Jun 14, 2013

Qk Round 3: Troglin Snot vs. Jungle Vendetta

Entry Nickname: Troglin Snot
Title: Asher Locke and the Knights of Arcadia
Word count: 54,000
Genre: MG Fantasy


Thirteen-year-old Asher Locke would do anything to see his dad one more time. And when a sword-wielding wall of pecs named Gareth saves him from a bloodthirsty Grimhound, the moppy-haired seventh grader discovers that he may get his wish.

It turns out Asher’s dad isn’t really dead. He’s a prisoner of Lord Balor – a slimy dad-nabber who doesn’t even live in Asher’s world. He’s stowed away in Eden Worn, the world hidden behind the middle school’s boiler room.

Asher can't understand why anyone would steal his father, but he’s determined to find out. That is if he can make it through the horde of dragons, army of Troglins, and 10,000 miles of death in his way. Along with Gareth, two loony enchanters, his best friend, and the girl of his dreams, Asher launches a rescue mission as epic as it is insane. If he fails, he can kiss seeing his dad – and returning to his own world – goodbye.

First 250:

The straight razor made a satisfying snikt as Asher freed the blade from its metal handle. He loved that sound.

Well, he used to anyway.

Just holding his dad's old blade was a kick in the gut. He loved how his dad would set him on the sink and let him pretend-shave with a spoon. Three years of living off nothing but memories still hurt, though.

No need to start boo-hooing about it now, though. Today was Asher’s birthday. Big 13. Officially a teenager. And if what Em told him was true, a thick mask of facial hair was right around the corner.

Asher adjusted his little finger on the curvy end of the handle and glanced up at the foam-covered face staring back at him in the mirror. He let out a long breath, sending a small wad of froth flying out of his nostril.

He pressed the blade against his face and a white-hot pinch seared his chin. Asher sucked in a quick breath, dropping the razor in the sink. A tiny bead of blood stained the shaving cream under his lower lip a pale pink.

"Seriously?" Round one with the razor and he nearly sliced his head in half. This was pointless. He washed off his face, hating the idea that he'd spend the first day of his teenage career looking just like he did when he was a kid: hairless and unmanly. And now reeking of his mom's Pink Mango-Splosion Lady Lather.



Entry Nickname: Jungle Vendetta
Title: Savage Jungle
Word Count: 60,000
Genre: MG Science Fiction


Twelve-year-old wimp and self-designated videogame pro Kreith Briggs’s birthday is off to a great, but scary start: a wild safari with his Uncle Tonas through the most treacherous jungle in the whole universe. The tour’s real fun, if not a bit creepy, until Kreith discovers he and his uncle have been set up.

The jungle’s got seven of the ten most exotic—and most lethal—animal species in the universe, including the super-sneaky electrocat and the giant land squid. But Wilmur Banx, the host of the tour, holds an old, even more lethal grudge against Uncle Tonas and the other twenty-four safari guests. That’s why he strands each pair of victims in separate places in the jungle with zero protection from the universe's fiercest beasts.

Kreith and Uncle Tonas head toward an old research facility where they can call for help and get off the planet alive. Only Kreith gets separated from his uncle and now he’s got no plan at all. Armed with a trusty new guidebook and his knack for all things techno-nerdy, his and his uncle’s survival—not to mention the lives of any remaining safari guests—rests squarely on his puny shoulders.

First 250 Words:

My heart rate doubles as Uncle Tonas hands me what I’ve been waiting for all day. Heck, all year—a present about the size of my fist. He always gets me the coolest gifts, like that fluorescent slug from planet Zambor last year for my eleventh birthday.

I rip the wrapping paper off the present without removing the bow, lift the lid off the cardboard box, and peer inside. A small electronic chip rests on the bottom.

“What’s—?” I ask.

“It’s a book,” Uncle Tonas says, eyes wide in his huge, muscular face. “Go on, download it.” He leans forward with those monstrous shoulders of his, a cigar between his pointer and middle finger. The total opposite of me. Sure, I’m only twelve years old, but my overly large black sweatshirt and baggy jeans hide the fact I’m as skinny as Uncle Tonas’s pinky finger.

“Uh…okay.” A book? That’s what he got me—a book? I try not to show my disappointment as I pick up the tiny chip and insert it into my Multipurpose Bracelet, my parents and Uncle Tonas looking on from the couch. I should really try to be grateful. It’s the thought that counts, after all.

“Would you like to download the book The Top 200 Most Treacherous Creatures in the Universe?” the MB asks in a voice as gruff as Uncle Tonas’s. I set the MB’s voice to that because it sounds like his and he’s the man, though I’m starting to doubt that after this sorry present…


  1. This comment is reserved for judges' votes only.

    1. Victory to TROGLIN SNOT
      These are both great, but I still find myself falling for the combo of humor and pathos in TROGLIN's opening scene.

    2. Victory to Jungle Vendetta: You do a wonderful job of world-building in this query and the first 250. I can easily imagine the exciting adventure that awaits Kreith.

      Troglin Snot: I love the clarity in the query. It’s easy to understand and funny.

      The first 250 have an echo on (though). Maybe delete the second one. Three years of living off nothing but memories still hurt, (though).
      No need to start boo-hooing about it now, (though).

      I don’t know if this is mushed together in the actual query, but separate (facestaring), Love the last paragraph.

      This was a hard choice because I love both of these stories. I went with Jungle Vendetta because the query provided more information about the plot. Plus the world-building elements really put me into the story.

