Jul 1, 2016

Query Kombat Championship Round: Cement Gargling 101 vs Jello Poems

Title: The Siren Episode
Entry Nickname: Cement Gargling 101
Word Count: 82,000
Genre: YA Fantasy

Query:  

Arlen’s parents kill monsters—sirens, gorgons, and even leprechauns—then broadcast the murders on their TV show, Myth Slayers. And killing is a family business.

Ever since mythological creatures destroyed San Francisco twelve years ago, Myth Slayers has been number one in the ratings. Now the show’s stars want to retire and force the reins upon their son. But at seventeen, Arlen doesn’t want to slaughter monsters on primetime TV—he just wants to survive high school, where a quirk in his Myth Slayer blood makes life unbearable.

Arlen’s blood gives him power, but repels members of the opposite sex. He can’t even approach girls without making them physically ill. So when he finds a girl who’s not getting sick, he finally sees a chance at a normal life. Problem is, Lenora’s a siren. Worse, she’s a murderer. And Lenora hides a secret: the location of a safe filled with evidence that Arlen’s parents destroyed San Francisco, not the monsters. If opened, the safe’s contents could ruin his family, leaving humans unprotected against nightmarish creatures. Arlen’s parents want the siren dead, and Arlen faces an impossible choice: kill Lenora to bury the secret, or trust the siren and expose the truth.

First 250:

Arlen Boggs hopped his neighbor’s fence and slipped past the protestors. They’d camped in front of his house again, picket signs raised. He tried to keep his footsteps light, but the rain puddles didn’t help his cause.

Two blocks, he thought. You can do two blocks without getting recognized.

The morning air chilled his neck, and he buttoned his father’s trench coat, too big for his lanky frame. Arlen wore the coat, baseball cap, and sunglasses to keep himself hidden. He hoped it would work this time.

Head down, he hurried along the narrow sidewalk. Trees rustled on either side of the street, and he glanced up at the sycamores. Nothing but windblown leaves.

A woman’s voice came from behind him: “There he is.”

Arlen turned to look at the protestors, five houses back. “Great,” he muttered.

Two of their poster boards read, “GO AWAY, MYTH SLAYERS!” and “MYTHS HAVE RIGHTS, TOO!” Despite the wet September morning, the crazy zealots surged onto the road and shouted at him.

A few months shy of his eighteenth birthday, Arlen still didn't have his driver's license. His parents never had time to teach him, always out filming their TV show. Otherwise, he would have driven himself to school and avoided the daily hate-fest.

Another tree rustled and a branch snapped.

Could be a monster.

The protestors sped up, chasing after him with their hand-painted signs.

Arlen broke into a jog. Monsters in the trees, protestors on his tail. Why were mornings so complicated?


VS


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 ofJello (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 his boss is an evil mastermind trying to hook the internet up to his own brain. If successful he will be able to control a secret government robot army and a flying spaceship the size of a city. This creepoid is 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 total human annihilation on the line (and the fate of all gelatin desserts), Gordo decides to use his size and skills for good. This villain is about to get Gordoed.

First 250:

Gordo Vanderhough lumbered into the cafeteria past dozens of other hungry kids. He headed straight for the front of the line but 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.


35 comments :

  1. Replies
    1. These are both excellent entries. Both queries are, in my very humble opinion, perfect.

      The voice in the first 250 does stand out a bit more for me in one entry than the other, so with that in mind...

      Victory to JELLO POEMS!

      Delete
    2. For the record. This isn't a fair match-up--and by that I mean it's not fair to me. To have to choose just one. Nope, not fair at all.

      Seriously you two. Great job all around. I wish you both the best of luck as you proceed forward.

      GO GO GADGET VICTORY: JELLO POEMS

      Delete
    3. Great job, you two! Ultimately, the first 250 of one of them won me over.

      Victory to JELLO POEMS!

      Delete
    4. I'll go with the one whose story-telling appeals to me most.

      Victory to JELLO POEMS

      Delete
    5. These are both such amazing entries I have no doubt they will both be snatched up as soon as the contest is over. Congrats to you both! It's been fun seeing you succeed in QK, as I'm sure you will very soon in the "real" world. :)

      Victory to JELLO POEMS

      Delete
    6. I've loved both of these entries since the beginning. Congrats to you both. It's a hard choice, but I love the voice and humor in the first 250 of my choice.

      Victory to JELLO POEMS

      Delete
    7. Bernadine HarrisJuly 1, 2016 at 9:50 AM

      Wow. We are at the final two. I have been excited and nervous all rolled into one as a judge so I can only imagine how you both feel. I hope that you both are enjoying this moment and what you accomplished because getting to the final two is amazing!! And there is good reason you two are the last ones standing. These are both so kick ass.

      Victory to Cement Gargling 101

      Delete
    8. Both are so much fun. Congrats on all the hard work and for making the final two!

      Victory to JELLO POEMS

      Delete
    9. Congratulations to both of you on reaching the final round!

      I wish I could pick both, but we have to choose, so for me it's victory to CEMENT GARGLING 101!!!

      Delete
    10. These are both amazing entries- great stakes, great voice in the opening pages...all I can do is vote for the one that appeals to me a tiny bit more.

      Victory to CEMENT GARGLING 101!

      Delete
    11. Two talented authors.
      Two unique concepts.
      Two entries that have really been polished to a high shine.
      Wonderful work, truly.

      My final vote:

      Victory to JELLO POEMS

      Delete
    12. Congrats to both!

      VICTORY TO CEMENT GARGLING!!

