Chasing my crazy dream in the writing world…

SVS 11: Clandestine Chaos – NA Science Fiction January 23, 2014

Filed under: Blog,contest — chasingthecrazies @ 6:11 am
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Category/Genre: NA Science Fiction


Word Count: 72,000



My Main Character is most uncomfortable with: 



Kadence hails from the great white north, where anything over freezing is bikini and BBQ weather. The gentle tumble of snowflakes outside her library window is her sanctuary. Body heat and coffee keep her plenty warm. Under blazing sun and choking humidity she would channel her inner California Raisin and shrivel up.






After inheriting his father’s dysfunctional transport ship, Jeremiah Colt decides to make a legacy of his own and rebuild his family’s tarnished name. He struggles to run the ship, the privateer business and keep his “sister”, the ship’s medic, from running off with his sworn enemy.


Kadence Murphy wants out of college and into her medical career. Stuck with a hormone-surged roomie, a two-timing almost boyfriend, and financial aid problems, the only thing keeping her grounded is her job in the campus library.


When a mysterious book shows up, Kadence finds herself unable to resist reading it. Each chapter lures her in until reality and the storyline intertwine, dropping her into Colt’s lap. Their lives merged, they discover they’re from alternate timelines. Kadence must adapt to his dystopian version of 2013, a result of a global meltdown from Y2K. She just wants to get back home, and he wants to put her there, but they can’t stop bickering long enough to formulate a plan.


As they learn more about their different timelines, they in turn learn about themselves and peel back the walls each of them hide under. In the end, they’re not only fighting their growing feelings, but fighting the thing they both wanted most; her to go back home.


A book, mutinous crew, and long-lost family members lead to clandestine chaos.



First 250 words:



Nothing made Kadence hulk-out faster than someone pulling her from a good book. A stack of periodicals dropped on the counter in front of her, the reverberating thud echoed through the hollows of the library. She scooted back, slamming her book shut. Forcing a smile through her annoyance, she bit her tongue and clenched a fist behind the counter.


“Kadence, rockin’ the sexy librarian look again,” The student leaned on the counter. His sandy-blond hair swept across his face as he inched his way into her personal space.


Holding back every urge to high-five him in the face, she replied as politely as she could muster, “Seth, why must you irritate me so?”


“One day I’ll break down your walls. You coming to the study session tonight? Campbell’s finals are killer I hear.”


Shelly will be humping Felix like a rabbit in the dorm. And I really don’t need to brush up on anatomy. “Um, yeah I’ll be there.”


She scanned the last of the items and pushed the stack of medical journals towards him.


“Awesome, see you tonight.” He winked, slinging his backpack over his shoulder as he walked off.


“Shit!” she said, louder than intended, as the library occupants frowned in her general direction. She clasped a hand over her lips and took off after him.


“Seth,” she cried out just above a whisper.


He turned on his heel. “Ah, finally come to your senses, eh?”


“Er, no. I think I you accidentally grabbed my book.”


His cocky smile cracked.



22 Responses to “SVS 11: Clandestine Chaos – NA Science Fiction”

  1. Kalinda Says:

    Team Snow #6 here to wish you good luck in the upcoming mentor round! I’d love to connect on Twitter, so I can keep up with you after the contest! @kranky_crow

  2. Katie Bailey Says:

    Interesting premise! Now, I don’t know if you’re planning on using alternating POV or anything like that, but, if you’re at least starting the story with Kadence, I’d think you might want to start the query with her, too. From there, potentially jump into the fact that she gets teleported by Jeremiah and, perhaps, add a bit more about him then. Also, I don’t think you really need the last line of the query. That’s not to say that it’s bad, but that you already leave it off on a good beat with the previous paragraph and the last additional sentence pretty much sums up what you’ve already mentioned.

