Sunday, June 18, 2017

1st 5 Pages June Workshop- Mainero Rev 2

Name: Maria Mainero
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Supernatural

Kelsey’s plans for a perfect senior year with her newly-landed boyfriend, Dave, go up in flames the night he crashes his car after drinking. With Dave banished to an aunt’s farm for the summer, Kelsey wishes she’d warned him of her eerie premonition.
Despite Dave’s strict terms of probation, Kelsey is determined to resume their relationship when they return to school. But she wishes Dave hadn’t appointed himself personal protector to Calvin, left brain-injured and an amputee by the accident. She can’t forget her dreams that predicted Calvin’s fate, or the feeling of danger she gets when she sees his secret artwork—a comic book series depicting himself as a bodyswapping Angel of Death, and Dave as his arch-nemesis.
Accusing Calvin of a supernatural revenge plot won’t win Dave back, so Kelsey joins his efforts to make amends, hoping to find proof of her fears. But when Calvin successfully takes over her body, his story become horrifyingly real.
Now, Kelsey’s stuck in Calvin’s body, struggling to convince Dave that the girl he’s falling for is a deadly threat. To stop Calvin’s ultimate revenge, Kelsey must learn her own power and the truth about what happened the night of the accident.

The first weekend of the summer before senior year, and my boyfriend of two weeks might break up with me. No biggie. In eight solid years of experience with Dave, as a friend, he’s never let me down.
As a boyfriend?
Maybe I let him down.
 “He’ll be here,” Darcie promised as I scanned the parking lot for Dave’s truck. In front of us, the long concrete breakwall stretched out into Caseville Harbor, where Lake Huron rippled with tiny waves, blue and glassy, under the rosy setting sun.
At the end of the walk, a pile of large boulders in the water, and voices. “It’s just Kelsey and Darcie.” I ducked through the railing and stepped over lapping water to the first rock. Just Kelsey. Not someone they wanted to see. Like Dave.
On the large center rock Queen Bree and her clone Cate perched like pink and blonde flamingos in a flock of jocks and other seagulls. “Hi all!” I forced confidence into my voice, and squeezed in on a rock with Darcie. One of the guys tilted a beer can in our direction. “Thanks,” I said, as Darcie held up her hand to decline. This was a mistake. What if Dave did let me down? The icy aluminum in my palm made me shiver.
 “Too early for shorts in Michigan,” Darcie commented.
“They’re not shorts, they’re capris,” I pointed out, scrunching up my self-pedicured toenails in Parlez-Bleu Francais.
“You’re explaining fashion to someone who wears black jeans and flannel to the beach,” Bree remarked, to laughs from her loyal subjects.
 “Oh, we were supposed to wear pink?” Darcie asked, looking Bree and Cate up and down. “The day I do, kill me. Slit my throat, drench me in my own blood and bury me in a garbage bag. A black one.”
The girls exchanged an eye-roll, but Darcie didn’t care. I sipped my beer slowly, the way Dave taught me at my first high school party. “Just drink a sip or two,” he told me. “Hold it for a while, then put it down somewhere. You can do that all night long, and never get wasted.”
No matter how many beers I abandoned, he always claimed I was buzzed when I tried to flirt with him. Always said he’d never take advantage of me. I always pretended to be grateful for that. Welcome to the friend zone. Our friendship was too important to screw up with a relationship. Yeah, he really said that. But for one wonderful week, I thought I proved him wrong. And then I proved him right.
 “Just talk to him,” Darcie kept telling me on the drive up to Caseville. That’s what I dreaded.  I knew what he’d say. This was a mistake, let’s just stay friends. I knew what would happen, the awkward conversations, the gradual distancing.
I knew what I’d feel.  I was feeling it already, waking up from unsettling dreams where Dave refused to listen to me or take my side. But Darcie was right about one thing. I couldn’t avoid him any longer.