      Delete
    13. Solarpunk GoddessJuly 1, 2016 at 11:20 AM

      These entries are fantastic. I'm confident they'll both have agents in no time. But for now, I have to choose, and I'm going with the entry whose 250 grabs me just a little more than the other.

      Victory to Cement Gargling 101.

      Delete
    14. Strawberry ShortcakeJuly 1, 2016 at 11:46 AM

      Tough choice here, but one of the first 250's sings to me more than the other, so...

      VICTORY TO JELLO POEMS!

      Delete
    15. Such a difficult decision! Congrats to both for making it this far. Since I have no choice but to choose, I go for...

      Victory to Jello Poems!

      Delete
    16. These are both stellar concepts, and well-written. What decides this for me is that the 250 of one of them pulls me in just a little more than the other, because of the voice and character.

      Good game, people! VICTORY TO JELLO POEMS!

      Delete
    17. Both excellent entries! Congrats to you both! I'm voting based on which one sets up the kind of tension and mystery that I love in a first page.
      VICTORY TO CEMENT GARGLING

      Delete
    18. Huge congrats to both writers!! These are both exceptional entries and I can't wait to see what happens after the contest.

      Victory to Cement Gargling 101!

      Delete
    19. These queries are excellent, but the voice and general vibe of JELLO POEMS makes me want to read more.

      Victory to: JELLO POEMS

      Delete
    20. I enjoy both of these a lot and I'm impressed with the effort put in by both authors, in taking critique like champs and by coming up with truly original ideas and words. That said, I'm going with the one that feels like it will have a biggest impact and the one that I would choose first (because I'd read both) when looking at a shelf:

      Victory to CEMENT GARGLING!

      Delete
    21. Seriously, both these entries are amazing. Congrats to both of you for making it to the final round. Both have excellent query letters and immersive writing samples, but I have to vote for the one with the concept I personally enjoy most.

      Victory to: Cement Gargling 101

      Delete
    22. Congrats to you both. Solid entries that I'm sure will both go far. Voting for the one with the voice and setting I connect with the most.

      VICTORY TO: CEMENT GARGLING!

      Delete
    23. Congratulations to both! These are amazing entries, and I voted for both at least once throughout the competition.

      Victory to CEMENT GARGLING 101!

      Delete
    24. From CatWrangler

      Congratulations to you both for making it to the final round. Each entry has been well-crafted and I look forward to reading them when they're published. But, since there can only be one winner...

      Victory to Cement Gargling 101

      Delete
    25. Congratulations to you both. These are both fantastic entries that I'm sure will go far. It's been an honor to be a part of this, and every round it gets harder to vote. But vote I must, so I'm going to choose the one I connected to the most.

      VICTORY to CEMENT GARGLING 101

      Delete
    26. Katherine PierceJuly 2, 2016 at 1:19 PM

      Congratulations to you both for making it to the final round. These are both excellent entries and you should be proud of all the hard work you've put in. This is a nearly impossible decision, but there is one that speaks to me more and I would most definitely read.

      VICTORY TO CEMENT GARGLING 101!

      Delete
    27. Congratulations to both Kombatants to making the final cut! These were two memorable entries, and I'm thrilled to see them in the end. Both have done well to hone and refine their queries; alas, we can choose only one.

      Victory to CEMENT GARGLING 101!

      Delete
  2. SCOWLING DISCONTENTED JUDGEJuly 1, 2016 at 8:48 AM

    I like each of these entries very much, and have voted for each of them. But my final vote is:

    Victory to JELLO POEMS.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I LOVE both of these entries. You did a fantastic job with them.
    The voices are phenomenal, and both have unique premises.

    All the best to both of you in your writing endeavors.

    Since I have to vote, I'm going to go with my gut here:

    Victory to CEMENT GARGLING 101!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I commend BOTH of these entries for their sharp queries and memorable first pages, but for voice, pure ingenuity of the story concept, and my absolute certainty that my son will not forgive me if I don't demand the author give me a copy of the ms post-haste to read to him. . .

    I'm giving it to JELLO POEMS!

    (Ohmigod, he loves only Jello and poetry. My heart sings.)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Wow! An incredibly tough choice this year! The writers have done an amazing job, and I've seen so much improvement in these entries over the last weeks.

    It's a tough choice, but after weighing who has both a solid query, as well as a first 250, my vote is for...

    CEMENT GARGLING.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I love both these entries. They were both favorites of mine. I wish I could give the vote to both of you. Best of luck to each of you. I cant wait to read your books when they're published.

    Victory to CEMENT GARGLING

    ReplyDelete
  7. It's been so cool watching these two progress. Both so unique and full of voice. I've voted for both of these in earlier rounds and I thought I knew which one I was going to vote for but now that they're sitting here side by side, I truly couldn't decide. I want to see both of these published very soon! I actually used my son to help me break my own tie--that's legal, right?? :) He deliberated for a while and said, "You're right, these are both really good." In the end, he (and I) vote for...

    VICTORY:
    CEMENT GARGLING 101

    ReplyDelete
  8. Congrats to both for reaching the final round! Ka-POW! No matter what, this is a huge victory for both of you.

    For Cement Gargling 101, the stakes are set up very well, the voice is strong, and in general it sounds like a fun read.

    Jello Poems is cute, but it could do with some minor tweaks - at first, it sounds like no one talks to the MC because he's scary, while later it appears that he's more of an outcast (i.e., the opening sentence seems inconsistent with the last sentence of the first full paragraph). And I'd like a one-sentence or one-clause about what the Henchman Company is. Simple fixes.

    Victory to Cement Gargling 101, but in the grand scheme of things, you BOTH are winner! (Ha, is that cheesy enough for a writer?)

    ReplyDelete