Jun 1, 2018

QK Round 1: Dr. Wanna Be Ballerina VS Got Me a Daddy Map

Title: Dawn Imperfect
Entry Nickname: Dr. Wanna Be Ballerina
Word Count: 60,000
Genre: Middle Grade

Query:

Dawn Cohen feels life would be easier if she was like all of the other tall and skinny girls in her ballet class. Dawn drastically cuts calories to lose weight and tries to cover up increasing hip and knee pain. After a heart-breaking rejection from a summer program audition, her best friend’s classmate asks her if she has horns on her head because she’s a Jew. As her dream of becoming a ballerina falls apart, her family, friends, and a cute boy in math class help her realize that in life you don’t only get one dream, and sometimes changing dreams is not failing, it’s growing.

DAWN IMPERFECT won the 30th Dear Lucky Agent contest on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog. DAWN IMPERFECT will appeal to fans of BRACED by Alyson Gerber and OUT OF MY MIND by Sharon M. Draper.

First 250:

“And five, six, seven, eight,” Mrs. Diane counted.

I began the dance combination across the ballet studio. I was about to leap when my hip felt like it popped out of its socket just as my pointe shoe left the floor. Instead of leaping, I fell to the floor hard. “Do not cry,” I pleaded to myself. I tried to ignore the sharp pain deep in my hip and forced my body up from the solid, wood floor to continue to dance.

“Are you okay?” Allie, my best friend, whispered to me between turns.

“Yes,” I said, hoping my shaky voice didn’t reveal the truth.

“It’s almost your turn,” Allie said, and I began the leap combination again.

Somehow I survived the rest of ballet class, only quickly wiping a few stray tears from my eyes.

I massaged my hips as we waited for Allie’s mom to pick us up from the dance studio.

“Now that we’re alone you can tell me the truth. Are you okay?”

“Honestly, my hips have been really sore lately. Maybe I needed this Sunday to rest instead of an extra ballet class. I’ll ice them tonight and they’ll be fine.”

“Are you sure?”

I nodded.

“Then ice is a good idea. There’s Mom.”

“Hi girls. How was class?” she asked as Ally opened the door and jumped into the SUV.

“Same as always.” I said. I climbed up into the seat careful not to irritate my hips.

Allie gave me a worried look but I quickly smiled.


 VS


Title: Mama's Chicken & Dumplings
Entry Nickname: Got Me a Daddy Map
Word Count: 38,000
Genre: Mid Grade (#OwnVoices)

Query:

Allie's anger can be a hot-comb sitting on the flame of a stove. Sometimes that copper, pressing comb of emotion turns red and she does things she later regrets. She wants to stay calm. But emotions are hard to handle, especially when you're poor, only ten, and live at a time when people think your Mama's an improper woman just because she isn't married yet has herself a child.

So Allie becomes obsessed with finding her Mama a good man--one who likes to sing, who kind-smiles, and most importantly loves her mama's chicken and dumplings. Allie, with the help of her cousin Julius Caesar, hunt for potential suitors for Mama, giving each one a red heart on Allie's daddy map. Sometimes, though, plans fail, and Allie finds herself with a black crayon covering over the red. Why won’t life cooperate?

Mama’s Chicken & Dumplings is a 34,450-word, middle-grade novel with a colorful backdrop of Chicago's South Side’s better days of the early 1940s. Allie's story is one of friendship and family, of learning to control one's temper, and of saying goodbye to cherished things. There is a (subtle) subplot that reveals that Allie's ain't-nobody-messing-with-my-mama pluck comes from her awareness that she is a product of rape.

First 250:

I’m sitting on the stoop of our brownstone, brushing my old doll’s hair when the fat man comes, smiling his fat smile. He’s come to collect the rent. But I ain’t worried. Whenever Mama comes home from cleaning, she goes straight to her coffee tin and in goes her money. Clink. Clink. She ain’t spared not even a penny, not even to me, though I shed me some tears.

“Please, please,” I’d say. “Let me run down to Mr. Malone’s store and get me a Mary Jane.” Mama’s real tight with pennies, so I’m sure she’s got enough. Least, I hope.

The fat man rings the bell. Ring. Mama will know that’s for her. If he’d rung it two times together—ring, ring, like that—crazy Miss Zelda in her housedress with shout-out colors and a scarf round her head would’ve come from the second floor. Had it been three times, old Mr. Potterfield, who’s up on the third floor, would’ve opened his window and hollered

“Who!” And if it wasn’t anybody he knew, he’d grumble like the back of a garbage packer squeezing down trash, and slam the window.

