Friday, February 27, 2015


42,000 words
MG Science Fiction Adventure
Twelve-year-old Xavier Howell has a knack for making things go awry on a colossal scale. Like when his beetle trap experiment turned into a minefield of dung bombs. Otherwise, he's just an ordinary kid on a normal outer-world colony . . . as far as he knows.
When a mysterious black spaceship shows up and almost fries the colony to a crisp; Xavier uncovers a holographic message left by his long dead mother. She confesses to hiding a microchip in his head containing her super-secret artificial intelligence research and warns him that "The Man" (evil head of the Cornucopia Conglomerate) will do anything to get his hands on it.

With a band of eclectic sidekicks that include a quirky professor and a robot with multiple personalities, Xavier must escape the mysterious black spaceship and solve his mother's riddles—all while using his non-dorky ninja moves to dodge giant, man-eating plants.

First Page:

I thought to myself: Self, that’s not supposed to happen—just as the second dung bomb exploded.

Watching the smelly, sticky, brownish-green substance fly through the air like shrapnel, I realized I'd made a slight miscalculation somewhere. Crouched in one of the wheat fields that surrounded the colony on Kevin 5, I took a moment to review the parameters of my little beetle catching science fair experiment.

Mr. Finch, the colony's bug guy, assured me the chemical I'd used in the traps would be poisonous to the black-bellied grain beetle. The heap of cow dung covering the trays of chemicals was meant to attract said beetles (again according to the illustrious Mr. Finch)—not blowup. Perhaps I should've consulted the colony chemist, too?

The third beetle-trap-turned-dung-bomb exploded.

That's when the smell first hit me. I tried very hard not to let any more air penetrate my nose or mouth. The endeavor was unsuccessful and so I gagged … repeatedly.

"Xavier Howell!"

I cringed. I didn't recognize the voice (the colony was not that small), but its tone was certainly familiar. My reputation had preceded me. Turning around slowly, I came face to knees with one of the grain farmers. I couldn't remember the man’s name, but I might've been distracted by the fact that he was covered—from head to toe—in dung.

It was difficult to talk without first inhaling the putrid air. "Yes, sir?"

"What in—" His angry reply was cut off by the fourth and final explosion. 


  1. Such a great opening for an MG adventure! Love seeing Xavier's mischief-making first hand. Great voice. And timing.
    Good luck!!
    #10 The Land of Joy and Sorrow

  2. Xavier sounds like a really fun character to follow! But I'm a bit confused by the pitch. How does Xavier get on the black ship? Is he kidnapped or taken prisoner? I think it would help to cover the gap between his colony getting fried and being stuck on the black ship. And does the black ship have any connection to the Cornucopia Corp? The ship can still be mysterious, but not too mysterious. Good luck!

  3. Really fun opening paragraphs for the first 250 words, introduces Xavier and his personality very nicely. For the pitch, I agree that a few more details about the black ship are necessary since it seems like the bulk of the story takes place there. Just some connective tissue in terms of how Xavier got there and maybe a hint of what else he faces in his quest to escape. Fun stuff here, good luck!

  4. I thought your original pitch was great, but your new one is even better. The changes to the second paragraph seem to relate the information with more "show" and less "tell."

  5. Hi Krista!

    Really enjoy the story!


    Just as fun as before! I second CS and BHilson'd comments about maybe adding some additional detail re: the ship.


    Shrapnel always brings up images of sharp things to me, so the comparison in describing the dung might be a tad off. Maybe it's just me, though.

    "Beetle catching"-- maybe a dash connecting them?

    Otherwise, really fun voice and enjoyed reading this. Best of luck in the contest and beyond! :-)



  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. I love the concept, like really love it! It's wild and manic and funny. Feels very MG--just perfect! Almost like a Hitchhiker's Guide for tweens :)

    I want the first line to live up to the great concept and the hilarity of the dung bombs. What do you think of: When the second dung bomb exploded, I thought, *Hmm, that’s not supposed to happen.*

    RE: "It was difficult to talk without first inhaling the putrid air."--Can you switch this to something that shows rather than tells? In general, I feel like the smell--which is mentioned maybe 3 times--should come off stronger. I want to really feel how putrid it is. Like nose-hair-burning, eye-watering, acid-in-your-throat putrid. :)

    I love the humor in this. And I can really *hear* Xavier's voice in this short 250 words. Nice job!

    Good luck!
    --Kamerhe (#22)

  8. Pitch: I like the changes. Based on he comments, I'm thinking you still need to clarify whether he's on the almost decimated colony or has been captured. I read this as he's on the colony, but obviously others are assuming he's on the spaceship. Overall, fun MG concept.

    250: I like Kamerhe's suggestion for your first line. Great voice, great humor. Good luck! (#7)

  9. Pitch: nice job on the edits. I'm still confused about the spaceship. Is the MC on the spaceship (already captured) or running from the spaceship, and whose spaceship is this? The last paragraph about the sidekicks is superfluous here, IMO. That info can be in the synopsis.

    +1: cute, funny, voice and scenario appropriate for MG. I question why the MC is clueless until the second bomb explodes. Logic says, the FIRST one exploding is enough of an indication that something is very wrong. I also recommend tinkering with the first line for maximum impact. Maybe something like: "My science experiment went wrong when the dung bomb exploded and sent smelly, sticky, brownish-green substance flying through the air like shrapnel."
    Quirky humor. Nice pacing. Tension on the first page. Well done.
    (#14 OSN)


Please leave your courteous and professional comments for the writer! We'd love to hear from you! : )