Jun 1, 2018

QK Round 1: I Can Keep A Secret VS Shiver Me Timbers

Entry Nickname: I Can Keep a Secret
Word Count: 43,000
Genre: MG Contemporary Mystery


Fueled by the disappearance of her mother, twelve-year-old Genevieve Sterling is determined to save her family’s failing newspaper business and prevent her dad from self-destruct.

Gen teams up with classmate, Shepherd Locke, son of the chief of police, to dig up the town’s juicy gossip. However, she discovers Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, lacks a significant crime rate, making most headlines fall flat. Because of their mutual disdain for the twin kid-bloggers of a trendy podcast stealing Gen’s stories faster than she can print them, Gen and Shepherd form a secret organization. When the town’s matriarch, the queen, asks Gen to print her obituary, Gen’s pen is ready for her most promising lead yet.

The next morning, the queen is found dead in her home. In search of clues to solve the murder, Gen and Shepherd go undercover during the annual cranberry contest at the late queen’s estate. Hot on the trail of suspects, Gen exposes a deadly secret connecting Shepherd to the murderer. She must survive etiquette games, battle twin bloggers, and catch the killer before Shepherd’s name winds up next in the obituaries.

THE INK AND PAPER SOCIETY is a stand-alone MG contemporary mystery with series potential. It will appeal to fans of the book Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage and The Wells and Wong Detective Society series by Robin Stevens.

First 250:

The tapping echoed off the brick walls, a time bomb counting down the seconds to impact. I hoped my dad sat at his desk typing the latest headline and not googling remote control detonators. This past year, he cut most of his responsibilities, let the staff go, and placed a For Rent sign in the brownstone window.

I scooped a stray Nerf gun from the ground and padded down the steps. From the landing, I surveyed the entire first floor of our home, including the newspaper office complete with leather sofa and fireplace in the waiting area. The desk occupied center stage covered in a pile of papers, a dusty laptop, and a heap of secrets. For the last seventy years, our family printed the local news, The Door County Gazette.

Scouting the rest of the stairs on ninja feet, I tripped over a balloon and tumbled into the living room. The scent of fresh baked goods assaulted my nose.

“Surprise!” Dad stepped into view with a full sheet cake in his arms, happier than a kitten in catnip. “It’s retirement day, Gen. The end of everything lame and boring.”

His journalism degree fell from the wall. Possibly because my grandad caused a minor earthquake when he rolled over in his grave. I scooted back in case the earth opened and swallowed Dad whole.

His motive to jump ship held water. But at twelve-years-old, I refused to tag along on another vegan road trip or join the recyclable living commune, The Dancing Rabbit.


Entry Nickname: Shiver Me Timbers
Word Count: 48,000
Genre: Middle Grade, Adventure/Fantasy


Twelve year old Ollie Bancroft is a kid genius and engineering prodigy, but in his sleepy coastal town of Deadmen, Newfoundland, people couldn’t care less. Ollie is a Bancroft after all, descendant of William Bancroft: the man who killed the infamous pirate Black Bart and ended his reign of terror. No matter what Ollie does he can’t escape the legendary pirate connection, and to make things worse, he’s the only one in Deadmen who doesn’t believe it. As far as Ollie’s concerned, the legend is nothing more than a fairy tale to attract tourists to a dying town.

When Ollie stumbles upon a supposedly cursed compass with the power to bring Black Bart back to life, he sees his opportunity to finally stop all the pirate nonsense once and for all. Like a serious scientist he conducts an experiment to prove the curse is bogus, only unfortunately for Ollie and the rest of Deadmen, the curse is very real. Black Bart and his crew of rotten goons return from the dead, just in time to spoil the town’s annual pirate festival, hungry to wreak revenge upon Deadmen, and especially, anyone unlucky enough to be named Bancroft.

With the help of his best friend Emma, his sea dog grandpa, Cappy, and his reluctant mom, Ollie must use his wits and considerable knowledge of booby-traps to thwart Black Bart before he resurrects his entire pirate army and plunders the seven seas.

First 250:

“You know how you’re always asking why kids think you’re weird?” Emma whispered in Ollie’s ear.

Ollie’s shoulders slumped. “Yeah,” he sighed.

“This, Ollie.” Emma said, patting him on the back. “Stuff just like this.”

