Friday, November 30, 2012

(38) MG Contemporary: Lilly Washington's Presidential Adventure

TITLE: Lilly Washington's Presidential Adventure
GENRE: MG Contemporary

When twelve-year-old Lilly Washington finds a mysterious diary with entries from the 1870s, she goes against the wishes of the school principal and embarks on a wild adventure to find an undiscovered time capsule mentioned within its pages. What she finds could uncover long lost secrets from the Civil War. That is, if she isn’t expelled first.

Sunlight pours in my bedroom window like a cheerful smile, even though it’s the day I’ve been dreading all summer. The first day of middle school. New school. New kids. New teachers. Higher expectations. Commence freak-out.

The knot in my stomach tightens as I pace back and forth across my room. After seven full steps, I stop, coming face to face with Abe Lincoln. My hero. Most of my friends have posters of Justin Bieber hanging on their walls. I prefer Abe.

Turning on my heel, I recite the Gettysburg Address out loud. It's the one thing that always calms me down when I’m nervous.

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth ...”

"Lilly, breakfast,” my mom yells from downstairs in a singsong voice.

“... on this continent a new nation ...”

"Come on, come on, come on. We're already late." My little brother Teddy says, sticking his head in the door and waves his arm at me to follow him. He's wearing the Thomas the Train shirt he’s been begging to wear every day for weeks. It looks like he got carried away with the hair gel again. Either that, or the slicked back look is the hot look for the second grade this year.

"I'll be down when I'm ready." It comes out mean, which usually bothers me. But not today. I want to be left alone.

He sticks his tongue out and skips down the hall toward the smell of bacon.

“... conceived in liberty ...”

24 comments:

  1. Awww...Lilly's a cutie!! Like her already! Would read further...

    The only things that tripped me up was this paragraph..""Come on, come on, come on. We're already late." My little brother Teddy sticks his head in the door and waves his arm at me to follow him. He's wearing the Thomas the Train shirt he’s been begging to wear every day for weeks. It looks like he got carried away with the hair gel again.

    Either that, or the slicked back look is the hot look for the second grade this year."

    Two things, The one is I thought the mom was telling her to hurry up but really it is her brother. So maybe change the order with Teddy sticking his head in the door first, then telling her to hurry up.
    Second thing is I'm not sure why you broke off the sentence "Either that, or the slicked back look is the hot look for the second grade this year." from the rest of that preceding paragraph? If you want to break it off from the preceding paragraph, I would start the next paragraph and include this sentence first "It looks like he got carried away with the hair gel again." combined with "Either that, or the slicked back look is the hot look for the second grade this year."
    Hope this helps :) Good Luck!!

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  2. Ah, Lilly Washington! Such a great title and concept. It's amazing how well I feel like I know her after just 250 words--great job establishing the MC! I got a little confused over the dialogue too, but for me it was thinking that Teddy said, "I'll be down when I'm ready." But I'm in love with Lilly already and would totally read more!

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  3. What a great way to weave a little history into story. Lilly is unique and adorable.

    I would only add to the previous comments that I thought she was yelling downstairs to her mother when she said she'd be down when she was ready.

    This looks like a fun read.

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  4. Ah, yes. To anyone else commenting, that line should appear with the text above. I've asked The Authoress if she can move it up. It is confusing that it appears that way.

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  5. I love that Lilly is a mini Doris Kearns Goodwin! Great voice here and cool premise...

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  6. Really love the voice here, she sounds like a fantastic MC and I really want to know more about her! Love your descriptions, they totally made me laugh. This is a really great start!

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  7. I have to admit I'm biased on this one because I was (and still am) a history geek. So I love this idea! Lilly's voice is clear already & she's a fun, likable character. My only nitpicky suggestion is to beware of pop culture references because of the way they can date your book. (Although I'm guilty of using them, too!)

    Good luck!

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  8. You have a great MG title and your logline sounds really good. But I'm kind of in two minds about your extract. On the one hand, it's well-written, Lilly's character comes across well, and we get info about her mother, brother and school.

    On the other hand, starting an MG or YA book on the first day of school, and with the MC getting ready to go, is something that's been done far too many times before, and doesn't really excite me. Is there perhaps a more gripping place to start the story?

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  9. This looks like a fun story. I wasn't even planning on commenting on anything, but this story caught my eye. I know that getting ready for the first day of school has been done many times before, but for a twelve year old reading this book it's something they can relate to, and that's important if you want to keep a twelve year old reading!

