Jun 1, 2018

QK Round 1: Raspberry Moon VS The Principal is One of Them

Title: Under A Raspberry Moon
Entry Nickname: Raspberry Moon
Word Count: 56,000
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy


UNDER A RASPBERRY MOON is a middle-grade fantasy complete at 56,000 words. My magical adventure would appeal to fans of THE VERY NEARLY HONORABLE LEAGUE OF PIRATES series and VOYAGE TO MAGICAL NORTH.

On the eve of the galactic alignment, all practically-eleven-year-old Emma Baines wants is to
escape the school’s miserable bully game, Pick-Off. She doesn’t have time for rumors about the universe collapsing and the moon turning pink when the planets align. Besides, she’s a math-and-science girl. There’s no science in that load of pink baloney.

But Emma changes her mind when weird messages splash on her glasses, swish in puddles, and highjack a PowerPoint presentation at a school assembly. The universe is collapsing, and it’s because A.C. Enniston is busting through parallel realities, searching for—of all things—her. She is the perfect digital donor for Enniston’s computerized reality—a reality that he has commissioned for the price of his technology to skip between parallel dimensions, a reality in which he and his dying wife can be healthy forever.

Emma can hide like she does every day in Pick-Off, or she can figure out how to outsmart Enniston and save the universe. As the moon blazes pink, Emma learns about being brave from two versions of herself from parallel dimensions. She is warned that if everyone and everything return to their original realities before the exact moment of alignment, the universe won’t collapse. Before the cosmic lineup dazzles the night sky, Emma must race across parallel realities to find and destroy Enniston’s skipping technology and return home. If Emma doesn’t believe in herself and act fast, the planets will align, the raspberry moon will fade, and the universe is toast.

UNDER A RASPBERRY MOON is a stand-alone   novel   with   strong   series   potential, and the full manuscript is available upon request. Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

First 250:

Prescott Hadley City Honors campus was too quiet for a Wednesday morning, and Emma Baines didn’t trust it for one minute.

She gnawed a raggedy thumbnail and inched through the main gate. Even when it was raining, kids hung around in jabbering bunches, waiting for the warning bell. Not today. Today they sloshed through puddles straight to the front door. Where were the footballs, Frisbees, or those lousy rubber bands? They were the smallest but nastiest, zipping out of nowhere and snapping you into next week.

She took a few tiptoe steps. Today’s game could have been called because of the  weather. . . . but that was way too obvious, and it wasn’t raining that hard. Narrowing her eyes, she drummed her fingers around the purple umbrella’s handle.

All this quiet was just a trick, a trap, and she wasn’t about to be fooled. She’d stick with the original plan—sprint behind the school then bolt through the back entrance, the one near the picnic shelter. It would take more time, and she’d be drenched before coming anywhere near the door, but that route completely avoided today’s Pick-Off zone.

That psychopathic bully game moved every day, and if the P.H.C.H. buzz and twitter had it right, today’s zone was the school’s front lawn. Scores doubled when the zone was right under teachers’ noses. Picking off advanced-placement kids earned twenty points, and Dillon Block had a wicked arm. That kid was the biggest, meanest commando-wannabe in the whole school— maybe the whole county.


Title: The Neverwood
Entry Nickname: The Principal is One of Them
Word Count: 34K
Genre: MG Science Fiction


Gary wants to fit in and not be known as the weird kid at middle school, but he can’t stop running from the funnel-faced monsters always following him. No one else sees them, and no one believes him—until he finally musters the courage to confront the creatures. Then they attack.

He’s dragged off in a rickety spacecraft to an alternate dimension, where the monsters rule a prehistoric Earth. After squirming and kicking his way into causing the ship to crash, he’s stolen from the wreckage by Lian, a thirteen-year-old from Gary’s dimension. He learns that they’re both infected with a test virus that will morph them into monsters too, and if captured, the monsters will discover how to replicate it for other humans. To save their own version of Earth from a viral invasion, Gary and Lian need to destroy the fuel that the creatures use to cross dimensions.

All of the fuel is guarded within a volcanic lair, and to sneak inside, they must cross a forest where no human makes it out alive. The pair has to fend off the monsters in addition mutant dinosaurs, as well as a murderous demon that invades their dreams. At the same time, Gary must ward off the virus taking over his mind, or he won’t be saving his dimension from invasion; he’ll turn into one of the monsters invading it.

