Thursday, February 19, 2015


41,000 words
MG Fantasy


Ellis Brown is a good kid with a big problem, a rivalry that drives him absolutely crazy. He wants to finally beat this rival, Alicia Swanson, at something—even the smallest of victories will do. He sets his sights on winning their youth theater ticket sales contest by selling to the residents of the Wonderland Gardens Retirement Community. His hopes are dashed when he finds Alicia beat him to the punch and sold her tickets to the residents.

But Alicia has problems of her own. The nursing home is haunted by a demon possessing the retirement community’s beloved owner and dance instructor. The fiendish spirit needs a new, younger body—and Alicia is the perfect candidate. When Ellis discovers his archenemy has been kidnapped by the evil spirit, he knows he must help rescue Alicia and lead the oddball elderly residents to save their home from the fiend and its raven minions.

First Page:

Ellis Brown could not believe what he just heard. The air seeped from his balloon of hope and instantly ruined his once-promising Saturday morning. “You mean a girl has already been here selling these tickets?”

Mr. and Mrs. McGregor, the Wonderland Gardens Retirement Center’s hosts, sat in the lobby’s red velvet armchairs smiling. Mr. McGregor returned the tickets that Ellis just tried to sell them and said, “Yes, she came about an hour ago. Still in the building, I believe.”

Mrs. McGregor beamed. “Such an angel, blonde hair, blue eyes, and beaming with joy.”

Yep, that’s Alicia. What a fake. Ellis forced a smile as the anxiety bubbled in the pit of his stomach. “And I suppose she sold you tickets to our show?”

“As a matter of fact, she did," Mr. McGregor said. “Such a sweet young lady. She did mention that a friend of hers, a boy, may stop by later, and here you are.”

Sweet? Maybe, if rattlesnake’s venom is sweet. “She does have a way,” Ellis said.

Ellis was good kid, but he had one big problem, Alicia Swanson. She had been a thorn in his side all throughout middle school. She beat him at everything and, to make matters worse, she had a habit of broadcasting it to everyone.

Ellis planned to beat Alicia by selling more Alice in Wonderland show tickets than her and was banking on the retirement home’s residents. Not anymore. He felt the satisfaction of his victory slip painfully through his fingers.


  1. The pitch is very strong and compelling. One suggestion though, I think you could change it to just say "He wants to finally beat Alicia Swanson at something" because we already know they have a rivalry.

    I like the opening but the last paragraph feels like back tracking a little bit. I wonder if maybe you reworded it just a bit like: He was banking on the retirement home's residents to beat Alicia by selling more Alice in Wonderland show tickets. Not any more....

  2. Call me a complete meanie, but if my lifelong nemesis had been kidnapped by an evil spirit and was therefore out of my hair, I'd be clicking my ruby slippers and breaking open the sparkling apple cider. (This is MG, after all.)

    In order to make it more realistic, I would consider writing "When Ellis discovers his archenemy has been kidnapped by the evil spirit, thereby putting the residents of the retirement center in peril, he knows he can't just sit by. Alicia may deserve being demonized, but his elderly friends don't deserve destruction."

    In the 250, there were a couple of tenses that read wrong to me. 1) Yep, that was Alicia. Such a fake." 2) Mr. McGregor would say "a boy might stop by later 3) "if a rattlesnake's venom was sweet."

    And I completely agree with Krista above about the last paragraph, and I like her rewriting of it.

    That said, I like the idea of these two competing--and I'm all about demons causing a stir in retirement homes. I'd certainly read on to see where this was headed. Good luck!
    Michael (#15)

  3. I agree with the above comments. Give us a little more insight into Ellis's character in the pitch by letting us know why he feels compelled to help Alicia. And the rewording of the last paragraph of the 250 is a good idea.

    I like the premise and you have some strong, solid writing on your first page. Good luck! (#38)

  4. Oh, how fun! The concept and the first page come off very strong. My only suggestion is not to use "rival" twice in the first paragraph.

    Best of luck,
    -Lyuda ( #40 )

  5. I just wanted to say I really enjoyed this. I like the Alicia and Wonderland references, it makes me excited for a play on Alice in Wonderland. And I love the kids with older folks premise, it sounds really fun and like there's a lot of richness there. Is it told from both kids' perspective? It sounded a little like that from the pitch, but I wasn't sure. Good luck with it!

  6. Good Morning Author,
    Commenting after Mike is like commenting after a word Guru... everything comes out like blah blah blah..
    I think I understand that he tries to save his enemy because if he doesn't, he will never get a chance to actually beat her, but that I think could be made clearer if that was where you were going.
    Also not sure why she would even mention that a boy would stop by? How did she know that his plan was to sell the tix at the Ret. Home? Not sure if that is relevant. The simple fact that she was there should be what is setting off the anger volcano.
    Besides what is already pointed out above... Like it.
    Good Luck!
    Fellow Contestant & Writing Friend #35

  7. Pitch:
    So interesting, but the end feels a bit rushed. I wonder if you could edit the first two sentences down so that you could include more of the trials he has to face? Just mentioning the ravens reads a bit weird to me. Seems like a really funny story!

    First Page:
    There are moments in here when I think I'm reading Ellis' thoughts rather than the narration. I'm not sure what formatting protocol is for this, but perhaps those thoughts could be in italics? Good luck!

    Domenic (#28)


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