Wednesday, June 1, 2016

QUERY KOMBAT ROUND 1: MY BOYFRIEND RIGGED THE LOTTERY vs. MOCHI MONSTER

Title: Windfall
Nickname: My boyfriend rigged the lottery
Word Count: 83K
Genre: YA Contemporary Suspense

Query: 

In Marina’s culture, dumplings are thought to bring wealth and good fortune to anyone who eats them. It’s in their shape, her A-Ma says, and in the way they’re stuffed full, almost to bursting. But Marina’s been eating dumplings her whole life and good fortune remains as elusive as a good boyfriend. She’s a piano prodigy who secretly loves indie rock, and she’ll need a packed house full of luck to reject her mother’s plans for her life and follow her own dreams.

When Marina wins the lottery, she believes her time has finally come—until her dad inexplicably forbids her from claiming the prize. Suddenly given the means to break free from a life she never felt in control of, she turns her back on everything she knows and accepts the money anyway.

But Marina’s lottery win comes with strings attached. She soon finds herself tangled in a corporate scandal so devious it could bring the entire state lottery crashing down. When she finds evidence linking her dad to the intrigue, she has no one to turn to but an edgy guitar player she just met—a guy harboring secrets of his own. Now Marina must repair her broken family bonds and figure out who’s pulling the lottery strings before her prize turns into a noose. 

First 250:

My best friend’s raspberry spritzer sat dangerously close to the edge of the table, a twitch of the elbow away from tumbling to the floor. It was non-alcoholic, of course. The staff at Valer Prep made sure that alcohol was only consumed by parents (preferably ones with fat checkbooks) at the annual fundraising events. The students’ drinks were just fruit juice and club soda.  

The parents in the decked out ballroom were dressed like they’d gotten lost on their way to the Oscars and ended up at our school’s silent auction by mistake. They mingled about, bidding on rounds of golf at exclusive country clubs and dinner cruises around the San Francisco Bay. What they really should have been bidding on were self-help courses like How to avoid screwing up your kids or How to break your workout addiction in ten easy steps

I reached over Darya and slid her drink to a less precarious spot in the center of the table. She didn’t even notice—she just kept staring at the phone in her hands. 

Okay, I was staring at it too.

“The draw was at six. Why haven’t they posted the numbers yet?” Darya’s eyes were wide, and her dark hair hung in thick waves down her back. She had the tiniest hint of a Spanish accent, but it only came out when she was stressed or upset. Like now.

“Relax, it’s only been five minutes.” Despite my words, I felt anything but relaxed.

~ VERSUS ~ 

Title: The Water Child
Entry Name: Mochi Monster
Word Count: 65K
Genre: Contemporary YA

Query: 

One minute. That’s all it takes to change fifteen-year-old Tora’s life. Like turning a paper crane into a flower, it only takes one crease.

I’m seeking representation for THE WATER CHILD, a contemporary YA set in Japan during the 2011 tsunami as best friends make a cross-country journey back to their hometown in a last-ditch attempt to heal a dissolving friendship.

Tora Hayashi and Sakura Suzuki have always been best friends, since their first day in kindergarten when they stole ice cream from a convenience store – and it all melted. Inseparable. But when boy-crazy Sakura ditches Tora on the most important day before high school entrance exams, Tora realizes that their friendship is changing, possibly forever. To make matters worse, Tora’s own life is soon undermined by family secrets. Her fun-fabulous mother abandons home, permanently, and returns to Miyako, the coastal town of Tora’s childhood.

Tora determines to find the truth about her mother and cling to her fading friendship by sneaking away to Miyako for spring break with Sakura. But nothing goes as planned. When the earthquake and tsunami hit, separating friends and family, Tora faces a choice – survive alone or fight to find and save the lost, her runaway mother, misguided friend, and Masa – Sakura’s troublesome boyfriend who may be more noble than them all.

First 250 Words: 

Men in orange suits dash onto the train tracks. They run single-file, practiced. They haul the remains of the body off the rails. My hand tightens on the metal pole near the train door and my eyes blur over my iPhone screen. Everyone knows why we’re delayed, we simply don't say it.

"We apologize for the inconvenient delay," buzzes the train conductor.

Electronic doors slide open, releasing the inconvenienced passengers. I stifle a shiver as a gust of early spring air washes into the train car. Morbid curiosity claws at my throat. I gulp it down. Don’t look, don’t stare. The doors slip closed and the morning breeze falls to the ground, locking me inside the train. 

