Jun 1, 2016

QK Round 1: Jello Poems vs. The President and Me

Title: The Henchmen Company
Entry Nickname: Jello Poems
Word Count: 37,500
Genre: MG Humor

Query:

Nobody would dare call Gordo Vanderhough a baboon-faced dorkisaur.

Towering over even the adults at Taft Elementary and the only 6th grader with a 5 o’clock shadow, Gordo is known for toppling kids in the lunch line like dominoes (Ga-pow!) and stealing entire trays of Jello (because he only loves two things in life: Jello and poetry). But nobody ever calls him a dorkisaur because nobody really talks to him at all.

One day a man not only talks to Gordo, but actually compliments him and invites him to join the Henchman Company. Gordo, though the youngest henchman, is a natural at all of it: giving evil glares, maniacal laughter, trash talking, throwing large kitchen appliances, and not thinking too much. He’s thrilled about his first job until he figures out that the evil mastermind behind it plans to hook the internet up to his brain in order to control an army of robots and a fully-armed flying spaceship the size of a city. He’s going to bully his way to world domination. Suddenly, Gordo questions his career path.

When the other henchmen get wind of his change of heart, Gordo finds out what it feels like to be the one being bullied. With the fate of mankind on the line, Gordo decides to use his size and skills for good. (Finally!) This villain is about to get Gordoed.

First 250:

Gordo Vanderhough walked into the cafeteria, ready to cut to the very front of the line. As he lumbered past dozens of other hungry kids, no one called out, “Hey, what do you think you’re doing?” No one chided, “You can’t do that.” And nobody even thought of saying, “Get to the back of line, you baboon-faced dorkisaur or I’ll kick you in the teeth.” They didn’t say the last line for several reasons. One reason was that no one at Taft Elementary could kick high enough to reach Gordo’s teeth. It would require an amazing jump, a ladder, or a trampoline. Maybe even all three. But the most important reason was that no one dared say anything remotely threatening to Gordo Vanderhough.

Gordo was officially the hugest kid at Taft Elementary. In fact, he was the largest person—period. Though he was a sixth grader, he towered over the teachers. He was also as wide as a buffalo—the big kind with burly shoulders and a mop of dirty fur on its head. Plus, if you looked really close, Gordo’s chin had the stubbly beginnings of a beard. His nanny told him to shave every other day, but she only spoke Polish so he couldn’t understand a word she said. To him, it sounded like she was telling him to sing songs about shampooing zebras. And that didn’t make any sense. Needless to say, Gordo didn’t shave, or sing songs, or shampoo zebras.


VS


Title: Dear Mr. President
Entry Nickname:  The President and me.
Word Count:  35,000
Genre:  Middle Grade Contemporary

Query:

After his father dies in war, eleven-year-old Spencer Dunlap and his mother receive a letter from the president offering his condolences. Spencer responds with an angry letter blaming the president for his father’s death. The president responds, which sparks a chain of letters and emails between the two that ignites an unlikely friendship.

While Spencer and the president correspond, the Speaker of the House initiates impeachment proceedings against the president for a raid on an orphanage during the war, the same raid that Spencer’s father died. Spencer stumbles upon letters that his father wrote on the day he died that indicates Spencer’s father, not the president ordered the raid. Spencer must decide to share the letter and exonerate the president or keep it a secret to preserve his father’s reputation.

First 250:

June 1

Dear Mrs. Laurie Dunlap and Spencer Dunlap

It is with a heavy heart I write to offer my condolences for the loss of your husband and father. As the Commander in Chief of the United States military, the hardest decisions I must make are the ones involving sending the brave men and women serving in our armed forces into harm’s way.

It is not a decision I take lightly and rest assured if any other solution other than armed conflict is possible, I surely choose the peaceful path.

With that said, we live in troubling times where our enemies wish to destroy our way of life and freedom for no other reason than our greatness threatens them. When our enemies threaten the well-being of American citizens or the allies of our great nation, we must act with strength, using the overwhelming might of the United States Armed Forces.  It is the brave men and women such as your husband and father whose sacrifices allow Americans to rest peacefully knowing the brave soldiers protect us all. Lieutenant Timothy Dunlap gave the ultimate sacrifice and a grateful nation and that nation’s President will not forget his sacrifice.

With gratitude,

William Shepherd
President of the United States of America


June 7

Dear President Shepherd:

I hate you. You are a terrible president. If it weren’t for you, my dad would be at home and alive. Why did you have to start the stupid war in the first place? 

