Monday, September 17, 2012

Rd 1 Agent Pitch Contest #9 - UNDER THE WILLOW

Under the Willow
Middle Grade Mystery
49,000 words

Query:

Twelve-year-old Merry McFarland helps her mom with catering gigs and swims in the local pool. That doesn’t leave much time for solving mysteries, but there is one mystery Merry has puzzled over her entire life--why her Uncle Frankie disappeared twenty-two years ago and why absolutely no one will ever talk about him.

While working with her mom one day, Merry overhears a hush-hush conversation which reveals some startling news: Uncle Frankie is returning to their tiny town of Harrington, North Dakota. Just where has he been all these years? Merry, along with her best friend Cooper, is bound and determined to find out.

As they secretly investigate, Merry and Cooper discover Merry’s uncle and Cooper’s dad are connected to some jewel thieves who’ve spent the past twenty-two years in prison. Now the thieves are about to be released, and they’re out for revenge. As well as their diamonds. Because Merry and Cooper know things they aren’t supposed to know, it’s up to them to stop the bad guys before the bad guys make Uncle Frankie disappear again. This time, for good.

First 150 words:

All my life I waited for someone to talk about my Uncle Frankie. But after twelve whole years of waiting, I gave up. Because no one ever did.

No one.

Ever.

It’s like it’s forbidden or something. So when I heard Cooper’s Aunt Eleanor say Uncle Frankie’s name, I about fell over. Good thing I didn’t though because I had a fruit tray balanced in each hand and the inside of my mom’s catering van would have been an awful mess.

As I steadied the trays, Catering Rule #1--know who you’re serving--kicked into high gear and my ears perked right up as my best friend’s aunt talked about my uncle. You see, I was serving Cooper’s Aunt Eleanor at an outdoor wedding reception. Unfortunately, I also know her. My dad likes to say, “Some people don’t know when to keep their trap shut,” and Cooper’s Aunt Eleanor is definitely one of those people.

9 comments:

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!

Cat said...

I'd shorten this sentence: "That doesn’t leave much time for solving mysteries, but there is one mystery Merry has puzzled over her entire life" to "That doesn’t leave much time for solving the one mystery Merry has puzzled over her entire life" to get rid of the repeated word. Other than that, great sample and great query.

Alleged Author said...

I love the section from "All my life..." to "Ever." It's smack dab full of voice.

Is there a way to have your MC try actually asking someone while she is catering so you can weave your backstory with dialogue?

Cool way of incorporating Catering Rules. Very inventive!

Dee said...

I like the voice in this and it sounds like a fun mystery. :)

The only thing is that I'd like to learn more about Merry. I feel like a lot of the query is more about her uncle.

Good luck!

Dee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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.)

It's easy to get a taste for Merry's voice in your first 150 words, and I can already tell she is a dynamic and spunky narrator.

I really like your query, too, although I would perhaps suggest some minor rephrasing. In particular, I had a little trouble with this sentence: "Merry, along with her best friend Cooper, is bound and determined to find out."

(A minor detail in an otherwise very promising query. Good job!)

Tracy Bermeo (A2Z Mommy) said...

I like the mystery aspect- it feels very Nancy Drew, and I loved Nancy Drew. I also love Merry's voice- it comes through very clearly. However, in the first 150 I got a little confused with aunts and uncles. There seemed to be a lot of characters introduced quickly, but I agree that a little dialog might help clear that up.
Good luck!

Brenda Drake said...

You know I love this one already form PM. I <3 a good mystery. Good luck!

The Rooster said...

Here is where I wish I had more votes. You were on my love list. Merry and Cooper sound like SO MUCH FUN. And your 150 are great. I don't have any suggestions except, keeping putting this out there. GOOD LUCK!!