Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Writer's Voice Entry

I was one of the lucky 150 to be selected to try for a spot in the agent round of The Writer's Voice. Below is my entry.

Query:
Dear Awesome Coaches,
When an alien race known as the Adviera abducts thirteen-year-old Gary Jones, they give him the power of telekinesis. Unfortunately this cool new ability comes with a price. The aliens insist Gary complete dangerous retrieval missions for them, alongside other Earth kids with abilities.

The Adviera believes Gary could be the key to saving their race and are secretly grooming him to lead their war effort. Too bad Gary just wants to complete his service to the aliens quickly, so he can use his power to exact revenge on the school bully. But if Gary fails them, it’s not just the Adviera who will suffer—the fate of humanity could also be at risk.

Although Gary works closely with his alien trainer, Esther, so he can learn to control his ability, he’s unprepared for the missions and simulated battles the Adviera force him into. If the alien council would stop changing their ridiculous demands, Gary might have a chance to perfect his ability before they thrust him into a situation he may not be able to survive.

THE ADVIERA ABDUCTIONS, complete at 60,000 words, is an Upper Middle Grade Science Fiction novel with series potential that blends Sky High and Ender’s Game, with butt-kicking aliens. I am a member of SCBWI and the St. Louis Writer’s Guild.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
Jamie Krakover

First 250: 
No matter how far Gary ventured from home, he couldn’t escape his mother’s radar. She had scolded him countless times because he went looking for trouble. Gary, however, thought it was the opposite—trouble always found him. Although, exactly how he might step into some kind of mess while walking the dog, he had no clue.

Gary ran his hand through his shaggy, brown hair and risked a glance back at the living room window. His mother’s gaze pierced him just long enough to send a shudder rippling through his spine before she turned from the window and disappeared. She looks like an angry gargoyle.

He grabbed for his earbuds and shoved them into his ears. Bobbing his head to the thundering drums and crashing guitars, he stepped in synch with the music. Buster, his Golden Retriever, had other ideas and dragged Gary down the street as if on a mission. The dog stopped at a dimly lit street lamp near the end of the block, barked, and pulled hard on the leash. In an effort to hold him back, Gary grabbed Buster’s collar with his free hand.

“What is it, boy? What are you barking at?”

Gary looked around the darkening street. Despite the parked cars, no one was outside. Following Buster’s gaze, he found the cause of the disturbance—white lights floating across the sky.

“It’s just a plane. Come on.” He tried to yank the dog back toward the house. Buster planted his butt on the ground and whined.

70 comments:

  1. Oh I love this! I've entered a MG alien/superpower too. Good luck to us both!

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    1. Thank you so much! I'll have to check out your entry! You've intrigued me :) YAY for MG and aliens and superpowers!

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  2. Sounds exciting! Good luck in the contest :)

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  3. I love that first line! What a wonderful way to set the tone! :D

    Good luck!

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  4. I loved the query. Very well-laid-out story arc. Good luck in the contest!

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  5. The premise of this sounds amazing! And I LOVE Ender's Game so you have hooked me for sure. Best of luck with this!

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    1. Thanks so much! I too love Ender's Game! It's one of my absolute favorites :)

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  6. What can I say, I've been a fan of this story since I first read the query and 250 at CLCBSD! Telekentic powers, alien lifeforms, and potential intergalactic war? Sold.

    Good luck! I'll be rooting for you. Can't wait to read the entire story in the near future!

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    1. Thank you! I'm rooting for you too! MG FTW!

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  7. Looks great! Very unique take on alien abductions. I would definitely keep reading after that first page - really good tension! Good luck in the contest!

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    1. Thank you. That's so sweet of you to say! Thanks for commenting :)

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  8. Looks like fun! Glad to see you've got a male protagonist. It seems like there's so little of that out there. Good luck!

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    1. Thank you! Yes a male protagonist was a bit of a challenge but he screamed loud enough and made it onto the page! Gary took me on quite the adventure and I hope others get to share in his adventure :)

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  9. Such a great query! I love the premise here. It reminds me a bit of "My Teacher is an Alien" which I adored as a kid. Good luck!

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    1. Thank you! I'm not familiar with "My Teacher is an Alien" but I will have to look that one up. :)

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  10. Love the concept! I would surely pick this book up.
    Good luck!

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  11. Sounds Amazing! Especially liked this hook from the query, 'just wants to complete his service to the aliens quickly, so he can use his power to exact revenge on the school bully.' YES! go get 'em tiger! and good luck to you, Jamie.

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    1. Thank you for your comment. I agree that's one of my favorite parts too. If I had had a superpower in junior high I would have used it on the school bully too ;)

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  12. Great job with the query! I got a sense of the MC's voice and also the stakes. Good luck!

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  13. *Waving from the contest list* Ender's Game is one of my faves. I'm already feeling the pressure Gary is in for. Best of luck in Writer's Voice.

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    1. I too love Ender's Game. Definitely a favorite. Yes, poor Gary is under a lot of pressure. Thanks for stopping by and commenting :)

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  14. Wow, I love how polished your writing is!!! GORGEOUS! Also, upper MG with male POV? Yes please!

