Monday, February 22, 2016

And I Remembered



Title: And I Remembered
Age and Genre: Adult contemporary
Word Count: 80,000


Query:

Miami is a light, carefree, airy place where Elisabeth believes she has found herself, and found someone else. She believed she had found the best life and the best love in Jamie, a single 23-year-old from Canada. The relationship is sweet and exciting, until Jamie turns dark, plagued by a concussion from a hockey accident and a subsequent addiction to cocaine. Then, she learns she is pregnant. Then, she suffers a miscarriage. Then, she has to leave.

Chicago is dark and lonely, a place where Elisabeth has to find herself, but ends up losing herself. She reunites with her best friend from college and finds a certain kinship with her coworker. However, two chance encounters with Jamie drive her to promiscuity and to a suicide attempt that she survives.

Pittsburgh is where she had to heal, and to figure out what direction she goes in, whether it’s teaching, writing or fighting for something she believes in.

First 250 Words



There was a point that night where I finally turned and walked away, into the darkness of the New Jersey night, away from the buildings and the anger. I just kept walking. With each step I went over what got me to this decrepit place in my life and to this decrepit place on the sea. The angst. The bad decisions. But as I kept walking, I got sadder, and sadder, thinking about how sweet and simple my time in Miami was less than five years ago. What brought me here? Was it losing a child? The drugs Jamie did? Leaving him and going to Chicago? I asked myself if I did the right thing by leaving. I asked myself that at least twice a week, but told myself that I had to find my own way.

As I walked the length of a pier above the churning Atlantic Ocean, I took inventory of what I lost. I lost my best friend. I hadn’t talked to my parents in weeks. I never told them what had happened in my life, what led me to where I screwed up everything and where I disappointed everyone – including myself.

Then, I remembered the person who told me that I was brave, that I was strong, that I was different … things I needed to hear.

But I lost Jamie, too. I lost him long before that night in New Jersey.

Did I have much else left to lose?

*****

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The Judges

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Me!

Visitors welcome!

Please comment as to whether this pitch piques your interest and what feedback you have about making it stronger.
Your assessments will be appreciated by the participants.



10 comments:

  1. Query: I'm missing the hook here. You use 'then' too often and name several locations. I'm not sure what or where, but I do get a sense of loss - desperation even.

    250 words: Repeated words and almost the same as the query to much information and yet not enough. I sense the sorrow. I rally at her recognition of hope, but when you throw in Jamie I'm lost again. With so much going on the reader is lost.

    Sometimes the hardest thing to write is the blurb. You've finished an entire manuscript and folks want you to tell them in a few words what has taken 80,000 words to achieve. But you can do this. Give it another try!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you! The vagueness of it is what I'm trying to overcome - brevity is not a strong suit of mine.

    As I'm tinkering with the revamped query, I have a question: what if I just put it out there, what Elisabeth does to attempt suicide, who Jamie is (her ex-boyfriend, the father of the child she should have had), what forces her to look back at a few short years and what she has to do to come to terms with herself and her decisions?

    Also, are we allowed to post rewritten/reworked queries and first 250 words?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly, that's what your story is all about. Now make me want to read it. And yes, post your rewritten/reworked queries here in the comments. Everyone will see the corrections and comment on those. The final round allows for all the changes to be made before submission.

      Delete
  3. OK, here's a second stab at the query and the first 250 words:

    Elisabeth decided to end it all. She climbed the fence, steadied herself on the ledge of the pier, and plunged into the ocean. But she survived. And those few moments forced her to recount everything that brought her from the beginning of her adult life to that point.
    As a production assistant at a television station in Miami, Elisabeth met Jamie after a work assignment at an NHL game and he was immediately intrigued by the new college graduate. Their romance was once sweet, new and exciting but became plagued by Jamie's concussion from a hockey accident and his subsequent addiction to cocaine.

    Then, Elisabeth became pregnant, and miscarried, and the toll it took on both of them forced her to leave for Chicago. However, two chance encounters with Jamie drove her to promiscuity and to the suicide attempt.