“Tora," Sakura calls. Her eyes meet mine through a mirror in her makeup compact. She's re-coating every single eyelash in thick black goo, legs crossed and sitting in the handicap zone. "Better text Emiko we’ll be late,” she whispers and taps her school bag, laden with Emiko’s books.

I catch the smirk on her lips as she covers them with pink lotus glaze. Poor Emiko. The last time she forgot her books sensei scolded her in front of the entire class and she looked like she’d downed a wastebasket of wasabi.

My fingers tap the keys.

Stuck at Shibuya. On way now! Don't worry. Ganbatte!


That’s code for don’t stress, together we can do this! If only I believed it. The high school entrance exam is in only two days.

19 comments:

  1. Judges, please post your feedback and comments as a reply here:

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My Boyfriend Rigged the Lottery:
      Query:

      Holy interesting concept, Batman. You’ve done this query well. I have a good sense of your character and the stakes, as well as a window into some bizarre intrigue that makes me want to know more.

      Pages:

      No problems here, either. Great voice, great scene-setting, great humor. Regardless of the outcome of this match, you should query this soon and often. If this sample is any indication, it’s ready.

      Mochi Monster:
      I love that you've written this book.
      Query:
      “I’m seeking representation for THE WATER CHILD, a contemporary YA set in Japan during the 2011 tsunami as best friends make a cross-country journey back to their hometown in a last-ditch attempt to heal a dissolving friendship.”

      I would personally put this paragraph first, and delete everything after “tsunami”. You already show us this in the query.

      “…by family secrets…” If there is any way you can make this more specific without spoiling, that would be good.

      Make it clear right away that her mother leaves her behind, and the MC doesn’t go with her.

      “But nothing goes as planned.” Delete this. You’re showing us that. And change to “Then the earthquake and tsunami hit, and Tora faces a choice – survive alone; or fight to save the victims, including her runaway mother, her misguided friend, and Masa – Sakura’s troublesome boyfriend who may be more noble than them all.”

      Pages:

      “The doors slip closed and the morning breeze falls to the ground, locking me inside the train.” This is a good image, but a little confusing, since I don’t think the breeze is locking her into the train. You can argue with other people about whether a breeze can fall to the ground – that sort of thing doesn’t but me, because I’m a staunch non-literalist. I’d reword, though.

      No other suggestions. Great concept, great writing.

      You both are excellent writers...I'm pulling my hair out and voting for My Boyfriend Rigged the Lottery.

      Delete
    2. My boyfriend rigged the lottery: This is a very unique premise! I really like the state lottery scandal aspect.

      Query: Your query letter is very good. When you said "In Marina's culture" I would've liked to see some sly reference as to what her culture is. But otherwise, I thought your query letter presented very well.

      250: You have a great voice, and your writing style pulled me right in. I only noticed some small technical issues, most of which Captain Janeway pointed out. But, in this sentence:

      What they really should have been bidding on were self-help courses like How to avoid screwing up your kids or How to break your workout addiction in ten easy steps.

      I'm not sure if the "How to avoid screwing..." should be italicized. Also, I believe there should be a semicolon and comma added. So like:

      What they really should have been bidding on were self-help courses like: How to avoid screwing up your kids, or How to break your workout addiction in ten easy steps.

      Perhaps one of the other judges can chime in on this one. Otherwise, this is a very strong entry.


      Mochi Monster: I am a huge fan of the Japanese culture, and the setting of the 2011 tsunami is very interesting.

      Query: I don't think I've ever said this before, but I think your query letter is starting in the wrong place (I usually say that about first chapters). The first paragraph seems unnecessary to me, as it doesn't contribute to the core details of the plot or the main character. The second paragraph feels like it should be at the bottom of your query with your book stats (i.e. Complete at 65,000 words, THE WATER CHILD is a YA contemporary set in Japan during the 2011 Tsunami). The third paragraph is where I would suggest you begin your query, as this is where the meat and bones of the plot are presented.

      250: I was very drawn in by your writing style. It was a little hard to visualize where Tora was at first. I would suggest adding a tad bit more detail on the setting, maybe mention that Tora's in a monorail (or subway) car somewhere within the first paragraph. Also, be sure to keep an eye out for repetitive words and/or phrases. I noticed you used a variation of inconvenient two sentences in a row.

