Wednesday, June 13, 2018

QK Round 2 Match 5: Canary Girl vs. Swimming with Amoebas

Title: Locusts
Entry Nickname: Canary Girl
Word Count: 90,000
Genre: YA Sci-Fi Thriller


While locusts ravage the Earth, seventeen-year-old science-prodigy Nila is plagued by her father's suicide. Art therapy is helping to heal her trauma, as well as inspiring a passion for graffiti, but she’s not the only one affected by his death. When he died, the formula for his revolutionary pesticide was lost with him, along with all hope of controlling the swarms devastating crops on every continent except North America, pushing life on Earth toward the brink of extinction.

Under pressure from her pushy workaholic mom, and compelled by a sense of obligation, Nila puts aside her artistic dreams to pursue a career in science, even though the thought of following in her father’s footsteps fills her with increasing dread. After she wins a prestigious science award, Nila is given a job at Columbus Innovations, working alongside her mom on her father’s pesticide. 

Faced with the horrors of the animal-testing lab, Nila discovers proof that her father poisoned himself with his own pesticide. Convinced it never worked, Nila gives up and defies her mom to become a graffiti artist. As their relationship deteriorates, Nila spirals out of control, joining an animal rights group and setting the test-subject animals free.

But when the group unwittingly unleash a whole new breed of flesh-eating locusts in Boston, Nila must come clean, heal her relationship with her mom and combine her creative and scientific abilities to finally complete her father’s work and defeat the mutant swarm. 

First 250:

The last time I made my father’s chest swell with pride, I was almost four years old. He had gathered the greatest minds from across the world to resolve the locust problem spreading across Africa and Eurasia, and I was to be the evening’s entertainment. 

As he lifted me onto the head table, the university’s Great Hall fell silent except for a growing chorus of tinkling glass. With my dark curls pinned tight to my scalp, I clutched the skirt of my canary-yellow dress and recited the periodic table. In Spanish and English. Pausing only to carefully form my mouth around the desconocidos, I made sure I didn’t trip over a single one.

When I had finished, strangers spun me in the air and called me my father’s daughter.

It made me feel something then—as though at any moment I would burst in an explosion of feathers and emerge a tiny yellow bird, fluttering high up in the rafters.

“Nila!” Mom hisses from offstage, jarring me from my thoughts.

I try to grasp hold of the memory again, but it’s gone. My chest is an empty cage. Only the echoes of that little bird’s song are left, no matter how hard I try. As I prepare for the curtains to go up and the International Young Scientist of the Year to be announced, the blazing heat of the stage lights scorches the air dry, so that every breath burns me up from the inside out.


Entry Nickname: Swimming with the Amoebas
Word Count: 63K
Genre: YA Horror


Sixteen-year-old Maxine Spielman has no boobs, a fact which may ultimately save her life.

On the first night of summer, wearing a borrowed sundress and bra stuffed with toilet paper, Maxine and her friends break into Splash, the new waterpark scheduled to open in just two days. Unable to get her manufactured cleavage wet, Maxine retreats to the locker room as the others enjoy the water. It’s here that Maxine discovers the lifeless body of a park employee. He’s sitting upright against the newly painted lockers in a puddle of his own blood. When she steps closer, he lunges at her, crying for help.

The next day her friends are dead, killed with the same lethal quickness as others in their small community. The doctors say it’s meningitis, but Maxine isn’t so sure. She knows all of those infected had one thing in common: contact with the water at Splash. 

Maxine concocts an elaborate scheme, tricking the head of the water department to tell her the truth - Splash is using water from the contaminated Pearl River, and that the river is a breeding ground for Naegleria fowleri, the brain-eating amoeba.

Ridiculed by the police, Maxine confides in her cute neighbor, Nathan, and tries to convince him not to take his kid sister to Splash on Opening Day. But Nathan, too, quickly dismisses her warnings as paranoia.

To save her town and the boy she’s fallen for, Maxine must shut down Splash. And she only has twenty-four hours to do it.

Complete at 63,000 words, SPLASH is a YA horror novel that will appeal to fans of Jonathan Maberry and Amy Lukavics. As a trained microbiologist, member of the Horror Writers Association, and SCBWI, I wrote this novel with plausible details and a diverse cast in a fictionalized version of Flint, Michigan, my hometown.

First 250:

Whoever came up with the high school end of year survey should be shot. Buried. Dug up and shot again. I mean, you make it through the whole year without suffering any permanent damage to your social standing and WHAM, out comes this survey so you know exactly where you rank at the start of summer. To make matters worse, it has the exact same question about me as last year.

