Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Grab My Heart #31

GENRE: YA thriller, diverse

For most of her life, seventeen-year-old Espie Hernandez’s life has revolved around El Padre and the cult-like compound he rules. She prides herself on being loyal, and truly believes, as El Padre preaches, that those outside the compound, The Others, want to destroy them. But then she sees things that make her question El Padre. Soon she finds herself in the unthinkable situation of being banished from the compound forever unless she can bring proof of the weapons The Others are stockpiling to use against them. When she finds The Others she also finds that nothing is quite how it had been portrayed. Who is it that wants to use the weapons? The Others, or El Padre? Espie has to decide who to trust, her leader, or Phoenix, the Other boy who offers her kindness. Time is running out. As everything she’s been taught is torn apart, she still needs to find the strength to look inside for what really matters.

Why did I come again?

The old building creeped me out, but I had no idea that what was about to happen there would change my life, my whole world, forever. Weather-beaten, the wood sagged as if resigned to its fate. Shadows flirted through cracks in the boarded up windows.  The house slumped in defeat.  I shivered, pulling my hoodie closer but warmth eluded me. The desert nights were brutal even within El Compuesto, the compound where we were confined.  My sister Xochil had snuck out earlier, which only increased the anxiety growing inside me.

No longer did it feel right to sneak out after curfew.  Doubts resurfaced.  Doubts I didn’t want to address.  I only wanted to save my sister from doing something stupid.

Why did the leaders insist we had to share a vidcom?


  1. The pitch is really long, more like a query letter. I think starting with the old building is a good first sentence. I think I would skip the what was about to happen changing her life part. Stick with setting the scene with the great creepy house description.

  2. Very cool premise, but I think you can cut it off sooner--the lure of her not knowing who to trust and possibly being lied to is apparent without learning about the specifics of the weapons (although I do think you should intro El Padre and the Other boy because I am immediately curious to learn more about both of them). I also agree that you shouldn't tell us that her world view is about to be changed ahead of us seeing that happen. I would focus on why she is anxious tonight and the moment she is in, as you mostly otherwise do.

  3. The pitch is too long, as others have said. Great basis for a query letter though. I’d have liked one thing she believes that can make me sympathize with her more than just thinking The Others want to kill her. Otherwise, I struggle to connect because I can’t understand why she’d want to stay once she figures out the world isn’t what El Padre taught her.

    The second line of the ms is telling and clichĂ©. How do shadows flirt through cracks? Or was it supposed to be flitted? “Were” and “had” are both signs of passive voice, eliminate those as much as possible for tighter writing and deeper POV. Also, she makes the compound sound like a prison, but if she were really loyal, would she think of it that way? More telling in the third paragraph, I want to feel how it doesn’t feel right for her if that makes sense. Also, her questioning the leaders upfront on page one about the vidcoms doesn’t make her sound like a believer. If she were truly devoted, wouldn’t she have a reason she believed made them necessary? I know nothing about cult life, so I could be completely off base, but those were things that pulled me out of the story.

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