Son of a Pitch Entry #3 – A Brief Illness

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Title: A BRIEF ILLNESS
Age and Genre: Contemporary YA
Word Count: 66,000
 
Query:
Seventeen-year-old Rory Brooks meticulously planned out her entire summer: days at the lake and endless nights at bonfires with her best friend. Her perfectly arranged plans are derailed when her mother ships her off to Alaska for three months with her emotionally distant father and his new start-up family. Her summer is then obliterated when her grandmother Harriet, the only person on her dad’s side of the family she actually knows, has a massive stroke. 
Rory is thrown into the role of part time caregiver for her grandmother. Then, in one of her more lucid moments, Gran asks Rory to find someone named “Ace.” The only problem is, nobody seems to have heard of him, or they aren’t admitting to it. With little more to go on than a box of old romance novels, an obituary citing “a brief illness,” as cause of death, and a folder full of short stories— Rory realizes that she knows hardly anything about her declining grandmother. With summer coming to an end, and Gran’s health rapidly declining, Rory enlists the help of Dylan—the romantic boy next door—to find out just who “Ace” is and why his secrets are worth keeping.
 
 
First 250 Words:
Alaska.
Yes, it’s sooo beautiful, and sooo scenic. The air is clean, and the vast expanse of green trees and blue skies are the exact things you see in magazines. Alaska has never been that to me though. For me, it’s always been the place I was supposed to visit each summer and every other holiday. I’d been able to avoid it the summer before, and was hoping that this summer would work the same way, and it would have if I hadn’t gotten in trouble.  
            I walked off the plane into Anchorage International Airport, and considered getting a return flight to somewhere exotic, and thenremembered I’m in high school and I don’t have that kind of money. Unfortunately for me, my parents completely missed the mark on getting filthy rich by the time I needed things like a brand new car and lavish Tahitian hotel with a private beach. So, as fate would have it, instead of booking a flight somewhere sandy and warm, I walked slowly down the long corridor to an entire summer alone with my dad and his new start-up family, complete with wife and twelve-year-old stepdaughter.
            Cue violins.
            Stuffed Grizzly and Polar bears stood tall within the restraints of glass display cases, their snarling teeth and massive claws scared the little kids that ran by. There was beautiful, vibrant Native art lining the walls, with words like Tlingit and Athabaskan beneath them in elegant script. Floor to ceiling windows allowed me to look right out into the morning. 

11 thoughts on “Son of a Pitch Entry #3 – A Brief Illness

  1. Pingback: Son of a Pitch ROUND 2 | Elsie Elmore

  2. First, my disclaimer: All suggestions are IMHO and are meant to be thought provoking. Take ‘em, leave ‘em. This is your rodeo, so it’s up to you.

    Query:
    Seventeen-year-old Rory Brooks (has?) planned out her entire summer: days at the lake and endless nights at bonfires with her best friend. Her mother’s decision to ship her off to Alaska for three months with her emotionally distant father and his new start-up family derails her perfectly arranged plans. (like this voice) Summer is officially obliterated when grandmother Harriet, the only person on her dad’s side of the family she actually knows (and remotely likes?), has a massive stroke.
    Rory is thrown into the role of part time caregiver for her grandmother. In one of Gran’s more lucid moments, she asks Rory to find someone named “Ace.” (One mention of that name and everyone becomes tightlipped amnesiacs.) With little more to go on than a box of old romance novels, an obituary citing “a brief illness” as cause of death, and a folder full of short stories— Rory realizes that she knows hardly anything about her declining grandmother. With summer coming to an end and Gran’s health rapidly declining, Rory enlists the help of Dylan—the (romantic – why is he romantic? Is he the romantic interest? does he love poetry and spiel off ballads?) boy next door—to find out just who “Ace” is and why his secrets are worth keeping.

    Tinker with your words to raise the tension. Especially about Ace and Dylan– need more interest/tension/intrigue there. I made a few suggestions. Mull them over, keep what you like.

    First 250 Words:
    Alaska.
    Yes, it’s sooo beautiful, and sooo scenic. The air is clean, and the vast expanse of green trees and blue skies are the exact things you see in magazines. Alaska has never been that to me though. For me, it’s always been the place I was supposed to visit each summer and every other holiday. I’d been able to avoid it the summer before, and was hoping that this summer would work the same way, and it would have if I hadn’t gotten in trouble. (Maybe introduce her thoughts following bits of action… Have her land. Add snippet.etc.)
    I walked off the plane into Anchorage International Airport, and considered getting a return flight to somewhere exotic, and then remembered I’m in high school and I don’t have that kind of money. Unfortunately for me, my parents completely missed the mark on getting filthy rich by the time I needed things like a brand new car and lavish Tahitian hotel with a private beach. So, as fate would have it, instead of booking a flight somewhere sandy and warm, I walked slowly down the long corridor to an entire summer alone with my dad and his new start-up family, complete with wife and twelve-year-old stepdaughter.
    Cue violins.
    Stuffed Grizzly and Polar bears stood tall within the restraints of glass display cases, their snarling teeth and massive claws scared the little kids that ran by. There was beautiful, vibrant Native art lining the walls, with words like Tlingit and Athabaskan beneath them in elegant script. Floor to ceiling windows allowed me to look right out into the morning.

