Saturday, December 4, 2010

#35 YA Magical Realism: The Legend of Itasca (BAKER'S DOZEN AGENT AUCTION)

TITLE: The Legend of Itasca
GENRE: YA Magical Realism

Fifteen-year-old Jeni buys a Native American artifact and unintentionally frees a mythic underwater monster which drowns victims in the icy waters of Lake Itasca. If she can escape the human minion sent to steal the artifact and eliminate her, Jeni must then lure the monster back into captivity before it kills again.

Fourteen family members. One cottage.

If Jeni wanted to avoid Tyler - and she did - she had her work cut out for her. Only the bathroom or the bedroom she shared with her grandma would provide complete refuge from her cousin.

Tyler appeared in the living room doorway as if he'd heard her thoughts. Jeni stuck her nose farther into her book, hoping to go unnoticed.

No such luck.

He beelined straight for her and jiggled keys in her face when she refused to acknowledge him. "Wanna drive?"

"No thanks."

"C'mon. I know you need the practice hours."

"Not that bad."

"Mmm. Or maybe you're chicken because you suck at driving."

Closing her book, Jeni glared at her cousin. "I doubt my parents will let me anyway."

"Ask them."

Jeni watched Tyler's eyebrow inch up under his shaggy hair and blew out an exasperated sigh. "Fine." Though the answer would be no, Tyler wouldn't give up until he heard it for himself.

A few minutes later, stunned and ticked off that her mom agreed with the idea, Jeni stalked out of the cottage. Tyler leaned on the deck rail, a smile playing at the corners of his mouth. He tossed Jeni his keys.

She wanted to tell him exactly what he could do with his keys, but they'd be here for a week. Better to prove she could drive than get badgered about it for days.

Except - was ridiculing her driving skills enough for Tyler? He must have something else up his sleeve.


  1. I like in MN, we have a lake Itasca!... I think I'll avoid skinny dipping for awhile... lol.

    Love the tag line

  2. I liked it. I would read more. Great job.

  3. LOOOOVE it! The last sentence of the logline is a little choppy, but your opening page is awesome. I already love the characters. Good luck!

  4. Solid opening page and I'm really into the logline. My only quibble this sounds less like magical realism and more like straight up magic. I wouldn't categorize it this way but that's just my opinion.

    Good luck!

  5. It bugged me that she went so easily when she clearly doesn't want to go, like she has no backbone. Maybe if you got across that she really does want to drive, just not with him, but driving with him is better than not driving at all? I guess I just wanted her to be a bit stronger. But it is well written and the log line sets up an interesting premise that makes me want to read more.

  6. I wasn't that hooked by the logline, but I LOVE this excerpt. It's AWESOME!

  7. I would possibly categorize it contemporary fantasy instead of magic realism. Great voice, and the opening scene really grounds the story in the "real world."

    I'm a little confused about the dynamics of her relationship w/Tyler in this scene -- at first, he just seems annoying, which is why she wants to avoid him. But then he insults her and taunts her, so I don't get why he'd want to spend time with her at all. Hope that makes sense!

  8. I'm with Barbara. If she doesn't want to drive with him, it doesn't seem like she'd give in to his taunts. And then she actually gets angry at her mom for letting her go. I don't buy it. I think it would be more believable if she REALLY wanted to drive, and if going with her annoying cousin was the only way to do it, she'd take that opportunity. I like the logline and would definitely want to read more. Nice job.

  9. I didn't have any problems with the opening page's conflict; it felt real to me, maybe cause I can totally relate to her motivations.
    I'm expecting as the scene goes on we'll learn more about why she wanted to avoid him.

    I wish I had specifics for the logline that could help :( I think you just have to keep tweaking it to make it jump out more; I just don't feel the anxiety/tension when I read it. All the pieces are there and in the right place, it just needs pizzaz. I know, not very helpful. I'm sorry!

  10. I think I've seen this before... and this version is much, much better. It's concise and tight and flows well. The voice is great and the logline tells me everything I need to know. Good luck with it.

  11. I love the setup in the excerpt -- so much family in a small cottage. I agree with others that you need your main character want to practice driving -- and realizing her only choice is with her cousin. Otherwise, she would have told him to stick it...
    Would love to read more of this.

  12. I loved this.

    You might be able to solve the motivation to drive problem so many critters have mentioned by changing the first two sentences. Try:

    Dutyful Jeni was stuck in one cottage with fourteen family members, but she'd avoid (adjective) Tyler as best she could.

    Later in the novel you could develop her feelings about driving and (everything else).

  13. Logline:

    Line comments:
    Great voice

    This is pretty tightly written. No real comments to offer!

  14. The logline worked for me. I like that it has a time element in it. The excerpt - I didn't get any immediate sense of magical realism or fantasy, although it's only 250 words. I agree with some of the others - where's her backbone? And why doesn't she ask Tyler what else is up his sleeve before she heads off in the car with him?

    The writing is solid. I'd read on to find that element of magical realisim.

  15. I want to know WHY she hates Tyler so much. Plus she doesn't make much effort to turn him down. It all read kind of like a boy she has the hots for but is pissed off with... and I really hope that's not the case since he's her cousin!

  16. This sounds like the kind of story I'd pick up. I thought the logline was very well done.

    But I also agree with Barbara. I was a little annoyed with how easily she went with Tyler after that spiel about wanting to avoid him at all costs. Plus, if she wanted to avoid him so much, then why was she reading in the living room and not in the more protected bedroom?

    I think this opening could be stronger if you gave us a hint of why she wants to avoid him. "Ever since the incident at ..." or something. That kind of story question really pulls the reader forward. I hope it's not just that he's smug and annoying, because I'm really hoping their conflict is bigger than that. I'm assuming they will have to overcome it and work together at some point.

    Good luck!

  17. Yeah, I've got to go with those saying "no way" on the easy giving in. It needs a bit of tightening up, too, to make the flow better.

    You've got a good logline, you just need to make the excerpt fit it.

  18. I'm a little puzzled at two things: why she doesn't want to deal with Tyler in the first place, and if she does, why she gives in so easily.

    I'm not hooked, especially because though I like the idea of freeing a mythical underwater monster and the chaos that might ensue, it's a little annoying that it's done via a Native American artifact. Which tribe created it? What's their relationship with the monster? Does it have any grounding in actual beliefs or myths that tribe had? It's hard to tell from a logline, but generally I'd expect something more specific than "Native American" to indicate that. This has been done so many times in Hollywood and in books that Native Americans at the Oyate website make a list of books that misuse Native American culture.

    The thing about using Native American artifacts like this as a spur to a story that appears to be completely unrelated to actual Native American culture is that this is exactly the kind of appropriation that annoys actual Native Americans. (Goes right alongside "old Native American man teaches young white boy the 'way of the wolf' and young white boy is now confident and strong and can take over for the dying Native American."

    For a great article that explains the way to appropriately appropriate, check out this excellent article by Nisi Shawl: