Sunday, January 31, 2010



Dear Mystery Agent:

For the first time since his mom went AWOL, life is looking up for twelve-year-old Mike McTavish. Then chesshead Carma Wagoner fries his liver.

"Fried Liver" is chess speak for attacking your opponent's vital organs. In my 26,000 word manuscript of the same name, that's exactly what happens to Mike and his military dad when they collide with quirky Carma and her hot mama.

Mike's moved more times than he can count, courtesy of the U.S. Air Force. The last move was too much for Mike's mom, who hasn't been heard from in three years. Now the McTavish men have landed in Wichita. Mike's found a friend in Sergeant, a stray dog that hangs out at their new house. He and his dad are making a fresh start — taking comfort in each other, Sergeant and their nightly chess games. Then Carma shows up, claims the house used to be hers, claims the dog still is, and claims to be the state's top female chess player. She and her beautiful mother capture the heart of Mr. McTavish. He then gives aid and comfort to the enemy by inviting Carma to stay with them for the summer while her mother's abroad. To make matters worse, Mike's mom appears to ask for a second chance. His dad sends her away. Faced with losing everyone he loves, Mike makes a desperate move that nearly gets him killed. He learns that sometimes the only thing you have the power to change is yourself.

My work has been published in several magazines, including Highlights for Children, Chess Life for Kids and Story Something. I've also won many writing awards, most notably the 2009 Highlights Fiction Contest. I'm a member of SCBWI.

Thank you for considering FRIED LIVER




  1. I love the title. The girl's name is interesting and I'd love to know why Mike doesn't like her. That's the hook for me.

  2. Your publishing credits are impressive and I too love the title. The chess connection also seems like it would be a fun thematic element.

    I think the actual pitch could be tighter and more punchy -- to better match the title. The voice seems a little older than MG, although not by much.

    Good luck! It's exciting to read all these.

  3. I have to agree with Francesca. I think you could make the pitch tighter. I found myself wanting to skim a few tiimes. I also think you should leave that sentence with the details about it to after the whole pitch so we don't get pulled away from it. Otherwise, this sounds very interesting. :)

  4. I've tried to comment about this query letter several times. Hope I make it this go-around. :)

    This is great. Yanked me right in. Very visual and if the book was available now, I'd go buy it. If there's one thing I would change it's this: Cut the sentence about Dad sending Mom away. Sounds harsh and we want dad to be a better person that the mom who deserted them. Also, more provocative to go right into the next sentence, "Faced with losing everyone he loves..." I really like this story.

  5. I agree with Francesca, The paragraph with the meat of the story could be tightened without losing the meaning. For example, I don't think you need to mention the dog. Concentrate instead on the relationships between Mike, his dad, the girl, and her mom.

    Liked the chess connection a lot.

  6. The book and the characters sound interesting. I think you could tighten up the main paragraph as well. I like that the theme of chess runs throughout the novel.

  7. I think this sounds adorable. I figured it was middle grade by the query, but I still think I'd mention it with the word count, if an agent sees the word count without reading the rest, he/she may not move forward. I also agree it could be a little tighter, but I liked the pitch. It hooked me.


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