Jun 2, 2017

QK Round 1: Dogs and Chickens and Dragons vs Wolf in Witch Clothing

Title: Flecka Wivern and Her Two Pet Dragons
Entry Nickname: Dogs and Chickens and Dragons, Oh My!
Word count: 42K
Genre: MG Contemporary Fantasy

Query:

12-year-old Flecka Wivern is happy living a secret life as a Magical in rural Pennsylvania, even though her closest friends are her five chickens, one dog and two pet dragons. All that changes, however, when wicked little creatures from another realm called Vitterdam open a portal to Earth and kidnap her six-year-old brother Felix.

Flecka doesn’t know why anyone would want her smelly and loud little brother, but she doesn’t care--he’s her smelly and loud little brother. Now Flecka, with the help of her dragons and her non-magical (and only human) friend Darrell, must face magicked monsters and school bullies to reopen the portal. But once they open the portal, their true adventure begins--the wicked little creatures who kidnapped Felix work for Almerich, an evil sorcerer who wants to take over Vitterdam and who mysteriously believes that Felix will help him do so. Now Flecka, Darrell and her two dragons must use all the magical and non-magical tricks they have to not only save Felix, but also to save all of Vitterdam from Almerich’s clutches.

First 250:

Flecka didn't want to do her morning chores. But she had begged her mom for the chickens, and her mom had agreed provided that Flecka would be the one to take care of them.

"Your chickens, your responsibility," her mom had said, talking over the din of Felix crashing his toy trucks into the coffee table. "And if you get them to the point where their eggs hatch, then those are your responsibility too."

Flecka had agreed like any short-sighted twelve-year-old would. She loved chickens almost as much as she loved dragons.

But her love for both were flagging this muddy morning, which also happened to be the first day of fall. Which also happened to be Vitterdam Day.

Her sneakers slurped through the mucky ground as she tromped to the chicken coop to let her flock out on the wet grass. She was glad it was so damp; wet grass meant she would have to put out less fires. Wet grass meant that she would have less chores to do.

The smell of straw and droppings welcomed her as she opened the squeaky wooden door to the coop. She wrinkled her nose as she did a headcount of her flock: five purple and pink-feathered hens and two rainbow-scaled and red-horned dragons.

"Come on now," she coaxed as she held the coop door open. "I'm not going to wait forever. Now shoo!"

Her chickens clucked and trotted out, startled by Flecka's cry. Her dragons, however, did little more than give Flecka bored serpentine stares.



V.


Title: A Tale of Witches and Wolves
Entry Nickname: Wolf in Witch Clothing
Word count: 49K
Genre: MG Fantasy

Query:

For Nata, life as a wolf in the forest is walking the line between being shot by human hunters on the one side and being cursed by witches on the other. Her only hope is to find a place for her family, especially her little brother Lev, where they can live without fear of being hunted.

But then a hunter shoots Lev. Her brother is clinging to life, and the only one who can save him is the witch Baba Yaga, who live deeps in the forest in a hut balanced on chicken legs. But going to a witch for help is one thing no wolf should ever do—a witch’s curse can make a wolf lose herself and turn against her pack.

To save her brother, Nata will have to risk a curse that will cause her to betray her family, and lose her soul.

First 250:

Nata pressed her nose to the ground and sniffed. Among the smells of moss and fallen leaves, there was the stink of rotten meat and decay that almost always marked magic. It was faint, meaning she hadn’t strayed too far into dangerous territory, but not so faint that Nata would risk going any farther.

The fur on her back stood on end. As a wolf in the forest, she couldn’t help but feel on edge. The smell of magic meant that a witch was close by, and witches were to be avoided at all costs.

She crept away from the stench, retracing her steps through a grove of spiky pine trees. Even though the smell had been faint, it still clung to her fur. Disgusting. The stink didn’t disappear fully until she reached the far side of the hill. She gulped down the clean air, breathing out her nose in sharp huffs, trying to clear out any traces of the scent. After resting a moment, she touched her nose to the ground again, and set off in a different direction, carving her way between trees and boulders.

