Monday, September 10, 2012

Entry #14

Name: Sara Biren
Title: CLOUD 9
Genre: Young Adult
Tagline: Seventeen-year-old Cat McClure makes her annual escape to the easy summer life of Cloud 9, but soon learns that things are not as simple as they used to be.

First 250 words:

The milkshake at the entrance of Cloud 9 meant freedom.

Cloud 9 was like no place else, strange and wonderful and perfect – an entire campground and waterpark thrown back to the 1950s, set smack dab in the middle of the rustic Minnesota Northwoods.  Nothing could top seeing that massive rotating chocolate milkshake for the first time each summer.  It towered high above the road, complete with whipped cream, red and white striped straw, and a cherry that blinked Welcome!

That milkshake meant lazy days.  It meant leaving my lonely, pathetic life in Minneapolis behind for three whole months.  It meant escape.  I faced the window so my mother could not see my grin.  I couldn’t wait to get out of the truck and get into summer.

Mom drove past the milkshake toward a low building of coral and teal bricks.  A sign on the building, a huge fluffy white cloud, flashed Keenan’s Cloud 9 in blinking blue letters.  She pulled into a parking spot under a long striped awning but did not turn off the engine.

“Wait,” I said.  I turned toward her.  “You’re not driving me in?”

 “Cat, really,” she said.  She sighed.  “I’m sure your grandparents have no desire to see me.  I love them, you know that, but it’s still too hard.”

 Right.  So hard that she couldn’t take fifteen minutes out of her important life and say hello to her ex-husband’s parents who had loved her like their own daughter?

“Fine,” I said.  “That’s just fine.”  


  1. I really like the opening and the visual it gives me--a real America feel. This is contemporary--yes, yes it is. In the tagline I wonder if more of a stake is needed? What's not so simple, or what happens?

  2. I'm interested. I like your writing and I want to know what the deal is with the mom and the grandparents. I'm a little concerned that you put too much into describing the entrance to Cloud 9. I'd try to tighten up the first two paragraphs.

  3. Sorry, that comment above is me, Judy Mintz.

  4. I love your setting. The descriptions are great--the milkshake in particular! Felt like I was there with her.

    The only thing I'd work on is the tagline. I had to look back to check to see what the genre was. The "Cloud 9" reference threw me and made me feel like I was reading paranormal/fantasy. I know that that's silly of me, but if you reread your tagline and pretend you're reading a fantasy, the tagline would still fit, in my opinion. I would put in a few words to help orient us more. Like maybe use words in front of "cloud 9" to say what it is. Like, "Seventeen-year-old Cat McClure makes her annual escape to the easy summer life of camp at Cloud 9." Something as simple as that change would help make it more explicit for dopes like me! LOL

  5. I think you could give us more of the stakes and conflict in the tagline. I have no idea what this book is going to be about other than she's going to camp.

    With that being said, I really like the first 250. We get right into the setting, which sounds like a fun place where I would've liked to hang out as a teen. We see the conflict with her mom and the grandparents. And we see a bit of her personality, too. Good job.

  6. I like the tagline. It seems like a coming-of-age story, so I think the tagline works. I like description at the beginning, so I think yours is great. The whole milkshake thing drew me in. I'm glad there was more than just the one mention of it. I love contemporary YA, so I'd be interested in more of this :)
    Good luck!

    Leslie (#2)

  7. Hi Sara:
    Please send me a query for this ms! Your writing is lovely. The content didn't leap off the page enough in this small sample, but I definitely see a manuscript here that I'd love to read.
    - Bridget