Monday, September 17, 2012

Rd 1 Agent Pitch Contest #11 - TWENTY-FOUR HOUR BOY

Contemporary MG


Strange lights and bumps in the night. A woman beheaded next door. When ten-year old Hunter Harris reports these strange happenings to his parents, they consider a move back to the city, believing more family time could be the solution for Hunter’s frayed nerves. But Hunter knows, he’s telling the truth. Despite skipping ahead two grades in school, he’s a typical kid. Normal in every way. Oh, except for one little secret: he never sleeps.

With extra time on his hands, Hunter has built a secret lab over the garage, making low budget versions of high-tech gadgets. A move back to the cinderblock city apartment walls would mean the loss of his lab as well as his nighttime freedom. With a weekend to go before his dad makes a decision on the family’s future, Hunter sets out to prove he’s telling the truth.

TWENTY-FOUR HOUR BOY is a young MacGyver meets Rear Window with a twist, a contemporary middle grade novel complete at 36,500 words.

First 150 words:

The rest of the world is asleep.

I know some doctors and police and other people work at night, and they’re out there somewhere, but sitting on my bed, holding my flashlight, I feel like no one else is awake. This is my favorite time of day. Night.

I rule the night, as much as any ten-year old boy can without fangs or claws or any other cool creature-of-the-night superpowers As long as I’m quiet, I have the house to myself. Sometimes I watch TV, sometimes I play computer games, but either way I have to turn the volume down so low I can’t really enjoy the crashes and explosions.

When I need to be quiet, I read books and a bunch of stuff online. So far this year I’ve taught myself Klingon and Esperanto, so I’ll be ready in case earth is invaded by space aliens.


SugarMagnolia said...

Thanks for participating! My plan is to read through all the entries and then begin my comments and critiques. I will give out my top ten my votes when I'm finished.

Best of luck to you, and stay tuned!

Wendy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Katharina Gerlach said...

I think the comment above shoudl go with entry 1. This comment is for entry 11 (just in case my Internet is buggy again):

missing punctuation: ...superpowers(dot) As...

Your query is wonderful, and I'd read more of the sample.

Dr. Milestone said...

I like it, too. Just a thought, though: should he be a little bit older? Ten years old would put him around 5th grade at best, which might turn off 6th-8th graders (e.g. middle graders). Eleven or twelve might work better, and would be a little more believable that he could create a whole lab by himself. Cool concept though! Good luck!

Alleged Author said...

I kind of wondered if he should be a bit older as well. Cool concept though!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the feedback. My protag is skipped ahead two years in school, so if I made him twelve he'd be in high school and lose the middle grade angle. I don't know if that helps to clear up any confusion, but that's why he's only ten! He is in sixth grade.

SugarMagnolia said...

(Hi again! I plan to give out comments during this round, and then I'll give out my top ten votes as soon as I have critiqued everyone's queries.)

What a fun idea! My very first crush was on MacGyver, so you had me at hello there. ;)

My only concern is the fact that a beheading seems like a terribly, terribly gruesome thing for a kid to watch (even if it is maybe only Hunter's imagination). I kinda feel like Hunter's parents and the police should be WAY more concerned than this, and I think it should probably affect Hunter more, too.

If Hunter didn't actually see this happen, I think that should be made more clear in the query. Otherwise, it seems like everyone is avoiding the massive, decapitated head in the room. ;)

Tracy MacDonald said...

I like the query and the first 150 very much. Hunter's voice is very believable (mature for a 10 year old) so it might be worth adding a line for the reader to connect with the fact that he skipped two grades. The only other thing I'd say about that is that while kids who skip two grades are typically very smart, they are also typically very immature. Hunter sounds mature, responsible, and respectful, which may or may not be normal for a 10 year old. My 10 year old is a girl, so I can't even say first-hand.
Generally speaking though, I really like this and it sounds like a story my kids would enjoy and then use to suggest staying up all night. :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for everyone's feedback. I wasn't fast enough on the keyboard to get in the pitch polish, so this was very helpful! The "beheading" turns out to be a magic trick by the new neighbor (math teacher by day, Mr. Mystere by night...) and I wasn't sure if I should reveal that in the query, but obviously I should.
Good luck to everyone else!

Baby said...


Anonymous said...

Thank you, Baby! I know I have to wait and see if I make it to the final round, but you have officially made my day.

The Rooster said...

This concept and character sound great. I'd love to know a little about why he doesn't sleep. Which I guess I'd have to read the book, but I really want to know. LOL. Your 150 are great. I agree with others that say he sounds older but I get your explanation that he's skipped a grade. I LOVE that he learned Klingon. I'm a geek at heart. Again this is another case of if I had more votes. Keep going strong and GOOD LUCK!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Rooster! I wish you had more votes, too.