    The first 250 looks good. The suggestion I’d give would be to include some sort of indicator that something was amiss causing her to swear, even if you don’t outright say her book is missing. You can easily say something along the lines of “Work-mandated interaction resolved, she went to delve back into her personal retreat.” You know? Also, in referring to Seth as a student, is she not one? If she is, maybe you might want to consider referring to him as “the other student” or “fellow student.”

    Great job and wishing you the best of luck!!!

  3. RobL Says:

    I agree with others that some re-ordering of your query might help. It’s not that it’s confusing, per se, just that I think it would unfold better to introduce Kadence, then make the link with Colt. It would get all the info about the alternate timeline in one place and I think just make it that bit easier to digest. But I can’t fault your premise; sounds great!

    I like your first 250. It has good voice and I get a nice sense of Kadence. I’d definitely refer to Seth by name, though, as she obviously knows him. Good luck in the agent round!

  4. Jeannine Johnson Maia Says:

    @TeamSun member here. Any book about books already has me interested, and I’m intrigued by the alternating timelines concept. I definitely would like to know more in the query about the world Jeremiah’s in, since it’s the one so different from ours. And Kadence’s voice is great in the 250, although like others I want to know why she says yes to study group when she obviously doesn’t need/want to go. Just a way to get rid of him and end the conversation maybe? Really nice job. Good luck!

  5. I got a little lost in the query because I didn’t get how Jeremiah and Kadence are connected. I agree that leaving out Jeremiah until later would help clarify that. The premise rocks, and I REALLY want to read this book. Love your voice as well in the 250.

  6. Love the premise! LOVE seeing NA Science Fiction! There’s a lot of hunger for other genres in NA right now.

    I was also a bit confused in the query. I would work on tightening it up and fleshing out some of the details. How do Jeremiah and Kadence meet? What is his timeline/world like? Is it dangerous for her? I would spend a bit more time on the world building in your query. Since it’s sci-fi I think it’s really important to set the stage. I’d like to know more about the transport ship, etc. I couldn’t get a visual on Jeremiah’s world.

    The sister reference also confused me a bit. I’m not sure the part about her and the medic is really necessary to include in your query. With a short amount of space to hook the reader, I’d rather learn more about the world/time in which they live.

    You do a great job of paralleling Jeremiah (captaining the transport ship) and Kadence’s (medical career) responsibilities. I definitely got the “coming of age” vibe that is so important in NA. I was also a little unclear on how she ended up in his world (was it the book?). You may want to make that a bit clearer.

    I also also agree that the “roommate who sleeps around” trope is starting to get a bad rep in NA. It’s been done a lot. I would recommend changing it and if she has problems with her roommate maybe try another issue (roommate steals her food from communal fridge, plays loud music in the middle of the night, etc). Something relatable that feels fresh.

    Good luck! It sounds like a really interesting book!

  7. Katharyn Blair Says:

    Hello! Katharyn (#5 – Bloodburner) from TeamSun, here. I agree with the overall sentiment about the query. I didn’t find it confusing, I just think you’re letting some of the most interesting bits of it slip into the background (a mutinous crew? Tell me about that!). I agree that I want to know what you mean by “ship”. My first thought was something out of Firefly. I agree with Megan – I want to see your amazing voice shine through in this query! Give me a taste of the world. It seems awesome!

    The first 250? We’d be friends, Kadence and I. Love how snarky she is. I would raise the stakes with him walking away with her book – I don’t think I’d have a character say “shit” loudly over the simple case of book-confusion. Especially because it seems as though she’s comfortable enough with Seth to just ask for it back.

    Other than that? I want to be in this world. I worked in a library for a while and can’t tell you how many times I wished the books would come to life! Well done! 🙂

  8. michelle4laughs Says:

    Who can resist a story that starts in a library! Good luck!

  9. CC Dowling Says:

    Hello. Thanks for sharing your story with us, and congrats on being on #TeamSun! Okay, to the nitty gritty…

    For the Query: Okay, first time I read this, not gunna lie, I thought they were brother and sister, but from different timelines, and that they hooked up. I was weirded out, until I realized that’s can’t be what you meant.

