Friday, November 30, 2012

(28) MG Mystery: Beanblossom Versus Bombastic Bandits

TITLE: Beanblossom Versus Bombastic Bandits
GENRE: MG Mystery

If twelve-year-old Jacob Beanblossom finds hidden treasure before two grownup crooks do, he'll collect a hefty reward and start middle school being known as the boy who recovered a long-lost fortune instead of the kid who could fart on command.

Up until that fateful Friday the Thirteenth, Jacob Beanblossom's claim to fame had been the ability to fart on cue. But that was about to change.

Jacob dragged Old Man Fudgewick’s bratty Pomeranian down Main Street. The dog yipped and snarled non-stop. A lady pushing triplets in a stroller checked for cars and, seeing the coast was clear, jaywalked rather than cross paths with the yapping Pomeranian.

Jacob tugged on the dog’s rhinestone-bordered leash. “Calm down, Special Fella.” Jacob cringed every time he said “Special Fella.” But the only chance he had to be obeyed was to call the dog by his stupid name. Jacob eyed the black curlicue sign on the storefront ahead that read Madame LeChance’s Psychic Palace. “We’re almost there.”

Jacob shoved open the Psychic Palace door, wondering what quacks he’d see there today. As he yanked the dog from the sidewalk and into the waiting room, Jacob got an earful of high-pitched classical music. Anjali Sharma, the biggest nerd in the sixth grade, sat on the floor. She plucked at the strings of a long-necked, small rounded-bodied guitar. She was probably here to find out if she’d get straight As for the rest of her life.

Special Fella growled at Anjali. She stopped playing the instrument and glared at him. “Get that thing out of here! It’s ruining the ambiance.” Anjali darted a meaningful glance at the lady clutching a black-and-white photograph in her age-spotted hands.

Jacob gave Anjali a smug smile. Apparently the know-it-all did not know it all. “We’re clients.”


  1. This sounds so fun! "Special Fell"? Oh how mortifying! I like the fart-on-command bit too. Honestly, that part of the pitch was made me decide to keep reading.LOL I know, I know, but I have four young boys and after living with them, I totally *get* that. And from this very cool opening, I think they would all really enjoy this. Good luck!

  2. This is awesome! I laughed out loud at "Special Fella". The only part that threw me off a little was the description of the guitar that seemed a little awkward, and the fact that she was playing classical music rather than mystical new-age music for ambiance in the Psychic Palace. Also, (without having read your book) I feel like I might like the title better without the word Bombastic. Because "Beanblossom" is the most awesome name ever (especially for this kid) and I don't want anything to detract or distract from that. :) I have a good feeling about this one!

  3. I love the names in this! Everything here works for me, except that I got a little confused once we entered the Psychic Palace, when suddenly there was a lot going on. I couldn't tell if Jacob was going there because of Old Man Fudgewick, or if he always go there. A little reflection on Jacob's part when he opens the door might help to clarify. Jacob's got a great voice!

  4. What a great concept! This actually made me laugh out loud. Special Fella is hilarious. I don't have any nit-picks. I think this is great. Love it. Good luck!

  5. This is hilarious! I love the idea of the psychic.

    I'm wondering why Jacob's taking the dog along to the psychic. Is he dog-walking? Is the dog's paw going to get read? I'd keep reading to find out.

    Great writing! Good luck!

  6. This delighted me, both the logline and the writing!

    My only nitpick is a little confusion upon entering the Psychic Palace, but I'm sure whatever follows would clear that up.

    Everything about this sings and invites a reader to dive right in. Awesome stuff!

  7. Hey,
    I enjoyed the logline - "kid who could fart on command" is probably the best description of a person i've ever heard - that is, without ever describing his actual features. Good job.

    The only nitpick I'll make is that there's a lack of urgency/tension in the first few paragraphs. Maybe a little apprehension about where he was headed - Psychic Palace? What is that place? - would help set his mood.

    Good luck with it!

  8. This is a lovely setup, but I think you need to do a lot of tightening.

    I’d scrap the first paragraph. I know you’re trying to use it to get the reader engaged, but it causes you to start and restart. For those who are just getting comfortable with reading this can be very frustrating.

    In the second paragraph, the final sentence feels a little tortured. I think you can combine sentences two and three to stronger effect: “The dog yipped and snarled non-stop, causing a lady pushing a stroller full of triplets to check for cars, then jaywalk, rather than cross his path.”

    Similarly, in your third paragraph, I think you can do some cutting and combining to create a smoother read. And I agree that your description of the guitar is awkward. It draws too much attention to the instrument, unless it’s very important – which is might be. I can’t tell. Also, be careful of the way you’re starting your paragraphs. You’ll notice that of the five paragraphs here, four start with Jacob. This is dull to the reading ear, and looks silly on a page. Vary it up!

    I love your final paragraph in this excerpt. It’s sharp, and quick, and smart. That’s the kind of wordplay and assurance that will keep your reader engaged. This is where your voice shines through.

    I think middle grade mystery is really hard to pull off, so you have a lot to deliver, but I think I’d read on a bit more.

  9. I love the voice here. I will say, though, that where the engagement kicked in for me was in paragraph four. I think you could sprinkle in the other details about the dog once they're inside the Psychic Palace.

    I'd definitely read more of this and think you have a really good foundation here. Good luck with the auction!

  10. This is one of the stories that stuck with me over my two day read and the following pondering. I adore the voice. I'd read for the logline alone.

    Here's the thing. My editor likes to say that the devil is in the details. That dog better play a pretty important role in the story for you to give him so much page time. And I'm not sure why he's taking a dog to a psychic, or why someone is playing a guitar over high pitched classical music. Details. The devil. You feel me.

    I'd keep reading.

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

    Hmm, I think you'll be needing a different title. But that's not a huge deal. More troubling for me was that I found the writing to be a bit jerky, and noticed that four of the six paragraphs started with "Jacob..." There were also a number of details--triplets, black curlicue sign--that knocked me out of the story.

    I did like the dog. "Special Fella" is a great name. I also like Jacob's commentary about Anjali, especially "the know-it-all did not know it all." There is some great potential in Jacob's voice, which I think can really sing once you get going in earnest.

    Good luck tomorrow!

  12. I love the first sentence! I bid 5 pages.