Title: Liar of Hahnry
Entry Nickname: Fibs Taste Cruddy
Word count: 42K
Genre: MG Fantasy
Twelve-year-old Heshnee has been groomed to be the king’s advisor since birth. And holy-moons, she knows it’s an honor for a Kandrite. Her genetic traits allow her to see when others fib and unable to tell untruths. But her world is shattered when she accuses her father of plotting to kill King Jarrod—an outright lie.
Heshnee’s unintentional betrayal chisels at her heart. Her mother believes a curse caused the horrific event but magic can’t exist inside the protective dome of Hahnry. She must flee beyond the city into a world of magic with strange creatures like ghosnites—floating skeletal figures with charred and mummified skin. Journeying to find a cure to save her father and her family name, she encounters another magic that slowly transforms her to a tree. The Evil Magik Dauud holds the key to finding her cure and wants to keep it for himself. And furthering her trouble, the antidote is a one-wish granting flower. She must convince Dauud to give her the flower before her transformation and decide if she’ll save herself or save her parents.
First 250:

There were two kinds of liars, those who fibbed for things of good and those who harmed with the rot of their words. But Kandrites were incapable of either. That’s why they’ve been advisors to the kings of Hahnry since the beginning of time. At least, until one accused another of plotting King Jarrod’s murder.

Heshnee longed to scream her accusations weren’t true but the words jellied in her throat.  Her tongue forked in her mouth as she attempted to swallow each discrediting syllable. She blinked and repeated, “I overheard him in his study plotting with another man.”

She watched hopelessly as the soldiers dragged her father to the dungeon. Their metal uniforms clanked against the stone floor. Heshnee bowed her head as her father screamed his innocence.
“Take the women to their quarters,” said King Jarrod. “I’ll cross-examine them later.” Heshnee didn’t refuse but her mother and older sister, Kojlia, argued all the way.
In their bedroom, Kojlia loomed over Heshnee with nostrils flared. She shook her, fingers digging into Heshnee’s muscles. “You little maggot, fix this!”
Heshnee’s long hair caught under her sister’s fingers, pulling at her scalp. Ouch! She believed Kojlia would rip her apart if she didn’t comply.
But, every effort to tell the truth expelled another lie to cover the lie. “But he’s guilty.” She stumbled out of Kojlia’s grip. Her muscles weakened under the weight of her words. Grabbing her head, she shook. What the noggin-scum?


Title: The Adventures of Kirby Daring
Entry Nickname: Super Space Nerd
Word Count: 35K
Genre: MG Science Fiction
Kirby Daring is so not an action hero. He’s an eleven-year old super-genius who would much rather spend his time aboard Space Station Delta reading holo-comics or inventing a new device to help him get his chores done faster. His life would totally be easier if his best friend Jake would stop dreaming up new and exciting ways to get them both killed, such as taking a space cruiser for a joyride during a solar flare. Spoiler alert: explosive decompression is involved.
Even frequent near-death experiences aren’t Kirby’s biggest problem, however. It’s his dad, the famous Dr. Daring. Sure, being the chief scientist on Delta is kind of a big deal, but is his job really more important that his son? Couldn’t the man come home for dinner, like ever?
Nothing, not even Kirby being nearly eaten by a very nasty Snaarl seems to get Dr. Daring’s attention. Kirby starts to think he’d be better off on his own, but when his dad disappears just before a Snaarl warship attacks Delta, Kirby learns how wrong he was. To make matters worse, everyone else on the Station assumes Dr. Daring is a traitor.
Kirby embarks on a quest to find his dad and clear his name. As he begins to unravel the mystery, he uncovers the Snaarl’s true plan, and a secret weapon that could threaten the entire galaxy. To locate his dad and save the day, Kirby must make some very un-Kirby like choices, such as breaking into a restricted Science lab, eating some questionable fruit, and… sneaking aboard a massive Snaarl warship? He’s going to have to hero-up big time for this one.
First 250:
Kirby Daring was full of great ideas. He also had good ideas and sometimes even OK ones. He glanced over at his best friend, Jake Merriweather, strapped into the pilot’s seat of a space cruiser.
Kirby was convinced. This was a terrible idea.
Jake grinned from ear to ear, practically vibrating with excitement. He clearly thought sneaking aboard an XJ-27 space cruiser and taking her for a little spin was a fantastic idea.
If Jake likes itthis must be a horrible idea.
It all started last week when Jake, hotshot member of the Jr. Space Pilots, would not shut up about the new high score he set in the flight simulator. After listening to a few hours of non-stop bragging, Kirby stupidly said, “Who cares? Just because you can fly a simulator doesn’t mean you can fly a real space-ship.”
And so here they were, down in the lowest level of Space Station Delta, in the early morning hours while everyone else was sleeping. With Kirby suffering from a mild panic attack and Jake looking like a kid on Christmas. 
Worst. Idea. Ever. Kirby re-checked the safety harness pulled tight over his chubby belly. Still fastened.
Jake had calmed himself enough to focus, and was now busy going over the pre-flight checklist. “Navigation systems?”
Kirby looked at the display in front of him. All lights were green. “Navigation systems, check. Can we talk about this?”
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      I really like the premise. The power to tell when people are lying is full of potential. I understand the Kandrites can't lie, but the wording of the 'unable to tell untruths' line is a bit confusing. Definitely clean that up because I assume it is very important that readers understand that non-Kandrites believe she’s telling the truth about her father.

