Friday, February 27, 2015


105,000 words
YA Magical Realism/Horror-Comedy
It’s barely 9:00 am, and sixteen-year-old Retta has already dealt with a mutilated cat, complaints about her grandmother filling bathtubs around town, and one signature she maybe/probably forged. Just another Wednesday.

But in seventy-two hours, Retta will be on her way to basketball camp and one step closer to a life-changing scholarship. All she has to do in the meantime is manage her family’s shenanigans. Easy.

Easy, that is, until her recently paroled brother gets accused of murder and disappears from police custody. Then a mutant, mole-looking creature pops out of the ground and swallows a ferret whole.

When the mutants start eating her neighbors, Retta’s basketball dreams must take a backseat to saving her bumbling family from a full-blown attack, and mutant-fighting would be a lot easier if they didn’t try to “help”. Veronica Mars meets Shaun of the Dead in this homage to campy horror-comedies of the 80s.

FIRST 250:
The Uiterwyks’ cat was clearly dead, but that didn’t make it Granna’s fault or Retta’s problem.

The corpse lay curled around the garden gnome and cooked in the sun reflecting off the Uiterwyks’ trailer. It was only 8:54 a.m. and already hot. Retta wrinkled her nose. This was not how she had planned to start her day, but as a member of a family like the Holkers, she had learned not to make plans.

Guts spilled in the grass like Spaghetti Os. The mangy animal was cut in half as if someone had dropped an axe on its stomach. Only, the bloody fur was ripped ragged in a way that suggested coyote or some other hungry thing.

Certainly not Retta’s 74-year-old grandmother.

But this was the accusation Brandi Uiterwyk had flung at her over the phone when she demanded Retta come two trailers down. Now.

Brandi huffed, just as impatient in person. “It’s not like we killed our own cat—”


“—and it is the second time your grandmother has broken in here and filled the bathtub,” she finished as if one crime implied the other.

That one was not an accusation. It was a fact. Granna had been filling bathtubs all over town. Last week she broke into Trudy Gunnarson’s and filled not only the bathtub but every pot in the house. Just left them around. On the counter. In the closet. Next to the TV. But she had yet to kill any pets.

“Unless the cat drowned before something ate its lower half,” Retta said, “Granna didn’t kill your cat.”


  1. Sigh. I'm trying so hard to be helpful but when everything's spot on there's not much more I can say :)

  2. Pitch: Love it! One suggestion: who wrote the check Granna or Retta? I assume it's Granna but it's not totally clear so I'd change "she" to "Granna."

    250: The edits you made after I first saw this are so good I don't have any suggestions. Great glimpse of your MC, her family, and her impending problem. Good luck! (#7)

  3. I don't have too much to say other than what's with the pots filled with water? Does the grandmother have a problem? Just a question. Good job!

  4. So I love this. It breaks a cardinal rule, and does it well. (Don't kill the cat!) Only two suggestions: remove passive voice "had" and "have" and employ more sensory information. Voice is fun. Story is quirky. And, bonus, it uses two of my favorites as comp titles.
    (#14 OSN)

  5. I can't offer anything but praise! You've done so much with the 250 words; they read like PAGES. The world-building, the voice and the mystery are all there.
    Fantastic opening!! And kudos on the comps!
    #10 The Land of Joy and Sorrow


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