Friday, December 2, 2011

#47 Contemporary YA: All She Needs is Love

TITLE: All She Needs is Love
GENRE: Contemporary YA

Emma needs volunteer hours to get into college. Enter eight year old Gigi, who has no family aside from a deadbeat dad and is more than willing to be Emma’s charity case. What Emma doesn’t expect is for the wiggling, giggling, bouncy little girl to wrap herself around her heart. When Gigi’s father kills himself in a drunk driving accident, Emma must decide if she should completely alter her life plan and take Gigi in. Or leave her to the foster care system, which Emma herself is a product of.

     “Happy birthday to me,” I mumble as I walk out the front door holding a garbage bag with all my possessions. Every last one fits in this bag. Pathetic, I know. But when you’re a foster kid, you do a lot of borrowing. You never really own anything. So I guess I’m lucky I even have something to put in my garbage bag.

     I’ve been preparing for this day for a while though. When you turn eighteen the state gives you the fancy, new trash bag and ushers you out. My foster mom was nice. Let me stay an extra day. Didn’t want to kick me out on my actual birthday.

     “Emma!” little Jimmy calls from the porch. I turn and look at the kid. I am gonna miss him, even if he did steal most of my socks.

     “What’s up, little man?”

     “Where ya goin’?” he asks as he runs down the steps. “I mean, can I come visit ya sometimes?”

     I ruffle his hair and put on a smile. “Course you can little man. I’m not goin’ far. You know the diner where I work?” He gives me a big nod. “Ms. Shepherd is letting me live in the apartment above it. You can visit me anytime you want.”

     He wraps his little arms around my leg. I can’t help but cringe. I don’t like affection, makes me feel awkward.

     “Okay, okay,” I say as I pull him off. “You just make sure you tell Jan when you’re comin’ to see me so she doesn’t worry, alright?”


  1. Oh yes, I really like this concept I truly want to read more. I like the voice as well but even more what's set up in the first page. This has the feel of a good book to come.

  2. The opening is strong and I got a good sense of the character and her situation. I immediately placed myself in her shoes, wondering what I would do if I was suddenly on my own at 18. Great job!

  3. Wonderful voice! I like the bits of sarcasm mixed in with the tenderness she displays toward the boy who stole her socks. I can tell this is a tear-jerker.

    Good luck in the auction!

  4. Nice voice and great story premise. I'd change the line about her being uncomfortable with affection. Can you show this, instead of telling this fact to the reader?

  5. Great voice and I really like the premise. Maybe instead of commenting on her discomfort with affection, show it in the awkward way she responds to the hug, or how she pulls away as soon as she can.

  6. I understand the comments about the affection line; however, I think the writing reads very smoothly and genuinely. I agree with Alex, it has the feel of a good book to come.

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  8. Got chill bumps. Really love this entry.

    The title lets me know what the outcome will be, but the beauty therein is that the "she" in the title probably turns out to be for both Gigi and Emma. Cue chill bumps.

    Very nice!

  9. About the uncomfortable with affection line, I think it's ok to tell sometimes.

    This early on it could in fact be awkward to show that she is awkward around affection. It's a brief line and does not detract from the story yet gets the point smoothly across yet to show it could take more words and make her come off a little weird.

    Don't fix what aint broke.

  10. The log-line hooked me immediately. Love the concept, and I don't think I've seen anything else out there like that.

    The opening page is also strong, and illustrates the main character well. Makes the reader want to read on to see what's going to happen to her!

  11. I'm also hooked by the premise! It's especially enticing because the main character really KNOWS what it's like to be in the system, making her choice about Gigi all the more compelling.

  12. When I saw yours on here I did a little *yay* dance. :o) Great premise, and the writing is excellent. I agree with Alex, I'd leave the affection line. I want to read more!! Nice work!! :D

  13. Love the voice and the concept. This is something I'd definitely read.

  14. Ohhh, I normally don't have patience for contemp, but enter the eight-year-old and "foster care" and I turn to a puddle of mush.

    I really love the way you paint the MC's distance against the backdrop of her care and attachment to her foster brother. She seems like the kind of character that is willing to pull herself up by her bootstraps, yet still carries a lot of bitterness and pain around with her. This makes her both believable and likable to me, and I sympathize with her right away.

