Saturday, December 4, 2010

#33 YA Paranormal/Urban: Feel (BAKER'S DOZEN AGENT AUCTION)

GENRE: YA Paranormal/Urban

When honors student, Asia, discovers her unusual powers by speed-healing a deep cut wound on the boy she babysits, a foreign mobster searching for members of Asia's legendary bloodline tracks her down. Asia needs to accept her talents and decide whether to protect herself or blow her cover and attempt to revive a comatose woman, all so the boy she healed can grow up with something Asia doesn't have--a mother.

I walked into a clawing headache in first period American History. Not my headache--someone else's, and the deeper I went into the classroom, the more it felt like bugs worming through my brain.


Strolling into someone else's pain, literally, had been my secret suffering since puberty. I scanned the room for today's culprit, careful to avoid eye contact with my ex-best friend, Angela. Our school's quarterback lowered his head to his desk. Figured. After Friday's victory, I had to share his post-party hangover.

Stupid. Freaking. Jock.

At least it wasn't gas--some people held it until their bloated bellies folded me in two. Or genital burning. I took a seat as far from him as possible and cradled my head. I didn't know if my condition had a name. Physical empathy? But honestly, I didn't give a flying dunk what it was called. I'd been slapped in the face with chronic mess-up-my-life syndrome.

I stopped in the girls' bathroom before class and fixed my bride-of-Frankenstein hair with a rubber band I found on the floor since I couldn't get ready at home. Mental note: ponytail plus headache equals crappy combo. I pressed the pads of my fingers into my scalp and then loosened the tie for relief.

Screw this.

Things were a little easier until last year, when I only felt one person's aches at a time. Not anymore. And Chicago--where people were crammed together like pigeons on a roof--was no place for someone like me.


  1. Great voice and interesting "syndrome."

    I was taken out of the story and the classroom when she said, "I stopped in the girl's bathroom...." It's as though she really went into the bathroom, plus the transition was rough--from her syndrome to her hair.

    I would definitely read more.

  2. Great start. Good luck with this story.

  3. The voice is great and the logline interesting. Still, I think you could tighten it and add a bit more of what's going to happen. This is a whole page of describing her problem and nothing happens. No one asks her if she's alright, nobody greets her, the rest of the people in class seem to ignore her. That would all be fine if she at least reacted to it (just realizing it would be enough). Or maybe it's her? Does she ignore everybody because of the pain? That needs to be mentioned, I think.
    Other than that, it's a really good beginning and I would (I will ;-) ) read more to see where this is going.

    The sentence "I stopped in the girls' bathroom before class..." should be changed to emphasize that she's no longer in the bathroom (Before class, I had stopped in the girls' bathroom...)

  4. The logline seemed a bit disconnected. (She heals a boy and foreign mobsters suddenly know and come looking for her?) I know that's not what you mean, but it's what you've written And then get that mobster in at the end - perhaps, protect herself 'from the mobsters?'

    Very cool syndrome that she has, but I wanted more of the story rather than the explanation of the syndrome, and the bathroom scene seems out of place. Perhaps show it before she goes to class of rewrite as cat suggested.

    Overall, I'd suggest seeing her syndrome in action rather than all the telling.

  5. I'm confused by the connection of all of the people in the logline. Where is this boy's mother and why does the mobster want to kill her?

    Otherwise, I like the excerpt although it does sound a lot like Wake, but with a twist. But I LOVED Wake so that's not a bad thing!

  6. This may be a personal thing, but as other people have pointed out, it's generally not a good idea to cram your first page with exposition. In a way, it's like having the MC look directly at the reader and say 'Hi! This is my problem and why it sucks'. It breaks the fourth wall. I would suggest trying to integrate this exposition into the action of the story itself, so all of these important bits of information arise naturally within the mind of the MC.

    Also, as other people have noted, it should probably read 'I had stopped in the girls' bathroom...', because otherwise it seems as if she was in the classroom, and then suddenly - bam - restroom.

  7. The logline didn't hook me, but your excerpt did. I LOVED it--up until the mention of the bathroom scene. Then when you go on to talk about last year, I feel yanked out of the story. Maybe we need some action at that point. This definitely has a Wake feel to it, but I also loved Wake. Oh, and for some reason the "genital burning" bothered me. Great opening, though. I'd definitely read more.

