Friday, November 30, 2012

(50) YA Contemporary: California R.I.P.

TITLE: California R.I.P.
GENRE: YA Contemporary

When her parents' divorce uproots Huntington Beach native Dani to Sun Valley, she isn't stoked to trade in her surfboard for skis. But when she discovers snowboarding--and a cute shredder named Cash--€•Dani must decide if she wants the future at USC she’d planned, or if her heart has found an unlikely home in the mountains of Idaho.

I can see the mountains through the window across from my bed, a jaw-dropping view that I suspect I’ll never fully appreciate. The stony, snow-laden peaks remind me of my mother’s face the day she walked out on my father. Cold and unforgiving.

Not that Dad deserves forgiveness for what he’d done. Or who he’d done, to be more accurate. One of his very own patients. After nipping and tucking her to perfection, he apparently found his own work so irresistible that he had to ask her out. An offense that might have been forgivable on its own. But then he had to go and fall in love with her.

And now I’m the one paying for it.

I brace myself and swing my legs over the edge of the bed before I can chicken out, burrow back down under my covers, where I’ve managed to build up a cocoon of precious heat over the course of the night.

As I stuff my arms into the prickly wool of my sweater, I try not to think about Huntington Beach and cotton sundresses and the feel of hot sand sifting between my toes. My entire stash of beachwear is lying in Tupperware bins at the back of my closet, but might as well be lying in a coffin. Mom says I’m being ridiculous, it gets perfectly warm here in the summer. But that’s impossible. Because I already know where the perfect summer is. And it sure as sh*t isn’t here in Ketchum, Idaho.


  1. Love the voice here, and the way your MC draws a parallel between the mountains and her mother's face. Not much happens, but you keep me engaged. I do wonder what Dani means in this line: "An offense that might have been forgivable on its own."

    As I read it, she considers her dad asking out a patient as forgivable. It seems a little strange.

    I think the bottom paragraph where you describe the clothes in the back of her closet could be postponed until later, after we get a sense of the story line. Right now I want to see her interact with someone in her life, or do something other than get dressed.

    Good luck!

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  3. Love the tension set up in your logline! I think you do a great job integrating the history with her dad without giving the readers a massive chunk of information -- nice!

    And I like the dichotomy between cold/hot that you have in the last paragraph. I actually felt cold while reading this.

    I sort of agree with Ambiguous -- what are you setting up with these first 250? Is this her very first day in Idaho?

    Overall though, I didn't mind the slow action. I'd absolutely read more of this. Good luck!

  4. Suggest deleting first line, go straight to The stony, snow-laden peaks....more powerful

    This is a nice opening but could be stronger. Don't want to see her getting out of bed. Want the moment to be more active, have her doing something.

    The info on Dad is told interesting manner that gives great sense of MC's voice.

    I love it all, just don't want her starting in bed.

  5. I really like the logline. I would want to read this based on that alone. The first page is good...but I want to shift some stuff around.

    Consider moving your fifth paragraph to be your first. Because I really like this paragraph and I want the warm/cold contrast first before I hear about Dad. That way you're leading with your character's external struggle first. Then we find out the internal.

    Also, watch starting with "as" or transitioning with "as". So instead of: "As I stuff my arms into the prickly wool of my sweater, I try not to think.."

    "WHEN i stuff my arms into the prickly wool..."

    If it were me, I'd kill the getting out of bed part. I like it, but I know I've heard the rule about starting a MS off with the character getting out of bed/waking up/prepping for the day.

    Awesome job--really love the premise, this is def a book I'd pick up if/when it's on the shelf. Good luck!

  6. YA contemporary is my favorite, so I already feel pulled in by your premise. In the pitch, when I read Sun Valley I didn't think skiing. Replacing that with Idaho might show the contrast better.

    A few opportunities exist to show a closer point-of-view; it seems 1st person present does this a lot with the "I see" "I + verb" where sometimes these aren't needed since we know we are in the head of the narrator and we don't need all the stage direction. for example, if you drop the "I can see" from the first line, you can show the mountains and what they represent and how she reflects. The lines in the first paragraph could be combined for a dynamic, active first line.

