Jun 2, 2017

QK Round 1: Bust the Bubble Wrap vs Putt-Putt Pro

Title: Super Weenie
Entry Name: Bust the Bubble Wrap
Word count: 48,000
Genre:  MG Contemporary (#OwnVoices)

Query:

Eleven-year-old Saffron Lewis wants to be a regular kid, but her life-threatening food allergies, medical alert bracelet and ever-present EpiPen make her feel like a weirdo. Her hyper-protective mother has managed to keep her safe so far. But to Saffy, the rules, regulations and restrictions feel like bubble wrap. And she’s ready to burst free.

Saffy's starting middle school, and she's got a plan: Pretend to be Perfectly Normal.

Everything goes fine… until she eats a bite of supposedly safe cookie during a class party and goes into anaphylactic shock. She jolts awake in an ambulance. Time for a new plan: Survive Sixth Grade.

As if her own malfunctioning body isn't enough of a challenge, Saffy's got a brand new nemesis, too. Her locker mate Madison has devoted herself to making Saffy’s life totally un-fun. She calls Saffy Nut Girl, labels her defective, and tricks everyone into thinking Saffy's having another allergic reaction just to freak out Saffy's friends and entertain her own.

Making matters worse, Saffy’s mother demands the school enact a restrictive food policy to protect her daughter. The School Board gets involved. Before long there are protestors waving picket signs in front of her school.

What Saffy really wants is a superhero to swoop in and save the day. But the closest she’s got is her own despised alter ego, Super Weenie, assigned by her older brother after her first allergic reaction.

Somehow, Saffy must defeat Madison and her squadron of mean girls, defuse her mom's bubble-wrap-style restrictions, and dodge the EpiPen-wielding school nurse. With no other superheroes on the horizon, Saffy realizes there's no way to escape the cape. She'll just have to become her own superhero.

First 250:

Uh-oh. Here comes my mom. I bet she's busted out the jumbo-sized roll of bubble wrap.

The click-clack of her high-heeled shoes stops outside my bedroom door. She holds her arms wide for a hug. I squeeze her harder than normal, trying to de-activate the army of tiny robots stampeding in my belly. It doesn't work. I'm still nervous.

"Have a great first day." She tugs the tip of my braid out of my mouth.

"I will.”

"You've got your inhaler?"

"Yes, Mom. I showed you last night." Sigh.

"Okay. Dad will deliver your EpiPen to the nurse this morning." She straightens my shirt collar.

"Yep. I know. Since you're convinced I can't take care of myself." Now the robots are testing their rocket boosters.

"Please don't start, Saffron." Her hands flutter down to my wrists. "Where's your medical alert bracelet?"

"Just putting it on." I tuck it under my sleeve.

"You have to wear it every day."

"Mom! Stop worrying.”

"Fine. Say 'hi' to Britt and Jessica. I told them to watch out for you.”

"You've convinced my friends to spy on me?" I administer a megawatt glare and yank on my braid. Its tip is spit-soaked from when I was chewing on it earlier. Blech.

Dad sidles up. His daily fashion disaster is a bright pink shirt. Yeesh. Between regular first-day-of-school worries and mom's nervous breakdown over my allergies, I don't have time to help Dad with his latest clothing misfire. I can't even joke with Mom about it because I'm busy being irritated at her.



V.


Title: Scratch
Entry Nickname: Putt-Putt Pro
Word count: 55K
Genre: MG Contemporary

Query:

Twelve-year-old Win Moore lives and breathes mini-golf, but his ultimate dream is to ditch the putter and master “real” golf at an exclusive, local country club. Short in stature and low on cash, Win scores a summer caddying job that turns from dream to nightmare when he’s fired by the country club’s snobby president.

But Win gets a second chance when the country club’s greenskeeper, Mr. Boozer, a disgraced ex-professional golfer, hires him as his summer assistant. With his sights set on the annual Junior Club Championship, Win convinces Mr. Boozer to help him go from chump to champ.

Skeptical of Mr. Boozer’s peculiar teaching strategies, Win thinks the wacky lessons are a waste of time. But if Win will give Mr. Boozer's coaching a chance, he’ll learn that being short and poor isn’t the end of the world and that every shot counts.

First 250:

Ladies and gentlemen, it all comes down to this putt.

I looked down at my golf ball, licked my lips, and squeezed the grip on my putter.

If he makes this putt, Win Moore, the pint-sized 7th grader, will become the youngest champion in golf history. The crowd hushes as Win stands over his ball.


I cleared my mind, pulled back the putter in one smooth motion, and tapped the ball. PING. It shot toward the hole 25 feet away.

And the putt is away. Moving a little left-to-right. This ball has a shot.

I loosened my grip and leaned to the right—willing the ball to move in that direction.

