Thursday, February 19, 2015


65,000 words
YA Contemporary Romance


After indirectly causing an accident that destroys his best friend’s aspiration of playing pro basketball, 17-year-old Sam Daniels vows to continue their dream for both of them. All he needs is a place to live when his parents move away. Luckily, his nerdy cousin, Brandon, offers his home. But his offer comes with strings. This anime-loving, roleplay-gamer wants Sam’s help to catch the eye of his crush.

But her cousin, Kylie, is suspicious from the start. From personal experience, she knows that he’s a typical self-centered jock who’s full of crap. Especially since Sam helped ruin her life years ago, forcing Kylie to transfer schools. Now she’s determined to reveal his lies and protect her family no matter what it takes.

First 250 words:      

No texts. No replies to my emails. Nothing.

Even though I was expecting it (Hell, I would have bet some money if I could), disappointment still ate away at me. Like someone shoved a glowing basketball in my gut, twisting and burning away at my insides.

I pressed Send on the private message to Charlie before I lost my nerve. He hasn’t talked to me since the accident, but if he wanted me to leave him alone he should say something. A simple ‘Screw yourself, Sam’.

Crap. It’s been over a year and it felt like yesterday.

Even though it wasn’t technically my fault, I still felt like it was. I was the one who wanted to stay at the party to hook up with some random chick. And I let Charlie take my car even though he was wasted. It was also my car that had the faulty brakes. I’d been planning to get it fixed for ages, but never got around to it.

My foot kicked at the plastic chair in front of me, knocking it over. Luckily, it just bounced off the pillar instead of toppling over the balcony into Fairway Mall’s food court below. Getting kicked out of the mall would have been the least of my problems today.

I had better things to worry about. Bigger things. Like the fact that my entire basketball career and future was riding on whether I could get my cousin, Brandon, to let me live with them.


  1. I found the pitch a tad confusing, especially the second paragraph. Who is the "her" referred to in "her cousin, Kylie"? Is it Brandon's crush? The "he" in the next sentence, I presume is Sam. Why not write "But the crush has a cousin, Kylie, who knows that Sam’s a typical self-centered jock who’s full of crap. After all, Sam helped ruin..."

    First 250: The writing flows nicely, and the voice is there. I like the "glowing basketball in the gut" image, especially since that's his sport. What's not believable, at least to me, is that the accident was a YEAR ago and Sam's still trying to text without a tad more interior monologue. "I know it's futile, but I do it out of habit" or something like that. After all, a year in a teen's life is an eternity.

    If you want to increase the tension, and have me questioning, I would leave out the explanation about what happened. That seemed for the reader's benefit, not the characters. But I did like the kicking of the chair, and that getting thrown out of the mall would be the least of Sam's problems. This is a guy who is feeling angry and hurt, and you get that across skilfully.

    Finally, I like that you have a male MC, and this is a story that has some undeniable potential. Good luck!
    Michael (#15)

  2. Pitch:
    Who is the main protagonist? Sam or Kylie? Word confusion was same as Mike G.

    They go to the same school and he hasn't tried to talk to his buddy about the accident, and his buddy blames him for the wreck; bit of a stretch for me.
    The other thing that is a bit of a stretch is if he is good enough to get the eyes of colleges and pro scouts, it doesn't matter where he moves as long as they have a basketball team, he will be followed. Are his parents missionaries?
    Almost all of the word choices are good but instead of "Screw yourself Sam" I would make it more actual and say "Screw you Same"
    The And starting a sentence is also going to need a rework.
    The vision I see of his cousin is the LARP scenes from the movie Role Models.
    Like the concept, just not sure if I should be anticipating the tension between the basketball player friend or Kylie, both... Little fuzzy.
    Fellow contestant and writing friend

  3. The pitch jumped from one thought - Sam wanting to live with his cousin to Kylie, and was confusing. Adding a bit more explanation will help. The voice is there and I can understand why Sam feels guilt about Charlie's accident. I can't help but wonder why Sam believes if he becomes great at basketball, it will continue Charlie's dream. If I was Charlie, I'd be resentful that Sam was able to achieve something that he never can. Your writing is good and I'm sure more is explained as the story continues.

  4. Hi there, I dove right into the 250 first. I really like your opening line or two but then I got confused about who the MC is and if Sam is a s/he? Also, when you said, "It's been over a year..." I'm not sure what 'It's' is referring to. ie. has it been a year since the previous lines? Or is "it" a flash-back? I think we need a bit more concrete info to ground the reader. This feedback is without reading the pitch also. I like to see how the story reads without any background picking up a random book in a bookstore and opening to the front page. I think you have a nice style of writing...just needs some clarity.

    Good luck!!

  5. I agree that the first 250 really hooked me, but the pronouns in the pitch confused me. Are your main stakes that he needs a place to live or that he needs to help his cousin? There was a jump between the two ideas, so I wonder if focussing on one would help with the flow.

    I really like the voice you've created. Very self-deprecating and funny. :)

    Good luck!

    Domenic (#28)

  6. Pitch: Yes, I agree you should reword to clarify that Brandon's crush has a cousin named Kylie with a vendetta against Sam. Also, I think both Brandon being Sam's cousin and Kylie being the crush's cousin probably adds to the confusion. Otherwise, the conflict is clear, but what about the stakes? Will Brandon throw Sam out if Kylie convinces the crush to turn Brandon down? If Sam doesn't convince Kylie he's changed, will her vengeance be able somehow to ruin his chance to achieve his basketball dreams? What will Sam lose if he doesn't succeed? The premise is solid, just express the stakes clearly.

    250: Love the voice. The accident was a year ago, though, and Sam hasn't tried somehow to actually talk in person to Charlie? It seems a little far-fetched that that much time could pass without a resolution/reconciliation between them or Sam moving on. Obviously the accident somehow is important to your plot; perhaps having Sam run into Charlie, (especially if Charlie is still in a wheelchair or something) at the mall and being snubbed in person rather than a futile text would show that remorse more clearly without as much telling. I do like the concept of this and you do a great job of putting your MC's personality on the page. Good luck! (#38)

  7. Pitch: This sounds like a compelling story of a boy growing up, changing and learning to put others before himself. Unfortunately his past misdeeds will be holding him back. I'm interested. I like the idea of Sam helping he cousin. Is Brandon an adult, or will Sam be living with his aunt and uncle too? I'd like a hint as to how Sam ruined Kylie's life.

    First 250: Excellent opening line. Good opening scene. I like Sam's voice. Fix the last sentence since Brandon isn't a "them" but a 'him". Good luck!


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