The Adventures of Strike: The Hero from the Sky (YA fantasy)

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ShotintheDark
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The Adventures of Strike: The Hero from the Sky (YA fantasy)

Post by ShotintheDark » June 14th, 2010, 7:29 pm

Tobin Lloyd, a charming, seventeen-year-old class clown, is whisked away to a world where imagination comes to life, where comic book superheroes are real and attacks by super-villains are just another hassle of living in the city. Terrified and homesick, Tobin is brought on an adventure that he never asked for, meeting strange companions like Keplar Costello, a cowboy-attired, six-foot-tall Siberian Husky who never shuts up, and Scatterbolt, a precocious little robot who knows everything about the galaxy but is still fascinated with Tobin’s teenage life on Earth. Led by the elderly superhero Orion, Tobin must join this new group of heroes and help them stop the evil madman known as The Gantamede, a super-villain of unimaginable power. A carefree high school senior is the world’s last hope? Yikes.

THE ADVENTURES OF STRIKE: THE HERO FROM THE SKY is a fantasy novel about a boy going through adolescence, graduating from high school and leaving childhood, all while dealing with superpowers and super-villains. (reason for submitting to agent.) Filled with humor, adventure, and lessons about teenage life, I believe my 48,000-word young adult novel fits in very well with the types of books that you are looking to represent.

end of query.

A little backstory: I "finished" the manuscript four years ago, sent out queries to publishers and agents, got quite a few bites, but no offers. I moved on to other projects, didn't look at the novel for four years, and then recently went back and pretty much rewrote the whole thing. I just started the whole query process again, but now I'm getting WAY more rejections this time around, with the same query. Kind of weird. Anyway, would love to hear some feedback/suggestions.

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J. T. SHEA
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Re: The Adventures of Strike: The Hero from the Sky (YA fantasy)

Post by J. T. SHEA » June 14th, 2010, 9:29 pm

Lively tone, Shot in the dark, but perhaps more Middle Grade than Young Adult, despite Tobin's age?

We get a teenager, a talking dog, a curious robot, and a superhero, versus a super-villain, all fine, but not much else. How about a glimpse of what they actually do?

Is the query alone being rejected, or have you got any requests for partials?

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Re: The Adventures of Strike: The Hero from the Sky (YA fantasy)

Post by ShotintheDark » June 14th, 2010, 9:38 pm

Hey JT, thanks for the advice. I've gotten one request for a partial, but I haven't heard back on it yet. The rejections are from queries, some with the first chapter attached.

I think you're right, the query may make it sound more middle grade than it actually is--the book itself leans more towards YA. And I could use some more description--I just get so nervous reading about how agents want brevity, brevity, brevity. I have been thinking about going into more about how Tobin actually gets to the other world in the query, so maybe it's time to change it up a bit.

Thanks again!

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Re: The Adventures of Strike: The Hero from the Sky (YA fantasy)

Post by J. T. SHEA » June 14th, 2010, 10:10 pm

You could edit the query to leave room for some action/exposition. Maybe remove the generalizations that start both paragraphs, along with the didactic stuff in the second. Cut the words in red, perhaps?

Tobin Lloyd, a charming, seventeen-year-old class clown, is whisked away to a world where imagination comes to life, where comic book superheroes are real and attacks by super-villains are just another hassle of living in the city. Terrified and homesick, Tobin is brought on an adventure that he never asked for, meeting strange companions like Keplar Costello, a cowboy-attired, six-foot-tall Siberian Husky who never shuts up, and Scatterbolt, a precocious little robot who knows everything about the galaxy but is still fascinated with Tobin’s teenage life on Earth. Led by the elderly superhero Orion, Tobin must join this new group of heroes and help them stop the evil madman known as The Gantamede, a super-villain of unimaginable power. A carefree high school senior is the world’s last hope? Yikes.

THE ADVENTURES OF STRIKE: THE HERO FROM THE SKY is a fantasy novel about a boy going through adolescence, graduating from high school and leaving childhood, all while dealing with superpowers and super-villains. (reason for submitting to agent.) Filled with humor, adventure, and lessons about teenage life, I believe my 48,000-word young adult novel fits in very well with the types of books that you are looking to represent.

By the way, I love the title, but who's Strike?