First 250:

Something was wrong with the principal today. Nothing too extreme, but once in a while he flinched while sitting in his office chair. It bothered me. He wasn’t normally a fidgety man, only a lazy one.

I waited for him to talk first, but in the awkward silence he gawked at his desk lamp, flicking it on and off and leaning closer to the bulb each time it lit up. “Electricity is always fascinating,” he muttered to himself.

“No it’s not,” I said.

He stopped playing with the lamp and jolted upright like he was startled, even though I’d been sitting across from him for over two minutes, awaiting his judgment. “You’re right, Gary. What is fascinating is that here you are, in my office once again. Is this the second time this month you’ve been in trouble?”

“Third.” I should stay quiet.

“Which administrator brought you here?”

I paused. “You did, sir.”

He tilted his head as if I’d lied. He didn’t remember dragging me here for causing a fight in the cafeteria? The principal wasn’t old enough to be senile, so what was the matter with him today?

“Gary.” His shoulder twitched backward for a second—that had to hurt—but somehow he acted like he didn’t notice. “If I recall, you started a brawl with your fellow seventh graders at lunch, and three students went to the nurse. Care to explain yourself?”

He asked the question clearly hoping I’d be too guilty to speak. He was sick of my explanations, but I had to try.


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


      Terrific work! One thing, comp titles go at the end of a query. Let your work speak for itself first, because that first line is going to dazzle :) I'm a little confused why Emma is a perfect donor and how math figures in. You could also afford to tighten a little of the plot points and stick to the main conflict.

      The 250 is lovely. Cringeworthy in the very best way. think you're in great shape.

      Great job! The query is nice and clear. I get what's at stake, and who the characters are and what they need to accomplish. There's some nice world building without being too much. Congrats!

      In terms of the 250, I think you should take a look at the "telling," and try to show the reader things like how the principal was sick of explanations, and how the main character was "bothered," etc. I think you can find more interesting ways of showing us. Otherwise, it's looking good!


    2. Under a Raspberry Moon


      The voice is fantastic and I love the dimension hopping aspect. I feel like there’s a disconnect in the first paragraph between Pick-Off and rumors about the universe. What does one have to do with the other? I feel like one is a bully game and one is rumors. If they’re part of the same thing that needs to be made clear.

      I love the antagonist and you’re very clear in what he’s doing and why. Great job!

      The only thing I feel isn’t clear is why Emma? Why is she getting the messages? Is this a chosen one sort of thing? Or does she stumble into it? Why is it on her? Also, I like the idea of the Pick-Off Game, but I feel like it’s barely touched on, but it seems to also be an important aspect of the story.

      Over all this is something I would request, but I think it needs to be streamlined and connected a bit better. I also agree to put your comp titles and such at the end. An agent may or may not know those titles anyway, so you want to have a strong query and then give the comp titles.

      First 250:

      Admittedly, from the query, I thought this was going to be an alternate universe or maybe take place on another planet, just because of the red moon, but then footballs and Twitter happened, which threw me off a bit.

      The voice is great and I get a feeling for Emma’s character. “She gnawed a raggedy thumbnail and inched through the main gate.” That is my favorite line. It’s such a strong descriptor and lets me see her nervousness. It’s an awesome job.

      Other than a few grammatical errors (three dots for ellipses, Twitter should be capitalized, etc.) I think this is a very strong opening.

      Great job!


      The Neverwood

      Query: I LOVE this first paragraph. We’ve got monsters, we’ve got disbelief, we’ve got an attack. It’s awesome. I would suggest putting his age and last name in the first paragraph instead of making me wait till later to find out.

      The second paragraph is very strong. The plot is there. Viral invasion is good stuff too, plus it’s interdimensional, which I LOVE.

      I think I’d like a little bit more about Gary’s brain being infected. While they have to face all these obstacles, how is that virus causing an issue? What is Gary doing to battle it off? Is he losing? I know it’s hard to put into the query, but it seems like it’s something that’s very important and only lightly touched on.

      Over all, I would request, but you’ve got a lot of details about the adventure, and I would emphasize on some of the more important ones, and get rid of some you don’t necessarily need.

      First 250:

      I like the way this opens. The principal playing with the lamp and being so disoriented is really great. The detail is there and you set the scene.

