Pitch K- Boyfriends, Spies, and Lies

Contemporary YA


After she was almost abducted as a child, Carissa’s parents became protective to the point of obsession. Growing up she had bodyguards shadowing her every move. When the chance to attend New Orleans School of Arts became available, Carissa packed her bags and coerced her parents, with compromises and exceptional behavior, into signing the necessary paperwork to let her go sans bodyguards.

Now she’s focused on school, on her fashion designs, and living life her way. Everything has been perfect. She’s avoided conflict and worry until now. One of her best guy friends, Eric, has decided he wants more than just friends with her. Carissa likes guys, she likes to date, but she’s not ready for a relationship. From what she’s experienced and seen, relationships don’t have room for freedom. To add to her turmoil, Eric is protective to the point he reminds her of her parents. But no matter how hard she tries, Carissa can’t stop thinking about him.

Being with Eric and his overprotectiveness is a challenge she starts to overcome until the day she learns he’s working for her parents, and has been since the first day they met. When he says he’s done with the job, and wants only to be with her, Carissa has a decision to make. She can forgive Eric and risk her heart being broken again, or she can turn away from him and risk never finding another guy like him.

First 150 Words:

I took a deep breath as I opened the door to the New Orleans School of Creative Arts. It was the first day of my junior year. Only two years ago I walked through the same heavy oak doors with wobbly knees, unsure and afraid of what lay ahead. Now, I sashayed in with my  shoulders back and chin high. I had to be on top of my game this year to get into my first choice design school after graduation.

My confidence wavered when my phone played “The Devil Went Down to Georgia”, the ringer assigned to my parents.

“What?” I snapped. They usually only called on the fifth of the month. That was last week. I didn’t need them checking up on me again.

“Well, I wanted to make sure everything was ok.”

I paused, recognizing the quiver in her voice. Mom was a master of emotion, the queen of putting on a smile and hiding any sour feelings.

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11 thoughts about "Pitch K- Boyfriends, Spies, and Lies"

  • This is a good, clear query. I guess I’d just like the stakes to be a little higher for Carissa.

  • Pat Esden says:

    I think this is a clear query and a fun story. I love how at the end she finds out he’s working for her parents.

    The query would be even stronger if you could find a way to inject a bit more of Carissa’s voice into it.

  • Indigo says:

    Your query has good content, but at the expense of too many words. Tighten this way up and focus only on quick characterization, tense conflict, and the unbearable choice. When you add in your housekeeping, this query will go over one typed page which means it’s too long. Also, watch your shifts in tense and proofread for missing words.

    So reading your 1st 150, I see you start out with Carissa’s 3rd year at the school, which means a big chunk of your query is backstory, which should be cut. After characterization and your hook in the first para, focus in on the very heart of the conflict in the second. That should include Eric but not how good things used to be in her life.

  • Jenny says:

    I have to agree with Indigo on this. I had the same issue with my last query. I was trying to pack too much back story into the first paragraph and really, you don’t need it. Start the query where the book starts and the back story will come if it’s important. Plus, this lends more drama to the whole affair 🙂

    Hit me up the next time you’re reworking it. I’d love to help. I love your first 150. Carissa has some sass!

  • Writerlicious says:

    Sounds like a cute story, but I’d also suggest infusing more teen voice into your query. For example: High School Junior Carissa ____ thinks her biggest problems in life is a pair of overprotective parentals (cue almost abducted headline) and a guy who wants to be more than friends. Just when she starts to overcome both, she learns . . .” and then insert that last there. Something like that, if you get my drift. Good luck!

  • Jammy Dodgers says:

    I think the premise of the story is intriguing, but your query has too much information and it bogs me down. When working with a query you need to discuss who the MC is, what she wants, what stands in her way (this is all the first sent/short para). Then you build the world a little, while introducing her MAIN conflict. Then you leave us with the possibilities/the dilemma. I would suggest re-working it. There are also A LOT of questions that your query leaves me, and they aren’t the good “what will happen” kind. It’s really important that you tell me why she has bodyguards. You should open with her age as well. This is an important clarification.

    Here’s one example, though it’s not the best because I don’t know this story. I was making assumptions based on the information presented, but hopefully it will give you a framework.

    ??-year-old Carissa Lastname has spent her life under the shadow of bodyguards and over-protective parents ever since she was a child, but art school 1,000 miles away is her ticket out—as long as her parents stick to their agreement. Carissa is thrilled to be free, and her new life is full of fashion design and new friends.

    (this transition is a little sloppy. Sorry.) Eric is Carissa’s new best friend, so when expresses that he has feelings for her, Carissa gets nervous. She can’t help but feel that Eric seems to care more about her safety than her heart. Carissa doesn’t want to be tied down, especially by someone who’s so over-protective, but she can’t get Eric out of head. (maybe give us an incident or something with this. You REALLY want to make us love him, and understand her attraction to him in this query. I think that will make it strong!)

    When Carissa learns Eric is working for her parents, and has been since the first day they met, she is devastated. The boy she gave her heart to was only using her. But (I need something bigger here. What are the stakes????)

    First 150 Words:
    Overall, I like your first 150. I think the first little bit leaves some to be desired, but your story sounds like it could be fun! It reminds me of that Mandy Moore movie where’s she the president’s daughter…I like it.

  • Jammy Dodgers says:


  • Juliana says:

    You seem to have some good comments here. My main thought was also…what else happens? As in, what are the high stakes? All stories have high stakes, even if it’s not a murder mystery or something else with stuff blowing up etc. 😉 It sounds like you could make your query a bit more concise and be clear about the transformation your MC goes through- how will she have to grow and change, what does she chance losing (besides the guy)?

    Let me know if you need any help going through your query more in depth! And come back tomorrow for the birthday giveaway 🙂

  • Erica O’Rourke’s “Torn” has a similar theme with the protective family and the bodyguard/love interest. That’s just one half the of the story, the other half is a paranormal world. I would suggest checking out that book, or at least descriptions and back cover copy to see how it’s summarized. I know that’s helped me–finding similar works and seeing how they are summarized. Good luck!

  • 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!

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

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