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Re: The Adventures of Strike: The Hero from the Sky (YA fantasy)

Post by JMB » June 15th, 2010, 2:41 am

I can't imagine teens relating to the story, at least not as it is described in the query. Under 50,000 words and in the land of superhereos? This screams MG.

Have you considered changing the main character to an 11-yr-old boy? That would be fun and I bet it would take much less work than you think.

Who is the 'Strike' of the title?

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Re: The Adventures of Strike: The Hero from the Sky (YA fantasy)

Post by wilderness » June 15th, 2010, 5:34 pm

ShotintheDark wrote:Tobin Lloyd, a charming, seventeen-year-old class clown, is whisked away to a world where imagination comes to life, where comic book superheroes are real and attacks by super-villains are just another hassle of living in the city. How did he get whisked away? Via a tornodo? Terrified and homesick, Tobin is brought on an adventure that he never asked for, meeting strange companions like Keplar Costello, a cowboy-attired, six-foot-tall Siberian Husky who never shuts up, and Scatterbolt, a precocious little robot who knows everything about the galaxy but is still fascinated with Tobin’s teenage life on Earth. Led by the elderly superhero Orion, Tobin must join this new group of heroes and help them stop the evil madman known as The Gantamede, a super-villain of unimaginable power. A carefree high school senior is the world’s last hope? Yikes. Get more specific here. Tell us more about Gantamede, more about why the group of heroes needs Tobin's help, and what are specifically stakes? Right now it feels a bit generic, to be honest. Consider a more personal goal for Tobin than saving the world. If saving the world is the external goal, what is his internal goal? Is there something he's trying to prove?


THE ADVENTURES OF STRIKE: THE HERO FROM THE SKY is a fantasy novel about a boy going through adolescence, graduating from high school and leaving childhood, all while dealing with superpowers and super-villains. (reason for submitting to agent.) Filled with humor, adventure, and lessons about teenage life, I believe my 48,000-word young adult novel fits in very well with the types of books that you are looking to represent. I think you can remove most of this. We can tell it is humorous and adventurous from the first paragraph. If there are "life lessons", they should be explicitly be mentioned in the plot description, rather than vaguely mentioned here.
I like the jaunty tone. It sounds fun. I think some of the details could still be fleshed out. As for the YA versus MG debate, I think an agent might ask you to change it later. If you want it to sound more YA, include some of the specific adolescent issues he's going through. A more character-driven approach, perhaps. Hope this helps!

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Re: The Adventures of Strike: The Hero from the Sky (YA fantasy)

Post by ShotintheDark » June 15th, 2010, 7:00 pm

Thanks for the advice everyone, I am loving this. I think there might be something to the YA vs MG problem, because even though Tobin is 17 and obviously I hope high schoolers will read it, I'd say I'm mainly aiming fo r 12-14 year olds. So that's MG, right?

I definitely see that I need to be more specific. The main idea of the book is how tough/stange/suddenly scary it is after a kid graduates high school, so I'm definitely gonna get that in there.

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Re: The Adventures of Strike: The Hero from the Sky (YA fantasy)

Post by fivecats » June 16th, 2010, 11:18 pm

A couple of overall comments:

* Your query is two paragraphs. That first paragraph is dense, way too crowded and all over the place. Sure your book is action-packed and fun, but this paragraph only shows me there's too much going on in one place.

* Too many names in the first paragraph. This is supposed to be Tobin's story, right? By introducing so many characters (by name) Tobin gets lost in the shuffle. I suggest rewriting this entire query with your focus squarely on Tobin. Give us a reason to care about him, let us know what his challenges are and what he's doing to overcome them.
ShotintheDark wrote:Tobin Lloyd, a charming, seventeen-year-old class clown, is whisked away to a world where imagination comes to life, where comic book superheroes are real and attacks by super-villains are just another hassle of living in the city.
It could just be me, but I'm immediately suspicious of anyone who gets described as "charming".

There's a lot going on in this sentence -- so much that by the end of it I've forgotten who the main character is. The world you've created sounds great, but without a character who draws me into the story and holds me there, it's just another pretty place, isn't it?
ShotintheDark wrote:Terrified and homesick,
I tripped and fell over this. Every 17 year old I've ever met thinks they're invincible, regardless of what world they're in. They're young, strong and ready to take on the world. What is it about Tobin that makes him feel otherwise? Is it being surrounded by super-heroes? (And, if so, how is Tobin their hope? Why aren't their super-powers enough to take on the bad guy?

