Curiosity Quills Contest

I didn’t plan on posting until my usual Wednesday blog, but then I heard abou this & thought I’d kick the start of my summer off right . . . by entering an awesome contest of course:) Stop by Sharon Bayliss’s blog to sign up! Here are the dets according to her page:

To celebrate the 5/13 release of the YA fantasy, Wilde’s Fire by Krystal Wade, we’re having an awesome editor judged contest with Curiosity Quills Press! Our honorable judge will be none other than the Curiosity Quills Acquisitions Editor for Young Adult, Krystal Wade.
What can you win? Only the best possible prize. A chance at a publishing contract with Curiosity Quills. By 5/25, post your query and first 500 words on your blog. I recommend that you refer to Curiosity Quill’s submission guidelineswhen crafting your query. They don’t need the bio section, they like to judge a work by its merits only. You can go slightly more or less than 500 words so you’re not stopping in the middle of a sentence. From 5/25-5/28, pop over to the other blogs and comment on entries. Contests like this are a great way to get useful feedback from a lot of people. So let’s make it useful! Please post meaningful and helpful feedback that we can use to improve our work. Constructive criticism is encouraged but of course, unhelpful meanness will not be tolerated. If you’re lucky, you may even find comments from Curiosity Quills editors themselves.
Well, here goes nothing . . .

Seventeen-year-old Olga Gay Worontzoff is dead, she just doesn’t know it yet. She thinks her biggest problems are an awful name (after her grandmothers of course) and not going to prom with Conner, her best friend and crush since kindergarten. But while out sailing together, Conner is struck by lightning, and Olga feels responsible for his death.

Now the sarcastic, nerdy girl who never missed a day of school is lost, unwilling to get out of bed. To help battle depression, her therapist suggests a plan: compile a list of eighteen things to complete the year of her eighteenth birthday.

But the therapist has a big secret. She’s really a spirit guide and the eighteen things aren’t what Olga thinks, it’s really her after-death purification process. A week after Conner’s killed, the choice to take twenty pain pills ended up costing Olga her life. So while her friends help her fire-walk, try out for the cheerleading squad, break a world record and sail again, the only one it’s reality for is Olga, and Nate, the new hottie in town who brings a fun factor to her list while he unknowingly travels through the purification process with Olga. Then he complicates things by asking her out on her first date. She wants to put into practice what her ‘life,’ . . . er, death lessons have taught her, but of all the quests, opening up her heart to love again is the hardest of all. Time is running out and the journey to finding themselves again must be completed, or they risk losing their souls forever.

18 THINGS, a contemporary YA with a paranormal twist, is complete at 70,000 words. A younger version of The Bucket List meets The Sixth Sense, it is stand-alone but has series potential.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

*First 500 Words*





A 17-year-old boy struck by lightning on Lake Michigan has died, authorities said late Tuesday night. A girl who was also on the sailboat when the lightning struck survived.

Ottawa County Coroner, Michael Wallen, told the Grand Haven Tribune that Conner Anderson died at the North Ottawa Community Hospital from heart failure following injuries from the lightning strike.

Paramedic John Croley told GHT that the teens rented a sailboat around 3pm yesterday afternoon and Anderson was struck by lightning around 8pm. The strike caused him to fly off the boat into the frigid waters of Lake Michigan. Since the teens weren’t wearing life jackets, the 17-year-old girl, Olga Worontzoff, had to jump into the water to retrieve Anderson. After swimming back to the boat, with Anderson’s body draped over a lifebuoy nearby, she managed to dial 9-1-1 on Anderson’s cell phone. That’s when she apparently noticed Anderson wasn’t breathing and administered CPR before being rendered unconscious after a gust of wind knocked the sailboat boom into the back of her head.

Anderson was in cardiac arrest when the Coast Guard arrived and was pronounced dead at the hospital an hour later. Worontzoff regained consciousness while being loaded into the ambulance on shore, Croley said, and was treated for a Grade 3 concussion and moderate hypothermia at the hospital before being released.


Once I smashed my hand in the car door. The thought of returning to school today feels worse than that. I shove my book bag into the backseat of Nicole’s idling silver Honda Civic.

“How are you holding up?” she asks, hunched over her steering wheel. As her best friend, I can tell when her smile is a fake, plus there are dark circles under her eyes that no amount of cucumber slices could cure.

I take two puffs from my asthma inhaler. “Just drive.”

She snaps her fingers. “I know just what you need. Some Espresso To Go.”

What I need is Conner.

His funeral was yesterday. I’m so not ready for this but Mom is making me, thinks she knows best. I know Mom isn’t trying to be cruel, although at times I wouldn’t put it past her. She’s just the kind of person who thinks in practicalities. To her, going back to school seems like the logical next step to moving on because if she lets me stay home, then it’s making Conner’s death even bigger since as the probable valedictorian, I never miss school. She and Dad are back to work today too, always setting the ‘good’ example, even though they knew Conner well and are grieving with me. I guess it’s their way of coping with things. Usually I’d agree with being practical, but I’m beyond that now. There’s no way to make Conner’s death bigger since I’m the one responsible for not saving him and that’s the biggest truth that’ll ever affect my life. Nothing will ever be important to me again.


23 comments on “Curiosity Quills Contest

  1. Hi there! Making my rounds for the contest, there are so many amazing stories!

    I love the opening line of your query. I was hooked from there. Sadly, I got a little lost in the middle of the query.

