Wednesday, June 1, 2016

QUERY KOMBAT ROUND 1: SEVENTH GRADE STRIKE(OUT) vs. ONE-HANDED WONDER

Title: Zach Beacon Strikes Out
Entry nickname: Seventh-Grade Strike(Out) 
Word count: 34,000
Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary

Query:

Seventh-grader Zach Beacon just wants to play baseball. The bad-boy shortstop of Mayfield Prep's baseball team, Zach has been sent to the principal's office so often, he's on a first-name basis with the secretary. His team is good this year—real good—and Principal “Robot” McMott expects them to win the Mississippi private school championship. Or else.

Things change when a bike accident lands Zach in the yard of August Clement, the school groundskeeper. Zach's fast friendship with August, an elderly black man, leads to some tough choices when Zach learns that Principal McMott is planning to fire August. In a town with a long history of racial injustice, McMott claims he's firing August to save money for a new trophy case, but Zach suspects that something worse may be at the root of McMott's decision.

Teaming up with Monika Runch, the softball captain and one of only five black kids in the whole school, Zach heads a petition drive to support the groundskeeper. When McMott ignores their petition and fires August anyway, Zach and Monika lead their teams on a strike, using the best leverage they have—the teams won't win till McMott gives in. Zach promises his team they can lose three games and still make the play-offs, but as the losses mount and McMott doesn't budge, Zach learns it's hard to keep a team together when the goal isn't a championship, but justice.

In his quest to save August's job, Zach juggles race relations, anxious teammates, and new friendships—and he does it in a wise-cracking style all his own.

First 250 words:

“Gimme a fast one, Joey, if you’ve still got it in you,” I yelled, knocking the dirt from my cleats.

“Yeah, right, Zach,” Joey shot back with a grin. “We’ve only been out here for two hours. It’ll be midnight before my arm gets tired.” He went into a windup – and fell over laughing.

I’d done my signature bat-waggle butt-wiggle. It gets them every time.

“All right, guys, knock it off,” said Coach Clark from the dugout.

“Come on, Coach, we’re just having some fun,” I protested.

“Zachary!” yelled a voice from the stands. “This is the last day of spring tryouts. Pay attention!”

My dad. Of course. He gets almost more excited about baseball season than I do.

Almost.

Joey slung a fastball over the plate, and I thundered it into the hole in left field. I cruised to a stop at second.

“Nice,” barked Coach Clark. He rubbed a hand under his hat and squinted at a notepad. “Zach, take over as catcher. Rod’s going to bat now.”

I trotted towards home. Rod Grimble tore off the catcher’s mask and grabbed his bat from the dugout.

“Whee-yoo, Rod, this mask stinks,” I said as he stomped to the plate. “What’d you have for lunch, a garlic sandwich?”

Rod didn’t look at me. Not even a grin.

Joey wound up and lobbed a low fast one to Rod. He missed.

“What goes with a garlic sandwich? Maybe some sardines on the side? This is one rank mask, man.”

~ VERSUS ~

Title: The Windup
Entry Nickname: One-Handed Wonder
Word count: 40,000
Genre: Middle Grade

Query: 

Kyle Whalen, a southpaw Little League pitcher, knew nothing of loss until a car accident took his right hand, his twin brother, and his passion for life. Now, three years later, Kyle is fourteen and determined to play ball again in memory of his twin and fulfill the dream they shared: win the Brookhaven Invitational Baseball Tournament, a feat his home team has never accomplished.

Kyle practices hard with his catcher, the girl he’s crushing on and best friends with, but he struggles to pitch and bat one-handed. Those struggles mount when he discovers she’s dating a rival ballplayer. Things only get worse when his coach and several of his teammates bail, leaving his team ineligible to compete. It’s game on, though, when Kyle convinces his estranged dad to take over as coach and his troublemaker cousin joins the team. As Kyle leads his ragtag team closer to the championship, Kyle grows closer to his dad, the man he thought no longer cared. And Kyle, encouraged by his cousin, begins competing for and winning over his crush's heart. But when a bully on an opposing team pulls a nasty prank, Kyle must choose between keeping the dream alive and saving his family.

First 250:

I stood atop the pitcher’s mound, baseball in hand. My only hand. Perched over the stub where my right hand used to be was my baseball glove, pocket-down.

“Last one, Kyle. Fire it in here,” Hailey said, punching her catcher’s mitt. She was my age, fourteen, but she could have passed for sixteen.

The two of us had been practicing on the weed-choked Little League field for about two hours. Summer rays warmed the back of my neck. My tired pitching arm sagged at my side like a wet noodle. I dug my cleat into the soft dirt in front of the pitching rubber, wound up, and slung a fastball. After my follow-through, I slipped my hand into my glove, fumbling a bit, and got into fielding position. Mastering the transfer of my glove was the hardest part. I had no doubt teams would test me by bunting and hitting comebackers.

“Sick pitch, Kyle,” Hailey said, hopping up. She pulled off her mitt and approached me. “You’re ready for this.”

“I hope so,” I said, shaking off my glove and letting it fall to the ground. It was one thing to practice without a batter standing at home plate. It was another story to pitch in a tournament, which was what I planned to do in just a few days. The last time I laced up for a game was three years ago. Back when my dad was the coach. Back when I had a right hand. Back when I had a twin teammate to double high-five.

19 comments:

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

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Seventh-Grade Strike(out):
      Query:

      “—real good—“ I’d use the grammatically-correct “really.”

      “..bike accident lands Zach in the yard of August Clement…” I had to read this a couple times. Does he crash his bike into the guy’s yard? I think I was just expecting an accident to land him in the hospital, not someone’s yard, so the wording confused me.

      I’d remove the last paragraph. You show us some of this in the query, and the rest comes through in the pages.

      Really neat concept.

      Pages:

      No problems here.

      Dude, this is super, duper awesome and I'm so glad you wrote it.

      One-Handed Wonder:
      Query:
      There is a lot going on here, but you handled all the threads deftly in this query. This sounds good.
      Pages:
      No problems here.

      OHHHHHH MY GOSH. It's not FAIR to pair these two, especially because one is about dealing with racial issues and another with disability. They're both well-written, and the concepts are similar enough that it's hard to decide even just on subjective preference.

      Gosh. I'm voting for One-Handed Wonder.

      Delete
    2. SEVENTH GRADE STRIKE(OUT)

      Query:
      Really solid. The only part I struggled on was the second sentence of the second paragraph. There’s a lot in that sentence and perhaps it could be broken up to make it easier to understand.

      Also I am not positive about the final sentence…I wonder if there is a way to show the “wise-cracking style” in how the query is worded? Just another option to explore.

      First 250 words:

      So much great stuff here, I don’t really have any suggestions. Only “yelled a voice” is kind of an odd construction – “someone yelled from the stands”.

      Only other suggestion is this line: “Joey wound up and lobbed a low fast one to Rod. He missed.” It kind of has the same cadence as the line before it, which is jarring. I’d mix it up a bit between those two lines just so that it doesn’t blend in too much.

      I think it could be nice to get a hint that this is a Tryout though. It feels more like fun and games. Maybe Zach could think to himself (if it is the case) that he’s a shoe-in for the team. Or that he’s nervous about the tryout. Or something that gives us a hint of stakes.

      Otherwise it has great action, great voice, humor… Really nice!!!


      ONE-HANDED WONDER

      Query:

      Really Strong! Clear stakes, clear challenge. I see the inner battle and the external battle. Great!

      Break this into 3 paragraphs, I think, starting with “As Kyle leads…” Just helps us see how the story is unfolding and makes it easier to read. And I think you can use “he grows closer to his dad” at that point, instead of saying his name twice in the sentence.

      “begins competing for and winning over” – can you use a baseball metaphor here? (might be too much, but might be cute)

      Also get MORE specific about the prank and the risk. I don’t believe a prank can mean he has to “save” his family… save like life or death? Save like reputation? Don’t be coy here.

