Saturday, June 25, 2016


Name: Lana Wood Johnson

Genre: Contemporary


35-word pitch: Of the Martin Nathaniel Munroe IIs in class, one is texting Haley, but if this Martin wants more from their relationship, he needs to win her over before she figures out he's the wrong one.

First 500 words:

Fri, May 6, 2016
8:32 PM

Is this Haley Hancock from Mrs. James' US History class?
Who is this?
Which essay question did you choose?
Martin Nathaniel Munroe II.
Which Martin? You're both in my US History class.
The good one.
Which one did you choose?
Did you pick the great migration?
No, I picked CREEP.
I don't know.
I like Nixon better.
No one likes Nixon better.
His wife does.
Why does it matter?
It doesn't. I was trying to prove a point.
You ruined it.
Don't be. You win the prize for being the only person in the class who didn't do the great migration essay on the AP test.
Yay me?
What do I win?
The pleasure of proving me wrong?
Only worth it if you're the other Martin.
How did you get my number anyway?
Jack still has it. You didn't change your number.
Oh, right.
Thanks for not having him text me.
I wanted an answer.
So, did you need anything else?
No, I guess not.
Alright. Well, sorry to disappoint you.
I'll hold it against you forever.
Spoken like a true Martin.
Wed, May 11, 2016
12:25 PM

Are you picking me up today? I can't get the car.
This is unexpectedly forward of you, Haley from Mrs. James' US History class.
Crap, you're not my aunt.
Whose number is this?
This is Martin. From US History.
And English.
We've gone to school together since 6th grade.
Didn't you save my number?
No, sorry.
Wrong number.
I'm hurt.
Didn't you notice the history?
You still there?
I didn't see it when I started the message.
Sorry, was texting my aunt.
I guess I could be Aunt Martin if you needed me to.
Wait, aren't you in German? Why are you texting?
I'm not.
I mean. I am.
In German.
Stop texting me.
Only if you text me in German.
Geh weg, Scheissekopf!
Did you just call me a dumb head?
I'm not a text service.  That doesn't work on me.
You're ignoring me aren't you?
You can't turn your phone off, you're waiting on something from your aunt.
OMG would you stop?
I knew it!
You're going to get me detention.
Alright, I'll leave you alone.
7:45 PM
You're the Scheissekopf, not me.
You ARE still talking to me.
Frau was making me conjugate.
Then I had that thing after school.
Between which we had class together and you said nothing.
You didn't say anything to me, either.
True. But I never say anything to you.
I never say anything to you either.
I don't know why I'm even texting you now.
But you're still the Scheissekopf.
So we're both not talking to each other.
And we're both scheissekopfs.
OK, fair.


One of the two Martin Nathaniel Munroe IIs is texting their classmate Haley, but anything beyond just messaging requires Haley to realize he's the Martin for her... before she figures out he's NOT his cousin.


  1. Lana, I LOVE this. It's hard to find anything to critique! The format is so clever and totally stands out. You've really managed to make your MCs personalities shine through what could be a limiting method of communication. Excellent work!

    The one thing I would suggest is to make it even more clear that Haley doesn't know which Martin she's texting. Like perhaps have her mention after he says he's "the good one" that he just made a subjective statement which doesn't actually answer her question, but then have him just ignore her? I don't know--you'll handle it best, I'm just spitballing!

    Honestly though, this is fantastic. Having read some of your work before, I completely think this is the one that'll take you places. It's fun, it's fresh, and you're handling the epistolary form with a great deal of finesse.

    Sorry, I wish I had more suggestions to make, but it's really polished!

    1. Thank you so much! Some of the stuff you pointed out is very plot related. The downside of only having a few pages. This was totally a reaction to not wanting to build anything complicated for a little bit! I'm glad it's coming off well!

      THANK YOU!

  2. 1. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this exchange:

    Are you picking me up today? I can't get the car.
    This is unexpectedly forward of you, Haley from Mrs. James' US History class.
    Crap, you're not my aunt.
    Whose number is this?

    In fact I think you should scrap the first conversation, and start here. It's a kicker, and makes me laugh. The first exchange sounded very strange, as in Martin came across as creepy, why did he care what essay she chose, and he was super duper snarky, which would be acceptable once we know him better, but first off it comes across as arrogant and weird. Now if you start the story from the second exchange its perfect, she accidently starts messaging him, he is less stalker-ish and we can get to know him and care about him.

    2. Who introduces themselves to a classmate by their full name/title? How on earth are there two boys called Martin Nathaniel Munroe II. Martin Munroe maybe, but it just seems, well trying too hard and stretches credibility.
    3. I love your narrative format.
    4. other than changing where you begin I’d keep it as is. Although more snark in German could be awesome.
    This is great! Good luck with your revision.

    1. Thanks for your feedback! Sadly, you've played exactly into the feelings I was trying to elicit. So I won't be making many of these changes, but I hope I've got you on the hook long enough to see how they play out!

