Friday, May 2, 2014

Virtual Space (YA Science Fiction)

UPDATE: I had originally posted the query and first page of this novel as part of the Writer's Voice contest under the title My Best Friend Runs Venus. The entry was later chosen for Team Rock Star, where my awesome coaches helped me whip it into shape. Rather than post two versions of the same query and opening page, I've decided to update this post with the finished versions. Hope you enjoy! Query

At 14.2 years old, Kade Walker has never heard of death. Literally. But neither has anyone else he knows. Kade is one of hundreds of teens living across the solar system through the use of robotic avatars while their real bodies sleep in pods on Earth. Nothing can hurt him this way; the adults all said so. They just never said how to survive high school when only one person on the planet will talk to him.

Kade will admit, his obsession with numbers might deter 35.7% of people from hanging out with him. But the bigger issue is his best friend -- Princess Tamika of Venus. So her mom almost let a crazed hacker take over everyone's bodies twelve years ago. The queen is locked away, and Tamika herself is really nice. Kade needs to give her reputation a serious reboot. He starts off simple: an interstellar tour using an old teleportation machine that he's reconstructed. But the machine's not rigged for current use, so when Kade fires it up, he unwittingly kills a major security wall and unleashes the same hacker from twelve years ago. Panic rating: ten times infinity. The hacker shuts off all communications with the adults and begins to take control of the royal avatars. If Kade doesn't want to see his best friend used as a puppet, he needs to stop the hacker fast -- even if that means waking up on Earth to fight with a body he never realized could be hurt.

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First Page

It wasn't the first time Kade had hacked the Venusian maintenance system, but it was one of the best. If he had to put a number on it (and there was little he didn't put a number on), he'd give it a 9.7. The 9.8 and 9.9 scores were reserved for something epic he hadn't thought of yet, and 10.0 was for the day he would finally reprogram how his robotic body looked. Still, assuming he didn't get caught, his skills today would land him on a totally different planet. Maybe that deserved the 9.8 slot after all. If Tamika would hurry and get here, he could ask for her opinion.

Kade straightened against a metal door embedded in a burnt orange mountainside and flicked his left wing. A line of glowing text scrolled across his view: 5:03:34pm. He'd checked the time fifty-three seconds ago, but whenever he wasn't reading data, he felt lost. The adults called it unhealthy. Healthy people could watch a sunset without calculating its luminosity every thirty seconds, but healthy people sounded boring. Besides, the numbers comforted him. Nobody got weirded out by seeing their own hands all the time, did they? His numbers were just that -- an extra set of hands. Or wings. Or whatever.

Kade froze. His sensors detected a deep clunking sound that echoed across Venus's stone-hard surface. Low volume, maybe twenty to thirty decibels. His first thought was that it was a patrol robot, but it was coming too fast, and its steps were too out of rhythm for an AI-controlled machine.

It can't be an adult, can it? They're already off Venus for the night. Kade tensed and scanned the rocky pillars around him. A patrol bot would merely escort him home, no questions asked. But an adult would demand to know why he was hiding in the middle of nowhere.

26 comments:

  1. Fun voice, interesting premise. Good luck in the contest!

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    1. You as well. And thanks for taking the time to read all the entries. I'm only through a fraction of them. :)

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  2. Very unique, fun voice -- I love how seamlessly you integrated his love of math -- don't see enough of that in MG :) Best of luck!

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  3. I like Kade just from reading the query. I love your world-building. Good luck to you!

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  4. Good luck to you in the contest! This sounds like a great read!

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  5. This sounds like a great read! Good luck to you in the contest!

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  6. I love this! The premise, the query, the first 250, even your title is amazing. Best of luck to you!

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    1. Thanks for your kind words. And good luck to you as well. :)

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  7. Oh, this sounds like a super fun read! Best of luck in the contest, and I really hope to see this on the shelves someday soon :)

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  8. Cute concept! Love the robot that looks like a gargoyle!
    Good luck to you!

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  9. Love this voice--absolutely love it! Kade sounds like an awesome character, and I definitely wanted to read on. Great query too. Good luck!

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  10. I WANT YOU! I have a thing for hackers (the book that got me my agent had one!), and I love MG sci-fi in space (my best friend sold one for 6 figures at auction, THE LOST PLANET, which came out in January!). Your main character just seems so unique, and I'd love to read more about him. We do have a few tweaks we want to make to your query (for example, I'm not sure how the avatars play into the plot exactly?), but I love the voice in your opening and I think your entry has a lot of promise. Krista is also a big fan, and she sold a MG sci-fi herself, so she knows what she's talking about. We really hope you will join Team Liz & Krista aka Team Rock Star!

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    1. Oh, wow! Thanks so much! I'd be honored to join the team. :)

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  11. Congratulations! I think you have a great premise and voice! Good luck!

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  12. Congrats. Sounds like a fun read!

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  13. WELCOME TO TEAM ROCK STAR! Please email your query and first chapter (as an attachment) to elizabethbriggsbooks@gmail.com and also CC kvandolzer@gmail.com. We can't wait to work with you!

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