21 comments :

  1. Judges, please leave votes and comments as a REPLY to this comment.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What the heck did I just read? This is where I hunt Michael Anthony down and slap-hug him. These entries are both awesome, but my soul has been ripped. First the hysterically-funny-spit-my-coffee-out Jello Poems and THEN the heart-obliterating The President and me? You're killin me Smalls.

      The query for JELLO is laugh-out-loud awesomeness. The first page is superb. I love the humor. I love the prose. My jaw is still hanging wide open.

      The President and Me has a great premise. In the query, I’d change “the same raid that Spencer’s father died.” to “the same raid wherein Spencer’s father died.” I like the conflict.

      I’m never in love with a first page opening with a letter. I feel like I want to meet the MC first, see him crushing the letter in his fist, FEEL his rage and be made to wait and wait and wonder and finally scream, well, WHAT THE HECK DID THE LETTER SAY? But when a first page opens with the letter, I always find myself skimming to find out who in this story cares about this letter.


      Victory to JELLO POEMS

      Delete
    2. JELLO:

      Query - I adore this. The voice is on point. I think middle school kids will eat this up. I’m slightly confused on the stakes, since the henchmen is by design a shadowy organization, so if you can make it more clear, that will help.
      250 - I don’t read much MG, so feel free to take this with a grain of salt. I don’t like the idea of my kid reading a book talking about being kicked in the teeth. I’d suggest changing up the threat so something a little less volatile. Also, though it comes off as borderline microaggression, I’d take out the “nanny only speaks Polish.” I do feel like, those points aside, the voice is capital E excellent. It is funny and silly and over the top, just like middle school kids.

      PRESIDENT:

      Query - Oh wow. What an impossible, horrendous situation for a young boy. THIS is what we’re talking about when we say hook and stakes. I think the query is short and you could certainly include more details if you want. I’m not getting much of Spencer’s voice either. Easy fixes though. Also, make sure you’re proofreading well – I spy a missing word or two from the 1st sentence in the 2nd paragraph and some missing commas in the 250.
      250 - This is exactly the right place to start. I’m gutted. I did wonder if you’d had a chance to read the actual letter our President sends to the families of lost heroes, though. I think the gist of it is probably correct, but some places feel a little too familiar IMO. If you haven’t tracked one down, I’d think about that before moving forward.

      One of the most difficult choices thus far, but I'm giving victory to PRESIDENT because I think it stands out more from a market standpoint. But both are wonderful!

      Delete
    3. Jello Poems

      Query:

      Okay, I loved everything about this query!

      Yeah, ditto the above for the first 250.

      The President and me

      Query:

      Intriguing premise. You laid out the stakes very well. Feels like something is missing in this line: the same raid that Spencer’s father died.

      Maybe: killed Spencer’s father or took the life of Spencer’s father.

      Powerful and emotional first 250.

      I’d read both stories, but I particularly loved Jello Poems. Great voice and humor.

      Victory to Jello Poems

      Delete
    4. JELLO POEMS
      Query: Hilarious! I love the humor I’m seeing here. The one part of your query that confused me was where you began talking about the mastermind’s evil plan. I figured that you meant the mastermind’s brain would be hooked up to the internet, but I wasn’t positive. I really like how Gordo decides to become a hero, and there’s still enough uncertainty about the ending to make me want to keep reading.
      First 250: You did a fantastic job of matching the voice of your query to the actual story. Your description of Gordo is hilarious, and even though you present him as a bully, I want to root for him.

      THE PRESIDENT AND ME
      Query: I don’t think I’ve read a story quite like this. It seems so original, and the fact that you’re writing it (presumably) in the form of letters is even more awesome. As a kid, I would have loved this.
      First 250: I didn’t feel much while reading the letter from the President. Is this entire story written in letters? If not, you may want to begin with an actual “physical” scene. If it is, then I would have been more interested in continuing if you had begun with Spencer’s letter.

      I enjoyed both entries, but JELLO’s humor and plot stood out to me more.

      Victory to JELLO POEMS.

      Delete
    5. Congratulations to the authors of these outlandish middle grade novels for making the cut. JELLO offers the unique tale of a 6th grade henchman who gets in over his head. I simply love the voice of this query, and the way the language reflects this lumbering beast of a boy. That said, he comes across as almost too confident and self assured; I didn't sense the danger of potential consequences. It sounds like a fun story, but I wanted to sense more vulnerability in him.

