Saturday, December 4, 2010

#16 YA Science-Fantasy: Fingerprints (BAKER'S DOZEN AGENT AUCTION)

TITLE: Fingerprints
GENRE: YA Science-Fantasy

Sixteen-year-old Lareina puts her faith in scientific laws. That faith is sorely tested when she and her deaf sister discover they're from a world unlike our own, filled with both technology and magic. It gets worse when Lareina learns she's a freak even among the weird. Lareina the science geek has powers she shouldn't, enabling her to bridge a divide that's stood for millennia. The sisters will either unite a society or trigger its destruction.

Infuriating . . . but it kept me from being bored to death.

Mr. Stein droned on about the socio-political background of the Boston Tea Party. No one took the life out of already-dead people like Mr. Stein did. Instead of admiring his supreme talent, I focused on Evie, the sign language interpreter at the front of the room. My "notes" were a list of points Evie mis-signed, misrepresented, or missed altogether. Tasmin would check them later to make sure the bungled interpreting hadn't tangled her too much.

Tasmin glanced over, and I gave a minute facial expression, the slightest squinching of my nose, to indicate Evie was doing semi-okay. Her twitch of an eyebrow in return was the equivalent of a sigh. She faced front again to watch the interpreter's hands fly, for whatever it was worth. Such tiny changes in expression would have been ambiguous at best to anyone else, but we read each other's faces perfectly--pretty easy when the face I looked at was my own.

We were identical in every feature, from the chestnut shade of our hair to the way our second toes were slightly longer than our big toes. Our ears were the only difference. Mine worked flawlessly; Tasmin hadn't heard anything quieter than a jet engine in all our sixteen years. So I endured the monotone drawl of Mr. Stein, while she wondered what she was missing.


  1. In your logline, I'm confused by they're from a world "unlike our own." Does that mean they're on Earth and then discover something different? If you leave that quoted part out, I don't think you lose anything. That puts me at a distance, since it's my world vs. theirs now.

    I love this: No one took the life out of already-dead people like Mr. Stein did.

    I would remove this: "admiring his supreme talent." It gives her a sarcasm I don't like. And, your last line covers this sentiment better.

    I like everything about your writing. Nice work.

    P.S. I'm slowly going deaf, and I totally relate to the "hasn't heard anything quieter than a jet engine" line.

  2. I just love the sample, but the logline needs work. You spent 2 sentences explaining the world building, so there isn't much room left for what happens. I think it would read more interesting if you elaborated more on what happens than on the twin's background. I know you can do it. Your sample shows that you can.

  3. I like this, but there are four characters in the first paragraph and I had to read it twice before I had them sorted out. Unless Mr. Stein and Evie are important to the story, I'd suggest you eliminate one of them or at least not name them both.

    In the logline, I think you need a better word for technology as this isn't exactly something that doesn't exist in "our world".

  4. "A freak among the weird" from your logline is fantastic - I love it. I think it's a great catchphrase. I want it on a t -shirt.

  5. I like your language and sense of humor. It'd be interesting to read more.

    Nitpicking...The first line, for me, was too much of a reaction before the stimulus thing...making me wonder what was infuriating. Was it droning Mr. Stein or the lackluster signing for her sister?

    It's a quiet scene, but it reveals a lot about your two MCs, so it works for me.

    Good luck!

  6. I love this excerpt! The voice is great, and I love that the twin sister is deaf. You've divulged a lot of details in an easy-to-read way and with humor. Great work!

    I'd suggest using Holly Bodger's formula for the logline to make it more concise and highlight only the necessary details.

    Best of luck!

  7. Logline:
    -Oh, science fantasy! Excellent!
    -I think there could be less backstory and more emphasis on the conflict in the logline.

    Line comments:
    -Great voice

    -Hooked! I think the logline needs work, but the actual writing was intriguing and I love the voice.

  8. The log line felt too long, but I enjoyed the writing. I like the voice of the MC and the relationship between the sisters. I would continue reading.

  9. log line - it sounds promising, but perhaps give us a better sense of what the conflict will be. As is, it's pretty vague. What is the divide? What is the catalyst?

    Excerpt - I didn't think you needed the first sentence. It's ambiguous as is. We don't know what's infuriating - Mr. Stein or the signer. And even if you did say who, you show it in the graphs below, so you don't really need it.

    Loved that this was first person that stayed within the story instead of explaining things to the reader, except for that last paragraph, and you could probably cut it. Everything you explain in it has already been shown, and the only new info is that they're 16 and the hair color and big toe info which you could get in somewhere else. But it doesn't stand out too much, so if you're back in the story in the next parg., you might keep it.

  10. The logline leaves out Lareina's opposition - but interesting anyway.

    The excerpt lacked action for me - seemed like a lot of background information that maybe you could sprinkle in as the story gets going.

  11. The logline invoked my curiosity. I want to learn more about this world the characters discover they come from. Is it a parallel universe of some sort where magic and technology are divided? And if the twins, who are so similar are on different sides of this division, how does this affect their relationship?

    The excerpt captured the spirit of the main characters. The fact that one of the twins is hearing impaired, is an interesting way to give a voice to a culture that often goes unnoticed in mainstream society.

  12. I like this one a lot. The idea of a science geek who has to accept magic really appeals to me.

  13. Avoid overuse of ellipses. (It's something I see a LOT in YA submissions, though I'm not sure why.)

    The first line is confusing rather than intriguing. Your goal is to hook a reader, to create questions in their mind, but when you cross over into confusion you lose them.

    Liked the tiny communications between the two friends, and love the inclusion of a deaf character.

    But if the interpreter was doing slightly okay, then what was infuriating? Again, confusion--not your goal. Also, the line "pretty easy when the face I looked at was my own" was never preceded with a note--*within the text*--that Tasmin is her sister, so that could be very confusing for readers who don't read flap copy. Those people generally tend to be reviewers, so your ms really, really needs to stand alone. It'd be really easy to add "My sister" right before "Tasmin" in the 3rd graph to clear that up.

    Would Tasmin wonder what she was missing? It's an interesting dynamic, twins in which one is deaf, because often deaf people don't feel like they're "missing" anything they never had. It makes me second-guess the authenticity of the character. However, the dynamic of being a twin with a hearing sister could change that, which is why I think it's an interesting dynamic to explore.

    Still, not completely hooked, mostly because the concept in the logline feels too generic: earth kid finds out she's not really from earth, has superpowers. What makes this story stand out? Well, a deaf sister does, but what else? What *are* her powers? What *makes* her a freak among the weird? Why would she be considered weird if magic is common in their home world? Or is she considering herself weird on earth?

    Specifics are what make an editor go from "meh" to "hooked," and I don't see them in the logline. However, the writing is good enough that I'd have been likely to want to turn the page to see if the worldbuilding was better in the book than in the description of it.

  14. And by "two friends" I meant "two sisters"--see what I mean by confusion? (I wrote that before reading on.) By not noting that they're sisters, no one just reading from paragraph 1 would expect 2 sisters to be in the same class.

    Nice voice, though.