    The only issue I had was the shirt. When you said Thomas the Train I immediately thought preschool, and when I found out he was in second grade it totally threw me off. A second grader might watch Thomas the Train, might like Thomas the Train, but would not beg to wear a Thomas the Train shirt. By third grade they're wearing The Avengers. I would go with a popular superhero. Spiderman is always a safe bet for that age.

    It may not seem like a big deal, but a good portion of your audience will have younger siblings in second grade and it's important that his character is believable.

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  10. This sounds SO cute!

    Your logline is perfect. I like your 250 and this line is my favorite: Turning on my heel, I recite the Gettysburg Address out loud. It's the one thing that always calms me down when I’m nervous.

    I don't think the "first day of school" thing is overdone at all and I'd keep it.

    It's easy to fix that one spot the others have mentioned. Maybe something like, My brother Teddy sticks his head in the door and waves his arm at me to follow him. "Come on, come on. We're already late," Teddy says. He's wearing.... Just a thought.

    This has a great voice. Good luck!

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  11. I’m less concerned with the first day of school scenario than I am with the idea of a NATIONAL TREASURE-esque adventure to uncover a lost secret of history. It’s exciting. It can be really fun. It can teach young readers a bit about history. It’s also done quite a bit. Because of that, you have to work extra hard to make your story stand out from the pack.

    Lilly’s a likable enough character, but I worry about how kids will react to her. Is she, from the outset, a little too niche, and is that going to put reader’s off? I like her drive. I like her focus. I like that she uses the Gettysburg address to calm her nerves. I just don’t think that kids will find her relatable. I wonder if you need to think about some middle ground here, especially as her reaction to first day of school woes is so spot on (though, I’d drop “Commence freak out” as it feels more high school to me).

    I think the other critiquers have done a good job of talking about the confusion in the dialogue. There are some good suggestions there, and it’s certainly easily fixed.

    I’m not a fan of the commentary surrounding "I'll be down when I'm ready." I’d rather you demonstrated the meanness through the interaction of Lilly and her brother than tell us how we’re supposed to perceive it. I suggest cutting what follows, and then go straight to her little brother sticking out his tongue.

    This manuscript doesn’t sound like it’s quite right for me, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have a strong concept for some agents and editors. It really comes down to how skillfully you execute that hunt, and it’s not fair for me to judge that based on this opening.

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  12. I love this, it's adorable! Great voice! And I'm a sucker for US History, so that always helps. ;) I would add that I have a second grader and he would NOT wear a Thomas the Train shirt, even if I paid him a million dollhairs. It's definitely too preschool, but maybe that's a point you are trying to make. Maybe Teddy is a quirky second grader who's hanging on to his preschool roots, or doesn't want to grow up or something. Anyway, I'm betting this will do well! So cute!

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  13. Agree with previous commenters on Thomas the Train. I have a first grader, and he'd go to school nekkid before wearing a Thomas shirt. But you are SO ON with the hair gel.

    I LOFF Lily. She sounds like an intellectual Junie B. Jones. The voice is solid, the descriptions are right on. Young women need more adventure books and smart heroines. I think you have something special here!

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  14. I'm not reading previous comments, so if anything I say is redundant, I apologize.

    This sounds like prime MG territory--and I'm all for a girl who gets out of bed and recites the Gettysburg address. But I had a couple of questions about consistent tone. "Commence freak-out" sounds too teen-speak for what I surmise your Gettysburg Addressing heroine to be. So with the "hot look for the second grade." Think about giving her some more distinctive word choices.

    Nit pick: Her brother "waves his arm." Unless he's waving an object, I would just say "waved at me."

    I like this spunky character, and would certainly be interested in reading further to see where this story is going.

    Best of luck in the auction tomorrow. Fingers crossed for you.

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  15. I think Lilly is adorable! I'll start the bidding at 25 pages.

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  16. Melissa Jeglinski (The Knight Agency)December 4, 2012 at 11:19 AM

    I'm intrigued: 45 pages

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  17. Tricia Lawrence of Erin Murphy LiteraryDecember 4, 2012 at 11:29 AM

    75!

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  18. I'll go 100

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  19. Tricia Lawrence of Erin Murphy LiteraryDecember 4, 2012 at 11:31 AM

    130

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  20. Tricia Lawrence of Erin Murphy LiteraryDecember 4, 2012 at 11:32 AM

    You are TOO fast. Nice job.

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  21. BIDDING ON THIS ITEM IS NOW CLOSED.

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