She’d been doing this for months—weaving her way through the woods, running into the smell of a witch, retreating and starting down a new path. Deep inside her, clinging to her bones like moss on stone, was the belief that there was a place in the forest far away from danger. That if she could just find a safe passage, she and her family could go there and live without fear.

19 comments :

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

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. FLECKA WIVERN AND HER TWO PET DRAGONS

      Query:

      The first paragraph does an excellent job setting up the book and a main source of conflict. Great touches of voice in the query, I love the line about her smelly, loud brother especially. I would consider making that line part of the first paragraph, and then starting paragraph 2 with the next line.

      I am confused about what Vitterdam is. At first it sounds like just an alternate realm where the wicked little creatures are from, but later it sounds like she has some ties to it. Is that where her family is originally from? Why is she so invested in saving it? Does she have reasons of her own or is she just helpful and kind like that?

      250:

      You mention that its Vitterdam day here, which brings me back to my question about what her connection to Vitterdam is. I would still like to see that in the query, especially since its coming up again in the first 250. Your query made it sound more of a random place.

      You use a lot of great descriptive phrases here, “sneakers slurped through the mucky ground” is a great visual. You also do a great job of cluing us into her pet’s personalities, the flightly chickens versus the bored dragons (who remind me personality wise a bit of cats!)

      A TALE OF WITCHES AND WOLVES

      Query:

      The opening line is great, and does a nice job of preparing us for the stakes.

      This is extremely nitpicky, but I would consider ending paragraph one with “live without fear” or starting paragraph two with “when Lev is shot.” Using hunter/hunted back to back stood out to me.
      Another thing I’m wondering is: are her parents present in this story? You mention her family in the first paragraph, but with everything going on, it sounds like it’s just Nata and Lev facing these obstacles. I’d like to know what the rest of her family is doing while she’s dealing with this. (Even if it’s just to say, while her parents care for her brother…)

      I’m also not clear on why the witch would curse the wolf though, especially if she is willing to help her save her brother. Is the price of the cure a curse? Why are the witches so interested in cursing wolves? Is there a longstanding rivalry here? I’d like a little more info.

      Using “will cause her to” in the final sentence makes it sound like it’s set in stone, I would consider using “may” instead, especially if Nata has a chance of not falling under the curse.

      250:

      The descriptions on this page were great, the first paragraph was especially strong, and I enjoyed the second! By the third paragraph, I felt like we had a good grasp on the smell of magic being distasteful/ meaning trouble, so I didn’t need another full paragraph about it. I know scent is extremely important to dogs/wolves in general, but the entire first page is about smell. I’d like to know more about Nata.

      The “deep inside her, clinging to her bones like moss on a stone…” sentence is a particularly beautiful line, and your final paragraph does a nice job setting up what your MC is striving for. I would consider cutting out some of the lines about scent, but otherwise this was a strong opening!


      Victory to: Flecka Wivern and Her Two Pet Dragons!

      Delete
    2. Professor McGonagallJune 4, 2017 at 8:57 AM

      DOGS AND CHICKENS AND DRAGONS, OH MY! A fun and creative idea, and a likable protagonist. Good job! QUERY: I get a good idea of the conflict here, but I am left with some questions. Is Flecka’s whole family Magical? Do her parents know her brother has been kidnaped? Why do school bullies come into it? It all seems a bit vague. I think the 2nd par. could be split into two – Once they open the portal could start the second. FIRST 250: A question – does she already know about Vitterdam (since it’s Vitterdam day)? Between the query and the 250 this wasn’t clear. I like the idea of a short-sighted twelve-year-old (you have it 12-year-old in query, twelve-year-old in 250), but I don’t think she would see herself that way, so is this from her perspective or the narrator’s? Take a look at your uses of “that” and also it should be “fewer” fires rather than “less.” A fun story! Good job and good luck!

      WOLF IN WITCH CLOTHING: QUERY: I got a good idea of the story, but I think there needs to be more “meat” to this query. Where are her parents? Who is her family? Why would a witch curse a wolf? How will Nata prepare against it? Is Nata going alone? There needs to be more information. Nitpicks: In the first sentence I think it would read better as “means” rather than “is.” (“life as a wolf in the forest means walking the line). Second sentence of second par. it should be “lives” rather than “live.” FIRST 250: I like Nata and it’s fun to read about a wolf rather than a person! I get a good idea of what she is doing here. I think in par. 3 it should read “breathing out OF her nose in sharp huffs.” I like the analogy of the belief clinging to her bones like moss on stone. Descriptive. Good job and good luck!