One ring is all, and Mama will be at the door, letting the fat man in.

Course, I could let him in, but since he’s acting like he can’t see me sitting here, right up under his feet, I decide I ain’t paying him no mind at all. And I ain’t letting him in. He’ll have to wait for Mama. 

19 comments :

  1. Judges, please respond with your feedback and vote here! Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great job to you both!

      I think you both have authentic MG voices, which are hard to nail, so that's great.

      BALLERINA:

      Generally, in a query, you want to focus on one main conflict. I don't understand what the anti-Semitism has to do with a: ballet or b:what the main character wants. I would delete it from the query. Also, the query feels a little short. Usually, the first paragraph is the hook, then you get into who the character is, what they want and the conflict in the plot. Then focus on stakes, i.e. what will happen if they don't get it. I think you can expand and include more details so we fall in love with Dawn and root for her.

      I think the 250 is in good shape. I think you could go a little deeper in terms of what it felt like to fall, how the pain throbs etc. Put us more in the scene. Otherwise, it looks good :)

      MAMA'S: Holy voice, Batman! Great query. I already love Allie. A couple small things, you don't want to spell out themes or subplots in a query. Show don't tell :) I would delete most of the last paragraph and just keep the fact that it's a historic MG. The other thing I would include is Allie's age. MG is sometimes a wide range. Is she 8 or 12? That usually goes into a query.

      I very much enjoyed the 250. Great job.

      VICTORY TO DADDY MAP

      Delete
    2. Comments for Dawn Imperfect:

      Regarding the query: these things are meant to be brief, but I feel like you may have taken that a bit far with this one. Your description is barely a hundred words. That forces you to be extremely vague, and I don't think you've done your work justice. I think I'd have a better feel for this book if you stretched this out a bit, and added some concrete detail.

      Your first 250 flows well, but I think it could use a bit of polish yet. The second sentence of the second paragraph is a bit hard to follow, and the rest of that paragraph reads awkwardly compared to the bulk of the text, which for the most part flows very smoothly.

      Bottom line, though, is that I don't have a solid idea of what this book is about right now. Some additional detail added to the query could probably help a lot with that.

      Comments for Daddy Map:

      First, a couple of very minor corrections: should be "hunts" in the second sentence, second paragraph, and I'm not sure why there's a paragraph break after "hollered" in the first 250.

      That said, I love the tone of this query. You really have the colloquial voice down, which is not an easy thing to accomplish. As far as suggestions for improvement go, I do think the first two sentences of the query fail to scan the way the rest of your text does. You might consider reworking those so that they roll off the tongue a bit more easily. Also, the third paragraph of the query breaks with the tone of the rest, and gets into a bit of telling rather than showing. You might want to consider either working some of those details into the text above, or leaving them out of the query.

      The first 250 is gold. I don't think I'd touch anything there other than that stray paragraph break.

      These are both solid queries, but I feel like Daddy Map really knocked it out of the park.

      Victory to Daddy Map.

      Delete
    3. Earthbound MisfitJune 2, 2018 at 3:05 PM

      Ballerina:

      Query: There's a lot of intriguing story complications hinted at in this query, but I think it would benefit from additional specific details to make it really stand out. At one paragraph (minus the comps, etc.), it's a bit brief and general as it stands. One possibility is to break it into two paragraphs, with the second paragraph starting at "As her dream of becoming a ballerina falls apart…". Then, expand on that second paragraph and describe some of the specific events that prompt Dawn's change of perception. Also, the fact that one of her classmates mocks her for being a Jew could be integrated into the pitch more smoothly—it doesn't seem to fit with the first part of the sentence. Rather, it fits more closely with her feeling of not being like the other girls…

      1st 250: The first 250 do a great job of starting in the middle of the action, introducing Dawn's ongoing hip pain and her determination to succeed. You could add a few more sensory details to really bring the scene to life and help us picture the characters, but this is a strong writing sample overall.


      Daddy Map:

      Query: The query does a fantastic job of reflecting the tone and writing style of the first 250 words, and the premise is already heart-wrenching! I'm really impressed. My only suggestion here is to integrate the information about the subplot into the first two paragraphs rather than letting it be an afterthought at the very end.

      1st 250: The voice is SO strong here, and you quickly establish a sense of Allie's viewpoint, where she lives, HOW she lives, and the people around her in her life. She is also clearly a kid who knows her own mind, and that nicely reflects what you reveal in the query—about her plans for her mom and her family.


