Judge the Judges: WHAT LIES BETWEEN

Name: Kimberly Vanderhorst
Genre: YA Fantasy
Word Count: 80,000
Pitch: Seventeen-year-old pianist Grace Armstrong craves sanity how some girls crave chocolate, but falling for one of her hallucinations could land her in the psych ward.

First 250:

Quiet fell in a slow wave as I pulled away from the keys, the final chords fading into silence. Morning sunlight bathed the piano, softening its edges. I slid a hand across the lip of the key bed, loving how the worn wood didn’t shine with the threat of reflection. The threat of monsters.

          Mom shuffled into the room, bleary-eyed and yawning. Steam rose from the glossy black mug cradled in her hands. “That didn’t sound like Chopin, Gracie.”

          I caught a whiff of her coffee and smiled. “And that doesn’t smell like decaf.”

          Mom leaned in, the scent of hazelnut heavy on her breath. “Don’t tell your father,” she whispered.

          “Only if you don’t tell Mr. Lee I ditched Chopin today.” I crashed out a few upbeat chords. “I swear, if I practice one more audition piece, my brain is going to leak out my ears.”

          Mom laughed. “One day off and then I crack the whip. I don’t want to get in trouble with Mr. Lee either.”

          She patted my cheek and the heat from her coffee-warmed fingers sank into my skin. Rare Vancouver sunshine poured through our condo’s windows. Sunny days were always the hardest. I tensed as the light hit Mom’s mug, hating how my reflection stared back at me for only half a second before the monsters replaced it.

          Lines of fire traced mesmerizing patterns under the beasts’ flesh, their bones burning beneath the dark of their scaly skin.

          Just play through it.

*This page has been chosen as a finalist in the PitchWars, PitchMadness, and Baker's Dozen contests. The manuscript is currently being revised for an interested agent. 


  1. Oh, I really like this! The first paragraph hints at creepy, then it does get creepy right at the end. Leaves me wanting more. I'd totally keep reading this :)
    Yeah, I know, that wasn't really a critique!

  2. Some editors are looking for YA with depression and mental health, so the pitch is good gearing toward them. I'll add to line 4 to make it clearer like ..."threat of monsters, hiding in my head." If Vancouver is not important to the story, you might wish to replace it with Dublin and submit directly to the editor of Penguin Ireland YA who is looking for YA with mental health.

  3. I really like how this page has progressed. I still remember the version with the mirror, which I liked, but the fact that she 's not safe in the presence of any reflective surface is a whole 'nother cup of creepy.

    The only sentence I tripped on, because the first part was a mouthful, was:
    >>Lines of fire traced mesmerizing patterns under the beasts’ flesh, their bones burning beneath the dark of their scaly skin.

    Good luck with your R&R!