MG Mystery Query

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ddegreeff
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MG Mystery Query

Post by ddegreeff » June 11th, 2010, 10:07 pm

Here it is, for the bazillionth time, any help is welcome:

Dear Ms. Agentpants:

If not for the handicap of being only twelve years old, Brock Rockster would be the man’s man to end all men’s men. Brock is daring. He’s quick-witted. He’s adored by the media. He’s a prodigious world champion mustache grower. And until this afternoon, when he falsely accused a popular politician of burglary and failed to successfully solve a case for the first time in his career, he had been the world’s greatest child investigator to the rich and famous. Now his only chance of career redemption lies in solving the most difficult mystery he’s ever encountered.

Brock is called to the home of celebrity socialite Madame Poogery, whose cat/best friend, Ms. Poofytail, has been catnapped in the dead of night. Brock arrives as soon as possible, hoping to solve an easy case before his earlier failure can make the evening news. But he finds himself in more trouble than he bargained for, and learns he must also fend off Jonny Dapper, his most devious rival, and brainstorm a way to keep Lydia, a school newspaper reporter documenting his investigation, from solving the case before he can.

As Brock works closer to the mystery’s solution, the list of suspects grows: was Ms. Poofytail kidnapped by her poet monkey boyfriend? The butler clad in a clown suit? The stalker leaving threatening messages in the mailbox? Or did she simply become a victim of the infamous mansion’s many booby traps? Brock only has two hours to find out, or his reputation may not be the only thing buried six feet underground come morning. GONE, KITTY, GONE: A BROCK ROCKSTER MYSTERY is a middle-grade comedy complete at 39,000 words, and is best enjoyed by readers who live for intrigue, trap doors, boogery sneezes, redemption, and of course, being the absolute best.

My publishing credits include the TOMMY BOMANI: TEEN WARRIOR series from Magic Wagon, which is the MG arm of the ABDO Publishing Company, and short pieces published in Skive Magazine and on YankeePotRoast.com. I am also a member of SCBWI. Reason for picking this agent. Please email me if you’d like to request a full manuscript.
Davy DeGreeff
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Quill
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Re: MG Mystery Query

Post by Quill » June 12th, 2010, 10:42 am

ddegreeff wrote:
If not for the handicap of being only twelve years old, Brock Rockster would be the man’s man to end all men’s men. Brock is daring. He’s quick-witted. He’s adored by the media. He’s a prodigious world champion mustache grower.
Omit "prodigious", as it is redundant to world champion and weakens it. That's allowing for the impression that, the other hyperbole aside, this claim seems patently impossible.
And until this afternoon, when he falsely accused a popular politician of burglary and failed to successfully solve a case
Omit "successfully" as it is redundant to solve (which implies said success)(there is no such thing as unsuccessful solving)
for the first time in his career, he had been the world’s greatest child investigator to the rich and famous. Now his only chance of career redemption lies in solving the most difficult mystery he’s ever encountered.

Brock is called to the home of celebrity socialite Madame Poogery, whose cat/best friend, Ms. Poofytail,
It's a little strange to have the lady's and cat's name so similar. This is often advised against. Aside, it takes a little thunder away from your funny booger line below, too, with the double 'o' thing.
has been catnapped in the dead of night. Brock arrives as soon as possible, hoping to solve an easy case before his earlier failure can make the evening news.
Omit "as soon as possible" as it is doing very little work.
But he finds himself in more trouble than he bargained for,
Understand what you are saying, but the cliche "more than he bargained for" doesn't seem to fit, as I don't see how our hero has bargained for anything.
and learns he must also fend off Jonny Dapper, his most devious rival,
Understand what you are saying here, too, but not sure "devious" is the best word to describe a rival detective. Seems more a word for villainous behavior.
and brainstorm a way to keep Lydia, a school newspaper reporter documenting his investigation, from solving the case before he can.

As Brock works closer to the mystery’s solution,
How about "begins to crack the case." "Works closer to the solution" seems a little awkward.
the list of suspects grows:
Actually, not sure this and the last clause are even needed. Why not go directly to the below:
was Ms. Poofytail kidnapped by her poet monkey boyfriend? The butler clad in a clown suit? The stalker leaving threatening messages in the mailbox? Or did she simply become a victim of the infamous mansion’s many booby traps?
I like this part.
Brock only has two hours to find out, or his reputation may not be the only thing buried six feet underground come morning.
Maybe omit "come morning" as it seems to be a tense change, or conflicts with the two hours (two separate references to time in the same sentence reads awkward to me).
GONE, KITTY, GONE: A BROCK ROCKSTER MYSTERY is a middle-grade comedy complete at 39,000 words, and is best enjoyed by readers who live for intrigue, trap doors, boogery sneezes, redemption, and of course, being the absolute best.
I like it, but wonder if "redemption" is needed, requiring thinking back for what it means, and being more serious and less visual than the others.
My publishing credits include the TOMMY BOMANI: TEEN WARRIOR series from Magic Wagon, which is the MG arm of the ABDO Publishing Company, and short pieces published in Skive Magazine and on YankeePotRoast.com. I am also a member of SCBWI. Reason for picking this agent.
Good.
Please email me if you’d like to request a full manuscript.
Not needed. Implied. Instead thank the agent for their time and consideration.

