Friday, May 25, 2012

Contest Post

Sharon Bayliss has a book coming out (with a beautiful cover) and is hosting a query/first 500 bloghop with opportunity to win a critique from her editor. And there's still time to enter if you have a finished YA or NA (New Adult)

God answers nearly all of fifteen-year-old Crystal's prayers. At least that's the way it seems since time slows down so she doesn't miss the bus and speeds up so she doesn't have to answer questions in class.

When she discovers her mother sought the help of witches to conceive her, Crystal’s faith becomes one giant question mark. She tracks down the witches and demands answers. They tell her she's the incarnation of magic--the only person whose magical potential is limitless. Basically, Crystal's been answering her own prayers.

Skeptical yet curious, Crystal attempts to master her power, but flying and playing with fireballs attract dangerous attention. A witch hunter captures her boyfriend, and shamans snatch her aunt. For someone with limitless magic, Crystal should easily be able to rescue them but every time her emotions run amuck, her magic goes haywire. If she can't learn to control herself, she'll never be able to save them.
CRYSTAL'S MAGIC is a 80,000-word YA paranormal novel with series potential.

First 500 words:

“Crystal? Are you dressed yet?”
Crystal groaned and rolled over. Covering her head with her pillow, she peeked with one eye at her alarm clock. If she didn’t leave the house immediately, she’d miss the bus.
She scrambled around the room, hopping into jeans, trying to throw on a shirt and brush her hair at the same time. Somehow she wrestled her way into some clothes (whether or not they looked good together she hadn’t the time to worry about) and ran downstairs. Her kiss missed her mom’s cheek. “Bye, Mom!”
“Wait, Crystal, you forgot your school bag.” Her mom held it out for her.
Crystal grabbed it and groaned again when she spied the kitchen clock. There was no way she’d make the bus. It probably drove past her house five minutes ago.
Still, she had to try. If she was late one more time, she’d get detention. And getting her first detention two weeks before her sixteenth birthday was not on her to-do list.
Crystal threw her bag over her shoulder and hurried out the door. She raced toward the bus stop.
Please, dear Lord, let the bus be there. Please let the bus be there.
She ran with her eyes closed. She never prayed with her eyes open.
When she reached the end of the stone driveway, she opened her eyes.
The bus was just pulling to a stop.
Crystal grinned. Thank you, Lord.
She climbed up the steps and slid into her customary seat beside Kelly Mae.
Kelly Mae took one look at her and raised a perfectly arched eyebrow until it disappeared behind her blond sideswept bangs. “Again, Crystal?”
Crystal shrugged. “I must’ve slept through the alarm. Why… is it that obvious?” She glanced down at her clothes. Dark blue jeans, a black T-shirt, and a navy vest. Definitely not the most stylish of choices.
Kelly Mae reached over and tugged something out of Crystal’s hair. Her hairbrush.
Staring at it, Crystal had to laugh.
Ten minutes later, the bus stopped in front of their school, and the students rushed to their lockers. Crystal grabbed her books and hurried to geometry class. Mrs. Gingrinch began to drone, and Crystal's mind wandered. It’s not that she didn’t want to learn, it’s just that she always felt as if she was wasting her time, as if she was meant for something more than learning the area of a rhombus. I mean, seriously, a rhombus? Who came up with that word?
"Crystal, care to join us?"
She snapped her head up and looked at the stern face of Mrs. Gingrinch. "Sorry," she mumbled.
"Pay attention." Mrs. Gingrinch turned to face the chalkboard and continued writing.
Crystal hung her head. What’s wrong with me lately? She had a hard time falling asleep, and she was always daydreaming—
"Crystal! Come up here and solve this problem."
Crystal gulped. She stood and walked to the chalkboard. Mrs. Gingrinch held out the chalk, and Crystal hated the smug look on her teacher's face.


Scribbles From Jenn said...

Great read. I don't know how I'd feel finding out I'd been conceived with the help of witches. Crystal felt very real. Especially the math problem, that felt a little too real :D

Jade Hart said...

I thought your premise was great :) Wish I had unlimited magic :) Your voice for Crystal was good too. Good luck :)

Jade Hart said...

Oh, and I love your blog's template!! :)

Charity Bradford said...

I love how you tightened everything. Great job! It's a lot easier to "stay in" the query now and get the meat of things.

Anonymous said...

Some of this brings me back to high school.

I like the paranormal premise.

Juliana Haygert said...

Love your query, but LOVE the last paragraph more lol
You got a great premise there.
Good luck!

Kimberly Gabriel said...

Nice bumping into you again! I read this for The Writer's Voice contest. Is your query different? It was perfect - tight, read well, intriguing. I also enjoyed reading your first 500. Good luck to you in this contest!

Tonja said...

Great first 500! Good luck with the contest.

I have an award for you.

Sharon Bayliss said...

Hi Nicole, I'm so glad you entered! I really like the premise, a Christian girl who realizes she's answering her own prayers. Very cool. I found the first 500 to be a little slow, but I think it has promise.

Anonymous said...

Great query, Nicole! I love the premise. It sounds really interesting. The writing's very clean and fluid. You might want to consider starting with a little more kick! Good luck on the contest :)

C.M.Brown said...

I really love your blog background is just gorgeous!

Very nice entry. I found myself wanting to read on. Best of luck!

A. K. Fotinos-Hoyer said...

I've seen your query before in another contest and thought it was interesting then, too :)

This is the first time I've seen your first 500 though so I'll mention a couple of things I noticed that you might want to edit before you submit.

1) In the first paragraph, you provide the MC's full name. This didn't feel natural though because she wouldn't refer to herself by her complete name, she's just think of herself as Crystal, right? So, I'd save her last name for somewhere it makes more sense - like a teacher doing roll call or her parents addressing her when they're upset with her, etc.

2) Missing the bus doesn't seem like such a big deal - can you up the stakes for this to make it more interesting? Like, if she misses one more time she's going to get detention and then she won't be able to do xyz or something? That strong need/desire for the bus to wait for her would make her use of magic more believable, because otherwise, she'd be unintentionally using it all the time and would never be late, right?

3) The scene break between the first two scenes was a bit jarring, imo. Instead of a scene break, maybe you could have one or two sentences of transition from the bus into the classroom?

Hope that helps :) Best of luck!

Hope Roberson said...

You have a great premise and your writing flows so smoothly! Nicely done!
I laughed at the part about the hair brush still in her :)
Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Intriguing opening.

I have to agree with the comment that missing the bus doesn't seem that catastrophic. It almost seems too petty to pray about. Unless there's some more pressing reason why she can't be late.

I like the query.

Amber said...

I love the idea of this. Good luck!

Larissa said...

Hi Nicole!

I love this premise, and the first 500 words were interesting and made me want to read on.

Well done, and good luck!

Ink in the Book said...

I love your template! I love your story, too! And I hope I get a chance to read the rest of this story soon:)

I did notice a typo. "her blond sideswept" should be "blonde"

Rebekah Loper said...

I love the twist of her answering her own prayers!

I don't really have anything to offer up for improvement on your query and 500 words, everything is nice and solid. Good luck!

E. Arroyo said...

Sounds awesome. Good luck!

Jessa Russo (Stadtler) said...

Like others have commented, I also love the concept of a young girl who believes in God, finding out she's actually answering her own prayers. Yikes! That would be quite a traumatizing revelation in and of itself!

Great premise - I'm totally intrigued! Good luck, Nicole!