      Victory to Daddy Map!

      Delete
    4. Discount Wonder WomanJune 3, 2018 at 7:39 AM

      BALLERINA:

      My first thought reading the query was that it was so short, and maybe because of that, the "secondary plotline" (which I'm assuming the anti-semitism is) comes out of nowhere. There's a lot of room you can use to expand and smooth out those transitions.

      The first 250 are OK, but I'm missing something. More details, I think, especially in terms of senses. It's almost over too soon without us getting deeper into Dawn's head.

      DUMPLINGS:
      Holy crap, this one! It's one great query--and I'm going to have to disagree with a fellow judge in that "hunt" is right, because the action encompasses Allie and her cousin, so plural. I was pulled out of it at the end, however, when you just start dumping info about the rape subplot. Either weave that into the query proper, or cut it. As it is, it feels displaced and like an afterthought.

      I've got nothing else to add about the 250 that hasn't been said. You nailed the voice. Job really well done here!

      Victory to DADDY MAP!

      Delete
    5. Neither of you included ages, and that's helpful for establishing if the voice hits the mark.


      Dr. Wanna Be Ballerina

      Query
      Hmm…I’m puzzled over how the story progresses. You give a lot of information about why we should empathize with Dawn, but these sound like scenes rather than a plot. Key phrases that would help show how the plot flows would be like, “When Dawn does X….” “But then…” (I assume her health plays a big part of the plot judging from the first line and the 250.)

      The last line should also focus on what *Dawn* does. Her friends and family might help along the way, but ultimately she’s the one making choices and growing. Show us her agency. :)

      250
      For me, this jumps into what feels like the inciting incident too soon. I know nothing about Dawn and don’t have an emotional connection to her to react when she’s in pain (beyond "ouch!"). I would consider starting just a few moments earlier in class so we can better get inside Dawn’s head.


      Got Me a Daddy Map

      Query
      I love the personality––you give a nice flavor of the story’s voice without being distracting. The only thing I think it’s missing is something to indicate Allie’s final push toward the goal after the disappointments. I’d also delete the last two lines of your query and just leave the line about WC and setting.

      250
      The voice is amazing and already feels so polished. I want to keep reading!


      VICTORY TO GOT ME A DADDY MAP!

      Delete
    6. Mrs. Will HerondaleJune 4, 2018 at 2:25 PM

      Dr. Wanna Be Ballerina

      I’m feeling conflicted about this entry. I absolutely believe it’s an important story that needs telling, as I know there are MG-reading girls who struggle with body issues, and religious persecution, but it feels so heavy. It’s also so short, and the heart-breaking line about the classmate’s anti-Semitism comes out of nowhere.

      I would love to see this query expanded and filled out with more details. For me, the best “issue” books feel well-rounded, either by the character’s humor or personality, or vivid world-building details. After reading this entry, I came away just feeling sad. I mean, it’s a tween girl with hip problems! I just want to cry for her!

      I think both the query and the First 250 could use some more voice… let us feel there’s something unique about Dawn to want to go down this path with her, especially if we know it’s going to be a sad/hard one. A good example of what I’m talking about is Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. If you told me it was a book about a poor, overweight girl who’s living with a creepy, abusive step-father, crammed in a room with all her siblings, including sharing a bed with a brother who pees the bed, I would say that sounds too sad, no thank you. But give me one page of Eleanor’s voice and I would follow that girl anywhere. This first 250 is well-written, but Dawn’s voice sounded a little too mature for me and I’d love to get some more of her personality on the first page.


      Got Me A Daddy Map

      Query: The voice here is stellar. I was a little confused by the first two lines, as I don’t know what a hot-comb is, and “pressing comb of emotion” was hard to follow, but it almost doesn’t matter because the voice is so good. Also, I love the premise of Allie and her cousin Julius Caesar (ha!) trying to find her a daddy.

      A few things you could clarify: I don’t know what it means that “plans fail” and “why won’t life cooperate?” Does that mean she changes her mind about potential suitors she’d given red hearts to before? Likewise, “saying goodbye to cherished things” is pretty vague. That could mean anything from a marble she loves to the notion that she has a dad somewhere. Maybe clarify the stakes a little more.

      First 250: Ha! I love “…fat man comes, smiling his fat smile.” I have nothing to criticize here. I’m wondering if there are a few typos- like the paragraph that breaks right in the middle, but I’m pretty sure any agent reading this 250 would request the full. Such great writing.