      Otherwise, the first paragraph works really well. It's got good voice, and sets up a mystery that seems personal. The second paragraph, however, is messy. And as someone who writes fantasy I definitely understand, but there are a lot of names of things in this query that can be off-putting. For example, you don't need to name the skeletons – you could write skeletal creatures with charred and mummified skin, if they are important enough to reference at all. Otherwise, keep the plot focused on Heshnee. I don't really understand why she's turning into a tree and I'm not sure what the Evil Magik Dauud is.

      The first 250 help clear up some of these questions, but when querying agents, you don't always get to include pages and sometimes they don't make it that far. In either the query or the 250, But it starts in the action and I'm definitely intrigued.

      Nice job.


      As someone who reads too many comic books, you’re definitely in my wheelhouse here and the tone and voice are pretty perfect. I kind of feel like I’ve read this book before would be my attempt at a complaint, but then doing something familiar really well is no easy feet either. If there is any detail that could hook us into the world better, I’d be interested in reading it. Such as a unique piece of technology for example – but only if it works for the plot.

      Otherwise, very well done. I think you could tighten up the query a bit. For example, the sentence about unraveling the mystery and what Kirby must do could possibly be combined.

      As far as the first 250 goes, once again well done. I’d like to hear more about Kirby’s ideas that were great, as well as the OK ones. The hint of self deprecation in this line could go further with, some specific examples: “Like the time…”, but maybe that’s just me.

      This one is tough because I like both premises. Fibs has me interested a bit more, but Super Space Nerd is closer to where it needs to be.



      – Outer Space Potato Man

    • Fibs Taste Cruddy

      Query: I love the voice you’ve infused in here, holy-moons really sells it for me. However, I think I could use some more clarification in the query to really drive home my understanding of your story. The sentence “her genetic traits…” feels like a word might be missing. It’s the “Unable to tell untruths” that trips me up since I initially thought you were talking about the “others” rather than Heshnee. The last sentence of that paragraph confused me. I know the premise is that she lies when she can’t, but does she do it on purpose? Is there a reason? Does she not mean to? Second paragraph, I’d combine the third and fourth sentences: “She must flee beyond the city into a world of magic with strange creatures to find a cure…” Here you reference that she needs a cure for her father, but I don’t believe you mentioned he was sick? I think you’ve got enough words to add in a few more details, like how she might convince Dauud. One last question, it seems like Kandrites can’t lie and can tell when other people lie, but you also say it’s an honor for a Kandrite to be an advisor—can you explain why? It seems as though that type of person would be good to have on staff.

      250: Overall I think this is really good. However, I’d love to see the whole process of her accusing him. Actually seeing her mouth say words she doesn’t want to and how that feels. Right now it feels a little glossed over and seems to be a huge point in the story. The line, “At least until…”—I’m not a fan of this tactic, speaking to future, but that could just be personal taste. The sentence before that, should be “they’d” instead of “they’ve.” To play a bit of Devil’s Advocate, if all Kandrites can’t lie, would it not be possible for another Kandrite to refute her claim that he’s plotting to kill the King?

