Monday, December 17, 2012

Hangover Round 1 Entry #43

TITLE: Return To Spender
GENRE: Middle Grade Fantasy

Eleven year old William Corne shared two things with his grandfather:
the elusive leap-year birthday , February 29 and enchanted money.
It's only after Grandpa Woodman's death that William discovers he's
inherited a twenty-dollar bill blessed by Irish magic. A bill that
returns each time it's spent with a letter from the previous owners of
the gift, his dead ancestors.

Life can be strange. Life can be amazing. Life can be cruel. But
sometimes, when fate intervenes, life can be all three at the same time.

William furrowed his brows against the sun as he stepped off the
school bus. A backpack, one strap frayed and holding on by a few last
threads, hung heavily on one shoulder covered by a hoodie jacket that
was no longer needed. The long sleeves of his Detroit Red Wings shirt
threatened to make the trek up the driveway into a workout on an
exceptionally warm mid-March afternoon. This only added to his

William tugged open the mailbox. It was empty. Again. It used to be
his job to bring the mail in, but not anymore. Not since his mother
changed shifts at the bank after Christmas break. It wasn't a big deal
then, but it was now.

He sent a small rock halfway up the driveway with a swift kick. When
he came to it again, he slowed and aimed the front end of his sneaker.
This time the rock tumbled across the driveway and into the brown grass.


  1. Interesting premise. I love the idea of enchanted money! Regarding the logline, you haven't outlined what the main problem in the story is. What external force is working against William, and what does he have to do to defeat it? I'd focus on that.

    Regarding the excerpt, I don't think you need the first paragraph. It's very vague - I feel like it can apply to any story or situation. Also, it feels odd there by itself. Who's saying it? William or some narrator?

    As for the rest of the excerpt, I can see that William's frustrated, but I don't understand what his mom changing shifts at the bank has to do with him not taking the mail in anymore and why that's so frustrating to William, so I'm a bit confused. Also, beyond William being frustrated, I'm not getting much of a sense of him or what's going on in the scene, so I'm not really all that invested.

  2. I like this. The writing is good. I'm not confused. I'm in William's head - only thing is I really would've liked that rock to go flying through a window.

    I agree with Chris that it reads better if you cut the first two lines and that the logline needs to give us the central problem and stakes. I'd start it from "William discovers..." Good job.

  3. I definitely like the idea behind this, but I too want to know a bit more about the stakes in the story. In addition to showing that in the pitch, I'd rework the second two sentences (the first one drew me in right away, but then the second sentence made me back up). Perhaps change it to:
    "After Grandpa Woodman's death, William discovers he's
    inherited a twenty-dollar bill blessed by Irish magic that
    returns each time it's spent with a letter from the previous owners of the gift, his dead ancestors." Then you have room for a third sentence to show what problem William faces.

    As for your excerpt, I can definitely picture this little boy climbing off the bus and looking into the mailbox... but why does his mom changing shifts at the bank affect the mail? And why is the mail so important to him? I think a few more details can clear this right up, and you're on the right track.

    And as Chris and Elizabeth mention, the first paragraph is confusing and doesn't quite read middle grade, so I'd suggest getting rid of it as well.
    Thanks for sharing!

  4. Love the premise! I'd like to know a little more, a little faster. Is he additionally frustrated because he knows the mailbox will be empty or for some other reason? I was also confused about mom's job.

    But one he starts acting, I totally picture him and that part works very well.

  5. The logline is interesting but needs tweaking, as the others have suggested. I think the last line of the logline is a little muddled.

    The first paragraph is interesting but not MG and too vague. It'd be a good tag on the front/back of the book cover. The action in the following paragraphs is too slow for me. I understand that his mom gets the mail now that her shift has changed but dont get what the big deal is. I'd probably read the next page or two to see if the action picks up, but if it didn't I'd probably put the book down, regardless of the interesting idea.

  6. I'd omit the "Life can be strange" lines. I'm not sure they'd offer a middle grade reader the intrigue you're hoping for.

    While I had no trouble picture the scene, a few lines were stoppers for me. I'm fine with the frayed backpack strap, but the "few last threads" made me refocus the picture: is it just frayed, or is it really just a few threads? Is it about to fall off? I'd also be careful of whether the placement of the hoodie is in the proper part of the sentence.

    Finding the mailbox empty clearly has him disgruntled, but since whatever he's looking for may be just inside the house (if Mom brought the mail in), it seems an over-reaction that he finds it open.

    Still, I think the premise is very cool, so I'm betting that (like me) you may not get your best out in the first lines.

    All the best.