    The rest of this is great information for a set up, but I think you could work this in to a more active scene. She could be out on the mountain with her dad, or at the place she's getting ready to go here. You can still work in the prickly sweater while other things are happening. Best of luck, I really like the setting and the situation you've presented.

  7. The logline is really tight. You lay everything out really succinctly.

    I'm not sure I love opening with the MC in bed though. It feels overdone. And I felt like the whole backstory about Dad and his patient was a little info-dumpy. It's probably not essential that we know how she got to Idaho right up front, just that she's there and no happy about it.

  8. I love contemporary. It's 90 percent of what I read. I'd read this just because it's contemporary. But it starts a little bit slow. I think there's just a little too much description. And I agree with the others about starting with her in bed. Good luck!

  9. I guess I'm an oddball, because I loved this opening just the way it is! We get a little bit of back story--but not too much--and a good sense of who the character is.

    The writing and voice just yanked me in (your first paragraph kicks a$$). IMO, I wouldn't change anything.

    Great job and good luck!

  10. You have portrayed the MC's reluctance well in this opening: what a dad! And she has to live with him! And she has to live with him Or does she? Did her mom walk out on her dad AND her?

    Your logline does give a good overall idea of the story. I was, however, distracted the missing apostrophe after the word "parents."

  11. What I love about this is that I get a good sense of the MC. I'm already feel for her and the story just started. It is a bit of a slow start so maybe you can slip some action in there somehow without losing the setup. Great job.

  12. OMG, love, love, love the voice in this entry! The dry sense of humor is fantastic!

    I wasn't at all bothered by the pace or her waking in bed. In fact, I glossed right over that fact. I do, however, think you might want to consider bumping up your 5th paragraph so that it replaces your first. That 5th paragraph is kick-ass and packed with voice! I think it would do an amazing job sucking a reader (and/or agent) in. The first paragraph is fine as is, but I don't think it packs the punch that the 5th does. Put the 5th first, then have the current 1st paragraph be the second. (I hope I'm not confusing you!!!)

    Also, it's already been mentioned, but just to reiterate in case you missed it: the word "parents" needs a (possessive) apostrophe at the end.

    Great, great job! I'll be keeping my eye on this one! Best of luck!

  13. I agree that you should go directly to the second line or segue there from something else. The first line is contradictory: "jaw-dropping" shows that she already appreciates the view.

    The voice is strong (although I always have problems with the first person POV because of the huge number of "I's."

    The Tupperware bins highlight her level of isolation. I would read more.

    Good luck.

  14. I'd avoid the "waking up" scenario as well. I like the idea of moving the fifth paragraph to the first.

    I love the premise of a female snowboarder, and that she moves to it from surfing. The contemporary voice is perfect, and I can feel the contrast between hot and cold. Love the last line, as well.

  15. There’s a lovely self-assurance to this writing.

    Still, I can’t help wondering if this is the very best place to start. I feel lost. Though your main character handles the laying out of how she got to Idaho very nicely, indeed, it all boils down to a lot of contemplative backstory while she burrows in bed. Perhaps if you started with a scene that’s more active—maybe something where the horrible snow or cold makes her utterly miserable—and then get back to this information.

    You have some great turns of phrase: “My entire stash of beachwear is lying in Tupperware bins at the back of my closet, but might as well be lying in a coffin;” “ The stony, snow-laden peaks remind me of my mother’s face the day she walked out on my father.“ I think he coffin one’s a bit buried (sorry for the pun), and I’d love to see it shine more.

    One final word of caution, that I have no right making at this early stage. And I’m gonna sound like a prude. I always tell authors to be very mindful of swearing, particularly in lighter fare. If your whole manuscript is going to go there, fine, but remember you’re limiting who your readership will be. So make that choice with your eyes open. And if it’s not necessary, think if the choice is really worth it, even if that is how teens talk.

  16. You pulled me into how your protag is feeling. But, I, too, wish she wasn't in bed. Maybe sitting at the kitchen table spelling out "snow sucks" with her Cheerios? I'd start the last paragraph with "I try...etc." And then work the itchy, possibly hive-inducing, sweater in. Anyway, great work! Absolutely HEART the dad paragraph. Bonne chance!

  17. Bidding: first five pages, please.

  18. Hey!!!!! You go get one cup of coffee and this happens.


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