YA Paranormal: The Waiting Dark - Judge the Judges

35 Word Pitch: Sick of hiding from moronic fans of the TV movie about her life, sixteen-year-old Lena tackles an even tougher challenge: exorcising the ghost of her serial killer mother before Mommy Dearest finds new victims.

Every year, some of the Pitch Slam judges post their own "entries." Partly to give you a better sense of how to format yours for the final round (PLEASE make sure yours looks like the entry below), but mostly so you can try your hand at critiquing the people who critiqued you. It's a nice distraction as you process your feedback, or take a break from revisions. 

Please know that you are not supposed to be perfect at this. None of us are. And we'd feel kind of useless and annoyed if your entries didn't need our help. ;) Please join us on the #PitchSlam twitter feed for more words of encouragement, revision tips, and (during the final round) some teasers about our final picks. <3

Name: Kimberly Vanderhorst
Genre: YA Paranormal
Title: The Waiting Dark
Word Count: 75,000
If your main character could be any Star Wars character, who would they choose and why?: Han Solo, for sure. Lena knows exactly how it feels to have people dodging your every footstep, wanting more from you than you can possibly give. Life on the run kinda sucks sometimes, but with Dad as her slightly-less-hairy-than-Chewbacca traveling companion, it isn't so bad.
35 Word Pitch: Sick of hiding from moronic fans of the TV Movie about her life, sixteen-year-old Lena tackles an even tougher challenge: exorcising the ghost of her serial killer mother before Mommy Dearest finds new victims.
First 250 Words: 

         One of the worst things about having a famous dead mom is looking like her.

          I tug my baseball cap over my hair and tuck a few black wisps under the brim, but it’s useless. The boobs my body gave me for my sixteenth birthday look even bigger in the warped glass of the gas station’s bathroom mirror. No amount of adjusting my oversized gray sweatshirt is going to hide them.


          I wrinkle my nose and my reflection crumples like an empty gum wrapper. Most girls get excited when stuff like this happens, but I didn’t have boobs the day Mom died. My chest might as well be a blinking neon sign advertising the fact she’s been gone for three years.

          And that she's been haunting us for just as many.

          I yank the hat off and chuck it at the overflowing garbage bin. Dad’s not going to like it. People leave us alone when I pass for a boy, and Dad loves being left alone. But the more I . . . develop, the more I look like my dead-but-not-quite-departed-yet mother. We can hide from fame, but I can’t hide from my own body, from the face that carries traces of hers.

          The bathroom door groans as I heave it open. Rain slides along my collarbone like a wet finger. Oregon was supposed to be warmer than Alaska. Dad promised. But the wet sank into my bones when we arrived this morning, and I'm basically a human ice floe now.


  1. Obviously I'm no expert so take my comments with a pinch of salt AND pepper!

    I think the pitch is pretty clear. Only at the end the use of "she" could be confused as either her dead mother or herself, finding victims.

    The only part in the 250 I wonder is after throwing the hat away, is it the hat or throwing it away or her development the thing her dad won't like in that particular sentence?

    But I can envision the opening scene clearly!

  2. I love this. I love you quickly you ground us in her world and her problems with this opening. No beating around the bush, just straight shooting.

    I go back and forth on how much I like the "crumple like a gum wrapper" line. It's really evocative, but at the same time, I do kind of trip over it and go "but what does that actually MEAN when you're talking about a face?"

    Over all though, so great. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Puff Puff StarfighterSeptember 14, 2016 at 5:38 PM

    Pitch: Loved it.

    250: I don't read YA paranormal, but I WOULD LOVE to read this! I'm hooked. You did a fantastic job putting the reader right in her world. I understand what she was going through and why. The setting I could see clearly. I do agree about the gum wrapper part, it made me stop for a moment too. Love it though!

  4. Pros: The premise of this kicks so much ass I'm in awe. The ghost of a serial killer parent lurking around? *And it's the mother*? (Because serial killers = mostly male, and usually mc's Important Parent is the dad, and thank you, thank you for doing something different.) Mc's voice is wonderful (use of "boobs" rather than something more white-bread like "chest" or clinical like "breasts" showed her personality right away).

    Nitpicks: In the pitch, the "fans of the documentary about her life" bit sounds a clunky. I think you could tighten the wording. In the 250, the last line, I'm not sure what you meant with "a human ice floe." Is that referencing the cold? The wet? The roughness and noise? (I read a lot of Arctic Expedition Goes Horribly Wrong books recently, so I might be getting a wildly different visual than someone else reading it.)

    Overall, super intriguing, I'm on board, and I want this book in my hands right now.

  5. You guys are fanTAStic! I've applied some of your advice and am mulling over the rest. Thank you so much, and I hope our critiques of your entries were just as helpful! <3

  6. I think the pitch is pitch-perfect (pun slightly intended). I wouldn't change a word.

    On the 250, I got a little confused about why she was stressing over the new boobs. At first I thought it was because her mother also had large boobs and she was concerned if she inherited them, people would connect her to her mother because of the similarity. Then I thought it was because the boobs were a reminder that time had passed since her mother died (and she developed in the meantime). Perhaps a short phrase/sentence to clarify? Other than that, the 250 is clear and voice-y and intriguing. I'd read on!

  7. The force is strong with this one!
    Please send query and full ms to michelle@inklingsliterary.com with Pitchslam and the title of your book in the subject line.