Monday, December 17, 2012

Hangover Round 1 Entry #13

GENRE: Upper MG Fantasy

Thirteen-year-old horse-crazy Brook stumbles into the parallel world of Tirasvara. She meets natives with mysterious connections to nature and discovers a plot to steal her gate key along with four other Elemental Fire talismans. If she can’t decipher her new talent to read people’s Heartfires and protect the talismans, her pathway home will be destroyed.

I snuck into the stone-walled room that Dad used as his home laboratory. He’d be pissed if he knew, but that’s what he got for leaving the key in plain sight.
My horse Vienna was totally nuts after the last blizzard. I was on the hunt for a way to shorten my stirrup leathers. I started riding three months ago, and my inherited saddle was made for someone much bigger than a thirteen-year-old with a marathon-runner’s butt.
Dad’s steel workbenches were bare. I rummaged through drawers filled with unrecognizable tools. Nothing looked sufficient to poke holes in leather, so I returned to the garage part of the old apple shed. Sifting through dusty piles of unfinished projects uncovered a large nail and hammer. Wouldn’t be pretty, but it’d get the job done.
As I raised the hammer, the shop door opened. A thin man wearing a ridiculous Futurama tee rushed through. Dad’s head above robot Bender’s body. Perfect.
“Dad? Where’d you come from? I was just in there.” Oops.
His brown eyes gawked at me from behind thick lenses.
“Brook, stay out of my shop. It’s locked for a reason. The equipment’s valuable, and my experiments are sensitive.” He stabbed a finger in my face with each word. “Just. Stay. Out.”
Seriously? He appears in a locked room, and I’m the one in trouble?
Dad walked out of the shed without waiting for an explanation or asking a single question about my day. I grabbed the saddle and stomped to the barn, my project forgotten.


  1. The premise sounds interesting and I think that you start out in an ok place. The writing doesn't seem MG to me though. It's a bit to edgy for MG. In particular, I question the use of pissed and marathon-runner’s butt so early on.

  2. I agree with Jill about the language - it doesn't feel quite MG. She points out a couple places where it feels off.

    It also seemed weird to me that the protag's father wasn't more upset when he found out Brook had been in his shop. From the context, it seemed like he'd warned her many times before to stay out, so I expected something more monumental than him just telling her to stay out and then leaving. I also question why the protag would wonder why her father's not asking her about her day. I think she'd be more concerned about how he just appeared in a locked room and about getting in trouble. Also, why's she going to the barn? I'm not understanding the protag's motive there.

  3. I agree about the language not sounding MG and expecting her father to be more angry. Also, I thought the second paragraph came out of nowhere and seemed like an info dump to explain what she's doing in his shed, when you could probably work in little bits of it later on in a more natural way. Good luck!

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  5. Sorry, had a typo!

    I had trouble with the overall setting or description of the home laboratory/shed/garage/shop in general.

    …the stone-walled room that Dad used as his home laboratory… [at first I thought this was a room in a house]
    …so I returned to the garage part of the old apple shed… [apple shed had been converted to a garage?]
    …the shop door opened. [lab door opened?]

    Tightening this will help the reader get better understanding of where the scene is taking place.

    The language doesn’t bother me. I have used plenty of words in my writing that may not be deemed MG appropriate. I think it depends on the story and the intended audience. For better or worse, I have decided it should be the decision of an agent or editor. If the language is true to your character, stick with it. It can easily be tweaked down the line if necessary. Besides, I have a 13 year old and she talks just like that. In the end, you may just decide to market the book as YA.

    Good luck!

  6. I like the logline, and think this sounds interesting. Overall the opening also makes me want to read on and discover where Dad really came from. But... I agree with some other comments that the locations themselves are confusing (we don't know there isn't a second entrance to the lab, and I didn't discover Brook had left it at all.)
    The second paragraph seems out of place to me. At this point, does the name of the horse or the blizzard or how long she's been riding matter? It stops the story. I'd suggest including in the first paragraph, that she snuck in to search for tools to shorten the stirrups.