    Also, when you say “inherited transport ship” I wasn’t sure if this was a spaceship, a 1600s wooden, sea-worthy vessel, or modern day freight liner. Not sure that you need the line “privateer business.” It doesn’t tell me anything. If you want specifics, give them. Otherwise, I’m not sure you need it, just saying that he’s struggling to run it is fine.

    So, the one thing I have to call Shenanigans on is that she’s an aspiring medical student who works in the library. Sorry, but if you’re applying to medical school, you spend as much time as you can volunteering at hospitals, doctor’s offices, working in research labs, anything health-related or science based that you can. Med school is stupid competitive, and you have to have AT LEAST 6 months of volunteer or other experience to even be considered. Just an FYI, from someone in the science/medical research field.

    Learning about their timelines, and learning about themselves, is too vague. Give me something to latch on to. It doesn’t have to be everything, but it should be something specific. If they go from bickering to falling for one another, then something led them there. What is it?

    Your last line is confusing. Mutinous crew? That’s kind of thrown in there without context, so I’m not sure what the point is, how it affects your characters, or why I should care. If it’s important, work it in somehow. But, honestly, I don’t think you need it.

    So, with all that being said, your story still sounds wicked awesome. I just want your query to give me something specific to latch on to, and outline the stakes more. So, she’s trying to get back home, then doesn’t want to. What happens if she doesn’t go back home? What happens if she stays? Punch me in the face with your stakes, and I’ll be the first in line to buy this “must read” book!

    Oh Gawd, I know this is long. Just, hang in there…

    For your 250:

    “….sexy librarian look again,” The… There should be a period here. Not a comma.

    Holding back every urge to high-five [what if you used the word “the” instead of “every”?]

    she replied as politely as she could muster, “Seth, why must you irritate me so?” [this seems like a weird thing to say as a comeback. but you know your character]

    Shelly will be humping Felix like a rabbit in the dorm. And I really don’t need to brush up on anatomy. “Um, yeah I’ll be there.” [Here, she has two different thoughts but no discernible reason for her to agree. If her roommate’s humping someone in her dorm, and she doesn’t want to go with dude, plus she’s already good to go on anatomy, then she can go somewhere else. She doesn’t have to say yes. So, why does she?]

    Love how she chases him for the book.

    Okay, hope my ramblings will help you. Good luck, and GO TEAM SUN!!!

  10. Hi there! I’m going to agree that the query is confusing. I do believe you can write a great query reflecting a book with two POV’s. I actually queried a ms (for a short time before I signed my agent) with two POV’s living in parallel dimensions. It’s tough, but it can be done.

    Whose story does your ms seem to revolve around? If it’s Kadence’s, start with her POV in the query. It’ll pull things together neatly. Basically, what you’re looking to do is find that thread and weave it through the query. In your case there’s two threads that need to naturally become one. Their connection needs to be shown from the get-go so that when you introduce the second POV the reader is nodding their head already accepting the connection, as though the connection were absolutely organic to the story. If you’d like to see my query, how I did this, tweet me and I’d be happy to show it to you. Also, if he loves her, why would he want her to go back home? Wouldn’t they be separated?

    I also agreed with the others about the first 250. Give us a little more foundation. Other than that, your writing is great and you really captured Kanence’s personality. Good job! and Good luck!

  11. This query confused me. I wasn’t sure what the story was about until I got to the part where you mention the timelines. I like that idea! It reminds me of The Lake House or The Time-Travelers Wife. I think the premise is awesome, you need to make it clear this is a dual POV right away. I’m not sure this is sci-fi though. Where’s the science fiction part? Think about where this would fit on a Barnes and Noble shelf. Historical fantasy perhaps. Good luck! You got some great comments and I’m excited to see your revisions.

  12. smnystoriak Says:

    Hi! Yours is one of the entries that caught my attention! I love the concept…intertwining timelines is very cool. I thought I might offer some thoughts on the QL.

