Wednesday, February 19, 2014



Genre: YA Mystery


Sixteen-year-old Bea Pearl Montgomery knows she's not supposed to talk about her missing brother, Jim. He's gone and she should accept that. Even her best friend, Honey, urges her to move on. But after a brief phone call jolts her out of her complacency, she becomes determined to prove that her brother still exists. Because if he can disappear, can she too?

Then she finds out he drowned in a flood this past spring. And that she was with him when it happened. But she knows he's still alive, if only she could remember. She also discovers that the mysterious and oddly helpful Colin played a part in Jim's disappearance. And that's bad because she's falling for him. As her search progresses, she realizes she must unearth the truth surrounding her presumed dead brother, not just to reunite her crumbling family, but to put herself back together, too.

First Line

I haven't said my brother's name out loud since Momma hit me with a catfish, the dorsal fin catching painfully in my forearm.


  1. I love your first line. It grabs my attention and makes me long to read the next, and the next. Well done!

    I think your pitch is confusing in a few places, and could be tightened up. The phone call "jolts her out of her complacency" is vague to me, only because I don't know what the phone call was about. Was it her brother? Someone who said her brother still lived?

    In your second paragraph, I'm unsure about the second sentence: and that (you could ditch the that; most "that"s could be ditched). Did she witness him drowning but doesn't remember? Maybe twist the sentence to reflect that, if this happened.

    And how can she be certain he's alive if she can't remember?

    Colin almost seems thrown into the pitch. If he's important, and I assume he is, maybe somehow bring him into the first paragraph.

    Best of luck with the contest!

  2. There are a lot of things I love about this. (1) The names. Bea, Jim, Honey. I'm picturing a small southern town already. Great job! (2) The premise. I love a book with a great family connection, and the mystery of the missing brother sounds fantastic. (3) This first line is excellent. It sets a tone, give us some characters, presents a question.

    My only complaint is the second paragraph of the pitch. I'm confused about what's happening - whether her brother is actually dead or if this is a line she has been fed, how Colin plays into this at all, etc. (Basically, what Martha said above.) Depending on how big of a subplot the love interest is, he might not need to appear in this pitch at all. (At least not by name.)

    Overall, I really like this and I think it's going places. Good luck!

  3. What I like: I love Southern stories and the mystery in the query.

    What I would like: I would like this moment: ‘And that she was with him when it happened’ to come sooner and with more impact.

    Just as an example, Amanda Panitch does this really well:

    “At 11:15AM, sixteen-year-old Julia is carving her initials into her music stand. At 11:16, her twin brother bursts though the bandroom door. At 11:17, he pulls out a gun. Twenty-two minutes later, Julia is the only one who walks out. She remembers nothing that happened inside.
    At least, that’s what she tells the police.
    One year later, Julia has a new house halfway across the country, an assumed name to shield her from the press, and a guest room where her brother’s room should be. She’s just starting to feel like the scab might someday peel away when an unwelcome face from her past resurfaces, and she’s forced to confront the terrors she thought she’d left behind forever.
    Her parents don’t believe her, and she’s not sure if she even believes herself. But Julia won’t give up searching for the truth. Not if there’s a possibility her brother might be out there. Not if there’s a possibility he could tell the world why he did it. And especially not if there’s a possibility his return could expose the dark secrets she thought died with him on the bandroom floor.”

    This is for her forthcoming book THAT MONSTROUS THING (scheduled for publication in Spring 2015 by Random House Books for Young Readers)

    Great work!

  4. Love the first line here (though I might leave off the dorsal fin bit, just to give the first bit more punch, I think it would stand well on its own). It hints at an underlying humor I didn't see in the pitch. The pitch itself was a little muddled. I got the feeling that you were trying to put a lot of mystery into it, but I'm afraid I ended up a bit confused. I think there's something really awesome hiding behind that confusion though and am curious to know what happens next, so well done. :)

  5. I agree with Kimberly that your first line - which I think is wonderful! - would have more punch if you dropped the part with the dorsal fin.

    Overall I enjoyed the pitch, but concur that it left me a bit confused. It feels like you're repeating the information about her brother being gone but not in both the opening and middle paragraphs, so I'd suggest focusing this in one and maybe saying what happens in the phone call, or why/how she knows he's still alive.

    Sounds like lots of fun! Best of luck!


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