Win Moore likes his putt. But does it have enough speed?

“Come on. Get legs,” I mumbled.

Almost there. It’s not going to make it.

The ball slowed, froze on the edge of the hole, and debated whether to move another fraction of an inch and fall in the cup. “Drop,” I whispered. Nothing. Then the ball shifted and slid in the cup—CLINK.

It’s in the hole! He made it, ladies and gentlemen! Win Moore has won the championship!

I jabbed my putter to the sky, snatched the ball from the hole, and gave it a big, wet kiss.

“Hey, kid? Are you done yet?” a voice from behind asked. “My kids want to play mini-golf too.”

I spun around mid-celebration, mouth planted on a neon-pink golf ball, and snapped back into the real world.

24 comments :

  1. Judges, please leave your comments and votes as a reply to this comment. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. SUPER WEENIE

      Query:

      I enjoyed the voice in this query, and I definitely got a good understanding of how she feels about having allergies, but I’m a little concerned about some of the language. Particularly the term “malfunctioning body.” I know this is very subjective, but life-threatening allergies hit close to home, and that made me wince a little.

      With that being said, I do like the struggle for independence while having to manage severe allergies as a conflict, and find it totally believable. Finding balance at that age is definitely a real concern!

      A few things I had questions about - I’m not clear what Saffie wants a super hero to do to save the day. Is it to get her mom to drop her demands of the school? I would clarify “save the day” because it’s a bit vague. (This is also a great opportunity to work in some of that great voice I see in your 250!)

      I’d also like to know a little bit more about what Super Weenie actually is and how it relates to her having an allergic reaction. At first I thought it was just a nickname/teasing, but it seems like more. I’m also not clear if she is literally donning a cape here, or if you’re using it as a metaphor for her standing up for herself/gaining independence. It doesn’t need to be a long explanation, but a few words here and there could really clarify a lot and make this really pop!

      250:

      I really like the army of robots imagery! You also do a good job showing how much her parents worry about her and how suffocated she feels, which is a wonderful way to set up the conflict in this story! I can tell write away that she’s being smothered and is resentful.

      I would recommend make her dad’s shirt something more ridiculous than a pink shirt. Plenty of guys wear pink shirts! Maybe it’s a actually a pink flamingo print with plaid shorts or something equally silly… You could use this small detail as an opportunity to show us more about her dads personality/hopeless sense of fashion instead of telling us he’s a fashion disaster.

      A small note on names, I’m not sure of your age BUT Britt and Jessica are both names that really peaked in popularity in the 90’s. A lot of times when I see names like that, its from writers in their 30’s who grew up during that time period… while its not impossible that her best friends would be named Britt and Jessica, it did stand out to me that her two best friends both have late 80’s/90’s names when they are only 12.

      SCRATCH

      Query:

      I like how you are setting up a conflict between the “haves” and “have nots” with his dream being to play at an exclusive country club and then talking about him being low on cash. I admit I am not familiar with golf at all, but are twelve year olds allowed to have a summer job as a caddy, and would an exclusive club actually hire one?

      I like the idea of a disgraced ex golfer helping a young golfer, especially with wacky lessons being involved. I’d love some examples of this. Overall, you did a good job setting up goals and stakes, but I’d love to have a little more voice. It’s a solid query, but a bit bland.

      250:

      The voice on this was incredible, I was practically leaning in my seat along with him willing the ball to fall in. Being interrupted by the other family wanting to play mini-golf was a nice surprise and jolted us out of the fantasy the way it also jolted him out. I don’t have much else to add because, for me, this page works very well. I would focus your effort on making the query pop as much as your words!

      Victory to: Scratch!

      Delete
    2. Professor McGonagallJune 4, 2017 at 8:07 AM

      BUST THE BUBBLE WRAP: What a strong entry! Current and fun. Congrats! QUERY: Again, this is very strong. I see the conflict and character very clearly, and feel Saffy’s pain. I’m wondering if you could compact it into fewer paragraphs to make it a little less intimidating. Put Par. 2 up after “burst free.” (I love her plans!) And maybe combine pars. Five and six? What do you think? I’m a little confused about her alter ego Super Weenie. Is this something she has continued as her own after her brother made it up? FIRST 250: Very strong! I wish I had comments to make it stronger, but I think it’s very strong on its own. ☺ Good job and good luck!
      PUTT-PUTT PRO: Such a fun idea, and a likable protagonist. Congrats! QUERY: The first paragraph starts out strong (although I don’t think you need a comma after “exclusive”) but ends up vague. Why is he fired? Is it his own mistake or some kind of miscommunication? The third paragraph is a bit jumbled, also. Win takes the lessons, but thinks they’re a waste of time – so the second sentence should be a question of whether he will give the coaching a chance. It should show that when Win DOES give the coaching a chance, he’ll learn... Not IF. Because the query can’t question what happens in the book. Make sense? FIRST 250: Very strong and fun. I get a good feel for Win’s personality. One nitpick: In pars. 4 & 5 you use the words “away” and “shot” a couple of times. Good job and good luck.