      However, to me, there seems to be something missing. I think it’s Gary’s own reaction to the situation. We’re watching the principal move, but what’s Gary doing? Is he fidgeting in his seat (for a different reason?) Is he worried that his parents are going to kill him? He feels very stoic, very calm. Very indifferent I think is the word I’m looking for. While we get to see the principal, I also want to know Gary and his mannerisms, his emotions, etc.

      I think putting that in is going to make this a really strong first 250.

      Thank you both for letting me read. It’s a really hard decision. No lie, I’ve read both of these a few times because I just couldn’t make a decision.

      Both queries are great, and both need a little bit of work. Same with the first 250.

      Ultimately, Emma’s voice came through stronger in the first 250 than Gary’s.


    3. Raspberry Moon

      Lots of great stuff to work with here! Is there a reason Emma’s the perfect donor (a reason you can share w/o giving away a twist)? If I’m understanding the plot correctly, destroying Enniston’s skipping technology will return everyone to their rightful realities? It took me a couple reads to make that connection if so because my first thought was how would she return everyone if she destroyed the tech.

      Wowza! Love this so much! Excellent characterization and tension. No comments. 

      (Side note: is this fantasy or sci-fi? I know the distinction can be blurry, but just a thought.)

      The Principal is One of Them

      First, how old is Gary? It’s weird to say how old the side character is (which isn’t needed) but not the main character. I’m also little confused over their mission. At first they’re saving earth by destroying the fuel (and how will they get home then?) ,but at at the end they’re also trying to not turn into monsters (how exactly can they ward off the virus?).

      Your plot is straightforward, but I think you’ve just added in too much detail like the monsters, mutant dinosaurs, and murderous demons. Streamline, and I’d love if it concluded with a better sense of Gary’s character arc. (As you start with him wanting to fit in/not be weird, I’d expect it to tie in with how he grows in the end.)

      Nice first line. Some of your words strike my ear as out-of-voice for a first person, young teenage boy (flinched, fidgety, gawked, awaiting) unless Gary is very well-read and mature, which doesn’t come across in the query. The back-and-forth and tension is really great though! I immediately want to know what’s wrong with this creepy principal.

      (I see here Gary is in seventh grade – if this is mean to be on the upper-end of MG, your word count is kind of low…)

      I’m going to say…


    4. What a tough match! Kudos to both writers and I think there is some great work here.

      What I loved about the query is how much voice is present. I really felt Emma's desire to stay out of that game of Pick Off!! There's also a very nice amount of detail about the world that the characters inhabit. For me, the introduction of A.C. Enniston could be a little smoother, particularly if he is the antagonist and evading him is the main plot. I also think that the fact that the action is taking place across parallel realities is hugely interesting and is getting a bit lost here in all the detail in the fourth paragraph. To me that just kind of seems like a big, cool deal! And as others have suggested I would move the comp titles to the closing paragraph.

      I loved the 250. We really feel that awkward MG feeling of dreading going near that school building. My only regret is that we don't quite know what happens if you're picked off. But it's a very short sample and I would definitely keep reading!

      So here for me, the query is reading a bit more like a synopsis. I'm curious to know what other people think here because I'm possibly off base, but if we were to look at this query in terms of Character, Conflict and Cost, I think we're getting very minimal info about the character, tons about the conflict and maybe because I'm not real invested in the character, the stakes read underwhelming.

      The first 250 were completely awesome. I would keep reminding this book right now if I had it. The words perfectly capture the nature of the character and the fact that there's something creepy going on with this principal. So well done!

      BUT, for me, nothing in the query is really tied to the first 250 and I personally think it would be a stronger submission if it did. Like if there were a line something to the effect of, "Gary's adventure begins with the realization that his principal is a monster from a prehistoric dimension." Obviously that's horrible so don't do exactly that, but I just think it might be wise to help the agent be oriented when they start reading your pages.

      So this was a REALLY tough decision but victory to RASPBERRY MOON!

      Mabel Pines out! And grappling hook!

    5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    6. Comments for Raspberry Moon:

      - Consider moving the first paragraph of the query to the end, and merging it with the current last paragraph. You want to jump right into your plot.
      - I write science fiction. I've written about the multiverse. I have no idea what to make of your third paragraph. It's difficult to cram all the complexity of a sci-fi world-building exercise into a query, but you might want to try to simplify things here.
      - Your fourth paragraph? That's more like it. Now I know goal/stakes/obstacles. Make the third paragraph more like this one.