  3. Okay, first things first:

    Love the narrative you chose!! You'll so get a bonus from agents.

    Second, the pitch sounded to me like Shakespeare's Comedy of Error but with names. I'd suggest you to somehow common those names up. Martin Nathaniel Munroe sounds like a very uncommon name. Try a bit more common names like John or Jake. Martin & Nathaniel are common names too but together with Munroe they're a bit unused bunch. I liked the concept but to make it believable, try a more common name.

    The narrative is very creative. It reminds me of the way I chat with my friends in WhatsApp and Messenger. Very cool. Will flow well with young adult audience.

    I found some sentences on the chat a bit lengthy. When I'm chatting with my friends, I try to shorten my words and sentences as much as possible. Maybe for your readers sake, you wouldn't do that. But I use lol, ROFL, lmao etc. Use them here too to add a bit more realistic traits but not too much.

    I'm still not hungover from loving your narrative. Splendid job! And the jokes are hilarious.

    I'm sorry but I'm not very good in critiquing. My opinions may not resonate with yours. I really loved your narrative and premise. I'm also curious to see how you show your narrative in your query letter.

    Best of luck!

    1. I never thought of Comedy of Errors! I've been using Daddy Long Legs meets You've Got Mail.

      I understand your concern with the conversation style, but do make sure to address that within the conversation AND subvert it later when people take over the conversations.

      I'm so glad you liked it! And, ugh, don't get me started on the query! I'm interested to see how I handle it myself. ;)

  4. Pitch: Very interesting, but wow, that's a crazy coincidence that there are two people with that name. I could see there being two John Smith's, but having two Martin Nathaniel Munroe II's? Not quite buying that. I mean, I could even buy that there were two Martin Munroes, but if they have the same middle name and the II? Too much of a stretch.

    500 words: Very creative narrative! Though I did get a little bit of a creeper vibe from him at the beginning, I liked how they played off of one another. It's all very simple, but the dialogue is super strong, keeps me intrigued. :) Curious to see where you go with this! Great job!

    1. Thank you for explaining what your concerns were about the "coincidence" it's very much not one, so I'm hoping my new version does a better job of signposting.

      I'm glad you picked up on all my weird little bits and still liked it! THANK YOU!

  5. For the folks getting stuck on his name, would this version help?

    Of the Martin Nathaniel Munroe IIs in class, one is texting Haley, but if this Martin wants more from their relationship, he needs to win her over before she figures out he's not his cousin.

  6. Hey Lana!

    You're second pitch there is a little better but I'd clarify the fact there are two Martins.

    As for the 500; Interesting.....Is the entire book in texting form?????????? This that actually a possible thing the publishing world? It does sound original but it seems like we are getting snippets of someone's life when we know nothing about them, where they live, these other people, and what not, except in the conversations they have.
    Also, I didn't even know if I should side with the guy in the first texting thread because I didn't know which martin he was or if one spammed the other or what the 'good one' means. Is this all only between two people or is it switching back and forth? Annndddd this seems kinda uneventful, just telling each other what class they are in and joking around in german and apologizing for late replies. If this is only in texting format, how are we going to enjoy any romantic or shipping moments? if it isn't only a text-thread book then you should probably introduce us to the right Martin in class trying to sneak a way on his phone without the teacher looking or something.
    This sounds like a funny story either way... but maybe you should try to straighten a few things out to make it even better!
    Hope this helps!
    -Bethany (#12 and co-host)

    1. Thanks, Bethany!

      This is very much a story told exclusively in text messaging. Its inspired by "Daddy Long Legs" an epistolary novel written in 1912 that is written entirely in one sided letters (and quite swoony.)

      I understand your concerns and face them EVERY DAY, but my alpha readers assure me that there are LOTS of shipping and romance opportunities as they're about to beat down my door for the final pages.

      I'm glad you liked it, and appreciate the feedback!

  7. Loved the beginning! I think it's a great way to kick off but I do agree with the others ^ in that the first convo is a bit unnecessary and makes me unsure about Martin.

    Overall, kept me engaged and had me smiling!

    1. Thanks for your feedback! Sadly, Martin is a less than perfect individual who makes less than perfect choices, but without him there would be no story.

      I'm glad you did enjoy it! I hope it means you'd stick with it, which is REALLY what I'm going for!

      Thank you!!!

  8. Just like everyone else… LOVED THIS!! I love this format because texting is usually a private exchange, and people are generally more candid than they would be when talking in person. And we are fortunate enough to get to witness all of this— Like eaves dropping on someone’s therapy!

    I agree that starting your story with her accidentally texting him would make the story flow better, especially considering the title: Technically, you started it. I picture that being Martin’s defense at the end lol

    Also I agree about the name— unless there’s a logical reason for it, like the Martin’s are somehow related.

