Tuesday, May 28, 2013

QK Round 1: Troglin Snot versus Whispering Willows

Entry Nickname: Troglin Snot
Title: Asher Locke and the Knights of Arcadia
Word count: 54,000
Genre: MG Fantasy


Thirteen-year-old Asher Locke would do anything to be able to see his dad one more time. And when a sword-wielding wall of pecs named Gareth saves him from a bloodthirsty Grimhound, the moppy-haired seventh grader discovers that he may just get that chance.

Asher learns that his dad isn’t really dead. He’s being held prisoner by a madman named Lord Balor. And to make things worse, this slimy dad-nabber isn’t even in Asher’s world. He’s stowed away in a place called Eden Worn, the world hidden behind the middle school’s boiler room. Lord Balor is keeping Asher’s dad hostage unless he can get something Asher has – the key to unleashing the magic trapped inside the mountains of Eden Worn. Too bad Asher has no idea what in the heck that even is.

Along with Gareth, two loony enchanters, his best friend and the girl of his dreams, Asher launches a rescue mission as epic as it is insane. If he fails, he can kiss seeing his dad – and his own world – goodbye.

First 250 words:

The straight razor made a satisfying snikt as Asher freed the blade from the handle. He loved that sound.

Well, he used to anyway.

Just holding his dad’s old blade was a kick in the gut. He loved how his dad used to set him on the sink and let him pretend-shave with a spoon. Part of him wanted to forget, though. The memories were nice, but they still hurt. Because that’s all he’d ever have.

But he wasn’t going to cry. It’d been three whole years and he’d been tough for that long. No need to start boo-hooing now.

Besides, today was the Big 13. Officially a teenager. And if what Em told him was true, a thick wad of facial hair was right around the corner.

Asher glanced up at the mirror. About ten pounds of white foam covered his face. Okay, so maybe he went a little overboard on the shaving cream.

Too late to redo it. Time to become a man.

He pressed the blade against his face and a white-hot pinch of pain instantly seared his chin. Asher sucked in a quick breath, dropping the razor as a bead of blood welled up under his lower lip.

“Seriously?” Round one with the razor and he nearly sliced off half his face. This was pointless. He washed off the shaving cream and decided he’d just spend the first day as a teenager looking hairless and unmanly. And reeking of his mom’s Pink Mango-Splosion shaving cream.



Entry Nickname: Whispering Willows
Title: Amber and the Whispering Willows
Word Count: 63K
Genre: M/G Fantasy


Eleven-year-old Amber lives with her godfather and his son, Justin, in the tiniest house among the mansions of Helmsdale — a well-to-do village on the outskirts of NYC. Downtrodden by her classmates, Amber finds refuge in the Willows — an enchanted willow tree grove, where her only friends are the creatures that dwell within.

A plague erupts, contaminating the Willows and Amber is summoned by the princess of the fairies to help find the source from the human realm who is aiding Sedah, the sinister being who created this deadly disease. A distraught Amber has no idea where to begin.

In Amber’s first ever ballet class, help comes to her. She is befriended by Nina, a rich, but down-to-earth, effervescent girl who understands the situation a lot better than Amber. As their friendship develops, the two girls discover each has a secret supernatural power. But their combined talents are not enough to find the culprit. Amber enlists a skeptical Justin and convinces him to help.

As Sedah’s power grows the plague spreads into the human world. They need an antidote, and fast, but it must come from the fairy realm. Once again Amber is summoned by the princess. Amber alone may enter the Willows, but at great danger. Sedah is hunting for her. With the help of the fairies, butterflies, hummingbirds, and a curious long-eared rabbit, Amber manages to collect the antidote, but it may not be enough to heal the earth and and banish Sedah forever.

First 250 Words:

A short way away from the metropolis of New York City, a tiny hamlet existed where everyone who was "anyone" lived. Large stately homes with sprawling emerald lawns dotted the landscape, and locals motored through town in the latest of luxury vehicles.