      VICTORY TO GOT ME A DADDY MAP!

      Delete
  2. Love your query and sample, Meredith!

    In the query, do add your main character's age. (If she's 8, she sounds too old. If she's 15, she sounds perfect!) Also include the category, if it's YA or MG, and the word count.

    Your opening pages/words are very strong. You plop the reader right into Dawn's world, revealing her problem front and center! My only caution is to check for those little things, like misspelling your Allie's name. You definitely don't want a boo-boo like that in your first-words sample distracting your reader unnecessarily.

    Otherwise, well done!

    ReplyDelete
  3. BALLERINA:
    I very much love this premise, as a former dancer. The weight-loss topic is very relevant and this story has so much potential. I agree that the query feels a bit vague. I'm wondering if it could move away from the overall moral/theme and show more details about the plot and the actions the MC takes. Depending on the age of the MC, the voice feels a bit mature for middle grade--it's feeling more YA. For the first 250, I was hoping you could provide more details/description so we can feel that we're in that scene alone with the MC--the music, the other dancers, the studio. As it is now, I was wondering if it jumped around a little too much? There are actually 2 scenes--in the class, after class, and then getting in the car. So I was wondering about dividing these into two distinct scenes and then fleshing them out. Lovely concept!

    DADDY MAP:
    I agree on the amazing voice! It felt like a young MG voice, so age would be helpful. For the query, I was wondering about having something (perhaps near the end of the 2nd paragraph) that gives readers a little more insight on character growth versus ending with the question. Does this lead the MC to make some sort of choice or grow in some way? I also agree on not spelling out the subplots so explicitly, as mentioned above. If you wanted, perhaps that could be subtly alluded to in the 2nd paragraph. Not sure. For the 250: I really enjoy your voice. I think perhaps typo around the "Who!" line. I like how you really set the scene with the neighbors. My one main comment: I was wondering if the very first line could be made even stronger (ex. possibly start with the man instead of "sitting on top"). Otherwise, wonderful!

    Great job to the both of you and thank you for sharing!

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  4. Dr. Wanna Be Ballerina
    Your query felt more like a blurb than a full query letter. You tell us everything that’s going on, but it all feels so rushed that I don’t feel anything about it. The only thing I know about Dawn is that she wants to be a ballerina and isn’t satisfied with her body image (as an aside, how old is Dawn, because I think that helps contextualize her body image issues). That gives me enough to feel bad for her, objectively. But it’s not enough for me to sympathize with her or root for her, and I think it would be better if you could get to that level. What’s something that makes her happy? What’s something that makes her special or relatable? Give us that before you give us her conflict, and I think it will be a more effective query for it. Also try not to start two sentences in a row off with her name.

    As for the first 250, I felt kind of the same disconnect as I did with the query. I wanted to feel bad for her when she fell; I really did. But I just didn’t have a connection with her yet, so it was kind of meh. Also, consider trying for some more vivid imagery. Most people don’t know what it feels like when a hip pops out of socket, so that description doesn’t really help them much. But a rubbery snap and pain radiating up and down your leg and belly would resonate with a lot of people, because OUCH. Some scene-setting might help as well. A paragraph where she’s doing the routine and talking about the studio and we get to feel how happy ballet makes her—that might set the reader up to really feel for her.


    Got Me a Daddy Map
    This sounds adorable, and probably heartbreaking at the same time. I like that you give us a sense of who Allie is right off the bat, and I love the comparison to the hot-comb. There are some weird grammar things that I bumped on. For example, the comma between copper and pressing felt out-of-place, and Allie … hunt[s] for potential suiters, not hunt. It gets a bit vague there at the end, and closing on a rhetorical question felt a little weak against the rest of the character of the query. Try to make the stakes more clear, and give us a strong ending. Also, round your word count to the thousands.

    For your first 250, I love the voice. I know it’s set in Chicago, but I’m a Southerner, and it could just as easily read as a little girl from Georgia. I’m also not bummed that we only get “fat man” for the description of the guy, because I can very much see a little girl picking someone’s most outstanding attribute and sticking with it. You’re missing punctuation after “hollered,” be it a comma or a colon. It feels a bit strange to end a line without some sort of punctuation. On the whole, I really enjoyed this snippet. I would definitely read on.