  8. This is a very intriguing premise. I love the voice. Personally, I wasn't bothered by the MC's explanation of her special ability. It gives us a great sense of what's going on and probably later we'll see it in action, too. I liked the simile of Chicago. I wish you the best of luck.

  9. Logline:

    Line comments:
    -"clawing headache" is great!

    -This has got my attention! Great description, great conflict.

  10. The logline could be cleaner - take out 'deep cut' and perhaps explain how he gets hurt and how the mobster hears about her. I like the first page. I like her walking into someone else's headache. I think you could just take out the para about the bathroom - is it really necessary? And the 'genital burning' felt a little bit like too much information lol.

  11. I want to read more of this one.

    I am a middle school English teacher, and I find the voice in this piece to be authentic and engaging. I appreciate the identifier of Angela as Asia's "ex-best friend" as this distinction would be critical for a teenage girl. It would also be something your intended audience would appreciate.

    I am intrigued by the concept of physical empathy. Your use of language is wonderful in the last paragraph, the one that really draws me into this piece. The ". . .like pigeons on a roof" reference makes my head hurt for Asia!

    I picture this character as African American. I am not sure if she is, however, I am in a constant search for adolescent literature with a young African American female protagonist.

    The more I write, the more I realize how much I love this! Good luck!

  12. The logline made me curious about the story.

    The voice is wonderful. I love her reaction to the hangover and the discriptions in general.

    If you want to make the transition in and out of the bathroom flashback less jarring, try starting the paragraph with the last sentence 'I pressed the pads...' (you'll obviously need to change it a little). Then add 'had' after I(I'd stopped in the girls' bathroom). I think that might make the transition seamless.

    Great writing.

  13. I can't add a whole lot more to what everyone else has said, but what stood out to me positively was voice, setting, and emotions. Negatively was the logline (it did seem a bit hurky - my own word describing "all over the place") and the opening exposition. We should enter the story right at the point something monumental is happening. Gets the ball rolling and makes us want to buy the book.

    I like the premise a lot though, and look forward to the payoff when the skill comes in handy and useful. However, remember the "story" isn't about her talent, it's about how she changes over the course of the story. So jump right in, let us get to know her (show don't tell) and tell us what's going on that she has to deal with.

    Great job, and WRITE ON!

  14. I liked this. Maybe cut the line about finding the rubber-hand--it feels out of place and doesn't seem important.

  15. I loved this too, although if I was Asia, I'd be pushing Tylenol on everyone ;-)

    Nice work. I'd read on.

  16. The logline was a bit muddled, but I liked the voice. I also think this is an interesting premise. I would read more.

  17. I love the voice and enjoyed the standout lines like "I walked into a clawing headache...Not my headache--someone else's..."

    I agree with the other remarks about the bathroom paragraph. Need to either change the tense or transition from classroom to bathroom.

    Great concept - sounds like a fun read!

  18. Wow, no one bid on this!? How did they miss it? OK, the "foreign mobster" in the logline might sound a bit hackneyed, but I love the concept of her "pain empathy" problem, and like the writing as well.

  19. Luckiest One of AllDecember 9, 2010 at 3:18 PM

    Sara J.,

    That's so sweet of you to say. Thank you. Not to worry. I'm fixing my issues(too introspective too soon, some cliches), checking for them all over the MS, and I'll be back. How fantastic is it that I got the opportunity to open my eyes to these things? Just call me Authoress Junior! :)

    Thanks to everyone for the comments.

  20. The first sentence is a little awkward, making it confusing until we figure out that she's really feeling someone else's pain. Needs rephrasing to make it clearer from the get-go.

    The "I stopped in the girls' bathroom" line is confusing--I thought she was already in class. But interesting detail re: the "bride of Frankenstein" hair.

    The last paragraph is intriguing, opening up the question in the reader's mind about what happened last year. But I'd be interested to know what she's comparing to Chicago if she thinks Chicago is as crammed together as pigeons on a roof. Having lived in Chicago, sure, it's more crammed than the countryside in IL (which is where I grew up), but I never felt that crammed. Certainly a character who has her abilities will feel more crammed together if she's feeling everyone's pain, but it's still an odd thing to say about a city that takes 2 hours or more to cross in good traffic because it's so sprawled-out. (NYC feels MUCH more crammed to me.)

    But that's more of a personal reaction, so take it as food for thought.

    All in all, I'm hooked enough by the excerpt, though the logline is a little confusing. How does she start the book having a power that she discovers in the midst of the story?