Saturday, December 26, 2015


Name: Elaine Henshaw @MPinchwife

Genre:Contemporary YA

Title: #HowtobeaSuperstar

Lulu Molloy -fit,funny 14 year old wannabe. When she drags her bf to auditions, she doesn't expect her to be the better actress. Just how low would you go to get THAT part?

It's not right the way that Mondays come straight after Sundays. In an ideal world, well in my ideal world, there'd be another, extra day, a sort of Sunday Plus, that would give you time to suck all the mess back up that it took you most of Sunday to spread around the house. Failing that,  get yourself a pair of ear -plugs so that you can't hear your mum stomping around and going into a 'get-yourself- ready -for- school frenzy', making lists and freaking poor old Norman out so much that he hops upstairs in his weird three-legged way and hides in the bottom of the wardrobe with his head buried in Dad's old dressing-gown. If I could fit in it I'd get in there with him. The wardrobe that is.
'Lulu! Lu-LU?' Mum is standing at the bottom of the stairs, bellowing up. I put my earphones in and turn the volume up to the setting that should be marked 'starting to hurt your ears'. I am just pushing a pile of clothes with my toe when Mum bursts into my room , without even knocking.
Use Of Full Name is always a danger signal and I try to look innocent and busy at the same time.
'If you are not going to help me to take down the Christmas decorations, you could at least get your stuff ready for school. '
Her eyes sweep over the tidal wave of grunge that has accumulated in my room since Christmas Day.
'Per-lease! Supper will be ready in twenty minutes, Louise. Twenty minutes!'
When I see her standing there looking at the scrunched- up heaps of ripped Christmas paper, the dirty tights, hair tongs, sweet wrappers, but most of all clothes, she suddenly looks like a little girl who might start crying if you put your tongue out at her. I wouldn't even be that surprised if she did. TBH Christmas has been pants this year and the best bit was being signed on by the Casting Agency this afternoon. If only Dad hadn't been stuck in the snow, in deepest, coldest France, it could have been a brilliant Christmas. Mum is obviously a mind-reader.
She says it like it's a question.
I take my ear phones out.
She is not a mind-reader after all. She is a parent. 100%, all- the- way- through- like- a- stick- of- rock Parent. She is pointing to the pile of clothes I wriggled out of before I showered and got into the pink pig onesie Mum bought me for Christmas.
On top of the biggest heap of clothes, is the tangle of shorts, tights and pants that I managed to take off all in one go. Actually I think it quite a feat and probably could get the Turner Prize or star in an exhibition of modern art if it had the right title.

'Gross!' seems to be mum's suggestion . And/or 'Get it tidied up NOW!'    


  1. Now, I normally don't read YA contemporary, but this is hilarious! I love the casual narrative style, which makes us feel that we're right inside the head of this very relatable teenager. She's funny and believable in all the right ways. The only things I would suggest changes on are very small: "bellowing up" seems like it could just be "bellowing". Instead of "Freaking poor old Norman out" say "Freaking out poor old Norman". Maybe something even more succinct and funny for the volume setting, like "Ear drum implosion".

    I'm also a little confused about what time and day it is. I'm guessing it is Monday morning, but in America we go to school so early there wouldn't really be time to do anything except get ready and rush out the door. Also, "supper" means an evening meal in the US, so that threw me off, but its obviously a regional thing.

    Great job! I would love to read more of this story.

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  3. Hi Elaine!
    The pitch is pretty great except I'd personally skip the 'fit' part at the beginning and add 'bff' over just 'bf' if you're going for a more 'texty' feel!
    For the first five hundred, first of all TBH probably wouldn't get past an agent.... Second, what is Norman? Dog or actor even maybe rabbit?
    I think you should probably start where she gets the acceptance to the acting agency for auditions instead of her racing around to... Go to bed? Go to school? Get dressed? Like Angela said, the time is a little confusing. You should probably also start right in her head while she's doing something instead of her telling us how she feels about Monday. There's a few run-on sentences that should be two or three instead of one.
    The line about the earphones and wishing she could hide with Norman were hilarious.

    I think the idea is interesting and though I'm not a contemporary writer or reader much, I think the causal narrative of the mc will help pull the story along (just don't make it too causal and make sure you know if you're writing in past or present tense!)

    Hope this helps!

    -Bethany #5

  4. Hi Elaine,

    For your pitch: you can hyphenate “fourteen-year-old”, which makes it one word (great news for short pitches!) and would allow you to spell out BF if you want. I would put a colon after “Lulu Malloy” instead of a hyphen, but that’s just personal preference. I think the beginning of your pitch is strong, but the last sentence could be clearer. Maybe you could say something like, “how low will she go to get the part they both want”?

    Your first 500 is full of voice, which is fantastic. I love Sunday Plus. But I agree with Bethany that you might be starting in the wrong place. There is a ton of great narrative in your opening, but it doesn’t seem to go anywhere, and you want to give any agents reading your opening a clear idea of where your story is headed. Save the fun, stream-of-consciousness stuff for a few chapters in once you’ve hooked them ;)

    Hope some of this is helpful! You have a fun concept here.
    Karen (#4)

  5. Pitch: You could gain a few words here by hyphenating “fourteen-year-old” and maybe combining the first two sentences (“When fit, funny, fourteen-year-old wannabe Lulu drags…”) I’d go with “BFF” over “BF”…possibly this is regional or generational, but BF makes me think “boyfriend.” You could maybe use the extra words to expand on the last sentence just a smidge…I like Karen’s suggestion!

    First 500: Ha, the voice here is great. Totally fits the character you describe in the pitch, and the relationship with her mom comes through perfectly (LOVE the bit about her mom looking like a kid who might cry if pushed any farther…I know that point well on both sides!) I got a little tangled in the second and third sentences, which are very long; can you break them up a bit for clarity?

    I found the suggestion of a different starting point an interesting one – it didn’t actually occur to me until I read it in the comments above, which goes to show just how compelling Lulu’s narration is. But it's true that if you applied the same pizzazz to an immediate problem or fraught situation beyond the day-to-day, it would really be dynamite.

    Hope this is helpful!

    Amelinda (@metuiteme - #2)

  6. Ok this one is pretty cool. I was a little bit confused at the pitch were it said "bf" (which often means boyfriend) and then you said her...unless... not getting into that. Otherwise the pitch is good.

    It seems as if Lulu lives in Europe (hence the usage of the word Mum) possibly England or Ireland. Maybe I am mistaken. Norman is a bit confusing is he a rabbit or a dog or a cat? I can't really tell.

    You did a great job!