      Your first 250 is really solid. It establishes character, and provides a modicum of plot and tension. Nice work there. Clean up the query a bit, and I think you're in very good shape.

      Comments for The Principal:

      Wow, you've got a lot here. Too much, maybe? Your first paragraph is pretty good - nice hook, clean prose - but things slide a bit off the rails in graph #2. The third sentence in particular is a bit of a jumble and needs to be re-written, but I'm having trouble following the rest as well. By the third paragraph you've got the virus, dinosaurs, monsters, and a demon - I think you might want to consider focusing in on one or maybe two obstacles, and a single goal.

      Your first 250 is much cleaner. The prose flows reasonably well, and the dialogue is good. I'm not sure I buy that the voice is that of a seventh grader, though. The diction and vocabulary seem a little old? That's a minor issue, of course, but something you might want to think about.

      Overall, these both might be fantastic books, but right now I think there are a few more questions around where The Principal is going.

      Victory to Raspberry Moon.

    7. Earthbound MisfitJune 4, 2018 at 6:26 PM

      Raspberry Moon:

      Query: This is an intriguing and fun premise, and I can't think of very many techno-thrillers written for a middle grade audience! I do feel like there's a bit too much information stuffed into the query, though, and some of it is confusing. For instance, I have no idea what it means for Emma to be a digital donor. Does Enniston want her physical body? Her brain power? Her ability to code? Also in that same sentence, I don't know if we need the information that he's commissioned it in exchange for the universe-jumping technology. That also confused me a little. Who is he commissioning it from? If you can streamline some of those details, it would really strengthen your query.

      Also, just a minor note—for the purposes of Query Kombat, you could drop the first and last paragraphs and focus on the pitch itself.

      1st 250: I love the idea of starting off with the Pick-Off bully game—which is, in itself, a wonderfully horrible (and sadly believable) idea. Starting with action is great, although I'm not clear on whether she is a specific target or if it's just a free-for-all. Some of the slang you used felt like it didn't match in terms of style, though. Wicked, psychopathic, and wannabe are terms that don't seem to match with "lousy" and "snapping you into next week," which sound more dated. Also, you could give a somewhat clearer sense of Emma's personality in the opening, in my opinion.


      Query: I'm definitely intrigued by your query—the funnel-headed monsters are that perfect type of uncanny-scary that works well for a middle-grade audience; that is, not over-the-top creepy or gory. The plot, stakes, and obstacles are clearly laid out, and you build a lot of tension into the story structure. I do wonder what it is about Gary in particular that makes him the aliens' initial target, and makes him able to see them—what's so special about Gary? Also, and this is minor, the phrase in the second paragraph "and if captured" threw me a little; I wasn't sure at first if this referred to Gary and Lian or to the monsters or even the virus itself.

      1st 250: Though I think there are a few minor things in this first 250 that could be polished a little more, I love where you've chosen to start the story and all the hints about something being weird with the principal. I'm also really curious as to why Gary keeps getting in trouble. What seems to be missing here is Gary's emotions about the situation at hand—he's kind of blasé, as if he doesn't care about being in trouble. Also, I'd love a couple of visual descriptions of the principal himself.

      VERY hard decision—both of these are great MG fantasy ideas, and both authors start their stories in an exciting way. Ultimately I had to go with whose query I thought was stronger.

      Victory to Principal!

    8. Mrs. Will HerondaleJune 4, 2018 at 6:42 PM

      Raspberry Moon

      Wow. This book sounds so cool! It’s imaginative, the stakes are clear in the query, and the first 250 is really well-written. I’m a fan!

      The Principal is One of Them

      Overall, this entry is really good, too! Why are the best ones always paired against each other? Curse you QK Gods! If I’m being nitpicky, you might not even need the last paragraph. You’ve already given us the stakes in the second paragraph and they’re pretty clear. Or you could add: “…creatures use to cross dimensions, before they become the monsters themselves.” Also, the mc being named Gary threw me a little. Unless your choosing that name to give him one more reason to be the “weird kid at middle school,” it seemed strange because no middle schoolers are named Gary these days.

      Tough choice, but VICTORY TO RASPBERRY MOON!

  2. Raspberry Moon! Love the query and your voice! So MG! To make your query a faster read, may I suggest combining paragraphs 2 and 3, stopping at "A.C. Enniston is busting through parallel realities, searching for—of all things—her."