      Super Space Nerd

      Query: This query is superb and the voice in it is excellent. Third paragraph has me wondering exactly what a Snaarl is. Being eaten by one made me think more of a space animal, but if they also have a warship that seems to imply they’re more intelligent. I’m not sure you really need to explain, but maybe use a different example in the first sentence to avoid that question altogether? Also, can you give us a hint why his dad could possibly be a traitor because of the Snaarl attack. Is it something to do with his research? I’ve gone back and forth on the “un-Kirby-like” part since I see you say he’d rather read comics, but on the other hand he does do a lot of dangerous and crazy stunts with Jake. The closing line her is fabulous, love it.

      250: Again, the voice here is great. I love the little details like the fact that Kirby has a chubby belly. I might cut the “if Jake likes it” line as “idea” is getting a bit repetitive at that point. When he confirms the navigation systems are good, I feel like he’s not in this pilot program so would he actually know? Is he just guessing because the lights are green? Honestly, I don’t have too much to say here other than I really enjoyed this!



      Great premise, and I love the holy-moons line!

      Query: A few questions…
      1) Who does her mother think is cursed (Henshee, or the father)? I assumed it was the father because you mention a cure, but from the 250 it seems like Henshee. (So what’s the cure do for her father?)

      2) Why does she have to flee the city? If the reason is “to find a cure to save her father,” then I would combine those two sentences: “She must flee beyond the city into a world of magic to find a cure to save her father and her family name. But when another magic slowly transforms her into a tree…” The bit about the strange creatures (while interesting) is distracting from the main plot.

      250: Love your opening line! In the third sentence, it should be they’d instead of they’ve.

      This is an intense opening, and I really like it. My only hesitation is that it’s a lot of characters for the first 250. What about starting with just Henshee and her sister? Their dynamic is very distinct, even from such a short snippet, and that could be a good place to start the story and reveal what happened to the father through their interactions.


      Query: I think this could be condensed a bit into three paragraphs (the current third paragraph absorbed into the one before and after). But otherwise, excellent!

      250: Wonderful voice! I know some MG readers who would eat this up.


    • From Catattack

      Query: I like that the main character’s not being groomed as royalty, but as an advisor – a fresh spin. I also liked the voiciness of ‘And holy-moons.’ There’s a lot of imagination shown, but I was confused by a few things. With Heshnee unable to tell untruths, I think the curse issue needs to be clearer. Later in the query, it says her father needs a cure – but a cure for what? I thought the curse mentioned at the start referred to Heshnee’s lie about her father. If not, this needs clarifying. Suggest cutting a few of the names. Sticking with two to three in a query works best. Do we need the city/county/country’s name (Hahnry?) Perhaps ‘…can’t exist inside the city’s protective dome.’ Are the ghosnites crucial to Heshnee’s story? Suggest cutting their name and description in the query. Perhaps ‘She must flee (beyond the city in)to a world of magic (with strange…skin). Journeying…’ Also suggest: ‘…holds the key to finding her cure (and) but wants…’ I don’t think you need the ‘And furthering her trouble…flower’ line. Suggest cutting and changing the following to: ‘She must convince Dauud to give her the cure (flower) before her transformation is complete.’

      250: Lovely phrase – ‘the rot of their words.’ I wanted more set up before Heshnee’s lie. It felt like we’re plunked down in the middle of something, but I don’t know where or why. Perhaps add in a little build up to this moment – so we see Heshnee pre-lie? I’m assuming this lie surprises her – I think this moment can be expanded.

      Query: Great voice here. I suggest reordering ‘However (even) frequent near death …problem (however). Typo: ‘…but is his job really more important that/thaN his son?’ You do a wonderful job catching Kirby’s wistfulness without him seeming whiny. The tense shifted in the following, suggest: ‘…Kirby learns how wrong he (was) is.’ Love the closing paragraph.

      25: Funny opening. Suggest trimming out the cliché ‘ear to ear’ and suggest trimming ‘so’ from ‘And (so) here they were…’ Great voice throughout. Strong pace and intro to Kirby and his friend.

      Both these entries look like fun reads.


      Query : Heshnee has a lot on her plate for being 12 years old! I’ve got a few questions/suggestions for you regarding your query. The line that begins, “Her genetic trails allow her…” there’s a portion of that line that reads, “unable to tell untruths.” I got stuck on this for much longer than I probably should’ve, so, is Heshnee able to tell when a person is telling a lie AND telling the truth? If so…why not say it that way? The “unable to tell untruths” is a bit of a tongue twister. Simple is better in this instance. The query is also a bit short–you've got some additional word space to use if you want to. Might help to ramp up the conflict and stakes a bit more!