Each mansion towered over the narrow cobblestone streets, and oddly enough, almost all were inhabited by a family of three— and their servants — of course.

However, one simple dwelling bordered the village and was occupied by a single father named Paul Sanders. Her currently bobbed and weaved between a pileup of dishes. A bead of sweat collected on his brow as a plate slipped through his fingers and crashed to the floor.

"Where is she?" he muttered, and dashed to the window, scoping the horizon.

Not far, a mere stones throw away, Amber leaned against a lofty Weeping Willow tree daydreaming. It was one of many that edged the overgrown meadow dusted with an array of multi-colored wild flowers.

A soft breeze caressed her cheeks and with the flutter of two heart beats, her eyelids dropped like a fallen leaf ....

She woke with a start from something soft and furry tickling her nose. As her vision cleared, several butterflies took flight from the Black-eyed Susans. A small bump appeared to be mowing its way through the foliage.

Amber smiled and shook her head. "Thanks, Jasper," she called out. The tip of a black ear flicked.


  1. This comment is reserved for the judges to vote. Please reply here if you are a judge.

    1. Victory: Troglin Snot

      Feedback: THIS WAS HARD!
      Troglin Snot-- I feel like your query needs some general line editing/tightening. "...he may just get that chance." is an example where I'd personally tighten. But you do a good job of getting the stakes across and keeping it focused on the main character. Your first 250 felt realistic and made me laugh. Again, I think you could tighten up your lines a bit.

      Whispering Willow- I think your query will be more effective if you eliminate a character. I'd shorten the sentences about Nina and eliminate Justin. If we don't need him to understand the stakes, then it's just another name. I really liked your writing style and voice in the query though. Great job! Your first 250 showed great writing skills but the omniscient narrator felt a bit jarring just a few sentences in to the story. Also, in trying to capture the whimsical at the end, it came off a bit confusing for me. But that's just me. :)

      Good luck to you both!

    2. Victory: Troglin Snot

      I love, love, love the voice here- so vivid and so middle grade.I thought the shaving was a really great way to introduce the dad's death in a not-too-heavy way and also to capture the main character's feelings on hitting a milestone- really excellent start!

      Whispering Willow:
      I thought your first 250 had a really lovely lilting quality (sort of a Harry Potter type intro that was very sweet) to it that I wish was more present in the query.

    3. Victory to Troglin Snot

      Both premises sound wonderful. I just felt Troglin Snot was better executed and the voice was evident throughout the opening page.

      Whispering Willow you might want to mix up the opening so you're not loading your reader down with too much description right up front. Though there is some wonderful voice in there and smart descriptions, the page didn't pull me in enough.

    4. Troglin Snot: This is really cute. I like that the voice in the query comes through so strong. I did have a little trouble deciding whether this takes place in our world or somewhere else. The first paragraph of the query had me thinking the setting was somewhere else. How often do giant sword-waving men appear with Grimhounds? But then the middle school and boiler room reference sent me on a different course. It appears to be a bit of two worlds.

      I like how you mix information and action in the opening page. The humor keeps it from feeling stale. On the nit-picky side, I’m wondering how he saw the blood with all that shaving cream. Your page nails the middle grade voice, though. I can see this being requested by many agents.

      Whispering Willows: There is something so old-fashioned and unhurried about this entry. It’s like a fresh breeze. A little innocent look back at an older world.

      Downtrodden isn’t a word you see so much in middle grade. Interesting choice, but I think I’d like something more specific. How is she downtrodden? I feel the same with the girls’ supernatural power. I’d like more details about their nature.

      These entries are both so strong. It’s a shame they had to matched together. This one came down to personal preference.

      Victory to Whispering Willows!

    5. Victory to Troglin Snot

      Troglin Snot: Great voice in this query and 250. It was clear and easy to follow. I also like your introduction of backstory about his father without it being heavy or info dumpy.

