Monday, September 10, 2012

Pitch Polish #5


THE ONLY INFINITE

MIDDLE GRADE SCI-FI

80,000 words



 Query:


Lena’s sports-crazy brother faces life in a wheelchair, and his only chance at recovery is a dude who’s totally Cuckoo McQuackers. He claims to be descended from Atlantis, which seems about as likely as Lena getting a date to Sadie Hawkins… until she sees the lost city with her own eyes.



And it’s not just a city.  Not anymore.



In the centuries since Plato, Atlantis has spread under every continent, far beneath the reach of even the deepest drills.  Here, gadgets spice up everything from gym class to the way Lena brushes her teeth.  Throw in a pendant that unravels the mystery of her birth mother and a cute boy from a rival school, and it’s a dream come true.



Then Lena is targeted by PYRE, a militant group bent on expanding Atlantis to Earth’s surface.  Turns out, her mom’s pendant holds a secret a certain Mr. McQuackers would do nearly anything to protect – maybe even put her brother in a wheelchair.  And, in the wrong hands, it poses an even bigger threat than PYRE.




First 150 Words:


CHAPTER ONE: THE MISPLACED MONUMENT

            When the Eiffel Tower vanished, Lena Rush was in a tree house in Jupiter, Florida.  More specifically, she was in the burning wreckage of what had been a tree house before it had… well, exploded.

            It was too bad, really.  She and her little brother, Zac, had only discovered the wooden shack a few months before, snared in the branches of an ancient oak.  The wobbly boards leading up to it had threatened broken bones to anyone stupid enough to try them, but she knew if she didn’t go Zac would.  And she wasn’t about to be outdone by a ten-year-old.

            Together, they’d cleared out some old bird’s nests and patched the roof with duct tape.  By the end, it wasn’t pretty, but it didn’t leak.  And the window hacked into one side offered a killer view of the ocean, which set Lena’s surfer heart singing with each pulsing wave.

40 comments:

Cat said...

80 K is very long for a Middle Grade novel, but these days (since HP) not unheard off. Still, it's something to consider for the next one (you can always use this as your second novel).

The sample is absolutely great and I'd love to read more. The voice is distinct and interesting, the events clearly laid out, and even the short flashback didn't interrupt the flow. Well done.

The query left me slightly confused. I thought that "totally Cuckoo McQuackers" is some coloquial phrase I'd never heard implying craziness. Later, it turns out to be a name, but then, the sentence the name appears in doesn't make sense any more. Never leave the reader second guessing your sentences.

The sentence with the pendant is another confusing one. It implied that it unravels the secret and the boy whereas you meant to say that the pendant and the boy were thrown in.

Also, it isn't clear if the "certain Mr. McQuackers" is the same as the one mentioned before or a relative.

Get the query right and I think you'll have a winner here.

Jayme said...

Thanks, Cat. I’ve been told in the past that my query lacked voice, so I think I may have gone a little overboard. You’re right that “Cuckoo McQuackers” is a colloquial phrase for craziness. I’ve read to avoid throwing out too many names in a query, but in this instance you’re right that it’s probably best to identify the character by name rather than leave readers guessing. Do you think something like this would be stronger: “…a dude who’s totally Cuckoo McQuackers. Feore claims to be…” Or is it still confusing that “dude” and “Feore” are the same person?

Also, do you think perhaps I’m cramming too much into the query? The pendant sentence could read: “Throw in a pendant that unravels the mystery of her birth mother and it’s a dream come true.” or “Throw in a cute boy from a rival school and it’s a dream come true.” Or I could try to restructure: “Throw in a pendant that unravels the mystery of her birth mother and it’s a dream come true – a dream that gets even better when she meets a cute boy from a rival school.”

And thank you for your kind words about my sample. :)

Mia Celeste said...

I love your query. It's concise and crisp. I would read this story. More importantly, I'd look forward to reading this.

All the best.

JenfromtheBlock said...

Wow, I can't find anything wrong with this at all. And I personally love the Cuckoo McQuackers thing. It adds to the strong voice and seems appropriate for a Middle Grade story (in my non-literary-agent opinion). Ditto with the first 150. Enviable job here!

Anonymous said...

