It's time for the last Pass Or Pages reveal of 2017! We're so grateful to our agent panel for taking the time to critique these entries. We hope you can find something to help you in your quest for an agent, even if you don't write middle grade!
Entry #3: SHIFTING GEARS
Query:It’s not easy being a mechanically obsessed, five-foot-nine seventh-grade girl. It’s a million times worse when you’re also dealing with your mom's death and a dad who can't handle it. Edie wants nothing more than to escape, and she gets her chance—big time—when she's accidentally dragged along with a team of kids to a parallel Earth. [MLS1] Just when a curious mob is closing in, an emergency recall kicks in and takes them back to our Earth and a hidden underground facility.
There Edie learns that a secret organization made up mostly of misfit kids is all that’s maintaining the boundaries between thousands of parallel Earths. Without their efforts to patch the cracks, bizarre—and dangerous—phenomena and creatures (Loch Ness Monster, anyone?) can cross over at will. [MLS2]
Shifting between worlds takes a physical toll, but Edie doesn’t care. This is the first place where she’s ever felt like she belonged and her talents are valued [MLS3], and she'll do whatever it takes to join up—even if it means a risky return mission to the parallel Earth.
SHIFTING GEARS is a 57,000 word upper MG sci-fi novel with series potential. It would appeal to fans of action-heavy sci-fi and fantasy grounded in our world like Dianne K. Salerni's THE EIGHTH DAY and Gordon Korman's MASTERMINDS.
This is a well structured query—I get a good sense of the MC and her problems, as well as why they’re relevant to the plot. However, I don’t think I’m the right agent for this kind of book, and would pass based on the type of story, though I’d give a look at the writing.
[MLS1]: How so? We need more specifics here. Is it a school field trip gone wrong? What do you mean a parallel Earth? For clarity, I wonder if it would be handy to name the parallel Earth in the query (“… team of kids to a parallel Earth, [NAME].”).
[MLS3]: What talents? I’d love to have this mentioned earlier in the plot summary.
First 250:Graduation at Bradford Middle School is a big fat hairy deal.
Which is why I was sitting on an uncomfortable folding chair on the gym floor on a Saturday, wearing a dress that was making me itch in unmentionable places and wishing I was anywhere else. [MLS1] Our principal had informed us seventh graders that our presence was required to support our graduating eighth graders whether we liked it or not—and I swear she'd looked right at me when she said it.
Mrs. Newell started off with a very long speech about promising futures [MLS2] and all these shining faces looking up at her. It didn't seem to occur to her that maybe they were shining because it was, like, eighty-five degrees in the gym. At least I didn't have to wear a full gown, like the eighth graders. I sneakily wiped the sweat off my forehead with the sleeve of my dress and did my best to look like the picture of supportiveness until Mrs. Newell got to the part about parental involvement being key to student success.
A glance at the bleachers where the audience was sitting told me that Dad hadn't gotten the memo. He had his phone out and was tapping it with this concerned look on his face, which meant there was a 99.9% chance he was bored out of his mind and playing a video game. [MLS3]
Emily's Notes:I like this voice. Please send the first 30 pages to email@example.com and include Pass Or Pages in the subject line.
[MLS1]: Love this line! However, be careful on your use of ‘was’/’were’—try to swap those out for active verbs instead.
[MLS2]: I’d love more specifics here. I think this is a great opportunity for additional elements of humor.
[MLS3]: I adored the voice and humor here. I would definitely ask for more pages! Please send the query, synopsis, and first 20 pages in the body of an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, with the subject line 'Meg Pass or Pages Request: [TITLE], [age group], [genre].'