Pitch P- Jane Austen is my BFF

Jane Austen Is My BFF
YA Contemporary
63,000

Query:

Sixteen-year old Liza Johnson is taking her fangirl status to a whole new level of crazy when she decides to take dating advice from her hero: Jane Austen.

Liza’s usually not so obsessed with casting her Mr. Darcy in real life, but all that changes in sophomore year when, with the help of her best friend, she sheds her ancient speak and complete Austen wardrobe. Now there’s the new kid, Will, who Liza thinks must be Darcy incarnate, and her BFF’s ex who decides to pop into the picture again after she accidentally broke them up a few months back. Add to that the sexy British boy who kisses with an accent, and oh yeah, she’s in trouble.

Since her mom died when she was eight, Liza can’t really go ask her for relationship advice and all she has left that might help is her mother’s copy of the Completed Works of Jane Austen. It’s too bad Austen’s heroines have no idea what Spin the Bottle is and think ‘Be courageous’ is acceptable advice in modern day high school. Liza only wants her true Austen-esque happy ending, but if she can’t trust herself instead of books, she just might end up in social siberia forever.

First 150 words:

The phone rang again at night and I immediately thought of Janie. Janie and the only news she would call in the middle of the night to give. My heart popped up through my throat, catching on a breath. When my eyes flew open, she was there, next to me. Her face still red and covered in dried, crusty tears.

I fumbled for the cordless.

“Liza, it’s me. I’m…” he hesitated, probably waiting to hear if I’d say Who?, or maybe, Which one? “I’m outside your house. Meet me downstairs?”

“Right now?” I shouted more than I’d meant to, my head still pulsating in alarm, and a soft groan escaped Janie’s lips. I took a deep breath. “It’s like, eleven,” I whispered, more calm now.

“Yeah, I’m out in my car. I need to see you.”

Janie murmured and shifted as I got out of bed. I knew I’d have to fight her for a spot when I got back.

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7 thoughts about "Pitch P- Jane Austen is my BFF"

  • Katie Teller says:

    I love the title. It feels so lighthearted, and by the sound of the query, the whole story seems like it would be a lot of fun.
    Just one little thing I noticed, I would say “a few months earlier” rather than “a few months back.”

  • Indigo says:

    In the query, the first 2 paragraphs are pretty solid. Good characterization & conflict. The 3rd para is a bit clunky though and should be tightened up and focus more on the choice. But it’s very intriguing overall. I’d read on.

    For the 1st 150, the tension is good, but you need to be careful about your repetitive sentence structure in so few words. That says the rest of your ms will suffer the same repetitive style. You have 3 sentences that have gerund (-ing verbs) clauses (present participial), which you should only have maybe 2 on each page, max.

  • Writerlicious says:

    I like your title! But there are hundreds of stories involving Jane Austen, and this is fine–but I feel like this YA story already exists in many forms. You need to highlight an interesting twist to this novel to make it stand out in the crowd.

  • Jane Austen Is My BFF Author says:

    Thank you so much for your comments everyone!

    Indigo-I took a few extraenous words out of the 3rd paragraph of the query, but mostly worked on my first 150. I’m pasting it below and would appreciate advice from anyone willing to share.

    Writerlicious-I see what you’re saying. What makes my story different is that it is not a retelling of Austen’s stories at all. I’m not sure how to convey that in the query other than just saying that it is not a retelling, which sounds kind of lame. Thoughts anyone?

    Katie-Good catch. Thank you!

  • Jane Austen Is My BFF Author says:

    Here’s my changes:

    The phone rang again at night and I immediately thought of Janie. My heart popped up through my throat and caught on a breath. When my eyes flew open, she was there, next to me. Safe. Her face still red and covered in dried, crusty tears.

    I fumbled for the cordless.

    “Liza, it’s me. I’m…” he hesitated, probably waiting to hear if I’d say Who?, or maybe, Which one? “I’m outside your house. Meet me downstairs?”

    “Right now?” I shouted more than I’d meant to and a soft groan escaped Janie’s lips. I took a deep breath. “It’s like, eleven,” I whispered, more calm now.

    “Yeah, I’m out in my car. I need to see you.”

    Janie murmured and shifted as I got out of bed. I knew I’d have to fight her for a spot when I got back.

  • Jammy Dodgers says:

    I think my overall comment is I feel like I’ve read this story before.

    To comment on your comment, dear author, to make it sound different pull out what really DOES make it different. I have an idea, which you can take or not take.

    Maybe start here:
    Sixteen-year old Liza Johnson takes all her dating advice from her literary hero, Jane Austen—but its too bad Austen’s heroines have no idea about Spin the Bottle, or what to do when your life is overflowing with boys.

    Then build up the rest of the story. I don’t think you need to mention her mom, because it raises more questions. Also, the problem, for me, with your second paragraph is that it doesn’t flow well. I’m not really sure who Will is or who the BFF’s ex is, or who the hoy boy is? Are they the same? It’s confusing for me.

    If you do restructure it, make sure you include: “Add to that the sexy British boy who kisses with an accent, and oh yeah, she’s in trouble” AND this as the ending. “Liza only wants her true Austen-esque happy ending, but if she can’t trust herself instead of books, she may find it. Otherwise, holding on too tightly may cause her to lose it all.”

    good luck!

  • Juliana says:

    Hey! You have a great comment from Jammy above. It feels like there’s more to your story than what you’re touching on in your query and Jammy seemed to be able to pull that out. Don’t be afraid to play up your hook- which is a good one 🙂

    Please don’t hesitate to shoot me an email if you need any help with your pitch! And be sure to stop by today for the birthday giveaway 🙂

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