      First 250:
      Really nice start. I think when describing Hailey seeming older, give us a bit more. It was left to my imagination what “she could have passed for sixteen” meant, and I wasn’t sure. Like… she’s tall for her age? More mature looking? I think giving a specific detail here will tell us about BOTH Hailey and Kyle. If he thinks she is hot/is crushing on her, something here could show us that. Like point out that older boys on the team flirt with her in a way that shows us he is jealous. (Or…something?) It just came across as a little too “telling” to me.

      I think the last 5 sentences really just lay out the whooooole story maybe a little too soon. I think you could dish it out more slowly over time. Like “three years ago…not since everything changed” (that’s cheesy, but it leaves questions) or something that gives us just a slice of his pain and the challenge here. I want to wait to learn the whole story. I do like “when I had a twin teammate”.

      Very nice. I want to see where the story goes!


      SUCH a tough call between these two. Both so, so good. I would love to read both and I firmly believe both of these could get agent attention. But since I have to choose….

      Victory to SEVENTH GRADE STRIKE(OUT)

      Delete
    3. Katherine PierceJune 3, 2016 at 8:37 PM

      Seventh Grade Strike(Out)

      Query: This query is super solid, so I’ve only got a few small things to mention. First paragraph, it should be “really good.” In the second paragraph, when you say “bike accident” I got tripped up a little because it makes me think he got hit by a car. Can you rephrase to make that clearer? Third paragraph—are they not winning their games on purpose or are they actually forfeiting the games? Same paragraph, “playoffs” is one word. And the very last paragraph you can cut entirely, we get all that information by reading the rest of it. Really great job with this.

      250: I love the voice here, Zach is funny and I’m enjoying the story already. However, I think it might be a bit heavy on the dialogue. Also, this seems way too lax to be a tryout. Unless it’s the kind of tryout where everyone makes it anyway. But if it’s a serious tryout I have a hard time believing they’d be joking around this much. In the second paragraph, it would be more accurate to say “his windup.” And then later in the 10th one, it’d be more appropriate to say “take over at catcher.” You could also make the end of that sentence have more slang and say “Rod’s going to get/take some swings.” My last thought (and it could be the way the 250 cuts off), but Zach seems like he’s being a little mean to Rod. But I don’t really know their relationship so it could just be the cutoff, like I said.


      One-Handed Wonder

      Query: Great opening line, love the use of the term southpaw. Later on it seems like his dad leaving/not coaching or being around is a big deal. Consider putting something about him in that first line rather than the more generic “passion for life.” The second sentence in that paragraph, I think it should read “to fulfill” rather than and. Last line there, you can cut “home” since that’s implied. With the second paragraph, I’d recommend breaking it into two so it’s more digestible, starting with “As Kyle…” In that sentence, you should change the second Kyle to “he,” and if you added something about his dad up top you could adjust the end of this sentence to give more detail about the present situation. The next sentence I think you can just start with “Encouraged by his cousin.” At the end I’m a little confused with the stakes and how a prank leads to him needing to save his family. Can you flesh this out a little more? Overall, I think this is really strong and I’m loving the concept.

      250: The 250 is equally strong. Only a few things I can nit-pick here. You say “she could have passed for sixteen,” but can you show us that rather than telling. It’ll also give us some insight into their relationship probably. In the third paragraph, you can cut “tired” since you describe the arm as sagging we’ll understand he’s tired. Then all the way at the end, you mention his hand again which seems a bit redundant since you just mentioned it in the first paragraph and then mention double high-five in the next sentence. Other than that, this is fantastic.

      This is a really tough one and these are two of the strongest queries I’ve seen so far. But for this one I have to give VICTORY TO ONE-HANDED WONDER!

      Delete
    4. Seventh-Grade Strike(Out): I really enjoyed the premise of your story. I particularly liked the fact that Zach is a bad-boy type but still has goals.

      Query: This is a really good query letter, but it ran a bit on the long side. I would suggest looking for any details that may be repetitive or unnecessary and trimming them out. That way, you'll just be presenting the meat and bones of the plot, which will help pull the reader through the pitch.

