Saturday, December 4, 2010

#31 MG Science Fantasy: Emma Brown And The Invisible Unicorns (BAKER'S DOZEN AGENT AUCTION)

GENRE: MG Science Fantasy

After 13-year-old Emma Brown is rejected from a school for children destined to save magical creatures from extinction, she leaves Earth to explore the galaxy with her dad, a well-known mad scientist. When hunters kidnap her father to help them de-activate a unicorn's cloak of invisibility, Emma must find a way to be accepted in the school, and rescue her dad and the unicorns, before they both become extinct.

Stars needed names.

That's what her dad told her when she accidentally incinerated his research on the re-birthing habits of phoenixes when she was bored. Being stuck on a spaceship for two weeks will do that to a five-year-old.

Emma Brown was thirteen now, but the game stuck.

In her cabin on the Ark 17, Emma stood on her bed and tapped a spot on the glass window that made up an entire wall of her room. Instantly, the computer calculated the distance the Ark was from the star, their current location, and speed, and then glowed - like a twinkling Christmas light.

"Star #276,412,402, unnamed," the computer's voice chirped.

"Unnamed," Emma repeated. She paced on her mattress, bobbing up and down like a buoy. "Computer, we shall call the star - "


Emma turned toward the voice. Her dad, Ben, was standing in the doorway wearing a huge rubber apron and goggles that magnified his light blue eyes. He usually stayed in his lab until they were ready to descend. His appearance meant that she better put on socks.

"Frank is the worst star name ever." She kicked over her pillows and blankets to unearth her stockings.

"Wait till you get to the billions and run out of names. Frank will be looking mighty good. Try under the bed."

"Fine." She stuck out her tongue before leaning over her bed. Of course her socks were down there. "Computer, log star #276,412,402 as Frank."

Emma was listening to the computer beep its consent when she looked out the window at the planet Oz.


  1. I love this. Very cool plot, fun MC in Emma, clever dialogue, computers that talk to you...just a great start to what promises to be a really humorous adventure story (and this is a wonderful genre/angle to hook both boy and girl readers of this age!).

  2. This really has great voice. I'm hooked. You might consider trying to infuse your quirky voice into your logline for query purposes. The logline didn't grab me, but your writing sure did.

  3. The logline makes me wonder why she needs to be accepted into the school. Why can't she save her father without attending the school? Perhaps say why.

    The excerpt jumped a bit. Parg 3 - the game stuck. What game? You haven't mentioned any. (You don't say that naming stars was a game.) And what does burning research on phoenixes have to do with naming stars? Is the window a window or a computer? When she kicks over her pillows, it reads as though she found her socks, and how does Dad know that's what she's looking for? Fixing the small issues like the above would help make this stronger.

  4. I would get rid of the "when she was bored" in the first line. It's really good but the double "when" makes it awkward.

    You need em-dashes to off-set "their current location and speed" so this line makes better sense.

    Why does she call her dad Ben? This seems odd to me.

    Otherwise, I like this. The dialogue is well-written and I like Emma.

  5. Your logline is insane. I can appreciate that. Takes guts to be unrepentantly crazy.

    Indeed, you don't specifically mention a game until you speak of it as if the reader is already familiar with it. It makes the line jarring.

    Also, what do the re-birthing habits of phoenixes have to do with stars? I'm sure you HAVE a reason, but if you're going to mention it here, we need to know right away what that reason is.

    In terms of prose, you tend to use the word 'was' needlessly. "Her dad, Ben, was standing in the doorway..." If you re-wrote this sort of thing as "Her dad, Ben, stood in the doorway..." you make your prose tighter and more to-the-point. It may not seem like a big deal at first, but 'was' really adds up if you use it more than absolutely necessary. If you can get rid of it, do. It's a weak verb.

  6. Love the premise and voice.

    I found the first three paragraphs interesting, but confusing because I didn't get the connection between the name of the star and her incinerating the research paper.

    I suggest you cut the first 3 paragraphs and start with 'In her cabin'.

