Monday, September 17, 2012

GUTGAA Pitch Contest #24: FOOTPRINTS

YA paranormal


Sixteen-year-old Jessa Hughes is a former-nerd-turned-hot-shrew whose parents force her to attend a month-long wilderness camp in Northern California. There she meets fifteen-year-old Isaac, an ugly boy who teaches her about the beauty within and who just might be Bigfoot.

Isaac has spent his whole life living in a cave with his mother and hiding from people who would harm him.  When Isaac’s curiosity overcomes caution, Jessa accidentally becomes the first stranger who has ever looked him in the eye.

Repulsed by Isaac’s appearance but intrigued by his innocence and strength, Jessa sneaks away from camp almost every day to explore the forest with him.  He shows her how he survives on forest plants, takes her to a summit so high you can see the ocean, and teaches her how to swim in a mountaintop lake.  Jessa begins to have feelings for Isaac but is disgusted with herself for being so desperate that she would go for someone so revolting.

When Isaac saves Jessa from the attack of a malevolent camp counselor, Isaac gets stabbed.  With his life on the line, Jessa realizes she loves him despite his appearance.  She knows he will die if she doesn’t take him to a hospital.  But if Isaac leaves the forest, he can never go back or risk endangering his family.

FOOTPRINTS takes a new spin on the “Beauty and the Beast” plot and draws on the latest scientific evidence suggesting the existence of “the North American primate” known as Bigfoot.

First 150 Words:

We could barely see the “Welcome to Camp Mit’ah” sign as we drove under its arch in the darkness.  We had left civilization a long time ago, and although I was safe in a locked car with my parents, the dark forest seemed to press in on me and make me think I had suddenly become claustrophobic.

We should have arrived at Camp Mit’ah hours ago, while the sun was still up.  We would have if I hadn’t played chicken with my parents for four hours.  I figured if I didn’t get in the car then I wouldn’t have to go to the happyville wilderness “adventure” in the Trinity Alps Mountains of Northern California.

“Jessa, you need to get away from it all for a while,” Dad had said when they informed me I didn’t have a choice about going.

“Yes, darling,” Mom agreed in her airy English accent.  “You just need some time to reconnect with nature."


  1. Hi!

    I adore your concept! A Paranormal I'd really love to read. Bigfoot . . . brilliant!
    Is this a dual POV novel? I get that feeling from your query. If so, I think it translates well.
    Good luck with GUTGAA!

  2. Great concept! Love the twist on Beauty and the Beast!

  3. I'd read this just because it has "bigfoot" as a character. Plus, I can sense the forest and survival theme within the query, which is always a draw for me. Nice work!

  4. I love the idea of this novel-I would certainly read this book! I am wanting to get to know each of your leads.

  5. Your concept is really great! I feel like the pitch was a little long and detailed, but the idea of a BEAUTY AND THE BEAST retelling via the Bigfoot route won me over!

    Congratulations and good luck!


  6. PITCH: Well-written, and new concept (new to me, at least. I am not an agent so don’t see what they see). I love the title in connection to the Bigfoot thing—didn’t notice that at first! The pitch is dangerously synopsis-like, and might benefit from being trimmed down.
    FIRST 150: The writing is strong, but I think this kind of opening is overdone, the argument with the parents about what’s best for the main character. Is there somewhere else the story could begin?

  7. I really like this! The premise is a nice twist on BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, and your voice shines clearly both in the query and in the first 150. This is definitely something I want to read more of. YOU'VE GOT MY VOTE!

  8. This was such a tough decision, and I think your premise here is excellent, but ultimately I picked a different one for the last slot for two reasons:
    #1 I couldn't figure out what made this book paranormal from your query.
    #2 Your opening felt like it was too stuck in the past. This is hard to explain - but all the lines like "we had left" "should have arrived" "had said" made it feel like I was reading a recap instead of being fully in the scene with the character. Instead I think you might want to stick with them arriving for your opening. I hope that makes sense.

    But I'm so very sorry that I couldn't vote you in!

    1. Thank you for the feedback. I have had a hard time choosing what genre to call this. I picked paranormal because I thought most people would lump Bigfoot into a paranormal category. Do you think sci-fi would be a better categorization for it? Something else?

    2. To me, the query made it sound contemporary - is there a paranormal or sci-fi element going on that makes him ugly? And how is he ugly - hairy? Disfigured? Is he actually Bigfoot? Maybe clarify that a bit?

    3. He's a human-bigfoot hybrid, but that's revealed in the last chapters. So, sci-fi?

    4. Hmm...yeah, sci-fi might be better. And sci-fi has less of a negative bias than paranormal right now (which is sad!), so you might get more interest that way too.

    5. On the other hand, I might just be crazy, in which case feel free to ignore me. ;)

    6. Excellent. Thanks so much for the feedback!

    7. Not "excellent" on the crazy comment! Excellent on the feedback! You get what I mean. :) Thanks for all your work! GUTGAA has been great fun. :)