      Whispering Willows: I love your writing style. The only issue was it wasn't reflected in the query. The query also felt bogged down with too many names. But your 250 is really magical.

      Nice job and good luck.

    6. Victory to Troglin Snot

      To Whispering Willows: I feel like there is a lot going on in your query and I just could keep it all straight. I really liked your first page though. It's very well written. Very clever that your antagonist's name is Hades backwards, and you MC lives with her 'god'father.

      Troglin Snot, awesome nickname. It's so much fun to say. I really loved your query but your first page really sold me. I couldn't stop smiling as I read it. I think you have a jewel here.

    7. Victory to Troglin Snot.

      Troglin: Love it. Your query sets things up nice and clearly, and the voice in your 250 is totally thirteen. Not to mention the whole shaving bit to remember Dad, and using mom's shaving cream. Nice touch ;)

      Willows: I love it. I feel like the last sentence of the query could be more effective if it were worded differently. Such as: "...rabbit, Amber must collect the antidote, and hope that it's enough to heal the Earth and banish Sedah forever." That leaves us wondering, DOES she get the antidote? WILL it even work? It's a bit more tension than is there now. (Ultimately, your call, of course.)

      Your 250 are very pretty, but the voice sounds too old for MG, and all the description before we meet Amber is boring. I'd suggest rearranging that to let us meet her first, and then pull out and show the setting rather than the other way around. Keep working on it!

    8. Victory to Troglin Snot

      The ASHER LOCKE query sets up what feels to be a typical portal/quest story. What seems to set it apart is the search for a father thought dead. I'd like to see that played up more as the hook, as well as what we can look forward to encountering in this fantasy world. The verbiage could be tightened by removing a few unnecessary words" "to be able," a couple of "that's," "a place called," etc. As for the 250, I agree with the others who suggested axing the bit about the memories. Otherwise, a nice eloquent without being maudlin passage. And Mom's shaving cream at the end is brilliant.

      The query for AMBER AND THE WHISPERING WILLOWS feels like it's straying a bit into synopsis land. Justin probably isn't needed, and the two separate tellings of the spread of the plague can be combined into one since the first phase of it isn't resolved. The ballet class probably isn't relevant either. That leaves room for some motivation as to why Sedah has created the plague and show of emotion by Amber of what this means to her. I think most of all I'd like to see some heart in this query. As for the 250, it has a peaceful, lyrical quality, which will likely make it a hard sell. I did wonder how, if she's leaning against a tree (I'm picturing her standing), Jasper was able to reach her nose to tickle it.

  2. Both of these entries are awesome, but I think Whispering Willows’s query could be a little more streamlined and specific. This isn’t perfect, but I’d suggest trimming it down a bit like this:

    Eleven-year-old Amber lives in the tiniest house among the mansions of Helmsdale — a distinction that makes her less than popular at school. An enchanted willow tree grove, the Willows, is her only refuge. When it is threatened by Sedah, a [what? sorceress?] who’s concocted a deadly disease to snuff out the grove’s magic, it is up to Amber to find the source of the contamination.

    Amber has no idea where to begin, but help comes to her in the form of Nina, a rich but effervescent classmate. As their friendship develops, the girls discover [what? EX: Amber can control water and Nina can make flowers bloom with a single touch, but they’re going to need more than raindrops and bouquets to save the Willows]. As Sedah’s plague spreads into the human world, it’s up to Amber to dodge Sedah’s hunters long enough to find an antidote and save both worlds.

    Obviously that’s not perfect (I miss the bit about "fairies, butterflies, hummingbirds, and a curious long-eared rabbit"), but hopefully it sparks some ideas for you. My main concern is that you set up this awesome team (spunky Nina, skeptical Justin), but then you say Amber has to solve the problem all on her own. If Nina and Justin aren't essential to the adventure, you may need to rework your query and only mention them in passing (EX: while juggling a budding friendship with rich-girl Nina and dodging the suspicious eye of her godfather's son, Justin). Or, if they are in fact essential to the adventure (as I'm guessing they are), the query should reflect this. I want to know what they're up to while Amber's off on her own. Whatever you do, don't hold back. Your book sounds awesome, but specifics are what really make a query shine.