A girl stood before them, crying so hard a snot bubble inflated unnoticed from her right nostril. Just behind her loomed her science project, a bright diorama covered with glitter, out-of-focus poodle photographs, and the title: ‘RUFFLES: EVERYDAY POODLE, OR MUSICAL PRODIGY?’

Moments earlier, the girl had enthusiastically given Ollie and Emma a sneak-peak at her presentation. She hadn’t even been a minute through before Ollie criticized it in a dozen ways, causing her freckled face to burst like a ruptured dam.

“I’m sorry,” Ollie pled with the girl. “I’m really sorry, okay?” He awkwardly put out his hand and patted the air above her shoulder. “I could be wrong. I’m probably wrong. Maybe it is a real science project? Maybe … your dog barking along to boy band songs is science, after all?”

With a whimper, the girl wiped her eyes and stopped crying. Her snot bubble burst.

“Of course,” Ollie said more to himself than to her, “a person’s musical taste doesn’t really factor in the scientific method, so I don’t see why Ruffles, would matter to any —“

“Ollie!” Emma snapped, smacking him on the arm.

“Ouch.” Ollie winced.

Beneath the table, Ruffles -- identifiable by the sparkly letters splashed across his name tag – growled ferociously behind the bars of a pink kennel.


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

    1. Great job! Congrats to both authors!

      I can keep a secret:

      I think you mean "self-destruction" or self-destructing. I think the query is nice and clear. Great premise.

      In terms of the 250, I think there's a little bit of telling vs showing in the first paragraph. I also don't get the last paragraph. What does the vegan road trip has to do with it?

      SHIVER: Great voice and set up in the query. I think you could streamline a little and just tighten a bit.

      In terms of the 250, It's so much fun. I wonder how it sets up the story, and if it's important enough to start the whole incident, but without reading the whole chapter it's hard to tell.

      That said, I love Ollie and Emma.


    2. Comments for Secret:

      A couple of minor editing points: end of query paragraph 1, should be “self-destructing.” Also, unless she’s actually a queen, The Queen needs to be capitalized.

      That said, this is an interesting setup, though the query leaves me with some questions. The Queen asks Gen to print her obituary. So, she knows she’s going to die? Is this actually a murder, then? You don’t need to spell out every plot detail, obviously, but I’d like some hint at where this is going. Also, what is a cranberry contest? Should that maybe be a cranberry festival?

      Regarding the first 250, your prose flows well for the most part, but there is some unevenness that could be smoothed out. In particular, the third paragraph and the sixth paragraph jumped at me. I had trouble seeing the physical action in the third, and I’m not sure “assaulted” is the word you’re looking for there. In the sixth, I might consider dropping the bit about The Dancing Rabbit.

      Comments for Shiver:

      I like this setup a lot. Your query is clear and tight, and I feel like I know more or less exactly where this book is going. You might consider replacing “only” with “but” in the middle of the second paragraph, and I’d probably cut the “plunders the seven seas” at the end. It’s a cliche, and I don’t think you need it. Otherwise, though, this is solid.

      Regarding the first 250, I don’t have a ton to say. Your prose is very clean, and I like the tone. I feel like the girl’s reaction to Ollie’s criticism is maybe a bit over the top, but you’re playing it for laughs, so that’s probably okay.

      Bottom line here is that Shiver is a bit more polished.

      Victory to Shiver.

    3. I Can Keep a Secret

      Good first line, though I stumbled over “prevent her dad from self-destruct” – I think “destructing” or “destruction” would be better. The bit about headlines falling flat slows down the pacing, and I’d go straight to the blogger twin rivals who sound awesome! The “queen” is a little confusing. I love the idea of it as a nickname, but there might be a better way to indicate it as such (the unofficial queen of Door County?).

      The line about Shepherd being connected to the murderer first made me think he *was* the murderer, and it wasn’t until the last line that I realized my error (great last line too btw!). Excellent comps––two of my favorite series (and I love your title).

      Fun opening! The bomb metaphor works well. Watch out for words like “surveying” which put distance between the POV and reader. You can just tell us what she sees (or rephrase to something like “padded into the newspaper office on our first floor”). Tripping over the balloon tripped me a bit ;) – maybe dodged a balloon (if the balloon is important)?

      “His journalism degree fell from the wall. Possibly because my grandad caused a minor earthquake when he rolled over in his grave. I scooted back in case the earth opened and swallowed Dad whole.” Amazing paragraph! Love.