 “Look who’s coming,” Jarrod said from the lookout rock, where he sat watching for the police or harbormaster. I knew from his voice it couldn’t have been Dave, but my heart still thumped in anticipation as I stood up.
The thumping rang in my ears and my breath stopped. Not Dave. Calvin. Calvin Baker. Slouching as he came towards us, in his denim jacket, with his scruffy dark hair obscuring his eyes. Just the way he’d looked in my dreams.
He wasn’t supposed to be here. He belonged with the stoners and the losers. Not with us. Not in my dreams.
Darnell hopped past me across the rocks, meeting Calvin before he was in earshot. The two of them walked towards the parking lot, talking. I took a breath, fighting off the panicky, adrenaline-charged feeling I’d been waking up to every day.
“What’s wrong?” Darcie’s voice came through all echo-y. I turned. Everyone was watching me stand and stare like a slack-jawed loser. I sat down abruptly. 
“Nothing,” I said. I wanted to tell Darcie about it, but not in front of everyone. It was awkward enough that I dreamed about the loser, I didn’t need Bree making snide comments about it when Dave showed up. Thankfully, Darnell came back alone, and settled in with the other football players. A lighter flickered and a smoky sweet smell drifted towards us. Darcie coughed.
“Walk with me?” I suggested.
We scrambled back to the breakwall away from the others, and leaned on the blue metal railing. The last sliver of sun sank into the water as I watched. 
“I had a dream about him,” I said.
“Dave?” she asked. “He’ll be here soon, I promise. Don’t worry.”
Don’t worry. How could she be so sure? “He was in it too. But I mean Calvin.”
“Calvin? What’s up? You seem freaked out.”
“I dreamed he died in a car accident.”
 “Ooh, that is freaky.”
“But then he showed up at school, and everyone was all excited he was still alive. Hugging him and everything.”
 “Let me guess.” She raised pinched fingers to her lips and inhaled.
I snort-laughed.
“It’s not that funny,” Darcie said, snickering.
“Oh my God.” I giggled and wiped my eyes. “I’ve been obsessing, thinking it’s some kind of premonition or warning, and now you tell me I psychically predicted a toke.”
“Kelsey Jones—Weed Psychic,” she proclaimed. “It’s a gift.”
“A stupid gift,” I said. “I was obsessing, because in the dream, when he came back, it wasn’t him. I knew it, but no one would believe me.” Dave wouldn’t believe me. That was the most frustrating part, and why I couldn’t seem to shake it off.  Why do you have to make everything a confrontation, Kelsey? Dave’s dream-voice accused me.
“Who was it?”
“That was weird too. . . . “
“Sa-weeeet!“ Jarrod called out, standing up. “Check out Dave’s ride.”
Under the lone parking lot light, Dave’s height and short blond curls were unmistakable as he got out of a gleaming red convertible. He set the car alarm with a beep-beep and blink of headlights, and headed out to us.
People swarmed past us and surrounded him, asking if he’d traded in his truck for the Camaro. “Just trying it out,” he said. His dad owned the car dealership, and I could tell everyone wanted to check out the car, or get a ride, but Dave didn’t offer.
He walked past me and Darcie with a friendly “Hey,” and headed out to the rocks. Somehow, Darcie made sure we ended up sitting across from him, where I tried to analyze his brief glances in my direction as he cracked open a beer.
 “I can’t wait to ride in that,” Bree cooed at Dave. “Is that one of the cars for the parade?”  She couldn’t let anyone forget for a second that she’d won the Miss Atwater crown. I didn’t know how I was going to stand being on the dance team with her all summer, listening to her fake laugh and her fake friendliness.  Darcie kicked me gently, like that was going to inspire me to speak up. I gulped another big swig from the beer.
“Look who’s back,” Jarrod muttered.
It was Calvin again. My spine tingled and Darcie and I exchanged glances.  “Hey,” he said, making his way through the railing. “My ride ditched. Need a ride back with one of you.”