      Wow! You guys are not making this easy. I really wish these two entries weren't up against each other, because I really like them both. But, in the end, I can only pick one.

      Victory to Mochi Monster, because the writing in this entry felt so authentic. But know this writer of Mochi Monster, the other query letter was much more streamlined than yours. I would definitely suggest tightening your query letter so it jumps into the story's most impactful details.

      Delete
    3. Katherine PierceJune 3, 2016 at 5:01 PM

      My Boyfriend Rigged the Lottery

      Query: I’m really not in love with this first paragraph. I like the thought behind it, but it seems much too drawn out. I think you can get this idea down in one to two sentences, tops. I’d skip the second sentence specifically. The last sentence seems to include information that isn’t relevant (Marina’s piano playing and love of indie rock). What I’d really like to hear more about is how her plans differ from her mother’s and even a small hint as to what her culture is. I think the second paragraph is really well done, but you lose me again in the last one. What kind of strings does it come with? Can you hint as to what this corporate scandal is about because I’m not seeing the connection. And is there a better way to tie-in the guitar player? I’d also love to see some more specific stakes—when you mean noose, do you mean literally? Is there a possibility this scandal could kill her?

      250: I really enjoyed this 250. Here are a few suggestions: Last sentence in the first paragraph, I think you can cut it, we already know it’s non-alcoholic I don’t think we need to know what it’s made of. Second paragraph—when you’re talking about the self-help courses, the titles of them should be capitalized. Other than that, this is great and I love that you’re starting right at the lottery spot. Good job!


      Mochi Monster

      Query: Honestly, I think this query starts in the wrong spot. You can skip the first paragraph entirely, and I’d move the second one to the end where you sum up about your MS (THE WATER CHILD is a contemporary YA complete at 65k, etc.), but leave off everything after “tsunami.” In the third paragraph (where I think your query really takes off) consider cutting “most important” from the third sentence. I think it just makes the sentence more wordy than it has to be. After that you mention “family secrets.” Can you give us a hint what they may be? I’d also recommend being very clear in the last sentence of that paragraph that her mom leaves her behind. In the last paragraph, I’d swap the first sentence around so it starts differently from the prior paragraph—“Determined to uncover the truth about her mother and save her fading friendship with Sakura, Tora sneaks away to Miyako with Sakura at her side” or something like that. And actually, the next line would be a great time to mention one minute changing her life, it would be a really nice transition. The last sentence here seems to be a bit bogged down. Rather than naming everyone you can simplify to family and friends, and be specific as to what the stakes are for Tora.

      250: This is a really strong opening. Very evocative and drew me right in. A few suggestions: in the first paragraph I’d combine these two sentences like this to avoid two “theys”—“They run single-file, practiced, hauling the remains of the body off the rails.” In the third paragraph you say that the inconvenienced passengers are getting off, but Tora stays on the train. I was a little confused because it seemed like they were making everyone get off. Maybe clarify that. Other than that, great job!

      Another difficult one, but VICTORY TO MOCHI MONSTER!

      Delete
    4. My boyfriend rigged the lottery

      Query:
      What a very awesomely interesting premise. Holy cow. Totally fascinating. I am already desperate to know what happened.

      If you name the guitar player it might help us connect to him just a little bit “she has no one to turn to but DUDESNAME, an edgy guitar player she just met. [They make incredible music together], but he’s harboring secrets of his own.” (that is a cheesy insert but I wanna know if there are SPARKS or not. Is there romance? Is he the romance? It feels romantic but then I feel a little like I want more there.

      I wonder if the dumpling thing can be shortened to 2 sentences instead of 3, just because it isn’t letting us get to the heart of the story. Paragraph 2 is where the HEART of the story hits us. I want to get there faster. SHE WON THE LOTTERY OMG. That is the real deal. I do love the way the dumpling bits give us insight into her culture and her family… I just wonder if there is a way to do it more quickly so we can see what is really happening.

      GREAT final sentence.

      First 250:
      I am really into this opening. I see the scene so clearly. I feel the tension. I see what the story is about. Really well done.

      Have the second course offering start differently than “How to…” and I also think you can come up with something really, really funny for that one. Like “____ for Dummies” or “Ten-steps to _____”. Just to break it up. I love that line and I don’t want it sound echoey.