Will Maxine Spielman get boobs this summer?

I pretend to stretch so I can watch the ruffles puff out on my cami. It's the fancy one with the extra ruffles right where it counts. But they don't move much despite my best efforts. Defeated, I lean back on my stool to minimize any skin contact with the gross black surface of the lab bench and turn my attention to Mr. Johnson.

Who needs boobs anyway?

"Come on folks," Mr. Johnson says and raises his arms for quiet. Two large pit stains in the shape of crescent moons darken his shirt. "I know it's the end of the year, but we can't get through sophomore biology without at least one class on the higher vertebrates. Now Aiden, give me one of the defining characteristics of mammals. What produced the milk you had on your cereal this morning?"

"A cow?"

"Yes, Aiden, very funny. But what specifically do cows have that, say, a salamander does not?"

"A mammary gland," he groans.

"That's right! Mammals have mammary glands."



  1. Judges, please reply here. Good luck!

    1. The Queen of ThornsJune 14, 2018 at 12:59 PM

      Greetings, Kombatants! Queen of Thorns here with a vote and some notes with thoughts. As always, remember feedback is subjective and consume mine and others' with liberal salt.

      Canary Girl:
      Query: I actually have just one question: why would Nila discovering her father committed suicide with his own pesticide formula convince her the formula never worked? That's something that either needs to be clarified in the query or, if it's too cumbersome to do so there, she can lose hope because of learning how her father died and you can save the connection between the pesticide being a success (I mean, at least on humans?) or a failure for the book itself.

      First 250: We begin in a place that's very much in media res, and it's a bit disorienting. I imagine that's intentional, as Nila is herself disoriented by the shift from daydream back to reality, but that might not be a sensation that welcomes your reader into the text, even if it welcomes them into her backstory a little more immediately.

      Swimming with the Amoebas:

      Query: The connection between this query's audacious first line and the actual conflict is brilliant, so of course your first page capitalizes on that, too. Well done! I'm not sure the "Ridiculed by the police" paragraph works for me in its present form, because it seems to be trying to do several completely different things at once: establish why no on else is acting; introduce a love interest, maybe?; introduce a new, more personal level of stakes. Is there a way to pace introducing that information differently, so it doesn't come in one big crash?

      First 250: The voice in this first page is delightful, especially as it capitalizes on the humiliation that will turn out to be a special benefit.

      I'm a great fan of both voice and clear connections of stakes in a query. Given that, my vote goes to Swimming with Ameobas.

      Good luck, Kombatants!

    2. Canary Girl
      Query: What a cool concept. I’ve never seen this take on sci-fi before. Generally speaking, I’m a bit concerned that this story seems a bit old for YA, since Nila’s already pursuing a career. However, depending on how this plays out in the book itself, it might not be a problem. For a thriller, I’d also like the query to be a bit tighter and more pulse-pounding. Perhaps if you got to your final paragraph a bit quicker and put more emphasis on it?

      First 250: I love your writing style. It’s very beautiful and the imagery of the canary is great. I’d like a bit more connection between the first line and the rest of the 250 words. Why is she thinking of her father right then? The phrasing almost makes me think that this is another time her father’s chest will swell with pride, but he has died at this point, correct?

      Swimming with the Amoebas
      Query: Nice first line and great query. I would like it to answer a few more questions though. For example, why don’t the police believe her? There’s a dead man in the locker room and all of her friends were at the pool before they died. Who is preventing the truth from getting out? The owner of Splash? Why? Is it to protect their reputation or are they a serial killer? I think answering some of those questions would really strengthen the impact of your query.

      First 250: I liked the voice and the sense of character you have in these first 250 words. You also included some great little details. I would have perhaps liked a bit more of a unique beginning, as classroom openings have been done quite a bit, but the writing is engaging enough that I didn’t really mind that much.

      These were both really enjoyable reads, but I felt that Canary Girl’s opening was a bit more unique and engaging so victory to Canary Girl!

    3. Posted for Jumping Jellybean.

      Canary Girl
      Initially when I read through your query I was thinking Nila was super petty, but then I think I realized why. You start off with the line “While locust ravaged the Earth…” of course everything sounds trivial compared to that! Maybe focus on Nila’s issues and problems and then tie it into the bigger picture second.

      1st 250:
      Love this!