      Congrats to both of you on strong entries. I hope to see success stories about each! ☺

      Victory to BUST THE BUBBLE WRAP

      Delete
    3. Lumpy Space AuthorJune 4, 2017 at 11:56 AM

      BUST THE BUBBLE WRAP
      QUERY:

      I'd have brand new as brand-new.
      This query is way long, but you know what? In this case, I don’t care. I still want to read it. I’d usually say it’s too much detail, but it’s the character that I want to know—I want to see how she deals, and how she saves herself. So, I’d leave it.

      250
      Uh-oh. Here comes my mom. I bet she's busted out the jumbo-sized roll of bubble wrap. [This is an image from the query…not only would I not recommend repeating an image from the query in the pages (especially so early), if I HADN’T read the query, I’d be very ungrounded as to what you meant here. I’d take out the bubble wrap sentence.]

      I administer a megawatt glare and yank on my braid. Its tip is spit-soaked [take out"from when I was chewing on it earlier." we remember, because it was such a great image]

      PUTT PUTT
      QUERY

      But Win gets a second chance when the country [I'd take out "country" - don't need it] club’s greenskeeper, Mr. Boozer [I see what you’re doing with the names here…��]

      This query intrigues me...

      250
      “Hey, kid? Are you done yet?” a voice from behind asked. “My kids want to play mini-golf too.” [it seems stilted conversation to have him specify “mini-golf” instead of saying just “they want to play, too.” I would give a visual to orient readers to the fact it's mini-golf …which will be sort of funny because a lot of them will expect him to be on a regular golf course, and then he turns around and hits the ball through the elephant’s butt, or whatever.]

      I spun around mid-celebration, mouth [add "still"] planted on a neon-pink golf ball, and snapped back into the real world.

      These entries both have a lot of voice, a lot of color, a lot of fun. Both are well-written. I think my choice in this contest rests heavily on the fact that I identify more with one story than the other...sometimes, that's the only thing it comes down to: subjectivity.

      VICTORY TO BUST THE BUBBLE WRAP

      Delete
    4. BUST THE BUBBLE WRAP

      Query: The query is tight. Love it.

      1st 250: I loved the excerpt. You definitely nailed the situation with her overprotective mom and the MC's condition.

      PUTT PUTT PRO

      Query: This reminds me of an MG Happy Gilmore bc of the humor! Love it.

      1st 250: I like that you started off with a dream sequence. I do think though that you can add in a bit more a grounding element before it starts.

      This matchup was really tough.

      VICTORY TO BUST THE BUBBLE WRAP

      Delete
    5. BUST THE BUBBLE WRAP
      Query: I feel like this query is a bit long and I’d love to hear more about her Super Weenie alter ego earlier in the query. Since it’s the title of the book, I’d suggest you manage agents’ expectations and make it clear up front that its either a super hero book (special powers, cape, etc) or that it’s more about her picturing herself as a hero. I’m also curious to know what “defeating Madison” means to Saffy – it’s a bit vague. Is there a concrete goal? I think you could reduce the amount of details pertaining to starting middle school, being embarrassed, having a nemesis that bullies her, etc. because these are all typical to the age/setting. I would focus on what makes the book unique, and what Saffy’s goal is beyond surviving (too passive.) Finally, I wouldn’t say “dodge the EpiPen-wielding” nurse. One shouldn’t avoid epiPens if one needs them.

      250: I really liked this scene, but I’m not 100% on starting the book with the first day of school – it’s a just bit cliché. And I feel like Saffron being nervous is less interesting than her actively doing something, and you want to hook readers with action right at the start. I don’t know if it would work for the rest of the story, but maybe starting with a Super Weenie adventure/scene might be fun? Also, I’d use either “blech” or “yeesh” but not both so close together.

      PUTT-PUTT PRO
      Query: I love the concept of a MG Caddyshack! I feel like your query is missing Win’s voice and the importance of winning the competition. Is there money? Is it to impress someone? Will it launch his career as a pro golfer? Just wanting to master golf doesn’t feel strong enough. Also, I’d get to Mr. Boozer quicker and cut out the details of describing his first job at the country club – it’s an event along the way, but isn’t the heart and meat of the story, so it feels unnecessary for the query. Does Win convince Mr. Boozer to teach him or does he think it’s a waste of time? Those two ideas seem conflicting. Finally, the last sentence feels a bit like your saying “the moral of this story is…” I’d rather you end with more of a cliffhanger that illustrates the conflict and stakes for Win.

