Thursday, February 19, 2015


63,000 words
MG mystery/adventure


When Bones Malone pulls a half-delirious man from the Langille River, he stumbles onto a secret: his town is ground zero for a new technology that brings people's nightmares to life.
Langille was meant to be a fresh start for Bones, away from his father. All he wants is to take care of his mom and brothers, play baseball, and figure out how to stay out of trouble. But as he and his friends uncover a plot to turn Langille into a waking nightmare, Bones lands in his biggest fight yet. He's up against powerful people who use fear as a weapon on anyone in their way—including the town's nosy new reporter, Bones' mother.
Bones might be the bravest kid around, but he'll have to face the nightmare invention and confront his deepest fear if he wants to save his town—and his own struggling family.

First 250 words:

Clouds hung low above the town of Langille, gray as wet cement. Bones hoped the rain would hold off. He was pitching that night, if he could still throw. He flexed his sore knuckles. Stupid. He should have punched Tony Spezio with his left hand.

As if she could hear his thoughts, his mother walked faster. She was three steps ahead, locked in Too Angry For Words mode, each stride radiating fury. Bones and his brothers struggled to keep pace.

“Mom, come on,” he said.

Rachel marched on. She had not looked at him once since they left the Spezios’ house. “I said we’ll discuss it later.”

“I know I shouldn’t have punched Tony, but—”

She whirled. “Quentin Malone. The last thing I want to hear right now is an excuse.”

He hated his real name. She only used it in formal situations, like the first time they met with a lawyer. Or when she was really mad.

“He was picking on Rory, Mom,” Bones said. “I was trying to stop him.”

“It’s true,” added Bones’ seven-year-old brother, Dylan. “Tony called Rory a little sissy. He was trying to make him wear a dress.”

Rachel froze. “He was what?”

They looked at Rory, who stared at the sidewalk. Bones didn’t think his 10-year-old brother could bear to hear the story repeated.

He had tried to make peace. Honestly. He asked Tony politely to leave Rory alone. But Tony responded by calling the Malones a bunch of mama’s boys and said something crude about their mother.


  1. Hi there, I'm a fan of MG mystery and adventure. This sounds great! The only thing I'd think about revising is how many people you introduce in the first 250. Otherwise, this sounds like a fun story! Good luck!

  2. You've got a great pitch here! I love the opening paragraph but things got a little uneven voice wise for me after that. And I agree with the comment about too many characters in the opening. This sounds like a fun adventure/mystery though!

    Best of luck in pitch plus one!

  3. I really like your pitch. I think this is a particularly intriguing line "Langille was meant to be a fresh start for Bones, away from his father," but, to me, the following line sounds a little generic and takes from it.
    The first two paragraphs of the page set the scene up beautifully, Bones in trouble and Mom angry, powerful and in control. But once Bones speaks, it spoils it, because the way you've set it up, Bones should know better than to speak when Mom is in a mood like that...

    Premise, story and writing all sound good fun,

    Best of luck,

  4. Lots to like here. The pitch is good, very cleanly written, with no points of confusion.

    First 250: I agree that there are a bunch of characters here--and with the addition of calling Mom "Rachel," it was a struggle to take everything on board. Just call her Mom (or "his mom," if plain Mom sounds strange to you.)

    That said, I enjoyed the introduction to this feisty character, and the fact that he's standing up for a little brother (as well as for his mother's honor) makes me like him even more. I can see myself enjoying spending time with Quentin "Bones" Malone through 63,000 words--especially if he's doing all he can to thwart the nightmare invention. Great job, and good luck!

    Michael (#15)

  5. Wow, this sounds like a great read. You may want to include in your pitch exactly who is behind this new technology. "Powerful people" is vague. A crazy billionaire? A group of wizards? The government? Knowing would help ground readers a bit better in the story. I like the character of Bones immediately, and sympathize with him, so I'm ready to follow his story! Let's hope I'll find it in bookstores soon. Good luck.

  6. Good Afternoon Author,
    Ok it says mystery so I am intrigued already!
    Pitch: it says he stumbles onto a secret.. was he told the secret by the guy, or was it something on him that held the secret.. little vague there.
    Why are the bad guys (who are they again?) only turning his town into a nightmare? This would be a good military weapon.
    Like the nightmare machine... very Freddie Krugerish.
    Consider putting parenthesis around Too Angry for Words read it like it was a business than an emotion/mood.
    First time they met with a lawyer threw me off a bit.. maybe something that a teenage would do like introduction to the principal at his new school?
    Were they walking when he stared at the sidewalk.. it made me feel like they were no longer walking but standing. Maybe add 'stared as they hurried along.'
    Is someone talking in the last paragraph? It would work if this was part of the dialog. Having it narrated and using the word 'Honestly' threw me off a bit. I assume it was narrated because kids wouldn't say Malones describing something when they would say 'us' The paragraph needs a little more depth in dialog verses narration I want to know what he said about their mom! I'm fightin' mad too! lol
    Enjoyed the idea. Fan of technology that has gone awry.
    Fellow Contestant & Writing Friend.

  7. I think the first line of your pitch is a great logline, but you actually repeat most of the information from it in the rest of the pitch, so I wonder if you can trim a bit so that you have room to give us more concrete details about the missing father, the "powerful people" and his "deepest fear" to really make the pitch stand out...


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