Friday, June 2, 2017

Query Kombat Round 1: BOY BAND NINJA ASSASSINS vs. GIRL TAKES BACK THE WHITE HOUSE

Title: LETH5L: DEEP CUTS
Entry Nickname: Boy Band Ninja Assassins
Word Count: 80K
Genre: YA Adventure Comedy


Query: 
When the members of the world’s biggest boy band, Leth5l, stumble into a robbery in progress, they easily thwart the crooks and save the day with sick choreography. Roughly six seconds later, videos of their ninja moves hit the internet. Rumors start to fly about “The Cute One” Derrick’s alleged demise in the robbery. Consequently, their Manager/Handler sends twin bloggers along on Leth5l’s next tour/mission to prove Derrick’s alive and they’re just another boy band. (And definitely not a clandestine group of trained under-the-covers agents working for the Special Intelligence Network for Global Espionage, Recon and Security.)

The mission: take out the leaders of European drug ring, “El Ejército.” (That’s Spanish for “The Army.”) Things get dicey when, to protect his cover, Derrick takes a hit of Rewind, The Army’s dangerous new drug that allows users to experience moments from their past, complete with all the feelings and emotions of the first time. While tripping on Rewind, Derrick “meets” his biological mother, who abandoned him when he was a baby. Now he’s got three bad guys to take out, two nosy (also, hot!) bloggers up in his business, and one mother of a mother issue.

At least his hair’s still on point.

First 250:
Five-part harmony is ridiculously hard in the morning. Especially before coffee. Yet, here we are, singing our asses off at five-freaking-thirty A.M. on Wake Up, Whichever-City-We’re-In!

They don’t pay me enough for this.

Actually, that’s not true. Two jobs, two salaries. I get paid loads. And what I don’t make in terms of cash, I make in fringe benefits, so I suppose I should turn off my brain and turn on my dimple. Give the people what they want.

Yep. It works every time. Morning anchor, Hannah Hannibal—whom I clock as at least ten years older than me—is all over me during the interview. “Yes, our new song was inspired by real life events, Hannah…Sure, we’ll set you up with backstage passes tonight…No, I don’t currently have a girlfriend. Can you help me out with that?” Wink.

Four paces outside the TV studio, Jay starts in on me, as usual. “Do you think that you could, for once, turn your thousand-watt smile down a bit? How are the rest of us supposed to compete? The make-up chick was under my spell until you Derricked her to death.”

I dive into the backseat of the SUV. “I wasn’t aware that my name is a verb now. Good to know. How, exactly, does one Derrick somebody?”

Dash slides in next to me. “Don’t act like you don’t know.”

“I have no clue what you’re talking about.”

Maybe that’s a bit of a lie. Lying is one of the things I do best. Lying, and carrying lead vocals.


~ VERSUS ~

Title: The Last First Daughter
Entry Nickname: Girl Takes Back the White House
Word count: 98K
Genre: YA Adventure, Retelling 

Query:
When a mysterious group attacks the White House, eighteen-year-old First Daughter Rosalind (Lindy) Edwards is the only surviving member of the First Family. After the attack, Lindy finds her country under the control of a cruel, oppressive new regime—and she and Henry, the secret service officer who saved her, the targets of a countrywide manhunt.

Using fake identities and Lindy’s engineering skills, which allow her to build a network of radios, Lindy and Henry join a group planning to fight back against the new regime. Without realizing they are actually speaking to the First Daughter, the group asks Lindy to pretend to be the First Daughter in order to rally support for their movement.

Lindy had always feared the high-stakes decision-making demanded of her mother as President, but is accepting this role what her mother would want? As Lindy struggles with loss and reluctant leadership, she must decide if she is ready to sacrifice her safety—and possibly her life—to give millions of others hope for their future.

First 250:
Television will broadcast today for the first time in almost ten years and I will be the first thing that viewers see.