    “Her choice to take twenty pain pills a week after Conner’s killed ended her life. Everything that follows takes place in an alternative timeline.” – That first sentence is really confusing to read. I’d reword into something like “A week after Conner’s death, the choice to overdose on pain pills ends up costing her life.” Leave out “Everything that follows takes place in an alternative time line . . . the only ones it’s a reality for is Olga and Nate . . .”

    You’re revealing too much for a query. It should only be enough to get us interested in the story, to want to find out what the ending is.

    “At 70,000 words, my contemporary YA with a paranormal twist, 18 THINGS, is complete and can stand alone but has series potential. It could be described as a young adult version of The Bucket List meets The Sixth Sense since the ending isn’t just a surprise for Olga and Nate, but for the readers as well.” – You’ve got a lot going on here, and some of it isn’t necessary. Perhaps try: “18 THINGS, a contemporary YA with a paranormal twist, is complete at 70,000 words. A younger version of THE BUCKET LIST meets THE SIXTH SENSE, it is stand-alone but has series potential.” The part about the ending being surprise is unnecessary – the ending should always be a surprise, so there’s no reason to state it.

    “It’s not revealed until the final chapter that Olga’s pill overdose and Nate’s car accident actually killed them.” – The only time the ending should be revealed is in a synopsis, not in the query.

    The story looks very interesting, good luck in the contest!

  2. Well done. I enjoyed both the query and the first 500. Interesting that she has a chance to go back and make things right before she “really” moves on. I’m seeing more and more suicide in YA fiction. I’d like to know how you deal with it in this novel. The only thing that struck me as out of place is her being Nicole’s best friend, after already stating that Olga was best friends with Conner. I know that you can have more than one best friend, but it just struck me…

  3. This sounds like a very interesting premise!! And I like your character a lot.

    Your 1st 2 paragraphs are great!! They help you understand the character and what the conflict is.

    But I agree with a commenter above. I got lost a little in the middle of the query. The paragraph about the therapist. I’d try to tighten it up.

    I’m also wondering if starting with the news article is the best way to begin. I felt the urge to skim. Probably too many news articles in my past. But that’s what my brain wanted to do.

    Good Luck!

  4. I’m going to agree with Rebekha’s points on the query and also with Jenny. I didn’t like reading the news article to begin with. It was too sterile and because I’m not connected to the character yet I didn’t really care that a storm had happened and two teenagers were involved. I hope that doesn’t sound too harsh, I love your premise and think Olga has spunk. I would prefer to see that right way, not a news article 🙂 Just MO though 🙂

  5. Hi Jamie, I’m go glad you entered! I thought your query was strong and it’s a great premise. I admit, I skimmed through the newspaper article. Can you shorten that part? Best of luck!

  6. I like this premise and also your opening scene. Funny – my prologue is also a newspaper article about a school shooting (though I started with my first chapter for the first 500). These comments make me reconsider that… I think either option could work for you – tightening the article, or eliminating it. I love these lines: “Once I smashed my hand in the car door. The thought of returning to school today feels worse than that.” Good luck to you in the contest!

  7. I just love the premise of this story!
    I’m learning a lot reading your query and the comments on it, and can see where getting feedback is super important.
    Overall, I have to say, it sounds like a winner to me. 🙂

  8. I didn’t have a problem with the newspaper article opening the story, I thought it was a refreshing way to get it underway. I suppose it helped I read the query first, but still, I like it 🙂
    I think you may want to break up the first paragraph where she gets in the car to have Nicole’s dialogue it’s own paragraph. And then have the italicized part of her thinking “What I need is Conner.” as its own paragraph also, giving it more impact.
    I really like the premise and would keep reading 🙂 Good luck!

  9. I like the first 500. Starting with the newspaper story worked for me. And I like Olga’s voice in the excerpt.

    The third paragraph of the query is very long and dense. Could you trim a little?
    This line: “or they risk losing her souls forever.” has an error in it. Either it’s her sould or their souls.

  10. Yay! You entered too:) Maybe because I know what your story is about, but I didn’t have a problem at all with your query. I love this idea and I’m totally rooting for you Jamie:)

  11. Great premise! I also recommend getting rid of the newspaper article. You can give the same info from Olga as the story goes on, and coming from her, it will have more emotional power.

    I also agree with the suggestions to not give away so much in the query.

    That being said, I enjoyed the excerpt, and would read on. Good luck!

  12. I also found the query a little confusing and found myself rereading for meaning. It would be good to take the advice of the others who have commented and shorten it and change some of the wording.

    I liked the idea of the newspaper article beginning the story, but I like beginning stories differently- adds dimension. I found that a lot of the information you had used in the query was retold in the newspaper article and I began to loose interest. My advice – cut the query, leave the newspaper article.

    You have an interesting story here and a new concept, I like it. Best of luck!

  13. Thanks again for everyone’s comments. I’m about to send off my query and 500 words to Sharon and feel it’s much better now:) I just want this story to be published *big sigh* I wish I couldn’ve submitted my other ms but it’s not done yet . . . hopefully I can finish it this summer~cheers!

  14. I feel bad for everyone else in that contest since their going to lose! Because you’re definitely winning! I love your story! Good luck in contest…. although you don’t need it! 😀

    • LOL . . . and you’re not saying that only b/c you’re my lovely daughter who wants to have their upcoming bday party at the beach or anything;) ~Love you, Kaylee!

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