      Congrats to both entrants. Good luck with your writing! Because I feel it was just a bit more polished,

      Victory to DOGS AND CHICKENS AND DRAGONS, OH MY!

      Delete
    3. Dogs and Chickens and Dragons, Oh My!

      Query: I like the voice in this. I would be more specific though about the stakes, it's general right now. Delve into what it is about the kingdom Almerich wants or what will happen to the kingdom, etc.

      1st 250: Love the humor. I feel you need a punchier first line though. Something memorable to match its quirky voice.

      Wolf in Witch Clothing:

      Query: Love the query.

      1st 250: I love the voice in this and the prose is great!

      VICTORY TO WOLF IN WITCH CLOTHING

      Delete
    4. Lumpy Space AuthorJune 4, 2017 at 11:46 AM

      DOGS AND CHICKENS
      Query:

      Remove the "however" from "all that changes, however"

      Instead of "from another realm called Vitterdam" I prefer "the realm of Vitterdam" - we get that it's another one :)

      But once they open the portal{replace w/do], their true adventure begins[I actually feel like this clause is unnecessary. I think we expect adventures to begin with the opening of portals. I’d reword]--

      250

      "less fires" and "less chores"...technically, I believe it should be "fewer" in both cases.

      VERY GOOD BEGINNING. I get a good sense of the character and vivid images of the world. Good, voice-y query, too. It sounds like a very fun/mischievous/adventuresome story.

      WOLF IN WITCH CLOTHING
      250

      I feel like the elements in this query are disconnected from one another, and I’m not getting a really good grasp of the conflict or stakes here. Was Nata already looking for a place for her family when her brother got shot? And why is she charged with this task, and not her parents?

      Similarly, why is she, and not her parents, charged with saving her brother?

      I also want a hint of what the dynamic is between the humans, witches, and wolves. I can assume a lot of things about how and why they all hate each other, and I can assume this one witch has the cure for the little brother, but your query will come more alive if you world build a little in this respect.

      250

      Nata pressed her nose to the ground and sniffed. Among the smells of moss and fallen leaves, there was the stink of rotten meat and decay that almost always marked magic. It was faint, meaning she hadn’t strayed too far into dangerous territory, but not so faint that Nata would risk going any farther.{ I would take out this last sentence, and move it below}

      The fur on her back stood on end. As a wolf in the forest, she couldn’t help but feel on edge. [We don’t need this preceding sentence; it’s mostly redundant information]The smell of magic meant that a witch was close by, and witches were to be avoided at all costs. [here>>> I think it flows better in this order.]It was faint, meaning she hadn’t strayed too far into dangerous territory, but not so faint that Nata would risk going any farther.

      She crept away from the stench [I'd remove "crept away from the stench and just say "retraced her steps"-redundant information]retraced her steps through a grove of spiky pine trees. Even though the smell had been faint, it still clung to her fur. Disgusting. The stink didn’t disappear fully until she reached the far side of the hill. She gulped down the clean air, breathing out her nose in sharp huffs, trying to clear out any traces of the scent. [ take out "trying to clear...." assumed].

      Very evocative entry, and I want to read it because I'm guessing the politics/interaction between the different groups in this novel is really interesting...in my opinion, if those elements had been more accentuated in the query, it might have hooked me more. Not all people will feel the same, of course ;)

      But, VICTORY TO DOGS AND CHICKENS

      Delete
    5. DOGS AND CHICKENS AND DRAGONS
      I can already tell this is going to be a really fun ride of a book!
      Query – Good job! You’ve clearly outlined the conflict, the stakes, and given a good idea of the voice of the book. I have only a few thoughts. This sentence isn’t quite working for me: “Flecka doesn’t know why anyone would want her smelly and loud little brother, but she doesn’t care--he’s her smelly and loud little brother.” I really like the idea of it, but “doesn’t care” makes it sound like she’s indifferent to her brother’s kidnapping – and I’d maybe italicize “her” for emphasis. Also, perhaps consider a different way of saying “magicked monsters” – I’m all for alliteration, but I feel like you use the world “magical” a lot here.