      First 250: I love that we start right in the middle of the action–but it almost feels TOO soon. MG novels means you need to get right in there, but this one feels too fast for me. You've got some great description in here, though, and it's written well, I just question the starting point.

      Query: The voice in your query is awesome! Few things: Second paragraph, the line, "…but is his job really more important THAT his son?" Should "that" be "than"? And I also think the 2nd and 3rd paragraphs could be pushed together (no editing of content, just a space removed).

      First 250: Great opening! Something tells me Jake and Kirby are always pushing the envelope a bit! I love the voice again and the set up is awesome. My only suggestion is to the event coordinators to increase the word count from 250 to the first chapter because I really want to read more! Nicely done!


    • (Note to both: I haven’t read any other comments, so I apologize if any of mine are repetitive. I like going in objective.)
      Fibs Taste Cruddy
      I love your premise. Love. I also write SFF and so appreciate the little world-building tidbits you threw in, such as the “holy-moons” expletive. Nice work with that.
      I’d rework the third sentence to make it a little clearer she has two distinct abilities, such as like this: “Her unique genetic gifts give her the ability to tell when others are lying, but they also make it impossible for her to tell an untruth herself.” The next sentence I think needs some reworking. I’d cut “Her world is shattered when…” because it makes it seem like something happens *to* her, when in fact *she’s* the one doing the action (accusing). Also I’d refer to the king not by name at that point.
      I think you need to explain this action a bit more. It’s confusing why it’s unintentional. Maybe put us in the moment more and build up the hype – “Until one day when she opens her mouth, and something comes out that shatters her world: a lie. And it’s not just any lie. It’s the most terrible lie she can imagine—that her father plans to kill the king himself.”
      In the next paragraph, comma after “event.” I’d sub “their city” for Hahnry. In SFF use the fewest amount of names you can, since it can get overwhelming and distracting for the reader. Similarly, I don’t think you need to include the description of ghosnites. In the sentence about her being transformed into a tree, I think you should use future tense, something like “which will slowly transform her into a tree.” In the next sentence, I’d change “and he wants to keep it for himself” to “but he wants…” Also, either way there should be a comma before the and/but. I think the last sentence could be reworked slightly to heighten the drama. Make sure you start with the MC’s name, too.
      First 250: In first sentence, comma after “good.” (Side note, judging from these excerpts, you need to brush up on your comma rules. Check out “compound sentences” and commas, particularly.) I’d axe the entire first paragraph. Like, truly, axe that sucker. Agents/editors hate telling, prologue-y-feeling openings.
      In the second paragraph, comma before “but.”
      Okay, I think this is an example of an awesome story starting in the wrong place. Usually people start too early, but in your case, I think it’s too late. It would be like The Hunger Games starting at the Reaping and Katniss getting called – we just don’t know enough about the world, the MC, or the supporting characters yet to know what’s going on. In this case, of course, I do because I’ve read your query, but a reader starting from page 1 without reading your blurb wouldn’t.
      Overall comments: AWESOME premise and looks like a solid plot. I would totally read this book to my students. Brush up on comma rules, rework the phrasing of your query, and start a little earlier. Then you’ve got a dynamite query/excerpt combo!!!!