    When she returns to her hometown of Pittsburgh after surviving, Elisabeth has to come to terms with the decisions she made and has to realize her own purpose, whether it was teaching at a women's college, finishing her master's degree or fighting for something she believes in.


    ***

    There was a point that night where I finally turned and walked away, into the darkness of the New Jersey night, away from the buildings and the anger. I just kept walking. With each step I went over what got me to this decrepit place in my life and to this decrepit place on the sea. The angst. The bad decisions. But as I kept walking, I got sadder, and sadder, thinking about how sweet and simple my time in Miami was less than five years ago. What brought me here? Was it losing a child? The drugs Jamie did? Leaving him and going to Chicago? I asked myself if I did the right thing by leaving. I asked myself that at least twice a week, but told myself that I had to find my own way.

    As I walked the length of a pier above the churning Atlantic Ocean, I took inventory of what I lost. I lost my best friend, Casey. I hadn’t talked to my parents in weeks. I never told them what had happened in my life, what led me to where I screwed up everything and where I disappointed everyone – including myself.

    Then, I remembered Jamie, the man who would have been the father of my child. The man who told me I was brave, that I was strong, and that I was different. At 22 years old, those were things I needed to hear.

    But I lost him, too.

    Did I have much else left to lose?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Your query has a lot of information and not enough oomph. I tinkered with your sentences and phrasing to look for another approach.

    Twenty-something-year old Elisabeth thinks she’s hit the jackpot when she moved to Miami. Not only has she found the perfect place to live, she’s also found herself and now a special someone to share her life with. Elisabeth isn’t much into sports but she’s into Jamie, a 23-year-old hockey player from Canada. As their relationship deepens, it looses the sweet and exciting nature. Plagued by a concussion from a hockey accident and a subsequent addiction to cocaine, Jamie turns dark. Working out their issues that are only compounded by his addiction, the saving the relationship looks to be a lost hope. But the torment of the fairytale Elisabeth and Jamie romance has just begun. A surprise pregnancy followed by a devastating miscarriage has left Elisabeth in pieces.

    Uprooted by Jamie’s career, Elisabeth find their new home in Chicago still has their old problems. (If she didn’t land in Chicago because of him, then why?) Chicago is dark and lonely, until she reunites with her best friend from college and finds a certain kinship with her coworker. However, two chance encounters with Jamie drive her to promiscuity and to a suicide attempt that she survives.

    Elisabeth’s last move and last hope at in Philadelphia. She can either fix the part of her that is broken or watch the pieces drift away….

    Make the last paragraph be about the stakes. And don’t feel like you have to tell the entire story in your query. Find the meaty parts and take them there.

    Play around with defining your protagonist and identifying both the inner conflict and the stakes. That can help make this process flow a little easier.

    Your FIRST 250
    Your first 250 read a bit like prologue or diary type information and it feels like you are giving me all the backstory at once. Is this the best place to start? Why happens when she steps off the pier?

    and BTW - that last line in your 250 is the type of closing question you need for the query :)

    Best of luck!

    ReplyDelete
  5. The tinkering with the query helped so much! Definitely brought a lot more clarity, and I worked with it a little more to define a few things in the MS plot:

    Twenty-something Elisabeth thinks she’s hit the jackpot when she moved to Miami. She’s found the perfect place to live. A job she sees herself making into a career. Her future. And Jamie. She doesn’t care about sports, but she cares about the 23-year-old hockey player from Canada. As their relationship deepens, it loses its sweet and exciting nature. Plagued by a concussion from a hockey accident and a subsequent addiction to cocaine, Jamie turns dark. A surprise pregnancy, followed by a miscarriage, numbs Elisabeth. And it’s left the once-gratifying romance in shambles, even though Elisabeth attempts to save it. Instead, she has to save herself and leave Jamie.