    (The voice is good, but this is a little static – telling. Can the scene be Rory deplaning and eyeing the next ticket counter, having the thought about a ticket somewhere else. Then in her voice she could think – “what am I thinking, I can’t afford that. I don’t have options.” Then sees the bears – add another internal thought. Maybe how their snarling teeth make her think of the new family she’ll be joining. The info here is solid but the draw could be greater by tying the thoughts to action. )

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  3. Query:
    Seventeen-year-old Rory Brooks meticulously planned out her entire summer: days at the lake and endless nights at bonfires with her best friend. Her perfectly arranged plans are derailed when her mother ships her off to Alaska for three months with her emotionally distant father and his new start-up family. (Ohhhh…dude.) Her summer is then obliterated when her grandmother Harriet, the only person on her dad’s side of the family she actually knows, has a massive stroke. (So she likes her grandmother?)
    Rory is thrown into the role of part time caregiver for her grandmother. Then, in one of her more lucid moments, Gran asks Rory to find someone named “Ace.” (How does she ask…with longing?) The only problem is, nobody seems to have heard of him, or they aren’t admitting to it. (Do they act like they know and won’t talk? Or do they honestly not know? Who does she have to ask? Just her dad?) With little more to go on than a box of old romance novels, an obituary citing “a brief illness,” as cause of death, and a folder full of short stories (where did she find that?)— Rory realizes that she knows hardly anything about her declining grandmother(and this makes her sad?). With summer coming to an end, and Gran’s health rapidly declining, Rory enlists the help of Dylan—the romantic boy next door (Romantic? How? And maybe mention him earlier?)—to find out just who “Ace” is and why his secrets are worth keeping.

    ~I like the voice. But…What does all this mean for Rory? She wants to help her grandmother so much, but why? What is driving her to find Ace? Is the only obstacle no one knowing, little information…or is someone withholding info? How does this affect her? What does it mean if she can’t find out who he is?

    First 250 Words:
    Alaska.
    Yes, it’s sooo beautiful, and sooo scenic. The air is clean, and the vast expanse of green trees and blue skies are the exact things you see in magazines. Alaska has never been that to me though. For me, it’s always been the place I was supposed to visit each summer and every other holiday (Why? Has she ever had fun there? Does she have any fond memories of the place?). I’d been able to avoid it the summer before (How?), and was hoping that this summer would work the same way, and it would have if I hadn’t gotten in trouble. (Doing what?)
    I walked off the plane into Anchorage International Airport, and considered getting a return flight to somewhere exotic, and thenremembered I’m in high school and I don’t have that kind of money (Hahaha! Yup.). Unfortunately for me, my parents completely missed the mark on getting filthy rich by the time I needed things like a brand new car and lavish Tahitian hotel with a private beach. So, as fate would have it, instead of booking a flight somewhere sandy and warm, I walked slowly down the long corridor to an entire summer alone with my dad and his new start-up family, complete with wife and twelve-year-old stepdaughter. (What is she feeling here? Annoyed? Scared? What is it about the place that she hates or dislikes? Her dad, her step-family, the place, the people?)
    Cue violins.
    Stuffed Grizzly and Polar bears stood tall within the restraints of glass display cases, their snarling teeth and massive claws scared the little kids that ran by. (What did they mean to her? What do they make her feel?) There was beautiful, vibrant Native art lining the walls, with words like Tlingit and Athabaskan beneath them in elegant script. (What did she think?) Floor to ceiling windows allowed me to look right out into the morning.

    ~The voice is there, very YA. I want a bit more about Rory. What does all this mean to her, for her life? I get that she’s unhappy, but why exactly? I know it’s page one…But maybe a hint of what’s to come…Is she happy about anything?

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  4. Query:
    Seventeen-year-old Rory Brooks meticulously planned out her entire summer: days at the lake and endless nights at bonfires with her best friend. Her perfectly arranged plans are derailed when her mother ships her off to Alaska for three months with her emotionally distant father and his new start-up family. Her summer is then obliterated when her grandmother Harriet, the only person on her dad’s side of the family she actually knows, has a massive stroke.
    Rory is thrown into the role of part time caregiver for her grandmother. Then, in one of her more lucid moments, Gran asks Rory to find someone named “Ace.” The only problem is, nobody seems to have heard of him, or they aren’t admitting to it. With little more to go on than a box of old romance novels, an obituary citing “a brief illness,” as cause of death, and a folder full of short stories— Rory realizes that she knows hardly anything about her declining grandmother [“With little to go on…Rory realizes…” These two ideas aren’t exactly connected. I’d rephrase and put them in separate sentences.]. With summer coming to an end, and Gran’s health rapidly declining, Rory enlists the help of Dylan—the romantic boy next door—to find out just who “Ace” is and why his secrets are worth keeping.

