Monday, September 10, 2012

Pitch Polish #19


Title: Tomboy Rules: Blossoms Are Always Prepared
Genre: Middle Grade
Word Count:10,021words
Query:

Sometimes there are rules. They aren’t written down or hung on the wall, but kids still have to follow them. One is girls aren’t supposed to like spiders. Mabel doesn’t follow that rule. She doesn’t follow most rules actually. Not if they get in the way of an adventure.
Mabel thinks camping will be her biggest adventure yet and she is so close to going that she can almost feel the itchy mosquito bites. But it won’t be her too-busy dad taking her as he promised three whole years ago. Instead, she’ll have to settle for camping with the Blossoms, if she can stay in the troop long enough to go. She’s already made two mistakes, but it wasn’t Mabel’s fault. She had to save the spider from a shoe-squishing. And she didn’t mean to ruin the cookie sale. All of those boxes of cookies just looked so tempting stored right in her room. With her only chance at camping on the line, Mabel tries the girliest thing she can think of: baking cookies. But when she sneaks to the campsite and discovers she isn’t the only intruder crashing the campout, Mabel has to decide if she will reveal her tomboy nature to save the Blossoms from a stinky situation.

TOMBOY RULES: BLOSSOMS ARE ALWAYS PREPARED is a 10,000-word work of young middle grade fiction that would appeal to readers of the Roscoe Riley and Clementine series. While this book stands alone, I have begun expanding it into a series with titles such as BASEBALL IS NOT FOR GIRLS and NO BOYS (AND MABEL) ALLOWED.
First 150 Words:
Rule 1: Blossoms Do Not Like Spiders
            Except for maybe broccoli burps, nothing smells worse than broccoli steam. I held my breath to keep it from going up my nose while I scooped two heaping spoonfuls onto my plate.
            “Mabel, are you going to eat all of that?” Mom asked with a funny look. (add details about grandma and snarly so the reader knows who is here)
            “Yup. Every bite,” I said. I blew the steam away before I put a forkful into my mouth, chewed just a little, and swallowed hard so I didn’t have to taste it.
            “But you don’t like broccoli,” she said. She took a sip of water out of her glass. “I know what you’re up to. This is about Blossoms again isn’t it?” Mom put down her glass and rubbed her temples with her fingers.
            “Why do you want to join Blossoms anyway?” Snarly asked. “It’s stupid. And it’s for girls."

11 comments:

Mia Celeste said...

Mabel sounds like an interesting soul. I like how you opened the story with specific details about broccoli's smell. I agree with Mabel.

You pulled me in as a reader. Good job.

Elaine Smith said...

I like Mabel. When she blew the steam away before she ate the broccoli, I could see how she would work to overcome any adversity.
I wonder if your query letter needs your whole first paragraph because starting with Mabel would be really strong.

jennbrisendine said...

I like your premise very much. Your second paragraph reads like the informative portion of a query, and it is clear and well-written. The first paragraph has many good ideas -- so many that you're going to have to choose a few to whip it into query form. How old is Mabel? Start with that. "Ten-year-old Mabel isn't about to let a few silly rules get in the way of a good adventure." or something similar -- we get a clear feel for the character, there's a hint of conflict, and even a little voice. Skip the line about her dad -- not needed for the query. Combine the spiders and the cookie eating into one sentence proving she broke the rules but has the gumption to keep onward. Connect the cookie baking with sneaking in to the campsite. I love "crashing the campout" but it sounds repetitive after campsite.

150: Love the chapter heading, hope you do that the whole way through!

Don't forget to finish your thoughts and remove the parentheses before submitting!
I'd actually avoid telling who's there right here-- your dialogue and Mabel are way more interesting! Show details about Mom and Snarly later. It isn't important in the first 150 that grandma is there too -- don't mention her!

Love your idea for a series! Good luck!

cocoanqueso said...