      250 – I love that we get to meet the chickens and dragons so quickly in the story and that you introduce Felix right away as well. I’m uncertain about the phrase “like any short-sighted twelve year old” – it doesn’t seem like something that Flecka would think about herself, but is more omniscient and took me outside the story. I’d prefer to stay in Flecka’s POV even if it’s written in third person. OMG I love “bored serpentine stares” – great visual.


      WOLF IN WITCH CLOTHING
      Hooray for a Baba Yaga story – one of my favorite fairy tale characters!

      Query: I don’t usually say this, but I kind of want more details and think you should flesh your query out a bit. “lose herself and turn against her pack” and “betray her family, and lose her soul” feel vague to me and I’d love to get a more specific sense of what that means in the world of the story. Also, while we know she wants to save her brother’s life, I would love to hear more about the obstacles – what is she facing besides the possibility that she’ll be cursed? What kind of adventure can the reader expect to go on? Finally, I assume Nata is young, but it might be good to make it clearer in the query so agents are certain that it’s appropriate for MG readers.

      250: I enjoyed seeing the world through a wolf’s eyes (nose) and the imagery here is lovely. I feel like this sentence might be unnecessary “As a wolf in the forest, she couldn’t help but feel on edge.” And watch out for repetitive words like “clinging/clung” and “faint” and “moss.” I like that you’re getting the idea of her wish for a safe haven into the story early, but I feel like the last two sentences in the last paragraph are a little too pat – maybe give the reader a tiny bit less so that they keep turning the pages?

      These both seem like fun adventures, but Victory to DOGS AND CHICKENS AND DRAGONS

      Delete
    6. Wow, what a tough matchup!

      DOGS AND CHICKENS AND DRAGONS: My first impression of the query is that it reminds me of Labyrinth... which is good, because I like Labyrinth, but also makes me wonder what this story brings NEW to that idea? Beyond those concept-related concerns, though, this query is tight--I get a good sense of character, stakes, and conflict.

      The first 250 also work well for me. I love the quirkiness of having what looks like a normal, mom-telling-daughter-to-do-her-chores opening with "Oh yeah and there were dragons" mixed in. Looks like a fun ride! One point of concern: Six is maybe a little too old for banging trucks on the table. Six is first grade. Six is reading and writing and playing video games, probably old enough to ride a bike, etc. Banging trucks on the table feels more like three-ish? A lot of child characters who are younger than the MC feel "too young" in MG and YA novels... so this might not bother an agent, but if you don't actually have a six year old or know many six year olds, maybe find some beta readers who do? (Moms make great betas for younger child characters!)

      WOLF IN WITCH CLOTHING: I love the query--succinct, well-written, and presents the conflict and stakes clearly. I love animal stories as well (and was all but obsessed with them when I was MG-age) so, definitely wanting to read more.

      The POV is strong in the first 250... I suppose I don't really know what a wolf's inner voice sounds like, but you seem to have captured it? There's a distinctly not-human feel here that I love. What doesn't quite work for me is the conflict. Why does Nata need to search for a new place for her family? Instead of "the belief that there was a place in the forest far away from danger. That if she could just find a safe passage, she and her family could go there and live without fear".... why not introduce WHY she needs to get away. It feels like she's basically acting on a gut feeling right now, and gut feelings usually don't make the best inciting incidents. If there is an outside threat (humans?) that she needs to escape from, I'd try to introduce that on the first page.

      This was honestly one of the hardest matchups yet. While neither one grabbed me as 100% ready to go without revision, I also don't want to see either eliminated!

      This is honestly largely personal preference, as I'd rate both maybe 95/100 as-is? But I have to choose, so....

      Victory to DOGS AND CHICKENS AND DRAGONS!

      Delete
    7. Entry Nickname: Dogs and Chickens and Dragons, Oh My!
      Query Feedback
      This story sounds SO delightful! I love the idea of her keeping pet dragons in PA.