      Shiver Me Timbers

      Very solid query. I think you could remove “No matter what Ollie does he can’t escape the legendary pirate connection, and to make things worse, he’s the only one in Deadmen who doesn’t believe it.” (and start the next sentence with “but”) if you want to tighten a bit.

      Excellent voice and clear characterization. I really get a sense of the two kids just from this brief interaction! Only a couple things:

      “This, Ollie.” Emma said… - The period should be a comma.

      “I’m sorry,” Ollie pled with the girl. – “Pled” struck my ear funny, I think because he’s not actually pleading here, though I get what you’re trying to convey. The awkward pat does an excellent job of getting that across.

      Two super fun MG books that I would happily read! This is hardest yet, but I’m going to say…


    4. Earthbound MisfitJune 3, 2018 at 3:08 PM

      Keep A Secret:

      Query: This is a very fun mystery premise with, as the query notes, definite series potential contained in the ongoing battle to save the newspaper and fix Gen's family struggles. The primary plot action is well described in the middle two paragraphs, with lots of crazy hijinks, but the initial lead-in might need to be revisited. There's a lot to unpack in the idea that Gen's mother is missing and father is self-destructing, but those seemingly major events are never mentioned again in the query. I would suggest bringing those details back in so that the pitch comes full circle and doesn't drop any juicy details!

      1st 250: There's a lot of great stuff in here, especially the visual details of Gen's home and the sense of humor in her point of view. The voice has a cute sardonic quality which is really promising. A few minor things did trip me up: I wondered why Dad was googling remote control detonators—why does he want to blow something up, and what does he want to blow up? I'm also not clear on when her mom disappears—is she already gone at the beginning of the story?

      Shiver Me Timbers:

      Query: This is a very strong query, well structured and with an intriguing mix of fantasy, adventure, and humor to the story. You do a great job of quickly introducing the character, setting, and plot complications in a seamless way. It feels really polished—I don't honestly have any suggestions for improvement here. Bravo!

      1st 250: The opening scene is pretty hilarious, and gives us a good idea of how Ollie looks at the world and the types of things he things are important (or unimportant). It also does a nice job of setting up his eventual messing with the compass, because he really won't be able to resist the opportunity to disprove the curse scientifically. A few minor things in the 5th paragraph down—"sneak-peak" should be "sneak peek," and "causing her freckled face to burst like a ruptured dam" tripped me up a little because it sounds like her actual face is exploding. I'd change it to "burst into tears like a ruptured dam" just to be clear. ��

      I really like both story premises here, and would honestly read both of these books—excellent-sounding middle grade fare and strong 1st 250 from both. But based on the added strength of the query itself…

      Victory to Shiver Me Timbers!

    5. Mrs. Will HerondaleJune 4, 2018 at 2:50 PM

      I Can Keep a Secret

      Query: I love this premise, it sounds like the book would be so much fun! I think the second paragraph is a little confusing though. I think it’s mostly the wording— like twin kid-bloggers or a trendy podcast… Are they bloggers or podcasters? What secret organization do they form—like what’s the purpose? Aren’t they already teamed up? The last line about the town matriarch doesn’t seem to be connected to the rest of the paragraph. Third paragraph is great.

      First 250: I love the paragraph “His journalism degree..” So funny. I’m a little confused about what the tapping was, when he later shows up with a cake. I thought he was at his desk typing, not baking? Also, is there a typo in the sentence, “The desk occupied center stage covered…” Maybe at least a comma after stage? Or, “The desk that occupied center stage was covered…”

      Overall, great 250, but maybe just needs a little streamlining to make the reading smoother for the reader.

      Shiver Me Timbers

      Query: I’m not sure I have anything to critique! This was easy to read, sounds like tons of fun, and the stakes are clear. I love it!

      First 250: Same! Great voice, great characterizations. I’d definitely keep reading! To be nitpicky, you could cut “he sighed” and just put a period after “Yeah.” He’s not actually sighing the word “yeah” and it’s redundant after “shoulders slumped.”

      Both of these books sound like so much fun! I’ll pick the one that’s more polished:


  2. Love the title The Ink and Paper Society and your premise! Good MG stuff! You may want to trim your query down and focus on what your main character wants more than anything. Make it short like jacketflap copy. Also, if you keep the Queen turn-of-events in your query, you should probably explain who she is. I was left wondering if we were in an anthropomorphic world of bees or ants. That's fun! But if it's not true in your story then why is there a matriarch queen? Are we in a science fiction world? Explain for the reader.