      MR. PRESIDENT spins the tale of an unlikely friendship, and dare I suggest a bit of wish fulfillment? I appreciate the difficult choice the protagonist faces here, though I'm still unconvinced by the sheer implausibility of the story premise. That said, I like the protagonist for his moxie.

      In the end, it comes down to voice for me.

      Victory to JELLO POEMS.

      Delete
  2. Jello:
    OMG, I love the voice in the query. You nailed it. My only comment is that the query should set out the stakes and the main character’s choice. I.e. Now Gordo has a choice between his villainous friends and using his size for good. You don’t want to give away the end, just say what will happen if he makes each choice and why it’s important.
    Great 250 as well! I would just recommend adding some more dialogue or action to break up the narrative. I think MG readers are going to love it.
    President:
    I would look at word choice and vary it. For instance, you use “respond” twice in the first paragraph. My biggest concern is that the two paragraphs are so different I couldn’t tell what kind of book it was until I got to the second paragraph and found out it was a mystery/thriller. I’d rewrite to include some more voice and tension and put the reader in the middle of the mystery.
    250: I love the idea of an epistolary MG book, but I’m not sure starting with the letter from the president would draw MG readers in right away. I wonder if you could start with Spencer’s letter, or one from his dad first? Just a thought.
    Great job on both entries, but I have to say VICTORY to JELLO

    ReplyDelete
  3. Jello: I get a really good sense of character in the second paragraph, and the third paragraph really sets out the core conflict well. I'm not totally sure you need the first paragraph (i.e. the standalone hook), and I think the second paragraph could use some re-wording. The first sentence is a little long for my taste, and I'm not sure you need the info that's in the parentheses. The third paragraph is fantastic, and the fourth is strong, but I also wish it left me with more of a question about his choice.
    The 250 makes me want to read more (yay!), but I would love to learn some of this information through action and dialogue rather than description.

    President: The query is really clear and to the point--great stakes and conflict, especially in the second paragraph. I would love to hear a little more voice in the query and get a bit more sense of character. I think the concept is fantastic--I really want to read this book. I wasn't sure if the entire book was epistolary--if so, I think I might include that somewhere in the query, because that would really pique my interest.
    250: I love the format, and I like how different each letter is--they feel very authentic. I wonder if the opening letter from the president is a bit on the long side. I don't think you need most of the third paragraph, and I want to get into the next letter, as it is so unexpected.

    ReplyDelete
  4. JELLO POEMS

    Very nice. It has great voice, and we want to root for our bully. This is a great query, but I also wanted to know about his family life. Why is he a bully? Where does he come from and where does he live? This may not be a significant part of your book, but I was curious, and a line of his background would suffice. Being large didn’t make him a bully. If it was genetics, then you could point out he’s a bully despite having great parents. It’s more interesting to follow his arc if we know why he was a bad boy to begin with.

    First page: needs dialogue to break the paragraphs up. It sets up the world, but we don’t learn much about him, personally. I still liked it a lot. Also, I like the title Jello Poems better than the original.That's a good title to hook kids.

    THE PRESIDENT AND ME

    The query is good. The end of the sentence: “the same raid that Spencer’s father died” needs to be grammatically tweaked. I like the premise a lot, but I want to know what else the book has in it. A little bit more of the plot would help me get invested in the story.

    250: I have the same feedback about starting with a letter. If you must start with a letter, start with the Spencer’s. It has more punch and draws the reader in. It also tells the reader what they need to know. There’s great voice in that letter. Maybe the President's letter could be the following response, the one that ignites the friendship. That would be more interesting than his initial formal correspondence.

    Great entries. Congrats, Kombatants.

    ReplyDelete
  5. JELLO POEMS

    Very nice. It has great voice, and we want to root for our bully. This is a great query, but I also wanted to know about his family life. Why is he a bully? Where does he come from and where does he live? This may not be a significant part of your book, but I was curious, and a line of his background would suffice. Being large didn’t make him a bully. If it was genetics, then you could point out he’s a bully despite having great parents. It’s more interesting to follow his arc if we know why he was a bad boy to begin with.

    First page: needs dialogue to break the paragraphs up. It sets up the world, but we don’t learn much about him, personally. I still liked it a lot. Also, I like the title Jello Poems better than the original.That's a good title to hook kids.

    THE PRESIDENT AND ME

    The query is good. The end of the sentence: “the same raid that Spencer’s father died” needs to be grammatically tweaked. I like the premise a lot, but I want to know what else the book has in it. A little bit more of the plot would help me get invested in the story.