  1. Maria, let me just say that your pitch is amazing! The only thing I'd like to see better explained is this sentence:"Kelsey wishes she’d warned him of her eerie premonition." You never mention anything about Kelsey's premonitions until this moment so it feels thrown in. Like the reader is supposed to know about those somehow. I'd work it into your 1st sentence somehow.

    I see that you've narrowed down the fashion talk a lot. It reads better now, but I still don't think you need it. I feel like you could use this space to have the girls ask Kelsey questions about Dave. Why he isn't with her, etc. etc. This way you can connect what's in her head to her surroundings. Yes, we know she's obsessing over her and Dave's relationship, but since we don't know your MC yet,(we are just meeting her so it's hard to care about her anxiety at this point when we know pretty much nothing about her) it would work better showing some or most of her discomfort through dialogue. Especially since you have a great opportunity for it. Your MC is in a group of peers, all talking, not like my MC stuck alone in the mountains. ;)
    Good luck!

  2. Maria,

    In your pitch you mention Kelsey had a premonition. The way it is in there now feels like an afterthought, when actually it’s the most important point. I would lead with that.

    Also, when you mention that certain behaviors “won’t win Dave back,” I’m a little confused, because I didn’t know they had broken up. Make that a clearer point prior to that sentence. Likewise, “The girl he is falling for,” sounds as though they never dated in the first place. If you define their relationship a little better in the pitch, it will work really nicely.


    “As a boyfriend?” Sentence doesn’t make sense because you follow it with, “Maybe I let him down,” and Kelsey is not the boyfriend here. I’m not sure if changing the sentence to “As a girlfriend?” would work here either, so maybe some revising is necessary to get the same point across in a different way.

    For some reason, and maybe this is just me, but I get distracted by the logistics of it all. Them going down to the rocks, them stepping away to talk, Calvin coming, Dave coming. I can’t pinpoint exactly why. I think it has to do with how it is described. If you can find a way to simplify everything, I think it will really help.

    Overall though, this is great work! It has come a long way and I read it much faster this time!

  3. Pitch first:

    My biggest problem here is that the main goal --to get Dave back-- is not one I can engage in because he seems like an ass. He drove drunk and almost killed a guy? This is not the guy I want my main character to date! That aside, I think you need to make her stakes more clear. It sounds like this is all about saving Dave (who I don't like) so that is a bit of a problem as well, but can be fixed if you can find a way to make us like Dave.

    I also think you need to make the last sentence more clear. Is her final goal to learn the truth and walk away, or is her final goal to get rid of Calvin so she can make kissy faces with Dave?

    1. I will admit, this is one area I've been struggling with. Dave is a nice guy who made a bad mistake, and spends much of the book trying to make up for it. Although it's a lot about saving Dave, there's much more to the mystery behind Calvin's abilities and Kelsey's interaction with him. I agree I can do better on the final goal, and will have to keep thinking on how to make Dave more quickly likable.

  4. Pages:

    I'm still obsessing about the Calvin thing and I think I *finally* know what it is: you say she had a dream about him and that makes me think a kissy-dream automatically. If you said she had a nightmare or he was IN a weird dream, maybe I wouldn't get confused about who she likes and all that. Just a suggestion. I would also change the spine tingling. Tingles are romantic to me. If he makes her go cold or makes her arms get goosebumps, I'd probably get the creepy here.

    Best of luck!

    1. That makes sense, and I should be able to fix that! I'm glad you were able to pinpoint it for me. Thank You.

  5. Hi Maria! Let me start with the pitch: OMGosh! I adore the sound of this book. #happy-paranormal-freak-dance But...I'm a little confused about the body snatching part. If Calvin took over Kelsey's body how is she stuck in his? Do you mean Calvin switched bodies with her or he sucked her spirit into his or she's still in her body, but he's controlling it, etc...? It could be just me, but I think you need to more clear about that in the pitch. You have conflict and a goal, but I'm a little uneasy about the tension (stakes) part because it solely focuses on Dave and he's kind of a jerk to her. I'm not sure how they've been such close friends for so long. Is something bothering him? If so, show that so I care about him and want them to be together. Honestly, right now it's Calvin that I want with her and I don't think that's what you're going for.