      250: Such a fun start! Great voice. I don’t have too much to say – I would definitely keep turning the pages. I stumbled on “I jabbed my putter to the sky” (maybe because of the word “jabbed” and/or maybe it should be “at the sky”.)

      This is a difficult decision for me because the writing in both 250s is fantastic, but I’m going to say Victory for PUTT-PUTT PRO.

      Delete
    6. Bust the Bubble Wrap: I love this query! The issue of allergies and whether ALL students should be nut-free (or whatever-it-is-free) for the sake of one student's allergies is a tricky one, and since the parents are usually the ones speaking out the loudest, I'm so interested to hear this story from the POV of a kid with allergies who would also like to have friends and enjoy middle school life. The query as a whole feels a bit long... I wonder if you couldn't condense some of it, especially the part with Madison? Maybe something like "As if an annoying lockermate wasn't bad enough, Saffy's mother gets involved"? See if you can focus on the main plot, and simply allude to some of the subplots that feed into it.

      First 250: The first paragraph feels a little weak. Is there something more specific you can use to start the story? "Uh-oh. Here comes my mom" could apply to just about any kid. After that, though, it picks up. I know some people aren't crazy about dialogue-heavy openings, but I think this does a good job of establishing the severity of Saffy's allergies without feeling like an infodump. Well done!

      PUTT-PUTT PRO: I LOVE this query! I have exactly one suggestion: Is Win actually a dwarf? I know that some little people refer to themselves as "people of short stature" and the fact that you use the term "short in stature" makes me think that that is MAYBE what you're trying to say? If so, say so directly. If not, maybe try rephrasing it in a way that makes it clear that he's short for a seventh-grade boy but does not actually have a form of dwarfism? (Either way, I think this works... small boys are given a hard time at school regardless of the biological reason for their size, but it should probably made clear.)

      The 250 are flawless. I mean, if you have suggestions from other judges, by all means take them into consideration, but my reader-self is already trying to flip to the next page and is disappointed that it's not here!

      Victory to... PUTT-PUTT PRO!

      Delete
    7. From Catattck

      BUST THE BUBBLE WRAP
      Query: Love the set-up of a young girl just aiming for normal. Also think the bubble wrap analogy is great. Suggest adding ‘a’ before ‘supposedly safe cookie’. I don’t think you need ‘too’ at the end of the sentence including ‘As if ... isn’t enough of a challenge.’ Suggest inserting commas here: ‘her locker mate, Madison, has…’ By ‘locker mate’ do you mean they share a locker? Or their lockers are near one another? You might want to consider revising the ‘What Saffy really wants’ paragraph as it doesn’t feel true. (It seems the heart of the story, what she really wants -- is acceptance.) If this superhero thread is more vital than it seems here, suggest expanding so we understand. Though I like the rhythm of the 1st sentence in the last paragraph, I did wonder why Saffron must dodge the school nurse Does the nurse embarrass her by checking on her/asking after her health in front of others? Just a little set-up beforehand will erase this question.

      250: You do a great job giving us the set-up through dialogue. Suggest trimming out ‘my’ from the 2nd sentence: ‘Uh-oh. Here comes (my) Mom.’ Suggest adding a beat between ‘Just putting it on’ and ‘I tuck it under my sleeve’ since her mom was touching her wrists in the prior line. Great description: ‘megawatt glare’. This bit of dialogue sounded a little formal, perhaps: ‘You('ve convinced) told/asked my friends to spy on me?’ Also suggest: ‘(His daily) Today’s fashion disaster…’ You do a good job weaving in Saffron’s thoughts and bringing her to life on the page.

      PUTT-PUTT PRO
      Query: This is both voicy and snappy. The query does a good job setting up the stakes. I love the ‘chump to chap’ phrase. Seems to capture the tone of the story.

      250: This is super-picky, but consider looking at and cutting word reps in close proximity to keep the prose fresh, e.g., ‘…down to his put.’ ‘I looked down…’ The italics worked for the imagined announcer’s voice, but stopped me when used for the ‘unspoken’ narration of his fantasy, i.e., ‘The crowd hushes as Win…ball.’ Engaging beginning with the reader and Win both being dragged from his dream.

      Two more strong entries.

      VICTORY TO BUST THE BUBBLE WRAP

      Delete
    8. Title: Super Weenie
      Entry Name: Bust the Bubble Wrap

      Query
      This is so cute!

      I really like it until the superhero thing comes in, because I am just not sure what it means that it is her “alter ego” -- is she going to dress up and run around the school? Is she just drawing this as a comic? Does she play pretend as she goes through her day? I think if that is the title (SUper Weenie) then we gotta get there sooner and with more clarity. (Seriously, all the stuff that comes before is SO SO SO GREAT. You are nailing the specifics! But maybe in this case it is too much up top)

      Great job!


