Saturday, December 4, 2010

#20 MG: Regina Brinkwell & The Truth Brigade (BAKER'S DOZEN AGENT AUCTION)

TITLE: Regina Brinkwell & the Truth Brigade
GENRE: Middle Grade

Sick of adults being big fat liars, twelve-year-old Regina Brinkwell fills her community service requirement with a spirited honesty campaign using picket lines to target businesses, teachers, and more. When she uncovers a blackmailing scandal and heartbreaking secret involving people close to her, she must find the courage to tell some very ugly truths or her school will be cheated out of thousands of dollars. 

Regina Brinkwell sat at a corner table in the lunchroom and watched her best friend devour a combination of peanut butter, banana, pickle, and marshmallow fluff. A blob of snot-colored goo splattered the paper he was reading. She nibbled on a fingernail, waiting for Skippy's reaction.

"What's this again?" he asked, studying the neat row of names. 

"A list of all the lying grown-ups in the town of Fredalia.  What do you think?"

"Um, I don't think bugging them counts as community service."

"Well, it should." She wrinkled her nose at the fishy odor coming from her cafeteria tuna melt. It stunk almost as bad as the peanut-pickle disaster. "Listen--adults have had the upper hand forever. When I was five, Dad said he was taking me to the playground and we went to the doctor's office for shots instead. Lots of shots, Skippy--painful shots that the doctor said wouldn't hurt a bit."

Skippy rolled his eyes and kept chewing. "You've gotta do better than that."

"Okay, what about that creepy clown at Sarah Graber's party in third grade?"

"Oh, yeah, yeah. He had that trick dog who was supposed to do flips."

Regina nodded, grabbing his forearm. "Exactly. That fat dog couldn't have flipped for a cookie if its life depended on it." She ignored a few stares. She was used to people thinking she and Skippy were boyfriend and girlfriend, which was ridiculous. Nobody should have a boyfriend if they still wear a retainer.


  1. I'd still like to see the consequences in the logline. Yes, her school will lose money but WHY DOES THIS MATTER TO HER? You need to either make this personal to her or you need to tie it back to her hating liars.

    As for the excerpt, maybe this is not an issue but peanut butter has been banned from schools here for over a decade. I'd drop this part of his sandwich so you don't pull people out of the story when they are shocked by this.

    Otherwise, it's fine but the examples of lies could be stronger if you want us to understand why she's so outraged, especially if you're referring to something several years later.

  2. I tripped a little over the first paragraph. I know it sounds obvious, but was the goo from the strange sandwich? I thought "A blob of the snot-colored goo" tied it in for me so I didn't get as confused.

    I also didn't get it right away that Skippy was the same person as the best friend. Maybe she could call him Skippy the first time, and then best fried the second?

    The shots example made me smile. It sounds like this could be a fun read. ^_^

  3. I agree with Amanda about using her friend's name. Also, peanut butter and the name Skippy...well, I assume that's why her friend is called Skippy? If not, maybe change the sandwich.

    I like the premise, but I'm not hooked. I would read a little more though to know why she had to do community service.

  4. I'm intrigued by the premise here. You have a quirky MC that does something most kids don't do at all - pay attention to grown ups. Why does she? And why does she push it so far? Obviously this is just the first 250 words, but I think it would be good to jump right into her head just a bit more. So far, she doesn't seem quite real enough.

    I was confused also about the PB goo - you never say it's a sandwich. That threw me. And - we still have peanut butter at our school so I think that's okay. Small town.

    I think this has great potential. I'd keep reading!

  5. The log line didn't grab me. In fact, it made me not like your MC. Given the choice to reveal heartbreaking secrets of those closest to her, or helping a school get money, she opts for the school and money. This is probably just personal, but I wanted her to keep the secret.

    The excerpt is written well, and I thought the dialogue was especially good, but the idea itself wasn't enough to keep me reading. Why is she so bent on having her revenge on liars? Especially when you're talking about lies from years ago? I guess I just don't get the point.

  6. Nice writing. I like how your MC comes across in the excerpt better than in your logline for some reason. She's spunky and has a great voice.

    In the last paragraph, "She ignored a few stares" tripped me up a little...I thought she ignored stares from Skippy at first. Just took me out for a sec, but easy fix.

    Good luck with this!

  7. Logline:
    -Community service requirement for what? A class project, or a punishment? Big difference

    Line comments:
    -Would a 12 year old remember what happened when she was 5 so specifically? Would she be more focused on her immediate past?
    -The last lines about bf/gf seem a bit like author intrusion. First, I would think her rants drew attention more than love speculation; second, the last line feels a bit like something an older person would say in reference to a younger one.

    It has a fun voice and an interesting plot, and in general the writing is quite good.

  8. I agree that the logline should better illustrate the stakes for Regina, but it still caught my attention. The voice is clear and fun.

    I also enjoyed the excerpt, and the middle grade mentality. I assume that in later parts of the story the reasons for her being so outraged by lying adults will be clear (and effective) because it's missing here. I also like the history that you show between her and Skippy.

  9. I like the logline. However I'm wondering if it might be stronger if you said who the people close to her are and what their heartbreaking secret is. I think that might clarify the stakes.

    I too wasn't sure if he was eating a bowl of peanut, banana... slop or a sandwich. I love the examples and the writing was clear, fun and the pace worked for me. The voice was fun as well.

    It looks like a cool story and I'd read on.

  10. Curiously, I did pick up that Skippy was eating a sandwich. The blob of snot-colored goo, though totally repulsive as an image, was also fantastic and spot-on for MG. In fact, the only place where I thought the MG voice faltered at all was the use of "Listen," to start a sentence. That's an older person's turn of phrase, and I'd recommend cutting that one word - it adds nothing and otherwise the voice is excellent.

    I'm not great with critiques of loglines, so I'll leave that to others with more skill, but I did enjoy the excerpt a lot.

  11. I remember reading an earlier version of this logline, and I think this is much stronger.

    Agree that you need to add 'the' here to clarify: A blob of 'the' snot-colored goo... Otherwise it sounds like it's really a splatter of snot.

    The last sentence sounds like something that would come from an adult.

  12. I bid 50 pages!
    - Sarah LaPolla, Curtis Brown, Ltd.

  13. I'll go 55 pages.

    Ammi-Joan Paquette

  14. 75 pages. I'm coming for you, Joan! :D

  15. This is too good of a premise to pass up - I'm going for the FULL!

    - Sarah LaPolla, Curtis Brown, Ltd.


  17. Gah! Congrats, author. :)

  18. Nice stakes! No end of the world in that logline, but very real consequences that make a personal conflict for the character.

    The sample isn't hooking me, though, and I can't really pin down why. This is probably a case of just not being the right book for me, though I do love the idea of a truth-telling character who exposes liars, and has to make some tough decisions when it hits closer to home.

    I like the gross-out factor of the best friend with the sandwich! Very nice for this age group... if your target audience is boys. Given the subject matter and the protagonist's gender, though, you might want to figure out whether gross-out humor is the best way to hook your reader.