    Elisabeth moves to Chicago, in hopes of leaving her problems and starting over by herself, in a new job and a new place. Chicago is a cold, bleak city, until she reunites with her best friend from college and finds a certain kinship with her coworker. However, two chance encounters with Jamie drive her to promiscuity and to a suicide attempt that she survives.

    Elisabeth returns to Pittsburgh, her hometown. It’s where she wants to find hope, to heal herself and to reckon with what happened to her life. She has to will herself to move forward, because she has nothing else to lose.

    ***
    I'm going to work on the first 250 a little more - it's a set-up, a flashback, a segue into when she meets Jamie. Basically, she falls into the ocean and that ends the first part, and the next part opens with her meeting Jamie.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Query: After reading the query, I don’t have much of a sense of the story. I’ve got three contrasting settings and a woman in all three places, but I don’t know what the overarching story is about, what out of all these plot details is the crux of the story. I guess I would say that this query lacks focus.

    First 250 Words: This is a lot of introspection and lists. I get strong emotion, but little else. Maybe giving the character some action. She’s walking. Where? In what kind of weather? What do her senses present? Give her something to react to and take action with. Otherwise, you’re left with a too-long monologue about why she’s sad. Especially if this is the beginning, I don’t need to understand all the history that got her to this emotional state yet. I just need to know where we’re starting.

    Hope that helps!
    -SB

    ReplyDelete
  7. So I've thought about this - and thought about one sentence, how I would explain this to someone in conversation. What if this was the lead to the query?

    To understand what drove her to attempt suicide, Elisabeth Repinagio has to take inventory of her last four years. Was it her first love, the loss of a child, a dangerous relationship, or her own cowardice?

    The first 250 words:

    There was a point that night where I finally turned and walked away from another man who had lied to me, and I went into the darkness of the New Jersey night. With each step I went over what got me to this decrepit place in my life and to this decrepit place on the sea.

    As I kept walking, I got sadder, and thought about how sweet and simple my time in Miami was less than five years ago. As I walked the length of a pier above the churning Atlantic Ocean, the misty rain soaked my black dress and made my red hair cling to my shoulders, heavy, salty. I just wanted all my problems to be over. There was a solution.

    Then, I thought of Jamie. The man who told me the things I needed to hear when I was 22 years old. If it was up to me, right now, I would go back to Miami and stay there. Where’s that time-travel machine when you need it?

    But instead, I was here, in New Jersey. Visiting another man. Another bad decision made.

    I had a choice to make. I could walk in the opposite direction, or I could step away from the ledge. By now, the ledge was only a few yards in front of me, at the end of the pier.

    As a roll of thunder came in, I moved forward. Just do it, already, Elisabeth.

    ReplyDelete
  8. OK, I'm not stopping. Here's yet another revision of the first 250 words:

    There was a point that night where I finally turned and walked away from another man who had lied to me, and I moved into the darkness of the New Jersey night. With each step I went over what got me to this hopeless place in my life and to this decrepit place on the sea.
    As I walked the length of the pier above the churning Atlantic Ocean, I got sadder, and thought about how sweet and simple my time in Miami was less than five years ago. The misty rain soaked my black dress and made my red hair cling to my shoulders, heavy, salty. I just wanted all my problems to be over.
    There was a solution.
    Then, I thought of Jamie. The man who told me the things I needed to hear when I was 22 years old. If it was up to me, right now, I would go back to Miami and stay there. Where’s that time-travel machine when you need it?
    But instead, I was here, on the Jersey Shore. Visiting another man. Another bad decision made.
    I had a choice to make. I could walk in the opposite direction, or I could step off the ledge that was only a few yards in front of me.
    As a roll of thunder came in, I moved forward. Just do it, already, Elisabeth.

    ReplyDelete
  9. With each change you are moving closer to where you want to be. I participated in two query contests and the first one I went no where, but by the second one I was better prepared, and yet still shocked when my full manuscript was asked for. You've got the right attitude and the courage to keep pressing forward. Nothing about writing and publishing a book is easy - nothing! Keep at it! You'll get there, I have no doubts! Thanks for participating!

    ReplyDelete

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