Monday, September 10, 2012

Pitch Polish #21

Genre: Upper Middle Grade Contemporary
Word Count: 51,000
Ever since thirteen-year-old Casey Fitzgerald was cast as the apple in her kindergarten production of The Five Food Groups, she’s known theater is her destiny. But when her best friend Amanda wins the lead role in the school musical, the curtains close on Casey's dream.
There's no way Casey can get into the performing arts high school cast in a bit part as a nun. Her life is over – unless she can reinvent herself. The new Casey does karate and plays poker, and she finally gets actor Trevor’s attention. There’s just one little problem – Trevor is Amanda’s boyfriend. Casey must decide whether her great new life is worth losing Amanda’s friendship. So much for ex-drama queen.
I am a member of SCBWI and a former high school drama geek.
First 150:
Wednesday, September 6th is the day my life will change.

I'll either land the lead role in The Sound of Music, get into Holland Performing Arts High School, and end up on Broadway before I graduate college.  Or, I'll bomb the audition, go to boring South County High where I'll have no friends, and end up waiting tables at some roadside diner in Nowheresville, Kansas.

So, I've decided to memorize the entire play before I even audition.  No drama teacher – not even Ms. Sharp – can possibly deny my dedication to theater.

“Casey, aren't you going to eat?”  Amanda pushes my lunch bag toward me.

“I can't marry him!” I recite with my eyes closed.  My voice carries across the lunchroom, drowning out the chatter and shouts and clattering trays.  

“Nice projection,” Amanda says as I bow to the table of wide-eyed sixth graders next to us.   “And I doubt Ms. Sharp expects you to have anything memorized.” 


Mia Celeste said...

I love your opening line.

Unknown said...

I can imagine the strain on the friendship and the tension you have built between Casey and Amanda after Casey misses out on the lead role. I love the premise.

Jessie Oliveros said...

I agree that your opening line is great. The query is succinct and has great voice, but it gets a little awkward at the end for me.

"Her life is over--unless she can reinvent herself." (I feel like there needs to be some kind of transition here). "The new Casey does karate and plays poker."

I think that if you say she already DID reinvent herself, it would make more sense. "Her life is over, so she reinvents herself." Or something like that.

Then you mention actor Trevor's attention. I feel like there should be some kind of qualifier...other than she "finally gets" his attention. She must have had a crush on him before. Maybe her crush since kindergarten when she was cast as an apple and he an orange? I know, cheesy:) but you get my point.

The rest of the query reads well. Your first 150 flows nicely. I like the first paragraph. Good luck:)

Anonymous said...

One little thing. I'd consider using the name of the performing arts high school. Other than that, nice!

Jenna and Ashley said...

-Short and sweet and laced with humor:)
-I'm already totally rooting for her snub Amanda.
-Great conflict for a MG.
-Smooth flow, great voice.
-Also, the title drew me in right away.

First 150:
-The WHOLE play!? Love her over-achieving personality.
-Great dialogue.
-The only thing I'm going to point out is that The Sound of Music should be italicized.

What a run book. I don't read MG but would pick this one up. Good job and good luck!
Pitch Polish #28

Liana Brooks said...

I was going to skip since MG isn't my forte, but the opening line grabbed. It's a great hook with lots of Voice and personality.

The query and opening lines follow through. It looks like a winner to me. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I love contemporty mg and I liked this entry. Check out mine (Confessions of a Cornhead) because it is also set with a theater background. :-) That's why I like your pitch, too! I love the whole kindergarten apple intro. I would read on. Just wondering in the query if the sentence, "So much for ex-drama queen." needs to read "an" ex-drama queen. That's what struck me at least. Best wishes! Yeah for MG contemporary!

Tamara said...

Oh. I remember commenting on this before. I think it sounds like a really cute book. The only thing I'd suggest is to put more of a lead-in to Trevor. He wasn't mentioned before, so her being happy that she'd gained his attention caught me off guard. Is there anyway to mention him from the very beginning? If he's a big part of Casey's life, it seems to raise the stakes on him being Amanda's boyfriend and the subsequent choice Casey has to make.

Maybe you could try:

Ever since thirteen-year-old Casey Fitzgerald was cast as the apple in her kindergarten production of The Five Food Groups, she’s known two things. One: that she'd someday marry her co-apple, Trevor. And two: theater is her destiny.

Or just something along those lines, you get the idea. Other than that one little thing, I love this. Great job on it!

Anonymous said...

You completely nail the voice. Excellent 150. Conflict and stakes clearly set up in query. Am loving the theater terminology -- projection, curtains close, audition. Flavors the whole pitch! My only suggestion: you set one of the big problems up as getting into the PA HS -- but then she takes up karate and poker as ways to reinvent herself. Does she also do something toward getting in to the school, and should you mention it in the query to tie everything together? Or does she totally give up dreams of the high school? Pretty nitpicking, I know -- it's really good!
Good luck!!

Lara Schiffbauer said...

I really like your whole pitch. I especially like the line at the end of the query about "So much for ex-drama queen." Seriously cracked me up!

The only thing that took me by surprise was that Casey is thirteen. All of the concerns made me think she's older. Probably a me thing, though. :)

gailecn said...

Thank you for all the great comments and suggestions! I'm going to play around with some changes in the query and see what works. These things are so hard to write well!

Jessie Humphries said...

This is a great middle grade premise best friend vs. boy vs. dream. Good stuff. I like the voice too. The only thing I can think of for the query is that I am getting the feeling that her dreams ARE over and the only thing she is working on is getting Trevor and trying not to wreck her friendship. Is reinventing herself going to get her a better part? I thought her life was over and she wouldnt get into her performing arts school. Or is reinventing herself somehow going to get her in. Because if she gave up her dream for realz, I don't know about that.
But I love your 150. She is such a drama queen! (I was a theater major undergrad...I would know!)

Love, #38

Cynthia said...

You show a good understanding of middle school drama. I'm wondering if Amanda felt bad for landing the lead, something her friend had wanted, and if there was any conflict between the two girls over this. While Casey's reinvention of herself seems to be a focal point in the query, what I see being a stronger theme here is the suggestion of competition among "friends." Perhaps what Casey should really be exploring is not whether she should be with Trevor, but whether she and Amanda have a genuine friendship. Good luck, and thanks for sharing!