    It feels like you have two hooks: one about Jeremiah and one about Kadence. I think if you could either focus on one throughout the query or somehow combine the first two paragraphs into one, it might benefit you.

    I absolutely love the part about the mysterious book!!! Very intriguing! I would combine that paragraph with the next one.

    Finally, the last bit confused me a little. I wonder if it might be a nice addition to the opening hook? It just seemed a bit out of place where it is.

    I hope this helps! I really loved the first 250! Great story 🙂

  13. Query:
    • This is a cool concept, but there’s an awful lot of time devoted to setup here and not much devoted to plot. We need WAY more of the latter!
    • I have no idea from the context here how these two characters connect. I feel like that should be established immediately. Also if Kadence is the MC, she should probably be first.
    • I dig the Y2K dystopian angle, though I’d be wary of including the word dystopia in a query at this point since that genre is mostly over right now. However, you might get away with it here because this is certainly a new spin on it!
    • The stakes are very vague, and aside from meeting each other I don’t know what happens. What do they do to try to get her home? What obstacles do they have to overcome? I’d lose the last line. It doesn’t add anything to the query for me.

    You weave in some nice hints at character, but the dialog feels a little clunky. I love that he accidentally took her book!

    Good luck!

  14. Jennie Bates Bozic Says:

    I agree with the other comments about the confusion in the query. I got confused at the “sister” in quotes part that is never explained. Might want to just leave that out.

    On the first 250, the first line definitely grabbed me! I can totally relate. 🙂 The scene actually feels a bit rushed. She goes from Hulk status to “yeah, I’ll study with you” really, really quickly. I want to know more about Seth since she obviously knows him really well, considering she wants to study with him even though he’s flirty and invasive. I like what is here… I just need more. 🙂

  15. S.M.Johnston Says:


    I agree with the other feedback on the query. While this may be dual POV, the dual POV in the query doesn’t work for me. It’s too choppy. You can still tell J’s issues through K’s voice. It’s also a bit long for a query and needs to be tightened up. I also feel like the stakes need to be heightened. Apart from them fighting, I can’t see where the main conflict is. There needs to be more going on then the two of them arguing. Where’s the threat? What’s the stakes?


    I agree with the others that the voice is strong and good. But I was thrown out a couple of times. I wanted to see her being pulled from the book immediately after it’s mentioned. Her reaction should come after Seth talks, not before.
    The italics lines didn’t make a lot of sense. The contradicted each other. The first sentence is a clear reason for her to go and the second isn’t. I also feel like “that type of roomie” is so over-done in NA.

    I also feel like there’s a lack of description. The writing is definitely captivating, but I want a clearer idea of the setting. In my head I’m imagining my primary school library because there’s no description to help me with any other vision.
    I think there’s room for a bit more connection to K in the opening. I get her sense of humour voice coming through, but not much else about her.

  16. amyereichert Says:

    Query: This is a really interesting idea, but I’m not this query is the best approach. In looking over the other comments, I don’t have anything new to add. I agree you should start with Kadence. I also don’t think you need the last sentence. Keep it simple and focus on the time travel and their efforts to get Kadence home.

    250: Loved the first line and your voice is fun. I agree that I hope we get to the time travel fast. Very fun.

  17. Liz Fichera Says:

    I’m guessing from the query that the book is told in dual POVs, something I love. What is not as clear is that these two characters are from two different centuries (yes?), particularly Jeremiah. Rather than introducing them separately as you have, I think you should open your query with a killer one-liner hook that encompasses their story, how they wind up in the same year together. Then provide some concise detail about the stakes, without bogging the query down with too much detail about the plot (e.g. the third paragraph).

    Loved the first line in the excerpt! My only feedback is that I hope she goes through the portal/worm-hole in the first chapter.

    Fun-sounding story. Has shades of OUTLANDER. Best of luck with your query and writing and thanks for sharing!

