Pitch J- Never a Happy Ending

Never a Happy Ending
YA contemporary
50,000

Query:

A week before her seventeenth birthday, sixteen-year-old Mary Love Taylor’s father left for work and never came home.

Mary Love suspects her mother might have said something to make him run off. Mary Love’s parents fought a lot, but her father always tried to make it work for her sake. Maybe this time it was different. Hours turn into days without a word from him, and the missing persons report Mary Love filed doesn’t bring up anything. While Mary Love refuses to give up on her father, she realizes her mother’s all she’s got.

Mary Love’s mother doesn’t feel the same. Behind the mask of perfection she wears lies a woman whose words sting as much as her slaps. She blames Mary Love for her failing health and wrinkled skin. If it weren’t for the boy she still loves, who’s sweet and kind and has loved her since she was awkward and thirteen, Mary Love would have given up on her mother. On everything.

Mary Love knows the only way she and her mother will ever be okay is if her mother gets the help she needs, and if she finds out what really happened to her father. But the truth might send Mary Love’s world crashing down around her and her mother to her deathbed, whereas never knowing the truth might make life at home even more hellish than it already is.

First 150 Words:

It’s a week before my seventeenth birthday, and though I know I should be glad there’s a sickening feeling in my gut. For the first time in days, I’m worried.

I’m worried about Daddy because he’s running late and he’s never late. I’m worried about Momma because she’s on her second pack of cigarettes for today. But, most of all, I’m worried about myself because I think I might be turning into one of those girls Momma calls a harlot.

His name is Tommy Baker. And like I told my best friend, Lucie Mcroffey, over lunch the day before, there’s nothing worse than being kissed by a boy who’s called you string bean since the day you first met. Still, while I wait for Daddy to come home with his latest workplace tales of sorrow and glee, I can’t help but think about Tommy.

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8 thoughts about "Pitch J- Never a Happy Ending"

  • Erin Butler says:

    Hi! I think you might be switching tenses in your query and it’s throwing me off. The premise of your novel sounds really good though.

    In your first 150 words, Mary Love calls her parents Momma and Daddy and I think this reads a little young for a teenager. I don’t know of any 17-year olds that call their dad, Daddy. Of course, this is just my opinion. Maybe someone else will think differently.

    Good luck!

  • Pat Esden says:

    This sounds like a great story with loads of tension.

    I suggest you clarify what kind of help Mary’s mother needs to get. I’m not sure if it’s because she’s mentally abusive or physically ill.

  • Jen says:

    Your query left me with two questions. 1. What help does her mother need? 2. Why does the boy she loves keep her from giving up on her mother?

    Good luck!

  • Indigo says:

    First, in your query, you have the 3 C’s: character, conflict, and choice. That’s great! But in the first para, you only need to allude to Mary’s age once. Also, don’t overuse her given name, use pronouns instead, and be careful about using redundant words. (No need to say “she wears” when “mask” implies it.) Is the conflict about Mary or her mother? Lastly, the choice is confusing. You need to focus on the most important element of that choice and not muddy it with too many other things.

    As for the first 150, the voice is really nice, and the tension is pretty good, too. You do need to work on adding some necessary commas though to make it read properly.

  • Writerlicious says:

    Yes to everything Indigo wrote and this doesn’t seem very YA Contemporary to me with the voice. Your MC may be unique, but I’m not sure it’ll be relatable enough in today’s market. I’d be interested to know where this is set. Best of luck with your story!

  • Jammy Dodgers says:

    Query: I think, overall, this reads a little melodramatic.

    What’s at stake for Mary? What would she do about all this? Surely she feels something about this. Why all the focus on her mother? It almost makes it seem like it’s her mom’s story instead of hers. What’s Mary’s main conflict? There’s a lot of tension in the query, but I feel like it’s centered around the wrong thing. Center it around Mary–her loss, her questions, her search for answer. Really set up: what the MC wants, what stands in her way, what she’s willing to do to get it. That’s a query.

    Also, you don’t have to say “Mary Love” every time you mention her. It’s a little weird? I like the first line, but then you lose me.

    Pages: I disagree with the other comments about the “Momma” and “Daddy” thing. I’m guessing, author friend, that you are southern? That’s a VERY southern phrasing so I get it. You don’t have to change that if the story is set in the south. (I had friends who in college who called their parents Momma and Daddy. Especially girls.) However, that said, I can see how if you are NOT from the South, you wouldn’t get the phrase. Something to think about for sure.

  • Author of Never a Happy Ending says:

    Thanks for the comments. I really appreciate them. I’m making some changes to the query and opening page. To answer Jammy’s question, this novel does take place in Louisiana.

  • Juliana says:

    I think you have a good premise, you just need to make sure you’re being as clear and concise as possibly: your words in a query are precious! One great example is the repetition of Mary Love’s name, you really only need to mention her name a few times (since the whole query should be from her POV, any pronouns will direct back to Mary Love).

    Please give me a holler if you need someone to go over your query more in depth! And don’t forget to come visit the blog tomorrow for the birthday giveaway!

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