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    1. Wow, thank you so much! I'm so flattered.

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  15. Ohhh! You jump right into the heart of the story with your first 250. Awesome!

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  16. Telekinesis at 13 . . . life doesn't get better than that!

    #77

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  17. Good explanation of the story arc. I took notes.:) Best of luck!

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  18. My comment disappeared! I hate when that happens:( I'll never remember all the wit and wisdom I wrote, so suffice it to say: I love it and good luck!

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    1. aww... I'm so sad my blog ate your comment :( I wish I could have seen it. But thanks for leaving another one. I appreciate it. :)

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  19. My current WIP is an alien book, so I have a special place in my heart for them:) I, too, love the bully line in the query. In fact, could you open with that? It's just so good.

    Vivid beginning in your 250.

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    1. Thank you! Aliens are definitely a lot of fun!

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  20. Mine is a YA SF/Spec Fic. #61. I also write MG so I like MG too. Good luck!

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  21. What a great start! Good luck in the contest!

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  22. Go sci fi!!!

    This sounds awesome! Good luck! :)

    I swear I sometimes use punctuation other than exclamation points!!

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    1. Thanks! Yay SciFi! (and exclamation points are awesome! ;) )

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  23. Great query laying out the arc and stakes + excellent characterization & setup in the opening = WIN! G'luck.

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  24. This sounds like fun! I love that alien books seem to be on the rise...

    Good luck!

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    1. Thanks! I'm excited about all the alien books as well. :)

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  25. I died laughing at "angry gargoyle." Oh, man. Love your humor & your voice! The premise rocks, and your 250 is NICE. Luck to you, and fingers crossed!

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    1. Aww thank you so much! I'm glad you liked it :)

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  26. Wow, really good. Would love to read more. Go MG!

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    1. aww thank you so much! Hopefully one day you will get to :)

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  27. Hi. I really sympathized with and was on the side of your
    likeable, hapless main character. Just a quick question from your
    query. Last sentence 2nd paragraph of your query On the wording. If your main character pleases the Adviera, he will be successfully fighting mankind. If he fails the aliens --doesn't
    fight well--how will the fate of mankindstill be at risk? Good luck in the contest
    Caroline

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    1. YAY! I'm glad you connected with my MC. Gary is actually fighting with the aliens to save them and humanity. So if he fails them he fails humanity too. Thanks for stopping by and commenting :)

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  28. I think you have a strong query. It gets the message across and reveals enough to create interest. But there are one or two things that might need some small changes.

    "Too bad Gary just wants to complete his service to the aliens quickly, so he can use his power to exact revenge on the school bully." - I think this make it seem like there isn't much at stake? He was kidnapped, after all, and he does need to make some dangerous missions. It sounds like "let's just get this over with quickly so I can go back to my life." And I know that's what Gary wants to do, but there are other more important things hanging in the balance, no?

    "...the fate of humanity could also be at risk." - How? You don't need to explain it all, of course, it would lose its mystique. Just a clue about why. You speak about "war effort", so I suppose it has something to do with that. On the previous comment you that if he fails them he fails humanity too, but in what sense?


    As for the 250 words, I don't have much to say. I love the voice, you jump right into action and the mystery is already there. Something is off, but what? You leave people wondering with just the right amount of mystery.

    And that's it! I really liked this entry, it's a shame you weren't chosen! But better luck next time, I'm sure ;)

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    1. Thanks Diana, you made some great suggestions on my query, and have given me some good stuff to think about :)

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  29. I love that they first 250 words build suspense and leave us at a good cliffhanger. Thanks!

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  30. Hi Jamie :o)

    I don’t have much experience with MG stuff (I haven't read either of the books you reference), so bear that in mind for my crit.

    I liked your first 250 words, and I particularly liked the line ‘Although, exactly how he might step into some kind of mess while walking the dog, he had no clue.’ (Yes, my mind went *there*, so I hope that was your intention, lol.) ‘Following Buster’s gaze, he found the cause of the disturbance—white lights floating across the sky’ might be a bit filter-y, so perhaps you might want to cut the first part of the sentence?

    With regards to the query, it raises questions as I read along, so perhaps they may have given pause for other people too (I’m sure they get answered in your ms, but don’t come across so well in the query). Why do the Adviera believe Gary is the key to saving their race? They’ve given him his power, so wouldn’t any random kid have the potential to be the key? Why would they choose a 13-yr-old to lead their war effort? (Wouldn’t they have more experienced Earthlings to choose from and abduct instead?)

    I assume the Adviera take Gary away from Earth altogether? Is he thrilled about this? Scared? Homesick? In the first paragraph, I feel quite distant from Gary because things are being done *to* him and you’re not giving us a sense of his reactions until the middle of the second paragraph. Also, he’s still sounding a little passive in the third paragraph, too (I know he’s working with the trainer, but, as a captive, I guess he doesn’t have much option about that, does he?), so you might want to shake the query up a little and empower him more so he sounds more active.