      In the first line, can we have a stronger word than tumbling? Crashing? Leaping?



      Mochi Monster

      Query:
      Wow this is stunning. I liked hearing that it was about the 2011 tsunami up front. That is what really caught my eye. I know people go back and forth on whether to put that up front or at the end, but in this case that hooked me immediately. Others may disagree!

      I had a couple trip-ups in the last paragraph. I would skip introducing the boyfriend in the query. I think with the mom and the best friend and the MC we have 3 very compelling characters. I would like to end on the stakes. How about:

      “When the earthquake and tsunami hit, separating friends and family, Tora must fight to find and save the lost: her runaway mother and her misguided friend.” Then try adding in the real stakes here…there is a ticking clock to find each other in the aftermath of the disaster. There is physical danger as well as emotional danger of losing hope.

      Also I don’t really believe that Tora would choose not to find her mom and friend. That’s why I took out “must make a choice.” You haven’t set her up as heartless…anything but! So focus on what happens if she *doesn’t* find them. We know she will do anything in her power to try to find them.

      First 250 Words:
      Love the start. Great characterization. I feel her nervousness. I am already annoyed at her friend! Also, starting with the death is very compelling.
      Really great writing.

      This one is killing me. If I was an agent I would want more from both. I really would. There are two strong writers, two amazing premises. Gosh, they are both incredibly exciting sounding. This is killing me to decide but I am going to have to go with only one. THIS IS SO HARD AND I HATE MYSELF AND I WANT BOTH BOOKS. ***PLEASE JUDGES RESCUE THIS OTHER ENTRY BECAUSE THEY ARE BOTH AMAZING PLEEEEEEASE (I am begging. And I am Irene Adler. I am "the woman" so you should listen to me!***

      Victory to My boyfriend rigged the lottery

      Delete
    5. My Boyfriend Rigged The Lottery

      Query:

      This sounds like a fun novel, and I like the dumplings bit, but I think either make it a one line hook, or take it out altogether. It’s something we can find out as we read the novel, and isn’t really needed in the query. It takes up pressure word space, and since I find the query to be a bit vague in the actual details of the plot, you should utilize them to tell the reader what’s going on.

      Ex: In (age) Marina’s (last name) culture, dumplings are thought to bring wealth and good fortune to anyone who eats them. After a lifetime of stuffing her face with the majestic food, she wins the lottery, and thinks her time as finally come.

      That just condensed what you took two paragraphs to say. This opens it up more so we can get more details on what the strings are. The last paragraph tells nothing, but gives us a lot of mystery. Give us the details on what’s happening, who’s this guy? How does she find him? Why does she turn to him? The stakes are also vague. What does repairing the family bond have to do with figuring out who’s pulling the strings? Isn’t that the main plot? Trying to stop whatever the scandal is? Or is it the family aspect? I just don’t have enough information to know.

      First 250:

      I absolutely love the voice in this. I can feel Marina’s voice inside my head, her urgency at wanting to know, her desire to do anything but sit still until the numbers post.

      There are a few sentences with some awkward syntax. For instance the first one I think can be broken up. I also feel like they are awfully young considering the way they aren’t allowed to drink and only the parents are? It makes me feel like they’re in middle school and they place is trying to make them feel included. So I would think about finding a way to make them sound a bit older. Otherwise, I think it’s a nice start.

      VS.

      Mochi Monster

      Your hook is a little generic to me. A lot of lives change in a moment, so while I like the second half about the crane, I feel the beginning can be stronger.

      Don’t break up your query by tossing the ‘I’m seeking’. Either put it at the very beginning, or at the very end, but keep all parts of the meat of your query together.

      The first sentence is a bit jumbled in syntax.

      Tora Hayashi and Sakura Suzuki have been best friends since their first day in….

      Okay, so there’s a lot going on here. What’s the main plot? Is Tora repairing her relationship with her friend, or is she finding out her mother’s secret? What is the secret? Tell me. I need to know what makes your mom with a secret story different from a dozen other mom with a secret stories. Does this somehow lead back to the friendship thing? Is that why it’s in the query?

      Also the boyfriend bit just seems, thrown in at the last second. I’m not quite sure what the actual stakes are here.

