Monday, January 21, 2013

Bouncer Post #70

Genre:  MG Adventure
Word Count:  56,000


Finn Rackham is tired of being told that he's bound to end up just like his parents--behind bars.  Sure, his temper is a little toasty, but that doesn't make him a criminal.  But when he accidentally falls in with a band of pirates, even he starts to think it won't be long before he finds himself in juvie--or worse.

After twelve years in the slums of Brooklyn, Finn figures he knows how to deal with pirates.  Just stir up that temper, let fly a few fists, and bingo!  He'll be rid of them before you can say "Yo-ho-ho."  But the men and women who sail under Captain Kelsey Dash are not the sword-swinging, pistol-wielding, treasure-hunting rapscallions he expects.  They're time travelers, and they just commandeered a ferry in New York Harbor.

At least, it looks like a ferry.

But when the ferry changes into a Viking longship, Finn quickly learns that the boat he boarded in Battery Park is an enchanted vessel known as the Vanessa Atalanta.  With the ability to plunge into the past and float upon the future, while changing her form into any ship eer imagined, she's the most magnificent craft to sail the seas.  There's just one problem:  she can't be controlled, which means her crew lives in constant fear that she'll transform into the Titanic, materialize in the midst of Pearl Harbor, or cruise straight into waters patrolled by the wicked pirate J.R. Daggerwing.

The only way to regain control of the Vanessa Atalanta is to find her lost figurehead, the key to her magic.  if they don't, Finn can never return to New York--or worse, he and his new friends will be captured by Daggerwing, who will do whatever it takes to claim the enchanted ship for himself.

First 250

Trust Finn Rackham to make a mess of things.

Not that he regretted it.  Not that it was even his fault, really.  What was he supposed to do?  Bobby Leland, the pompous brat, had opened that big ugly mouth of his, and Finn had reacted accordingly: with a few well-aimed punches, straight to the jaw.  Sure showed him who was "good-for-nothing," all right.

"--ungrateful twerp.  We take you in and this is how you thank us.  Disgusting!"

From the driver's side, Mr. Leland was still yelling, but Finn wasn't listening.  Instead he stared out the window.  There wasn't much to see: it was late, and this part of Brooklyn was dark.

"I should have known.  That's what you get when good, law-abiding citizens try to clean up the streets.  No wonder the jails are overcrowded.  There's no helping you people, is there?"

All right, so maybe he was listening.  Finn balled his hands into fists.  Shut up, shut up, shut up.

The car jerked to a stop in front of a little brick building.  Mr. Leland leapt out, moving awfully fast for a man his size, and threw open the passenger door.  Finn tried to duck under his arm, but Mr. Leland caught him by the ear, only to drag him up the path to St. Magnus's Home for Children.

"I can walk.  Geez."  Finn pulled away, darting inside before Mr. Leland could give him a shove.


  1. I love this idea - really original! The first few paragraphs and kind of confusing - I was unsure about the setting that contained both juvie and pirates. The setting is still a bit unclear, but I would definitely read this! =)

  2. I really like you concept. I think this is just the thing MG readers will enjoy.

    I think your query could use some tightening, it's a bit on the long side. While I like the voice in the second paragraph a lot of it feels repeated with the things we already know from the 1st paragraph and then what comes next.

    There's a small typo in the last sentence of the query, it should be capitalize.

    I also enjoyed the voice in the first 250. I was a little confused as to who Bobby Leland was at first. But by the end I really felt for Finn. Poor kid! I'd definitely want to read on to see what came next.

  3. Sounds like fun! I do agree that your query is long. The first paragraph is a great start, but then it's kind of like you start over and go into synopsis mode.
    I enjoyed the first 250 and wanted more. The only thing that didn't really fit for me was the word disgusting. Maybe just me, but it gave me pause - probably just me.
    Otherwise, love the pirate setting in modern day.

  4. What a fun concept!! A ships that randomly appears throughout history!

    I agree that the query is too long. I think it's the first paragraph that is setting off.

    Good luck!!

    I'm #61

  5. I love the concept - who wouldn't be hooked by time travelling pirates? That said, I am also a little confused. If you streamline the query and give us a clear location in time for the opening, I think that would help. I'm also not sold on the stereotypical "bad foster parent" villain in the opening; something fresher would be a better hook.

  6. Time Travelling Pirates! Reminds me of the movie Time Bandits (which I loved).

    The query tends to drag on a bit and feel a bit like a short summary. I think if you just trim it a bit, you can get to the juicy bits and bring out the voice more. I hear it in the query, you just need to bring it out! But, the query does give us the stakes and introduces the MC and his conflict well.

    The most important part of the query though was brought up by Greyson. Give us that hook! If you can tweak that first paragraph so we're brought into the meaty conflict by the end of it, you'll be golden.

    For your first 250 I enjoyed the read. I really like the voice, and Finn definitely seems like a strong MC that kids would be able to relate too and root for. I'd be interested to read on...especially knowing that there are time travelling pirates involved.

    Good luck!

    -Copernicus (post #43)

  7. The plot totally intrigues me! I am already wondering about where Finn is going to travel to before he makes it back home. I would almost cut the whole first paragraph of your query to trim it up a bit. In the 250, I was a bit confused who Mr. Leland was at first, but the writing keeps you reading. Good stuff!! Don't forget to reveal yourself so we can watch for when your book gets published!

  8. Thanks everyone! I'll get to work cutting the query right away :)

  9. So beautifully TIME BANDITS! I accidentally commented on your #Pitchwars version and then realized that was Wrong. Sorry!

    Hoping to see this in print someday to get the full story!

  10. The line in your query that got me was- "...accidentally falls in with a band of pirates" :) I would love to read this just to see how that happens! I agree with the above statements of tightening up the query to bring out the voice a bit. I took the hatchet to mine, too!

    Your first 250 introduce us to one of my favorite kinds of MCs- not a perfect kid, but definitely interesting and worth following around. I would read on! - #48

  11. I knew right when I read this that you would be in! I love the premise - unique, intriguing. Clear query. Great execution. Well done! YOU'RE IN! Good luck!

  12. This is such a cute, original concept! The execution is great too. As others said the query is a tad too long, needs to be about a paragraph less. But, hey you're in any way! :) I expect to see arrows flying your way.