Wednesday, August 24, 2016

YA Contemporary: DROWNING IN AIR

Author's Name: Valerie Bodden
Category: YA
Genre: Contemporary (next WIP is historical fantasy)
Stage of Completion: Contemporary is mostly polished and looking to query; historical fantasy in outlining stages
Preferred Critique Style: A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Medicine Go Down (at least, this is how I critique, but I can handle Straight to the Point and even some Flails as well)
Cat or Dog: BOTH (with a dog and two cats in the house, you can’t expect me to take sides)
Tea or Coffee: Also both, though less emphatically. Tea more often.

Short Pitch

DROWNING IN AIR is told from the dual points of view of Calli, a lifeguard caring for her dying mom, and Noah, a heart transplant survivor. Although initially the opposite of attracted to each other, the two bond over a mutual love of the water. When they share one electric bungee jump, neither can deny the sparks. But as Calli turns to Adderall to keep her grades up and Noah performs ever more daring feats, both spiral closer to a devastating end. They have to figure out how to save each other—before it’s too late to save themselves.

 Writing Sample

I bury my face deeper in the sticky-sweet grass and try to tune out the shrieks and splashes coming from the pool on the other side of the yard. The sun sears my limbs, making them heavy and light, solid and liquid, at the same time. I never want to move again.

A sharp fingernail pokes my side.

I crack one eye open, even though I already know it’s my best friend Sashi. I swat her hand away, but she pokes me again.

“What?” I grumble, not moving.

“Check this guy out,” Sashi says, her Indian accent making “guyout” sound like one word.

I groan. I should have known this was about a guy. The faint bite of chlorine penetrates through the smell of burgers as I roll over and sit up.

“First you drag me to this party. And then, when I finally manage to relax, you...” My words evaporate as I follow her gaze across the backyard, over the pool, and to Tom Brant’s mansion, site of this annual end-of-summer soiree.

I wait a second for my brain to catch up with what I’m seeing.

Then I spring into full-on lifeguard mode, launching myself toward the pool deck. My feet sizzle when they hit the concrete, but I keep running. Idiot. He’s going to kill himself. A guy I’ve never seen before balances at the edge of the second-story porch roof. He flexes his arms and leans forward in a muscle stance.


  1. I love how you go straight to someone possibly dying/getting seriously injured. Talk about immediate stakes!

    My entry is NASCENT. I'd like to read more of your work, if you're interested. I can be reached at

  2. Hey Valerie,

    I think we could be a fit. My current novel is a SF so not sure if you're up for critiquing that genre, but if so, mine's the one titled Eden. If you're interested send your first chapter and query to and we can see if things work from there.


  3. This is quite good. My entry is Taking on the Teachers if you're interested. We both have chlorine in our opening chapters. ;) I point out all the good and all the needs work generally, but am happy to exchange more high level critiques - whatever your preference. raimeygallant (at)

    1. Yours sounds fun. Gotta love the chlorine connection!

  4. Hi! I love this (or what I've seen of it so far!) and wonder if you'd be interested in talking more. My entry is: and my email is if you want to chat!


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