Hi,

Great first sentence to the novel! I like the whole excerpt. Some notes on the query:

I agree with Cat, 80K seems long for MG. I don't like "Cuckoo McQuakers." Can you just say "who's totally wacko"? The Atlantis concept is very intriguing. I'm not sure who's side McQuakers is on, though. Is this the conflict? McQuakers must choose between Lena, Zac, and his homeland?

Lauren said...

Excellent voice in this one. I actually like "Cuckoo McQuackers," although it did pull me out of the query for a moment. If you need to adjust it I'd just use McQuackers.

I know that query length is a big deal, bit I'd like a little more information about how she got to Atlantis--went with her brother? Stolen away by Mr. Cuckoo?

The conflict seems a little scattered (which is probably part of why your book is so long). It might be a little complex for MG. I'm guessing young YA.

A very good query. I'd be interested in reading the book.

Adriana Ryan said...

WOW. Just wow. I love the query, and I love the 150 words. I'm not sure what else to say. :) I do think the length could be a problem--maybe break it into a series of two books?

Jayme said...

Thanks for the feedback and kind words, Mia, Jen, Anonymous, Lauren, and Adriana. Didn’t realize Cuckoo McQuackers was going to turn into such a controversy! ;) In retrospect, I’m not sure why I capitalized those words. It probably led to a lot more confusion than “cuckoo mcquackers” would have.

@Anonymous, @Lauren – Perhaps I’m trying to be too mysterious with the conflict? Basically, PYRE and McQuackers (aka Feore) both want something Lena has. PYRE wants to misuse it. McQuackers supposedly wants to keep it safe but might have an agenda of his own. Lena needs to figure out who to trust. Fast.

@Anonymous – Would you agree with Lauren that this sounds more YA than MG? I chose MG because that’s how I’ve seen Percy Jackson and Alex and the Ironic Gentleman classified. Also, my “love story” is more of a “crush story,” which felt more MG.

Thanks again, guys. If you post a link to your entry, I’ll gladly offer my two cents. :)

Cat said...

I believe this works best: Throw in a pendant that unravels the mystery of her birth mother and it’s a dream come true – a dream that gets even better when she meets a cute boy from a rival school.

And although the Cuckoo reference is cute, I'd take it out of the query. It creates too much confusion for the reader (remember: agents have to skim and are looking for reasons not to read on). Maybe, you can use it on the back-cover for the blurb. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Hi Jayme,

From the pitch and excerpt it does sounds more MG than YA. How old are Lena and Feore?

I wasn’t clear on Feore’s part before, but you explained it MUCH better in your response here:
McQuackers supposedly wants to keep it safe but might have an agenda of his own. Lena needs to figure out who to trust. Fast.
You need to get that into the query.

Maybe something like:

Then Lena is targeted by PYRE, a militant group bent on expanding Atlantis to Earth’s surface.  Turns out, her mom’s pendant holds a secret a certain Mr. McQuackers would do nearly anything to protect – maybe even put her brother in a wheelchair. Does he want to keep it safe, or does he have an agenda of his own? Lena needs to figure out who to trust. Fast.

BTW, my entry is #7

Heidi Schulz said...

You have gotten some fantastic feedback and I don't have a lot new to say.
I will comment on the McQuackers controversy. Hee! I liked it, but the confusion for me came when you used it the second time (Mr. McQuackers).
Also, in the query - was her brother in a wheelchair, cured, and then threatened with being put back in the wheelchair? I wasn't clear.
Also - I hope this isn't nit-picky, but aren't Sadie Hawkins dances girl's choice? The way you word it makes it sound as though she is hoping to be asked.
I guess I did have a little to say after all. :)
All in all, great premise and well written first page.
Best of luck!

marcyblesy.com said...

The first sentence in the 150 words really grabs your attention. Well done. The McQuackers debate confuses me as well. :-) Best wishes.

theemptypen said...

By opening with the brother, you’ve sparked my curiosity about him…and then you move way from him until the very end. Because I want to know more about the brother and don’t get to, I don’t really want to hear about Lena.

By describing McQuakers as being descended from Atlantis, it sounds like Atlantis actually gave birth to him.

I like the second paragraph. That pulled me back in because it lead to something unexpected and different.