But not if I cut the cable in my hand. I don’t mean to think it, but there’s an idea, leaping up like a perfect solution. My pulse accelerates and pounds in my throat. I spy the wire cutters within arm’s length and my fingers twitch. If I ruin this cable, the broadcast won’t happen today. I won’t have to stand with my family pretending to project the perfect image of security and happiness to the whole country. No need to act calm in front of the camera while questions bounce back and forth rapid-fire in my brain. How will the country react to getting telecommunications back after a decade of silence? Even with all the preparations, what do we really know about—

The tap, tap, tapping of a pencil on a notepad brings me back to the moment. Celene sighs and slides the notebook over to me, equations scribbled all over it.

“Looks like you’re finished with the cable inventory? Will you check my work on this equation here?” Celene taps the spot on the paper she means. “I want to be absolutely sure the cable lengths won’t cause any static.”

I try to swallow but the pounding in my throat, and the guilt, makes it impossible. I put the cable down and pull Celene’s notebook to me. I grin a little when I recognize the equation.

17 comments:

  1. Judges, please post your feedback and votes as a reply to this comment.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. BOY BAND:

      Oh. My. God. I need this now. I don’t think you need the name of the European drug ring. I also don’t understand the quotes around “meets” his mother. Also, not sure I get “under-the-covers” vs. under cover.

      Otherwise I wouldn’t change a single thing.

      Girl Takes Back the White House

      Query: Love the premise. A few things: If it’s retelling, it helps to say what it is a retelling of. I’d also try to avoid asking questions in a query.

      250: I like this as a starting point, but I think you need a tiny bit of backstory so we know why television hasn’t been broadcast in ten years.

      I like the juxtaposition of a regular teenager who has fears about being on television, the first daughter with responsibilities that are bigger than her, and the math nerd. It’s a great start!

      This may have been the hardest match up so far.

      VICTORY TO BOY BAND

      Delete
    2. Yikes this is a tough match-up!

      Boy Band Ninja Assassins

      Query: The strongest point of the query is the voice. I love it! I think you may need to hint at them being more than just a boy band earlier because initially I was confused why they easily took out robbers with their dance moves. I’d leave out “the cute one”, not really necessary and this paragraph is a bit wordy as-is. I’m curious why there are rumors about him dying when the video is online and everyone sees their sick moves. And if that’s so, it seems like a quick post or video would clear it up. You use the term under-the-covers which gives me a very sexual connotation, but I’m not sure if that’s what you’re going for? Also, SINGERS?? Hahahaha, love that. In the second paragraph, I’d skip the name of the drug ring. I also want to know why he needs to take this Rewind, what’s the purpose? I think I’m missing a bit of the big picture and what the overall stakes are.

      250: Again, the voice is really great. With the names, voice, and everything I’m reading here I’m almost getting a spoofy comic book vibe. I really enjoyed the opening here.

      Girl Takes Back the White House

      Query: Overall this premise sounds really awesome. A girl engineer sounds fantastic. However, I think the query is suffering a bit from being too vague. A group of what/who attack the White House? For what purpose? From the 250 it sounds like we’re in the future to some partially-destroyed U.S. That info might be helpful in the query to set up the story. I’m a bit confused why they want her to pose as the First Daughter (and initially I couldn’t understand how they didn’t know who she was, but I’m assuming it has something to do with lack of technology in this world?). Be more specific about how she’d be giving back hope, what her ultimate goals are, and if Henry isn’t an important role in this book (not sure since he’s only mentioned once) you may not even need to name him in the query (or you may need to add in his significance).

      250: I felt a little lost here. From the query I wouldn’t have guessed they’ve been without TV or anything like that. So then I wasn’t sure if we were starting with her already in the resistance group. I think if you can just clear that up this will be much, much stronger.

      VICTORY TO BOY BAND NINJA ASSASSINS!

      Delete
    3. From Catattack

      BOY BAND NINJA ASSASSINS
      Query: This sounds like a fun and funny story. It wasn’t clear to me in the first paragraph that Derrick is the main character – perhaps start the query in a way that let’s us know this. Also suggest moving up the info about them being spies – or giving some sort of clue as to why they’re able to take out the baddies with their dance moves. (Funny idea!)

