I apply red lipstick. Going out lips.

“You’re really wearing that?” she asks.

“Of course I am.”

She pulls on her standard khaki shorts and pink polo. “Of course you are.”

I don’t do preppy like everyone’s favorite shoo-in for valedictorian, Malia (her only competition? Her equally uptight boyfriend, Oliver).

“Maybe you’ll pick up some style tips in Greece,” I say. I believe in expressing myself through clothes. I adjust my black tank top just so, making sure the top of my lacey purple bra peeks out. My bra collection is epic and I believe in showing it off. Whoever decided women had to keep all their undergarments hidden and nude was depressingly limited. My favorite jeans are perfectly skinny, faded, and tight. With the bright red streak in my dark brown hair, I don’t need anything else. I’m enough. I’m everything.

I’ve spent years cultivating my brand. I’m as dedicated to it as Malia is to hers. This is why we work so well. She doesn’t pry, I make her interesting. Win-win.

I flop down on her bed and examine my nails, still sprinkled with paint from this afternoon. I can’t believe I even have to engage with Malia’s bad attitude about spending the summer in Greece.


  1. Loved the voice here- I feel like I have a great sense of who the mc is already. The only little comment I have is a lot of books seem to start off "getting ready" either for school, a party, etc. I'd make sure you get to the party scene quickly or have something else unexpected happen to keep it fresh. Great job! I'd definitely read on!

  2. I like the title.

    The logline reads pretty well, although I'm not sure all the names are needed and right now it feels slightly generic to me (i.e., girl gets pregnant by girlfriend's boyfriend). It does, however nicely lay out the conflict.

    In terms of the entry itself, I think the POV character has a solid voice. If the logline didn't quite grab me, this definitely does. She has strong opinions about others and herself, and strikes me as an interesting narrator to follow around.

    One minor crit: at first Malia is criticizing Ava's clothing, but then it jumps to Ava criticizing Malia (“Maybe you’ll pick up some style tips in Greece,” I say). For some reason this reversal didn't quite flow for me. I had back up and make sure sure I had read things correctly (at first I took it as being another line from Malia, until I hit the first person dialogue tag).

    Best of luck with it!

  3. I like the title. I also really liked the 250. I think it would nice if you sneak Ava's name into this first page somewhere, since, without the logline I wouldn't have known what it was.

    I'm not exactly sure why she closes the drapes so SHE can't see the windows - I understand closing them so other people can't see in (although it sounds like she's a bit of an exhibitionist).

    I agree with Wade about Ava's "style tips" line - maybe if it was more like, "Maybe in Greece you'll see there's more to fashion than khakis and polo shirts." Only better phrased, of course, but something that lets Ava's opinion of the preppy look shine through.

    Good job, though, and good luck at the auction.

  4. Hey, there! This is a great title. It reminds me of (the adult novel) SUPER SAD LOVE STORY. It's a big spoiler, but it can be earned if the story pays off.

    I am particularly happy that this YA opens with a scene. We're already in the action and there's dialogue, not just narration. The reader sees the differences between these two girls.

    Though I did wonder why they're best friends--is it just because opposites attract, or is there more to it?

    I think this line "her only competition? Her equally uptight boyfriend, Oliver" could be saved for later. It feels like it's thrown in to go with the synopsis.

    I like Ava's voice, and I think she reflects her party girl image . . . but I'd be careful of her likeability, especially in these opening pages. Phrases like "I'm enough. I'm everything" and "I make her interesting" make me cringe. It's pretty clear from the synopsis that she's heading on a major journey that will change her, but she's perhaps not as relatable as I'd like her to be in this opening.

    A lot of good stuff to work with--thanks for sharing!

  5. I like that this jumps right into the action. Not a lot of narration and a great voice! Best of luck!

  6. Pretty solid pitch, I was definitely pulled in. The voice and pacing in this entry are also strong, this read smoothly. I like that that the MC is a departure from the many shy/meek/inexperienced girls we see often in YA contemporaries, though I really hope that the story doesn't end up veering too lesson-y with the pregnancy we know is coming. Hopefully that's not an issue. So far this reminds me of a Kody Keplinger-style story , or like Molly Backes' The Princesses of Iowa; party girls who are hurting, but are handled in a way that is not preachy.

