Monday, September 10, 2012

Pitch Polish #16


BALLOONING
Middle Grade Fantasy Adventure
57,000 Words

Query:

Dear GUTGAA Pitch Polishers,


Chester Phillips is building a hot air balloon, and if it's made out of filmy shower curtains, defunct office fans, and a corroded bike frame, so be it. He's going to fly it around the world anyway. Although the town's notorious dumpster diver isn't above sacrificing dignity and cleanliness in search of parts, Chester maintains one rule: he only takes things that no one else wants.

When a mysterious man offers to fund Chester's around the world trip in exchange for an errand, Chester has no idea that he'll be breaking his cardinal rule by accepting. Chester is sent to fetch a battered scuba tank and deliver it to San Francisco. No one bothered to tell him that the tank housed a beautiful, if somewhat dry and aloof, genie.

Unfortunately, "finders keepers" isn't exactly honored among the non-dumpster diving community, and now the genie's thuggish masters are coming after Chester. 

Chester never wanted to be a thief, but as his friendship with the genie grows, he realizes that he can never let her fall back into her masters' cruel clutches.  

There's only one way to ensure that she'll be safe, and it involves a hot air balloon adventure. 

BALLOONING is a 57,000-word fantasy adventure novel for upper middle grade readers. It was featured as a semi-finalist in the Young Adult Novel Discovery Contest hosted by Regina Brooks and Gotham Writers' Workshop.    

Thank you for your time.

First 150 Words:

Chester's uncle laced his fingers into a stirrup. Chester stepped into it, and his uncle boosted him into the dumpster. 


He landed on a mattress of black trash bags and was immediately absorbed as if he'd fallen into a large beanbag chair. The contents crinkled. He kicked to right himself, and rusted metal flaked away from the inner walls. The interior of the dumpster smelled like plastic packaging and spoiled fruit. 

“See anything good?” Uncle Trent held a flashlight above his head. He slowly panned its beam across the interior of the dumpster. 

Chester floundered in the bog of swollen bags. If he had the choice, he definitely preferred commercial dumpsters to private ones. For one thing, businesses generally bagged their trash. Once, while launching himself into an individual's trash bin, he'd ended up with a mouth full of diaper. He hoped never to repeat the experience.

11 comments:

jennbrisendine said...

Hi! A couple things to think about:

Query: could you describe Chester as the town's most notorious dumpster diver?

"Chester is sent" is passive voice... any way to make it more active? "The errand: fetch a battered..." or "Chester must fetch..."

Instead of "hot air balloon adventure," maybe refer some way back to Chester's hot air balloon -- takes the query full circle.

Love the premise and your query is strong and clearly written, with nice voice!

First 150: Nice description! The only question I have is, does the uncle have to be there? Technically it starts in an unnamed adult's action, and focus on Chester is threatened. I want to know more about why this uncle is willing to help him with an illicit task. Probably not where you want my thoughts to be! Can Chester go it alone?

Great story idea! I'd read on!

Mia Celeste said...

I'm intrigued. I like Chester and his uncle and the description of his adventure to come has me wanting to download/ upload this one on my Nook right away.

All the best,

Emily said...

I think this is great! It sounds like a lot of fun and the query is written really well.

Since the genie seems like she's going to be one of the book's main characters, I'm wondering if you should tell us her name.

The first 150 words pulled me in. I'd definitely read more. Best of luck!

Anonymous said...

The book sounds fun and I liked the first 150 words. Just a few minor comments:

• Dumpster should always have a capital D (it's a brand name, like Band Aid)

• Say Chester's age in the pitch. I though he was an adult (is he?). If so, his uncle would be old.

• I really liked the excerpt! Jumps right into the action. Maybe you can add a few adjectives, like "elderly uncle," and "large, smelly beanbag."

Good luck!

Katie Slivensky said...

I love this. I can see why it got so far in that contest. Seriously, dumpster-diving, home-made hot air balloons, AND genies? Why haven't you gotten an agent yet? This is golden!

Anyway, as others have mentioned, I found myself wondering what Chester's age is. Beyond that, despite multiple readings and my knack for nitpicking, I can't find anything I don't like. You have a winner here!

Cat said...

Great query, even better sample. Now, simply add the MC's age and you'll most definitely will catch an agent in the near future.

marcyblesy.com said...

I am wondering how old Chester is?? At first I thought he was a "crazy uncle type," but I imagine he is a child. I really think the idea is creative, though, and opening in a dumpster will appeal to kids. Best wishes.

amycavenaugh said...

I also wondered how old Chester was. It seems like it could be an adult story. I agree that Dumpster should be capitalized. Great concept & the first 150 were highly entertaining. Good job :)

JenfromtheBlock said...

What a great opening! It's so descriptive. Chester's dumpster preferences are a nice touch. As for the query, I don't even know that you need to explain the funding of the trip. Example: "He only takes things no one else wants, until he finds a genie in a battered scuba tank. Unfortunately, finders keepers..."
To me, the errand and the mystery man only serve to convolute things without increasing my already established desire to read the book. All in all, nice job! I wish you continued luck with this project!

gailecn said...

What a great concept! I think you could tighten your query by cutting the things that aren't absolutely necessary. For example, you could delete the first two sentences of the second paragraph and replace them with something like: "But when Chester finds a battered scuba tank, he never expected there to be a beautiful genie inside." Then move on to the action and the choice Chester has to make.

First 150 looks good to me! :)

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