      First 250:

      You’ve got some great imagery in there, but I feel like the pacing is a bit slow. I like the fact that there’s something morbid that’s causing the delay, and it’s definitely enough to keep me reading, but I feel like we’re torn from finding out what’s happening to texting Emiko. If something horrific is going on out there, what is it? Take me that way. That’s what’s got me intrigued.

      Lottery: I think there’s not enough in the query to give a clear picture of what’s going on, but love the voice in the first 250.

      Mochi: There’s so much going on in this query, that I’m not sure what the main story line or the main stakes are. It needs to be streamlined. I like the imagery in the first 250, but feel like the conversation should be geared more toward that.

      Not an easy decision. You both have the makings of an awesome novel here.

      GO GO GADGET VICTORY TO MY BOYFRIEND RIGGED THE LOTTERY

      Delete
    6. Since I have a deadline, I’ll cut to the chase and keep this simple. I imagine you have enough comments to scramble your brains by now.

      My Boyfriend Rigged the Lottery:

      What a fun idea. A piano prodigy who wins the lottery? I’m in. However, other than becoming entangled in a corporate scandal, I’m not really seeing much suspense in your query.

      Excellent voice in your 250. You do a great job setting the scene, pulling me right into your story.


      Mochi Monster:

      Such a unique and exciting premise. And your 250 is truly lovely.

      I think your query could be tightened, however. For example, in this sentence: “have always been best friends, since their first day in kindergarten,” you could cut, “always,” because it’s implied by the rest.

      What a difficult choice. I want to vote for both of them. As a PW mentor, I’d truly be thrilled to see either of these entries in my inbox.

      But, judge I must, and this IS a query contest, so:

      Victory to My Boyfriend Rigged the Lottery!

      Delete
  2. Hi guys! First of all, awesome entries, congratulations!

    My Boyfriend Rigged the Lottery: love this entry, it has a lot of voice -- I would attain more to specifics in the query, especially on the last paragraph when you refer to a corporate scandal (what kind? what does it involve?). The writing transmits into the pages, so the voice is all settled and i really enjoyed it.

    Mochi Monster: Your idea sounds great! I really want to read it. Your query is a bit convoluted at the end -- you hint at things like "family secrets" and such, and I'd specify it more. The paragraph about the tsunami could be cut short - just put the stakes forward without muddling it too much. I loved the beginning and the tone it's setting for the story.

    Good luck to you both!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Congrats to both of you! Great entries.

    MY BOYFRIEND RIGGED THE LOTTERY: Very strong query. I love the imagery of the first paragraph, and your description of what happens in the story is very clear and concise. Your way with words is so good! Perhaps that's why part of one sentence stuck out to me: "Suddenly given the means to break free from a life she never felt in control of," feels a bit clunky amidst all of your wonderful, smooth sentences. Is there a way to work this so it doesn't end with the preposition? Your 250 is really great. I love your descriptions and you are very creative with showing what things are like. All I've got for you are a couple of nitpicks! In the second paragraph I think it should be "decked-out," and can you mingle "about," or can you just mingle? Also, the imaginary titles of classes -- if they are titles, the words should be capitalized. As I said, nitpicks. :) Great stuff! I really enjoyed it.

    MOCHI MONSTER: What a wonderful idea to incorporate such a huge event into a story. Huge and difficult, I'm sure! I love the premise. Your query is intriguing. Just a few suggestions: 1) Is there a way to make the second paragraph into a couple of sentences? It just feels a little overwhelming with all of that information in one long breath. 2) The first sentence of the second paragraph contradicts itself a bit. Have they "always" been best friends, or just "since their first day of kindergarten?" I think if you take out the "always" and the comma after best friends the sentence will be clearer. 3) In the fourth paragraph I'm a little confused by the last sentence and who all she's trying to find -- are the "lost" her mother and friend, or are they strangers? Also, the part about Masa is a bit vague, especially since we haven't heard about him before. Could he be mentioned earlier, or given a more specific reason that he is noble? Your 250 are really good -- the image of what is happening here is disturbing and also real. I can feel her discomfort. A few nitpicks: 1) in the 3rd paragraph, there is this sentence: The doors slip closed and the morning breeze falls to the ground, locking me inside the train." Do the doors lock her inside, or the morning breeze? (although I love the idea of the breeze falling to the ground) 2) In the 4th paragraph the sentence about Sakura is just a bit confusing -- but with a few word changes it will be fine. "legs crossed and sitting in the handicap zone" makes it sound like just her legs are there instead of her whole body. But as I said, easy fix. There also needs to be a comma after "whispers" in the next sentence. 3) Should sensei be capitalized since it is used as a name? Again, easy fix. I really like Tora, and feel her warmth. I'll be interested to hear what happens next in the story!

