Thursday, April 28, 2016

Are You Hooked? Middle Grade #30

GENRE: MG - Fantasy

WEATHERLY DARK is untethered from everyone in her life and prefers the company of birds, but when she discovers that KUK is separating people from their shadows, she teams up with the extraordinary HORACE CHANDILIER to stop him. 

On the thirteenth day after her father disappeared in his submarine, Weatherly Dark trudged home from school, daydreaming about blackbird pie. Did it have actual birds in it, and if not, what? Licorice and chocolate? As the blustery, October-y wind shivered through her clothes, her arm warmers (which were previously leg warmers) slouched around her elbows, and she tucked them back into her vest.

Something screeched. It sounded like the wail of a dying peacock, and it went on and on. As a fan of mysteries and birds, she figured she’d investigate. She trotted down the sidewalk, and found a treehouse. Maybe a bird was stuck up there and couldn’t get down? As she hoisted herself up the rungs, the high-pitched screaming stopped.

“Who’s there?”

“Nobody.” Weatherly had been expecting a bird, not a person. Her cheeks flushed.

“Um. Okay, Nobody. Go away.”

On the ladder, Weatherly checked her outfit. For some reason, she always seemed to make a bad first impression. She steeled herself. “Do you need help?”

“Um, maybe a little.”

She climbed into the treehouse, and it was like stepping into someone’s secret snowglobe. A disco ball hung in the tree and polka-dotted the room with sunshine. Gauzy curtains billowed from the branches, and a blue shag rug covered the floor. A boy sat at a sewing machine in a bow tie, paisley shirt, and plaid pants. He was deeply black, and Weatherly felt translucent next to him with her fishbelly-pale skin. He glanced at her.


  1. You've done a great job of using quick details to both describe Weatherly and show personality. That's a difficult combo to pull off. The writing is well done.

    My only critique would be that the "deeply black" line does seem like an unusual way to describe skin tone, or at least I haven't seen "deeply" used like that. Totally subjective though. Good luck.

  2. I think in general this sounds MG. The word "previously" popped out to me as adult-sounding. Maybe something more like "her arm warmers which had originally been leg warmers" or something to that tune. "She steeled herself" sounds a bit adult, too. Maybe show her thoughts. Even "translucent" feels a little adult-ish. Maybe "see-through" (although maybe that or "translucent" isn't the right description - it's not like you can see through her). Other than that I think this is a fun start. Good luck with it!

  3. I think there are some very beautiful writing moments in this excerpt. Your first sentence is intriguing, the character name seems to indicate a certain type of genre, and Weatherly's wandering mind asks some very interesting questions. I also like how you put what she was hearing (the scream) in the context of Weatherly's interests so we can learn more about your MC and the sorts of things that immediately occur to her.
    My only criticism, and it's mild, is that I'd watch out for over-describing things. I don't think you've reached saturation for me as yet, but comparing a treehouse to a "secret snowglobe" came close for me.

  4. I think this is very quirky and funny and has definite MG moments, like when she wonders about what is in blackbird pie, and is wearing leg warmers as arm warmers. Very cute. I would like the opening to move a bit slower, actually. (I rarely think that.) Add a few more details. Also, there are a few points, which the other picked out, where the voice kind of pulls out into an adult narratorish feel. Stay close into the MCs head and perspective and I think you've got a great start! Good luck!

  5. If something sounds like a dying peacock, wouldn't it be more natural to want to help whatever was in trouble? Instead, she's a fan of birds and mysteries so she takes her time in looking. If I loved birds and heard one dying, I think I would race over.