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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Query Workshop 27--Race to Butch Cassidy's Gold

Genre: MG Mystery

Twelve-year-old Maggie McCoy wants to be brave and spontaneous. But she’s not. Especially when it comes to school bullies and "flying by the seat of her pants". So when she and her fearless cousin Jake stumble upon century-old clues leading to gold coins hidden by Butch Cassidy--farm boy turned infamous bank robber of the Wild West--she crumples her “to-do” list to prove that she really can be daring and impulsive.

And at first, searching for gold with Jake and their quirky Grandpa Jim in his beat-up motorhome is the grand adventure she's always wanted. But Maggie’s newfound courage falters when she learns they must outsmart and outrun a dangerous thief who is also after the treasure.

The race is on. But, just as the cousins think they have solved the mystery, Jake is captured, and all the lists in the world won't save him. Only Maggie can, if she finds her bravery. 

RACE TO BUTCH CASSIDY'S GOLD is a 41,500-word middle grade mystery where Maggie's present-day adventures parallel Butch Cassidy's past until mystery and history collide. This book stands alone, but can open the door for a series that exposes readers to fast-paced adventures across the fifty states.

With a Master’s degree in Elementary Education, I have been both an elementary and middle school classroom teacher. I am a regular attendee of writers’ conferences and have three published magazine articles. I created the successful marketing website, Giveaway Today, with an apex of 176,000 page views per month.

Thanks for your time and consideration.


Huntress said...

Great introduction of Voice, your MC, secondary and the quirky Grandpa. Details like the ‘beat-up motorhome’ add fantastic detail to your query.

Three suggestions. I’d change the last sentence to ‘…no lists in the world will save him…’ Cut ‘that’ in the first paragraph. And single quotation marks around ‘to-do’.

I am a drama queen, btw, and love the use of fragments. That said, I would change the last line to '...Only Maggie. If she can find her bravery...'
Totally subjective of course:)

Good job.

Patchi said...

I love your opening paragraph and I think it's a great hook.

The conflict in the second paragraph is perfect and I like how you increased the stakes by mentioning that Jake disappears.

I don't get the sentence .

I liked Huntress's rephrasing of the last sentence, but I would write [Only Maggie - if she can find her bravery.]

Good luck!

abuckley23 said...

I would cut the middle sentence in the 3rd paragraph altogether. Only because I like to be left wanting more and the "But, just as..." hints at a twist that I don't want to know until I read it. I had a metaphor to use here involving a stripper but it's slipped my mind...

Regardless it's a well structured query :)

Sam F. said...

This sounds fantastic! I love the sentence about how "mystery and history collide."

One thing - I think the third paragraph slows it down. The first two are fantastic, but I get the sense that the third paragraph gives away the climax. Maybe it doesn't, but that's the feeling I get -- and as a reader, I definitely wouldn't want the climax spoiled. Perhaps in its place you could discuss the antagonist a bit? This dangerous thief fellow? Just a thought.

mshatch said...

"Twelve-year-old Maggie McCoy wants to be brave and spontaneous." (For some reason I want it to read like this: Twelve-year-old Maggie McCoy wants to be brave and spontaneous like character x in "her favorite book/movie/tv sho." This tells me she has aspirations - even if they are way too high :)

My only other suggestion is to add a bit more to the grandpa's character. Otherwise, this sounds like a really fun read!

Charity Bradford said...

I don't really have anything to add to what's been said. This query reads well, nice flow and voice. I do agree that you could lose everything after "The race is on." in paragraph 3.

The other line I think you could lose is --farm boy turned infamous bank robber of the Wild West-- Most adults are family with Butch Cassidy and you won't need that.

Great job!

Unknown said...

I really like this query a lot. I don't have much to say, and I definitely want to read this book and think my kids would like it, too. So, I guess I SHOULD edit something though...

The quotes in the first paragraph actually break up the flow of the sentence, as punctuation is known for. I'd suggest italicizing "flying by the seat of her pants" - or just leaving it straight lettering and no quotes.

My next critique comes via words such as "But" that start your sentences. I've been known to do this in my blurb writing, but you should try to break up the repetitiveness. Sometimes if you remove "but" the sentence still works quite well.

Last, but not least, I agreed with Charity on my last critique, but I need to state this because it's important: Leave this line "farm boy turned infamous bank robber of the Wild West" because if a kid picks up this book, he/she WILL NOT know who Butch Cassidy is. Times are changing, and hell, I'll bet half the people my age don't know of Butch Cassidy. (Just my two cents. I hope Charity and I can still be friends. <3)

Charity Bradford said...

Yes! We can still be friends. Thinking about it, you're probably right. Is that a sad statement about our education or just society in general?

*goes off to introduce her kids to Butch Cassidy*

Charity Bradford said...

RLOL, look at that typo. Familiar not family with Butch. *ack*

Unknown said...

YAY! *Wipes brow*

Loralie Hall said...

I love this query, and idea. I think you've got a great voice and story here. I only have a few suggetions. I wasn't sure why "flying by the seat of her pants". was in quotes. It draws attention to a cliche phrase and makes me wonder if it's supposed to mean something else, or stand out for some other reason.

The only other thing I noticed was in your 'housekeeping' where you talk about this book opening 'the door for a series that exposes readers to fast-paced adventures across the fifty states'. I know that's not the same as a book that is meant to convey a specific moral lesson, but it does still draw attention to the fact this book is meant to teach, not just entertain. From what I've seen, some agents are put off by that. I suspect there's a large market for it, but my only comment there is make sure your research is solid on who wants this education type of fiction when submitting.

Great job and best of luck to you!

Jambo said...

Hi There
I actually love this query, it really reads well and I think you have just the right ingredients to hooks MG kids. Its also a great manuscript lenght so best of luck.
Cheers Julie Anne Grasso

Jambo said...

Hi There
I actually love this query, it really reads well and I think you have just the right ingredients to hooks MG kids. Its also a great manuscript lenght so best of luck.
Cheers Julie Anne Grasso

Emily said...

Thanks everyone! Your feedback is so helpful. I appreciate your suggestions to help make it stronger.