Wednesday, July 23, 2014

July Secret Agent #31

TITLE: Ellis in Kibblestan
GENRE: MG Fantasy

"We are the Voyagers, campers of goodwill.

The vulture is our symbol, but we never eat roadkill.

We always stick together, our loyalty is high.

As long as we're united, like vultures we will fly!"

Vulture Voyager Theme Song

The group of boys laughed as they hollered the words around the afternoon campfire, but Ellis' lips barely moved. He should have been happy. His troop had taken first place at the Vulture Voyager Survival Games. He'd passed all his wilderness exams. And he'd proudly received the Regurgitating Raptor Patch to sew on his Vulture Vest that proved he was no longer a fifth-grade Fledgling—he'd flown up to full Vulture rank. But instead of enjoying the campout's closing ceremony, he stomped off toward his tent, kicking up gravel along the way.

This campout was even more important than the one in second grade when he had graduated from the humiliating Egg rank. He was now a Vulture. It was a big deal. A way big deal. And Dad should have been here to see it, like all the other dads.

But he wasn't. He had to work. Again.

Ellis trudged up the sloping ground toward the blue tent he shared with his best friend, Colin. It was zipped tightly shut, but that didn't muffle his dachshund's lonely whimpers coming from inside.

Oh Philecia. He wouldn't have to lock her up like this if she'd just act like a normal dog, instead of some freakazoid.


  1. The details about Vulture scouts are alternately funny and gross, both good things.

    Rather than mixing these elements with the sadness over Dad's absence, you might consider treating each separately. Let us have fun with the Vultures, and then show us the moment when Ellis's excitement turns to disappointment upon discovering Dad isn't watching.

  2. I liked this opening except for the Vulture song. I would have liked to just jump into the story and have them say they sang their song.

    otherwise, I liked the tension of him not wanting to celebrate. He knows his dad isn't there and that would eat him up the whole time. I get that for a mg character.

    nice writing.

  3. I love this! Enjoyed it so much. The Regurgitating Raptor and Egg rank made me laugh. I really don't have anything to say about this -- I liked the song at the beginning (took me right to camp), and your writing is right on.

    The only nit-pick is that I think you need a comma after "Oh," as in "Oh, Philecia."

    Fun, fun stuff. I want to read the whole thing!

  4. I like the humor of this, even with the additional gross factor. Quite creative.

    The voice is definitely MG appropriate, as are the antics of the scouts. Made me smile.

    The only thing I found disappointing was going from 2nd grade straight to 5th. Surely the ceremonies in between these times were equally important?

    Good luck and thanks for sharing.

  5. Nothing in the excerpt hinted that this was fantasy, I would have liked a hint of this, even if just one sentence of something to come. But overall, the song made me laugh and I was able to connect to the MC feeling disappointed his dad wasn't there. The voice also seemed written well for MG. Way to go and good luck!

  6. I found this opening to be mostly telling and backstory. I'd rather see an active opening to introduce me to Ellis, and then weave the backstory in later.

  7. I'm not the biggest fan of songs starting a story. Maybe work it more into the background as we see Ellis sitting there disappointed?

    I like what we're given here, but I think I might want to see what it looks like in 1st person. I don't know how frequent 1st person is used in MG, though.

    Good luck!

  8. I laughed at the beginning, not gonna lie – “we never eat roadkill” = gold. I was a little confused at first just because I saw it was a MG Fantasy but then felt like it was taking place at a normal summer camp. If the setting is in a different world, then I’d maybe put that explanation close to the beginning.

  9. I enjoyed the underlying humor and the voice sounded MG. Nice job having a sympathetic character right off the start. One nit - maybe tighten the last sentence. How about if "a normal dog" is deleted and replace with "some freakazoid."

    I'd read on. :)

  10. I’m interested in the Vulture Games and what Ellis is going through, but unfortunately, I’m not connecting very well with him in this opening. There’s quite a bit of telling about what’s going on with him; I’d rather see him in scene, doing something that will show us how he’s feeling.