  18. I’m going to start with your first 250 because I LOVED those. I loved them. Kadence’s attitude is fabulous. Hulk-out is totally my speak and made me laugh. I love the college talk about dorms and finals. This is really fun writing and I was pulled in immediately.

    And that brings me to the issue with your query. The voice isn’t there! First, is this dual POV? I’m thinking it’d be best to start with Kadence in your query. And give me her voice! A couple of things tripped me up to – “book shows up” is pretty vague. Is there a better way to say this? And does the book literally drop her in Colt’s lap? And this is just a little too cliche: they in turn learn about themselves and peel back the walls each of them hide under.

    And frankly – I don’t think you need this sentence: A book, mutinous crew, and long-lost family members lead to clandestine chaos.

    It doesn’t add anything. You already set up the stakes.

    So, your writing is fabulous, I would just try to get this query to match your first 250. Good luck!

  19. Lanette Kauten Says:

    I really like the uniqueness of your premise. The parallel universe love story caught my interest.

    Query: Who’s the main character? It sounds like it’s Kadence, but you start with Jeremiah. A query letter is too short to give us two different POVs even when the book’s written in both. The second paragraph that introduces Kadence is strong. That should be your hook.

    250: The voice is funny and intelligent. I like Kadence immediately. Personally, I’m not a fan of that much dialogue on the first page and would rather see more flow rather than a string of one-line paragraphs. However, that’s just a personal preference.

    Good luck. Sounds like a cute story.

  20. Parallel universe love story! YES! That definitely gives us high stakes to start. Your premise has a fantastic hook.

    Query: It is a bit confusing. Is it the book that connects Kadence to Jeremiah? Is she brought into the book where Jeremiah’s story is happening, or is the book just some sort of portal connecting the two universes? And I definitely agree that if Kadence is the mc, the query should start with her. Going to Jeremiah’s story, who is the “sister” and why in quotes? Is this Kadence? This part confused me too. Alleviate the confusion, and the query will be great because the story idea is great.

    First 250: Excellent voice, but I was confused by the Seth being called student as well. Is she a student who works at the library? Sounds like it if she’s going to study session with Seth. This is the only reason I was pulled out of the story. I was trying to figure out who Kadence and Seth were–peers or not peers. Is the book she’s reading THE book at this point. Maybe give us a hint to why it’s important that Seth not walk off with this particular book.

    Good luck!

  21. Hey there, cool premise, I’m interested!

    Query: If Kadence is your MC you should open with her. Starting with Jeremiah is really confusing. He should come later after you’ve established Kadence as your MC. It would also help to give us a little more of Kadence’s setting – is she in the modern day, on another planet, etc…? We need more clarification here as well as a taste of Kadence’s voice. Your stakes are clearly stated, but they could use better build up. I think you’ve got the meat of it there, it just needs to be reorganized and spiffed up.

    250: Kadence is cute and funny and we definitely get more a feel of her voice in your 250. Nitpick – why is she referring to Seth as ‘the student’? If she knows him well enough to be joking and going to the same study session wouldn’t she refer to him by name? Your opening doesn’t flat out grab me with action or unique circumstances, but I am hooked by Kadence’s personality (a good thing). That being said, I do believe there is room for improvement. Maybe give us more to go on, some details that make this scenario more unique or something more for us to connect with? Right now this could be any college library in any American town with any two students interacting. I would definitely keep reading despite missing some connection to the story – the premise is great.

    Good luck to you!

  22. Katie French Says:

    Mentor Katie French here. Your query is interesting. Intertwining time lines should prove to be quite intriguing. Like Neverending Story in a way. I think in your query you should start with Kadence, not Jeremiah. She’s your main character and it is confusing to start with him. You can add him in once she finds the book and gets transported to the new timeline. It will help with the confusion I had when you go from Jeremiah to Kadence and I am left wondering if I am on a dystopian future, or alternate planet or not.

    Your voice is good. Funny. You have some comma errors in the query and first words that need some brushing up. Not a big deal, but will be to an agent if they are skimming. Good luck!

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