      First 250 Feedback

      Great voice! I am confused about the bubble wrap. Is it real or metaphorical? SInce we don’t see it, I assume it is metaphorical, which means it needs to come later, once we have some grounding in what is going on and who the characters are. I like the clack clack clack -- maybe start there?

      I think “you have to wear it every day” slows things down. I would cut that line and just have her say “I am putting it on, stop worrying (whatever the line is)” in that same paragraph (with or without the action break in the middle. Just keep things moving. In this case on page 1, dialogue can slow things down and we want to see what happens!

      Give us a bit more about dad, other than just the clothing. You spend a lot of time on that, which is funny! And shows personality! But we don’t know much about dad other than he has bad fashion. Can we get something from him in that moment?




      V.


      Title: Scratch
      Entry Nickname: Putt-Putt Pro

      Query Feedback
      This is cute! It reminds me of Happy Gilmore for kids.

      Is he unfairly fired? Or justifiably fired?

      Can we hear a bit about Mr. Boozer’s strategies / wacky lessons? One example will do.

      I am not sure what the stakes are. You mention the championship, but what happens if he doesn’t compete and win? Is there $$ at stake? His happiness? Will he give up on golf forever? Lose his friends? We need stakes and we need em now! (him accepting hiself is the internal stakes. We need the external stakes). You may achieve this by adding in the antagonist (is that the president? You can name the pres and have more interaction with the main goal)

      Remember -- in Happy Gilmore, he had to learn to accept himself and his talents. But the REAL goal was to win the money to save his grandmom’s house.


      First 250 Feedback
      Great voice! Super adorable idea. Can so see a kid doing this.

      Only feedback is to maybe make this one exchange (of action and commentary) shorter.

      I think “muttered” might be stronger than “mumbled” -- just has more oomph behind it for me.

      Great work!!!!

      FINAL
      Victory to PUTT PUTT

      Delete
  2. Fellow Kombatant here - not a judge. I really enjoyed reading both of these stories!

    Bust the Bubble Wrap

    Query
    I thought the query was very clear, complete, and had a good flow. I could feel Saffron's pain, coming from not only the school environment but her mother as well. Love the bubble wrap image.

    One small question I had: are the protesters with or against the food ban? Not sure it matters but it wasn't clear to me.

    I wondered if you want to have Super Weenie's name in the last paragraph to tie in the preceding paragraph a little more. Maybe the last two paragraphs could be combined and condensed?

    250
    You captured the voice of a worried mother and over-protected daughter very well. Very realistic.

    A couple of very small nits:
    I wasn't sure if tiny robots in her belly was the best way to describe nerves. Thought you could devise a more visceral image.
    I would eliminate either the blech or yeesh near the end - it was a little distracting for me and I didn't think you needed them both.

    Putt Putt Pro

    Query
    This query is very economical, compelling, and clear. Very efficient writing. I love the premise. Also thought his name is cute - Win Moore.

    A couple questions:
    Where did his golf dream come from? Is it about the high end atmosphere of a real golf club? Or is there something about the sport itself that he loves? It might add even more to our understanding of him if we knew.

    Why was he fired from the caddy job? I know the boss is snobby so I'm guessing Win didn't do anything wrong but I did have a little question about what he might have done that resulted in his firing.

    250
    Loved the commentary of his own shot. It was all extremely visual, entertaining, and playful. I could picture the whole thing. Loved the voice of the writing and the whole concept.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Bust the Bubble Wrap: the query set up Saffy's world so well, how it must be to be starting school and wanting to appear 'normal' but with so many struggles to face! I think the end of the query, when you set up the stakes and introduce the superhero element could be a bit punchier. I love the idea of her being her own superhero, but I'd love a glimpse of what this means a bit more.

    Your 250 have great voice. I really felt her cringing over her overprotective mother, and I love your descriptors, esp the little robots. The set up is packed with things that make me care for her. Great job.

    Putt Putt Pro:

    Whilst the query is good, clear and drew me in, I LOVED the words even more! The voice, the set up, the whole getting the ball in, and then finding it was mini golf, it's sooo good! Really humorous, and also endearing. I'd read this in a breath!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Super Weenie

    There’s only one thing I‘d cut in your query:

    As if her own malfunctioning body isn't enough of a challenge, Saffy's got a brand new nemesis, [[too -cut]].

    This is one excellent query. It makes me think of a MG version of Everything Everything.
    First 250:

    I love your first page, especially her dad’s fashion disaster. Wouldn’t change a thing.



    V.


    Scratch

    Just one problem here: In your 2nd paragraph Win convinces Mr Boozer to teach him, and in your 3rd paragraph it sounds like he doesn’t want Mr Boozer’s teaching. That felt a bit inconsistent. Other than that this query is very polished.