    Good luck to you both! :)

  3. I really like the voice in Asher Locke & Knights of Arcadia and the search for his father quest.

    Whispering Willows sounds interesting, but the query felt more like a book blurb than a query. The 250 needs one more look-over for proofreading. I also like that Amber is already involved in the magical world.

    First of all, I don't know what the nickname means, but it's hilarious.
    As much as I love "sword-wielding wall of pecs," the first paragraph is a little heavy on the proper nouns for my taste. I just met Asher; I want to focus on him. And in the overall scheme of things I'm not sure Gareth is relevant enough to actually name in the query (rather he's just a vessel for helping Asher discover the truth). I think the rest of the query is pretty solid, though. I love the idea of a world hidden under a boiler room, and the MG voice is spot-on!
    One other nitpick regarding that tricksy Oxford comma--is his best friend ALSO the girl of his dreams or are they two separate people? Maybe you can ignore this because I personally still have strong feelings about using the Oxford comma if needed, but apparently that's out of style! Haha.
    The 250 is adorable. The first three paragraphs do seem somehow disjointed to me, though. Asher loves that sound--no wait he doesn't anymore--but it's still nice--etc seems kind of a lot for our first foray into the story. I almost want to suggest to get rid of them, jump right into the shaving, and then provide backstory. Either way, though, they're doing the job!
    I noticed a few run-on sentences that were a bit hard to read (second paragraph of query). I love the concept (for some reason I really love novels about plagues) but the query seems a bit muddled to me. It seems to err on the side of synopsis-y (I'm thinking of the line "Once Again Amber is summoned...") rather than laying out the stakes. I'm also not sure why Amber's "first ever" ballet class is relevant. I think there might also be a few too many characters named (we hav efour, along with the proper noun Willows).
    I love the fantastical feel of the first 250--it's whimsical and the details about the setting are great! This seems like it could go on to be really cute and fun!

  5. Troglin Snot: I believe I've seen this one on another site, but I like the 250 words here much better than on that one: It has a lot more voice (great use of exaggeration) and I feel sympathy for the kid not having his father. A nice way to pull in the reader. Nitpicky things: I'd remove "about" in "About ten pounds". I think the exaggeration would be stronger and more realistic without it. Also, remove the word "decided" in "decided he'd just spend", since it's distancing. The rest of the passage is pretty much right in the protag's head, so no need for filter words like "decided." Great job, though!

    Whispering Willows: Fun concept! I think you're query needs a bit of tightening. It feels like two different stories. For example, do you really need to include Nina and the fact she and Amber have supernatural powers (you might not even need to include Nina at all)? For the sake of the query, I'd say focus on the main problem at hand and what Amber needs to do to solve/defeat it. No more, no less. The first 250 is fun - I dig the omniscient narrator. I agree with another comment that it needs to be proofread a bit. I'm also a bit confused with the father's reaction - why is he so concerned about "where she is?" Is it because she's supposed to be in for dinner by that time? Plus, would her absence be enough for him to break a dish? The transition between him and Amber in the meadow was a tad jarring, I think, because I'm uncertain of the reason/stakes for the father's discomfort.

    Great job by both entries, though! They both sound like a lot of fun!

  6. Great concepts! Good luck to you both!

    Troglin Snot: I love the opening scene, something so simple as "pretend shaving" with his dad and his failure in his first real shaving adventure really created a connection between Asher and the loss of his father for me. I think the query could be reworked a little bit, possibly to leave a little more mystery and cut out some of the explanation. It's a hard line to find as far as giving too much and not giving enough, so maybe just play with it a little and see if there's a way you can make the reader wonder (in a good way) about what Asher is going through and how this mystery with his father is going to factor into his adventures. Great job!