There are a lot of things going on: cute boy, long-lost mom, brother in a wheelchair, PYRE…I don’t know which is the main focus of the story.

What is at stake in this story? What happens in PYRE wins/loses? What happens if Lena wins/loses?

The character name Cockoo McQuakers is funny, I hope he’s a funny character :)

Cheryl Hettick said...

Hi Jayme - there's little I can add here that hasn't already been said by the above posts, but I'll give you my first impressions. Who is the MC? Is it Lina or her brother? That needs to be clearer. I like the hook "And it’s not just a city. Not anymore" but it did pull me out of the query because I had to stop and think about what was meant by that sentence. It may flow better if you said something like "But it's no longer limited within the confines of a city. Not anymore." In general, I think the first graph works but you start to lose me in the second graph. Although I understand who the MC is (I think) I don't understand her motivations (what she wants) what is keeping her from getting it and what will happen if she doesn't. Distill your plot down into five sentences and cut out the fluff and you'll have a stronger query. As far as your first 150 go, you need to remove most of the was and wasn'ts (I counted at least 5) and replace them with better, stronger verbs. Make it more active, less passive. I think you've got an awesome premise here but the query doesn't reflect it. Good luck!

Jayme said...

Thanks, Cat, Anonymous, Heidi, Marcy, theemptypen, and Cheryl! I am so humbled that you guys have taken the time to help me.

I’ve pasted a new version of my query in the comment below this one. In the response to the Cuckoo controversy, I’ve tried something a little different. I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts.

@Anonymous – Lena is 12 going on 13. Feore is an adult, definitely NOT the cute boy from a rival school. ;) I’ve incorporated a lot of feedback into the new version of my query (below). What do you think?

@Heidi – You’re right, Sadie Hawkins dances are girls’ choice. Out of context, I see how it might cause confusion in a query. I’ve reworded the sentence. Does it sound stronger now? Thanks. :)

@theemptypen – I’ve reworked the bit about Feore being “descended” from Atlantis, but I do feel establishing Lena’s brother is important as this is the inciting incident. Any thoughts on how I could establish it without leaving readers disappointed? Also, McQuakers is a quirky character, though his name is actually Feore. ;)

@Cheryl – I hope I’ve addressed your concerns in my new query. And I hope my feedback helped you. I saw your first 250 over at the first page contest and realized I was probably way off about Marisa’s uncle. And I didn’t realize Matt was her brother! :)

To everyone, I’d really appreciate it if you’d take a look at my new query below. I’ve gotten lots of comments about the conflict sounding scattered/unclear, so I’ve focused most heavily on the last paragraph.

And, as always, post a link to your work and I’ll gladly review yours too. :)

Jayme said...

**REVISED QUERY**

Lena’s sports-crazy brother faces life in a wheelchair, and his only chance at recovery is a dude who’s totally reality-challenged. Feore claims he’s from Atlantis, which seems about as likely as Lena going to Sadie Hawkins… until she sees the lost city with her own eyes.

And Atlantis isn’t just a city. Not anymore.

In the centuries since Plato, it’s spread under every continent, far beneath the reach of even the deepest drills. Here, gadgets spice up everything from gym class to the way Lena brushes her teeth. Throw in a pendant that unravels the mystery of her birth mother and it’s a dream come true – a dream that gets even better when she meets a cute boy from a rival school.

But Feore may not be as friendly as he appears. He may, in fact, be working with PYRE, a militant group bent on expanding Atlantis to Earth’s surface. All Lena knows for sure is he’s determined to protect – or use – the secret of her mom’s pendant. And, in the wrong hands, that secret threatens both the new life she loves and the one she left behind.

Donald Capone said...

Hi Jayme,

This is better, but still needs a little work. I made a couple tweaks in the opener:

Lena’s sports-crazy brother faces life in a wheelchair, and his only chance at recovery is Feore, a dude who’s totally reality-challenged. He claims he’s from Atlantis, which seems about as likely as Lena having a successful Sadie Hawkins (dance?)… until she sees the lost city with her own eyes.

“– a dream that gets even better when she meets a cute boy from a rival school.” A little confusing. Is she still in Atlantis? Is the boy there too? Did she go to Atlantis and come back?

