Pitch V- Burn

BURN
YA Suspense
58,000

Query:

Maggie Parrish inherited her brown eyes, her sense of humor, and her cause of death from her grandma who died in a fire decades before Maggie was born. The fire was the biggest news in the dinky Tennessee town since Lee’s surrender and everyone tells a different version of what really happened. When Maggie moves in with her aunt on the old family farm, the countdown begins to her time to burn.

A crush turns into an obsession that threatens Maggie’s relationship with her new boyfriend. The more she tries to push him away, the harder he fights back. His jealousy is suffocating her and where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

Every move she makes is leading up to one explosive night on the farm–a night that played out forty years ago.  If Maggie doesn’t see how deep the connection to her grandma runs, she’ll end up just like her.

Maggie Parrish is going to burn.

First 150 Words:

Aunt Carol sat across from me at the breakfast table, stroking the handle of her coffee cup while she tried to focus on the crossword puzzle in the paper.

I couldn’t stop fidgeting.

“What if I just stay in my room until they’re gone?” I suggested.

She never looked away from the puzzle. “They already know you’re here. Besides, you’ll be stuck up there all day if you decide to hide from the boys.”

“It can’t seriously take all day to put in a shower, can it?”

She smiled. It wasn’t a good smile. It was the kind of smile that  meant someone had Sharpied a mustache on your face when you fell asleep at a friend’s house. It was the kind of smile that meant I was being set up.

“Oh my God. Can’t I just borrow the car and go into town?”

“I’ve already told them all about you.”

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17 thoughts about "Pitch V- Burn"

  • Erin Butler says:

    I love the first line in your query. It’s a great hook. The last line of the first paragraph in the query reads awkward. I’m thinking maybe *for her time to burn. Not “to her time to burn.” The 2nd paragraph in your query has me confused because I don’t know if it’s the crush that’s jealous or the new boyfriend that’s jealous. As for the last paragraph of your query, I wish you had said some more about the connection with her grandma…why is this so important? Why does the connection mean she’s going to burn?

    I really like the premise though…good luck!!

  • Pat Esden says:

    Love the premise! The 150 were great as well.

    Is it that Maggy needs to ‘see’ the connection or is the plot of the story that she has to discover or do something to find this connection?

  • Writerlicious says:

    I also didn’t see the connection between the first and second paragraph of your query. And yes, you need to stress the connection to her grandmother and why they’re burning. That was unclear. Loved your first page though . . . LOL at the sharpied mustache *not that it’s happened to me;-) No, not at all*

  • Indigo says:

    You have room to add more to this query. The first paragraph looks pretty good with decent character and a hook. Maybe just tell us why Maggie had to move in with her aunt. Then give us some characterization of this boy who’s crushing on her and be more specific about what happens between them so we can see the connection between the first para and the second. Then allude to how her situation resembles what her grandma went through, even if she doesn’t make the connection in time.

    Your first 150 don’t really connect with your query, but I love the Sharpie line. I could do with a bit more setting before you plunge into the dialogue, but at least you showed who’s there.

  • Thanks for your feedback, guys! I fiddled with the second paragraph and tried to make the connection clearer. How’s this–

    The similarities between Maggie and her grandma are more than just skin deep. Maggie’s life never felt quite right before she stepped into her grandma’s house. Without knowing what’s she’s doing, Maggie’s reenacting her grandma’s last days and building her own fire by turning down the wrong guy. Maggie’s relationship with her new boyfriend is stoking the flames of her stalker’s obsession and it’s raging out of control. She’s too busy figuring out what really happened to her grandma to see how big her own fire is growing and it’s about to become very, very real.

    Every move she makes is leading to one explosive night on the farm–a night that played out forty years ago. The Parrish genes are dominant and, if Maggie doesn’t see how deep the connection to her grandma runs, she’ll end up just like her.

    Maggie Parrish is going to burn.

  • Erin Butler says:

    Hi Caitlyn! I think the 2nd paragraph you wrote is much better. I hope you don’t mind, but I did some more tweaking. After you redid the 2nd paragraph, the 1st paragraph just seemed like too much information so I cut some of it and added a few other things. I’ve pasted it below:

    Maggie Parrish inherited her brown eyes, her sense of humor, and her cause of death from her grandma who died in a fire decades before she was born.

    The similarities between Maggie and her grandma are more than just skin deep. Her life never felt quite right before she stepped into her grandma’s old family farmhouse. Now, without knowing what’s she’s doing, Maggie’s reenacting her grandma’s last days and building her own fire by turning down the wrong guy. Maggie’s relationship with her new boyfriend is stoking the flames of her stalker’s obsession and it’s raging out of control. She’s too busy figuring out what really happened to her grandma to see how big her own fire is growing and it’s about to become very, very real.

