Thursday, February 19, 2015


93,000 words
YA Dark Comedy
When Bethany Sultry pictured her future, she never imagined her life would end when she was sixteen, not as her popularity was rising, and certainly not one hour after she was crowned junior homecoming queen. When ownership of the crown transfers to the runner-up, her high school nemesis, Bethany can’t rest in peace with that bitch wearing her bling. To get her crown back, Bethany will need to become her school’s first double crown queen by winning the junior prom vote. But how can Bethany rest in peace when campaigning as a ghost seems impossible, and defeating her worst friend might send her own soul to hell? THE OTHER SIDE OF NORMAL is a complete YA dark comedy at 93,000 words.
Cosmic Suck
I didn’t so much go into the light as have the light suck me up like a dust bunny in a cosmic vacuum cleaner. A moment later, I shot out of that light tube in a perfect tucked roll and landed in a stark white room where I am now explaining myself to my friend Moon and one other being who looks like a scruffy surfer. It should be a friendly conversation, but I can’t help thinking that I’m on trial.
“You feel you were justified in creating a Carrie Prom?” surfer dude asks, referring to Stephen King’s cult horror classic story where a social reject gets doused in pig blood and exacts revenge by killing everyone in her town with her telekinetic powers.
“God, it was not that bad,” I say.
Moon clears her throat and bugs out her eyes. She’s sucking on a lollipop, the big kind with the swirls. Her hair’s done up in three ponytails. I’m pretty sure she has a glitter tattoo on her cheek but it’s hard to see against the pale blue tint of her skin.
“Sorry,” I mumble. I’m not supposed to use the G-word here, and surfer dude is not really the most powerful being in the Universe. Surfer dude’s name is Cal, and as I understand it, he’s some kind of celestial probation officer.


  1. Very intrigued by this pitch! I think you should include how she died. Seems to jump abruptly from being crowned queen to being dead. Nice opening line in 250. I'm a little confused as to how she can already have a friend when she just arrived in the afterlife. "Celestial probation officer"! Love it! Nice work.

  2. Nice, tight pitch sets up the conflict and intrigues, though I second Jenny's point about maybe HOW she died. It's not necessary, but if you could fit it in, details always improve reader interest :)

    As for your First 250, I love the way it begins. However, the transition from what happened to what is happening now is awkward and uncomfortable. It breaks the fourth wall, which is fine if that's going to be a regular thing but it doesn't seem so. I understand this problem (Namely this: "where I am now explaining myself to my friend Moon and one other being who looks like a scruffy surfer. It should be a friendly conversation, but I can’t help thinking that I’m on trial") comes from trying to move from past tense first person to present tense first person. It can be done better than this, though, and there are several alternatives that will alleviate the staccato transition. Perhaps beginning with her going through the cosmic vacuum (love the voice in this) in present tense. Starting out in present tense will make things far easier and more fluid for the reader.

    Besides that, the only other problem I see is the over description of Carrie. We don't need a synopsis of Carrie. If Bethany knows what Carrie is, she shouldn't be explaining it to us. It's sloppy. We're in her head, so she won't be explaining stuff to herself. This is the handicap of first person, but also it's strength. If the reader doesn't understand the reference, they'll look it up, but don't underestimate their intelligence. Readers know more than you think, or they'll ask someone and figure it out.

    Besides those, I really enjoyed the voice and the interesting take on the after life. Hahah, a celestial probation officer. That's awesome XD Just spruce up, fix, or revise those earlier issues, and the voice and the story's fluidity will have a better chance to shine.

    Hope that helped! :) I truly look forward to seeing this on a shelf one day. Good luck, and have a great day!

    --#34 :)

  3. I love comedy and your writing shows you have a knack for it. The pitch is good, but this - But how can Bethany rest in peace when campaigning as a ghost seems impossible, and defeating her worst friend might send her own soul to hell? - confused me. Maybe try rewording it. There is also an echo of 'rest in peace' from earlier.
    I liked the excerpt. The voice and writing style hooked me. Best of luck

  4. Good Morning Author,
    When I read your first 250 my mind wanders to Beetlejuice, where they are sitting and waiting in the room in the afterlife.. I digress.
    I also was a bit thrown about how she was dead, vacuumed, and then she had a friend already in the afterlife?
    Ok I am on the same thinking pattern as Kayla above on this one...
    The concept is fun; interested to see how she gets prom queen when she is dead. I feel like the rules will be altered next year to disqualify anyone who doesn't attend the school anymore because of their being dead and all.
    Keep it up, and Good Luck!
    Fellow Contestant & Writing Friend #35

  5. Well, I am a fan of both ghosts and dark humor, so this really perked me up. It sounds like it could be quite a romp!

    First 250: I have to agree with much of what Kayla says above, especially about the explanation of Carrie. (And my own teens know all about Carrie, by the way--it seems there was also an ill-fated musical a couple of years back which has kept it in their minds.)

    I think you can revert to first person present from the beginning, and spend a little more time focusing on Bethany exiting the cosmic vacuum cleaner. At which point, the lolly-sucking lass introduces herself as Moon.

    What you have going for you here is strong visuals, nicely chosen details, and a tremendously humorous voice. I'd read this in a heartbeat!
    Good luck!
    Michael (#15)

  6. Everyone, thank you for your comments, suggestions, and encouragement. I hope I can offer you the same with my critiques. As for my MS, where's my wand? Time to work some magic.

  7. I'd also like to echo what Kayla said above. I think you've got a very original premise (almost like a darker, funnier Suzue Q) but I think it would be stronger if you stayed in the first person and worked the narrator's voice a bit more. With such a cool concept as this, a little tweaking could go a long way.

    Definitely something I'd read. Good luck!

    Domenic (#28)

  8. Fun premise with a dark, quirky sense of humor! Nice!!

    Your opening almost indicates this is not Bethany's first trip to the afterlife and suggests she has gotten herself in enough trouble to warrant an interview with a probation officer. Hmm. Very interesting. Am I reading this right? I'd encourage you to clarify whether she has just died or simply been summoned to answer for whatever mischief she's caused as a ghost.

    I like the reference to "Carrie prom" and, like Kayla, wonder if we can hear the explanation in Bethany's own voice. Try playing with this bit, maybe something along the lines of: "You feel you were justified in creating a Carrie Prom?” surfer dude asks. Is he seriously comparing me to a Stephen King’s horror classic? I feel almost flattered."

    I think you have developed a great voice and a very original rivalry between a ghost prom queen and her flesh-and-blood nemesis.

    Good luck!!

    #44 The Land of Joy and Sorrow


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