Reflections on Like a Virgin


It may come as no surprise to some people that mine was entry 6 – Mutual Weirdness. For one thing, I’m not very good at being anonymous. Second, there’s a tab on my blog called, erm, Mutual Weirdness.

In the end, I came 6th, which was the number of my entry. 66. Great number. It means I didn’t get a prize, but it was also the most valuable experience I have had as a writer. I got SO much awesome feedback. Some of it was contradictory. Some of it I didn’t like. But the vast majority has made my query and first 250 words better. Without further ado, I’m now going to paste my revised versions.


Jess knows a heck of a lot about mitosis and how to sing into a hairbrush, but not so much about boys. James McCarthy, though, is not your average guy. He’s scientific. Smart. But up until the night he tells her to stop being weird, he’s also fun. So when he dumps her, she makes a vow to be normal, thinking that maybe it’s time to grow up.

Her goal of achieving normality becomes harder when she meets the new guy at school. Mike is not normal. Mike collects dandelions. Mike is looking for a word that rhymes with orange. But she can’t seem to stay away from him, even when he gets the wrong idea and kisses her. She’s certain that you can’t love someone without the romantic stuff.

 There’s more at stake than just two boys here. It’s Jess’s entire sense of self, and maybe—just maybe—she’ll get it right in the end.

 MUTUAL WEIRDNESS is a 70k YA contemporary novel that will appeal to readers of Meg Cabot and Steph Bowe.


It’s a lot shorter, a lot better and still has the voice of my protagonist. Neat, huh?

And for the first 250, which is VERY different to my entry, and less…finished than the entry. But I think it’s also better:

James and I both tumbled onto my bed, laughing and trying to push each other off. But I had the upper hand, because James’s biggest secret? He was ticklish.

‘No, Jess, stop!’ giggled James, and giggling from a science nerd is something. I dug my fingers into his stomach, and he rolled off the bed, coming to rest on his back. His giggles stopped, and for a while he looked up at the ceiling, which was pretty cool: I’d stuck pictures of all the planets and a bunch of stars up there. ‘You included Pluto.’

‘Yeah, I think Pluto probably feels left out,’ I said. ‘Anyway, watch this.’ I jumped off the bed and flicked the light off. With everything black, the stickers glowed in the dark.


I lay down next to James, our hands touching each other.

‘You look kind of like a mermaid,’ he whispered to me. ‘Maybe I should dye my hair blonde too. What do you reckon?’

I ruffled his hair. It was messy and dark brown, so sometimes he almost looked like Harry Potter. Except instead of magic, James’s specialty was science. ‘No way. You’d look like a surfer dude.’

‘I’m totally a surfer dude.’ He flicked his hair out of his eyes and wiggled his eyebrows. ‘See?’

‘You’d have to wear contact lenses.’

‘But I’m so hot with glasses.’

I laughed.

Then he frowned, his attention drawn by…the doll wall.


So that’s it! From the contest, I got five requests: one for a pitch, one for five pages, two for ten pages, and one for FIFTY pages. I’ve now sent them all off and am biting my fingernails anxiously (also metaphorically. Do you know how disgusting fingernails taste???).

A HUGE congratulations to not only the winners but the first fifty contestants, many of whom will probably publish their own novels in due time. Reading everyone’s work was an awesome experience.




6 thoughts on “Reflections on Like a Virgin

  1. I’m so glad your “first” experience was a good one 😉 And way to go with those requests and your revisions! Hope you’ll be sharing some great agent-y news with us soon! Rhiann xx

    • haHA! I see what you did there. I hope I’ll be able to share some news too. I’ve sent out all my pages and am eagerly (read: impatiently) awaiting the agents’ responses.

  2. Good luck, Emily! I am still mulling over the feedback I received and hope to send out my requested material tomorrow. What an experience! And also, what a shame we can’t do it again next year — we’re not contest virgins anymore! I have everything crossed for you that you’ll get some full MS requests very soon. 🙂

    • I probably could have done with a bit more waiting, but my CPs helped the process along considerably. Also, I’m impatient 🙂 I know, it is a shame. Although we can try for a different MS, right? 😛 I have everything crossed for you too. Was yours SUGARCOATED or am I completely making things up?

      • Yes, SUGARCOATED. 🙂 I have been fiddling with rewriting my query so it’s more in line with the humour in the book. I think I’ve managed to edit out too much of the heart of the story by trying to tick all the query boxes and keeping it clean and concise — it’s making it too generic. But, like you, I’ll be throwing myself into the submission pool again straight away. Too much time to mull things over always eats away at my confidence!

      • Yeah, I tried to do that too, which is why it was so long. Hopefully the one I’ve pasted above is a nice balance. Good luck with your querying!!! I’ll be checking the #lv13 tag for a few months just to see if anyone’s been signed 🙂

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