      Good luck to you both.

    3. Victory to TROGLIN SNOT

      I'll be honest, I'm not too crazy about either of these queries because they lack the voice that the 250 has in both cases. I'm going with the one that made me feel more emotion: Troglin Snot, because I laugh every time I read it. (But Flame is right, correct those little errors before you query!) Great job to both of you!!!

    4. Victory to JUNGLE VENDETTA!

      These both sound like fun stories.

      I have to say I tripped over the double 'though' in Troglin Snot's page also, but I do love the humor. I liked how Jungle Vendetta added that disappointment over the book as a present. Another tough choice.

    5. Sorry, have to recuse myself on this one as I know one of the entrants:D

    6. Victory to JUNGLE VENDETTA! What an adventure story! I'd love to read it! Great first 250. The query really sets up what a reader can expect. Well done.

      TO TS, I really loved your query and first 250 as well. Especially the opening lines about shaving.

    7. Victory to JUNGLE VENDETTA

      I loved both premises, but Jungle pulled me in more with the first 250-pages. With middle grade you have to pull in younger readers right off, and I felt that Jungle did better by opening with the disappointment about the gift and bringing in the futuristic gadgets.

      Again, another hard decision.

    8. Victory to JUNGLE VENDETTA.

      This was very, VERY difficult. I loved Troglin's quiet, unassuming humor (the facial hair part especially). The main thing that detracted from Troglin was the non-MG voice (I thought the voice wasn't as MG as MG should be, but I know little about MG so take that with a grain of salt!) and that its query was too fast (maybe throw in more interesting but IMPORTANT details, instead of just throwing them at us? Like the appearance of the group he roams with, the boiler-room, etc. They just appear then disappear--they are too interesting for that).

      I loved Jungle's premise a LOT, and the query was so very clear and so very interesting.

      Great job, both of you!

    9. Victory to JUNGLE VENDETTA

      I'm going to say this in my very best tough-love voice: I was not smitten by either query.

      TS: I still love the 250, which continues to elevate this a bit from the portal trope story. The query, though, for me makes it sound like this is going to be a much "younger" story. It was a bit of a jolt going from the current setup and voice in the query to the 250, like they weren't connected. You added needed details to the query, but then they were added in a kind of listy way. In this kombat, it came down to the query for me, and JV's - just - outsqueaked yours.

      JV: Your query is well-written. So why wasn't I smited by it? For me, there seems to be a divide in the story, like it can't make up its mind whether it wants to be more realistic or more MG absurd where "reality" doesn't much matter. For instance, the villain now has a vendetta motivation for stranding the 24 guys on this hostile planet. But then, that's a pretty elaborate scheme, even for a villain. I think younger MG kids would eat up the absurd approach, but maybe older MGs not as much. Then the 250's voice and description make me think this is going for more realistic-ish (but still fun!) SF. So I'm not sure whether to expect a truly wild and wacky ride or a more grounded fun-and-thrills adventure. I do like the changes made to the 250 - a nice improvement!

  2. I still love Troglin Snot. lol This is my first look at Jungle Vendetta, and the only thing I didn't particularly feel was the query. It started to feel more like a synopsis to me.

    Good luck to both!

  3. Troglin Snot
    Great setup and a fun band of misfits. The “kiss seeing his dad” line threw me for a moment. I kept reading it as kissing his dad. I do wonder how being rescued by a buff hero jumpstarts a quest.

    And amazing 250. I love the voice, the symbolism of shaving, and the overdramatic response. All sorts of crunchy goodness.

    Jungle Vendetta

    So the quest and jungle are real? I first assume they were simulations. And I wondered by three deadly creatures were left off the invite list. I assume there is motivation for the antagonist and the uncle.

    The tension is missing from the first 250 but the setup is clear. I have no doubt we will see real action in a short amount of time.

    Good luck to you both!

  4. Wow - I don't even read MG much, but I adore both of these.

    Troglin Snot - It wasn't completely clear to me whether the world hidden behind the boiler room is known to the MC prior to the start of the story. I had to reach for that to make this post something other than cheerleading. Because I'd read the rest of this in a heartbeat. Loved the tone and voice in your first 250.

    Jungle Vendetta - I really want to read this. I want my ten-year-old to read it. My only quibble is the MC is sad about getting a book for a present. :)

  5. Troglin Snot: I still love the voice in your 250. I loved some of the details in your query, too, but I agree with the judge who said the query doesn't quite match the voice in the 250.

    Jungle Vendetta: I like the end of your query in particular, because I think the puny shoulders bit gets to the heart of your MC. I might suggest a trim on the opening line though. It was a bit of a mouthful for me.

    Good luck to you both!

  6. Troglin Snot: I still love it. Voice- got it...and I especially the realistic details about shaving -foam from nostril, cut, etc. I think my favorite line in the 250 is- "Seriously?" Round one with the razor and he nearly sliced his head in half.- Humor in a serious story. A big time win. Let me know when you publish.

    Jungle Vendetta: What middle grade boy wouldn't want to read this? Awesome all over it. I can hear the MC's voice clearly and his unspoken self-conciousness screams out.

    Two great reads and I'm glad I don't have to choose a winner. Good luck to you both!

  7. Thank you all for the awesome comments and suggestions! My query and 250 are going to be so much better because of this contest. And Jungle Vendetta--awesome job and congrats on your victory! I wish you the best of luck in round 4 and I can't wait to read your book one day.

    Query Kombat RULES!