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Semi-Finals Post 1 – Auntie Bs Book Club Contest

Tuesday, 2 August 2011  |  Posted by Brenda Drake
http://picture-book.com/content/morgan-gaynin-6
Auntie B’s Book Club Contest
Semi-finals Post One
The girls and I had a pizza night before I went off on my twelve day road trip with my niece’s basketball team. After reading the titles and the pitch lines out loud, each girl took turns picking the stories they would buy in the store by reading just the title and pitch. It took several hours to choose the stories they wanted to read. We had a great time!
Over the week, the girls then took their pitches and read and made comments for each. When all were finished, they wrote a blurb for their posts.
In four posts today, each judge will announce the top two from their list for the semi-finals. Then the girls will read the semi-finalists’ entries and pick the top three. There will also be *Auntie B’s notes* throughout the posts when I think the girls’ thoughts need clarifying. Thank you for your patience. When you have five different schedules to contend with, it takes some time to get it all together. I hope their comments are a help to each of you.
So, first up is . . .
Choir Girl:   Able to hit a high note in a single breath. She’s the baby of the group. Next year she’ll be a senior. Her interests are romance, historical, and really cool memoirs. She does love vampire stories as well. 
Hi everyone! I’m Brenda’s niece. I’m in the swing choir in my high school and I will be a senior this year. This is my second post on Auntie’s blog. The first one was when she had eye surgery and couldn’t see so I wrote one for her. I have to say this was really fun. Auntie is so amazing to come up with the neatest things for us to do. 
Thank you all for letting us read your work. I’m so thrilled because I loved each one I read. I wanted to pick them all but Auntie said to pretend I only had money to buy two of them from the bookstore. It was so hard to pick the top two out of my list. Well, here’s my list and what my thoughts are on each one.
My top two . . .
Sophia Chang
Title: Sweet Ambrosia
Genre: YA Fantasy
Pitch: Ambrosia Wyne: half-nymph, all-nerd…destroyer of Mount Olympus. It was a Really. Bad. Day. New plan: 1) kill whoever set her up 2) rescue the Gods from Hades 3) regain Dad’s love. Baby steps.
My comments: The pitch and the 250 words really grabbed me. I absolutely would pick this one off the shelf. The voice really spoke to me, and I wanted to know what was going to happen next.
Kit Forbes
Title: Haunting of a Reluctant Princess 
Genre: YA Paranormal/Mystery
Pitch: Kat’s bookish boyfriend turns out to be European royalty and history isn’t all that comes with the antique ring he gives her. Is a ghostly princess dangerous or seeking Kat’s help to solve her murder? 
You can read the blog post here: Kit Forbes 
My comments:  I absolutely love loved this one and Drama Girl was crazy mad that I got it.  I would definitely buy it.

My thoughts on the other entries . . .
Tracy Jorgensen 
Title: The Girl With Brown Eyes 
Genre: YA Fantasy 
Pitch: A time-traveler ruins a classic love story when she saves the hero and he falls for her instead. Now the hero must save himself, both girls, and decide between destiny and accidental love. 
My comments: This pitch caught my attention because I like stories about time-traveling. This one was close to being picked for my top picks but I didn’t connect with the second part of the pitch. I don’t like when heroes have to save the girl. I liked the first part because the girl saves the hero. I did like the 250 words. I wanted to know why the girl was sitting on the gravestone and what would happen next.

Jennifer Eaton 
Title: Hidden in Plain Sight 
Genre: Fantasy 
Pitch: A common boy unknowingly imprinted with the dangerous powers of the Goddess, must find a way to change his fate, and the fate of the galaxy, before a jealous prince manipulated by Darkness murders him.
You can check out the blog post here: Jennifer Eaton 
My comments: I really liked the pitch on this one. The opening paragraphs didn’t grab my attention though. It just wasn’t exciting enough. Maybe more action going on or something. 
Auntie B’s note: The opening words are telling us a fight is happening instead of showing us. Maybe show things like arms flailing, voices raising, and other actions that get us into the fight.
Linsey Miller 
Title: The Ash Plague 
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy 
Pitch: Adalmund knows she can’t stop a war with only her magic and scarf. For the first time she’ll need help, but the trickster calling himself ‘Peace’, a well-intentioned but misguided revolutionary, isn’t who she wanted.
You can check out the blog post here: Linsey Miller 
My comments: The pitch confused me a bit. I didn’t understand the scarf part or why she didn’t want Peace to help her other than because he’s a trickster. I completely loved the opening pages but I didn’t think he’d be able to tell that the old couple was still holding hands as he ran in the dark.

Gwynne Meeks 
Title: Chrysalis 
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance 
Pitch: Raquel has no idea that Heaven and Hell have been battling it out for her soul over the last two hundred years, she just wants to grow up. 
My comments: I loved the pitch and had to fight Drama Girl again for this one. The opening is sick, except it confused me. I didn’t get what was happening here. 
Auntie B’s note: I’m sure you all know that ‘sick’ means cool, right? I think the transition between the scene in the opera and the scene in the cave is quick and might be missed. Choir Girl didn’t get that Shadow was a person biting into her skin and not an actual shadow when she read it. With the name being at the beginning of the sentence, others may miss that as well. Also, is the girl’s name Devlin or is there another person in this story? I’m not sure who’s internal thoughts we’re reading.  I think all you need is a few added words here and there for clarity.