      250: The voice here has a nice touch of humor. But by the time we reach ‘Yep. It works every time’, Derrick’s coming off as a tad unlikable. But, perhaps this story is in part about shrinking his ego during his journey? I’d like to get some of the interaction at the radio station through a scene – instead of through narration – if we see her fawning, I suspect his reaction will come off as less ego-driven. The ‘Maybe that’s a bit of a lie’ line hit a strange note – since Derrick’s been upfront about his attractiveness to women of all ages. It’d make sense in conversation, but not as a thought.


      GIRL TAKES BACK THE WHITE HOUSE
      Query: Strong opening paragraph. Suggest cutting second use of ‘Lindy’ in the following: ‘...Lindy’s engineering skills, which allow her to build a network of radios, (Lindy) she and Henry…’ I’d like a little more clarity as to why the First Daughter would be viewed as a rallying point for the country. The rest of the First Family’s been killed, but what about the VP, Secretary of State, etc.? Are they dead, too? Or were they part of a coup from inside the government, or ? I think we need to be given a hint as to why Lindy will be an effective rallying point, adding to the weight of her decision whether to take on that role. The question in the last paragraph of whether Lindy’s dead mother would want this for her didn’t work for me. That said, the final sentence effectively lays out her choice and the stakes.

      250: Strong opening line raises questions and pulled me in. But if this world has been without TV for ten years, I think including that information in the query is important in order to set the stage. You might want to trim out some filler words and word repetitions, e.g., ‘…and I will be the first thing (that) viewers see.’; ‘But not…but there’s an idea’; ‘…slides the notebook (over) to me equations scribbled all over it.’ Suggest simplifying the following: ‘…but the(re’s an) idea(,) leaps(ing) up…’.

      A great match-up between two fresh ideas.

      VICTORY TO BOY BAND NINJA ASSASSINS

      Delete
    4. BOY BAND NINJA ASSASSINS

      Great voice infused into the query—this is hilarious!

      The first paragraph does a good job establishing the setting, but then I lose the thread of the plot in the second. What exactly does the mission look like? Derrick taking the drug is a really specific detail, but I’m not sure how it fits into the plot (beyond bringing up his mother). I love the last line about three bad guys, but it needs an end point––is there a ticking clock (I would assume cover about to be blown, tour about to be over, etc.)?

      Your opening 250 is also hilarious, and I’m dying to keep reading.

      GIRL TAKES BACK THE WHITE HOUSE

      Love your title! THE LAST FIRST DAUGHTER immediately caught my eye. Now I’m really curious about what it’s a retelling of…

      From the query it seems like the story starts before the attack…but (from the 250) if there hasn’t been broadcast television in ten years, then clearly there’s something else going on in the world. Is there a dystopian aspect that needs to be mentioned in the query?

      I’d try to remove the question in the third paragraph. Perhaps something like, “Lindy had always feared the high-stakes decision-making demanded of her mother as President but must now decide if she’s ready to sacrifice her safety—and possibly her life—to give millions of others hope for their future.”

      This is really tough! I would love to read both of these. But…I can’t resist political dramas with a touch of dystopian, so:

      VICTORY TO GIRL TAKES BACK THE WHITE HOUSE

      Delete
    5. BOY BAND NINJA ASSASSINS
      Query: OMG. I may have snort laughed so hard I woke up my dog! That query is fantastic. “At least his hair’s still on point.” HA HA HA HA! What a great idea for a book. The voice of your query is awesome and I would one click this like a boss.

      First 250: Again...your voice is so freakin' awesome. Great showing, good dialogue, nice pace as well. I’ll admit, I’m not only a sucker for voice, but I’m also a sucker for boy bands. I honestly don’t have any suggestions for you! Well done.


      THE LAST FIRST DAUGHTER
      Query: Ummmm….did the Boy Band Ninja Assassins have anything to do with this attack?! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist). Great query. I love action adventure movies and books! Suggestions for query improvement: Ditch the rhetorical question in the last paragraph. Suggestion (this is really rough, but it will at least give you something to play with as you brainstorm your own twist on it): “…as President, but this new leadership role Lindy has been thrust into is more than she’s bargained for.”

