Monday, September 17, 2012

GUTGAA Pitch Contest #1: A CITY IN THE AIR

A CITY IN THE AIR
YA Steam-punk
81,000

Query:

In a world run on steam and obsessed with advancement, fifteen-year-old Harlow should be proud. As the new flight captain of her prestigious academy, no one in school can fly airships better than she. Then again, no one can stick their foot in their mouth quite as well either.

Always one to trust her instincts, Harlow believes she’ll do what’s right under pressure. But when a day filled with bad luck throws her into the world of the mysterious Takashi, a new student from isolated Japan, her impulses get her into more trouble than she can imagine. She doesn’t mean to lie. Slandering him and his companions as Magics, outlawed sorcerers, and getting them kicked out of school wasn’t her game plan. It just sort of . . . happened.

Overwhelmed with guilt, she lashes out at the cuckoo clock that started the dreadful day. As it breaks into pieces, a flying box is unleashed, burning strange light onto her forearms. Now the real Magics want her dead. Her best chance at survival rests with Takashi, who came to England solely to find the three boxes in hopes they can rescue his people from tyranny. With time running out, only the head moderator can save them both. But to find him in the floating city, they’ll have to work together before the deadly Magics find them first.

First 150 Words:

With every intention of making herself deaf, Harlow Morgan pressed her hands against her ears. Pressure built behind her palms, and a low pitched hum muffled the sounds around her. Every sound, that is, but the one she wanted to escape.

“Cuckoo! Cuckoo!”

The dreadful shrill of her handed-down cuckoo clock sent a chill down her spine. Absolute worst fifteenth birthday present ever. With each squeal, her body jerked. She had managed to push the feeling of bad luck down in her gut all night, but that ridiculously loud clock dragged it all back up. That’s it. Forget going anywhere. She released her ears.

“Cuckoo! Cuckoo!”

She let out a deep sigh and flopped over on her side. If it would just be quiet, maybe the day wouldn’t come. No disappointing flight captain results. No utter humiliation. She had to silence that bird. On her end table, she spotted her sister’s pocket screwdriver and smiled.

15 comments:

  1. Love this! Sounds neat.

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  2. Oh, this sounds great! Nice job with your query and opening! I LOVE the name Harlow, especially for a girl. And you've hooked me with her huge mess up, I can imagine the trouble already! Good luck!

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  3. I like this a lot! Captaining an airship sounds like an awesome job for a fifteen-year-old. And I definitely want to know what the screwup was from the 150. Nice job!

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  4. Loved this. It made me want to read Steampunk when I normally don't read that genre. You might make a convert out of me ;)

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  5. You used my baby name! Harlow. I love it. Nice writing too.

    Kristen

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  6. Love this book every time I run into it online. You WILL be published! It's just a matter of time! Hang in there Harlow!

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  7. This sounds fun. Love the voice in the query.

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  8. I really like the idea of stumbling upon the "strange light" and how more trouble ensues. It makes me think that more things are about to happen and happen fast, which is exciting.

    Good luck!!

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  10. I love your premise and your writing is really good in the first 150. I totally got sucked in though I'm not usually a Steampunk reader (you may be changing that!)
    The query is a little long and detailed for my tastes (a little like the beginning of a synopsis), though I totally understand that you need to world build. Perhaps try trimming it a little, moving the inciting incident (the clock) up a paragraph, and shortening the para about Takeshi (do we need to know he's from isolated japan?)
    This is such a good premise and rich world though, so YOU HAVE MY VOTE!

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  11. Thank you Hopey, and everyone else! You guys are so awesome!

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  12. PITCH: Great premise, and I’m not a huge fan of steampunk. Character always wins out, no matter the genre, and Harlow is definitely a winner. The pitch itself might benefit from shortening—I think it’s telling too much of the story.
    FIRST 150: Haha! I hate chiming clocks, and I love Harlow for wanting to destroy this one. No criticism for this one—it’s a tense beginning but not so tense the main character is squeezed out of it. Does that make sense? Basically, it lets me get to know the character and care about her before thrusting her into a life-or-death situation. Okay, one tiny thing: I have to mention the whole “don’t start your story when your character’s waking up” advice. But really, sometimes it’s okay to not listen to advice.

    YOU’VE GOT MY VOTE!

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  13. This is great! I was intrigued reading the whole thing. Nice tight writing style. :)

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  14. You guys have me jumping up and down like a mad woman over here. Seriously, thank you everyone for the comments, critiques and votes. :)

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  15. An airship pilot and a hot Japanese boy? I'm hooked already. Plus the opening 150 words were great!

    You've got my vote!

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