    Anyway, I really liked this entry and I hope you get attention from some of the excellent agents looking for YA contemporary!

  7. Very strong voice - so blunt. Drew me right in. The logline was concise and compelling. I'm intrigued by this MC who is funny and a little unlikeable. I want to keep reading so I can follow her around ("I'm enough. I'm everything.").

    So many great lines - "my bra collection is epic." The last line didn't make sense to me, but I'm guessing it would be clarified by the following sentence.

    Great job and best wishes to you. I want to keep reading, that pretty much says it all.

  8. Very intrigued by the premise and curious about the "so I can’t see the windows" hint. The opening really pulled me in, strong voice, strong characters, and like the contrast between the two best friends. She seems to want something to do with San Francisco, which makes me curious to know what makes this girl tick.

  9. Even though I'm sure there is a change / come-uppance on the horizon, I do not want to spend a book with this character. I find her just a bit too unlikeable. Can you dial it back some?

  10. I thought this was very well done. The writing's clean and sharp, you've characterized the MC well, and I get a good sense of her relationship with her friend.

    The logline didn't seem as strong. Basically, it says she'll learn she needs help. There are obviously bigger issues here, the pregnancy, does she keep the baby or not, leave school or not, does she try to reconcile with her best friend, what happens to her relationship with Oliver, all of which are more compelling than learning to ask for help. Perhaps get some of that in the logline.

  11. VERY intrigued by the log line and I would definitely read on to find out what happens and how Ava grows throughout the story. Right now though, I'm not her biggest fan. She's a little too selfish and a little too inwardly complaining about Malia. Yet while I was a little turned off, I know that this only adds to her character growth throughout the story. But I do think she needs something a little more redeeming than making Malia interesting.

    I'd read on though. And trust that you'll give her a redeeming factor in the next few pages.

    One other little nitpicky thing - I love asides as much as the next person, but this one felt a little long and forced to me: "I don’t do preppy like everyone’s favorite shoo-in for valedictorian, Malia (her only competition? Her equally uptight boyfriend, Oliver)."

    Maybe if you could combine the competition and bf part? Yes, I know. So helpful.

    Overall, great job and good luck!

  12. I love the premise and think you set it up well in your logline. Your first 250 doesn't flow very well in my opinion. It feels like you're trying to TELL me too much. I would suggest moving the description of what she's wearing to right after "Of course I am." I adjust my... Then leave out the part about her bf's preppy style. If the khaki shorts and polo are standard, the reader will pick that up. Maybe have the MC make a comment about it being boring. You don't want her to come across like she dislikes her best friend or looks down on her.

    I would keep reading. Good luck with it.

  13. I have to agree with the comments saying they wished this started in another place. Getting ready for a party doesn't really show me much about the characters other than their appearances and style, which are interesting, but not really hooking me into the story.

    My advice: the best first chapters start with change (emotional and physical).

    On the plus side, the writing is beautiful and the title and log line hooked me right in. I'd pick this one up for sure if it were on the shelf!

  14. just restating my bid of 100, so I can subscribe to comments.

  15. I love the conflict you've set up in the first line of the log line: Ava sleeping with her best friends boyfriend. But as I read the excerpt, Ava's internal monologue mocking her best friend came across to me as making the mc less likable. My thought was that liking her and liking the way she treats Malia would make that betrayal so much richer. I do like the dichotomy between the two friends and how they complement each other in that good-girl/bad-girl way. I wanted to see more of that, maybe Ava popping a button on Malia's polo to show some more flesh and Malia rebuttoning it patiently every single time with a roll of her eyes. Something to show that Malia is in on the Ava attitude. And then have Malia return the favor (maybe tugging the back of Ava's jeans up to hide the lace edge of her thong, or something).

    I want to see them both invested in the friendship to make that betrayal really work for you, since so much of the book I'd imagine hinges on that betrayal, no?

    Best of luck, there's some great, strong writing here with beautiful imagery.

    Also, I'd like to reiterate the comments about the blinds: Ava would open them, let the light in, let people watch her. Malia would close them. No?