    Whispering Willows: I'm a huge fan of plague/end of the world type stories and I love that you're going for a MG one. Your 250 sets the setting really well, but I wonder if changing up the order of your introductions might work. Maybe start out with her father wondering where she is, and then go into the details of where they are. Sometimes, and it could just be me, I have a hard time connecting to a story if it starts out with a lot of location description without a "voice" (having a character somehow involved). Wonderful entry!

  7. I like both of these.

    Troglin: The use of a kid shaving is perfect to illustrate how hard it must be to grow up without a father. I like that a lot. The only thing that tripped me up was a few word choices. "The Big 13" and "boo-hooing" seem like younger words. Maybe just skipping into "Today he was officially a teenager" would work better. That way the word "Teenager" carries the significant meaning. And, if he's feeling older and pretending to be a man, maybe a word like "whimpering" or something with a more condescending connotation would help build the air of self-importance.

    Willows: I do like the sound of this whole piece--it seems soft and idyllic and perfect for a fairy tale. But, like the others have said, simplifying the query might help you. Try to concentrate only on one or two characters. I also wonder if you couldn't start the sample focusing only on your MC. Beginning with the father for only a few lines before shifting to the MC might add an unnecessary layer of complexity to the narrator and could distance the readers from Amber.

    Good luck to the both of you!

  8. Holy Craap! You mean one of these can't go on? I'd read both of them to my kids in a second if promises made in queries and 250s are kept! And I believe they would be.

    Troglin Snot- Besides an awesome name, you've got "...sword wielding wall of pecs...", "...a world hidden behind the middle school's boiler room...", and "...a rescue mission as epic as it is insane." Well, just hold me down and tickle my armpits then! Good luck!

    Whispering Willows- While your query has its strengths and easily fixable weak spots, your 250 really pulled me in. I do love trees and bought into the magic and mystery in your willows. Amber brought me into her corner in the query and quickly endeared her to me as she rested among the trees in your 250. Your descriptive writing provides a lovely read. Good luck!

  9. Wow. Both of these stories have great concepts!

    Troglin Snot—Great query which promises a lot of action and humor! My question right away: is Asher stunned that other worlds exist? Or is that a possibility he already knows about? The beginning is maybe a bit blase about the whole thing, like he accepts it...maybe include a mention of how crazy HE thinks this is right off in the second paragraph (if, indeed, that's his attitude). Adore the voice in the first 250 and starting with a "coming-of-age" kind of scene with the shaving.

    Whispering Willows—Love the idea of an enchanted willow grove! The query seemed a bit disjointed to me—in the third paragraph the tone is definitely more "real-life" and didn't seem to fit with the magical aspect of the others. I think I'd take out the first-ever ballet class line and focus on why/how Nina understands the plague situation better than Amber does. You have some lovely descriptions in the first 250. Wasn't sure why the godfather was so worried...is she late? Is a storm coming? Maybe add a line there... I'm definitely intrigued by your story!

  10. I've read the Troglin one before and love the premise and the opening. (such a simple action but with a lot of meaning behind it!)

    I enjoyed Willows. The language in the first 250 was beautiful and I felt like I was being pulled into a fairy tale. I know you break a "rule" starting with a lot of setting, but personally I think it works.

    In the query, I did trip over this phrase "a skeptical Justin." I know what you meant, of course, so if I'm the only one who's mentioned it was a little awkward then feel free to ignore me :)

    Good luck to you both!

  11. Troglin Snot: I loved both your query and your first 250, they sucked me in and made me want more. Great voice and great humor. I loved Asher's reaction when he cuts himself with the razor (I knew it was going to happen, I have teenage sons, but that didn't matter, it was funny anyway).

