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View Full Version : Seeking betas for YA contemp (let's swap!)



Maramoser
01-03-2014, 01:05 AM
Hi everyone! Iím seeking betas for my 52k YA contemporary. Iím open to all critique, from general impressions to nitpicks. I am thick-skinned and I support honesty! This is kind of an offbeat project, so I'm curious to see what people think.

I love beta reading and am happy to swap. I have previous beta-ing experience and have also done a few reader reports for a small press, so hopefully my opinions will be helpful. Iím also a big fan of YA fantasy and science fiction as well, so as long as you like this type of contemporary (and your story is not 150k or something ridic) that can work splendidly!

Hereís my (very) rough query:


Fifteen-year-old Zoeís family needs money, and unfortunately for all of them, sheís the only one who can get it. Her momís a deadbeat and her older sister is fresh out of a bad accident that left her paralyzed and unemployed. Zoeís determined, but not even old enough for a real job. Her only skill sets are being socially awkward and getting near-perfect scores on the CPT, the countryís standardized college admissions exam.

Then, almost as if theyíve been stalking her (they have), Zoe gets an invitation from a secret group of overachieving students known as The Impersonators. They hire themselves out to take the CPT for desperate Ivy League hopefuls, and they make big money doing it. They invite Zoe on an ill-advised trip across the country, where theyíll each impersonate dozens of students using sophisticated methods like fake IDs, disguises, and, when the situation calls for it, drag.

Itís this or foster care. And it turns out to be weirdly fun. Zoeís never had friends, let alone a group of friends who make her enough money to pay her sisterís hospital bills twice over. Okay, itís not right, and the slightest slip-up could ruin whatever college hopes she has left and probably her whole life. But what happened to her sister wasnít right either. Pretty much everything thatís ever happened to her family hasnít been right.

Maybe you do have to cheat to win.

Although not apparent from the query, there is a secondary romance plot line thatís between two girls, if thatís either a turn-off or a draw. Please let me know through PM/posting here if you are interested! Iím a believer in swapping the first 2-3 chapters first.

WriteRex
01-03-2014, 05:00 AM
Interesting story plot. However, I would like to point out that Zoe could have applied for welfare, or if she's insisting on going to college, she could have applied for student federal aid or student federal work-study program, where she has to keep good grades as well as receive money to pay off tuition fees. There are legal methods for Zoe, so the reader will probably be wondering, "So, what is Zoe's motive for cheating the system?"

chompers
01-03-2014, 05:23 AM
I am sorry to have to say this too, since you've already wrote it all, but I am also having trouble with the premise. I didn't buy into it.

Ps. She's only 15 and already taking all these tests? Well, obviously she's incredibly smart if she's being invited to do this, but the age still struck me as pretty young.

ETA: Was my comment okay to post, since this isn't a critique thread?

Maramoser
01-03-2014, 06:44 PM
@chompers: well, I say you're allowed to post it, so post away!

Ok, I did warn you guys that the query was crappy. Haha. Looking at it again it doesn't really convey what I attempted to convey in the MS, which is not that Zoe doesn't actually have any other options, but she thinks she doesn't. (I'm not going to get into the welfare thing here). Also, writing a story about someone doing everything by-the-book and legally was kind of...not my intention. Don't worry, the query will be revised (sometime. ugh.)--and the MS in that area!

quix689
01-06-2014, 05:31 AM
I like the sound of this one! I'm really interested in seeing what happens to Zoe. If you still need another beta, I'd love to read it!

Putputt
01-06-2014, 11:55 AM
@chompers: well, I say you're allowed to post it, so post away!

Ok, I did warn you guys that the query was crappy. Haha. Looking at it again it doesn't really convey what I attempted to convey in the MS, which is not that Zoe doesn't actually have any other options, but she thinks she doesn't. (I'm not going to get into the welfare thing here). Also, writing a story about someone doing everything by-the-book and legally was kind of...not my intention. Don't worry, the query will be revised (sometime. ugh.)--and the MS in that area!

Heh, I love the premise! I would love to beta for you, except that I have three MSs I should be betaing at the moment.

Fwiw, I didn't question why she chose to go down this route instead of other legal routes. I did some of the stuuuupidest shit when I was 15. I was book-smart, but I didn't exactly make the wisest life decisions. :D In college, I remember hearing about students who did this just for extra cash, so...immoral as it is, it does happen. So I can totally buy her doing this. Best of luck and I hope you find a few great betas!

chompers
01-06-2014, 01:53 PM
@chompers: well, I say you're allowed to post it, so post away!

