Monday, September 10, 2012

Entry #4

Name: Jodie Andrefski
Book Title: Summer of Hope
Genre: YA Contemporary
TAGLINE: A secret changes everything
1ST 250 WORDS:

"No!" Sobbing, Callie sat up and punched the pale yellow wallpaper next to her bed. She was afraid to go to sleep; she couldn't remember the last time she had slept without the dream recurring. It played over and over again in her mind.
Jamie, laughing with his friends, reaching over to elbow Matt over something Callie couldn't hear from where she was standing.
It was a gorgeous spring day. The classic kind that makes everyone want to just forget about any responsibilities they might have indoors, and enjoy the sunshine and breeze and just being alive. It was also the kind of day that makes sixteen-year-old kids try to be impressive and drive like they're in the Indy 500.
They said Jamie never even knew what hit him. 
He had barely stepped down from the curb when a convertible roared around the turn, ignoring the stop sign, and ran directly into him. She could still hear Matt's screams in her head...still see Jamie's body as it was thrown into the air before landing, not moving, several yards away. He was missing a shoe.
"Why?" Callie banged her head back against the wall. "Oh God, why?"
She knew she had to stop reliving it, had to put it in the past. But the nightmares wouldn't stop, wouldn't let her.
Her parents still grieved Jamie's death, but they said they placed it in God's hands. God's hands?? Callie no longer felt any such faith.
Her twin brother Jamie had been closer to her than any other person in the world. 


  1. Love your short tagline--I want one like that.

    The opening is very strong and emotional in my opinion. I will read on. :)

  2. I also agree that your first 250 words are very strong and emotional. They actually tell me what your story is going to be about and that is often difficult to do. Great job.

    My only concern is that, at first, I was confused reading past the first paragraph and I had to re-read. I didn't realize the memory of the dream was starting. I'm not sure what the exact protocol is here, but could you italicize that portion to make the reader catch that it's a dream? Then they won't get pulled out of the story-like I did. Just an idea.

    Great job! This is a really good start and I would keep reading too.

  3. I like that your tagline is short and it grabs my attention.

    I agree with Natasha that I had to re-read to figure out that the dream started after the sentence "It played over and over again in her mind."

    Apart from separating this from the MC's thoughts, it's a powerful opening and I'd continue reading. Great job!

  4. Really well-written opening. My only suggestion would be to trim down the third and fifth paragraphs by just a tiny bit - as I read they felt a little long, I could feel my attention drifting. Removing half a sentence from each would make them a bit snappier. For instance, you probably don't need "and ran directly into him." That's implied by what comes next. Otherwise, well done!

  5. I'm going to be a voice of opposition it seems...I wasn't grabbed by the tagline. It felt generic to me. What makes this stand out from all the other stories where there's a secret and it changes the lives of the characters?

    From the excerpt, there's strong emotions in this piece. Make that come through in your tagline as well. Give us a glimpse of what's to come.

  6. I wasn't grabbed by the tagline either. It was really generic. It doesn't really explain anything about the story. Lots of people have secrets. How about getting into some specifics about the story? Something that makes *your* story move, other than the secrets. And if the secret thing is really important, then how about getting more specific about what type of secret? It's just too generic.

    There's a lot of emotion in the start. I like it. It's also really descriptive and full of images.

  7. Jodie, hi!

    I feel torn about the tagline. I love its simplicity, on the one hand. It's so mysterious and obviously sets things up to make the reader NOT trust what's coming in the beginning of the book. On the other hand, it's so lean that it leaves a lot out and it doesn't really tell us anything about the book. So I'm on the fence about whether you should tweak it up a bit.

    As for the first 250, I thought the submission was great. The backstory was woven in nicely with the dream, so that it didn't feel at all info-dumpy to me. I liked everything about it, especially the details about jamie's body and how it landed and that it was without a shoe. Gross, but totally painted the right picture. One thing: in this sentence, "She could still hear Matt's screams in her head..." I felt you should include Callie's name again. For a split second i didn't know who the "she" was referring to.

    Best of luck with this!

  8. Hi Jodie,

    First of all, I love a good, strong contemporary YA with a lot of emotion and family drama. You've got all that here. I'm going to fall into camp with those that weren't grabbed by the tagline - I'd like a little more to reel me in (although the strength of the writing and the story, once I got into it, did that for me).

    I'm not crazy about books that start with a dream -- even if this is just the mention of the dream as she wakes up with a cry. And I also feel like too much is given away in these first paragraphs - it almost feels like a prologue to me. I wonder about the thought that a story should start on (or very close to) the day that things change significantly for the main character. I would guess that for your MC, this could possibly be the day of her brother's death, but based on the brief hint from the tagline, perhaps there is something else that happens that creates conflict for her.

    This sounds like a heartbreaker and I'm very intrigued!

    Best of luck!