    Best wishes with your writing and your story!

  3. I Can Keep A Secret

    Query: Your main points and stakes are very clear, and I’d love to read this story. My only advice is to vary your sentence structure a bit. Nearly every sentence is on the long side with thoughts separated by commas. Though they all read well, they started to read a little monotone after a while. Try to sprinkle a few shorter sentences in or break up a few of them.

    First 250: Great opening and great voice. I think you have a good mix of showing and telling in this sample. I honestly don’t have any suggestions for you here!

    Shiver Me Timbers

    Query: This query is very similar in structure to the first. I feel like the stakes are clear and it’s interesting, but varying the sentence structure would help here, too.

    First 250: Your writing is great and this sounds really cute and funny, but without reading the rest of the chapter/story I have to wonder if this is the right place to start. Is the poodle, or the girl crying, important to the story later on? Do they have anything to do with the information in the query? But all in all, I found the first 250 enjoyable.

    Good luck to you both!

  4. I Can Keep A Secret
    I think your query does a good job of telling the story. It could use a little cleaning up; there’s a typo in your opening sentence, and you have a lot of sentences that are kind of clunky. For example, “However, she discovers … ” I think you could cut “Washington” and it wouldn’t hurt anything. Also, when I read “deadly secret connecting Shepherd to the murder,” I thought he was supposed to be the murderer, not someone in danger of being murdered.

    Your first 250 starts with a good hook, and I think you’ve done a good job at capturing the MC’s voice. Like your query, though, I think your sample could use with a little bit of red-penning. Watch your tenses (for example, “This past year, [he’d] cut most of…” since you’re in the past of the past tense, or pluperfect). She sounds like a really fun MC, though, and I think your first 250 show that.

    Shiver Me Timbers
    This sounds like such a fun story! Good background on the query, but I like that you still started with the MC and wove the background in afterward. I would suggest trying to vary your sentence length. Right now, you have a lot of longer, multi-clause sentences, and it makes the query kind of drag a little bit. Also, twelve-year-old should be hyphenated. Tighten it up a bit, and I think it’ll be a little more successful.

    As for your first 250, I don’t know that starting with dialogue works particularly well here. It could also be personal taste, so take this with a grain of salt, but I would liken it to listening to a conversation in a pitch-black room for the first few lines. The exchange also felt kind of dramatic for me, with the snot bubbles and whimpering. And I bumped on the whole “tween-age girl doing a science project with glitter and poodles and boy bands” and the MC’s superiority about it. It seemed a little problematic, especially for a Middle Grade. Either she’s doing her thing and that IS a “real science project,” or she’s doing something in STEM and it’s judged on the merits. I don’t know. This just seemed to send an unfortunate message and because it comes from your MC, I'm kind of shaking my head at your MC. The writing was solid, though, and I really do like the idea of the story.

    Good luck to you both!

  5. I Can Keep a Secret

    I like the whole premise of this, particularly how Gen and Shepherd’s lives seem so intertwined. It’s interesting that he is connected to the murder, but we don’t know how – yet it could be deadly for him. Well done!
    So, the one thing that tripped me is that the first piece of information is that her mother disappeared, but we don’t hear any more about that for the rest of the query. Is that part of the plot? Part of the mystery? Or did her mother just leave and we are seeing the ramifications this has had on Gen?
    For the 250, perhaps just do a read through to see if there are any words you can scratch. You’ve definitely set the stage well. Tightened sentences would seal the deal.
    Some of the phrasing was a bit clunky. I’m not sure a 12 year old would use the phrase “held water”. This could all be part of that tightening up, though.
    In general, well done!! Definitely think this is a plot that kids could get into (and grown ups too!)

    Shiver me Timbers

    Well this certainly sounds fun. Nice job!
    I think you need to do a read through and check your commas in general. Or maybe you are just stringing sentences together that perhaps should be separated. There were a few times I had to re-read to realize that you had gone into a new thought. Here is an example:
    “Black Bart and his crew of rotten goons return from the dead, just in time to spoil the town’s annual pirate festival, hungry to wreak revenge upon Deadmen, and especially, anyone unlucky enough to be named Bancroft.”