    Congrats to both of you for great entries.

    Victory to MY BOYFRIEND RIGGED THE LOTTERY

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hello, fellow Kombatants! So blown away by all of the talent in this competition (kompetition?)!!

    My Boyfriend Rigged the Lottery: Your first 250 are really great! There's a lot of voice in a short amount of space, so bravo for that! The query definitely piqued my interest, but I had a hard time feeling grounded in it. What is the setting of this story? You mention Marina's culture, but what culture is that? Also, I don't really understand why winning the lottery frees Marina from the life she doesn't want/her parents are forcing on her. It might help to more explicitly state what she'll do with that money and how it will give her the life she dreams of. I love love love the string/noose connection and imagery in the last paragraph! The stakes are clear and compelling, too. You totally clenched it with that - great job!

    Mochi Monster: Again, absolutely fantastic first 250! I want to keep reading this NOW! My only critique is that it feels like Tora moves on emotionally from the removal of a dead body pretty quickly. It's possible that the next few paragraphs might make that not an issue (e.g., if it's so commonplace that you have to be nonchalant about it these days, etc.), but in this little snippet it makes Tora come across a little cold that she's worrying about exams when someone has just died. For your query, I'm so intrigued by the idea of a story about the 2011 tsunami! I only wish that the inciting incident (the tsunami) appeared earlier in your query and you focused a little more on the events that follow it. Also, I wouldn't name Masa in the query - too many names in a query gets confusing. Just say "Sakura's troublesome boyfriend..." - in my opinion, anyway!

    ReplyDelete
  5. My Boyfriend Rigged the Lottery:

    Query: The first paragraph does a good job of introducing your MC and even adding a little voice, however, I don’t know that any of these details are important to the story and by the rest of the query, it doesn’t sound like it. These types of descriptors are things that make readers fall in love with characters while reading the story, but in a query there is such a limited amount of space, I wouldn’t spend it on anything that isn’t essential to the character or the plot.
    Killer last line to the query, it is a great hook. You did a good job setting up the stakes, but I think it would be good if you were a little less vague on the “devious scandal.” If you told us some of the specifics I think it would really up the stakes and bring us more into the plot.

    First 250: The writing in this selection is great. Your descriptions have me sitting right there with your MC and Darya. However, I wonder if this is the wrong place to spot. If it weren’t for your query, I’d think this was the story of your MC and Darya, two rich girls. Since I got a distinctly different idea of Marina’s financial state from the query, and there is no mention of Darya in the query, I’m assuming this is wrong. Maybe you can find somewhere else, an actually physically different location, to start the book that wouldn’t have the reader, who’s never read your query, beginning to form false expectations and images of your characters. Also, this might be a personal thing with me, but I don’t like it when I’m left guessing the name of a character, unless of course the character’s name is supposed to be a mystery. Since this is not the case with Darya, I think including her name in that first line.

    MACHI MONSTER:

    Query: I love best friend stories and what a fascinating setting! I think it’s great to start out a query with a tagline like this, but I think this one might be too clunky. Maybe try to consolidate it – something like this: Like turning a paper crane into a flower, it only takes one crease to change a life, and for Tora, that crease took only a minute.

    250: Excellent writing! You have some wonderful verbs in this first page, used flawlessly. I really don’t have too much to say other than that about your first page. And I think you’re missing a comma between books and sensei. If I’m looking for missing commas to comment on, that generally means you did a good job!

    ReplyDelete
  6. My boyfriend rigged the lottery: I think this is a great query letter. It has so much voice, and gives great insight into Marina's personality and what's going on. My only suggestion is that I'd like to know her age. Your 250 words are awesome--again, so much voice!--and I laughed at several places in just those few opening paragraphs.

    Mochi Monster: Love this premise of surviving the storm and finding your way home. I feel like I'd be on the edge of my seat the whole time I'm reading this book, wanting to make sure everything turns out for everyone, which is good. I like how your hook also ties in to the culture of Japan. Great first 250; love that it opens with a body on the tracks, but life just sort of has to go on for everybody.