    Whispering Willows: I really enjoyed your use of imagery in both the query and first 250, the willows sounded so beautiful and ethereal, yet dangerous. In your query you say Amber is "downtrodden by her classmates", that's very vague, you should be more specific. I found at least one typo in your first 250, plus there's a bit too much description (which is funny coming for me because I did the exact same thing in my own entry, but I realize now it was a mistake...still, I know it's really hard in just the first 250 words to avoid it, so I understand why it's there). Lovely sounding story though!

    ~The Little Red Head

  12. Troglin - nice query. As someone else said I think I've read this too. I have to say I loved the old version a lot....starts out in the kitchen right with Mom? See I remembered that!And I kind of like the interaction that there was. This version shows the yearning and I like that but it's almost as though the language doesn't match up. At one moment you're funny and flippant 'dad-nabber' in the query and the next your protag is quietly yearning for his dad. That said, I like the premise and you've got good MG voice.

    Willows: I like very much that there is magic on the outskirts of NYC. Give me magical realism every time as opposed to pure fantasy. You write description very nicely. As someone said above with MG you might have to dive into some sort of interaction faster. I think your query needs to be re-thought. It reads more like a synopsis. Consider the agent who is reading and thinking 'I have to sell this so give me the hook right up front - with voice.' Personally, I can see it right there in your last paragraph.

    Good luck to both of you!

  13. Troglin- I love your query and 250! Wouldn't change a thing. Phrases like "sword-wielding wall of pecs" in your QL told me I was in for a really fun read. And in opening page, the voice is strong and engaging! I'd love to keep reading this. (Oh, and Pink Mango-Splosion shaving cream' made me giggle!

    Willows- I love your setting, and the idea of magic hidden in NYC. Fairies are great, and I really like that this is a best friends story. The fairytale style opening of your 250 was lovely, and I felt it matched the tone of the query well.

    Great job to you both- this must be so tough for the judges!

  14. Troglin Snot: Love the premise and the first 250; the first time shaving is a rite of passage for both genders, so won't alienate girls while captivating boys. Only thing I didn't like in the query is "girl of his dreams"; it makes it sound like the only female character mentioned in the query is going to be window dressing. Hope to read this someday!

    Whispering Willows: this premise would grab my younger daughter hard! You're setting up social conflict and alienation with a world where the main character more truly belongs. What I don't want to see in the first few lines, though, is an adult, particularly if not from the main character's POV. Amber could sneak by Paul, who needs to be defined in relation to her, and add a little conflict and action to the first few lines. Alternatively, you could start with her outside, noticing that the house doesn't fit in to the neighborhood any more than she does, and that she doesn't even belong in that house. Language is very lyrical and sweet, which my youngest would definitely appreciate!

  15. Victory to - Troglin Snot - Ultraviolet
    Whispering Willows - I like faeries and quaint little villages and plagues, but I found some of your query confusing, like why do they need Justin? What power does he have that they need? Also if Sedah is all that powerful and evil, how can butterflies, bunnies, and hummingbirds help defeat him? In terms of your opening 250 there is certainly a pleasing old-fashioned fairy tale aura, but the amount of description and the quiet, dreamy voice make it feel a bit sleepy.
    Troglin Snot - I think your voice is great and I like the opening scene very much. In my opinion you could do away with all this "Part of him wanted to forget, though. The memories were nice, but they still hurt. Because that’s all he’d ever have." It's a bit tell-y and we can infer all this from the other things that are said. Your query was succinct and had the same clever/funny voice. I will note though that Ash/Asher seem to be REALLLLY popular names. I think there are 3 in this contest alone, I can't imagine how many agents are seeing...

  16. Troglin Snot-- Great voice here, I liked it a lot, it showed in your query and your first 250 pages. Love some of the words like dad-napper and I liked the "wall of pecs" very imaginative but it also seemed a little weird to call someone that in an MG query. Your first 250 words also showed the voice, which is great. I'd agree that the line about memories being all he had is a little heavy handed and you don't really need it.

