Sunday, September 30, 2012

GUTGAA Pitch #7 SPECK HAWKINS

SPECK HAWKINS
UPPER MG FANTASY
70,000 WORDS


Dear GUTGAA,

Speck Hawkins, the quiet kid labeled worthless nerd by everyone who matters, is more than ready for a fresh start. He gets exactly that when he transfers to Lorincaut Academy, a prestigious boarding school with unusual teaching methods. Armed with a plan—speak up, ditch the nerdwear, and never eat alone—he expects to remake himself within the first month.

What he doesn't expect?

The creepy lake, where his good luck rock dissolves to ash before his eyes.

His sudden, inexplicable development of 20/20 vision.

The blood-red note with his name erratically scrawled on it, sent by someone who claims she can make his every wish come true.

That the life he's always wanted comes with a deadly price.

SPECK HAWKINS is an upper middle-grade fantasy novel with series potential. I live in Austin, Texas, where I spend my days reading, writing, drinking lattes, and eating entirely too much cheese and chocolate (not at the same time, though)(usually).

Sincerely,



FIRST 150 WORDS:
Speck Hawkins fumbled in the weeds for his thick, black-rimmed glasses. He slid the heavy frames up his nose, as he’d done every day for years, only to discover he no longer needed them. Blurred through the lenses, sunny yellow splotches appeared all over the lake, bright spots against dark water. He yanked the glasses from his face.

Without them, he saw with perfect clarity: marigolds. Ten flowers floated on the water; ten more bobbed up from below the silver-gray surface. They lingered there, floating like dead fish in a stagnant pond, until suddenly they began to deteriorate. The petals, the stems—one by one, they shriveled to ash and faded into the lake, until every last flower was gone. A chill turned his arm hairs to frayed wires. No birds chirped, no leaves rustled, no wind howled under the heavy gray clouds; there was only silence, thick and deafening.

14 comments:

  1. I love the last line of your query! It's such a strong ending that leaves me wondering what exactly Speck is up against.

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  2. Love the name of your character and I think this would really appeal to MG. Such a cute idea! Super hero kids that used to be nerds? Right up my alley!

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  3. The writing is clean and fun. The query is interesting, very Harry Potter-esque. Which is a good thing! Sounds fun!

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  4. I'm super intrigued by this — especially a school with a creepy lake! And I like that it starts out sort of contemp and light-hearted (a boy looking to be popular) and suddenly takes a darker turn. Plus, a boy MC is always a nice change. I would definitely read this!

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  5. You won me over to Speck's side with that first line. And I love the laundry list of things he didn't expect that just keeps getting more and more intense! I have so many questions about that lake and his new improved senses! I would read this. Probably over and over like I did Harry Potter. :)

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  6. I do love a spooky story and this one gives me goosebumps. My only nit pick is that first line. What is he doing in the weeds? You hooked me and I'd read on.

    You got my vote!

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  7. I'm leaving comments and then coming back with my votes.

    The first paragraph of your query does a nice job setting up the main character, Speck. (Interesting choice of name.) The last sentence of the first paragraph made me take notice. What comes next shows odd things are going on. But...for me, this query is missing the stakes. What does Speck need to do and what's keeping him from getting it? The query is very vague on an ultimate goal.

    Your First 150 really sets an atmosphere to the scene. I get a sense of character and a feeling that things are happening. I would rank the writing higher than the query.

    I have two suggestions for cuts. When you put 'only to discover he no longer needed them' about the glasses, you're telling us what right afterwards you then show us. It kind of ruins the surprise. Also, I thought 'until every last flower was gone' wasn't really needed as it was understood.

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  8. I love the tone of the query-->very intriguing! Just a super tiny knit pick: I'm assuming that the "wishes come true" statement coupled with the last line will refer to a strong "be careful what you wish for" vibe in the story, but I just wondered a little bit about what Speck's personal stakes would be? What are the choices he has to make? Is there any way to make that choice just a tad clearer without compromising the ominous quality?

    Overall though, the purpose of a query is to entice someone to read the work, and I think you've done that!

    Good luck!!

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  9. The query does a great job setting up the character. I already love Speck. I also love the world you’ve created. Such great visuals: creepy lake, ash, blood-red note. So cool. I find I’m wanting a little more though. What is his choice? Why can’t he just leave the creepy lake world? It’s scary that it comes with a deadly price but I need a little more than this.

    The opening lines are great. I would think about breaking the paragraphs up a bit, perhaps rewording slightly so you can give things more punch. Especially since this is Middle Grade. For example:

    Speck Hawkins fumbled in the weeds for his thick, black-rimmed glasses. The familiar frames in hand, he slid them up his nose as he’d done every day for years.

    And everything was blurry.

    Sunny yellow splotches appeared over the lake, bright spots against dark water. He yanked the glasses from his face.

    Without them, he saw with perfect clarity: marigolds. Ten flowers floated on the water; ten more bobbed up from below the silver-gray surface. They lingered there, floating like dead fish in a stagnant pond, until they began to deteriorate. The petals, the stems—one by one, they shriveled to ash and faded into the lake, until every last flower was gone.

    A chill turned Speck’s arm hairs to frayed wires. No birds chirped, no leaves rustled, no wind howled under the heavy gray clouds; there was only silence, thick and deafening.

    Just a suggestion of course. But I think it helps with the tension.

    Overall, I like this story concept, at least what I know of it. I’d like to have a little more revealed in the query, just so I know the stakes and why Speck is looking into death’s face. This is the reason why this entry didn’t get my vote. Give me a little more stakes and up the tension and you’ve got a winner with this one for sure.

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  10. I'm a bit torn by your query, but the comments above it seems like this format worked for people, and while I think it's original, it's all telling (which doesn't work for me).

    Your first paragraph starts by giving background on Speck, which sets up his voice nicely, but I'm a big fan of dumping us right into the inciting incident: Speck, used to be labled the nerd, discovers he has the potential to be so much more when he transfers to Lorincaut Academy, a prestigious boarding school with unusual teaching methods. When he discovers his so-much-more-potential means having..."

    It feels like you're trying too hard to hook your reader, when if your hook is strong enough, you won't have to (which I think it is). Show us what happens, don't give us one liners.

    Let me know if you want anything more in depth :)

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  11. Great job! I enjoyed the query very much and wanted to keep reading after your 150 words. The premise is original and compelling. I know I am not a "regular" judge for your group but you've got my vote! Good luck! :)

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  12. Congrats on your pass to the finals! I'm so happy for you and excited! Best of best wishes next week!

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  13. Thank you, everyone, for your feedback! And, Saphira + Kinderella—thanks for the votes! :D Talynn, thank you for hosting (and for inserting the "a" I accidentally left out in my query!) and for your best wishes! SO EXCITED! :D

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    Replies
    1. hehe! You are welcome! I'm glad you made it to the finals:)

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