      250: Personally, I'm opposed to openings that begin with dialogue as I find it hard to settle into the world and connect with the characters. Otherwise I didn't see any issues with the writing in this sample. The voice was spot on for MG, and I think a lot of younger readers would be able to relate to Zach well.

      One-Handed Wonder: Your story sounds very interesting, very intense. I did notice your genre was missing. Middle grade is the category; it tells what audience the story is intended for. The genre, however, indicates what the story's plot is about. For help selecting a genre, check out this site: http://www.bookcountry.com/ReadAndReview/Books/GenreMap/

      Query: Your query letter was very intriguing, but I felt it was lacking a sense of urgency with what's at stake for Kyle. It's a little vague how a prank can put Kyle's family's lives in danger. I would suggest trying to find a way to clear that bit of information up. That way, the hardship that Kyle faces will seem more personal and therefore critical.

      250: The writing in the sample was very immersive. I was instantly drawn into the world, and was sorry to see the sample end. My only comment (and this might be nitpicking) is with the use of the word "weed-choked". It just stumped me up. Also, the voice felt a bit mature for MG. I would say, based on narrative tone and MC age, that this story is an upper-MG.


      Both of these entries are outstanding! They both have very different aspects that I feel would do very well in the current market. This is hard, but one entry just stuck in my mind more.

      Victory to One-Handed Wonder

      Delete
  2. Such good entries! You make it hard on judges to choose a winner, but easy for us to read and enjoy and appreciate your work. Congratulations to both of you.
    Seventh-Grade Strike(Out). What a strong query and 250! I really don't have much to say except, Wow! You've done a spectacular job. The premise is a good one, very relevant to today. Just a couple very little nitpicks: 1) In the first paragraph you don't need the comma after "been to the office so often." 2) I'm not sure if "real good" is a voice thing, but it did catch me, since it should technically be "really good." Maybe re-consider that? 3) I love your 250. I really get a sense of Zach and his wise-ass-ness. Fun and funny and easy to read. The only sentence that caught me was this one:" Joey slung a fastball over the plate, and I thundered it into the hole in left field. I cruised to a stop at second." Each phrase on its own is great, but put together it kind of felt like a creative verb exercise. I think maybe if "thundered" were changed to something more simple it would help. Does that make sense? Keep an eye on dialogue tags, also, so readers don't "see" your creativity. Other than that, I really don't have anything to say about your 250 except good job!
    One-Handed Wonder: What a wonderful premise for a book. I can see agents and publishers eating this up! It makes me think of Jim Abbott from MLB -- my son did a research paper on him. Great stuff. You list the genre only as Middle Grade. Is it a Contemporary? Might want to add that to help people know where this might fit. A few other suggestions: 1) a comma after "memory of his twin" in the 1st paragraph of the query would help make that sentence a little clearer. A comma would also help after "take over as coach" in the 2nd paragraph. 2) The last sentence of the query jarred me. From what I thought was a Contemporary novel, it suddenly felt like a thriller. Is he physically saving his family from danger? Or is he saving the family relationship that has been growing? Something to make that clearer would help. 3) Really like your 250. I can see them practicing on the field. Your writing is very strong. One suggestion would be to watch active dialogue tags. For example, '“Last one, Kyle. Fire it in here,” Hailey said, punching her catcher’s mitt.' would read smoother as "Last one, Kyle. Fire it in here." Hailey punched her catcher's mitt. And '“I hope so,” I said, shaking off my glove and letting it fall to the ground.' could become "I hope so." I shook off my glove and let it fall to the ground. Does that make sense? My own editor gets on me for this, and I work to make these kinds of changes. Your entry is very strong, and I think someone will love it.

    This was a very hard decision, and I had to think long and hard about it. I could make arguments for either entry. But finally, I had to make a choice, and I am going to go with:

    Victory to Seventh-Grade Strike(Out)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Seventh-Grade Strike(Out)

    Query: This is a great query! It makes me want to read the book. I think you can scrap the last line of the query, though; it's telling us things about your story that we've already gleaned from the query.

