Friday, November 28, 2014

(53) MG Contemporary: LAST CHANCE

TITLE: Last Chance
GENRE: MG Contemporary

Twelve year-old Journey and her rootless mama have only ever had each other and the open road. When their Winnebago breaks down in a dying town, Journey makes her first ever friend: a forgotten shut-in whose home stands in the way of the town’s only shot at survival. With her own future at stake, Journey has two choices: Save the house and kill the town, or save the town and destroy a life.





I craned my neck to see what had died, but it was gone. I flung off my seatbelt, ignoring Mama’s “Hey now!” and raced through our Winnebago to peer out the back window, hoping to catch a glimpse of the corpse at the side of the road.

“Slow down!” I hollered. Mama obliged, stomping on the brake and sending me sprawling. The Ford that had been trying to pass us all morning swerved and kept going, horn wailing all the way. Mama let the engine die, then twisted in her seat to give me her Behave look.

“Journey Jones, what’d I say about running around in Born Free while we’re driving?”

“Don’t,” we said together.

“Sorry.” I scrambled to my feet and pressed my forehead against the rear window. Through the dust clouding the glass, I made out a small brown shape about fifty yards behind us.

“Can we back up a little?” I asked.


“Just fifty feet?”

“Sit down, darlin’.”

I squinted hard as the wind from passing cars made a flattened, bottlebrush tail flap limply against the road. Satisfied, I made my way back to my seat, where Mama sat with her arms folded across the steering wheel.

“Can we go now?” Mama asked as I strapped myself in.

“Can we go back to Nashville instead?” I countered.

“You know I hate going back,” Mama said, and I sighed, ‘cause it was true. In my twelve years on the road, we’d only ever gone forward.


  1. Love the voice in this first page, and there's some fabulous writing here as well. I immediately get a sense of the scene, and I'm intrigued not so much by the actual events as by your character's choices. Strikes me immediately as a character who DOES things, which makes me wish I could read more. Well done!

  2. I love the concept of this, and I love the voice! Her fascination with roadkill definitely sets her up as a unique and interesting character, lol. Well done! I'd for sure read more. :)

  3. I agree with all of the above. I especially love the opening lines. It's Journey's strong voice that pulls me in right away, and the fact that you don't try to give us too much information. I think you'll have many bid on this one.

  4. Strong voice! I'm intrigued by this character and where the story is going. One tiny critique-the word obliged pulled me out of the story as twelve-year-olds don't use that word. Even if it goes with Journey's character, it doesn't seem to fit with the rest of the scene.

    Good luck!

  5. Absolutely love the voice and the dialogue. Your writing pulled me in immediately, and I for sure want to read more. I love that their RV has a name. You have been able to tell so much in such few words--the boredom, the relationship between mom and daughter, where they are from, their socio-economic situation, the setting--the list goes on.
    I have one tiny critique--"fifty yards behind"--stalled me because it made me wonder how Journey would know what a fifty yard distance is (or your readers).

    The writing is so fresh. Good luck!

  6. Love the open. Certainly caught my attention. Great scene setting. I agree with the comment about the "fifty yards." I'd break the second before last sentence in two. That's a lot to tell us. Separate the thoughts and let them sink in.

  7. I enjoyed this. I was immediately drawn into the scene and the characters came alive. The opening lines and closing lines are especially good. The writing's well done, and the question of where they're going is a good hook.

    I do wonder why so much of the first page is given over to the roadkill, though - it's interesting, but if it's not going to be important later or part of a theme, I might cut that part down a bit. I also had to reread this line: “Don’t,” we said together. a couple of times because at first I thought there were two kids in the car. Perhaps rephrase?

    But overall this is great and I'd definitely read on.

  8. As Piper said, it's all here. Even her name suits her. As for the 50 yards--I've been told to never name an exact distance or height because the first thing many readers will ask is, 'How does she know that?' If you're vague,-- a good distance back, a little behind us, etc - the reader will imagine the distance that seems right to them, and while we all might imagine something different, it'll be exactly right for each reader.