      Swimming with Amoebas
      Eww! This had me really grossed out, but I also love that there’s humor mixed in.
      My biggest comment is about this “cute neighbor.” I might find him more offensive then these brain-eating amoebas. She’s attracted to a guy who is dismissive of her and thinks she’s paranoid. She actually “falls” for him. No, no, no, girl. I’d believe it more, or be able to accept it more, if he believed her, but his little sister begged the parents to take her and then he has to help Maxine save everyone.

      1st 250:
      The humor is great here. I do with the survey was being passed around in class and coincided with the whole mammary gland discussion. Otherwise it all feels too random.

      VICTORY to Canary Girl

    4. Canary Girl

      Okay, really interesting concept here. I do have some concerns and things I’m unclear on after reading this.

      First, I would be very careful about lumping “joining an animal rights activist group” into the same category as “spiraling out of control”. There is nothing out of control about joining an animal rights group, in my opinion. And I’m kind-of neutral about animals, really—I have too many kids to add animals into the mix. So if this association struck me as not quite right, then I think you need to reconsider how you’re casting animal rights activists and be aware that anyone who feels more strongly about animals than I do is going to have a problem with the connotations you’re making.

      Also, the sentence about how Nila is under pressure from her workaholic mom strikes me as odd. If the world is facing annihilation and the human race heading toward extinction, that fact that Nila wouldn’t try to do everything she could to help find a solution is very strange. The circumstances you paint here seem very dire and it doesn’t fit that Nila would want to go do graffiti art instead of worrying about the very real threat of extinction. Is this not an immediate threat? Are these people still living normal lives even though there’s an apocalypse looming?

      Lastly, in the final paragraph when you talk about the group unwittingly unleashing a brand of flesh-eating locusts in Boston, what group are you referring to? Is this the animal rights group that Nila has joined? Or is there some other group we should be aware of? It’s not quite clear the way it’s written. If it’s Nila’s group that you mention at the end of the previous paragraph, you can clear things up by re-wording like this: “But the group unwittingly unleashes a whole new bread…” Then it’s clear that it was Nila’s group that you just mentioned.

      I really enjoyed this 250. I’m getting the sense here that the locust problem is far-removed from Nila and it is more believable that she wouldn’t feel a pressing need to join her mother in a lab and instead pursue art. Make sure it’s clear in your query that this is not an apocalyptic-type situation.

      I like the artistic touch here—with the splashes of color and the bird references. It paints a very pretty picture.

      Swimming with Amoebas

      LOVE the first line! And I love this query. Honestly, I am not a fan of horror—I enjoy my sleep! But I am really drawn in by this query. And the fact that you’re a microbiologist makes me even more intrigued. You’ve set up the story and the stakes so well. My only concern is all the short paragraphs. I’d combine the fourth and fifth paragraphs, finding a way to connect them with a new sentence in between. Something like, “When she goes to the police with her evidence, she’d ridiculed as being paranoid. Not knowing where else to turn, she confides in her neighbor…” Because I was also wondering why her very next best option after the police was the cute neighbor boy. Overall, great job on this query, though. I need to read this book RIGHT NOW! Please keep us updated when this book gets published.

      Pulled me right in and made me laugh. This is perfect.


    5. Hi All!

      Can't wait to dive in. Remember this is all my subjective impression and take what you want and leave what you don't :) I'll start with CANARY GIRL

      Your query is tight and well-formed, but I felt a little confused after Nila found out her father's poisoned himself. Why would that suddenly be the last straw for her? Especially after she already had misgivings after seeing how the animals were treated at the facility. I also wasn't sure how her father related to her sudden interest in going after being a graffiti artist. Does she graffiti anti-facility stuff? Does she try and raise awareness about what happened to her father through it? I just felt like we needed a bit more in terms of answers as to how we got from a to b in Nila's head. In terms of the first 250, I really enjoyed the way they were written! I was expecting more of deep sci-fi vibe, but it felt more to me like the beautiful sorrows of ava lavender. I really liked it and Nila's voice came through crystal clear.

      I thought your query was super well written. There isn't much I would change. My only "aww" moment is when the boy she falls for doesn't believe her either. I felt weirdly protective like he didn't deserve her! I really loved your first 250 as well. The concept made me perk up and your opening made me want more.