    250: I have the same feedback about starting with a letter. If you must start with a letter, start with the Spencer’s. It has more punch and draws the reader in. It also tells the reader what they need to know. There’s great voice in that letter. Maybe the President's letter could be the following response, the one that ignites the friendship. That would be more interesting than his initial formal correspondence.

    Great entries. Congrats, Kombatants.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Jello Poems - Very well written query though perhaps the third paragraph should be more suspenseful on exactly what Gordo's going to end up doing. I'm still trying to decide if I like the term 'Gordoed'. Somewhere in the book maybe but less sure about the query.

    Thought the first 250 were very good and funny though the idea of young thug having a nanny seemed a little odd (maybe on purpose, I'd have to see more on how he got to be the way he is).

    I think if this were a graphic novel it would have already been published.

    The Pres & Me: The query is straightforward and is short in a good way. The stakes are clear and present an interesting dilemma. You could replace 'which sparks' with 'sparking' at the end of the first paragraph.

    Your first 250 kind of place you at a disadvantage due to the nature of this contest but opening with the letter doesn't seem unreasonable. I think a few things could be improved. For example, 'the hardest decision I must make' would read fine without the 'must', similarly 'other solution other' could be rewritten not to use the word 'other' twice.

    Good luck to you both.

    ReplyDelete
  7. This was a very interesting pairing. My thoughts on each fantastic entry below.

    Jell-O Poems: Regarding the query, I’m pretty sure “Jello” is officially spelled “Jell-O,” since it’s a registered trademark. I would change “maniacal laughter” to “laughing maniacally” to flow better with the rest of that sentence. At the end of the query I wanted more of a stomach drop or something that makes me question whether Gordo can pull of this extremely tough feat. As is, it almost sounds easy and that lets some of the steam out of the bag, IMO. In the first 250, in the first sentence, “ready to cut” is telling. Just say he headed toward the front of the line—the next sentence does enough showing for the reader to get the idea, anyway. Also—remove the word “reason.” Overall, the first 250 are strong and quite funny—the Polish nanny part, especially.

    The President and Me: I really like the query. It’s straightforward and clean. The only thing I can think of is maybe find a way to hint at Spencer’s personality (maybe the president’s, too)—what kind of boy is he? In the 250, I feel like the phrase “where our enemies” should be either “when our enemies” or “in which our enemies.” The first “United States Armed Forces” phrase should be upper/lowercase as I have written it here. I’ve read other people’s comments on opening with the letter from the President. It didn’t really bother me, except that I did feel like it rambled on too long. In real life it might be as you have written here, but for the sake of this story, I think brevity would be better. I do like how opening with the President’s letter allows you to immediately show the contrast of voice and emotion with Spencer’s return letter directly after that. Hmm…it’s an interesting debate there with the letter(s), but that’s my two cents.

    Overall, great job, guys! I really liked both of these entries—an interesting pairing of lighthearted humor and a story that hits the heart—and both quite well done! Good luck, guys!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Jello Poems

    I appreciate the necessity to match the voice of the query to that of the main character, but I'm not sure a 6th grader would question his career path. That seems like a high concept for a 12-year old boy. "the fate of mankind on the line" doesn't convey the stakes as clearly to me as I would have liked. I'm not a fan of the parenthetical statements, preferring instead to incorporate the information into the sentences they're incorporated into. Also found some of the phrasing in the first 250 awkward. He towered over the teachers? Even the *men*? Having a hard time picturing that. Gordo's misunderstanding of his nanny's instructions brought a smile to my face as my own novels include facets of Polish language and culture. But if Gordo doesn't understand her, how can he know that she's telling him to shave his beard and *not* shampoo his zebra?


    The President and me

    Oooh, I felt my heart skip a beat as I read the opening line of the query. Wonderfully heavy. And there are some heart-wrenching stakes on the line here. And the first 250 displays such wonderful voice for young Spencer. The emotion is raw and unbridled. With an opening like this, it can't *not* be a great book!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Jello Poems
    Query – It has character. It has conflict. It has stakes. It has voice. Nicely done! I love the line, “Suddenly, Gordo questions his career path.” Love the humor as well, though I wonder why Gordo is the way he is – is it a Billy Madison type thing or a pituitary malfunction thing or what?
    250 – Love the voice here and can’t wait to get into a scene with Gordo. I can just imagine him plowing through the line like a slow-rolling bowling ball through the pins or something. Well done.