FYI-I didn’t get that Feore is an adult. Maybe you should make that clear? Actually I don't know Lena's age from this query either. I still think you should end the query with this:

"Lena needs to figure out who to trust. Fast." Although come to think of it, who to trust means she has to decide between at least two people. Feore and who else?

I really like the plot of this book and the setting of Atlantis. Let me know if you revise the query again, I'll gladly read it!

Kay Kauffman said...

Jayme, I think your revised query is excellent! I love the Atlantis myth (and the Disney movie even sort of inspired my own tale) and I really want to read your book now. I'm intrigued.

As for your first 150, I love your first sentence. It grabs your attention and doesn't let go. I'm not sure I have anything else to add because everyone else has said it all already. Good luck with this!

Elaine Smith said...

I really enjoyed your extract and I could see how you were working to include a strong voice in your query.

I know it is rough and a little choppy but I hope you find my thoughts on your query useful. I tried to keep Lena at the forefront.

Lena has to find way to help her brother as his injury is permanently disabling. It’s a sad indictment of how awful the situation is that she considers taking advice …… from the man who talks nonsense. Feore claims he’s from Atlantis, which seems about as likely as Lena roping a hot date for the school dance
(should she be thinking about dances when her brother is recently wheel-chair-bound?)

A**** after a slide on the wild side ( I don’t know how she gets there;) Lean sees that Atlantis is real. In the centuries since Plato, it’s spread under the surface of every continent.

And Lena’s adventures are only beginning… there’s a pendant, the mystery of her birth mother, the cute boy from the rival school. There is also PYRE, a militant group bent on expanding Atlantis to Earth’s surface. And amongst the secrets of this strange world Lena find threat that endanger everyone she loves.

Melissa Jackson said...

You had me at "Cuckoo McQuackers"! I was totally sucked in all the way through :)

This sounds great! Good luck!

alexia said...

Nice job! This is unique and full of voice. No crit from me. Good luck!

Tamara said...

I'm casting another vote for Cuckoo McQuackers. I never took that as the characters name. I totally got it and thought it added a lot of MG voice to the query. I actually had a question nobody else does about this part:


In the centuries since Plato, Atlantis has spread under every continent, far beneath the reach of even the deepest drills. Here, gadgets spice up everything from gym class to the way Lena brushes her teeth. Throw in a pendant that unravels the mystery of her birth mother and a cute boy from a rival school, and it’s a dream come true.

That whole part makes it sound like Lena actually moved to Atlanta and is now living/going to school there. Although, it can't mean that because she meets a boy from a rival school and what would he be doing in Atlantis? I think it would make more sense to leave off the "Here" and put:

Gadgets from Atlantis spice up everything form gym class to the way Lena brushes her teeth.

I also totally get the connection between gadgets (from Atlantis)and the necklace (which I'm assuming is from Atlantis).

I have no idea how a cute boy from a rival school ties into anything. Is he a big part of the story? If so, I'd put more detail about how he plays into the plot-line, if not, I might leave him out to avoid the question of what he has to do with all of this.

I really liked the last part, especially the question about whether or not the guy put her brother in a wheelchair.

The only other thing I'd try to get into the query is some hint of Lena's age. Girls start liking boys early nowadays, so she could be anywhere from ten to maybe thirteen. Eighth grade? Her age has a big impact on how someone would perceive the character, so it seems like an important addition.

LOVED the first 150. Great voice and the idea of kids fixing up an old tree house in the woods is something literally any kid could relate to. Excellent job on that!!

I don't need help with my query (if I even look at it again, my head will explode haha) but I'm trying to pick a Title for my book. I have three up on my blog. If you could pop over again and tell me your choice I'd REALLY appreciate it!!

Thanks and good luck with this!

Tamara said...

P.S. LOVE your title, that's what made me click on this particular post. :)

Tara Tyler said...

awesome concept!
love to read about your atlantis gadgts & world, sounds fascinating!

i had to read query twice to understand about mcquackers and i'm still not sure. if you let out a little more about his connection, should be perfect!

Jambo said...

Hi Jayme
To start, love your query.
I think it is MG.
I like the McQuackers ref, but I think your updated query reads much better and doesnt confuse me.
80K may be considered pretty long for MG, but if your story stands up, I have heard it won't matter.