Sounds like a fun book. Good luck!

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fivecats
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Re: MG Mystery Query

Post by fivecats » June 17th, 2010, 10:05 am

ddegreeff wrote: If not for the handicap of being only twelve years old, Brock Rockster would be the man’s man to end all men’s men.
A stronger start would be to lead off with Brock's name. Starting with a dependent clause distances the reader from your main character. You want the reader to be drawn into the character right away.

I also stumbled over the idea of a 12 year old being "the man's man to end all men's men" (a cliché). Is he a 12-year old Ernest Hemmingway? This claim would probably be better shown instead of told. In so doing you would give us a better impression of who Brock is and why we should like him.

Keep in mind, most MG boys who would be reading this will not be the muscle-bound, man's man types. They'll be the quiet, nerdy kids who prefer to spend their time buried in a book rather than outside playing football. You need to use this part of your query to give the reader some reason to identify with Brock and believe your readers will as well.
ddegreeff wrote:Brock is daring. He’s quick-witted. He’s adored by the media. He’s a prodigious world champion mustache grower.
I get this is part of the comedy of the story, but I found it more jarring than funny. (As in, "does Brock have some sort of "mystery diagnosis" medical condition that is making him a mustache-growing man's man?")
ddegreeff wrote:And until this afternoon, when he falsely accused a popular politician of burglary and failed to successfully solve a case for the first time in his career, he had been the world’s greatest child investigator to the rich and famous. Now his only chance of career redemption lies in solving the most difficult mystery he’s ever encountered.
He's "the world's greatest child investigator" and yet a catnapping is "the most difficult mystery he's ever encountered"?

It isn't clear to me why the false accusation plays into the story. Did you include it to give Brock more urgency to solve this case quickly? Were you trying to show that he's flawed? A false accusation is a pretty serious thing.

ddegreeff wrote:Brock is called to the home of celebrity socialite Madame Poogery, whose cat/best friend, Ms. Poofytail, has been catnapped in the dead of night. Brock arrives as soon as possible, hoping to solve an easy case before his earlier failure can make the evening news. But he finds himself in more trouble than he bargained for, and learns he must also fend off Jonny Dapper, his most devious rival, and brainstorm a way to keep Lydia, a school newspaper reporter documenting his investigation, from solving the case before he can.
Too many character's names makes for confusing reading. I think it would be better to drop the names and just leave the character descriptions. We need an idea of what/who he's up against, but not the specific names.

"But he finds himself in more trouble than he bargained for" is a bit too clichéd. It also seems to me that the rest of the sentence would be the reason why he's found more trouble not two things in addition to the more trouble. (Should "and" be the right word here?)

"...before his earlier failure can make the evening news" is very pre-internet thinking. If your story is set in modern times, you'll need to re-think this.

Also, I agree with Quill -- "devious" comes across as villainous.
ddegreeff wrote:As Brock works closer to the mystery’s solution, the list of suspects grows: was Ms. Poofytail kidnapped by her poet monkey boyfriend? The butler clad in a clown suit? The stalker leaving threatening messages in the mailbox? Or did she simply become a victim of the infamous mansion’s many booby traps?
Personally, I really like this section. It gives a clear sense of the type of book and the style of writing. It also sounds like a darned fun read.
ddegreeff wrote:Brock only has two hours to find out, or his reputation may not be the only thing buried six feet underground come morning.
"Two hours" and "come morning"? Earlier the concern was solving the mystery before the evening news. Now it's the morning? I like the gritty feel of this sentence right after the absurdity of the previous sentences, but it doesn't make sense with what you've written earlier.
ddegreeff wrote:GONE, KITTY, GONE: A BROCK ROCKSTER MYSTERY is a middle-grade comedy complete at 39,000 words, and is best enjoyed by readers who live for intrigue, trap doors, boogery sneezes, redemption, and of course, being the absolute best.
"comedic mystery" might be a better genre description.