    Dear Mr. President
    Query – It has character – It has conflict – It has stakes – It could include more voice, in my opinion. Overall, well done. I love this concept and the conflict—like really love it. This query would definitely get me to read the first page.
    250 – This opening was a bit tough for me all the way up to the first line of the June 7 reply, then Bam—I’m there. I wonder if you couldn’t just start there because it has enough info to show the info presented in the first letter. Also, that reply immediately had me asking questions and wanting to know/read more.

    Great entries - good luck Kombatants!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Jello:

    Query- Just a few thoughts. Love the line "questions his career path." At a young age kids are bombarded with choosing a career and this shows he's been paying attention. I like your story concept, but shouldn't it be labeled "fantasy" if he gets his brain hooked up to the internet and turns into an evil robot? Just my thoughts. Without reading the rest of the story, it's hard to tell.

    250 - try "showing us" how tall he is instead of just coming out and stating the fact. (the reference to the ladder & trampoline is a nice touch!) You could show us Gordo hitting his head on something or looking down while he's talking to the principal or lunch ladies etc. You do a nice job with the kids in line--not wanting to mess with him. But maybe you could try some actual dialogue. "Hey, watch--never mind, Gordo. Go right ahead, dude." :) Show us the kids reacting to him. Overall this is nicely done.

    President:

    query-I enjoyed the line "sparked an unlikely friendship." This makes me want to read more, but the overall tone seems so melancholy for MG. Can you add a touch of sarcasm or snark or wit or humor that Spencer has held onto since his father's death?

    250- I love the kid's note. I would personally start with his first--leave us questioning why a kid would write this kind of a note!! Suspense, mystery go a long way. Save the president's note for later. Just my opinion! Good luck to you both.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I truly loved both of these and am glad I'm not a judge. I don't think I could choose!

    Jello-

    Query: The visual I have in my head of Gordo just from the query is fantastic! A gigantic Jell-O eating poetry lover who needs a shave.. It's fabulous! One thing I'm missing is his emotion. Does the fact that no one talks to him bother him? Or he is just a shy kid who prefers to be left alone? I'd like to know what's going on more in his head both in the opening part of the query and the 250.

    250: There's a lot of telling in the opening and while the voice and descriptives are great, perhaps you could mix it up with a little showing .. Have the kids behind him back up to make room for him when he walks in or the room, have some sort of dialogue, etc. He seems like a really fun character to write.

    Presidents-

    Query: I love this story idea and the query is well written. I can tell this one will tug at the heart strings. The first thing I thought while reading was that it would make a great movie!

    250: Starting right off the bat with the letter from the president threw me a little. I think I would have liked to have gotten to know your MC a little first, but then when I read his response, it made more sense, and I absolutely loved his voice. I just worry you may lose some MG readers right away since that first paragraph is so important. However, I think you have a great story.

    You both have wonderful and original characters! I'm looking forward to reading more.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I truly loved both of these and am glad I'm not a judge. I don't think I could choose!

    Jello-

    Query: The visual I have in my head of Gordo just from the query is fantastic! A gigantic Jell-O eating poetry lover who needs a shave.. It's fabulous! One thing I'm missing is his emotion. Does the fact that no one talks to him bother him? Or he is just a shy kid who prefers to be left alone? I'd like to know what's going on more in his head both in the opening part of the query and the 250.

    250: There's a lot of telling in the opening and while the voice and descriptives are great, perhaps you could mix it up with a little showing .. Have the kids behind him back up to make room for him when he walks in or the room, have some sort of dialogue, etc. He seems like a really fun character to write.

    Presidents-

    Query: I love this story idea and the query is well written. I can tell this one will tug at the heart strings. The first thing I thought while reading was that it would make a great movie!

    250: Starting right off the bat with the letter from the president threw me a little. I think I would have liked to have gotten to know your MC a little first, but then when I read his response, it made more sense, and I absolutely loved his voice. I just worry you may lose some MG readers right away since that first paragraph is so important. However, I think you have a great story.

    You both have wonderful and original characters! I'm looking forward to reading more.

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  13. Jello: Your query floored me. I took NOTES on your query, it was so good! If you're having trouble pitching this, it must be character voice in the 250.

    MG is tricky, and awesome. And as we adults get wiser, we're learning that MG novels shouldn't sound like an adult is talking. Percy Jackson and the Wimpy Kid have ruined that, because no kid will want to listen to an adult reading them a story when they could be in another kid's head. Your story sounds BRILLIANT, and I'm guessing all that lies between you and publication is one big step: reworking your entire novel to change to voice. Could you make it first person? Something needs to click. Right now we feel really distant from Gordo (which does mean fat... are you suuure that's not offensive?) and we need to feel right there with him.

