Thursday, February 19, 2015


MG Fantasy
Just before 12-year-old Simon Hardt’s parents went missing, his father entrusted him with a necklace. Now the owner of the necklace –a librarian in the mysterious town of Drumwick – has gone missing too, and Simon is on trial, suspected of being involved.
Unable to convince Drumwick’s council he's innocent, straight-A Simon is placed under house arrest. Luckily, being trapped in a four-walled prison is no match for Simon's best friend, Abby – a nine-year-old interested in anything that lets her skip school. Free and with necklace in hand, they snake through the alleyways and secret passages of Drumwick, searching for clues to his parents' location. Instead, they encounter everything from crawling snickets to spotted honknuckles, but the mystery deepens when Simon discovers a hidden store-house belonging to the real kidnapper. The criminal is still nearby and desperate to find the necklace. Turns out the pendant is something much more than a piece of old, broken jewelry. 
Between conspiratorial conversations, dodging cops, and destroying an entire library, Simon is thrown into some serious detective work. There's a culprit to catch, and if Simon can’t clear his name before someone else goes missing, he might never see his family again.
First page:
Thirty-seven minutes ago, a bush winked. Granted, Simon never truly believed in monsters, but his eight-year-old sister Emily wouldn’t shut up about the creatures hiding in the forest. It was starting to get to him — he hadn’t slept for two days.
“Surprised to see you this far from the RV,” his father commented. 
“I needed a break.” Simon spun on the rotten bench. A tall man, Jim Hardt had more hair on the sides of his head than on top, and a permanent watch tan decorated his wrist. In one hand he carried two fishing poles, both twice Simon’s height, and in the other, a rusty tackle box. “Emily woke me up again last night with her creepy stories.”
“If I remember correctly, you went through a similar period.” He ruffled Simon’s overgrown hair. “You claimed something lived under your bed.”
“At least that’s normal,” Simon grumbled. A few Christmases ago, he unwrapped a book from Santa: Mystical Wonders of World’s Legends. Amazing pictures and exciting stories about creepy creatures from different areas of the world — also happened to give him nightmares for a month straight.
“Fishing might get your mind off Emily.” His father held up the poles. They were quite loved – and bent. “The nice old couple down the road let me borrow them.”
“Can I dig for the worms?”
The ground turned out rockier than expected, and worms a bit sparse, but Simon eventually found a handful. The stream, on the other-hand, was a pleasant surprise. 


  1. Whew so many good thoughts on this one. I also see some pitfalls to polish.
    Like the boy and girl take on the mystery of the missing family thing. (I still wrestle with the concept of if a seventh grader having a fourth grader as a best friend)
    I am a sleuth guy, the thrill of the chase is awesome, but if his parents are missing; would house arrest be the proper punishment? Who's there to stop him from leaving? Would Abby then be extra baggage?
    The counsel put him on trial? Did they find him guilty of involvement? How do they punish him if they cant prove he in fact did it?
    Very excited to know what a 'snicket' and 'honknuckle' is, and can everyone see them or is this tied to the necklace? Good questions that make me want to dig a little deeper.
    The line of the story seems to flow through your Pitch, but without the further explanation of the concepts; it leaves me a bit not sure how it falls together.
    I think the overall story is there. Would love to see how the dots connect. Good Luck in all you do! Great work!
    A fellow contestant and writing friend!

  2. You really hook me with the first line of your story!

    My only constructive criticism would be to tighten up the writing in the pitch just a little. There are some minor pronoun agreement/parallelism errors that if fixed would make it read more smoothly. Great job overall--I'd read it!

  3. I'll be honest, I'm confused by the first paragraph. If the father entrusted Simon with the necklace, and the owner of the necklace disappears, doesn't that mean Simon disappears? What I do like is the concept, once I decipher it. Any MG mystery that has two kids running across the city on a hunt is fun in my book.

    As far as the first 250 words go, despite the fact that I like your voice and think the first sentence is adorable, I doubt this is where the real story starts. I think it's a little further down the line.

    Best of luck,

    -Lyuda (#40)

  4. I like your pitch a lot. It's pretty straightforward and paints a picture of a little bit of a fantastic adventure. I also love the first sentence. I'd tone down the use of dashes rather than commas to help the flow, but I admit that's more personal preference than anything. I'd love to read it to see where it goes.

  5. I think this is a great concept, and one that middle graders would love. Snickets, honknuckles, and destroying an entire library?! I'm there.

    I do think, though, that the pitch needs tightening. All the information about being under house arrest sounds a wee bit synopsy-ish. I would jump from him being a suspect to him heading off to solve the mystery with his best friend. The final paragraph is golden!

    First 250: Nice opening line which shouts "quirky" to me. ("Quirky" is a good thing in my book.) "Thirty seven minutes ago..." tells me something about Simon. He's punctilious to the minute. However, all the suspense of the winking bush dribbles away through the extract. Simon doesn't give the winking bush a second thought, and I end up not entirely sure whether he is a worrywart ("...he hadn't slept for two days straight") or not ("Granted, Simon never truly believed in monsters...")

    If he's sleep deprived, give me more of that sleep deprived state! Have him see monsters everywhere--even in the fishing rods. (Trust me, if you're that tired, you're completely loopy.) Ratchet up the tension--as it is we are left with the stream being "a pleasant surprise." I'd love a glimpse of a man-eating trout (or even a crawling snicket!) to addle and scare poor exhausted Simon even further.

    Upshot: This is a great-sounding story that will surely shine after a bit of a polish.
    Best of luck!

  6. This sounds like a really exciting read! Your pitch indicates that this is fantasy but I don't see anything in the first 250 that seems like fantasy. It feels like a typical dad and son going fishing - not much happening. I would infuse some more action right from the start. Is there some creature in the bush that appeared to be winking? Can you expand on that? It sounds interesting but you don't mention it again, so I'm left thinking it was just a rabbit making the bush move. I'm having a bit of a trouble believing that anyone would think a 12 year old would be involved in the disappearance of an adult. You might expand on that in your pitch. Good luck with this! I see a lot of potential.

  7. I like the concept and think you've got a great voice in the first 250, but I agree with the comments above--some elements of the pitch are confusing and I'm not sure why we're talking about bad dreams and fishing when thirty seven minutes ago, the BUSH WINKED!!! OMG, I want to know more about that--forget the worms!

  8. Hi, I was confused with the necklace from the start. How does he know it's the librarian's necklace? Does the dad say so when he gives it to Simon? Is Drumwick a fantasy town? it seems like a real town, but then their council puts him in house arrest for people disappearing?

    I think if you went through and tightened things and then had a few beta readers who know nothing about your book look at it to see if they get it, it would be helpful.

    I also saw some room for tightening in the first 250. Would a 12yo really not sleep for two days? And like the folks above, would his BFF be in 4th grade? and then is says Emily is 8. Who is she? The part about the tent poles was a bit akward.

    Overall, I think this is a good premise, it just needs a little tightening. Good luck with your project! :) Lara, #25.


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