Wednesday, July 25, 2018

July Pass Or Pages Entry #3


Time for the Pass Or Pages feedback reveals! We're so thankful to our agent panel for taking the time to critique these entries. Shout out to the brave authors whose work will be on the blog this week. You are awesome!

Entry #3: MEMORABLE

Query:

Ryan Rojas’s[JD1] academic dreams come crashing down when he’s expelled for doing drugs on campus. Condemned to independent study and community service, Ryan has one chance to convince the school board to readmit him. That’s all he wants—until he meets Penny, the bald girl with whom he’s been assigned to volunteer.[JD2]  (She has alopecia, a hair loss disorder.)[JD3]  Penny thinks he’s a troublemaker [AS1], but Ryan’s problems with drugs and his reluctance to lend his musical talents to the local BandMasterz program run much deeper—he’s battling guilt about his military dad losing his leg in Afghanistan.[WA1]

While Ryan tries to meet his parents’ and the school’s expectations, he’s also wants to prove to Penny that he’s not the loser she thinks he is. But Penny's got more important things than Ryan to worry about, like keeping her suicidal older brother, Brett, alive.[JD4] [WA2]

Told from alternating points of view,[JD5]  MEMORABLE tackles drug abuse, mental illness, and suicide, while delivering a promise of hope and second chances. Comparable titles include Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher and Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman.[JD6] [WA3]

MEMORABLE, an 80,000 word contemporary YA novel,[JD7]  received second place in the Rosemary YA Romance Writers of America contest and was a finalist in the Serendipity YA Discovery Contest.

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Jess's Notes:
[JD1] Give his age.
[JD2] Not quite sure what you mean here. Do you mean shadow? Be a mentee? She’s his babysitter?
[JD3] This should be added into the description of Penny and not added in parenthesis. It took me out of the query the way it is.
[JD4] While your query shouldn’t be too long, I also want more information. What exactly is this story about? How do these two people with heavy issues come together? What is the journey each of them take? How do they help each other?
[JD5] Because it’s alternating POV and Penny is a large part of it, she should get her own paragraph and then the two of them should come together. His story, her story, their story together.
[JD6] All titles should be in caps 
[JD7] You already mentioned the title, so the word count and contemporary YA should go with the introduction of the title.
  
Whitley's Notes:
[WA1] This feels tacked on, and don't really bear any weight on the rest of the pitch.
[WA2] Almost all of the stakes here seem to be based on the personalization of someone else's pain (suicidal brother, amputee father, ...). 
[WA3] Honestly, this would be an instant pass for me. While I more than understand that disabilities such mental illness have an effect on more than just the individual, this feels as though the disability (and the individual directly affected) is being presented as a hardship on a family member. Looking at disabilities only from that lens often ends up being either preachy or inaccurate, and it helps to further the narrative of ableism.

Andrea's Notes:
[AS1] Word perhaps feels a bit old fashioned?


First 250:

Most people don’t get what it’s like living on the edge of a knife.

I do.

For me, life is a constant juggling act between peace and an all-out Mt. Vesuvius eruption. I wish I could change it, but I can’t. All I can do is try to keep all the balls from crashing down. Right now, I’m not doing a very good job of it. [AS1]

When I push open my brother’s door, I half expect to see his bedroom plastered with band posters and his shelves piled high with sheet music. But the freshly painted beige walls are blank, the shelves empty. We’ve lived here almost two months and the posters are still rolled up in the corner, the music and his other stuff still packed in boxes, like he doesn’t plan on staying long.

I spot him curled up on his bed. There’s a familiar tension in the air, like a predator lurking in the shadows ready to strike.[AS2]

“Brett?” I step cautiously into the room. “I’m sorry, okay?”

He growls a warning. “Leave me alone, Penny.” [WA1]

It’s my fault Brett’s acting like this. He borrowed my Beats and broke them, but why did I have to lose my temper over it? My short fuse set him off, so Brett’s angry, but not at me.[JD1] He’s pissed at himself, and under normal circumstances he ought to be. But life with Brett is anything but normal, and I can’t afford to go where I know this road is heading.[AS3]

*************
Jess's Notes:
[JD1] There’s something about this sentence that isn’t sitting right with me. Why did her short fuse set him off? And wouldn’t that initial anger be at her because of the short fuse? I would reword it.

I like the writing, but based on the query letter and what I gather the story is about, I would pass.

Whitley's Notes:
[WA1] With the query so heavily focused on Ryan, it's jarring to be dropped into Peggy's POV.

Andrea's Notes:
[AS1] I tend to prefer when protagonists don’t talk directly to the reader, when we are simply immersed in the plot and the action itself (and this type of information is shown through the narrative as it progresses). 
[AS2] Perhaps too much? The “growls” a few lines later helps take care of this image.

Results:
Jess: PASS
Whitley: PASS
Andrea: PASS

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