    Good luck to you both!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Dr. Wanna Be Ballerina:
    I feel like the query is way too short. The main summary is only one paragraph, when usually there's two or three paragraphs. It could be fleshed out more. Tell us how old Dawn is. I'm guessing she's between 10-12 since this is middle grade. And I didn't understand this line, "After a heart-breaking rejection from a summer program audition, her best friend’s classmate asks her if she has horns on her head because she’s a Jew." How does this fit into the plot? It's interesting that she's a Jew, so maybe you should expand more on how this affects her life and her dreams. As for your 250, it seems a little fast paced, going from the middle of class to the end of class to the car. Maybe you could flesh out the class scene a bit more. But good job on the MG voice.

    Got Me a Daddy Map:
    Didn't find much to critique in the query. You might want to reconsider ending your book's summary with a question because sometimes agents feel those are cliche. And I don't know much about MG, but I feel that even a small reference to rape for little kids might be too harsh of a concept for them. But like I said, I don't know what people write about in MG fiction these days. As for your 250, I love the voice of your character! It's written very well. Only nitpick I have is I wonder if you should go on so long about the ringing of the bell. I feel like you telling us Mr. Potterfield's response isn't needed. I don't think the paragraph that starts, "“Who!” And if it wasn’t anybody he knew..." is needed at all. That way the story will move along faster so we can see what happens next!

    Good luck guys!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi!! I’ll be making my suggested edits and comments directly inline the query in [brackets like these]

    Dr. WANNA

    QUERY

    [AGE-year-old] Dawn Cohen feels life would be easier if she was like all [deleted word to improve sentence fluidity] the other tall, [replaced ‘and’ with a comma] skinny girls in her ballet class. Dawn drastically cuts calories to lose weight and tries to cover up increasing hip and knee pain. After a heart-breaking rejection from a summer program audition, her best friend’s classmate asks her if she has horns on her head because she’s a Jew. As her dream of becoming a ballerina falls apart, her family, friends, and a cute boy in math class help her realize that in life you don’t only get one dream, and sometimes changing dreams is not failing, it’s growing.


    FINAL THOUGHTS

    Over all, a very concise query. In fact, I think you could benefit by providing a little more detail and expanding the query to two paragraphs. I’m not quite sure where the anti-Jew topic fits in to in the plot? As it’s mentioned once but never again. If it’s a major part of the story, I would suggest expanding upon that in the query. Finally, be sure to include the genre and word count if you haven’t done so already!

    FIRST 250

    A very clear opening scene that places us firmly in the character’s head. There was a sentence that read a little convoluted and could be streamlined (“I was about to leap when my hip felt like it popped out of its socket just as my pointe shoe left the floor.”) Be sure to check for punctation errors, such as using a comma inside the quotation marks instead of a period in [ “Same as always.” I said. ] Other than that, looks good!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Dawn Imperfect
    Query: I think you’re query is technically really well done, but I’d like a little more voice and a little more sense of who Dawn is besides that she wants to be a ballerina and that she’s Jewish. Your comp titles sold me, though. I love both of those books and it gives me a good sense of where this one falls on the shelf.
    First page: Love that first line. Anyone who has ever been a dancer knows that first line. And so many people (myself included) know what it means to desperately want to be a dancer but not be physically able to do it. I like Dawn’s toughness and I like the caring best friend right up front. Good work here.

    Got Me a Daddy Map
    Query: Oh my goodness the voice in this. You have that balance between voice and informational query that I think all of us query writers dream about. Great job. I do get lost in some of the longer sentences: last line of the first paragraph, first and third line of the third paragraph.
    As a middle school teacher, I’m a tiny bit worried about how rape is handled in your book, but something about your query makes me trust you and I would definitely want to read this book to see what you’ve done with it.
    First page: I will follow this kid anywhere. Again. Voice. So good. Watch those long sentences. Your readers might get tangled up in them. Can’t wait to find this one in the book store!!

    ReplyDelete
  8. DADDY MAP

    My comments and suggested edits will be [in brackets like these]

    QUERY

    [AGE-year-old] Allie's anger can be a hot-comb sitting on the flame of a stove. Sometimes that copper, pressing comb of emotion turns red and she does things she later regrets. She wants to stay calm. But emotions are hard to handle, especially when you're poor, only ten, and live at a time when people think your Mama's an improper woman just because she isn't married yet has herself a child. [banging opening para, and I like how the voice of the query quickly establishes both the personality of the MC and also time period/setting]

    So Allie becomes obsessed with finding her Mama a good man--one who likes to sing, who kind-smiles, and most importantly loves her mama's chicken and dumplings. Allie, with the help of her cousin Julius Caesar, hunt for potential suitors for Mama, giving each one a red heart on Allie's daddy map. Sometimes, though, plans fail, and Allie finds herself with a black crayon covering over the red. Why won’t life cooperate?