I'm with Quill on the use of "redemption"
ddegreeff wrote:My publishing credits include the TOMMY BOMANI: TEEN WARRIOR series from Magic Wagon, which is the MG arm of the ABDO Publishing Company, and short pieces published in Skive Magazine and on YankeePotRoast.com. I am also a member of SCBWI. Reason for picking this agent. Please email me if you’d like to request a full manuscript.
I'm with Quill on the "Please email..." sentence and replacing it with a "Thank you for your time and consideration"

Good luck with this.
______________________________________
Tom M Franklin
Franklin, Ink: Writing about Writing & Reading
http://tommfranklin.blogspot.com/

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theWallflower
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Re: MG Mystery Query

Post by theWallflower » June 17th, 2010, 10:23 am

If not for the handicap of being only twelve years old, Brock Rockster would be the man’s man to end all men’s men. Brock is daring. He’s quick-witted. He’s adored by the media. He’s a prodigious world champion mustache grower. And until this afternoon, when he falsely accused a popular politician of burglary and failed to successfully solve a case for the first time in his career, he had been the world’s greatest child investigator to the rich and famous. Now his only chance of career redemption lies in solving the most difficult mystery he’s ever encountered.
I'd remove the second half of this paragraph, up to "and until this afternoon", because that's not part of the plot itself. And it's information communicated in the next paragraph
Brock is called to the home of celebrity socialite Madame Poogery, whose cat/best friend, Ms. Poofytail, has been catnapped in the dead of night. Brock arrives as soon as possible, hoping to solve an easy case before his earlier failure can make the evening news. But he finds himself in more trouble than he bargained for, and learns he must also fend off Jonny Dapper, his most devious rival, and brainstorm a way to keep Lydia, a school newspaper reporter documenting his investigation, from solving the case before he can.
-shorter sentences
-"finds himself in more troubel than he bargained for" is general and meaningless -- say what that trouble is
-it should be "...Lydia, a school newspaper reporter, from solving the case..."
-I'd change this paragraph so it focuses more on the secondary characters, who seem dynamic and interesting. Here's how I'd rewrite it:
Brock is called to the home of celebrity socialite Madame Poogery, whose cat/best friend, Ms. Poofytail, has been catnapped. Brock arrives, hoping for an easy case after his earlier failure can make the evening news. But his most devious rival, Jonny Dapper, is [SAY WHAT HE'S GOING TO DO TO PUT OBSTACLES IN FRONT OF THE MAIN CHARACTER], and find a way to keep Lydia, a school newspaper reporter, from solving the case before he can.
As Brock works closer to the mystery’s solution, the list of suspects grows: was Ms. Poofytail kidnapped by her poet monkey boyfriend? The butler clad in a clown suit? The stalker leaving threatening messages in the mailbox? Or did she simply become a victim of the infamous mansion’s many booby traps? Brock only has two hours to find out, or his reputation may not be the only thing buried six feet underground come morning. GONE, KITTY, GONE: A BROCK ROCKSTER MYSTERY is a middle-grade comedy complete at 39,000 words, and is best enjoyed by readers who live for intrigue, trap doors, boogery sneezes, redemption, and of course, being the absolute best.
-you're starting to lose me at "poet monkey boyfriend". It makes me wonder if you're taking the plot seriously, or just throwing in junk because it sounds funny. A poet monkey boyfriend is fine, if there's a reason for it. A reason in the plot for the boyfriend to be a poet monkey.
-"being the absolute best" is unneccessary I think.
My publishing credits include the TOMMY BOMANI: TEEN WARRIOR series from Magic Wagon, which is the MG arm of the ABDO Publishing Company, and short pieces published in Skive Magazine and on YankeePotRoast.com. I am also a member of SCBWI. Reason for picking this agent. Please email me if you’d like to request a full manuscript.
-you don't need to explain what Magic Wagon is. If the agent is interested in your query, he/she will look up Magic Wagon on its own. Or will simply not care about it.
-"Please email me" is implied, you dont need it.

OVERALL:
-you need to condense your sentences. Remove general junk and either replace it with tangible events that happen in the plot or demonstrate them
-you never really get into the plot -- you set up the premise, some characters, and the what ifs, but I'd rather hear about the plot. Mysteries are always more than simply finding a clue, investigating it, getting another clue, and so on. Instead of throwing some characters at us, give us events. Give us the plot of the story. I should know what obstacles/problems the protagonist faces during the course of the book.
Waterworld meets The Little Mermaid
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wilderness
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Re: MG Mystery Query

Post by wilderness » June 18th, 2010, 1:21 pm

This sounds really funny! I agree with Quill's advice to omit unnecessary words and phrases, but I think this is almost there. Good luck!

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