    Also, like Tsiamon said, I think you could strengthen some of the sentences by cutting back on your use of 'was'.

    It definately sound like a fun story--and exciting.

  7. Strong voice here. I like Emma. But I'm wondering if boredom is the trait you want to start with. From your logline it seems she is actually quite passionate about things. Can we see that right off the bat, or does she grow in to it as the story progreses? Can't tell in 250 words :) Love the quirky dad. And that his appearance means the need for socks.

  8. Like some of the others, I think starting in the cabin is probably a good idea. We don't need to know about the burned phoenix research to hear your MCs beautifully ironic voice, and I think the star-naming idea gives a very strong picture of her already. (To echo Kiriojo, love the comment about dad's appearance meaning she needs socks, that was great.)

    I really like the protagonist, and her voice seems very fresh and different. I'd read on.

  9. Very interesting twist to combine unicorns and phoenixes with SciFi, and the voice is great, but the prose can be tightened in places (especially look out for the verb 'to be'). Good luck with it.

  10. Logline:
    Science fantasy, yay!

    Line comments:
    -Voice is nicely done.

    -I'm interested! It's solidly MG, which is nice, and I like the blending of science and fantasy, Not sure about a planet named Oz, but otherwise found this engaging!

  11. The logline didn't sound like my type of thing, kind of overcomplicated and with the unicorns and all - but I just loved your first page. Nice pithy writing, great voice, really comes alive and sounds perfectly MG.

    I'd just make two suggestions: The second line is a bit too long and clunky, how about 'That's what her Dad told her when she accidentally set fire to his research on phoenix rebirth when she was bored.' And is the planet Oz a regular sight or is it going to be importnant? If it's the latter, the final sentence might sound better as 'Emma was listening to the computer beep its consent when she looked out of the window and saw the planet Oz.'

  12. Just read the comments and they're right about the double 'when' - perhaps 'That's what her Dad told her the day she...'

    Good luck!

  13. I quite like the voice in the first 250 words. I love how dad appears, although for a mad scientist, the name Ben is much like a star named Frank.

    The logline was kind of a mess for me. I'll try to frame my state of mind as I read it:

    The first line is a bit wordy - it's so hard to get that critical info out into a logline - so I totally get it. Anyway, at that point, in my head she's been in the school and has been thrown out (rejected from). If she never got in in the first place, it would probably be "rejected by". Then she leaves earth, which sounds like she's going to be gone for a very long time. Next thing you know, hunters kidnap dad to deactivate a unicorn's cloak of invisibility. Why would they do that? He's the only one who can do it? Why do it? Then she has to be accepted in the school? Why? Wasn't she already thrown out?

    The odd thing is that it seems like the story starts with her already exploring the galaxy with her dad? Is this before she's thrown out of the school?

    The good news is, my whining is only about the logline - not the story, which is great.

    I'd read on purely on the excellent voice alone!

  14. Love the voice. Sounds like a fun story. Agree with the other comments on the edits needed--especially the 'when she was bored' line.

  15. Here's a bid to read the first 20 pages.

    Weronika Janczuk
    D4EO Literary

  16. This one looks great! I'll bid 30 pages.

  17. Here's a bid to read the full.

    Weronika Janczuk
    D4EO Literary

  18. You're no fun.

  19. LOL


  20. These agents mean business. Congratulations, author. Well deserved.

  21. It's a gutsy concept that makes me wonder if you can pull it off, especially because there's a lot of confusion in the first few paragraphs. I'm not entirely hooked, but I would be hooked enough to read further and see if this perhaps just isn't the best place to start the story, or if it just needs some smoothing in editing.

    I like the relationship between the main character and her dad, and I like that this is a game they play (once we get past the confusion of what the game is). But I'm confused at the numbering system the computer uses for the stars. The astronomical community on Earth (all around the world) has a worldwide convention for naming stars that includes letters and numbers symbolizing what system the star is believed to be a part of. I'd look into that for believability.

    Also: why is she supposed to put on socks? It's confusing.