Ok, I did warn you guys that the query was crappy. Haha. Looking at it again it doesn't really convey what I attempted to convey in the MS, which is not that Zoe doesn't actually have any other options, but she thinks she doesn't. (I'm not going to get into the welfare thing here). Also, writing a story about someone doing everything by-the-book and legally was kind of...not my intention. Don't worry, the query will be revised (sometime. ugh.)--and the MS in that area!You know, it's strange, but when you wrote it from her POV, I bought it. It made me think of it from a child's perspective. The first time I was thinking from an adult perspective. It was a reminder that teens don't have as much life experience and therefore would think that their options were more limited.

But yeah, as you can see, I wouldn't be a good beta for you (not enough YA experience), but thought I'd mention that for your query. :)

Maramoser
01-06-2014, 08:34 PM
You know, it's strange, but when you wrote it from her POV, I bought it.

Oh good, cause the MS is from her POV haha. Whether it's believable there is up to the betas!


Heh, I love the premise! I would love to beta for you, except that I have three MSs I should be betaing at the moment.

Fwiw, I didn't question why she chose to go down this route instead of other legal routes. I did some of the stuuuupidest shit when I was 15. I was book-smart, but I didn't exactly make the wisest life decisions. :D In college, I remember hearing about students who did this just for extra cash, so...immoral as it is, it does happen. So I can totally buy her doing this. Best of luck and I hope you find a few great betas!

Thank you! Yeah, I had a thread in the NaNoWriMo forums, because it has hordes of Real Live Teenagers, about what to keep in mind when writing smart/overachieving kids, and the general consensus was to not portray them as mini-adults who actually have common sense and stuff. (the funnest teenagers are the ones that THINK they have common sense but don't) I'm kind of weirdly jealous that you know people in real life who have done this. I've never met anyone of the sort, probably cause I go to a B-school where there are no overachievers. Haha.

I've gotten several offers, so for now I think I'm going to tentatively close to betas. (I may reopen if I do major edits/life stuff happens to one of the betas, as it tends to do) Thanks everyone!

Putputt
01-06-2014, 10:28 PM
Oh good, cause the MS is from her POV haha. Whether it's believable there is up to the betas!



Thank you! Yeah, I had a thread in the NaNoWriMo forums, because it has hordes of Real Live Teenagers, about what to keep in mind when writing smart/overachieving kids, and the general consensus was to not portray them as mini-adults who actually have common sense and stuff. (the funnest teenagers are the ones that THINK they have common sense but don't) I'm kind of weirdly jealous that you know people in real life who have done this. I've never met anyone of the sort, probably cause I go to a B-school where there are no overachievers. Haha.

I've gotten several offers, so for now I think I'm going to tentatively close to betas. (I may reopen if I do major edits/life stuff happens to one of the betas, as it tends to do) Thanks everyone!

Heh, many of the kids who do really well in academia in my school end up getting into a lot of trouble because being intelligent makes them overly cocky, or they could also just be plain naive. It makes sense to me that if the only good thing your character is good at is her studies, then her instinct might be to make use of that skill instead of looking for an alternative solution.

And yeah...I knew a couple of people in college who did something similar. One of them even went so far as taking a whole class for you. He would pretend to be you from the beginning of the semester, turn up for class as you, and take the tests as you. It was pretty crazy. He got caught eventually, but only after a few years. The other person I knew of would just do that for standardized tests. I have no idea if he got caught or not. Don't be jealous that I knew of them, I hated their guts cause I was all, "Goddamn bastards skewing the curve..." :D

Maramoser
01-06-2014, 11:08 PM
Heh, many of the kids who do really well in academia in my school end up getting into a lot of trouble because being intelligent makes them overly cocky, or they could also just be plain naive. It makes sense to me that if the only good thing your character is good at is her studies, then her instinct might be to make use of that skill instead of looking for an alternative solution.

And yeah...I knew a couple of people in college who did something similar. One of them even went so far as taking a whole class for you. He would pretend to be you from the beginning of the semester, turn up for class as you, and take the tests as you. It was pretty crazy. He got caught eventually, but only after a few years. The other person I knew of would just do that for standardized tests. I have no idea if he got caught or not. Don't be jealous that I knew of them, I hated their guts cause I was all, "Goddamn bastards skewing the curve..." :D

Smart kids are ridiculous. In high school I was ranked #11ish out of 400 students, so I got to spend a lot of time in the "top ten" circle and they really do run the gamut from people who actually have their stuff together to people who are ridiculously naive or arrogant. and oh mY GOD at the bolded. That is insane! (I wonder how much money he made.....)