    250: I'm cringing a little at the use of the characters' names in dialogue in the first two paragraphs. People rarely say the name of the person they're speaking to directly. (Note: his dad yelling "Zachary!" is fine as is.)


    One-Handed Wonder

    The genre should be specified as well as the age category. Is this an MG contemporary?

    Query: The query is intriguing, and I like most of it. I'd like to know more about how a prank would put his family in danger. Or are those two things not related? The final sentence is a little unclear/unfocused.

    250: I'm interested to see how he wears a baseball glove on his stub; I can't picture it staying on if there are no fingers in the hole. (You don't have to explain that in the first 250, but I'm indeed very curious about the answer.) I'd also like to see why Hailey could pass for sixteen; the voice could really shine through if you tell us why he thinks that. I really like the last paragraph! It gives us a great into Kyle's world.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Ack! One of the judges said it best - so tough to pair these two! I loved pretty much everything about them! Ack.

    Guess I will nitpick, to try to be constructive:

    Strike(Out): The *only* thing I'm worried about here is a conceptual thing - the magical black person trope. Sort of like...um....oh, that movie with Will Smith...the golfing movie...I'm so sorry, my brain is failing here, but it's a thing! I swear! The "strikes up a fast friendship with" made me think of it....like, why are they so suddenly amazing friends? What's so special about him? I'm sure it's handled in the story, but maybe check your wording in the query. It did make me go, "Oh, no, not again..." until I read the rest.

    As for One-Handed Wonder...my nitpick here would be that there's almost too much going on in the last paragraph of your query. It's like a laundry list...and then, and then, and then. So maybe look at that. I don't think we need ALL the plot points. You could perhaps merge a couple together.

    But man. GREAT entries. Congratulations to both of you, and good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'm not even sure what to say on these two other than I would love to read both of them. I love the voice and theme of diversity in Strike(Out).

    I love the emotional connection and heart in One-Handed Wonder.

    I wonder if there's any way the hosts of #QueryKombat could let both entries through to the next round? I'm glad I don't have to vote this round. Phew!

    Best of luck to both of you and get your queries out there to agents! Can't wait to see both of these books on the bookstore shelves soon!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Seventh-Grade Strike(Out): Great job! The stakes are clear and I am already rooting for Zach! I do think you could cut both the first and last lines. I think the query is strong enough without them. First 250: Wonderful MG voice!

    One-Handed Wonder: Wow, the first line of your query is just heartbreaking and gave me chills! Well written 250 and I love that you get right to the fact that he’s lost his hand.

    No matter what the outcome of the voting, I think you will both have success publishing! Well done!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Strike Out:
    Query: I got a great sense of character from you query. The conflict and stakes were really clear, which is great. I think the query might be stronger without the last sentence, because you've already shown all of those things in the previous paragraphs. Also, I wonder if the last sentence in the 3rd paragraph might be stronger if Zach is faced with a choice or an action rather than a learning experience (i.e. 'as the losses mount and McNott doesn't budge, Zach has to decide if...' or 'Zach has to find a way to convince his teammates that...').
    250: I really love the voice, and I definitely connect with the character. It's a little heavy on dialogue for my taste--I would love to see it broken up with a little more description or internal monologue.

    One-Handed Wonder:
    Query: Love, love, love the premise. I know some librarians who would be lined for this book! The first paragraph of the query is strong, but I think the second is a bit wordy and could be more direct (i.e. instead of 'the girl he's crushing on and best friends with', maybe something like 'his best friend and crush'). The wording just feels a bit passive here. And I didn't get the sense that his family was in physical danger like some other people did, but maybe 'keeping his family together' would be clearer than 'saving his family'.
    250: I was instantly hooked by the first paragraph. I agree with Captain Janeway about the dialogue tags--again, it feels a bit passive and wordy. But the description is really vivid, and the language is beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Strike Out:
    Query: I got a great sense of character from you query. The conflict and stakes were really clear, which is great. I think the query might be stronger without the last sentence, because you've already shown all of those things in the previous paragraphs. Also, I wonder if the last sentence in the 3rd paragraph might be stronger if Zach is faced with a choice or an action rather than a learning experience (i.e. 'as the losses mount and McNott doesn't budge, Zach has to decide if...' or 'Zach has to find a way to convince his teammates that...').
    250: I really love the voice, and I definitely connect with the character. It's a little heavy on dialogue for my taste--I would love to see it broken up with a little more description or internal monologue.

