Jun 19, 2018

QK Round 3: Raspberry Moon VS Got Me a Daddy Map

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


On the eve of the galactic alignment, all ten-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 quickly changes her mind when A.C. Enniston slams into her backyard. The universe is collapsing, and it’s because this old man has been busting through parallel realities, searching for—of all things—her. Emma is the last element Enniston needs for his perfect computerized reality, a reality in which he and his dying wife, an eighty-year-old Emma, can be healthy forever.

Emma can hide like she does every day in Pick-Off, or she can figure out how to save the universe. That will take a ton of brains, courage, and an unexpected helping of advice from two very different versions of herself from parallel realities. But Enniston isn’t about to let Emma race across alternate dimensions to repair the universe and return home until his computerized reality is complete. If Emma doesn’t act smart and 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. My magical adventure would appeal to fans of THE VERY NEARLY HONORABLE LEAGUE OF PIRATES series and VOYAGE TO MAGICAL NORTH. 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: Mama's Chicken & Dumplings
Entry Nickname: Got Me a Daddy Map
Word Count: 38K
Genre: #Ownvoices MG Historical


Ten-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 hot and she does things she later regrets. She wants to stay calm. But emotions are hard to handle, especially when people think your mama’s an improper woman. Allie knows—it’s not Mama’s fault she isn’t married yet has a child. The only reason Allie’s breathing is because of that no-good man who forced himself on Mama. Why Mama didn’t leave her on the steps of the A & P when she born, Allie isn’t sure. But one thing’s certain. Allie’s full-up with empty inside because of it, and she’s going to fill it by finding mama a decent husband.

That’s why she and her cousin Julius Caesar create a daddy map and hunt for potential suitors for Mama. When they find a good prospect—men who like to sing, have a kind smile, and most importantly love Mama's chicken and dumplings—Allie draws a red crayon heart above their names. Before long, Allie and Caesar fix their mind on Mr. Rawls, their band teacher, The One! But when Allie discovers who Mr. Rawls is related to, she throws out his jar of chicken and dumplings and covers over his red heart with a black crayon.

Mama’s Chicken & Dumplings is a 38,000-word, middle-grade novel with a colorful backdrop of Chicago's South Side’s better days of the early 1940s.

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—loud-mouth 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.


  1. Judges, please respond here with your votes.

    1. These are both strong entries and so vastly different. Tough one for me to judge. I love the detail of the crayons in Daddy Map's query, and the voice in the 250 is great. But, end of the day, I'm a sucker for humor and fun, and Raspberry Moon looks to have that in spades. Another match that comes down to pure subjectivity for me.

      Victory to RASPBERRY MOON!

    2. No one of consequenceJune 19, 2018 at 5:36 PM

      Both entries are great, but one gave me this dumb smile that I didn't stop the whole time I read the query.

      Victory to GOT ME A DADDY MAP.

    3. Love and SqualorJune 20, 2018 at 9:26 AM

      Both of these sound great, and this is going to be a tough match-up. But the voice in one lassoed me and pulled me in - it's pretty near flawless. For that reason...


      But Emma quickly changes her mind when A.C. Enniston slams into her backyard [I don’t quite get a clear image from this. Is he in a craft of some sort?]

      This sounds like a really fun ride. I’m not clear why Enniston is willing to let the universe collapse in order to complete his computerized reality…which in theory will not exist if the universe collapses.

      Great voice! Good tension!

      [“good prospect” is singular – “men who like to sing” etc is plural. Make these agree.

      Don’t feel obligated to disclose any marginalization if you’re not comfortable, but if you’re going to use own voices tag it may help you to say what kind of marginalized character(s) are included – lots of agents are looking for diverse MG! We can all assume things but it sometimes doesn’t pay to assume.


      These are both spectacular entries. The voice in one is just a precious jewel, and the concept is...silly and poignant. VICTORY TO GOT ME A DADDY MAP

    5. Great entries! Raspberry Moon-- I adore the title of this one. The query had me a little confused, what exactly is a bully game, and what does it have to do with the moon turning pink? Watch the descriptions in the first page, they were a little heavy, and it got in the way of getting to know the character. Got me a daddy map: i love the setting and time period of this one. The query was clear, and voicey. And the voice was even brighter in the first page! I empathized with Allie right away. Well done. This is a story that needs to be on bookshelves.
      Both great, but Victory to GOT ME A DADDY MAP

    6. The Red CardiganJune 21, 2018 at 8:07 AM

      Ugh. Technical glitch. The Unknown comment above from June 21 at 8:04 AM is me, The Red Cardigan.

    7. I voted for these two in the previous round, and I really really really really hate that I have to choose between the two :(

      A quick note for Raspberry Moon:
      Please consider dropping “psychopathic” as a negative description of the bully game. This puts mental illness in a bad light. This may seem like a small thing, but remember, words have power... especially when you're writing for children. This is discussed in detail on Autistic Hoya: https://www.autistichoya.com/p/ableist-words-and-terms-to-avoid.html

      Totally a subjective vote… VICTORY to GOT ME A DADDY MAP.

    8. RASPBERRY MOON: A strong contender! I really only have one thing that I can “critique.” The first sentence of the 250 words is passive, so if you could change that up a bit with active verbs and still give the same punch, it would be a bit stronger. Other than that, you’ve got a strong query, vivid stakes, and awesome voice!

      GOT ME A DADDY MAP: ALL. THE. VOICE! I’ve had my eye on this one because it is so unique and vivid. I appreciate the tweaks you’ve made. Overall, a fan-freakin-tastic entry.

      Both of these are seriously amazing, but for me, it came down to the entry with a little more voice.


      ~Red Ink Slinger

    9. Mrs. Will HerondaleJune 21, 2018 at 2:09 PM

      I voted for both of these entries in previous rounds, which makes it especially hard to choose between them! Honestly, I think both of these books will get requests, so I'm not worried about the long-term prospects of either story.

      One quick nitpick on Daddy Map... it does feel a bit like this version of your query just kind of stops/ends suddenly? Usually queries end on the stakes. We know she's trying to find her Daddy, but I think you need some sort of concluding sentence with this version. She marks his name of with a black crayon and then...?

      I love them both so much! But since I have to choose:

      Victory to RASPBERRY MOON!

  2. This is a tough match up because they are so strong and so different. I've voted for both of them in previous rounds. I would love to see them both on the book shelves soon. In the end, this choice is very subjective, I'm a sucker for time travel, but I have to vote for the character I'm most excited to get to know over the course of a novel.



    Wow, what a wonderfully unique premise. This has complexity worthy of adult fiction. The voice is great and I’m really interested where this one would go. I love how you sell how distrustful Emma is in the sample.


    Ah, geez, You both are really challenging what I though MG was capable of. I love the way you describe Allie’s anger and her use of the crayon to sell the stakes of the story. She sounds like a lovely character that I’d be happy to spend more time with.

    This is another great matchup. I haven’t read either of these before. Both of these girls are so precocious. I like the writing in Got Me a Daddy Map a bit more, but I’m in love with the premise of Raspberry Moon, but I think I connected with Allie just slightly more.

    GAH! I have to go to bed. Congrats to both of you. Keep writing, please!


  4. Humbled and amazed! Thanks to all of you judges for your super-kind comments