Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Hook the Editor #2: ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD (YA SF)


Seventeen-year-old Derek has two goals in life: play major league baseball and marry his best friend, Corinne. When a spacetime glitch pulls his future kids into the present, he learns he didn’t marry Corinne, but his shrewd STEM rival, Michelle. Now forced to partner with a girl he hates, Derek slowly grows attached to his imperfect family, prompting him to choose between the life he envisioned and the life he never saw coming.

April 2009

Astoria, Oregon

Derek grips the glossy neck of his Louisville Slugger, feeling out the warm evenness of the wood. Feet apart, knees bent, eyes straight ahead, he raises the bat over his shoulder.

He waits.

The pitching machine launches a baseball and Derek swings, the crack of impact thundering through the low-hanging clouds blanketing his coastal town. The ball is a meteor against the grey, destined to land in the Columbia River with a muted splash. Except the practice net catches it first, repelling the ball back to the ground.

Derek raises his bat again.

It’s seven a.m. A spring drizzle coats the backyard, changing dirt into mud, grass into flattened mush. Cold beads form on his skin, rolling down his arm, dripping off his elbow. His soaked T-shirt sticks to the swell of his chest. He’ll need to stop soon. He’s got class in an hour.

But Derek doesn’t care. Because when the seventeen-year-old holds a baseball bat, it feels like he’s holding all the time in the world.

He has his father to thank for that.

From a young age, Mr. Lyttle encouraged him to play. Derek recalls his earliest memory, practicing batting form with a rubber T-ball set.

Chest over your toes promotes a good swing angle, his father would say, adjusting the boy’s stance. Feet apart, knees bent, eyes straight ahead.


  1. Few atmospheric beginnings work. The voice has to be perfect, the writing surprising and crisp.

    This one works.

    It offers terrific insight into the character and shows without telling the place baseball holds in his life.

    Until the end. The backstory graf - "From a young age..." pulls me out of the story, tells-rather-than-shows me stuff that doesn't matter at this point. In fact, you could drop this graf and the one above and go directly from "all the time in the world" to "Chest over your toes..."

    While you can't copyright titles, this is the title of one of the most famous of all Twilight Zone episodes. It's not quite like writing a book about thermometer-making called "Fahrenheit 451," but... close. It's an unavoidable association that will get stronger with the Twilight Zone movie-thing coming out, which I believe includes this episode.

    But overall, lovely beginning that has me eager for more.

    1. Brent, I think you're mistaken on the Twilight Zone name. I'm a big fan of the series and I think the episode you're thinking of is called Time Enough At Last. The one where a bank teller survives an apocalypse, finds a library filled with books, but then his glasses break, rendering him too blind to read. The title of the book here should be fine, in case the author's worried about changing it.

  2. I love this. I love the premise, and I love how you so totally encapsulate the essence of living at the Oregon coast. And I love this story even more now that I know it's set in Astoria, one of my favorite towns! In fact, my mystery trilogy (that may never see the light of day) spends a lot of time in Astoria!

    Great job! So excited to read more!

  3. I had the same reaction as Brent when it came to the "from a young age" part. Can we put that info in later? I was right there with the kid until you hooked the back of my shirt and gave a hearty yank.

  4. Okay, I had to read your pitch several times and I still think I'm missing something. Why is he partnering with his rival? And is he raising these kids? I don't understand how they are "in" his life. It almost sounds like the two move into together and just accept that they need to raise these future kids, but that wouldn't sense long term. Is there some kind of goal to return these kids to the future? Will it hurt the future if he messes up the present?

    For the blurb, I'm guessing you're trying to go with an omniscient POV here. If not, it does not sounds like the thoughts of a teen boy and there are several places where it's breaking POV. If you are, good luck. It's very difficult to pull off in YA!

    Good luck!

  5. This sounds quite intriguing! I loved Back to the Future and I bet I'd enjoy this too.
    A few minor comments:
    -In your first sentence, is evenness the right word? I think you mean smoothness?
    -A flashback in your first 250 is risky. It might be fine if it ends about where you cut off, but a long flashback could lose some readers. If you want, since this is the very beginning of your book, you could actually begin with Derek playing baseball with his dad as a kid and then go forward in time, so no flashback would be needed.

    I like that you're beginning with the activity he loves to play with his dad, because this seems like a good start to a book about fatherhood. It nicely frames what happens later.

    You also have great use of language. Good luck!

  6. Nicely done. I guess if you wanted to make any changes as suggestion as to the coming speculative nature of the story might be good.

  7. The voice isn't quite gripping me with this one--I feel too distant from him at this start.

  8. Admittedly, I’m concerned that a premise centering on marriage and kids is too mature a theme to resonate with a teenage audience. Overall, though, this is a promising first page. You incorporate strong opening imagery, and your prose has a nice rhythm to it. Well done!

    Make sure you're not pulling away from the present action too quickly. The introduction to the father comes too early in the narrative. Similarly, phrases like “when the seventeen-year-old” distance the narration from the protagonist unnecessarily. I recommend you stick with the present action a bit longer and examine your word choice for efficacy on a micro-level. For example, your use of “feeling out” in the opening paragraph—why not replace this with a word that conveys his emotional reaction? Revel, etc?

  9. I really like this opening. We are already getting a strong sense of character. That's all I'm looking for when I read a book: Who is the character, and what do they want?
    I think this is a strong opening, and I want to continue reading.

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