    I hope that helps (take what you need and ignore the rest!) :o)

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    1. thanks! You've given me some more to think about in my query. I'm working on some changes now to bring in some more of gary's struggles so hopefully that helps. I found your comments about the third paragraph interesting as a lot of the book is him being put "through the ringer" and ultimately how he reacts to that. He does go with the flow for a while cause it seems cool to him to learn how to control his ability so I'll have to think about how to make it a bit more active.
      Thanks again for your comments :)

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  31. Jamie: Thank you thank you for the great feedback. I have written so many versions of my query, my head is spinning but the crits I am getting now are really helping. Here are some suggestions for yours. I really think you can get an agent and sell this!

    This is a great concept and I love that this kid’s name is Gary. That juxtaposition of the ordinary with the crazy aliens makes it very appealing. I think your story has all of the elements it needs to draw kids in and keep them reading but maybe the query needs to highlight those elements differently. My nine-year-old daughter just said she likes the idea of humanity being at risk. That stuck out for her so maybe you could pump that up. Give us a sense of the real danger and terror there. I also would like a better sense of who Gary is. Can we hear his voice a bit more in the query? I love this line: “If the alien council would stop changing their ridiculous demands, Gary might have a chance to perfect his ability before they thrust him into a situation he may not be able to survive.” That phrase “ridiculous demands” is in Gary’s voice and tells us a lot. You might make the second half of the sentence even more to the point with something like: “before he gets killed.” That sounds more like a kid voice to me. Also, I can’t quite tell how funny and light the story is. I have not read the comps so maybe that would clue me in. I want to hear more of the tone of the book in the query. Is Gary scared? angry? chagrined? What kind of kid is he? Our only clue is that he wants to use his powers against the school bully—that tells me he is an underdog and needs some alien skills to help him overcome his problems, which is awesome. I’d also really like to know how scary and weird the aliens are. Are they really evil? Are they monsters or more like humans? The name Esther makes me think they are more like humans. Also, is Gary really glad to get these powers? And does his family notice he’s gone? I know you can’t include all of the details, so I guess the three things I want to know more about are:

    1. What is Gary like and how will being abducted help or hurt him? What about him makes him the key for the aliens?
    2. What are the aliens like and do they mean us harm? Are they really butt-kicking and how?
    3. How might humanity be at risk?

    And if you can include more of Gary’s outlook and tone that might help. Maybe try writing the query in his voice as an exercise and then switch it to third person. I think so many kids will love the idea of getting some cool alien powers that can help them at school against whoever is making their lives horrible. And it sounds like Gary has a challenge to work with the aliens to perfect those powers so he kind of has to prove himself there. I don’t think you need to use the name of the aliens and in some ways, it might be off-putting. I’d leave that out. I’ll be happy to look at your next revisions. Hope this is somewhat helpful! --Heather

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    1. Thank you so much for all your comments. You've hit on some similar themes that some of the other people have mentioned as well. It looks like my query needs a little work. I'm making some changes now that should help better explain gary's character and what he's struggling with. I'll see if I can focus on some of your questions. I don't think I can answer them all without blowing the entire book, and I think some of the questions you are asking are things that would make the reader want to read the book but I'll definitely try and add more detail. Thanks again for your feedback :)

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    2. I also love the feedback from your daughter! That's very valuable information. I appreciate you including that and love that she liked the concept. Tell her I say thank you :)

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  32. Looks like there isn't much left to cover--see comments above.

    The only thing that really pulled me out was when he put his hand in his shaggy brown hair RIGHT after you mention walking the dog and I stopped to wonder "did you mean Gary's hair or the dog's? Just a note that this might distract dog-obsessed people like me.

    Otherwise, the 250 was great and any query concerns were already addressed by others.

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    1. Thanks for you comments. Yeah I worried about the hair line, but I meant Gary's hair. A little further down past the 250 Gary pats the dog's fur so I think that sets it apart. It's hard just reading the first 250 you don't have much time to setup the character or traits so I tried to throw in something without taking too much time. But ill look into maybe rephrasing it.

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  33. Good luck and thanks for arranging this!

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    1. thanks and you're welcome. It was my pleasure :)

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  34. I am SO late to the party and really apologize for the lateness of my arrival (and so glad I don't have to live the last two weeks over again). Thank you so much for your advice on my query. It helps so much!

    Gary is so vivid to me, be-bopping down the street with his ear buds. Most of what I would suggest is above, such as giving more info in the query on Gary's reactions and feelings) and I'd especially like to know why the alien race chose him (and whether he thinks it's cool or resents it). It sounds as if he's won over to their cause if he's working with his trainer and wants to get a handle on his skill, but there's also hints that he's hostage to threats. Mostly, I want to know why the aliens chose Gary...was he just an easy target or do they know something Gary has yet to find out? Most of all, what are the personal stakes for Gary himself?

    I still think the voice is strong and engaging and I hope a lucky agent snaps you up quick!

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    1. thank you so much for your comments. I appreciate your feedback. I'm so glad you found my comments useful :)

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