Homesick doesn't make much sense to me, either. At 17 I was feeling so out of place I would have welcomed the opportunity to be transported into another world. And if that world had a talking Husky and a talking robot, all the better! What is he homesick for and why?
ShotintheDark wrote:Tobin is brought on an adventure that he never asked for,
Whoa there, cowboy -- what adventure? What are the stakes? Why should Tobin care? Why should we care? Yes, you're about to describe his mad-cap friends, but you've left us without enough of a picture of who Tobin is or why we should care about him to keep thinking about him by the end of this paragraph.
ShotintheDark wrote:meeting strange companions like Keplar Costello, a cowboy-attired, six-foot-tall Siberian Husky who never shuts up, and Scatterbolt, a precocious little robot who knows everything about the galaxy but is still fascinated with Tobin’s teenage life on Earth. Led by the elderly superhero Orion, Tobin must join this new group of heroes
"must"? why Must he?
ShotintheDark wrote:and help them stop the evil madman known as The Gantamede, a super-villain of unimaginable power.


- another in a string of too many names
- if his power is truly "unimaginable" why are the super-heroes in this world taking on a non-super powered 17 year old kid to help them?
ShotintheDark wrote:A carefree high school senior is the world’s last hope? Yikes.


I like this as a tag-line. However, there isn't enough behind this statement to make it work as the last sentence in this paragraph. There's nothing here to suggest "the world's last hope" other than the bad guy is a powerful bad guy. What are the stakes? Why should we care what he's trying to do or why the good guys are trying to stop him?
ShotintheDark wrote:THE ADVENTURES OF STRIKE: THE HERO FROM THE SKY is a fantasy novel about a boy going through adolescence, graduating from high school and leaving childhood, all while dealing with superpowers and super-villains.


So, a kid who normally doesn't feel he fits in really feels like he doesn't fit in with a world of people with super-powers. I get that. I don't get where the "graduating from high school" fits in. If he's in this other world, what's high school graduation got to do with anything? The same holds true for "leaving childhood".
ShotintheDark wrote:(reason for submitting to agent.) Filled with humor, adventure, and lessons about teenage life,


Whoa again. "lessons about teenage life" is a red flag for me. When I was a kid, the last thing I wanted to read was anyone trying to "teach me lessons" about my life as a teenager. The writer wasn't going to be a teenager and had no idea what I was going through. If you thought you did, you were just showing me how out of touch you were with my life. I shut you down, lost all respect for you and wouldn't listen to a word you had to say.

Now, granted, I was something of an egotistical brat. Still, I don't think any of the kids I taught ever wanted to hear me read books that were introduced as "life lessons". Sure, I read them books that were trying to teach a specific lesson, but I never prefaced them with them being "lessons" about their lives.

My guess is that agents are going to see this as a similar red flag. There is a degree of respect for your audience that I think you need to demonstrate in your query and, imho, this should be re-worded.
ShotintheDark wrote:I believe my 48,000-word young adult novel fits in very well with the types of books that you are looking to represent.


I hope this is just a generic line for this exercise, right? Any real query would have a more detailed explanation as to why you're querying the specific agent.



Additionally:
ShotintheDark wrote:I think there might be something to the YA vs MG problem, because even though Tobin is 17 and obviously I hope high schoolers will read it, I'd say I'm mainly aiming fo r 12-14 year olds. So that's MG, right?

I definitely see that I need to be more specific. The main idea of the book is how tough/stange/suddenly scary it is after a kid graduates high school, so I'm definitely gonna get that in there.
No.

I was an elementary school librarian for 5+ years and their biggest concern was moving on to Middle School after fifth grade. A ten or eleven year old is not going to relate to someone about to graduate from high school. Graduating from Elementary School to Middle School is nothing like Graduating from High School to Real Life.

If you're really aiming at ages 12-14 then Tobin needs to be that age. Make him 3-5 years older and he's like an obnoxious older brother who doesn't have time for them any longer.

You need to make a decision as to your target audience and write the book for that audience with a main character they can closely relate to.


Personally, I think this idea has a great deal of potential and could be an awful lot of fun to read. You just need to convey the story to an agent and to the readers much more clearly.
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