Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Grab My Heart #29

GENRE: YA Contemporary Fantasy

ABOUT TIME + THE GOOD PLACE. With her guardian angel’s help, 16-year-old Gemma changes the past and saves her murdered boyfriend—but doesn’t anticipate bringing his killer back too. Now, she must thwart the murderer and reclaim her lost love before her old memories fade, along with her happy ending.

Exiting the BART station, I book it three blocks to the deli, late for work again. A breeze too cold for August blows in my face, making me hunch into my jacket, and low-hanging clouds, floating overhead like clumps of dirty cotton balls, do nothing to lighten my mood.

This early, the taquerias and fruit markets along Mission Street are still dark, but light glows from Poulsen’s Bakery. The delicious aroma drifting into the street reminds my stomach I skipped breakfast this morning. Baking bread and spices. Cinnamon.

A memory hits me. Ben and me and a bag of cinnamon rolls. “Still warm, Gemma.” Buttery and sweet, we cut first period to eat them in the park. A cop car drives by and we duck behind the picnic table, fingers entwined, choking back the laughter. It’s so vivid, I’m back there, feeling Ben’s cinnamon-scented breath on my cheek, tasting the sugar on his lips. Remembering feels like a stab to the gut now, raw and fresh, because Ben is gone.

“Good morning,”

The voice comes out of nowhere, jarring me back to the present. A boy pads along beside me. Tall and dark, a ring of keys jingles on his belt loop.

We’re alone on the street, with the deli still several doors down. I have zero interest in talking, so I smile, nod and walk faster. Take the hint, dude.

Nope. He quickens his pace to keep up. Why do boys think they can invade a girl’s space anytime they feel like it?


  1. I like the opening. I have heard agents say to stay away from opening with weather, so something to keep in mind. I like the description in the flash back memory as well. The scents and description, but I wish there was more emotion attached to such a vivid memory. Does her heart ache? Does she remember the warmth of his hands?

    Otherwise, great writing.

  2. Love the pitch! Though I was confused on why she has to reclaim her lost love. Does he not love her when he comes back from the dead? Or does she rewind time to before their relationship started? If she rewound time, how did she not expect the killer to come back too? Or did she think she’d prevented it?

    Everything I’ve learned from agents and editors recommends against opening with the weather, although dirty cotton balls is clever. The first two paragraphs feel like telling and the transition into the memory is jarring. I want it to be jarring because it would be for her, but as a reader, the jarring was the clunky transition kind, not the smack-in-the-face experience Gemma has as the memory overtakes her. Eliminate filters like “feels” for a deeper POV. No comma after “morning” in the dialogue of the fourth paragraph because there’s no tag following it. The pacing drags a little, tightening in the first two paragraphs would fix that. Slow beginnings aren’t always bad, but if she’s bored enough to contemplate the weather as she walks to work, the reader will be bored too.

  3. I love this pitch. And while agents do say not to open with weather, I feel like your description is pretty clever. It's not dragging out the setting, it's quick, and it's witty. I love, LOVE the dirty cottontail description and I can picture the clouds!

    That said, I think you could tighten up the oping by removing the passive (making me is passive) and cutting the sentences in two, for example:

    "A breeze too cold for August blows in my face. I roll my shoulders and hunch further into my jacket. Low-hanging clouds, floating overhead like clumps of dirty cotton balls, do nothing to lighten my mood."

  4. Your writing is so vivid, hitting on every human sense so the reader sees, hears, smells, and tastes what your MC does. Wonderful! The only change I would suggest is with the pitch. It’s good, but tightening it might make it better. Maybe the happily ever after part (nice, by the way) could stand on its own. Just a thought.

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