      Victory for me goes to SWIMMING WITH AMEOBAS


      I remember this from last round. A definite improvement, so well done! That said, I think the query still needs a little work. You expanded it, which is good, but I feel like there might almost be too many details now. All the disparate details seem to overwhelm the plot. (Yes, opposite of what I said before and yes, I understand how frustrating that is. Queries are rough!) I'd recommend trimming a few here and there. For example, removing "on every continent except North America" from the end of P1 tightens it up and makes it flow while still being very engaging.

      I'm also a little unsure why she thinks a pesticide wouldn't work if her father used it to kill himself (yes, insects vs humans, but still sounds fairly toxic so a bit of a head scratch moment). And I'm still not seeing much of a reason for why she must mend her relationship with her mom, or what sort of a choice she has to face in the stakes. Fate of the world, yes--and this might be personal preference--but I like seeing those grand stakes framed around her as a character, not just a savior.

      Your 250 was great before but it sounds perfect now. Awesome job!


      Hah! Your opening line made me chuckle, so nice job! The dead body coming back to life made me think zombies, although the rest of the query doesn't indicate that. I'm guessing this guy she found was only mostly dead at the time, so maybe ditch "lifeless" from the previous line and tack something like "before dying" to the end of the paragraph.

      You do a good job with the stakes, but it's very sparse on details to draw a reader in. What sort of scheme does she concoct? How does she plan on shutting down Splash? You don't need to go into exhaustive detail, but a few specifics will go a long way here.

      Love the humor in your 250's opening. Going from turning her attention to Mr. Johnson to "Who needs boobs anyway?" threw me a bit and made me think he was the one judging her. Maybe ditch reference to him and end on lab bench, then go to the thought. Other than that, the humor in this will definitely keep me reading. If humor's a trend in the voice that continues, maybe try and highlight that more in the query beyond your opening line.

      This is a very tough choice for me. I love the idea behind Canary's plot, and the imagery in the 250 is amazing. But I also dig the humor in Amoeba's (and it definitely gives me Jonathan Maberry vibes, whom I love). I truly wish I could award victory to both, but alas, Highlander rules!


    7. CANARY GIRL leads off this environmental horror duo with the tale of Nila, daughter of a famed pesticide researcher who committed suicide because he was unable to cure a plague of locusts ravishing the world. Taking over in his place, Nila is at first determined to find the cure alongside her mother, but at some point becomes disaffected with the entire process and leaves to becomes a graffiti artist.
      There the story pivots again, as she becomes involved with an animal rights group. As part of her actions for this animal rights group, she unwittingly unleashes a new plague of locusts which threaten to turn humanity into their next meal.
      While I enjoyed the premise of CANARY GIRL, I found myself struggling to connect to Nila’s journey in this query. Although I could understand her desire to help the rest of the world deal with their locust plague, I couldn’t empathize with Nila’s reasons to stop working on the project. Also, I felt like it was setting me up for one kind of story, then turned around on its head in the final paragraph to become a monster/survival horror tale.
      The First 250 are plucked from a significant moment in Nila’s life. The prose is clean and it introduces elements of Nila’s viewpoint I’d expect to persist through the story.
      SWIMMING WITH AMEOBAS is all the more frightening for how real it could be. One thing that threw me off was in the second paragraph the park employee is described as a “lifeless body” which really seemed to specifically say he was dead, and gave me a zombie vibe that I was glad to be mistaken about.
      My biggest concern with this query is that I’m not entirely sure if there’s enough here for a novel. It would seem that the problem “shutting down the park” could be dealt with rather quickly, and that a bare minimum that would be an appropriate course of action for the CDC even if it was a meningitis outbreak. Several people contracting the same virus at the same place and dying within a couple days I would imagine would be a cause for concern.
      The stakes are clear (although I can’t guess why she thinks this guy is so special when he won’t listen to common sense). What I’m left uncertain about is Maxine’s character arc in this book.
      I liked that you included your personal expertise in this area. A lot of time I’m not sure how much a bio helps a query, but in this case I feel like it absolutely sells it.
      Both of these concepts are fun and interesting, and I could see both of them as feature length films. But for my tastes, VICTORY TO SWIMMING WITH AMEOBAS.

  2. (I’m a fellow Kombatant leaving feedback.)


    Ooh, flesh-eating locusts. Good, in a horrific way.

    Now, it might be different in the story, but in the query, ART THERAPY and GRAFFITI seem be subplots. I think removing them would strengthen and tighten your query, giving you more room to focus on the main plot and Nila’s characterization in relation to that main plot.

    For example...