    I was a bit confused why he is so annoyed to be a Bancroft and linked to this legend. It’s not really a BAD thing. If he was descended from Black Bart, I could certainly see why he’d want to disassociate himself from this. Just didn’t quite see what him being an engineering prodigy had to do with the fact that his family is also well known for this other thing.
    The imagery that the 250 invites into the readers mind is just fantastic. I loved the snot bubble. It reminded me of a cartoon – in a good way. You also effortlessly established the relationship between Ollie and Emma (at least you made it seem effortless). They are both very clear in my mind. Establishing a strong voice for 1 character in 250 words is tough. Two is even more impressive! It did leave me wondering what the heck he said to bring on this extreme of a reaction from the other girl. Is he really that unaware of being THAT mean? I don’t think he’s actually a mean kid, but that’s a heck of a reaction so he must have said something super rude. (I do like it leaves me wondering what, though.)

  6. (Fellow Kombatant here, A Boy Named Pez)

    So this is one of my favorite premises out of all the match-ups I have read! Maybe it’s that it involves journalism or the secret society. Really well done! I think it has so much potential. For the query, I thought it was very well-written and easy to follow. I was confused by the queen asking Gen to write the obituary before she’s murdered? I’m suspecting the Queen knew she would die, but it’s unclear. I was also wondering about Gen’s character. Is there anything that makes her unique? Is there character growth or some sort of choice she makes that could give the query some deeper impact?

    For the 250, it really got going for me at the dialogue, which is so well done! I felt like the paragraphs before that were trying to set the scene and give exposition for the reader’s sake and were therefore not needed (at least as the opening paragraph). I would have rather had that info. interwoven later. After the dialogue, there’s some wonderful humor that I loved! I definitely hope that keeps going throughout. If so, perhaps put just a little humor/voice into the query letter to show there’s comedy! The part about the grave was hilarious! One note: the sentence about the scent “assaulting” her nose. This felt like the wrong word choice to me b/c I don’t think of scents as assaulting. It’s probably nit-picky but something as small as this did pull me out of the story b/c I stopped to think about it. Overall, this has so much potential and I really enjoyed it! Nice work!

    Wow! This premise is so imaginative and I bet kids would absolutely fall in love with it. Made me thinks of Pirates of Caribbean in a very good way. I think the query is strong. For the opening pages, I really enjoyed the humor and how it set up Ollie’s character. However, I felt like there was a bit of a disconnect between the pages and the query because I would have liked some of the fun and fantasy set up in from the very first line. So, I wasn’t sure if this was the right place to start. It didn’t draw me in as much as I would have liked, especially given your really fun premise. Also, if the crying girl doesn’t play a part in the plot it seems odd to devote the first page to her. Others may disagree so I’d suggest taking into account how others react to the opening pages, too. It was well-written and entertaining so it’s a tough call, just not entirely sold it’s the most intriguing first page that it could be given your premise. I had a similar issue with one of my stories and I decided to start at a later scene as a hook and then go back a few months for the next chapter. Not saying it’d work here, but just a thought! I would definitely want to read this story and thanks for sharing!

  7. Fake Invisibility T-ShirtJune 3, 2018 at 4:44 PM

    I Can Keep a Secret.

    Good job with the query! It does a nice job outlining the main plot points. I was a little confused with the obituary detail...was the queen predicting her own death? Other then that, a little more emotional resonance for Gen might make this more compelling. A few tweaks to put her feelings and want-to more in the spotlight, as opposed to just the story's action.

    The first page was fun, and does a good job setting the stage. I liked the imagery of the abandoned newspaper office. I had a moment of confusion with the impact/detonators bit because it seemed so concrete. Maybe clarify that it's just a metaphor, reflecting her dad's disastrous business management skills.

    Wasn't sure why the baked goods were "assaulting" her, unless they smelled terrible. Were they vegan? :)

    The moment when Dad's journalism degree falls from the wall is funny. Now I'm curious to know why his motive for leaving holds water.

  8. I Can Keep a Secret: The first line in the query: " Genevieve Sterling is determined to save her family’s failing newspaper business and prevent her dad from self-destruct." trips me up. Should it read "self-destructing?" I don't think there needs to be a comma after Wisconsin in the second paragraph. I also was a bit confused about the time period of this, since there's a queen involved? Is this a normal thing, for towns to have a queen? "Gen exposes a deadly secret connecting Shepherd to the murderer" makes it sound like Shepherd is in cahoots with the murderer, but then she has to stop the real killer before he's killed? Also, the part about the mom missing kind of trails off. Apart from my nit-picks, I think this was well done.
    For the first 250, the sentence: "I hoped my dad sat at his desk typing" sounds off. I want to keep reading it as "was sitting" instead. Loved the sentence "Possibly because my grandad caused a minor earthquake when he rolled over in his grave." Great humour. The only thing I'd reccomend is instead of telling us in the opening, show us through dialouge beats about her dad retiring.