Sarah Keith 
Title:  Masque 
Genre: YA Dystopian 
Ptich: Blue discovers the secrets of the Writer, the all-powerful ruler of their little village, while searching for her sister and being romanced by the power of lies and disguises.
You can read the blog post here: Sarah Keith 
My comments:  I liked the first part of this pitch but the last part was confusing. The power and lies from who? The Writer or what? The opening scene grabbed my interest and I wanted to read on. The only thing I’d add is that it could sound more like a teen and maybe more feelings. I would never use tinkling, but this is in the future so maybe they would use it. 
Auntie B’s notes: In discussing this with Choir Girl she means you might want to work on the voice. Not necessarily word choices but more attitude. Show us how Charles is feeling. Is he scared? 

Jessica LeSaicherr 

Title: In Irons 
Genre: YA Fantasy 
Pitch: Keeping the secret of becoming a faery warrior wasn’t helping Liz get what she wanted: new friends, a boyfriend and her first kiss.

You can read the blog post here: Jessica LeSaicherre

My comments: I completely fell for the pitch. The opening is too slow and the character’s age is too young for me. I love the idea of her being a warrior and the friends, boyfriend and first kiss thing. Teens never think that having a party and presents is more than enough. We’d be all excited because we had another surprise and we’d be anxious to see what it was. I’d never think of the tree as something my sister would love to climb. I’d maybe think of my sister as a little brat who was always climbing the stupid tree. I think I’d freak more to see a tree open up to a doorway. The story is so sick maybe just make her think more like a teen. 

Auntie B’s notes: Though the character’s age for YA is normally 12 and up, I’m finding the girls like the characters to be older. Your story is more of a young teen novel.

 Tanya Reimer 

Title: Finding Balance from the Notebook Chronicles of 1917 
Genre: Urban Fantasy 
Pitch: Addicted to drugs and sex, Watcher isn’t sure if She-devil Sly’s entrancement will kill him or save him. He needs balance fast, but everything stands in his way from dark whisperers to his future self.

You can read the blog post here: Tanya Reimer 
My comments: I really loved the pitch but the whisperer part confused me. In the opening scene the main character does sound like a teen. Using “flying whisper” didn’t work because I didn’t get it. If you used that after I know what a whisperer is than it would be better.  I’d use pissed instead of ticked. I’m curious enough to read on and I loved that he was held there by this girl and he didn’t have to be. 
Auntie B’s notes: You could probably clarify that Whisperers are people by capitalizing it since it’s unfamiliar to your reader.

Sheng Jie Pin  
Title: Promised 
Genre: Historical Fiction/Fantasy 
Pitch: Some promises just can’t be kept. 
My comments: The pitch is too short for me to get any idea of the story. I loved the opening but I would have liked to know who or what was speaking what. I think it needs the description of how each voice sounds with each instead of telling us after how they sound. 
Auntie B’s note: You might want to show us how the voices sound with each dialogue. Make each one unique and scary to help the reader know that each line is spoken by a different entity.

Stephanie Diaz 
Title: Erhistaut 
Genre: YA Fantasy 
Pitch: Seventeen-year-old Heiren Delaire battles demons to save her kingdom and loved ones from the fires of the underworld, and to avenge her father’s death. 
My comments: The pitch didn’t sound unique enough for me and I didn’t know what a Erhistaut was right off. I liked the writing in the opening scene. I love the idea of a treasure like hunt and I was curious to read on to see what happens next.
Come back later today for the next three posts.

Filed: Misc

12 Comments
  • Thank you choir girl for your helpful comments. I always want to know what my audience thinks (not just other writers). I’ll try to work out a better second line to my pitch. After all, can’t have a strong girl like my time traveller being a damsel in distress. 😉

  • kitforbes says:

    Thank you! I’m so glad you like it. I thought for sure that pitch would frazzle my brain beyond repair ^_^

  • Heather says:

    This is such a cool way to do a contest! Great job ladies, I loved reading your comments on each entry.

  • Jessica says:

    Choir girl you rock! I loved hearing what you thought, definitely need to think like a teen. This book is the first in a series and she will be 18 by the end. Still battling on if I should change her age. You available for beta reading? Hehee…. fit me in between your classes. I want to thank Brenda, choir girl and everyone for their feedback. These contest’s really help us polish our writing. Thanks again!

  • Thanks so much for the feedback! I really appreciate it!

  • Robin Weeks says:

    Mine isn’t in this round, but I’m loving reading the comments anyway! Thanks so much, Choir Girl, for taking the time to tell us what you liked and didn’t like and why.

    *Waits semi-patiently for the next post*

  • rebeccaenzor says:

    Congrats to everyone! Especially Sophia! I’ve had a chance to read Sweet Ambrosia and it’s definitely worth picking up off the shelf!

  • Congrats to the winners… Great critiques… You did a great job Choir girl and you too Aunt B….

  • Thank you so much, choir girl! I’ll definitely work on making my pitch sound more unique, and I’m also changing the title of my novel 😉 And congrats to the winners!

  • Tanya Reimer says:

    Thanks for the feed-back choir girl and Aunty B!And! Congrats to the semi-finalists!!!! YAY! Some great enteries, eh?

    I’m glad that you enjoyed meeting my whisperers, even briefly, maybe one day you’ll get to spend more time with them. lol. You know, to discover the magic, one whisper at a time.

    Thanks for a fun contest and good-luck to everyone who is moving on to the final round!

  • Thanks, Choir Girl. I appreciate that you liked my pitch. That means I’m half way there! I realized when I posted my first 250 words that they weren’t really strong when not “glued” to the rest of the story. You just solidified what I already thought. I’m going to polish that up a bit before I submit my manuscript. Thanks so much for everything!

  • Sophia Chang says:

    Oh my goodness I’m so flattered! I just finished 2 48 Hour Dark Experiments (my own personal internet ban) and this was a great way to break my internet fast!

    I’m also tickled eggplant that Choir Girl was the one who plucked my book – I was also a choir girl in high school, and now I’m A Capella Girl.

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