Wednesday, February 19, 2014


Genre: YA contemporary 
Nate Turner was not typically the kind of kid prone to industrial espionage or the blowing up of private property.  But it wasn't every day he got chased by Shuck, the mythical Hound of Hell.  And the killer robots they sent after him did more destruction than he did, anyway.

It all started when he discovered something bizarre in his grandfather's extraordinary museum of an old house and pretty soon he was obsessed. It was a strange and mysterious globe, an other-worldly thing, and just maybe a whole world of trouble. Solving its mysteries might return his missing grandfather, and might even save the world--if he and his friends didn't die in the process.
Nate and the OmniScope, a Young Adult novel, is the first volume of a seven book series about his grandfather's artifact, The Secret Sphere.

First Sentence: 

"Nate shifted his position, trying to get comfortable in a seat that had been no good at all for sleeping, and had hundreds of miles earlier stopped being much good even for sitting."


  1. 1. You have the genre wrong. Contemporary means nothing paranormal, fantastical, Magic, at all. It means real world, today.

    Its also not a good thing to say its the first of seven. "Series potential" is the better way to say it because there are no gaurentees that even if this book is published that the others will get there. Saying you plan 7 books will makes agents wonder if you have realistic expectations. If you get the chance to talk more in depth with an agent, then tell them your plans and discuss it at that point. A 7 books series that has to be 7 books could scare them off.

  2. This feels more middle grade to me, especially since you don't mention Nate's age. Don't use quotes on your first sentence if it's not dialogue. I agree with first commenter about the series. Save it when you get "the call." And, yes, if it has magical elements in it, it's not contemporary. This does sound like it could be a great MG book though. Maybe think about aging your main character down. Good luck!

  3. I don't think there is anything wrong with saying your story has series potential but I would leave it at that as Stacey mentioned. I like the sound of being chased by hell hound. But as others have said this doesn't sound contemporary. Is this perhaps a mystery with a fantastical twist? I do like that there are high stakes as that sounds like there will be lots of actions. Good luck!

  4. I agree with everyone who's marked this as contemporary fantasy rather than straight contemporary. Ditto the above comments on a definite series versus a book with series potential.

    Otherwise, I mostly like it, with one key complaint: I think you should change your pitch to present tense. I'd also change "the blowing up of private property" to "blowing up private property," as the latter is more active.

  5. You have many good comments here. I will say that I felt this premise was better suited for middle grade. Do only mention that your story as series potential as stated above. Your story should be a standalone with series potential. The genre should be fantasy. Also, make sure to mention Nate's age in the query. What's this bizarre thing he finds? The Globe? You should also mention what the globe does. This part shouldn't be a mystery. How is this globe special. What does it do when Nate first encounters it. Does it reveal images of things to come? The agent will need to know this. The query is too vague to get a sense of the story. You don't have to give away all the details, but you should give the agent a clear idea what makes this story special.

    I think you could make the query less clunky by switching things around a bit. Something like this --> Industrial espionage and blowing up private property wasn't fourteen-year-old Nate Turner's thing.<-- This fourteen words instead of twenty. You can work this better in your voice, but just know sometimes you can rearrange things to read quicker and more immediate. Your opening sentence also reads clunky. Streamlining it would help it read better. --> Nate shifted, trying to get comfortable in a seat that wasn't great for sleeping and, a hundred miles earlier, had stopped being much good for sitting.<-- something like this, but better. This opening sentence isn't hooking enough. What happened before this? Could you bring in a different line to hook the reader? Say something like Nate's view of his situation.

    I am intrigued by the premise, and I hope my comments help. Good luck!

  6. I agree with all of the above. The first thing that kind of threw me off track though was the name Nate Turner. There is a very famous historical figure with a similar name--Nat Turner--he was a slave who led a rebellion in Virginia in 1800 something. Not sure if you meant to play off that name. Sounds like a fun series--good luck!

  7. At the heart of this pitch is a fascinating story, but I agree with a lot of the comments above. It's like a sculpture that needs a few more bits carved out of the way for us to see the fullness of the awesome underneath. :) Good luck!

  8. Adding one more voice in support of this being contemporary fantasy, not contemporary. Also, the voice in the query letter and first sentence sound more MG than YA to me.

    Regarding the pitch, I wish I knew more about the globe and what it actually does. That would help me understand this better, and thus be more interested in what's happening. I also personally feel like the pitch might work better if you wrote it in a more simple, streamlined fashion, starting with Nate finding the artifact and continuing from there, building to the mayhem instead of leading with that and then backtracking.

  9. Finding his missing grandfather and saving the world both sound intriguing!

    I agree with the great feedback you received. I love the thought of mentioning it has series potential vs. the first in a seven book series because I've heard you can scare away editors and agents if they think all the books are written. Any major revision you do to book one will ripple through all the books.

    You have a lot of great info here, but some streamlining would help. For example, the first two sentences in the second paragraph can be combined. Instead of saying something bizarre in the first sentence, you can weave in mysterious globe.

  10. What I Liked: I love the idea of the grandfather’s museum of a house.

    What I would like: For me, the elements just didn’t quiet fit together and I couldn’t get a sense of your story. I would restructure it and pick up the pace a bit. Brenda’s comments are great.

    Great Job!

  11. Thanks to all of you for your helpful comments. This is exactly the type of feedback I was hoping for.

  12. This is actually an earlier version of my query opening and one I am inclined now to go back to:

    Nate Turner is an unremarkable 12 year old boy who doesn't know why his parents are sending him to live with his grandfather in St Louis for the summer--but he knows he doesn't like it. When he arrives, his grandfather is mysteriously missing, and Nate has to stay with a doting housekeeper and a peculiar boarder who tends to blow things up. But in his grandfather's extraordinary museum of an old house, he discovers a mysterious globe that might provide the answer to everything—if he and his friends can safely uncover its secret. But the globe in his grandfather’s study is actually an entire other world, a world full of evil, and there are those in our world who want to let it out. To uncover the secrets of the globe and stop them, Nate and his friends steal a high tech piece of computer equipment, battle robots, and flee for their lives from Shuck, the mythical Hound from Hell.


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