    First 250 Words:
    Alaska.
    Yes, it’s sooo beautiful, and sooo scenic. The air is clean, and the vast expanse of green trees and blue skies are the exact things you see in magazines. Alaska has never been that to me though. For me, it’s always been the place I was supposed to visit each summer and every other holiday. I’d been able to avoid it the summer before, and was hoping that this summer would work the same way, and it would have if I hadn’t gotten in trouble.
    I walked off the plane into Anchorage International Airport, and considered getting a return flight to somewhere exotic, and thenremembered I’m in high school [I would leave out the “I’m in high school and”. Also put a space between “then” and “remembered”]. and I don’t have that kind of money. Unfortunately for me, my parents completely missed the mark on getting filthy rich by the time I needed things like a brand new car and lavish Tahitian hotel with a private beach. So, as fate would have it, instead of booking a flight somewhere sandy and warm, I walked slowly down the long corridor to an entire summer alone with my dad and his new start-up family [I would avoid using this phrase, since you used it in the query. I’d just say “new family”], complete with wife and twelve-year-old stepdaughter.
    Cue violins. [Love this voice.]
    Stuffed Grizzly and Polar bears stood tall within the restraints of glass display cases, their snarling teeth and massive claws scared the little kids that ran by. There was beautiful, vibrant Native art lining the walls, with words like Tlingit and Athabaskan beneath them in elegant script. Floor to ceiling windows allowed me to look right out into the morning.

    Good tension here – I’m wondering what she did to get in trouble. You might leave out the description of the stuffed bears and such – it’s good stuff, to be sure, but it’s best to get right to the action after you’ve gotten us grounded, and you’ve done a good job of that already.

    Good work!

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  5. Title: A BRIEF ILLNESS
    Age and Genre: Contemporary YA
    Word Count: 66,000
     
    Query:
    Seventeen-year-old Rory Brooks meticulously planned out her entire summer: days at the lake and endless nights at bonfires with her best friend. Her perfectly arranged plans are derailed when her mother ships her off to Alaska for three months with her emotionally distant father and his new start-up family. Her summer is then obliterated when her grandmother Harriet, the only person on her dad’s side of the family she actually knows yet alone likes, has a massive stroke. 

    Rory is thrown into the role of part time caregiver for her grandmother. Then, in one of her more lucid moments, Gran asks Rory to find someone named “Ace.” One mention of the name, and the entire family turns into tight-lipped amnesiacs. In an effort to learn more, Rory begins to search for clues within Gran’s personal belongings, finding a box of old romance novels, an obituary citing “a brief illness,” as cause of death, and a folder full of short stories. Learning that her Grandmothers books are filled with personal secrets, Rory realizes that she knows hardly anything about the woman she spent so much time with, much less the man she’d been keeping hidden for half a century.

    With summer coming to an end, and Gran’s health rapidly declining, Rory might never understand Ace and his connection to the age decades old mystery that has haunted their family. She enlists the help of Dylan—a boy who believes in a good love story—to find out just who “Ace” is and why his secrets are worth keeping, and maybe, just maybe reunite them.
     
     
    First 250 Words:

    Alaska.

    Yes, it’s sooo beautiful, and sooo scenic. The air is clean, and the vast expanse of green trees and blue skies are the exact things you see in magazines. Alaska has never been that to me though. For me, it’s always been the place I was supposed to visit each summer and every other holiday. I’d been able to avoid it the summer before, and was hoping that this summer would work the same way, and it would have if I hadn’t gotten in trouble.  

                I walked off the plane into Anchorage International Airport, passing the customer service ticket counter and considered getting a return flight to somewhere exotic. Unfortunately for me, I’m seventeen and my parents completely missed the mark on getting filthy rich by the time I needed things like a brand new car and lavish Tahitian hotel with a private beach. So, as fate would have it, instead of booking a flight somewhere sandy and warm, I slug my feet slowly down the long corridor to an entire summer alone with my dad and his new family, complete with wife and twelve-year-old stepdaughter.

                Cue violins.

                Stuffed Grizzly and Polar bears stood tall within restraints of glass display cases, their snarling teeth and massive claws reminding me of the look on Mom’s face when she announced she was shipping me off. Then the vibrant Native art that lined the walls with words like Tlingit and Athabaskan beneath them in elegant script. The type of stuff Gran liked.

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