      First 250: First 250: I’d rework the first sentence to indicate that the nation has been cut off for 10 years. That first sentence had me stumbling a bit, unsure what you were discussing. Otherwise, the first 250 is well done. Great showing without being overwordy. A glimpse into Lindy’s excitement for engineering and math. Nicely done.


      I’m not kidding when I tell you that I had one hell of a time deciding which one to pick.

      VICTORY GOES TO: LETH5L: DEEP CUTS (aka BOY BAND NINJA ASSASSINS).

      Delete
    6. Moonstone DragonJune 4, 2017 at 5:41 PM

      LETH5L: DEEP CUTS

      Query:

      I love this. It's voice-y and fun and it had me chuckling from the first sentence. My only nitpick is I would probably make it even clearer that the boys ARE in fact special agent types--within the brackets at the end of the first paragraph, I'd just add something like "Nope. Nothing remotely like that." Just make the denial a bit more over the top, and you're good to go. My other concern would be that the mother stuff doesn't seem to connect to the rest of the query, but I'm hooked enough that I'd like to trust the writer to pull it all off seamlessly.

      First 250:

      Great opening. Shows voice and exactly who the MC is. Good pacing. My only quibble, and I'm totally nitpicking, because these are only the first 250 words, so you have tons of time to do this, but my only suggestion would be to maybe hint at what the second job is or what the fringe benefits are. But again, I'm nitpicking. It's way early in the book and the sample works for me as is.

      THE LAST FIRST DAUGHTER

      Query:

      Very intriguing all around. I like that I get a sense of who Lindy is and of her world right away. My only suggestion would be to either describe what makes the mysterious group "mysterious," or to just change the word to "rebel" or call it a coup or something. "Mysterious" seems a little too coy for me.

      First 250:

      Well-written and voice-y. Nice introduction of your MC. My only concern is that, after reading the query, when you start saying the nation hasn't received a broadcast in ten years, I wondered right away where we were on your timeline: is this happening after the murder of the First Family, or before? It became a little clearer as I read along, but since it's your very first sentence, I'd consider having a second look at it.

      This is seriously the toughest choice I've had to make so far, but...

      VICTORY TO... GIRL TAKES BACK THE WHITE HOUSE!

      Delete
    7. BOY BAND NINJA ASSASSINS

      The Query:

      I like the voice in the query. It’s fun, has spunk and grabs my attention. However, there is some connective tissue missing, or perhaps just out of order. The manager/handler is clunky at first because we don’t know yet that they are under-the-cover agents (should it be under cover?). Also, do we need to know the bloggers are twins? I only ask because at first I thought they were twins of Derrick and I had to read it again.

      If Rewind is based on memory, does he meet his biological mother from his perspective as an infant? You might be able to add a bit more to this.

      Otherwise, it was a fun query. Good job.

      The first 250:

      How old is Derrick? I’d like to know. I feel like with boy bands their ages are deliberately vague and questionable, so I’m not sure if this is supposed to be secret, but I find myself guessing which end of the teenage spectrum he’s on. He requires coffee, but he seems fairly immature. This is minor, as his character comes out strongly, but I’d like some sort of anchor because there is a lot of great voice in these opening lines that almost eclipse the important details of the who, what, when and why of the scene. Maybe put “Wake Up, Whatever City We are In” in quotes. Otherwise this sentence has a lot of hyphens and runs together a bit.

      I liked the dialogue about ‘Derricked” becoming a verb. It’s cute.

      Nice job using verbs instead of adjectives. It clips at a fast pace and feels like the whole book will be a whirlwind from start to finish, which I like.

      GIRL TAKES BACK THE WHITE HOUSE

      The Query:

      Overall, the query is solid. We know who the protagonist is (I always like nicknames, as they make a person feel real) and we know the stakes.

      I have two main questions:

      First, given that our government succession isn’t based on birth, why does the group want/need the First Daughter anyway? Maybe hint at what they’re after. Also, do we need to know that they don’t know she’s actually the First Daughter? This is both an intriguing “twist”, but also might seem needlessly convoluted. If this is a major part of the story, maybe delve into how this double deception affects her. If it’s fairly inconsequential, leave it for the book itself.