    Whispering Willows-- I had a hard time following your query, I think you could revise it to make it more concise and clear. I think you could come up with a first line that really grabs our attention instead of just describing where our MC lives. I'd agree to get rid of the long character descriptions in the query and possibly remove a character.

  17. Troglin: I love this. Asher's character comes through really well in both the 250 and in the query. You've got great tension and humor in the first scene and the promise of deeper tension in his relationship/grief over his father. I think in the query, you could rearrange the sentence starting with "Lord Balor" and make it more effective. Can't wait to see this one on the shelves.

    Willows: I can see lots of young girls grabbing this one. I think the more formal language is very distancing which could be problematic. You've got some of that in the query as well, e.g.; "A distraught Amber" and I think you can unpack the query some. It feels a little more like a synopsis to me.

    Good luck to you both!

  18. Troglin Snot: Great query, and even better 250. The shaving scene tells a story by itself, and the kicker at the end about him using his Mom's mango shaving cream is priceless. Of course, his Dad isn't buying shaving cream any more. How many kids would love to enter a world where Dad isn't really dead and you could rescue him?

    Whispering Willows: A nice premise and setup. Your query needs a little work--some of the sentence structure trips up in a couple of places. I'd also clip out "Amber manages to get the antidote." A query (unlike a synopsis) should leave the reader on as much of a cliff-hanger as possible.

    The 250 isn't clear about what Jasper is, and maybe you can put more description of appearance and action in the space where you have the "small bump...mowing." I'm guessing he's the rabbit, but we all have to remember that the final reader isn't going to be reading the query first.

    Watch out for overly-flowery language, sentence structure, and typos. I see the start of a good story, and no serious problems. The issues I see could be fixed by tweaking a few words.

  19. So much has been said already, so just a few comments here.

    Troglin Snot-First of all, I so want to know what connection that nickname has to your story! Second, I LOVE the voice in both your query and your first 250. It is funny and spot on MG boy. And using his mom's shave cream? That is excellent.

    Whispering Willows-I love fantasy, so I love your premise. Your first 250 are lovely. I'm assuming Jasper is a dog, but that last sentence's description ends a bit abruptly.

    Both of these are great and so different. I'm not picking a winner. Just wishing you both luck!

  20. Troglin Snot:

    I love the premise and your query reads very well. Part of me feels kind of weird in the last paragraph with the mention of the best friend and the girl of his dreams. Are they the same person? If not, I think there should be a comma between the two of them. Or maybe that's just me.

    For the 250, I love the voice and the feeling. I can understand how the MC feels, and I do love the sound effect of the blade coming out. "The memories were nice, but they still hurt. Because that’s all he’d ever have." The period between the two sentences feels a little awkward to me, but I can also understand it, so this one is a take it or leave it.

    Whispering Willows:

    The introductions of the faeries in the willows seems a little sudden to me. I know it says before that that it's an enchanted area, but maybe add in there that it's enchanted with faeries? 'Cause other wise, it could just be talking trees and animals. A little back story to Sedah would be nice too, as the mention of this character is sudden, as well.

    For the 250, the writing felt a little choppy. I had a hard time making it flow as I read it, almost like information was being thrown at me in small chunks that are pasted together.

    Good luck to both of you!

  21. Troglin Snot: - LOVED your voice in the 250! And this sounds like a great story. I think middle graders will enjoy this adventure and I love that the secret world is behind the boiler room!

    Whispering Willows: I love anything with fairies. I would recommend making your query a bit tighter and trying to include more of the MG voice in your query. It read a little upper YA/NA to me. But it sounds like a great story!

    Good luck to you both!

  22. Hi, Everyone,

    I would like to thank the judges and all the entrants for their time and comments. It looks like I have a lot of work to do on my query. But with all your helpful suggestions I know it will be so much stronger.

    GOOD luck to you, TROGLIN and to all the others that will be continuing on in the contest!