      I was confused at one point because I thought Vitterdam was the name of the creatures, not the realm.Maybe “from the realm of Vitterdam” at the end of the first paragraph could work better?

      Can we get more of her personal stakes in here? Does undertaking this mission risk people finding out her secret? (I know she wants to save Felix and Vitterdam, but how does it impact her secret life?

      Paragraph 2, sentence 2: the way this is worded read kind of awkwardly to me (I stumbled a bit.) Others may feel differently. But “Now Flecka, her dragons, and her non magical...Darrel must…” might read easier.

      This sounds like such a great story, which is why my feedback is so minimal. Great work!

      First 250 Feedback:
      Super cute and I love how relatable a 12 year old doing chores will be for readers. I wonder if the first sentence can pack more of a punch by alluding to some of the surprising facts (chickens and dragons!) or give us more of Flecka’s voice/style. You have so much in later paragraphs, I just wanted this sentence to sing a bit more.

      I think you want “fewer” instead of “less” for “fewer fires” and “fewer chores”

      You have such great vivid descriptions! I can picture the whole scene. Great work!

      I love the dragons :)

      Entry Nickname: Wolf in Witch Clothing
      Query Feedback:
      Sentence 1: “is walking” could just be “walks”or even “paws the line” (since she is a wolf!)
      Sentence 2: can “find a place” be more specific? A safe place? A warm place? A new place?

      Paragraph 2 is awesome!!! And love the conclusion.

      One thought: can you make it clear that she needs to “save her brother’s life”...because as readers we know she will make the choice to same him (obviously), but if we can see the cost clearly (that if she is cursed, she will lose him in a different way -- she could end up hurting him, or he won’t know her anymore, or whatever it is that the curse does) then we actually do need to read to see how she handles the consequences of her choice.



      First 250 Feedback:
      “Breathing out her nose” -- the wording there tripped me up. Maybe “exhaling from her nose” or “breathing out of her nose” ?

      Beautiful description.

      Can we get more of a sense of fear? I like the fur standing on edge. I think because Nata is a wolf, we need even more internal sensations to make the character relatable to us human readers. Maybe her heart is speeding up? Her stomach turns?

      Love seeing her determination and the belief that she can achieve her goal. I really admire Nata already.

      This is a tough decision! I like both entries a lot!!! However, I am going to have to go with...


      VICTORY TO -- Wolf in Witch Clothing

      Delete
  2. Dogs and Chickens and Dragons, Oh My!
    Query: Funny and endearing! I like the "smelly and loud little brother" part. It feels true to real sibling love. I think everything from "But once they open..." to the end can be tightened just a little.
    First 250: Even better than the query. I like picturing the dragons giving a bored look. Thumbs up for auditory imagery.

    Wolf in Witch Clothing
    Query: Beautiful. You've set out the stakes clearly.
    First 250: Again, even better than the query! Very good. I care. I want to read more.

    ReplyDelete
  3. These are both such strong entries,I'm glad I'm not a judge! Dogs and Chickens: the query is very clear, does a great job of setting up the world and the stakes, but the 250 is even better. The voice is perfect for the fun, adventure and heart of middle grade. I love how it opens, straight in her world and the magic.

    Wolf in Witch clothing: Again, the query did a great job of setting up the stakes. I did want a bit more about the curse, ie why the witch might curse the wolf, to make the last line punchier. But the 250 is fab, sensory, great descriptions and I love the MC being a wolf. I would definitely read more.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Flecka Wivern and Her Two Pet Dragons

    [[I love your beginning. It’s perfect.]]

    Flecka doesn’t know why anyone would want her smelly and[[[I suggest you cut the ‘and’]]] loud little brother, but she doesn’t care--he’s her smelly and loud little brother. Now Flecka, with the help of her dragons and her non-magical (and only human) friend Darrell[[[this surprised me because in the first paragraph you made it sound as if she had no other friends besides her chickens and dragons]]]

    Now Flecka, Darrell and her two dragons must use all the magical and non-magical tricks they have to not only save Felix, but also to save all of Vitterdam from Almerich’s clutches. [[[I think it would be more worrying if Almerich wanted to take over Earth. Why is Flecka so concerned over Vitterdam? You probably explain this in your book. Perhaps you could explain it a little in your query]]]

    [[The is a fun query and you definitely make me want to read the book.]]

