Wednesday, February 19, 2014

An Agent's Inbox #3

Dear Ms. Gref,

Eleven-year-old Mike loves all things science and science fiction. He’s determined to become an astronaut--assuming he can escape fifth grade with all the body parts required by NASA. While hiding from the school bully, he meets an alien who offers a chance to gain a little pre-job scientific experience by testing candies dispensed from a metal tube. Mike knows better than to trust someone offering candy to kids until he hears the possible side-effects.

Temporary bully-stomping, superhero side-effects.

He’s ordered not to tell anyone, but how could he hide something as cool as first contact from his best friend? Good thing he spilled the Jellybeans because he needs help surviving an hour as a fish--complete with gills, webbed fingers, and flipper feet. Thumbs down to high diving off a cliff to find oxygen in a frigid lake.

Other results are fantastic--like flying, super-hearing and invisibility. When fake federal agents invade town, Mike forgets all about bullies. The Men-in-Black are really rogue Interstellar Enforcers searching for anyone who knows aliens exist. Mike must save himself and his friends or end up in permanent stasis field at the bottom of a mine.

MIGHTY MIKE AND THE INTERGALACTIC CANDY DISPENSER is an MG sci-fi/adventure complete at 46,000 words. It should appeal to those who enjoy the quirky humor of Nathan Bransford’s Jacob Wonderbar series. And Mike would so totally jump into the Tardis!

I live in Colorado, ignore my physics degree, and train endurance horses while imagining worlds without gravity and unplanned dismounts.

Thank you for your time. My first 250 are below.


According to The List of Chumps to be Pounded After School, today was hang-Mike-like-a-piƱata-Thursday. The List belonged to Brutus, the biggest kid in sixth grade, and failing to call the bully by his self-chosen nickname broke Chump Rule #1. Mike blew that the first day of fifth grade. On the second day, he sat in Brutus’ favorite swing and his name had topped The List ever since.
Mike sat on the community park bleachers and glanced from his math book to the soccer field. Still clear.
Just Little League batting practice on the diamond behind him. Mike gritted his teeth and hoped no one saw his panic. He would not hide in his house like a friendless dork. His plan to escape Brutus’ fists had to work. It might even save him from Dad’s assumption that Mike would join a summer debate club on the path to becoming a brilliant lawyer. Ugh, how many ways can you say boooring?
No, Mike’s plans did not involve law school. Step one: attend the Space Camp Academy section two years early. Step two: become the first teenage astronaut--
“C’mon Mike, we need another player.” Carlos stood with his hands spread wide and a grin smeared across his face.
Demonstrating his sorry soccer skills was not Mike’s favorite after-school activity, but he never turned down his best--and only--friend. Besides, doing homework on the bleachers just encouraged the dork title. He did another Brutus check, then ran downfield. Way downfield.


Merriam Saunders said...

I really enjoyed your opening and I think your query is cute, compelling and captures the voice and spirit of your MC. The only comment I have otherwise is that I found your opening sentence to be a mouthful, a bit tangled. I had to read it a gain before I could go on. But after that, all good. You set up an MC in conflict with another student and his Dad and already with a goal. Good work..

etsmith said...

The query strikes me as very marketable. Likewise, you managed to make you main character quite likable despite the limit space.

My only note is the following sentence: "Mike knows better than to trust someone offering candy to kids until he hears the possible side-effects."

It's probably just me, but the quick change from 'knowing better' to accepting seemed a little off.

posse said...

Mighty Mike is a character I'm rooting for! I think your first 250 is filled with a strong voice and kid-friendly subject matter.

As far as your query, when you mention that you're "ignoring your physics degree," I laughed out loud. That being said, I did skim over some other parts of the query. While I loved the voice of your synopsis, some of the sentences felt a bit long.

Best of luck to you, MM! I enjoyed reading your work.

M.T. said...

I agree that some of the sentences seem long, and I'm afraid to admit that I don't know what a permanent stasis field is!

Your introduction of Mike and his adventures is awesome! Although I wish I knew a little more about how he and the alien get along. Do they become friends? Is it a business relationship? Overall, I really enjoyed it and I read to the end.

Emily Gref said...

Hi M.M.,

This query made me smile - great introduction of the character, the hook, and the conflict. You managed to give me a sense of the voice to expect in the sample, which is fantastic.

That same voice and humor carry through in the first 250. My only critique would be that for such a small sample you introduce a lot of different elements - the bully, the ambitions, the dad's plan, the best friend. Feel free to slow it down just a tad and expand on some of these elements.


Ben Spendlove said...

Okay, so the query is good. It reminds me of THE CANDY SHOP WAR.

The first paragraph of the first page kind of threw me because it goes from today, to the first day of school, to the second day of school, and then back to today in the next para. But you know, it's all pretty good. I'd keep reading. Good job, and good luck!