      Second, is the bulk of the story ten years after the attack? As evidenced by the first 250? If so, I’d mention this in the query, as the situation feels much more immediate in the query and ten years can be a very long time.

      Nice work.

      The first 250:

      I don’t have much to add to this. I like how you engage with Lindy’s feelings right away, and set up her sweet engineering skills. I would like a bit more context, however. Why were telecommunications wiped out, what happened ten years ago? I think we would benefit from knowing at least where we were. It’s a bit too vague for me to latch on to as much as I want to.

      This matchup is hard because both books are so different in tone and style, but I must choose.

      VICTORY:

      GIRL TAKES BACK THE WHITE HOUSE

      -Outer Space Potato Man

      Delete
    8. BOY BAND NINJA ASSASSINS
      Query: Good job instilling the correct voice into the query. You said it's a comedy, and this query conveys it perfectly. My only issue in the first read was how could this boy band thwart crooks so easily? It might be good to explain they have training for this sort of stuff earlier in the query. Love the last line!

      First 250: Great opening and I want to read this right now! You know how to turn a phrase! Good job. I have nothing to add.

      GIRL TAKES BACK THE WHITE HOUSE
      Query: Overall I get what your premise is, however, I think you have room to expand. What is the mysterious group that attacks the White House? This sounds pretty important, and a good selling point for readers to invest in. I would cut out the one question you pose in the query. The only thing I thought of when I got to her stakes, why wouldn't she want to help millions? I feel the last sentence is missing the gut punch I was looking for.

      First 250: I need to know why broadcasting on TV was gone for 10 years! The opening line did what it was supposed to. But readers want to know why. I hope you explain this somewhere. And I want to know why the First Daughter is even near the cable? Why would she even think about cutting it? I'm intrigued for sure. If you can hint to some of these answers, it would help the reader understand your MC and the world a bit better.

      Both of these were really strong, but the voice and query in one was further along. Great job to both!

      Victory to: BOY BAND NINJA ASSASSINS

      Delete
    9. Congratulations to both entrants for making the cut!

      LETH5L: DEEP CUTS
      My principal comment about the query is that there's very little about the character. It reads like a celebrity gossip piece, with Derrick's name mentioned as an aside. If he's the main character, which we seem to be, I think it might be useful to start with him.
      First 250: The opening has a nice tone for YA, and the start of a unique narrative voice. Those are good things. Where I struggle is in empathizing/identifying with Derrick as the MC, at least from what I see here. Show us a weakness or two, and do it soon!
      A more minor point: I don't understand the name of the band or how it's supposed to be pronounced.

      THE LAST FIRST DAUGHTER
      I love the title and the story premise here. This is a strong query, too. I might suggest breaking up the second sentence into two, to give it more flow and to separate the global conflict with the personal conflict. "High-stakes decision-making demanded of her mother" was tough for me to parse out as well. Lastly, I'd remove the question from the final paragraph, for two reasons. First, because people who read queries despise them, and second, because trying to decide what her mom would have wanted is a lesser dilemma (her mom is dead, so who cares?).
      First 250: I'm a bit confused about the starting point, unless this is dystopian. More importantly, it seems incredibly unrealistic that the president's daughter would be anywhere near the technical equipment or asked to check equations. I'd advise talking to some experts and make sure the portrayal of this scene (and the MC's background in general) is believable.
      More minor issue: The dialogue feels forced (shouldn't the first line from Celene have a period instead of a question mark?).

      Victory to THE LAST FIRST DAUGHTER!

      Delete
  2. LETH5L:
    Query: Is the MS only from Derrick’s POV? That’s unclear. Mostly, it’s a catchy query, and even without reading the genre first, I knew it was comedy, and I love the idea. But it starts broader and then most of it focuses on Derrick, and I think it’d be nice if you could make the query more reflective of that.