    First 250:

    Flecka didn't want to do her morning chores. But she had begged her mom for the chickens, and her mom had agreed provided [[that -cut]] Flecka would be the one to take care of them.

    Her sneakers slurped through the mucky ground as she tromped to the chicken coop to let her flock out on the wet grass. She was glad it was so damp; wet grass meant she would have to put out less fires. Wet grass meant [[that -cut]] she would have less chores to do.

    The smell of straw and droppings welcomed her as she opened the squeaky wooden door to the coop. She wrinkled her nose [[as/while]] she did a headcount of her flock: five purple and pink-feathered hens and two rainbow-scaled and red-horned dragons.

    [[This last sentence is great. Her dragons make me think of cats]]



    V.


    A Tale of Witches and Wolves

    But then a hunter shoots Lev. Her brother is clinging to life, and the only one who can save him is the witch Baba Yaga, who live deeps[[[I think you mean: ‘lives deep’, not ‘live deeps’]]]. in the forest in a hut balanced on chicken legs. [[[Suggested rephrase: But when Lev is fatally injured by a hunter, the only person who might save him is the witch Babba Yaga, who lives deep in the forest in a hut balanced on chicken legs.]]]
    But going to a witch for help is one thing no wolf should ever do—a witch’s curse can make a wolf lose herself and turn against her pack.

    To save her brother, Nata will have to risk a curse that will cause her to betray her family, and lose her soul.

    [[[This query has so much voice. I’m a big fan of anything Russian-ish, so perhaps I’m a bit bias.]]]

    First 250:

    The smell of magic meant [[that -cut]] a witch was close by, and witches were to be avoided at all cost[s -cut].

    [[[Pretty polished, and you give a very good introduction for your main character and her dilemma.]]]


    Good luck both of you!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Wow, I'm impressed with the quality of these 2 queries. I don't usually read MG but now I feel like reading them.

    Entry Nickname: Dogs and Chickens and Dragons, Oh My!
    Only one question, why does she want to save all of Vitterdam rather than just grab her brother and run?

    Entry Nickname: Wolf in Witch Clothing
    I love the idea of using the POV of the wolf--and a female wolf!
    I'll have to read this when it comes out.
    I was going to point out a couple of issues with the sentence below, but Cez Apello beat me to it: "But then a hunter shoots Lev. Her brother is clinging to life, and the only one who can save him is the witch Baba Yaga, who live deeps in the forest in a hut balanced on chicken legs."

    ReplyDelete
  6. DOGS AND CHICKENS AND DRAGONS, OH MY!

    Query:

    You did an awesome job setting up the stakes and giving readers a sense of the story.

    I love that you added some voice in the second paragraph. Could you start that in the first paragraph? I think it would help pique interest.

    Also, the second paragraph is a little dense. Maybe break it into two?

    Overall, good work!

    First 250:

    This is really well-written. I’m really curious about what Vitterdam Day is and want to read more.

    I think it could be stronger if you started with the action and then filtered in the background throughout. For instance, start with “Flecka’s sneakers slurped through the mucky ground…” and then filter in the thoughts from the first four paragraphs somewhere after that.

    But even as is, I think it’s really strong. Great job!


    WOLF IN WITCH CLOTHING

    Query:

    This is a great query and has everything we need. The last line seems a bit repetitive though. Also, could you find a way to add some voice in? I think that will solidify it.

    First 250:

    This is really, really good. I love the details. I love the tone. I love the set-up. I want to keep reading. Great job!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Quaker Rain ForestJune 4, 2017 at 9:15 AM

    Dogs and Chickens and Dragons

    Query:

    This is a great query. I loved everything about it, especially the smelly loud little brother – great voice.

    First 250:

    Fabulous – if I were an agent, I would totally ask to see more based on the query and the first 250. I love the voice. I love the details – I really felt like I was doing chores along with Flecka, which was awesome. I loved the personality of the chickens and dragons. If you ever want to swap beta reads, let me know because I have an MG Fantasy that sounds similar to this except it involves Scottish sheep.