One thing I wonder is about your title. I wish there was something about Altantis,eg Atlantis Rising, or something like that so I get the idea from the get go. I know publishers change titles anyway but its just a suggestion.

Also, thank you for taking the time on my query number 8. You had some great ideas and I have tweaked it alot. If you feel like stopping by again, I am going to post a revision. Best of luck with your MS. Julie

Hong said...

Hi Jayme,

I'm commenting on your revised query.

At first I was unclear about "...which seems about as likely as Lena going to Sadie Hawkins" because I thought Sadie was a normal person.

After googling it, I understand that it's a dance. Maybe add "...Sadie Hawkins Dance" for those who are unfamiliar.

Tamara brought up some good points because I was unclear about gadgets and the MC's crush at school.

To clarify, mention "Gadgets from Atlantis" and I'd like to know if the MC's crush has a pivotal role or not.

I'll be glad to re-read your query. I love your 150 words :)

Jayme said...

Thanks so much, Donald, Kay, Elaine, Melissa, Alexia, Tamara, Tara, Julie, and Hong. WOW! I’m so overwhelmed by the support of the GUTGAA community. You guys rock! :)

@Donald – Yes, the boy is in Atlantis. Definitely need to clarify this. Thanks for all of your help. I’ll let you know when the new revision is up. :)

@Elaine – Thanks for giving me a fresh approach to my query. :)

@Tamara – Oh, dear. The idea IS that she moved to Atlantis (at least for a short time while her brother heals) and that the rival school is in Atlantis as well. Obviously, I need to make that clearer. I worried agents would think, “Great, another Harry Potter wannabe,” if I came right out and mentioned a school, but leaving them confused isn’t a great tactic either. Perhaps focusing more on what makes this particular story different and less on the boy is the way to go. And I’m glad you liked the title. I really struggled with it. :)

@Julie – Thanks for weighing in on the McQuackers controversy. It’s caused so much more division than I ever imagined. :)

@Hong – Honestly, the crush is more of a subplot. I highlighted it because I thought it might give the query another layer and because boys are such a big deal for 12-14 year olds, at least they were when I was in middle school. Unfortunately, it seems to be mostly causing confusion. Thinking I may drop it in my next revision.

Again, thanks so much everybody! I hope to have a new revision up soon. :)

Jayme said...

***REVISION 2***

Lena’s sports-crazy brother faces life in a wheelchair, and his only chance at recovery is Feore, a dude who’s totally reality-challenged. He claims to run a school in Atlantis, which seems about as likely as Lena roping a date to the Sadie Hawkins dance… until she sees the lost city with her own eyes.

And Atlantis isn’t just a city. Not anymore.

In the centuries since Plato, it’s spread under every continent, far beneath the reach of even the deepest drills. Here, gadgets spice up everything from gym class to the way Lena brushes her teeth. Throw in a pendant that unravels the mystery of her birth mother and it’s a dream come true.

But Feore may not be as well-intentioned as he appears. He may, in fact, be working with PYRE, a militant group bent on expanding Atlantis to Earth’s surface. All Lena knows is her mom’s pendant holds a secret he’d do nearly anything to protect – maybe even put her brother in a wheelchair. And, if he’d do that to lure her to Atlantis, she can’t help wondering how far he’d go to keep her there. Forever. (Is this last bit too corny? Conversely, might readers be asking why she’d ever leave? Answer: Her foster mother, who she loves, must remain on the surface because she isn’t Atlantean. Lena only plans to stay in Atlantis for one year while her brother heals.)

Alternatively: And, if he’d do that to lure her to Atlantis, she can’t help wondering how far he’d go to make sure she never leaves. (Does this sound more threatening? Or is it just a wordier way of saying the same thing?)

Thanks again, guys, for all of your feedback. My query is already better because of it. :)

Donald Capone said...

Hi again Jayme!

This is MUCH better. The first paragraph sounds great now.

The fourth paragraph raises a few other questions, though. I assume Lena would want to leave Atlantis to be with her brother again—or is he with her? Also you dropped this bomb: "Her foster mother, who she loves, must remain on the surface because she isn’t Atlantean." Does that mean that Lena IS?