    One-Handed Wonder:
    Query: Love, love, love the premise. I know some librarians who would be lined for this book! The first paragraph of the query is strong, but I think the second is a bit wordy and could be more direct (i.e. instead of 'the girl he's crushing on and best friends with', maybe something like 'his best friend and crush'). The wording just feels a bit passive here. And I didn't get the sense that his family was in physical danger like some other people did, but maybe 'keeping his family together' would be clearer than 'saving his family'.
    250: I was instantly hooked by the first paragraph. I agree with Captain Janeway about the dialogue tags--again, it feels a bit passive and wordy. But the description is really vivid, and the language is beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Strike Out:

    Your query and first 250 are killer. Seriously, I want to read this book so badly now and I rarely read MG. I think you're "--real good--" part adds voice and in a style that a young kid would speak. So while it might not be grammatically correct, I think it works really well.

    One-Handed Wonder: My mouth is seriously hanging open at how well you crushed your query and first 250. I LOVE them!


    I seriously hate that you two are paired up against each other, because both of these books deserve to advance. But I know you'll both be on shelves very soon. Thank you both so much for writing these much-needed stories. Y'all rock!!

    ReplyDelete
  10. SEVENTH GRADE STRIKE(OUT)
    Query: Wonderful story. Paraphrased perfectly. would only find a way to cut the last line (he does it in a wise-cracking style all his own) and find a way to put that voice into the query itself.
    150: Love the banter and how Zach has a mind of his own, despite – or maybe in spite of – the coach and his dad. I’d like to see you expand the one true action sequence – the pitch, hit, and run to second. This is Zach’s thing. I want to see the swing, feel the bat in his grip. What does it feel like when the bat connects? You bypass the entire run to second, leaping directly from the swing to him reaching the base. The rest is just banter, but THAT is the key to Zach’s heart. Let’s see it, at least the first time. Love your dialogue.

    ONE-HANDED WONDER
    Query: Love the story and how you set it up. But I want more about the prank and how it endangers his family. How does it interfere with the championship? How does his missing hand play into this?
    250: I like this. But I can’t decide if I want to know how he lost his hand right up front, or not. What you have works well, but I’m really left wondering. Everything else works well. I’d only suggest adding in the word “brother” to the last sentence: Back when I had a twin brother teammate to double high-five. Otherwise it makes you think there was just some guy on the team who looked like him.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Strike Out:

    Great query and 250! Nit-picking comments only: comma after Zach in the 2nd sentence and I would use grammatically correct language in the query "really good". Save the vernacular for the first pages. I would also delete the last paragraph, I think the previous paragraphs are strong enough.

    First 250: I wouldn't use the tags in “Yeah, right, Zach" and “Whee-yoo, Rod, this mask stinks,” I think the other tags are fine, but in these sentences it's unnecessary and slows down the action.

    One-Handed Wonder:

    Query:
    Also a great query and 250!
    The phrase "the girl he’s crushing on and best friends with" is awkward, maybe change the order. Not sure what prank would put his family in danger, but you've given Kyle an odd choice to make; the tournament or saving his family. Kyle's age and mention of dating was surprising - it seems more YA than MG.

