Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Writer's Voice Entry

The Unwinding of Vivian Delaney 
(Contemporary YA)

Dear Writer's Voice Coaches:

Thank you so much for hosting the contest. I'd like to introduce you to my YA novel The Unwinding of Vivian Delaney in which five best friends whose lives revolve around extra-curricular activities, tutors, and private schools find themselves in a death pact if they aren't admitted to an Ivy League school of their choice.

Seventeen-year-old Vivian Delaney's been faking her way through Evergreen Preparatory Academy, Seattle's most prestigious private school, since third grade. Her best friend, Layne Stevens, is the only one who knows her family doesn't live in one of the exclusive neighborhoods inhabited by EV Prep's elite. Layne doesn't dish on Vivian's secrets because he has issues of his own: he's a gambling addict, the only child of employee number two hundred thirty-seven at Microsoft, with a love of Adderall and Red Bull and a necessity to be admitted to his dad's Ivy League Alma Mater.

When Layne flippantly makes a pact with their tight-knit group of friends that they'll have to kill themselves if they don't get accepted into their schools of choice they jokingly accept the challenge. Vivian knows Layne's been under a lot of stress, but he can't be serious. Plus, they shouldn't have anything to worry about since they're all AP students with top grades and near perfect SAT scores. But when the group finds out the world is filled with students just as special as they are the cracks begin to show.

When the pressure begins to take its toll and the college responses start to come in Layne's behavior becomes more and more erratic and Vivian begins to wonder if Layne's death pact really wasn't a joke after all.  

The Unwinding of Vivian Delaney 60,000-word story about a girl who finds out what happens when you've spent your entire life being convinced your extraordinary.

The Unwinding of Vivian Delaney 

Chapter One

I'm exceptional.
            At least that's what my parents say. They've been filling my mind with specialness since we moved to Seattle and they discovered Evergreen Preparatory Academy. EV Prep is where esteemed parents send the offspring to ensure their acceptance to the Ivy League.
            The problem is that I'm a total phony.
            No, scratch that, my mom taught me not highlight my shortcomings. The truth is, I'm a second-tier private school girl living in the wrong zip code. The only person who knows the real me is my best friend, Layne Stevens, who saw me wearing saltwater sandals in third grade and decided to adopt me as his pet project. No one wears saltwater sandals to private school, but my mom didn't get the memo when we moved to Seattle. Mom's mistake sending me dressed like an REI model on the first day of third grade saved me from a lifetime of private school abyss.
            And tomorrow is the beginning of the end: the first day of senior year. One year of college applications, campus visits, and interviews. It crushes me. Like I'm drowning in a sea of air where the elements have changed and the air is no longer breathable. I'm the girl who took one deep breath and didn't bother to take another.
            Have you ever seen someone crack before? The fine lines start. They're invisible at first, like you don't even realize they're there. That's what's happening to me now.
            Cracks are taking over the place where a person used to be.


  1. What happens when a special snowflake melts. I like the premise! Good luck with the contest!

  2. I love this. So apropos, with the "you are not special" address last year, and the mounting pressures of getting into good schools these days. Also, I love how you start the query with the yada, yada, contemp YA stuff and then throw in the DEATH PACT. Love your beginning sample. Well done.

  3. Eek... that death pact thing makes this extra creepy. Best of luck!

  4. I love the premise - really drew me in. I just read an article of how kids are getting depressed in college because their parents overpraised them as kids. I love your voice. Good luck!

  5. As part of the "special snowflake" generation, this hit really close to home. Great premise, great opening. Good luck!!

  6. Wow, amazing query and opening pages! Best of luck with this :)

  7. I really like the premise! Good luck!

  8. Hi Amy, I'd really like to see more. Would you mind emailing me your first chapter to kpchase(at)gmail(dot)com? Thanks!

  9. Hey Amy,

    I wanted to thank you for sharing your opening chapter with me. It's a great start to what I'm positive is a terrific manuscript. Your query and opening 250 are solid. So much so, that a normally non-contemp gal, was pulled in. I know this feedback isn't exactly helpful, but I wanted you to know that I think you're on the right track with this. Your agent is just around the corner! Best of luck!

  10. Hi! This one was on my short list also because it's such an interesting concept. My main concerns were that I wasn't entirely sure where you were going with this plot. This sounds odd, but I think you're giving us too much info on the characters in the first paragraph, when I want to know much more about the stakes you mention at the end of the query. I also think you're starting in the wrong place - I'd suggest starting right in a scene instead of in her internal thoughts - maybe you can work these thoughts into the scene? Anyway, just my opinion, so feel free to ignore me. But I think you have something really interesting here, so keep querying and good luck!