One more thing that I just realized. You begin by saying her "brother faces life in a wheelchair." But later say "maybe even put her brother in a wheelchair." I assumed he already was in the wheelchair, from the beginning, and that Feore could get him OUT of it..

Otherwise this version is real close. I like the mystery of the pendant, and Lena's uncertainty over Feore's agenda.

priyakanaparti said...

Hi Jayme,
I absolutely love this revised version. I could already tell how it's improved.
Please see my comments below:

---which seems about (I would remove about) as likely as Lena roping a date to the Sadie Hawkins dance…until she sees the lost city with her own eyes.


---Here, gadgets spice up everything (replace everything to everyday life) from gym class to the way Lena brushes her teeth.

---All Lena knows is her mom’s pendant holds a secret he’d (Who is the He here? Her brother or is he supposed to be her?) do nearly anything to protect – maybe even put her brother in a wheelchair.

---And, if he’d do that to lure her to Atlantis, she can’t help wondering how far he’d (Once again, I was a bit confused with who the he here was) go to keep her there.


Alternatively: And, if he’d do that to lure her to Atlantis, she can’t help wondering how far he’d go to make sure she never leaves. (Does this sound more threatening? --- NOT AT ALL :)

Over all, I would like to read more about Atlantis. This story is quite intriguing! Something different.

Jayme said...

Thanks, Don and Priya!

@Don – Haha, didn’t mean to drop a bomb. Lena is half-Atlantean (on her mom’s side). That’s revealed very early, so I figured it didn’t require a spoiler alert. I didn’t bring that into the query because it already felt like I was trying to cram too much into it.
Thanks for pointing out that the wheelchair bit still isn’t clear. The idea is that a freak accident lands her brother in a wheelchair and as the story unfolds she begins to suspect that maybe it wasn’t an accident at all. Basically, she wonders if Feore used the accident to get her – and her pendant (which she had before but couldn’t use without another piece of Atlantean technology) – to Atlantis. So Zac was in a wheelchair, Feore promised to get him out of it (and delivered), but Lena wonders if he was responsible for the accident to begin with. Does that make sense?

@Priya – I agree that the second option wasn’t any more threatening. Thanks for all your other advice. :)

Also, if you’ve critiqued my query and I haven’t returned the favor, please let me know, either in the comments here or over on Twitter. To my knowledge, I’m caught up.

Donald Capone said...

Maybe you should say that Lena is half-Atlantean. It could add to the conflict, the whole torn-between-two-worlds dilemma.

Tamara said...

Hi Jayme,
I think it's definitely better, but I still have a question nobody else has brought up. (Which makes me wonder if I'm just being a dumb-ass) haha.

Anyway, I got from the first paragraph that Feore could help her brother, but that was the last mention of it. Until I read your comments, I had no idea that the brother was in Atlantis with her, or that they had to stay for a year while they healed.

Those seem like really important details to include in the query. It feels like, if we know there is a time limit to how long Lena is staying, we'll understand why she wants to go home at the end of that time without any need to spell it out. She's grown up on Earth, of course she's want to return there. So I was thinking maybe something like:

In the centuries since Plato, it’s spread under every continent, far beneath the reach of even the deepest drills. Here, gadgets spice up everything from gym class to the way Lena brushes her teeth. Throw in a pendant that unravels the mystery of her birth mother and it’s a dream come true. With her brother now out of the wheelchair, Lena's perfectly happy to stay in Atlantis for the year it will take him to finish healing.

Or something along those lines. I think adding something like that would make the query a lot clearer and really add to the impact of the last line about Feore trying to keep her there forever.

Jayme said...

@Don – How about I work it into the third paragraph? Something like: “Throw in a pendant that unravels the mystery of her birth mother, an Atlantean neuroscientist, and it’s a dream come true.” Thanks again for all your help. I wish I could return the favor, but your query started out top notch! :)

@Tamara – You’re not dumb at all! I’ve been trying really hard to focus on Lena, obviously at the expense of clarity. Also, I just realized I totally forgot to work in her age, 12. Doh! Thanks, again! Also, keep me posted on the Kiss-Off. I’m dying to know which was yours. :)

Lindsey Frydman said...

