Thursday, April 28, 2016

Are You Hooked? Middle Grade #22

TITLE: Secrets Never to Be Told
GENRE: MG - Science Fiction

Twelve-year-old boy/girl twins use newfound ESP skills to search for their physicist father being held by a terrorist in a parallel universe before the wormhole cinches shut.

“He’s psychic!”

Henry knocked his twin sister’s hand down as she pointed at the turbaned swami waving a cheap stuffed animal as carnival goers passed. “No. He’s a scammer. How hard can it be to guess the month you were born within two months? He scribbles a couple letters that look like they could be January, June or July. So every month is covered except October.”

“You sound like Dad.” Maggie turned to step into the Viking ship.

Grimacing, Henry extracted his tennis shoe from the sticky mess on the ground and followed her on. “I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that.”

“Skeptical, is all I mean.” Her tone was teasing, but when Henry scowled she shrugged. “Just saying.”

As she headed toward the tip of the boat, he yanked her back. “Let’s sit in the middle.” He made for the center row but a gray haired lady in a Virginia Tech t-shirt beat him to it. In the short time he’d wasted, the next two rows filled up. He turned to leave. “It’s a sign we need to find the new Demons and Aliens’ trailer, instead.”

“Not a chance.” Maggie pushed him into the only seat still open—one row from the back and next to a man with stomach folds sticking out from beneath his shirt. “If I can’t have someone guess my birthday, you can’t waste Dad’s money on video games.”


  1. I'm intrigued with your premise. The logline held a lot of information in one big punch. It might help to spread that out some and let us savor the characters, premise, and problem. It reads like a twitter pitch, which is it's own thing, so take this nitpick with a grain of salt. The voice of your sample reads as mg and I have a good feel for their relationship at the get go. The word, extracted, stuck out and the 6th paragraph detail about the woman in the Virginia Tech t-shirt caused a pause in reading -- I keep wondering if she is important because you pointed her out specifically. And "in the short time I'd wasted" also stuck out. These are pretty nitpicky. I would read on! Good job.

  2. The only thing that stuck out as non-MG to me was the word "extracted." Maybe "removed" instead? Also, I would've liked a brief description of this sticky mess. Perhaps it's a spot of pink that looks like someone's ice cream dropped by accident?

    I was also a little confused about the psychic guessing the people's birthday months. I just didn't get how the psychic does that, exactly (or how the main character thinks the psychic does that). But other than that I liked this. Good writing and I dig the logline. Good luck!

  3. I thought the logline was pretty good, and intriguing enough where I'd want to read more. The opening of the story was a bit too quick and vague for me. I know they are at a carnival, but I would have preferred a bit of grounding first before talking about the different activities the twins are doing. For instance, rather than give me detail about the woman in the T-shirt, I'd rather "see" the setting more clearly.

    I agree about "extracted" and "short time I'd wasted" -- both don't feel MG, but otherwise, the rest of the excerpt does. Good job!

  4. The twins have a good set up here for their relationship. For some strange reason, at first I imagined the boat as a real one-- it took me a minute to figure out they were at a carnival of some kind, so maybe a little more in the way of setting--even a few words about their favorite ride Or how crowded the fair was, for the sake of more literal readers. The premise sounds a little like A Wrinkle in Time to me. I like that one if the twins is a skeptic-- your readers can identify with whichever twin they are most similar to. I'd keep reading!