    Every move she makes is leading to one explosive night on the farm–a night that played out forty years ago. The Parrish genes are dominant and, if Maggie doesn’t see how deep the connection to her grandma runs, she’ll end up just like her.

    Maggie Parrish is going to burn.

    Also, I’m still not quite sure of the first sentence. You know I love it, but it might pack more of a punch without all the hers in it. This: Maggie Parrish inherited brown eyes, a sense of humor, and cause of death from her grandma who died in a fire decades before she was born. Instead of this: Maggie Parrish inherited her brown eyes, her sense of humor, and her cause of death from her grandma who died in a fire decades before she was born. But really, I’m not quite sure about it. I almost think it sounds better with the hers in it, even though something in my mind is saying that it shouldn’t sound better. Does that sound right? :) Hopefully someone else will chime in with their opinion on it.

    I hope you don’t mind all my suggestions…I just love the idea of your story so much!

    • Thank you, thank you, thank you! I don’t mind the input at all. In fact, I appreciate it so much! In this business, you’ve got to be able to handle criticism and be willing to make changes or you’ll never make it.

      How’s this for the first sentence; Maggie Parrish inherited her brown eyes, sense of humor, and cause of death from her grandma… There are just two hers that way. Just a thought.

      I’m totally in love with this story– I even have a Will & Maggie board on Pinterest. It’s a different take on parallel lives. Thanks, again, for taking the time to dingle with my pitch!

      • Jane Austen Is My BFF Author says:

        Yes, yes, perfect first line now!! IMHO

        And you’re welcome!

      • Jammy Dodgers says:

        I have thoughts.

        While I get what you are trying to do, I don’t think it works. You need to set up conflict in the first sentence, and I’m not quite sure you do this.

        What about something like:

        Seventeen-year-old Maggie Parrish’s grandma was just a story, until she stepped into her grandma’s farmhouse. Now, surrounded by the reality of her grandmother who died in a fire, Maggie feels connected–but being surrounded by her life is only the beginning. Maggie Parrish is about to live it. (Something like this draws in the reader)

        (Then break down HOW she’s living it.)

        It starts when Maggie builds her own fire (which means what?) and turns down the wrong guy (which means what?) Maggie’s relationship with her new boyfriend is stoking the flames of her stalker’s obsession and it’s raging out of control. (this is really vague and I don’t understand what it means.) Without knowing what’s she’s doing, Maggie’s reenacting her grandma’s last days.

        But soon those days are going to end—and Maggie is too busy trying to figure out what happened to her grandma to see it coming. Every move she makes is leading to one explosive night on the farm–a repeat of the night that played out forty years ago. If Maggie doesn’t see how deep the connection to her grandma runs, she’ll end up just like her.

        Maggie Parrish is going to burn.

  • Jane Austen Is My BFF Author says:

    Whoops…and I just gave away who I am. Haha. Didn’t change my name from the last time I commented on my own pitch!

  • Jammy Dodgers says:

    I can’t stop thinking about this story.

    YOU’VE GOT MY VOTE!!

    • Holy fire– are you serious? I thought, after reading your previous comment, you weren’t the least bit interested. I’m so glad I had the wrong impression! Thank you so much! I know one vote won’t get me through to the next round but the fact that it’s YOUR vote makes it awesome.

      Funny, all my beta readers have said the story stuck with them long after they were finished. How cool is it that you got that from my query?

      Thanks again!

  • karen says:

    LOVE! Premise, and the first 150 words–were GREAT! I got chills. :)

  • Juliana says:

    Man- you’ve already got some great comments here!

    I agree, you don’t need all the backstory in the first paragraph, dump us right into the heart of your inciting incident (I had this probably while writing my query too- the need to explain everything! But your reader will hold their suspense backstory-wise, so don’t feel like you need to be bogged down by it). You have such a good hook here, let it shine through in the query.

    Please don’t hesitate to shoot me an email if you want anything more in depth! And don’t forget to stop by the blog for the birthday giveaway today :)

  • Hi!! I’m one of the guest judges–and I’m happy to say that Spencer Hill Press would be love to consider your novel! Please send the full manuscript, as a Word document to dellison (at) spencerhillpress (dot) com and put “Your Title: GUTGAA Requested Manuscript” in the subject line. Also include your query in the body of the email.

    Can’t wait to read it!

    Best,
    Danielle Ellison
    Senior Editor, Spencer Hill Press / Spencer Hill Contemporary

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