    Really nice work.

    Wolf in Witch Clothing

    Query:

    Another great query. I really liked this one, too. I love Nata’s paradox – it sets up great tension.

    First 250:

    You did a great job getting into the head of a wolf. I can smell the moss and the fallen leaves. I can picture her sniffing through the forest, trying to find a safe place. I particularly loved the line about belief clinging to her bones like moss – very poetic and nice, especially given her surroundings.

    Excellent work to both contestants. Best of luck! Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Dragons
    Query: It would do to mention Darrell before hand in the sentence about her friends. "Now Flecka, Darrell, and her two dragons" MAKE sure the Oxford comma is there between Darrell and her dragons.

    So, the way this is described feels almost episodic, rather than sounding like one big story. Is there a way you can remove some of the details and smooth the transitions so it feels like one thing?

    250: Super cute! No complaints here.


    Witches & Wolves
    Query: LOVED THIS! Also, FUCK YEAH BABA YAGA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I cannot get enough of her, so I am THRILLED about this. My only comment is about this: "—a witch’s curse can make a wolf lose herself and turn against her pack.

    To save her brother, Nata will have to risk a curse that will cause her to betray her family, and lose her soul."

    It reads redundant. Is there a way to clear up the redundancy?

    250: I wanna keep reading!!! No! Where is the rest? The tone is spot-on, and your attention to details is amazing.


    Keep up the AMAZING work, you two!

    ReplyDelete
  9. FLECKA WIVERN AND HER TWOPET DRAGONS
    Query:
    -12-year-old (Spell out: Twelve-year-old)
    -“he’s her smelly and loud little brother.” (I like this! Siblings fight but yet stick up for each other when someone else is hurting them.)
    -“(and only human) friend Darrell” (Does this mean Flecka isn’t a human? I assumed she was just an earthly witch.)
    -“ magicked” (magical?)
    -I’m not sure mentioning in detail about the magical monster and school bullies opening the portal is as important as simply saying she pairs up with unlikely allies to reopen the portal. This way you can keep the query focused on the part where “their true adventure begins”.
    -To keep focus on the MC, perhaps just call Felix “her brother” and Almerich simply the “evil sorcerer”.
    -While I get Flecka must save her brother and Vitterdam for the evil sorcerer’s cluthches, I don’t understand what will happen if she doesn’t. What will happen to her brother? What specific perils will Almerich put the town in if he takes control?

    First 250:
    -The first paragraph is a little confusing because if Flecka begs for the chickens to be her chore, then it goes without saying it’d be “her” responsibility. Why would she ask otherwise?
    -The first sentence in the second paragraph already states how you ended the first paragraph about the chickens being Flecka’s responsibility. I’d lose this in the first paragraph and keep the mom stating it in the second.
    -…”flagging” (< I’m not sure what you mean by this)
    -I’m not sure what Vitterdam Day is or why it’s significant.
    -wet grass meant she would have to put out less fires. (Fires? What fires?)
    -I love the idea of an adventure into another realm. And there are dragons? YES! With a little clarification, this will be an excellent read.

    Vs
    A Tale of Witches and Wolves

    Query:
    -“For Nata, life as a wolf in the forest is walking the line between being shot by human hunters on the one side and being cursed by witches on the other.” (I think you can shorten this to something like: For Nata, being a wolf in the forest is walking the line between being shot by human hunters or being cursed by witches. This way it ends with a little punch)
    -“hut balanced on chicken legs”. (Chicken legs are small. Do they look like chicken legs, or has she spelled them like oversized stilts?)
    -“a witch’s curse can make a wolf lose herself and turn against her pack”(Wouldn’t she ask for a cure and not a curse? Or, do you mean they can’t trust the witch not to do a curse rather than a cure?)
    -“To save her brother, Nata will have to risk a curse that will cause her to betray her family, and lose her soul.” (Why? How does she know a curse is going to be done instead of a magic cure?)
    -Also, is she a real wolf or a werewolf? If she’s a real wolf, do they actually talk?
    -I’m digging the idea of a witch, a curse, and wolves in the forest. This sounds like a twisty kind of read I’d like.