    But man, great job! The pitch was just as awesome as the story! When you get published, make sure you let us all know… we’ll be camping outside Barnes and Noble to get the first copies!

    1. Thanks for your feedback and confidence! The title is definitely equally applicable to both of them. Hopefully I got you enough to stick with me to see how this plays out!

      Thank you!!

  9. Pitch: The pitch makes perfect sense to me after reading the opening, but when I first read it I didn’t really appreciate that there are two Martin Nathaniel Munroe IIs…

    500 words: A really great concept – I think it works well. It’s easy to read (must have been a pain to format!) I like the humour and it seems like the story will be a lot of fun.

    Like others, I was confused by the two Martins. When I first read it, I thought Martin Nathaniel Munroe II was the topic of the essay… it kind of sounds like a historical name! (and I don’t know much about US history). I think this is partly because of the way the texts are ordered, because he’s asking a question, then answering Haley’s question before she has time to reply. It’s only a little thing, but it did confuse me at first.

    The other thing I noticed is that from the pitch it seems like the conflict comes from Haley not knowing who she’s messaging, however the line “only worth it if you’re the other Martin” suggests she knows which one he is. Maybe “other” could be replaced with “good” to make it clearer that she doesn’t have a suspicion about who she’s talking to… unless she does!

    But other than those points the texting was easy to follow and understand. I don’t read a lot of contemporary YA, but I think I’d read this 

    1. Thanks for the feedback on the confusion.

      I'll watch that bit and see if it causes problems or is doing what I need it to do in establishing Martin's character and their relationship at the start of the story.

      I'm glad you liked the story and format! Figuring out how to format it was the hard part, after that I cheated and made styles that I can apply for each of them.

      Thank you for taking the time to leave feedback!

  10. I like that you have written this in texting format which is spot on for your audience, Perhaps you should use more text short hand to be authentic. I was confused during the first conversation regarding the two Martins and teh history paper...maybe this discus something else so it's not confusing as your MC sounds like a historical character, The second text conversation made me laugh out loud. I'm interested to see where this is going.

    1. Because I don't have blocking and description I need to use every bit of their language to establish character, so the full sentences and punctuation goes to establishing that. And, yes, I do call that out, especially her lack of emojis.

      Thanks for the feedback on your confusion. I'm not smart enough yet to figure out how to change it, but I'll watch for that being a continued source of confusion.

  11. Pitch: I was going to advise you to clarify that there are two of them, but I see you're right at 35 words. I did just skim the comments and saw your revision, and I think it would appease anyone who was bothered by the concept. I figured there was some reason and I liked the conceit. I especially love the mixed-up love letters type trope. I'm a total sucker for that. I WANT TO READ THIS.

    500: Ok so I did look through the comments and I actually like how you set up her being unaware of which Martin it is. You don't lay it on too heavy, and the zinger about it only being worth it if he's the other Martin is intriguing. I think it's all very good, except I'm wondering what point he was trying to make. It was a little confusing. If it's not essential to something later, maybe add a little explanation of who he was talking to about it? But overall this just sings!

    1. I'm trying to establish that the whole first conversation really had nothing to do with her at all. She was a means to an end with someone more important to him. Since I'm limited in exposition to dialogue I have to use every element to establish character and backstory and the fact that this is the first time these two have interacted as individuals rather than associated friend groups.

      That's some meta, but as their characters develop their place within their world and friend groups become clearer. If I continue to see commentary on it I'll definitely consider adding some more details.

      Thanks for the great stuff to consider!

  12. Hi!!

    Remember that all crits are subjective and that you are welcome to use or dismiss mine as you see fit for your story! Thanks for entering #YayYA!

    So I've read this before and you know I love it. I personally don't find having the two Martins a problem. I have a friend who has seven living family members with the same exact name as he does. Mentioning that they are cousins may clear things up for other readers, though. Also, this sounds more like contemp. romance more than just contemporary. Also, keep writing the way you are and don't use textspeak unless it's LOL or BRB. No one in my college circles from this year nor my high school circles from last year used textspeak except for some of their moms.

    Sorry I can't be more helpful :D

    1. I'm hesitant to call it Romance because there are such strong rules for Romance and I'm not yet confident I'm hitting them all so I'm playing it safe and keeping it straight up Contemp for the moment.

      Also, don't worry, text speak isn't coming in. These two use very different language modifiers that help establish their character and I THINK I'm pulling it off. We'll see when all is said and done!

      Thanks so much for giving me this chance to test run the pitch and pages!!!

  13. Between your revised and original pitch, I think I liked the original better. I understood the original pretty easily whereas in the revised one I became a bit confused. I think the extra details like the Martins being cousins proved too much information to pack into one pitch. I think the most important thing to convey is the pitch is that there is texting and and identity mistake, so I suggest cutting everything as excess except that Martin is texting a girl he likes while pretending to be someone else with the same name. That's the crux, right there.

    Hope this helps! Sounds like an interesting story.