    Great job both of you!

    ReplyDelete
  7. These were both great entries with interesting stories to tell. I enjoyed reading them both!

    MY BOYFRIEND RIGGED THE LOTTERY

    Query: Loved it. It's extremely streamlined and gives us just enough details to be enticing but not so much that it gives everything away. It's a difficult balance to strike, but you did it well!

    250: I enjoy the voice a lot. You've got great humor and color to your first page, which really brought me in as a reader. Great job!

    MOCHI MONSTER:

    Query: Overall I enjoyed your query--especially your premise--but I agree with the others who have said the last sentence is a bit confusing. Because of that, the stakes weren't as clear as they could be. That's not to say I wouldn't continue reading--just worried about a confusing sentence being the last impression a potential agent might get.

    250: Loved it. Seriously. I loved that the first thing you included was a death, even though it's morbid. It's so jarring for Western readers to see something like that get handled so casually and provides a great contrast between American culture and Japanese culture. Well done!

    ReplyDelete
  8. My Boyfriend Rigged the Lottery:

    Oh my goodness, this query! I love it. It flowed really well for me and I perfectly understood your stakes and conflict. Not to mention your MC's voice really shines. The only thought I wondered about is since this is YA, is your MC old enough to enter the lottery? Does she need to be 18? Is she 18? Maybe putting her age in there would help. Just a thought!

    The first 250: Not much to add here either! Your word choice and style really flows well to keep the reader reading on. I wanted more than just the first 250!


    Mochi Monster:

    Oh my goodness, this book! It sounds amazing. For your query, I agree with the others that the placement of the second paragraph is a little off-putting. But other than that, I loved it!

    Your first 250, um, is AH-MAZING. So nothing very constructive there either. Opening with the body on the tracks is so stark, and I feel like it probably sets up the tone for the rest of your story really well. That's just a guess though. Love it!


    Both of these books sound so amazing. Seriously. Thank you both for writing them and I can't wait until they're on shelves so I can have my copies! :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. My Boyfriend Rigged the Lottery - This was fabulous! I loved everything about this query. And the first 250 - you painted such a realistic scene. I live in the SF bay area and you captured the wealthy parents in this area perfectly. Great job and I'm positive you get an agent soon.

    Mochi Monsters: I loved this insight into the Japanese culture and what a great and important subject. I love the poetry of the first sentence of your query, but could you put this somewhere in your manuscript? I think you could cut right to the second paragraph and have it flow better. I think the part about the mother leaving is too wordy. Simpler language to underscore the pain this would cause a young teenage girl.The first 250 was great. It's startling to me that they would apologize for a dead body on the tracks - very interesting look at the way things
    are done. You've done a great job letting us see the personalities of Sakura. But I would like to know Tora a bit better. Hard to do in the first page, but maybe more about her reaction to the body? I would cut the breeze holding her in the train bit. But this is me being picky because this was excellent!
    I honestly think you both deserve to go to the next round!

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  10. My Boyfriend Rigged the Lottery - This was fabulous! I loved everything about this query. And the first 250 - you painted such a realistic scene. I live in the SF bay area and you captured the wealthy parents in this area perfectly. Great job and I'm positive you get an agent soon.

    Mochi Monsters: I loved this insight into the Japanese culture and what a great and important subject. I love the poetry of the first sentence of your query, but could you put this somewhere in your manuscript? I think you could cut right to the second paragraph and have it flow better. I think the part about the mother leaving is too wordy. Simpler language to underscore the pain this would cause a young teenage girl.The first 250 was great. It's startling to me that they would apologize for a dead body on the tracks - very interesting look at the way things
    are done. You've done a great job letting us see the personalities of Sakura. But I would like to know Tora a bit better. Hard to do in the first page, but maybe more about her reaction to the body? I would cut the breeze holding her in the train bit. But this is me being picky because this was excellent!
    I honestly think you both deserve to go to the next round!

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  11. My boyfriend:
    Query: UM. This query is amazing. The way you infuse voice, character, while inserting the right amount of backstory and plot to intrigue the reader. You provide the right balanced hint of a POC character without making it about the color aspect and instead present an Asian American teen's life and expectations for herself in a modern American world pitted against old world values - or are they? BUM BUM BUMMMM. Very well done!
    250: WTH? Your 250 are also lovely and well structured. Dude. The voice is spot on, angsty, critical longing of adolescence totally infused, and your setting is well described. So much is transferred to the reader's mind in a short few sentences. There are some things I would nitpick in here, but they would be just that - nitpicks. So I won't. Great job!