    President:

    Here were my thoughts as I read through your piece: "Hmm... a bit boring. Died should be 'died in'. This seems almost too deep to be MG. Those last few sentences could use some polish." And then I reached your 250 and thought, "Oh my gosh! It's letters? That's brilliant! That works! Why on earth didn't they say that in the query?" Letter books are creative and not overdone, and this would work really, really well as one. Go out there and perfect that query!

    Amazing luck and joy to both of you!

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  14. JELLO POEMS

    Query: I love the query and the way you open your book, however, they are so similar I wonder if you should consider replacing the query. I'm not sure what to suggest, but by the time you read the first page, it is no longer fresh, because it is very nearly the query all over again. Also, the query starts funny, but becomes more serious until you mention the spaceship. Because the humorous tone had gone, this didn't strike me as funny as it should have.

    250: The humor is great, particularly the buffalo comparison. Loved the bit about the language barrier.


    THE PRESIDENT AND ME

    Query: Nicely done, although I wonder if an agent will think middle grade students will get or care about the political minutiae. I think the line should read, "The same raid in which Spencer's father died." Be careful of your phrasing; you might want to replace some instances of "died" with variations.

    250: I think opening with the letter from the President is brilliant, however how long does this carry on? Is the whole book just letters back and forth? I missed seeing Spencer's reaction to receiving the letter and getting a glimpse inside his head directly, rather than just the words he writes to the Presedent?

    ReplyDelete



  15. JELLO
    This sounded fun, but I’ve come across a few books recently about people training to be heroes and villains, so I’d make sure you make clear what makes this stand out.
    I’d lose the little explanations in brackets, as I don’t think they add much and they spoil the flow of the otherwise very slick query.
    I don’t really get the first line of the query. Why would people specifically not call him “a baboon-faced dorkisaur” as opposed to any other insult? Does he look like a baboon? Do people call him this behind his back? I liked the tragic double-edged sword of how no one insults him but equally, no one talks to him 
    The description of what he does for the Henchman Company is hilarious.
    The throwaway remark about his love of poetry intrigued me, as it seems so different to the rest of his personal. Perhaps it could be mentioned again towards the end.
    In the words, I thought the explanations of why people wouldn’t threaten to kick him in the teeth were very funny. Again though, I found “baboon-faced dorkisaur” to be a weird and overly specific insult for people not to use.
    The whole bit about his nanny and shampooing zebras was a bit strange. I think you’ve got a very good premise and an interesting character here, and should avoid trying too hard to be zany. I found your relatively normal descriptions worked really well, but your more surreal ones fell a little flat.
    This sounds like a really fun book overall though.
    MR PRESIDENT
    Oh my goodness, I loved the premise. Got to be one of the darkest and most original MG premises I’ve come across. I suspect it could be a hard sell, but I bet you can find the right agent to fall in love with it.
    The query was great – clear background and stakes and a shocking secret and an unusual friendship.

    I agree with most other people that starting with the letter just doesn’t work, especially as it’s quite a generic letter. Maybe start with Spencer getting the letter and reacting to it, rather than the letter itself. Or you could even start with Spencer’s letter, which is a bit more unusual, and then explain what made him send it. If the book is all letters, maybe work that into the query so it's clear.

    Good luck though – I like the idea of people writing things for kids with a bit of political bite!

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  16. Another awesome match-up! Good luck to you both!

    Jello Poems: I absolutely love your query. There is so much voice and humor mixed in with elements of plot and stakes. The two nitpicky things I have are to break up the long sentence “He’s thrilled etc.” into two. I stumbled over it as I read it the first time. And I would also change the “He” to the “The Evil Mastermind’s going to bully his way to world domination.” Because so far in the query, he is always Gordo. I also love your 250. It is not very active, which I don’t mind because the description of Gordo is so funny and vivid, but is there a way to have Gordo actively doing something?

    The President and Me: I love the concept here! Tiny grammar thing in your query: the wording of “the same raid that Spencer’s father died” is a little wonky. I think you need to replace the word that with either “where” or “in which.” I think the stakes are very clear. I am missing a little of Spencer’s voice in the query. It is reading very formal for an 11 year old right now, and although the topic is serious, I think we can have a little more of Spencer’s voice in the query. The other thing I was wondering in the page and the query: when are we? Is this a West Wing situation? Are we in an alternate 2016 with a fictional president and fictional war, or is this a real global conflict that happened/is currently happening?

    ReplyDelete