    Move the new paragraph up to paragraph 1. Have paragraph 2 follow that. Delete everything else. This will leave enough of a hook to entice the reader to scroll down and read your sample.

    Best wishes with your writing!

  3. RASPBERRY MOON: I'm going to second Dionna and say I adore the voice of Emma, and that the idea of a pink moon (which I assume she can see) is baloney since it isn't rational. Sounds like a nice hidden characterization that makes there best of the set up that much more fun. I also like the idea of parallel selves telling her what to do--I'd likely pick this up for that idea alone.

    THE PRINCIPAL IS ONE OF THEM: I hope this isn't unfair, but as a former middle school teacher who is a licensed administrator, I deal with obnoxious kids (in trouble) a lot, and this one just didn't sound as 12/13 as I assume he is supposed to be to me. I'm around teens all day and they are not particularly prescient about things like adults being lazy (at least not people they don't interact with every day or two). I get the idea that the principal is something hiding in his body, but your MC's perception just didn't ring true to me. And really, it might have been the lack of concern or worry because if he fears no consequence by being dragged to the office, then why are we beginning in that place? My guess is there is an answer in the next few paragraphs or pages, but it didn't give much hint of the query in this sample. I am sure there will be dissenting opinions, and you have my sincere best wishes!

  4. Nathaniel GlanzmanJune 1, 2018 at 5:43 PM

    Raspberry Moon:

    I LOVE the first paragraph of your query. It SO captures the spirit of what it is like to be Emma's age, and was deliciously middle grade. I also love the "universe is toast" bit. You're very good at weaving in small details that really make the query shine like, "practically" eleven years old instead of just "eleven years old." Those small details really came to life in the first 250 too. I really love the way your excerpt was written--it was very matter-of-fact and makes it easy to get into Emma's head.

    The Principal is One of Them:

    I LOVE the premise of your novel! A heist novel featuring a dynamic duo and a kind of Jekyll and Hyde race against time. Seriously, love it. I think your query could be made stronger by not putting everything that happens in one big, linear pile. It reads as, "This happens, and then this happens and then this happens..." I would want to know more about Gary's internal conflict about transforming into a monster, but that's just me. As for your 250 words, I was confused as to why the principal didn't remember that he dragged Gary to his office after a fight if it happened like, a second ago. (At least, that's how it seems to me) It took me out of the story a bit. But I am digging Gary's voice--he seems like a very calculated young man.

    Best of luck to the both of you!!

  5. Raspberry Moon:

    Query-Great premise! I got a little confused reading "all practically eleven-yr-old.." And you might want to state who AC is. The line that starts out "Prescott Hadley..." i thought was a name. I might reword, "All was too quiet for a Wednesday at Prescott Hadley..."

    Great sense of the ominous, foreboding things to come! I really feel for this girl and I like her strategy to avoid the game. I had to reread PHCH! Sounds like a great MG read!

    The Never Wood:


    Intriguing premise! I think in the end of your query he has a lot to ward off! Try to streamline this into clearer stakes for us. I love the last line!


    I like the interaction with the principal. I would nix the word senile. That's a pretty big word there. Show us how the principal is lazy. This could be really fun! The principal seems to pull himself together at the last minute. I'd play this up and have him totally fall a apart. Or give us some sense of the fantasy world to come. Good luck!

    I’m such a fan of the voice in your query! Really, really well done! The messages are really mysterious and caught my attention, as did the premise. The digital donor for a computerized reality thing was confusing to me a bit. Like why do you need donors for that? Perhaps this is because I’m not well-versed in that stuff? Not sure. But thought it was worth mentioning.

    For the 250, I love how you set the atmosphere so nicely! I was ready for something to go wrong from the first sentence and I really enjoyed that! There were a few spots where the writing could possibly be tightened. Ex. She took a few tiptoes. This could be shortened to something like “She tiptoed out and...” I’d also watch for being able to cut out passive voice (i.e. anytime the word “was” is used.) Small note: can thumbnails be raggedy? Probably. I just usually think of raggedy as having to do with clothes. Maybe it’s just me!

    Overall, this is such an intriguing story that I think MG kids would really find exciting. Thanks for sharing!


