Monday, September 17, 2012

Rd 1 Agent Pitch Contest #8 - HOW TO BE A DETECTIVE IN 10 EASY STEPS

How to be a Detective in 10 Easy Steps
Middle Grade Mystery
24,000 words


In this contemporary middle grade mystery Celia Narro, a Fancy-Nancy-meets-Nancy-Drew heroine, must put her knowledge of fashion and fabrics to work as she unravels the secrets of communicating with a boy and making new friends while discovering the different forms treasure can take. When Celia, a 10-year-old Hispanic fashionista-entrepreneur, reluctantly moves to a small lakeshore town upstate, she’s worlds away from her best friend Indira Prashad and their glamorous life on New York City’s Upper West Side. Fighting culture shock, she finds refuge in a secret room hidden behind her new bedroom closet that is both a legacy from the Underground Railroad and a key to a long-lost local treasure. Celia views this treasure as her one-way ticket straight back to New York City, but the search pulls her into a battle with jealous fellow 5th grader Jane Archer and Jane’s strange uncle Theo Rathbone, a member of a secret society who makes no attempt to hide his dislike for “illegal aliens”.

With the help of 10-year-old junior archaeologist and part-time Renaissance knight Joe Eli, Celia nearly has the treasure in her grasp when Joe, her only new friend, disappears. To find him Celia must choose between the treasure and Joe by reaching out to her nemesis Jane. This story is set in the form of a how-to book for beginning detectives with an ethnically diverse cast of characters, strong heroine and historic elements.

First 150:

“Seriously, a FARM and a restaurant,” Celia said. “Can you even?” She stopped in the middle of the sidewalk and put her hands on her hips.

“Now do I look like a farmer?” she asked.

Indira Prashad put on her Fake Serious Face as she looked at her best friend, a Hispanic mirror of her own image. From Celia’s glossy black razor-cut hair to her manicured nails down to the soles of her designer sandals they were both city girls through and through, and had been ever since they met on the first day of kindergarten.

“Noooo. . .,” Indira said, dissolving into the giggly laugh Celia liked so well.

“And does this look like a farm dog?” Celia asked, pointing at Coco. This time they both laughed because there was no way to even picture the handful of cotton candy fluff anywhere other than the upholstered streets of the Upper West Side.


Katharina Gerlach said...

The first sentence is very long and convoluted. Also, it says a lot of the same things as the next sentences, and they do it better, with specifics. I'd delete it and start the query with "When Celia..."

Katharina Gerlach said...

P.S.: 24K is rather short for MG. It's closer to the range of Chapter books but the sample reads somewhat older. Just a thought, might not be a problem at all.

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!

Anonymous said...

From the query, it sounds like you have a lot of action in the story--a great thing for MG readers.
I was a bit confused by the 150 words. I expected the best friends to be upset about being separated, but they seem happy. That said, I love their voices!

Alleged Author said...

I do love the multi-cultural aspects of this novel. That said, I think the query is quite long and you lost me after the first two sentences. This does have some great voice though! :)

I Write for Apples said...

I love the description of Facy Nancy meets Nancy Drew. Great way to show us her character!

It's a fun concept and I'd want to read more.

I'd also check into the word count though. I thought MG usually starts around 30,000.

I Write for Apples said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
I Write for Apples said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gailecn said...

I thought I'd love this from reading the query before & I do! These girls are fun! Love the multicultural aspect, too.

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.)

Your voice really shines in your first 150 words, and this sounds like a wonderful story. I'm just not 100% sure your current query does your excellent opening justice.

You give us a lot of information at the beginning of the query, but I think I would rather hear Celia's voice come through more. Could you lead with your pitch and then come back to your character comparisons and genre at the end?

Great job, overall. I wish I didn't have to stop at the end of the 150 words!

The Rooster said...

Your story sounds fun and I always love a good adventure. Your MC sounds spunky and fun. Although the query makes her sound a little older than 10. I'm not sure you need the first bit. I'd start With "When Celia."

In your first 150 I'd identify who "she" is in the second paragraph. And in the 150 Celia sounds older than 10 with her description of her friend.

Over all I think you have a great story and I wish you luck in the future!

Heather said...

Hi everyone,

Thank you for stopping by to leave feedback. I am focusing on lower middle grade, hence the lower word count. In light of the comments above, I'll go to work on the query again.

Thank you!