Monday, April 12, 2010

Entry 12

Genre: MG Earth-Based Sci-Fi

THE END OF NORMAL: The Dream, The Boxes, The Courage and The Book is a complete middle grade novel at 57,000 words.

Twelve year old Theodora can't read. Sure, she's smart, and her vision is fine, but whenever she looks at a printed page the words change into strange symbols and move into weird shapes -- and no one believes her. To top it all off she's plagued with very real nightmares and a bully she'd like to level.

When her grandmother "finds" Dr. Rivale's website touting a procedure that could correct her "reading problem", Theodora is skeptical. When he leans in and whispers, "I've been waiting for you for five hundred years," her normal life, with its comfortable trappings, is devoured in that one sentence. Before she knows what's happening, Theodora is swept into an international journey to unravel her mysterious heritage.

It's in the streets of Miravale, Portugal where Theodora's grandmother reveals her true alien lineage; her grandmother and father escaped from planet Miravale in the Ruby Galaxy thirty-four years ago. Their essences Brainboxed into two humans and so began their lives as Earthlings. If Theodora doesn't find her late father's Box of Intention she may not survive The Beings of the Darkness, and the entire Miravalian planet will be destroyed. Oh, and she's got to Brainbox back to Miravale without her mother ever finding out.

Fans of THE LIGHTING THIEF and HARRY POTTER and their page-turning-suspense will enjoy a similar style in THE END OF NORMAL.

I am a member of SCBWI and have a long and lively background teaching middle school language arts.

I could send you the full manuscript upon your request. Thank you for your time and consideration.


  1. I love the idea of what she reads changing into different symbols. My only advice would be to maybe tighten the third paragraph a bit. Good luck!

  2. This is a very interesting premise. Lots of worldbuilding here that sound complicated.

    I like the query, even with the weird format problems going on for whatever reason. But the last couple of sentences sound too familiar for a professional query letter.

    Just my opinions, of course.

  3. I like this. Good voice and premise. Maybe tighten this query a bit (cut all unnecessary words) and this will be great. Also maybe explain more who the Beings of Darkness are.

  4. That title seems very familiar somehow. Was is submitted in a previous contest?

  5. Ouch, you compared to bestselling novels. Never a good idea.
    I also get confused by the connection "Miravale, Portugal" and the planet Miravale. That fourth paragraph has me confused altogether I think.

    I was intrigued by the mystery of why the girl can't read, but the spacejourney really came out of the left field. Not convinced.

  6. This sounds interesting. You had me until the fourth paragraph, and then you lost me. Perhaps try to convey the information in the fourth paragraph without so many of the confusing terms. Maybe pick one or two and leave the rest out.

    Good luck!

  7. I agree with what was said above. The beginning of the query is rock solid and sucks us in - I want to know why the girl is different, why words appear as symbols, etc.

    I am completely lost by the end as to what is going on.

  8. Fourth paragraph threw me off too. I had to read it three times and it still didn't make sense.

  9. Jamie Weiss ChiltonApril 27, 2010 at 10:24 PM

    The structure of your query is correct. Some thoughts and questions...

    I think your title is stronger without the subtitle; I would just call it THE END OF NORMAL.

    57,000 words is quite long for a middle grade, even a sci-fi/fantasy; this may cause some agents and editors some concern.

    I think you could cut the last sentence of your second paragraph, about the bully.

    I'm not sure why Theodora is swept into an international journey -- could you clarify why this is necessary? Your fourth paragraph is a bit confusing, partially because of the grammar of your sentences. The reveal about Theodora's alien lineage is abrupt -- I'd see if you can restructure to introduce this earlier, since it is a major plot point.

    This is clearly a complex story, and tough to boil down into a few paragraphs. You're on the right track -- nice job.


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