Monday, April 18, 2011

Submission Ann Braden

Name: Ann Braden
E-mail: annbbraden at

Title: Swimming with Tchaikovsky
Genre: YA Magical Realism

Pitch: When Sally’s Russian host father is kidnapped for exposing govt corruption, all seems lost. Until Sally’s music creates visions of the past.

1st 250 words:

With her cello strapped to her back, Sally picked her way past the trash huddled in the eddies of the stairwell as she made her way down from the third floor apartment. Just days before her flight, her friends had warned her that she wasn’t tough enough to handle a week in Russia. Sally had been dabbing at her eyes at the time, having just watched a particularly moving McDonald’s commercial, but she had argued back anyway.

“But I’m used to competitions.”

“It’s not the competition we’re thinking about -- it’s everything else. You’re just too sensitive.”

At the bottom of the stairs, Sally pushed against the metal door to the outside. It didn’t budge. She grit her teeth and pushed harder. I’m NOT too sensitive.

The heavy door disagreed.

With a slight growl, she slammed her shoulder into it, only to get her purple fleece caught on the deadbolt that was quietly holding the door in place. She groaned and turned it. As the door swung out over the stoop, it barely cleared something sprawled across her path.

A man’s body stinking of alcohol.

The man groaned, and his arm twitched as he swatted at something on his face. Not too sensitive, right? She took a deep breath. Right. She leaped over the man, just missing the edge of his leather jacket. Then she straightened up and headed for the concert hall.

When she turned onto Nevsky Prospect, the main street of Saint Petersburg, cold wind whipped through her hair.


  1. First line had me a little confused in the way that the trash is personified, or the way she is calling people trash, yet she’s supposed to be someone who’s sensitive. Also, the McDonalds commercial. Is she sad because a cow sacrificed it’s life so that someone could eat a hamburger? I’m not sure why this is linked to sensitivity.

    I’m NOT too sensitive.—I’ve read the only time you should write words in caps is when the person is sending a telegraph message. I believe editors prefer italics over bold font, which are the your other options.

    Sally groans before opening the door, then the alcoholic man groans as well. You might change one to something different.

    Sensory imagery can be increased. (I know you’re limited on words.) But rather than saying it’s stinking of alcohol, give a short analogy like, “Pungent enough to make a dead horse sneeze.” Or, what is he swatting off his face? Give a visual.

    The setting is very exotic, but Sally’s character seems like a walking contradiction. Why does she ignore the man and cry over a McDonald’s commercial?

    Best of luck with this!

  2. This sounds very intriguing so far, Ann! I would def. read on to see what exactly Sally is going to face in her travels. I, for one, like th contradiction of her crying over the commercial but ignoring the man--some people have more sympathy for fictional matters than what's really happening around them. I do agree about the sensory details- this is something I struggle with, too, but having BETA read for you before, I know that you can do sensory details with no problem!

  3. I really loved your pitch!

    having her friends tell her not go to Russia because she's sensitive seems unrealistic. I'd think they would be worried about her safety more. I got the impression she was traveling alone.

    I can buy into crying at a commercial...I've done that >< lol but I would think of another type to us. Fast food ones are usually funny.