    First 250:

    The poor Judges. I don’t know how they’re going to choose between these two entries. Just like your opponent your first page has it all; humour, character, voice...

    ReplyDelete
  5. Super Weenie

    Query: I love the premise, but I was unclear how the super hero aspect played into the story. What does the super hero need to do to "save the day?"

    250: Loved how the conversation establishes the tension between Saffron and her mother. A fun read that left me wanting more.

    Scratch

    Query: clear setup and stakes, though I agree with Cez's comment above that it was a little confusing how he begged Mr Boozer to help and then was skeptical of him.

    First 250: I thought this was great. I personally can't think of anything more boring than golf and this had me hooked! Great job!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Two amazing queries that make me want to start reading MG again.

    Entry Name: Bust the Bubble Wrap
    I absolutely love the voice. The robots--first stampeding in her tummy and then testing their rocket launchers--was genius.
    The malfunctioning body doesn't bother me, and neither does the pink shirt--even if guys wear pink, Saffie doesn't like it on her dad, and it's her POV/voice. I would just leave them.

    Entry Nickname: Putt-Putt Pro
    Loved your 250, especially after finding out it was all in his little fantasy.
    Two things bother me, though:
    -the name Mr. Boozer-- since the MC is Win Moore, I assume Mr. Boozer is a drunkard - not sure if it`s the best allusion for a kids book; it makes me cringe when I read `Mr. Boozer’s peculiar teaching strategies` (but that might just be me)
    -being short and poor isn’t the end of the world -- hey, I`m short and poor and I felt a teeny tiny bit offended.


    ReplyDelete
  7. BUST THE BUBBLE WRAP

    Okay, when I read your title I laughed so hard it caused a coughing attack. I love it!

    Query:

    I love that the main character’s name is Saffron (especially because she has food allergies). And I love the whole premise of the book. There are kids out there who can relate to this and will love to read Saffy’s story.

    The query is a little long. I think some of the information could be cut in order to bring more focus to the stakes.

    Good work!

    First 250:

    You’ve got a great voice. I love it!

    The line, “I bet she's busted out the jumbo-sized roll of bubble wrap” would be confusing if I didn’t know your nickname and hadn’t read your query. But I love the line! I think it would work better to move it down toward the bottom of the scene, once we’ve seen how protective the mom is.

    But this is a strong opening! You’re immediately rooting for the main character.


    PUTT PUTT PRO

    Query:

    I love the idea here of a disgraced ex-pro helping out this kid and the “wacky lessons” that are coming. Could you maybe give a couple examples? That part really intrigues me and could make the query a little more fun/add some voice.

    I’m a little concerned with the names of the characters. Win Moore and Mr. Boozer…they almost seem too unbelievable. One would be fine, but doing both is a little much—especially in the query.

    Great job here though.

    First 250:

    I really enjoyed this. I thought it was strong. I love that Win is lost in his own world and has these dramatic thoughts. It felt very real and kid-like.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Fellow Query Kombatant

    Bubble Wrap

    Query: I love the last two lines in paragraph 2! Especially how you connected the description of bubble wrap and bursting free.

    The voice is strong in the query, but it makes me curious about the tone of the entire manuscript. You use humor to delver a very serious illness. Based on the voice in the query, I assume the manuscript is handled in the same voice. Which I’m not saying is a bad thing, but it should match your intent.

    I’d consider looking at rewording and tightening some of your sentences to give a stronger punch. For example:

    As if her own malfunctioning body isn't enough of a challenge, Saffy's locker mate, Madison, devotes herself to making Saffy’s life totally un-fun. She calls Saffy Nut Girl, labels her defective, and tricks everyone into thinking Saffy's having another allergic reaction to freak out Saffy's friends.

    Making matters worse, Saffy’s mother demands the school enact a restrictive food policy. Before long protestors are waving picket signs in front of Saffy’s school.

    Do the protesters wave picket signs only at the school? I ask because if they also target Saffy’s house, and taunt her when she’s out and about, that’s useful to make us feel worse for Saffy.

    I did get confused about Super Weenie. Is this an imaginary story she has or is she a superhero in disguise? I like the superhero phrases, but if she really is becoming a superhero, however literal that is or isn’t, I wonder if you could introduce the concept earlier in the query. Is it important to the manuscript? I’m not sure about the phrase: dodging the EpiPen wielding nurse. Wouldn’t that be extremely dangerous? Does the nurse overreact to Saffy’s allergies? If so, that might be tough to convey in the query.