    The first paragraph could be focused on something like --> [Locusts have ravaged the Earth]. [Nila’s father has the formula for the pesticide that would control the swarms devastating crops on a global scale]. [That is, until he dies by suicide, and the revolutionary formula is lost with him].

    Second paragraph --> [Under pressure by the masses, a grieving Nila follows her pushy mother to Columbus Innovations where they work with a team to finalize a solution]. [But Nila never imagined the horrors of animal-testing]. [Convinced they’ll never discover a soluble pesticide this way, she secretly joins an animal rights group and sets the test-subject animals free].

    Third paragraph --> [But when the rights group unwittingly unleashes a whole new breed of flesh-eating locusts, Nila must come clean and work with everyone to complete her father’s formula. If they can’t defeat the mutant swarm once and for all, Nila might be reuniting with her father sooner than she thought.]

    First 250:
    Great juxtaposition and imagery! A strong beginning, for sure. The only suggestion I have is to consider changing “English” to “Mandarin” or “Swahili,” since Nila is a room full of great minds from around the world. English seems to be her native language, so if she knows the periodic table in two other tongues, I think it’d be safe to assume she knows it in English as well. But like I said, that’s a very minor suggestion that may or may not fit. Good job either way!


    Great opening and concept for a R.L.Stine feel!

    For the second paragraph, consider “wearing a borrowed sundress with a toilet-stuffed bra” just to simplify that part.

    I like “After some inept groping” more than “Unable to get her manufactured cleavage wet.” The new clause doesn’t seem like a strong enough reason for Maxine to miss out on exploring the waterpark. Consider reverting back to the original clause, but changing “inept” into “embarrassing” or “unwanted.”

    The third sentence of the 2nd paragraph is clearer—good!—but why does Maxine step closer to the supposedly dead body? Is she in shock? Is she trying to check for a pulse? Also, there’s a big leap between the 2nd and 3rd paragraphs. The dead guy lunges at her, but then we’re in the next day. Consider replacing the last sentence of the 2nd paragraph with a stronger transition so that it can flow into the 3rd paragraph.

    For the 3rd paragraph, where are her friends found dead? Consider showing that. Rough example: The next day, her friends are found dead in their beds, and the body count keeps rising in their small community.

    Consider omitting the 4th paragraph. It brings up a lot of questions, whereas in the manuscript, this plot point has more room to be more believable.

    For the 5th paragraph, I’m sensing that Maxine confides in Nathan because he’s trying to take his kid sister to Splash. That reason works for me! Good, good.

    First 250:
    Great voice, youthful tone, and nod towards humor! I’d want to read more of this story, too.


    Deadly amoebas VS flesh-eating locusts!!! Wow... Good luck to the judges.

    1. I meant "toilet-paper-stuffed bra" Ha!

    2. Changed my mind. "tissue-stuffed bra" would be better with my suggestion

  3. Canary Girl


    Locusts ravaging Earth is a great premise for a Sci-Fi Thriller!
    I am wondering if you are starting the query in the right place, though. Or maybe it just has a bit too much information.
    When you start by saying locusts are ravaging Earth, this seems to be a very immediate problem, but then the query goes on to Nila doing art therapy to heal after her father’s death, then joining her mother in the lab, before falling out with her mother and joining an animal rights group. I’m wondering what is happening with Earth in the meantime.

    You got the stakes in order, though!

    250 words:

    Just a few nit-picks here:
    I think you should lose the “almost” in the first sentence.
    The tinkling of glass in the second paragraph, suggests to me people aren’t really paying attention.

    I love the one-sentence third paragraph!

    Good luck!

    Swimming with the Amoebas


    Great voicy first line!
    Loglines aren’t always a good idea, but this really works for me.

    I think you should remove “and her friends” and put the friends at the end of the sentence (“with her friends”) As it is, I think all of them are wearing a borrowed sundress…”

    The three last sentences in the first paragraph could do with a rewrite. I don’t think we need all the details, and the “It’s here that” makes it sound a bit more formal than the rest of the query, which has a lot more voice.

    I would have liked to know more about how Maxine manages to trick the head of the water department into admitting using water from a contaminated river. I’m guessing this wasn’t easy.
    Is it common knowledge that the river is a breeding ground for brain-eating amoeba? If it is, I would definitely need to know how she tricks the head of the water department into admitting the park is using water from the river. If not you are saying the head of the department is telling Maxine this, I think you need to have a very good explanation as to why he/she does this.

    Great stakes, and the 24-hour time limit definitely adds to this!