    Pages: In the opening sentence, 'of two weeks' is bugging me. I don't think you need it. It kind of gives the impression that she's one of those girls that freaks out easily over her boyfriend ... of ONLY two weeks. I know she's not like that, but the reader only learns that as they keep reading. Plus, you mention that their friendship-relationship is eight years strong, so the newness of their romantic relationship is kind of implied.

    For some reason - I think it's the dream part - I feel like there should be a bit of eeriness to this piece. She had a dream about Calvin. It took me three reads to finally figure out that it wasn't a romantic dream. It really was a 'vision' into a horrible future for Calvin, which would probably freak most H.S. girls out. You're a very talented writer. I'm sure you can insert some creepy or ominous feel into this opening.

    I'm very interested in this story, and I wish you the best of luck with it!


  6. Hi Maria!

    The pitch really sounds fascinating! I'm a little on edge with Dave. From your comments to others, he's a nice guy who has made a mistake, and if he spends the book making up for it I'm on board, but from the sound of it so far he does come off as a big jerk. They've been friends for how long before dating and I get the impression he just dismisses her in these pages. If he is nice, I'd give him a couple warm-friendly lines to her just so your readers don't hate him off the bat.

    I agree with the other comments as well, but having said that, you have the beginning of a really great book! It's attention getting and I wish you the best of luck!

    1. Thank you! Good suggestion, I'm sure I can give Dave a line or action that brings a little more spark for Kelsey and the reader.

    2. Thank you! Good suggestion, I'm sure I can give Dave a line or action that brings a little more spark for Kelsey and the reader.

  7. Maria! Hi!


    Great job with the pitch, but I would just go into the stakes a little more. It leaves us hanging and wanting more for sure right now, but it would be better to know the stakes personally for her. Other than that, I really can’t say anything about the pitch. It really sounds good and I feel like I get the mood of things right off the bat.


    I really like what you did with the fashion talk, it’s a lot more stream-lined now and I think it works. Whether you need it or not, at this point, I think is your decision because I like it just fine, some don’t, but the point is that it fits now.

    I still get confused with everybody’s placement, not as much as I did before. For me I think it’s because you talk about Calvin joining them, you don’t say he goes away or anything, but then he comes back and someone makes a big deal about it again and I’m thinking—wait, where did he go that he’s back and people are excited again? Maybe tone down their enthusiasm for characters that step away and then come back and instead explain where Calvin went, that might help some keep track of where everyone is.

    I’m also unsure of who lit up a joint? Is it Calvin? Is it someone else in the group? If it is, I don’t think it’s odd for her to say that Calvin belongs with the stoners and the losers if all Kelsey’s friends do it, too. What makes them any better/different from Calvin then?

    I didn’t have any issues with the dream talk, because you get to what kind of a dream it is shortly thereafter but I could see where confusion might come from so it would be best to rephrase because if 2 or 3 people in a group of 5 get confused, chances are others will, too.

    Other than that, I was a pretty happy camper with this! I still love the setting and now, after reading your pitch, I really think this would be something I’d read outside the group—especially when you got to the part about Calvin’s creepy comic book! (yup, I’m a nerd so I loves me some comics). What a neat spin!

    1. Ah, the joint. I guess Kelsey's a bit of a hypocrite. But good point and perhaps I can smooth out the interactions, as it does affect the rest of the chapter.

  8. To everyone, I thank you. Your opinions on what works and doesn't work, even when the author doesn't agree, is what makes this workshop so special. We have had the chance to get so much feedback regarding that in such a short amount of time, its just amazing! It's taken out a lot of guesswork and I am so grateful! Thank you all again. I would say good luck to us all with our work but we don't need it. We are making our own luck. We are writers, we just need an audience.