    250: Oh my gosh! I LOVE the fashion disaster dad because that WAS my Dad! I should send you a photo of some of his fashion disasters! He wore coogi sweaters all the time. In Arizona! And those wildly patterned MC Hammer pants paired with an equally wild t-shit! I’ve wanted to put this part of my dad’s personality into a book someday, just haven’t found the right one. Great job bringing Saffy to life on the first page. I like the way you have her chewing on her braid to convey her nervousness rather than outright stating she’s nervous. Pairing that with her own disgust for her habit gives great insight into Saffy.

    In the last paragraph, look a the phrase mom’s nervous breakdown. Everything she just did to Saffy, isn’t really showing her having a nervous breakdown. If this phrase is important, perhaps her mother should overreact more.

    I really enjoyed reading your entry. I’d definitely read on based on your first 250! I like Saffy immediately.

    Putt-Putt Pro

    Query: Win wants to Win! Love it! I love the phrase ditch the putter! That being said, I don’t know much about golf, but do professional golfers use putters? Is there another example you can use that ties it back to mini golf? Like the childish dragon, or pirate ship at the end, something like that? With more humor, of course. I’m curious about what get’s Win fired? Is it something funny that relates to being in-between kid’s golf and real golf? If so, that might be fun to add into the query. I am intrigued about the wacky lessons Mr. Boozer gives Win. I bet it’s super funny! I do wonder how they relate to Win being short and poor. It’s kind of an odd juxtaposition in the query, as they don’t really connect. Can you illustrate how they do?

    250: I love Win’s internal thoughts. I do this in my story too, so I’m a bit biased.

    The sentence with the phrase moving left to right confused me. It sounds like the ball is going away from the hole, but the the next thought says it has a shot. I like the visual of Win leaning with the ball. Excellent! I can see it and feel like as a reader, I’m leaning with Win.You’re last sentence is brillant. Well done.

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  9. From LisaR: Bust the Bubble Wrap: I love this! It actually gave me chills. I love the idea of wanting so desperately to be normal and fit in by not standing out. I totally relate to her mother's anxiety and the mc's dread of it. I love that she has to be her OWN super hero. I'm sorry, I have no constructive criticism. Someone should publish this book immediately.

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  10. From LisaR: Putt Putt Pro. This is a really well written query, sets up the stakes and hints at the character's arc and lesson to be learned. The only very small comment I have is in the 250 when the man behind him wakes him from his day dreaming and says, "my kid wants to play min golf too." I know you wrote that as a way to indicate where he really was, fantasizing on a min golf course. But that dialogue seemed just a hair heavy handed. Would a guy say "wants to play mini golf" and not just "my kid want to play too"? It's a tiny thing but it did stop me after what was really clean, smooth writing.

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  11. Bust the Bubble Wrap: Love how you were able to get voice to shine in the query. That’s hard to do. Query may be a bit long, and I was a little muddled near the end. I am assuming based on the title that SuperWeenie is important, but I couldn’t figure out who it was. The first 250 were great. Strong voice, engaging. I had a feeling for both the kid and the mom’s personalities right away. The pink shirt was a little jarring. It’s not all that uncommon for men to wear pick, I’d change it to something even stranger. Maybe pink and green stripes? Or pink, brown and white, then you can make a crack about him looking like Neapolitan ice cream. Anyway, well done.

    Putt-Putt Pro: Love the query. Nice and succinct. Great voice. And the premise is fabulous. Love the chump to champ line. And the last line is stellar too. The first 250 were also great. I felt like I was there. Loved the back and forth between the announcer voice in his head and the real world. I don’t care two sticks about golf and I want this book. Well done— I honestly have nothing negative to say here.

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  12. Super Weenie (I super LOVE this name!)

    Query:
    -“But to Saffy, the rules, regulations and restrictions feel like bubble wrap.” Good line!
    - school, and (I don’t think you need the comma.)
    -Perfectly Normal (I don’t understand why this is capitalized.)
    “ anaphylactic shock” (Oy! That’s scary. But will middle grade readers understand this?”
    -Survive Sixth Grade. (Again, why are you capitalizing this? Does she have a book with sections titled like this, or something?)
    -Madison sounds like a very mean girl. I don’t like her. LoL.
    -How does Saffy want a super hero to save the day?
    -If Super Weenie is despised alter ego, then it’s not close to a super hero at all. But this might just be me thinking this.
    -I like the idea of Saffy becoming her own super hero, but how will she do this and what happens if she doesn’t?

    First 250:
    -“Its tip is spit-soaked from when I was chewing on it earlier.” (Perhaps shorten: Its tip is spit-soaked from chewing on it earlier.)
    -“… because I'm busy being irritated at her.” (This made me feel like Saffy is a brat. Perhaps try something to connect the reader about why she’s irritated. How does she feel about her mother’s needling?”
    -The first 250 are pretty tight. Good job!

    vs

    Scratch

    Query:
    -Is there a way to tighten the last sentence of the first paragraph? Or split into two? Also, I’d end with it saying he’s been fired to add more punch than with the snobby president.
    -“a disgraced ex-professional golfer” (Why is he disgraced
    -:But if Win will give Mr. Boozer's coaching a chance” (But he asked Mr. Boozer to teach him, wacky or not
    -What are the stakes? What happens if he doesn’t become a champ?

