Monday, September 17, 2012

GUTGAA Pitch Contest #8: FIREPROOF

YA Scifi


When Tanwen Varro turns sixteen, she’ll get the tattoos proclaiming her an adult in a world forever changed by nuclear catastrophe. She’ll also be able to work on her family’s farm fulltime at the New Mexican colony that’s now her home. All she needs to do is complete the basic education requirements. As well as avoid the fiery raids that killed her best friend—the result of a protracted fight with a rogue collective over the colony’s precious water supply.

But Tanwen’s not sure she wants to stay a farmer, especially after her teacher forces her into the advanced classes her father forbid her to take. There, new friends and a way out of her family's farming obligations to the colony become too good to give up. And her reluctant feelings for Brant, an apprenticing energy tech, suggest an even brighter future.

Her father warned her what would happen if the colony found her useful, but she didn’t believe him. When she can’t erase evidence of her intelligence fast enough, her father’s paranoid fears come to life. The colony’s council taps her as the ideal candidate to infiltrate enemy territory, plunging her into the middle of the fight over the colony’s water supply.

Her father trained her to be a survivor, but the colony will train her to be a spy. Away from her family, her friends, even Brant, Tanwen must come to terms with all she thought she knew about her life. And when her mission objective changes from recon to sabotage, she’ll learn what’s really worth saving.

First 150 Words:

When Mom raises her voice that crucial octave—the one that gets the hair on the back of my neck standing at attention—I sometimes wish we left her behind like she wanted. It would probably make things simpler. But not necessarily better.

I stay bent over the control panel, my back to my parents, and pray the nanobots will hurry up and neutralize the sooty soil. We can’t lose another crop. Not this late in the growing season.

“I didn’t move halfway across the country to live underground.” Mom always says that, and today is no different.

Dad just grunts. He probably doesn’t even look up, too busy repairing the flame-resistant webbing we suspend over our five acres of beans, barley, and broccoli. Drought tolerant varieties that are supposed to stand up to the extremes here.

I retreat to the next row, out of the strike zone for now.


  1. Hey! This sounds so good!

    With your query, I feel like you're starting too early. Too much back story, and at the end is when you get to the good stuff. For me, it feels like the best stuff is in the last two paragraphs--the grabbiest stuff to hook an agent. Just IMO, I think you can cut the beginning WAY down, and get to the goods sooner.

    Otherwise, you've got me. This sounds fabulous! Good luck!

  2. Ooo, I really like this one. The idea of intelligence being something you have to hide or they'll make you a spy is so cool! Your first 150 is really intriguing too. I like the hints about Mom not wanting to come with them--what kind of Mom would do that??

  3. I agree with Colene re: the query. Your 150 grabbed me. I'm interested enough to want to read more

  4. I also agree with Colene about the query. Sounds like a great story.

  5. Your pitch shows me that you have a well thought out world (though it might be just a tad too long). I also really liked your first sentence of your 150 word sample!

    Congratulations and good luck.


  6. PITCH: This sounds like a unique dystopian story, and the pitch definitely grabs my interest—tattoos, fiery raids, rogue collective—wow! At the same time, I’d recommend some tightening. Is there any way to combine the two middle paragraphs, anything that can be cut in there?
    FIRST 150: Some excellent world-building details here, like the flame-resistant webbing, the nanobots, and it isn’t too much that it’s confusing, just intriguing. Examine the ends of your paragraphs—I did, because the fragment at the end of paragraph 4 caught my eye—lots of fragments & short phrases. I’m guilty of this myself, which is why I spot it when I critique other peoples’ writing. The fragment at the end of the fourth paragraph feels accidental to me, though, which is why it stuck out.