    Very nicely done!

  9. I love the voice and the opening incident of thinking there's a body on the road. Your main character has a lot of personality.

    My only comment is on the pitch. It talks about Journey and her mother's Winnebago breaking down and then jumps to the shut-in and saving the town. But what's missing, to me, is the part about how Journey and her mother might stay in the town. What's personal about saving the house and the town for Journey? I get that she's made a friend, but the main issue seems to me for her to find a real home and this is her one chance. Or maybe I've guessed wrong and they'll move on after the Winnebago is fixed. But in either case, I want to know the personal stakes for Journey a bit more.

  10. Wonderful writing. Great setting. Love her obsession with roadkill - it feels real and original.

  11. Hey!

    GREAT premise, totally intrigued, though I agree with the above that I'm a little uncertain on their plan of action/what will happen when the Winnebago's fixed.

    I REALLY love that opening set of lines. And anyone who's been trapped in a car understands the monotony.

    Also just have to say that I LOVE that last line. All around, a super strong beginning.


  12. I love your MC's voice. I was immediately brought into the story and her world. I agree with a couple of the comments above, but they are all super easy fixes. For example, the "Don't," could simply be changed to "Don't do it," I said rolling my eyes. And, the "Just 50 feet?" could be changed to something like "Not even a teeny tiny bit?" Those would fit your awesome character and keep your readers in the story. I love the end of the passage. It shows so much about the backstory...and makes me want (need?) to read more. Great job and I'm sure you'll do excellent in the auction. :-)

  13. I agree that this has a really strong voice and you convey so much about this mom and daughter in these few lines.

    I think that my only question is why she's trying to figure out what kind of animal the roadkill is. Is she keeping a log? Is this how she passes time? Has she done this the other times they've moved? Otherwise, it comes off as a bit of a strange concern for her.

    If the entire manuscript reads like this, it will definitely captivate your readers.

  14. I love this so much! The voice has drawn me right in. I find it strange that the MC LIKES to see road kill, but in a great way! The descriptions (like the dust outside the window; stomping on the brake sending me sprawling, horn wailing all the way; the Behave look) are simple but effective and set a strong scene. The dialogue is realistic too. I have questions about her and about her mom but they only make me want to read more. Nice work! Good luck in the auction:)

  15. As others have said, the voice here is so fantastic and charming! The tone reminds me a little of THREE TIMES LUCKY. I love how sassy Journey is, and the banter between her and her mother.

    I will echo the comment above about connecting the story more personally to Journey. I wondered why she'd want to save the town if she's only lived there for a brief period of time. Is there something else welcoming about the town besides the fact that she makes this shut-in friend? Does her mother see them finally settling down there (which, since her mom is "rootless", would be a huge deal)? Without this extra motivation, I worry the plot here will feel a little forced.

    Overall, though, I'm in love with your voice and think this is a great start! The first 250 are really working!

  16. This is really good!

    I love that RV is called Born Free.

    Can you tell us what was most likely on the road? Something like - I squinted hard as the wind from passing cars made a flattened, bottlebrush tail flap limply against the road. Poor possum. or Stupid Squirrel.

    Good luck! You're sure to receive bids!

  17. Loved Journey's voice and so fascinated to find out what her mother is outrunning (and how she sustains income to keep them going). But such a great premise and adored that we start right on the road, in motion. Good luck!

  18. Great opening. Great voice.

    One question: Why is she 'satisfied' when she sees the 'bottlebrush' tail? Has she identified the animal? Because it could be a lot of animals. Or is she happy that it was actually something dead?

    BTW the fifty yards didn't both me. Half a football field is easy to picture. But why only backup fifty feet?

  19. Hi
    I'm your tweet diva for the contest.
    Good Luck!

  20. Full for me! Doesn't the full have to be the sixth bid?

  21. Man, you guys moved too fast. I'm asking for this when the contest is over so you better read it fast!

  22. CLOSED! Full goes to Tamar Rydzinski.

    (Yes, full has to be the 6th or later bid)

  23. Ack! It's too early in the morning here!