Thanks for the great comments so far. I hope this isn't too greedy, but I'd love some feedback on the rewrite:

(I deleted the first paragraph)

Ten-year-old Mabel isn’t going to let a few pesky rules get in the way of an adventure, especially when she thinks camping will be her biggest adventure yet. She is so close to going that she can almost feel the itchy mosquito bites, that is, if she can stay in the troop long enough to go. Mabel has already made two mistakes, but they really weren’t her fault. She had to save the spider from a shoe-squishing. She didn’t know girls aren’t supposed to like spiders. And she didn’t mean to ruin the cookie sale. All of those boxes of cookies just looked so tempting stored right in her room. With her only chance at camping on the line, Mabel tries the girliest thing she can think of and sets out on a sneaky delivery. But when Mabel isn’t the only intruder crashing the campout, she has to decide if she will reveal her tomboy nature to save the Blossoms from a stinky situation.

Thanks again for your help!

gailecn said...

I think your rewritten query is really good. The part about the cookies made me giggle. :) The only part that wasn't clear to me was "reveal her tomboy nature" - mainly because it seems she already did that when she saved the spider. Otherwise, I think this is great! You've got her voice in the query and you set up the stakes. :)

I love the broccoli thing in the first 150, too. Very funny! And mom's reaction is perfect - you just know this isn't the first time Mabel's done something like this. :)

I do wonder if 10,000 words isn't too short for MG? I'm thinking that might be approaching chapter book territory. I don't know for certain, though...

Cat said...

I like the revised query better than the first, but would add
...the girliest thing she can think of, baking cookies, and sets out on a sneaky delivery.
Otherwise the reader might think she's out for some tomboy prank.

Also, before you enter the sample in the Contest, make sure you replace (add details about grandma and snarly so the reader knows who is here) with the actual words you're going to use. ;-)

Christine Sarmel said...

I think you've made a lot of progress with your revised query. It sticks close to Mabel - what she wants and what stands in her way - which is great.

Like someone above me, I'm wondering if 10,000 words would be more chapter book than MG novel.

amycavenaugh said...

Your rewritten query is much stronger and grabs my interest. Mabel seems like a wonderful character. Like a couple others said, 10k words seems too short for a MG novel.

Angela Brown said...

Having a tomboyish daughter, I simply had to check this one out.

I agree that your revised query is better and more focused, provides better story angle as well. You might want to add "Blossoms" before troop to specify it for the agent.

I wonder how the length of your story would compare with the Magic Treehouse series books?

cocoanqueso said...

Thanks again for all of the great feedback. Especially gailenc for calling my attention to "reveals" and everyone who questioned the wc.

Here is another rewrite:
Eight-year-old Mabel isn’t going to let a few pesky rules get in the way of an adventure, especially when she thinks camping will be her biggest adventure yet. She is so close to going that she can almost feel the itchy mosquito bites. That is, if she can stay in the Blossoms troop long enough to go.

Mabel has already made two mistakes, but they really weren’t her fault. She had to save the spider from a shoe-squishing. She didn’t know girls aren’t supposed to like spiders. And she didn’t mean to ruin the cookie sale. All of those boxes of cookies just looked so tempting stored right in her room.

With her only chance at camping on the line, Mabel tries baking cookies, the girliest thing she can think of, and sets out on a sneaky delivery. But when Mabel discovers she isn’t the only intruder crashing the campout, she has to decide if she will use her tomboy talents to save the Blossoms from a stinky situation.

The Magic Treehouse books are around 5,000. But Judy Moody (also a chapter book series) is around 11,000. I think I've been in denial about the genre. Mabel is eight (I bumped up her age for the pitch polish to see if I could sell it that way). Chapter book readers are clearly my audience. My comparables are even chapter books! Thanks for the wake-up call. I don't know why I was hanging on to MG.

JenfromtheBlock said...

This is so promising, especially the first line of your book! On the query, I think you should move the last line of the first paragraph down:

Eight-year-old Mabel isn’t going to let a few pesky rules get in the way of an adventure, especially when she thinks camping will be her biggest (ONE? because you use adventure twice)adventure yet. She is so close to going she can almost feel the itchy mosquito bites.

All Mabel has to do now is make sure they let her stay in the Blossoms troop. She has made some mistakes, but they really weren’t her fault. So what if she saved a spider from a shoe-squishing? She had no idea girls weren't supposed to like them. And she didn’t mean to ruin the cookie sale. All of those boxes of cookies just looked so tempting stored right in her room.

Nice job! Your MC is sure to charm the socks off people!