    Mama’s Chicken & Dumplings is a 34,450-word, middle-grade novel with a colorful backdrop of Chicago's South Side’s better days of the early 1940s. Allie's story is one of friendship and family, of learning to control one's temper, and of saying goodbye to cherished things. There is a (subtle) subplot that reveals that Allie's ain't-nobody-messing-with-my-mama pluck comes from her awareness that she is a product of rape.[this last bit feels rather tacked on; would suggest introducing this subplot either directly in the query earlier or cut out]

    FINAL THOUGHTS

    I thought this was a very polished query where the voice of the MC really shone through. Biggest comment would be the stuff I mentioned about the subplot. Other than that, well done!


    FIRST 250

    The voice really leaps off the page in the opening scene! It took me some time to adjust to some of the phrasing/way things are worded (ie “though I shed me some tears” was one that really popped out at me) but I’m not sure if it’s because I’m just not used to the “way of speech” (can’t think of the actual word) in the region/setting/time period. Minor nitpick, but I think there’s an unintended paragraph break between the “hollered” and “Who!”. I especially loved the last paragraph of the sample. Nice work!

    ReplyDelete
  9. DR. WANNA BE BALLERINA

    Query

    This is an emotional story about a girl who struggles with lots of obstacles. A lot of girls (and boys) love ballet and it’s the perfect setting for an MG book. Dawn’s desire to hold on to her dream against the odds is very relatable.

    But I think you have plenty of room to expand this query and tell us a little bit more about who Dawn is and what she wants. We don’t learn much about her. We don’t know what’s so hard about her life and why she thinks being a ballerina will solve her problems. I want to know what this dream means to her and what’s at stake if she doesn’t achieve it. Knowing more about her will help make us care about whether she achieves her dream.

    The wording makes it seem like the weight loss and the hip pain are related and if they are I’d like to know how. Same with the heartbreaking audition and the nasty boy who teases her. One seems to be the cause of the other. I love the last line about failure and growth, though it does give away the ending.


    250 words:

    I think your voice is strong and the MG voice is hard to get right. Your writing is smooth. I connected most with Dawn and felt sorry for her when she was hurt and trying not cry. But here, too, we could use lots more details. You could spend more time in the dance class and give us hints about why she’s hiding the pain from everyone and what might be causing it. You could describe the dance studio, what it feels like and smells like. Maybe even give us a quick description of a tall, skinny dancer who she envies. In general, I love your concept, and as a frustrated, wanna-be ballerina myself, I would love to read your novel.

    DADDY MAP

    Query:

    I got goosebumps reading your query. You really made the characters and setting come alive for me. The voice is so luscious. Kudos! love the humor and Allie’s point of view.

    The wording in the first two sentences was a bit awkward. I understand what you’re trying to say, but they could use some smoothing out. And I think maybe you could put the information that her mom was raped closer to the beginning because it helps us understand why Allie has that temper and takes no guff. And I love the premise of a little girl trying to play match-maker for her mom. I can just imagine all the embarrassing and funny situations she’ll get herself into.

    250 words

    I loved this opening. Allie’s descriptions are priceless. “The fat man comes, smiling his fat smile “and “shout-out colors.” These details help immerse us into Allie’s world. I grew up on the south side of Chicago and love to see stories about my hometown. I would love to read this novel. Great job!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Dawn Imperfect:

    I love the title! I also really like the last line of the query, which sounds perfect for an MG pitch. The part about skipping calories made me wonder what age she is (upper MG?) and makes me think there's more to that in terms of sacrificing health--mind and body--to attain a dream and a lesson in how far is too far. The reference to her religion seemed a little out of place because there's no context; it's such a heavy and important topic that if it's in the query, I think there should be more of a focus on it. Also, this might play into learning to love herself for who she is and those who help her to appreciate that (the cute boy, friends, family). I'd be interested to see you expand on some of the topics you've highlighted.

    Good luck! :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. Mama's Chicken & Dumplings:

    Wow! Both the query and the first 250 have a life of their own--well done! I was not expecting the last line of the query, but it adds some weight to the fun aspect of putting hearts on a daddy map. The voice draws the reader right in and I'm guessing from that opening that the story strikes a nice balance between the spunk of the narrator and the heaviness of the underlying themes. I look forward to reading more at some point...

    Good luck :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thanks to all for your helpful replies! Off to polish my query!

    ReplyDelete