    This pity factor alone would make me keep reading the story - I'm sure the nice writing wouldn't let me put it down.

    So much luck to you!

  15. The writing here is really strong, and it gives us a great sense of character. My one nitpick is the info dump in the first and second paragraphs. I wonder if there's a way to get this in without saying it so directly? I also wonder if the payoff (letting the reader know that you know how the foster care system works) is worth pulling us out of the action.

    Also, the title suggests to me that this is going to be a tearjerker, and that's not my style. So - if that's the kind of novel you're writing, go for it, since I'm not your target audience anyway. But if it's not, you might want to rethink the title.

    Again, great job with the characterization, and best of luck!

  16. I remember this entry from October and am so glad to see it back here because I really like the voice. I see that you've made some tweaks, and while I think many of them are good, I'm not sure I like all of the changes to the first and second paragraphs, which now feel a bit more "tell"-y/info dumpy than they used to.

    For example, the fact that "garbage bag" is repeated twice in the first para, "bag" a third time, and then "trash bag" shows up again in the next para stuck out to me. I love that her whole life fits into a trash bag, it's a great way to start the story, but with that much repetition I felt like I was being hit over the head with the metaphor. I think you can strike the sentence "Every last one fits in this bag" and cut the word "garbage" from the last sentence in that paragraph.

    As for the sentence abt the state giving you a fancy new trash bag, I don't think it really adds anything. I doubt the state actually issued the trash bags, and while I get that she's being sarcastic, we already get that tone from the first paragraph. So, again, I felt like the point was being overemphasized.

    I also liked how, in the older version, she said that "Jan" let her stay the extra day, and you let the reader make the leap that that's her foster mom. Since, in her head, I'm pretty sure that Emma thinks of her as "Jan" rather than as "my foster mom," that felt more real to me.

    All that said, I still love the dialogue with little Jimmy and most of the interior monologue, and your logline just intrigues me more about what's to come in Emma's life. I'd definitely keep reading this. Good luck!

  17. The log line really piqued my interest. I like this opening, too. I'd definitely read on!

  18. Okay, so my first question on reading the logline is, is this believable? I imagine it would be difficult to convince the powers that be in this sort of case, considering Emma's young age, limited income and support, living conditions, etc. Even if she wanted to adopt Gigi, I'm not sure realistically if this is something that could happen.

    The opening paragraphs have some very nice sentences but I think it would be even cleaner if you trust the reader to make those info jumps with you. The first sentence feels a little too explained to me. I get excited about first lines that make me think "Wait a minute, what just happened?" That spark, that hook and question, that's what you want your reader to think. So instead of spelling it out for the reader, how about something like "Every last one of my posessions fits in this bag." Or, "Jan let me stay an extra day. She didn't want to kick me out on my actual birthday." Maybe something like that would work nicely here.

    The repeat of "little man" also doesn't sound so natural. Once is great, but I think you can drop one or the other. Along with calling him "little Jimmmy" and mentioning his "little arms," I think again you were trying to portray his youth to the reader, but we'll understand.

    I don't mind the "affection" line tripping some readers up, but I think the problem is that the style of that sentence is very different from the rest of the narrator's sentences we've seen so far. It's almost a shift in voice. Both are good, so I'd go for consistent. You know Lucy best!

    I loved the foster care angle in Katie McGarry's Pushing the Limits, so I'd definitely want to read more of that angle. I think this premise could have a lot of potential. Good luck!

  19. So cute - I'll go 52!


    Logline: I know the last line reveals the alternative to a difficult choice and gives us more insight into the main character, but the incomplete structure (and preposition at the end) makes it feel like an afterthought. Find another way to impart this information and imply the difficult choice?

    Line notes: I worry that the voice slips into being too self-aware, or maybe aware of an audience, and those moments, like “Pathetic, I know.” throw me out of the moment. I’d suggest trimming.

    Overall: There’s something emotionally compelling about this, though I’m not entirely sure how this book would be pitched in the market. The sample doesn’t read like literary fiction, and the logline’s heavy-handedness makes me think of a Lifetime movie more than something that’s truly “teen” entertainment. I’d want to read more to see how the storytelling is handled, and whether it rises above genre.

    Best of success.