    First 250:

    -25 feet away. (spell twenty-five)
    -The voice is fun in the first 250. I really couldn’t find fault with anything except perhaps make the inner dialogue briefer. Can’t wait to read this.

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  13. Bust the Bubble Wrap

    Query - Tone of the query is clear and tight. I feel for Saffron from the jump, in a very contemporary way (a kid dealing with overbearing parents who don't think she can take care of herself is something a lot of kids deal with, even without suffering from food allergies). Love the first paragraph, but you don't need the last sentence. The mood you set implies Saffron has grown tired with all the attention/overprotectiveness lumped on her. The query feels long over all, so trimming is in order I think. You could cut down the Madison part. A lot of plot detail there.

    1st 250 - Love the voice, especially the inner monologue (Sigh/Blech/Yeesh). Be careful of single words that break the eleven-year-old-feel. 'administer', for instance, feels too adult-y to me.

    Great job!

    Putt-Putt Pro

    Query - Love it. I get a MG Caddy Shack vide (apologies if others have said the same - I'm writing this before reading the other comments). First paragraph feels jammed and could use a little less detail, but the second paragraph is damn-near perfect. Cut down on the use of 'country club'.

    1st 250 - Wonderful. Again, evokes Caddy Shack for me, which is a great thing. I'd give the championship Win is imagining a name. If he knows as much about golf as I'm guessing he does, he knows all the big tour stops. Put him at one (unless he's thinking about the junior championship, but he can still use the name).

    Very strong. Well done.

    Thx.

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  14. Fellow Kombatant on her lunch break here. Both of these have great voices and premises, and I don't envy the judges at all.

    SUPER WEENIE:

    Q: I want this nickname FRONT AND CENTER! If it's MG, that's a tremendous alter-ego. I want to know right away that Saffy either wants to embrace or shed it. (Sidebar: I dig the name Saffy for a food-allergy kid, too!) I want to see you kick the stakes up a little bit more. Devil's advocate speaking here -- Saffy knows how it feels to have an allergic reaction - wouldn't she be grateful to have protective measures in place? Why is she a target for Madison?
    250: Awesome job! I am rooting for Saffy. There are a few places I'd cut:
    - the reminder of the chewing on the hair (repetitive)
    - The line "Fine. Say 'hi' to Britt and Jessica. I told them to watch out for you.” Why does Saffy need to say hi to people her mom's just talked to?
    - I'd rework the opening line to a more internal feeling of Saffy's. What's she feeling right now - nervous, right? Maybe emphasize this.
    I REALLY enjoyed this piece, though - I think it has a lot of potential.

    SCRATCH
    Q: Really stellar job here. You've set Win up with two major conflicts - his feelings about being short (and presumably how it affects his game) along with being poor. I noticed the repetition of "country club" in here a lot - I'd keep the first, cut the second to "club," and then omit for the groundskeeper.
    I am not the biggest fan of the names in here - they seem really cliched. However, I like this premise - it's like Happy Gilmore for kiddos. Nice work.
    250: Awesome job! Love how you place us in the character's head. One picky note - I had to read back up from the bottom to see that Win had kissed the ball. This was probably a reader error, but maybe speed that last bit along to remind us he's kissed it - "I tore my lips from the neon pink ball," or something along those lines.

    Good luck in the contest!

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  15. These are both very well-done, and I want to read them.

    Bust the Bubble Wrap
    Query: I like it. I think "making her life totally un-fun" might flow better if it were a different phrase. I don't quite understand what Super Weenie does (though I love that nickname).
    First 250: Great voice, great imagery, and the metaphor about robots is clever.

    Putt Putt Pro
    Query: I like Win already! He sounds like a protagonist I can root for.
    First 250: Funny and endearing with a cinematic quality. :)
    Good luck to both of you!

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  16. Bubble wrap: I LOVE the voice threaded into the query. I know who Saffy is, her struggles, what she wants, and why obtaining it is important to her. I als feel for her right away and start rooting for her before I even read sentence 1!
    250: solid, engaging opening.

    Golf:
    250: You do a good job of setting up stakes and motivations for the MC. However, as a judge said in a prior comment the query reads a little bland. Make me really care about your MC and HAVE to read the pages that follow.

    250:I really liked Win's commentary during his game. It helped break up the action and provide immediate insight into Win's fun personality.

    Me vote: Bubble Wrap

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