    First 250:
    Only comment: I would remove the tag in “Sick pitch, Kyle,”

    Congratulations! These are both fantastic entries!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Seventh Grade:
    Query: First off, I love the concept. The first few sentences however left me a little confused. I think adding in what Zach doesn't love to do would strengthen the opening sentence. As is, it seems like he jumps from being obsessed with baseball (great- awesome) to being a resident of the principal's office. Your query might benefit from drawing the two sentences together - Zach Beacon just wants to play baseball - not do homework or pay attention in class. The next sentence titles him a bad boy and I just don't see it yet. That's why it's an even quicker character change when he is concerned with racial justice. I'd like to believe more (one or two phrases, tops) that he's a bad boy first before he gains his heart of gold. Still, I'm rooting for him by the end of the query.
    250: I'd suggest splitting up this first sentence. (They're so important!) ---"Gimme a fast one, Joey. If you've got it in you," I yelled...-- This is a really fun opening so take this next critique with a grain of salt: I'm not sure I like Zach. He seems kind of like a bully. If you added some internal dialogue that would qualify his ragging on Rod, that would help. Either make Rod be this jerk that "merits" teasing or make it a part of Zach's strategy that he rattles his competition at the plate. Then again, maybe you do this in the next ten words and it just got cut off. Either way, it's a great start!

    One-handed Wonder:
    Query: I want, like, one less sentence in your second paragraph. It almost (almost) feels like a synopsis, like you've given me one more sentence than I wanted and the surprise is taken away. Otherwise, it's very well written and sets up the personal and "professional"/external stakes for your MC awesomely. Well done!
    250: I like opening with this action, it's well balanced with dialogue and internal back story. Pretty tricky feat, but you nail it. Also, this is totally preemptive too but I feel like the next paragraph or the one after the next line of dialogue could be more backstory given the whopper you end your 250 on. Beware adding too much back story too soon in a MG novel. Just something to keep in mind. Good job!

    ReplyDelete
  13. I love baseball more than most things so having two baseball novels face off is great.

    Seventh grade strike out: Query: The query is good and I like the diversity. I want to know more about the bike accident and how they interact. I love middle-grade stories where the kids befriend adults. I like how Zach uses his power to change injustice. It does seem far fetched that with unions that someone working for the schools could be fired so they could build a trophy case. 250: the voice is good. My only thing is I think you went too far with the garlic sandwich. You got the laugh the first time and then you went back a second time and it lost the humor.

    One-handed wonder: Query: I think of Jim Abbot when I read your entry. I think you were too vague on the prank and having to continue on and saving his family. It is too generic and I don't really care. I'm begging to know the prank and why his family is at risk. Tell me that and I will follow you through 300 plus pages. 250: I like your 250 and really like Kyle. I'm rooting for him. I'm a little concern with a middle-grade novel with a fourteen year old girl that could pass for sixteen. In middle-grade it is better to stick with innocent crushes.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Seventh-Grade Strike(Out)

    WOW. A great query here. Not a whole lot I can say about it! Except for maybe a little fussy detail...perhaps in "Zach has been sent to the principal's office so often, he's on a first name basis with the secretary" delete the comma. And every seventh grader I've ever met always called the school secretary "Miss", "Mrs." or "Ma'am" (except for the one girl who called her "Mom" because she was, in fact, her mother.)

    Maybe Zach need not address Joey by name if we learn in the very next sentence who Zach is talking to? Not sure we need the "protested" dialogue tag--I'm not fond of them. In this case it tells us something you've just shown, rendering it superfluous. Maybe instead of "My dad. Of course." use "My dad, of course"? And I'm not sure two "almost" instances near each other are necessary. I found them jarring.

    We didn't see the action of Zach putting the mask on his face. But then he comments how the mask smells bad. An action missing? I would like to know just why Rod is off in his own little world. Most team members give as good as they get unless they're having a bad day for some reason.


    One-Handed Wonder

    Kyle has been dealt a really bad hand. Can't help but feel for him. Was the girl his catcher before? Or did she become his catcher after his accident? It's not clear but the dynamic between them is completely different in one scenario versus the other. I do like how you've placed great stakes at the end, but I'm confused over how and in what way a bully's prank jeopardizes his family.

    Like how the first 250 lead off. And *why* could Hailey have passed for sixteen? Is she tall? Wearing makeup? Chest developed? Is she *hawt* the way no fourteen year old could ever hope to be? Would be interesting instead of being told Hailey could pass for sixteen being shown through Kyle's own voice just why he believes she could. I like how we see Kyle struggling from the get-go to overcome his disability, even so far as discerning how his rivals would try to exploit it.

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