    First 250:

    -“Nata pressed her nose to the ground and sniffed. Among the smells of moss and fallen leaves,” (I think you can combine this to: Nata pressed her nose to the ground and sniffed moss and fallen leaves. There was….”
    -“The fur on her back stood on end. As a wolf in the forest, she couldn’t help but feel on edge. (Why should a wolf in the forest feel on edge? Plus, the previous sentence with fur on end already lets the reader know Nata is on edge.)
    -“witches were to be avoided at all costs.” (Why are they to be avoided? Do they dislike wolves? Want to eat them? If I hadn’t read the query, I wouldn’t know they curse wolves. But why do they?)
    - “set off in a different direction” (Does she have a goal in mind? Was she looking for a specific place to go to?)
    -I think you bring up “smell” a little too often just within the first 250. Try mixing it up: stench, odor, reek, whiffed, waft, etc.)
    -Again, I like the concept of witches and wolves in the deep forest. I especially like the idea of a wolf trying to find a safe place to live, as we can all relate. Everyone wants to be safe! Good job.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Dogs and Chickens and Dragons

    Query: First paragraph is great. Second paragraph could be streamlined just a bit, but overall it sets up the stakes well and I'm intrigued to know why the evil sorcerer thinks her smelly little brother is the key to taking over Vitterdam. (Take out magical and non-magical– just say tricks.)

    First 250: You could cut the second line of the first paragraph and go straight from "...chores." To "Your chickens..." I love the dynamic of chickens and dragons, although I do wonder why the dragons don't eat the chickens? I'd love to read more!


    A Tale of Witches and Wolves

    Query: The stakes are clealrly set up, but I still feel a tiny bit lost since I know nothing about how the magic in this world works. Can you give us a little more detail? Why would the curse cause her to turn against her family? Is the ultimate conflict for her to find a way to break the curse and save her brother? Could that be stated a little more clearly? It's a really intriguing concept– I'd just love to know more!

    First 250: I really liked the visual and details of the wolf sniffing around the forest. I wonder if you need to dwell quite so long on the smell, but I do love that she can smell magic. Great writing.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Chicken: Nice query. You do a good job of summarizing the plot quickly. It was so short, I wondered if you could fit in something more about Flecka’s personality. In the first 250, when you say Flecka agreed like any short-sighted 12-year-old, is that something she’s thinking? If not, it seems to be stepping out of her POV. I like the wet grass reference—I think I know where that’s heading. But if they torch stuff, I’m wondering why don’t they torch the chickens? Or eat them? And isn’t that next sentence about reducing her chores redundant?
    Witch: I think this is a good concept to have just straight regular wolves dealing with the witches. In the query, it seems that the choice is whether to go to the witch or not. But if it’s necessary to save her brother’s life, that’s not a hard choice. Is there a way to make it a more balanced set of options? In the first 250, I think it’s great to start with a smell description, but how does rotten meat and decay mean magic? I don’t get that. If there’s something rotting in the forest, it will smell like rotten meat and decay, but is a dead squirrel magic? Is it a smell almost like some accursed combination of rotten meat and pond scum? The sentence that begins As a wolf in the forest seems a little heavy-handed to me. Like if I said, as a human driving a car, I hated potholes. She knows the witches are dangerous. And after you’ve said her fur stood up, we know she’s on edge. I think it’s stronger without that sentence.
    Good luck to you both.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Dogs and Chicken and Dragons:

    Query: Stakes and motivation are established where Flecka's brother is concerned. I'd like to know why Flecka (and me the reader) should care about saving the world she ventures to.

    250:
    I feel like the voice slips at times and sounds a little older than a 12 year old would sound. For example, the line about like any short-sighted twelve year old would reads more like an adult talking down to a child.

    Witches:
    Query: The stakes and conflict are clear. However, I think you can take a line or two to strongly characterize Nata and let us know what's unique about her that sets her apart from any other MG heroine.

    250:
    The beginning of the story starts in a way that establishes the setting extremely well. I get a strong sense of Nata's surroundings-- how they look and how they smell. It immediately sucks me into the story.

    My vote: Witches!

    ReplyDelete