    Shiver Me Timbers: The only thing I'm going to pick on in you query is the sentence "Black Bart and his crew of rotten goons return from the dead, just in time to spoil the town’s annual pirate festival, hungry to wreak revenge upon Deadmen, and especially, anyone unlucky enough to be named Bancroft." Took me a couple of times to read it over to understand. Maybe split into two sentences?
    First 250: Great voice. I got a sense of exactly who Ollie was as a kid immediately. The snot bubble was a nice touch.

  9. Fake Invisibility T-ShirtJune 3, 2018 at 4:54 PM

    Shiver Me Timbers

    So, there's a lot to like here! Fun premise, imaginative characters. The query is effective and voicey. We get a nice sense of Ollie's personality and goals. You might want to split up some longer sentences and vary length, to make things more punchy and a little easier to read.

    The first 250 is funny and colorful. Those two characters jump off the page and the situation is hilarious. I don't see a lot to critique here. Maybe check sentence lengths and smooth if they run long. I suspect that some people might want to see hints of an inciting incident...or at least some foreshadowing. Personally, not real concerned about it. Great job.

    If both our entries advance, yours is one I'd prefer not to be matched up against. :)



    I love a good mystery so that element interested me right away. I became most interested when the matriarch asks Gen to print her obituary... then shows up dead. So my main suggestion would be to tighten up the second paragraph so you can focus a little more on the mystery. Instead of "deadly secret," for example, can you give us a more specific hint? You mention the possibility of Shepherd ending up in the obituaries: what about Gen? Is she at risk also?

    First 250:

    I was a little confused in the first paragraph by the part about Dad cutting his responsibilities. I think you can be a little more explicit here that the paper is closing and show us what this means to Gen so we understand what she wants. Dad seems very excited to be finishing with the paper. Is he putting on a brave face, or is he really glad to be moving on?



    I'm not sure you need the mention of Ollie being an engineering genius, as this isn't a major element in the query. I think you could jump straight to Ollie supposedly being the descendent of the pirate killer and him not believing it. That's clearly the conflict that starts us off. But I love this premise! Things get very interesting from there, and I love that Ollie's decision to prove the curse isn't real just makes things worse. This query definitely makes me want to read the story!

    First 250:

    I also wondered if the crying girl was the right place to start, but I do see how you're setting up Ollie's character. It seemed a little odd to me to jump immediately into a flashback of what happened minutes earlier - could you show us that interaction as it happens? I like Emma so far. I can tell she's going to be a fun supporting character (and she seems like the type of friend Ollie needs).

  11. Ink and Paper Society

    Wow! This sounds great. It has the feel of Encyclopedia Brown but with a bit of a real fantasy to it with a Queen involved. The main thing about your query is to reverse the order a bit. Let the agent know about those quirky fantasy elements a bit earlier. The story doesn't really seem to be about saving Dad's newspaper or self destructing. (fix the spelling I think) Thats's more of the lead in. The story is really about solving the murder of a queen. Make that your focus.

    250: The voice on this! Amazeballs. I mean, you have some filtering going on, which makes our connection to the character point of view a little shallow in some places. The second sentence, for example, should be less about what she hopes her dad is doing, and more about putting us directly into that feeling.

    If she walked in on her dad goofing around googling information about remote control detonators, she was going to chew him out so much his ears would fall off. (or something)

    That Undead Pirate Problem

    Holy Goonies meets the first Pirates of the Caribbean batman!

    I am YA but kind of hope I don't come up against you until the very end. The query is excellent and I really can't find much to improve, so I will focus on the first 250.

    This oesn't draw me in or establish any hint of the cool stuff I read in the query. I think the scene is ok to start out with, but I think don't start with so much dialogue.

    One or two lines at the most - let us really get into the head of the character and the motivations. I say all this having never attempted to write middle grade, and I think the snot bubble thing is gold for that age. So take me with a grain of salt, but I think it applies to all age groups to get inside the head of the protagonist a little more early on.