Monday, April 12, 2010

Entry 21

Genre: MG Historical Fiction

All the other 13-year-old boys around have been working the coal mine since they were 10, and where has Mitch Thomas been? In school with the girls. Times are hard and knowing the three Rs doesn’t buy food for the table or seeds for planting, so Mitch defies his father’s wishes and signs up with his pa’s boss at the mine. Faced with dangerous and backbreaking work and the constant popping and creaking of the mountain, not to mention rats, Mitch’s courage wavers. Worse, Pa’s gruff cold shoulder dashes Mitch’s hope of growing closer to him and becoming one of the boys.

On payday, the only bright spot of the summer so far, Mitch’s ma and sisters are accused of stealing from the company by picking coal from the slag pile. Mitch stands up for them and lands himself and his pa in the boss’s office where Mitch watches his father cave in like a beaten dog. Later in a heated argument, Mitch calls his pa a coward. Now, with Pa and Mitch not speaking, Mitch feels more alone than ever.

When a deadly cave-in traps Pa, Mitch is faced with the stark reality of the life of a coal miner, the life from which his father had tried to protect him--every day you go in, you may not come back out again. Mitch must gather his courage, go in and save his pa.


  1. I really like this query and I really like the description of this book. I would read it.

    Sorry I can't offer anything constructive or negative. Maybe end with a word count and a thank you for their time?

  2. This timely query sounds like it will resonate with MG boys. I would add a word count and thank the agent for their time.

    Well written, IMO. Good luck!

  3. You might try querying Joe Monti at Barry Goldwater with this. He wants 'boy' fiction. This sounds like a strong and timely story, and you've conveyed voice and plenty of conflict. Concur with the word count and thanks suggestion, otherwise, good luck with it. You should do well.

  4. Wow! a Fantastic query.

    I would definitely read this. It pulled at my heart strings. You have the emotions of real life, of a boy and his feelings for his father. Sounds like a real tear jerker. A bit like Billy Elliot.

    You had me at the word coalmines. My grandfather worked in the coalmines.

    Good luck.

  5. Wow, thanks for the great comments. I think I should add the following after the query synopsis:

    Set in a Utah coal camp during the early 1900s, my middle grade novel, IT'S COMING DOWN!, complete at 35,000 words, is full of adventure, danger and the struggle to earn respect. I would be happy to send you sample chapters or the full manuscript. Thank you for your time and consideration.

  6. Jamie Weiss ChiltonMay 7, 2010 at 4:40 PM

    I get a great sense of time and setting here. The query promises strong action and a great plot arc. I could see this manuscript being a fit for a regional publisher, or a house that specializes in historical fiction.


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