    Mochi Monster:
    Query: This sounds so interesting. There are a few disjointed aspects to it but overall I'm super intrigued. I don't understand the beginning where you describe the ice cream melting and that leading the girls to be inseparable. I understand that experience bonded them longer than the ice cream's shelf life, but the double hyphen and period confuse me "--and it all melted. Inseparable." Why not cut the "and it all melted"? I think that would buoy your reader's attachment to the intention of the sentence. I think fun-fabulous should be italicized or you should make it a point to include for hyphenated phrases to show us that's just how Tora talks. I'd suggest ending on a point about Tora also, not a point about Masa. Also also, where is this story originally set? I know it leads to Japan but is this some place in the United States? You mention a convenience store and that sounds inexplicably USA but I don't get a feel for where Tora grows up - something super important in YA.
    250: You've got a good pace and setting to open up your book but parts of it read a little forced. For example, "The last time she forgot her books sensei scolded her in front of the entire class and she looked like she’d downed a wastebasket of wasabi." The wasabi reference almost feels put on, like you're deliberately trying to tell us the MC is Japanese. You could embed it more by referencing their last lunch together wherein Emiko cried rivers from swallowing too much wasabi. "...the entire class. She looked like she had at our lunch that day -- green from nausea at too much wasabi." Your last few sentences, "If only I believed it. The high school entrance exam was in only two days" feels like it could benefit from a nice bookend to that. Hopefully it's the next sentence and you got cut off, otherwise I would suggest providing a better bridge to the last sentence. Very intriguing, overall!

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  12. MY BOYFRIEND RIGGED THE LOTTERY

    Query

    Oh, how I love your explanation of the symbolism of dumplings. Right away, we’re given a cultural vibe that your character is at odds with. Very intriguing!

    Overall, I’m questioning the believability of this happening to a teen. Wouldn’t someone under 18 be unable to collect lottery winnings? How would she pull off collecting the money without her parents or an adult dishonestly doing the job for her?

    Why does she have to trust the guy she just met? Where did he come from? Without a little more foundation for him, he adds confusion to the query.

    Your ending sentence finishes your query well.

    250

    You’ve given us a definite picture of the ballroom Marina and Darya are in, and you’ve shown the girls’ preoccupation and anxiety over the lottery results well, without merely telling us. The only suggestion I have is to watch the passive voice. Good luck!

    MOCHI MONSTER

    Query

    You’ve got an intriguing premise and a tight query—good job! The only suggestion I have of any note is a tweak in your last sentence: remove “the lost” and focus on mother, Sakura, and Masa. Readers may also have issue with the length of this sentence.

    250

    You followed that tight query with a strong 250.

    In the first paragraph, perhaps the second and third sentence could be combined to do away with the second sentence-starting “they”: “They run single-file, practiced, hauling the remains of the body off the rails.”

    Your fourth paragraph gives us good imagery of Sakura. I especially appreciate the action of their eyes meeting in the compact’s mirror. The smirk on Sakura’s face, along with her makeup applying during a serious situation captures her personality well, as do Tora’s thoughts of the dead passenger and the feelings of Emiko. Great job presenting their differences so quickly in your story! Good luck!

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  13. My boyfriend rigged the lottery

    I dig dumpling culture! Carried along through a wonderful premise skillfully delivered. And LOVE that last line! Well done.

    Loved the description of the parents' attire in the first 250. WOW. Such voice suggesting the things they *should* be bidding on. Angsty much?

    Maybe "relaxed" can go away at the end of the last sentence.


    Mochi Monster

    Love the fact this is set in Japan. And such an excellent topic--a fictional account of just what is was like when The Big One raced ashore. And just what makes Masa more noble than the rest of them? Does he help resolve the conflict somehow? I think that's a question that ought be answered sooner rather than later.

    The scene you've set in the first 250 that could have been set in of countless trains in Tokyo on any given day. Or Osaka. Or any other large Japanese city. Well done. I have long been an anime and manga fan so the romanji didn't throw me, but it could take another out of the story who wasn't so familiar.

    "Don't stress?" Two days before the all-important entrance exams? Feh! As if.

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