    250: The 250 is pretty cute but something’s not working quite right for me. I get that you’re trying to hint that he’s in a band and a spy, but maybe you could better use the words in paragraphs 2 and 3 for something else—toward scenery or description of feelings or something. Or maybe this is part of a mission and that could add intrigue?


    The Last First Daughter:
    Query: Are there maybe going to be a lot of books like this coming up? Sure. But I’ll read them all. Great job on being brief but getting story and stakes across. Good title too.

    250: It starts with a good first sentence. I’d cut the line in the 2nd paragraph that starts “I don’t mean…”

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  4. Both of these look like such a fun read!

    LETH5L:

    Query: I love the 'voice'. I would it more clear who the main character is, take out the name of the drug ring and clarify why he has to take Rewind. I was a bit confused about that. This sentence, "...so I suppose I should turn off my brain and turn on my dimple. Give the people what they want," was funny and also gave a peek into his personality.

    250: I enjoyed it. Only the last line was a bit confusing, "Maybe that’s a bit of a lie." Wasn't he just thinking how he is an attraction -magnet? The next sentence once again shows us character traits, "Lying is one of the things I do best. Lying, and carrying lead vocals.." which is very good. Overall, I find Derrick "full of himself," but hoping to find a trait in him I would cheer him on for as the book progresses.

    THE LAST FIRST DAUGHTER:

    Query: The title and the position of MC as 'first daughter' caught my attention. Learning the first daughter's other talents already made her unique and likeable. I would definitely make the setting a little more clear. I was also wondering why/ how they didn't know who the first daughter was.

    250: I loved the first sentence and the sentences after that. I like that the MC's engineering talent is mentioned early on as it piques our curiosity. The only reason why it was a bit confusing was because we didn't have a very clear idea of the setting from the query. I had to read the first sentence "Television will broadcast today for the first time in almost ten years..." twice to establish a scene in my mind, but otherwise I liked it a lot.

    Awesome job!

    AishahD

    ReplyDelete
  5. Leth5l

    Query: This sounds hilarious! Enjoyed the tone established by the query, and the plethora of puns!

    250: More hilarity! Great voice! It took me three reads to figure out that the first paragraph was talking about a radio show, so maybe if squeezed the call letters in (something like KWTF)it'd be obvious to everyone on the first read. The only other issue is that I don't know how long I could continue to put up with such an arrogant MC (unless bad things happen to him repeatedly), but the comedy would probably keep me reading anyway.

    Last First Daughter

    Query: Interesting Premise! I like that the mother was the President, and that Lindy is the one with the electrical engineering skills! I have a problem with the statement of stakes at the end, because the choice is obvious--you won't have much of a novel if she just continues to hide.

    250: Because you start with her desire to sabotage the broadcast before you explain her motivation, I start with a negative view of the MC. The broadcast is obviously a big deal (and I would like at least a hint about why it's been gone so long), so her internal thoughts make her seem self centered. If you reverse the order it will turn the whole thing on its head, and she becomes heroic, sacrificing her comfort for the sake of the greater good, and her brief flash of desire to avoid it becomes merely a moment's weakness, adding to a sense of her integrity and strength.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Leth5l:
    Query: Great voice, although I'd caution the approach as agents often just want to know what the story is about. The premise sounds amazing, though. I'd just make sure we know who our protagonist is right away. It isn't until the third paragraph that we realize it's Derrick -- before I might have thought it was an ensemble cast. And try to make the stakes a little more clear. I know it's somewhat obvious, but what will happen to Derrick if he doesn't shake the bloggers, destroy the drug ring, and deal with his mommy issues?

    250: Very funny, and engaging voice! I'd slightly worry that Derrick seems like a kinda negative/condescending guy, but I'd still read on.

    Last First Daughter:
    Query: I'd definitely mention what sort of retelling this is. Is it "Anastasia"? I think it really helps draw readers in to know exactly what. I suppose my biggest question is what kind of government came in after the family died? It sounds like it turned into a dictatorship, and I'd be curious to know how the process of the presidency going from the president to the VP turned into such a disaster within Lindy's lifetime.

