The Silver Lining | REVERSE: Writer’s Voice Entry


REVERSE is an 80k YA Sci-fi in the vein of BIG BANG THEORY meets BENJAMIN BUTTON.

Normal after school jobs are overrated, so seventeen-year-old Arden Varga steals her classmates’ memories and sells them to other students. Who wouldn’t pay top dollar for a night as the homecoming queen? Arden’s making serious bank until someone from her school for science geniuses hacks her mind-uploading app and erases her memories’ greatest hits. Vivid flashbacks rip her out of the present and dump her into past mistakes she never wanted to relive. Those forgotten experiences all feature a boy named Sebastian Cuomo, a rival classmate who breaks into school to do homework and makes even quantum physics sound sexy. Unfortunately he can’t remember her either, but the past reveals they’ve been harboring a secret time manipulation project together…and a secret relationship.

As they team up to investigate how to stop the disruptive flashbacks, who carved out their minds, and what they mean to each other, the hacker uses their secret app to make time itself go backward. With the clock counting in the wrong direction and time keeping Arden in the past longer and longer, she must find the culprit before she’s trapped forever living life in reverse.

My work has finaled in the RWA “Get Your Stiletto In The Door” contest and the RWA North Texas’s “Great Expectations” contest. My short stories have appeared in various literary magazines such as ShatterColors Literary Review and The Hiss Quarterly. I studied creative writing at Syracuse University under Junot Diaz and Mary Gaitskill, and I now work at a well-known educational publisher in NYC where I oversee the creation of tablet apps, eBooks, and other digital products.

First 250 Words:

The problem with stealing other people’s memories is you start to lose the difference between what’s theirs and what’s yours. Luckily, I know how to exploit that—as long as the teachers don’t find out, anyway. Normal after-school jobs are overrated when you have a secret during-school-business.

I flip through a list of cataloged memory files on my mind-uploading app as a line of students snakes away from me, each one wanting to buy a different experience. Charlotte Marion, my partner in crime, doles out numbers as if the students are waiting in line at the deli. Once they receive a number, they disperse across the courtyard and mill about like strangers trying to act normal before they break out in a Flash Mob.

“I need the answers to the Organic Chem homework.” The first customer out of thirty lifts a tablet, revealing a mess of stylus-created scribbles on top of complicated math problems.

Charlotte holds out her palm, indicating ten bucks. The girl shifts her weight from foot to foot, skirt swishing around bare legs. Dark clouds swirl in the washed out sky, turning the mirrored building in front of us into a sheet of gray. Cold and clinical, more like an office building than a high school for science geniuses.

Charlotte nudges my shoulder until my lips pop open. “Number two!” I yell, tapping my stiletto on the concrete path.

The customer hands me the cash, and I get to work selling the girl someone else’s stolen memory.


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14 Responses

  1. Hi Shana! I WANT YOU! I WANT YOU! I WANT YOU! Your query for REVERSE sucked me right in, every sentence compelling me to read the next. You fluidly explained your concept, while also raising the stakes of Arden and Sebastian’s journey. (BTW-killer bio!) Your opening 250 then sealed the deal: Great first sentence. You managed to get me inside Arden’s head and world without an info dump. But most of all, I wanted to keep reading.

    I completely agree with Kip Wilson’s comment….it’s scifi but feels contemporary. And to me, that’s the best kind of science fiction to read. REVERSE was the first entry that I immediately moved onto my top 8 list. (I even tweeted about it) Honestly, I don’t have a ton of suggestions off the top of my head, but that doesn’t mean we can’t bounce ideas off each other and see if this already strong query/opening can get any stronger. I write and read science fiction, so I’d love to have you and REVERSE on my team!

  2. I WANT YOU! I love your combination of memory stealing and time travel. It’s so hard to find sci-fi that doesn’t sound dystopian and you have totally nailed it. I’m also a fan of any love interest who can make quantum physics sexy (HOT NERDS FTW!). I’d pick this up in a bookstore in a heartbeat, and I’d love to have you on team Liz & Krista aka Team Rock Star!

    Since I know Kimberly also wants you, here’s my sales pitch:

    Why should you join my team? I interned for literary agent Jill Corcoran for over a year, reading slush and helping her out, so I know what agents want to see in queries and opening pages. I also interned for Entangled Publishing and worked as an editor for Curiosity Quills Press, so I have editorial experience too. Four of my critique partners have YA books coming out this year from big publishers (one of which is a YA sci-fi with time travel), I’ve mentored in Pitch Wars twice and had very successful teams both times. I’m repped by an awesome agent and have a YA sci-fi she is shopping around, plus my NA contemporary novel will be out this summer. PICK ME!

  3. Shana– I’m definitely willing to fight for you! Maybe even grovel! (Though please know that whomever you choose, you’ll be in great hands.) Talking about myself makes me feel funny, but here we go….I’ve been actively involved in helping writers find agents for the past two years. This began when I created a Halloween themed writing contest called Agent Treat. And actually, that contest landed Dannie Morin, my Writer’s Voice co-coach, her agent. I’ve also been involved in many other contests (PitMad, PitchWars, etc), so I have a pretty solid grasp on what agents like to see in a query and opening pages. All of my CP’s have agents and many have book deals as well. I write and read science fiction religiously. My debut novel, THE APOLLO ACADEMY, was formerly represented by Brittany Howard aka Cora Carmack. The Apollo Academy is now an Amazon Science Fiction Romance Bestseller and a Writer’s Digest Honorable Mention Award Recipient. So please, please pick me!

  4. Hi Shana,

    Here’s the deal! You totally want to rocket to agentship with Team SuperNova. Not only is Kim an Amazon bestseller in your genre, but she’s an AWESOME mentor. She helped me tweak my book so I could land my agent, as well as gleaning an offer from another AND? She REALLY knows her stuff where SF is concerned. And romance? Forget it. She’s a pro. It’s actually a little scary how good she is.

    And then there’s me. I’ve been a professional freelance editor for several years, I’ve coached and mentored both unagented writers and published authors, and I’ve consulted with New York Times bestsellers on psychological aspects of their manuscripts.

    You should pick us not only because we rock but because we’ve also got some great ideas of how you can make this killer hook, fluid query, and catchy excerpt even better. And that’s what this contest is about.

    So, yeah. Pick us. I promise, you don’t want to miss out on all this awesome. 😉

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