    What an imaginative premise! The query is really tight and well-written. I was, however, wondering about offering a line or two that might hint at the MC’s character arc or perhaps a choice he needs to make near the end. Though, this genre is out of my wheelhouse so perhaps that isn’t necessary in Sci-fi? I thought I’d mention it nonetheless. There are so many awesome and fun things happening! At the same time, I’ll admit that I was wondering how you were going to fit all of this into a single MG novel without the pacing feeling too rushed. Again, this may be because I’m not well-versed in the genre and it may depend on what other conflict you have going on.

    For the 250, I really appreciate how visual your writing is. From your vivid descriptions, I could really see the scene enfolding and it was creepy and weird and so enjoyable. Well done on that! Overall, not much advice except that the italics did throw me off a little since they weren’t used otherwise. Nice work!

    Btw, love the nickname so much! I would even make an argument for it to be the title. Thanks for sharing!

    1. BTW Fellow Kombatant here (ie. A Boy Named Pez.)

  7. Raspberry Moon: This is a really interesting premise, and I like that Enniston has an understandable motivation for what he’s doing. I’m a little confused by the fourth paragraph, though: there’s a lot of information in there and although I’m not sure how to streamline it since it’s not my novel, I’d try to trim it down. You also don’t need to put “full manuscript is available upon request” in the last graph; that should be a given if you’re querying.

    Your 250 were great and really gave me a sense of what Emma is like. Good job!

    Principal: Can I second the person who thought “The Principal Is One of Them” should be your title? I noticed that nickname on the day the Kombatants were announced and loved it.

    I thought the second sentence in the third paragraph of your query was awkward; I’d clean it up with something along the lines of “The pair will have to fend off monsters, mutant dinosaurs, and a murderous demon that invades their dreams.” I also have to admit that I had a hard time picturing how a boy’s squirming and kicking could bring down an entire spaceship, but maybe that’s just because I don’t have kids. *grin*

    I enjoyed your opening and thought you did a great job of getting across that something was wrong with the principal, but I do have to agree that the tone sounded just a bit too mature to be coming from a middle-school boy.

    Good luck to both of you!

  8. Under A Raspberry Moon


    I loved both THE VERY NEARLY HONORABLE LEAGUE OF PIRATES and VOYAGE TO MAGICAL NORTH so your comps hooked me right away. You have a strong first paragraph, which got me interested. I loved the bit about "pink baloney."

    I wasn't sure what you meant about a message splashing on her glasses. Is it enough for us to know she's seeing strange messages? Do we need to know what the message is? I wasn't clear what you meant by being a "digital donor." If we're talking about an artificial reality, can't it be made into whatever is needed? So I was confused as to why this affects Emma.

    First 250:

    I'm not clear on exactly what the Pick Off game is and would like just a little more about how that works. What type of attack, for example, is she trying to avoid? You may be getting to that very soon but knowing more about that might help us feel the tension for Emma. Overall, I think the writing here is strong.

    The Neverwood


    I love that the action kicks off because Gary is brave enough to confront the aliens. That makes me want to root for him right away. And hooray for MG science fiction! :-)

    I get a little lost in the second and third paragraphs. There's a lot going on here, so my advice would be to streamline and cut out any details we don't absolutely need to know. I love the twist though that if they don't defeat the monsters, they will become the monsters. Creepy! (In a good way.) Could you give us a hint as to whether or not Gary and Liam have a chance of curing themselves of the virus?

    First 250:

    I like that Gary notices something is different with the principal. I think you could continue to build on this, mannerisms and behavior that are different from how the principal usually behaves.

    Great title! And love the math and science girl line. I tripped up a bit on the concept of weird messages hijacking a PowerPoint presentation. And it might be helpful to say a bit more about Enniston (the name is mentioned as if we should know who or what he is). I think you could leave out “price of his technology”. I found the third paragraph confusing – is it two other versions? Or her current self and one other? And did she just learn about them? Also, I’m not sure how the two versions of herself relate to believing in herself.

    First 250:
    Fun voice and lively writing. I found myself wanting to move on past the Pick-Off game, though. I’d suggest moving the last paragraph of backstory further on in the story. Very creative and imaginative work!

    Good luck!

    Clever concept and the stakes are clearly outlined. (I think you’re missing the word “to” before mutant.) I like that there are both internal and external obstacles.

    First 250:
    Fun, lively voice, and we get a great sense of Gary’s character. I can tell this will be a humorous, clever story. (I’d suggest watching out for hints of ageism, though – not every older person gets senile; maybe rephrase to something like “he’d never shown signs of memory loss before”.)

    Good luck!