    250:
    It's definitely an intriguing start, but I don't quite get a sense of where we are setting wise (like what room is she in?). I think being a bit more clear about that would help really ground the moment and let the action flow.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Fellow Kombatant, here. Not a judge.
    Boy Band Ninja Assassins (This should be the title of your book!)
    Great query, loaded with voice. My one suggestions is that you've got lots of detail, some of which seems like it could be cut. For example, the bloggers are brought in both to prove that Derrick's alive, and also to prove they're just another boy band. I don't think you need both reasons. Proving they're just a real boy band is sufficient and allows you to tighten your focus. Which is good, because you go on in the next paragraph to introduce Rewind, which is pretty fantastical. I don't have a problem with that description at all, but if the rest of the query is streamlined, you're less likely to confuse readers. I absolutely love "one mother of a mother issue" and "At least his hair's still on point." The first 250 are loaded with voice, too. Great job. Good luck with revisions.

    Girl Takes Back the White House
    Really engaging query with an interesting premise. I have a couple suggestions. Love that Lindy's got engineering skills, but when I hear that I think computers and high tech stuff. Radios seems very old school to me, and not very up to date. It makes me worry that the tech in your story won't be current enough to engage readers today. I'm sure you've handled it just fine in the book, but my question is whether you even need to go into detail on what exactly her engineering skills are in the query. You could just cut out the phrase "which allow her to build a network of radios" and solve the problem entirely, in my opinion. I also wonder if you need the sentence which begins "Without realizing they are actually speaking to the First Daughter…" That seems unnecessarily confusing for the query letter. It's probably better to streamline the drama for now, rather than going into that level of detail. Other than those couple nitpicks, I think you've got a strong query.

    Regarding the first 250, I'm feeling some disconnect between the query and the story here. The query makes this sound like the coup just happened, but the first line of the story says television hasn't been broadcast for ten years? Which makes me wonder if the query is all backstory.

    My second concern is about the math you describe. I don't know anything about engineering, so that's a big caveat. But the use of the word 'equation' makes me picture someone doing math homework. I think that word is sapping some of the energy in your description. Is there a way to describe what Lindy and Celene are doing that feels a little bit more technical and a little bit less like kids in school doing algebra homework?

    Good luck with your revisions. I always love reading about strong, mathematical girl protags, so I look forward to reading your book someday.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Fellow Kontestant here. First of all: you authors get the first-place prize for named matchups. Both of these are really strong entries!

    BOY BAND NINJA ASSASSINS
    Q: This is crazy-nitpicky, but I cannot pronounce LETH5L, and it's driving me batty! I MUST KNOW HOW! Love the tone you established and the stakes you threw in here. But what's at stake if they decide to quit the spy day job and just be regular boy banders? Why do they feel compelled to go on this mission?
    I was pulled out of the query with the "The Army" aside - consider striking it here.

    The drug taking reminds me of 21 Jump Street in a great way. Bump Derrick up as the protag much earlier on in the query.

    250: A very cheeky tone. I loved so many of the details. Kudos on this submission.

    I did have a bit of a tonal concern - it seems like YA-level subject matter, but almost a MG-level voice? Perhaps it's because he's so full of himself. Will we like him at all?

    I felt Derrick's dialogue to Hannah Hannibal should be pulled down to the next line. You give her an action, and then he responds - I had to read backward to check this.


    One last question for you, since I honestly don't know the answer -- is "YA Adventure Comedy" a "shelvable" genre? In other words, where would this be put on the shelves?

    GIRL TAKES BACK THE WHITE HOUSE
    Q: You have a fast-paced, action-filled plot outlined here. I would advise reframing the question in P3 into a high-impact statement. Is Lindy in cognito as the "non"-First Daughter? I would perhaps include that if so to streamline the explanation. Other than that, what I really want to know more about is this WORLD. No TV? What's gone wrong here?
    250: Again - the TV. I want some context. Has it been cut out for censorship? Have radio signals been destroyed? This is so fresh and exciting, and I'm eager to learn more.

    Suggestion to streamline a few things -- "Celene taps the spot on the paper she means" can just be "Celene taps a spot on the paper."

    Great work to you both!

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