    250 words:

    This is a great start!

    The only thing I could pick on, is that I don’t know why Maxine is thinking about the survey at this specific moment.

    Good luck!

  4. Canary Girl

    Query: This sounds like a really interesting story. I think the query does a good job of laying out Nila’s development through the book and showing how her motivations might change. That being said, I think you could maybe pare it down a little; it felt like there was a lot happening, and I kind of waffled on what the central conflict of the story was. I don’t think it’s problematic to include subplots in the query, but try to make it clear what your main arc is. I kind of waffled between her interpersonal conflict with her mother and what I thought was the central conflict, which was the pesticide/locusts issues. Also, I think you’re using “group” as a collective noun in the last paragraph (since you used it as one in the sentence above), so it should be “group unwittingly unleashes.” On the whole, though, I thought this query was really solid.

    First 250: Great opener! It really tugs at the heartstrings—the child that’s been starved for approval, especially one that’s clearly very talented. It was also a really subtle way to introduce the locust problem without stringing up a bunch of neon signs saying “this is going to be a Big Deal later,” which I thought was nice. I did bump a little on “grasp hold,” which is super nitpicky, but it’s clean enough that nitpicking is worth doing. I’ve only ever heard it “catch hold,” but that might also be a regional thing. I would definitely keep reading!


    Swimming with the Amoebas

    Query: Love the opening line! I do think you might give us too many details for a query, though. It starts to read a little like a synopsis where you’re telling us about how the park employee is laying. I think you could trim that down and transition into her friends dying. This is also totally a subjective thing, but it reads a little choppy with such short paragraphs. I think you could combine two of the three shorter paragraphs so that the reader can build up some momentum when they’re reading it. But your stakes are clear, and your MC’s goals are really well established. Good job!

    First 250: Really good voice in the opening lines. She’s funny and sarcastic, and it really shines through in the narration. I do have to say, though: by the end of the 250, I was kind of tired of hearing about boobs. They’re great and all, magical chest pillows that they are, but I think the lesson on mammary glands carried the boob theme a little too far for me. Great detail with the pit stains, though. Everybody had at least one high school teacher with that problem, so it’s super relatable. I enjoyed the read!

    Good luck to you both!

  5. Canary Girl:

    Ok. I LOVE this book idea!! Sooo good.

    I do think that you have included too many details in the query and that you could simplfy further. I would even consider removing the artist angle to it, or minifying it, cause while cool, it takes away from the real story: the locusts. I would also recommend checking out The Mortal Coil and Want cause I think they would make great comps for you!
    - i would also add in to recreate her father’s pesticide instead of working on her father’s pesticide

    I totally loved your opening page and have no comments here.

    Swimmig with Amoebas:

    Ahhhh this story idea is awesome. I loved your page no comments there.

    - i think your query might be a little top heavy where you have a ton of space devoted to your storyline but not a ton of lines regarding stakes, cause I think you can totally go even further with those, we’re talking worldwide contamination type of stuff here! But you totally did hook me and I couldn’t wait to get to your page. So might be worth trying this version out with a handful of agents and then revising if needed.

  6. LOCUSTS: QUERY – I love this story idea! I remember reading your query the first round and it certainly seems like you’ve tightened things up. You convey a lot of information, but it doesn’t feel rushed or jumbled. Great job!
    250 – Again, not much to critique. I really enjoyed this. I feel like the very first line might be a bit more powerful if you were to simplify it to: The last time I made my father proud I was four years old, but that’s just my opinion. Nicely done.

    SPLASH: QUERY – Your query is one of my favorites in the whole contest. I love the combination of humor and horror. My only critique is in your first paragraph you mention that Maxine discovers the lifeless body and that it lunges at her. I suggest using near-death, or something. I was almost expecting a zombie turn. Otherwise, really great!
    250 – I love your first 250. I really get a sense of your voice. I don’t have much to say except well done!

  7. Canary Girl: Really interesting query and nothing jumped out at me as an obvious problem. The tense shift in your first 250 jarred me, though; I realized on the second read what had happened, but on the first read I thought you’d had an accidental tense slip. Your writing is beautiful, though, and this is such a fascinating premise.

    Amoebas: Way to go! I remember your entry from last time, and your query is much improved and does a much better job of setting out what’s going on and why nobody other than Maxine seems to understand that something bad’s going on with Splash. Your opening 250 still rock and I really hope I get to read this book some day; I love me some YA horror!

    Good luck, guys — you both have great entries here.