So I'm taking a stab at improving your already great query. I tried not to miss anything that was already said. :)


Lena’s sports-crazy brother faces life in a wheelchair, and his only chance at recovery is Feore,

(I think if you said something like "faces life in a wheelchair until Feore--a dude who's totally reality challenged--shows up claiming he can fix him." it would help clarify that he's in a wheelchair and Feore promises to fix it)

a dude who’s totally reality-challenged.

(I think a way to keep the voice but lose the confusion with the name, you could say he'd cuckoo or wacko. It sounds more like her voice than the words reality-challenged to me)

He claims to run a school in Atlantis, which seems about as likely as Lena roping a date to the Sadie Hawkins dance… until she sees the lost city with her own eyes.

And Atlantis isn’t just a city. Not anymore.

In the centuries since Plato, it’s spread under every continent, far beneath the reach of even the deepest drills. Here,

(Maybe here you could say something like "when Lena and her brother arrive" to make it more clear that they end up going there or "while in atlantis, Lena and her brother see gadgets...")

gadgets spice up everything from gym class to the way Lena brushes her teeth. Throw in a pendant that unravels the mystery of her birth mother and it’s a dream come true.

(I agree with your thought to add the line "With her brother now out of the wheelchair, Lena's perfectly happy to stay in Atlantis for the year it will take him to finish healing.")

But Feore may not be as well-intentioned as he appears. He may, in fact, be working with PYRE, a militant group bent on expanding Atlantis to Earth’s surface. All Lena knows is her mom’s pendant holds a secret he’d do nearly anything to protect – maybe even put her brother in a wheelchair. And, if he’d do that to lure her to Atlantis, she can’t help wondering

(if you change "can't help wondering" to "fearing" it provokes a greatest sense of urgency)

how far he’d go to keep her there. Forever.

Jayme said...

Thanks, Lindsey! :) My query feels sooooo long, but I think you're right that a few areas need clarification. Posting a new version now!

Jayme said...

***REVISION 3***

Lena’s brother faces life in a wheelchair until Feore offers to help. Unfortunately, the dude’s totally Cuckoo McQuackers. He claims he’s from Atlantis, which seems about as likely as Lena roping a date to Sadie Hawkins… until she sees the lost city with her own eyes.

And it’s not just a city. Not anymore.

In the centuries since Plato, Atlantis has spread under every continent, far beneath the reach of even the deepest drills. Here, gadgets spice up everything from gym class to the way Lena brushes her teeth. Throw in a pendant that unravels the mystery of her birth mother and she’s more than willing to fulfill her promise to Feore – a year at his school in exchange for her brother’s treatment.

But Feore may not be as well-intentioned as he seems. He may, in fact, be working with PYRE, a militant group bent on expanding Atlantis to Earth’s surface. All Lena knows is her mom’s pendant holds a secret Feore would do nearly anything to possess – maybe even arrange the accident that put her brother in a wheelchair to begin with. And, if he’d do that to lure her to Atlantis, how far might he go to keep her there? Forever.

Liana Brooks said...

Sorry I'm late! I've read all the versions and I like "reality-challenged" for Feore...

I'd reword like this:

" And, if he’d do that to lure her to Atlantis, how far might he go to keep her there forever? "

Just to lose the fragment. Otherwise, #3 looks good to go!
Good luck. - L

Donald Capone said...

Hi Jayme,

You lost dance after Sadie Hawkins. "...to the Sadie Hawkins dance" sounds better. And McQuackers is back!!

This version explains things much better. I still don't get that Feore is an adult, but maybe that doesn't matter anyway. Good luck with this!

Jayme said...

Thanks, Liana and Don!

@Don – Thank you! “Dance” definitely should have been in the Sadie Hawkins sentence. *kicks self* Same thing with establishing Feore as an adult. In the first paragraph it should say, “He claims he runs a school in Atlantis,” instead of what appears above.

As for Cuckoo McQuackers, the main confusion seemed to be coming from the second reference to it, which has since been removed. Some people loved it (especially my crit partner), some hated it, but at the end of the day I think it’s pretty true to Lena’s voice, so I left it. Now I just hope I don’t regret it…

Thank you again for all of your help.