      -Molly Millions

    • Super Space Nerd
      Great hook. Great phrasing of the opening lines. Nice voice. I might add “Of course,” to the beginning of the third sentence, and also add “by” before the phrase “taking a space cruiser for a joyride.” I like the spoiler alert idea, but the actual joke was lost on me with the overly wordy and scientific sounding “explosive decompression.” It doesn’t give me a mental image and for me, it loses your query’s (fab) momentum. I think the opening sentence of the second paragraph isn’t necessary. I’d combine with the next sentence to something like, “His biggest problem isn’t even his far-too-frequent brushes with death…it’s his dad, the famous Dr. Daring.”
      If you were writing contemporary MG, I’d be down with the “…like, ever?” line, but it’s SF. Now, I’m working on an MG SF so I’m really sympathetic to the balance of trying to have voice with also something that sounds “future-y,” but to my ears this sounded a bit too contemporary.
      Comma after “snaarl.”
      The rest of your query sparkles. The plot sounds great and just the kind of thing my mid-elementary students would eat up—a fun adventure with a nice dose of humor.
      250: I like the first paragraph. Nice voice. I think the terrible idea line needs reworking. Something like, “However, about 30 seconds ago Kirby Daring realized his newest idea wasn’t any of those.
      It was a terrible one.” I’d also add “Jake, on the other hand, still clearly thought…”
      I think Worst. Idea. Ever needs its own line.
      The last two lines might need a bit of reworking, some hesitation or dialogue tag before “Can we talk about this?”
      Overall: Great premise, great voice, very polished. Just some tweaking of phrasing.
      OVERALL TO BOTH: They are both fantastic entries, truly. As someone who writes MG SFF, I’m super impressed with both of these. The worlds feel rich and well-thought out, and the MCs both shine. I actually prefer the premise and plot of Fibs, but your query needs some polishing and I think you started too late. It’s a really, really hard decision, and I think both of you will go far with these and have an amazing shot and snagging an agent. In the end, my decision is going to come down to me feeling like Fibs Taste Cruddy started too late and Space Nerd’s voice shining more. So as much as it pains me to choose one, I have to give VICTORY TO SUPER SPACE NERD.

      -Molly Millions

      Query: This is a neat premise! I do think the sentence "unable to tell untruths" is a bit confusing. Maybe think about rewording. The only other part which was sort of confusing is why she must leave her city to find what? An answer to the curse? I would mention this before you mention she flees.

      First 250: Great world building in the first few sentences. It's nice and clear how the world works. And I really enjoyed the imagery. I would just watch out for echo words, for example you use the word "but" 5 times, "scream(ed)" 2 times, which were fairly close together. Overall, this sounds awesome!

      Query: Voice is great and this sounds like a lot of fun! The only part that pulled me out was the part where you mention "un-Kirby-like". He's done some daring stuff with his friend Jake, so it seems breaking into a restricted Science lab, may be something he and Jake would do?

      First 250: Again, voice is superb! Suggestion, I would make the part "Worst. Idea. Ever." its own paragraph to make it stand out more. Awesome job weaving in detail about Kirby, with this "chubby belly". And already in this short excerpt, I can sense their personalities. Fantastic job!

      As much as I enjoyed both, and each were awesome in their own right, I feel one is just slightly more along overall than the other!

      Victory to: SUPER SPACE NERD



      I like the juxtaposition in the first sentence: knowing that the MC is isn't supposed to be able to lie and then having her do so anyway is definitely intriguing. I also love the idea of a curse threatening to turn a girl into a tree. Very neat concept all around.

      First 250:

      I like that you jump right into the inciting incident, showing us that Heshnee is lying even though she's not supposed to be able to. This is all fast-paced and intriguing and I can't think of anything helpful to say!



      I love the humour and great voice from the get-go, and how they work together to give us a sense of the MC right away. I also think the conflict is introduced well and the stakes are clear. My only quibble is that the Snaarls keep popping up and I never get a sense of who or what they are. At first I thought they were mindless human-eater alien types, but then they have a plan and warships, so they're clearly not that mindless, so I'm having a hard time picturing what they are and how they may or may not figure in the narrative.

      First 250:

      Great sense of who your MC and his bestie are. Fun, voice-y and showing great pacing. I'm loving how you show the MC's personality through his actions and words. I find it very compelling and fun.

      Man, I'm worn out after so many fantastic entries… So hard to make a choice… Why must there be only ONE??

      OK, OK… Here we go…


  1. FIBS

    Very intriguing premise!

    Love the voice in the first paragraph of the query. I think the line about
    unable to tell untruths is a little unclear. I’d recast it a little.

    The second paragraph is a little dense. I’d stick to one or two conflicts. You don’t need all the magical creatures etc. I’m also not sure you need the mom in the paragraph. Stick to a couple of characters in a query.

    Also, what does the father need to be cured from?

    Maybe something like: Heartbroken, Heshnee now must travel beyond the city into a world of magic in order to find a cure etc.

    Great opening paragraph in the 250!
    Once you clear up some clarity issues, I think you’ll be off to a very nice start.

    Good luck!


    Wow! I love this one. The query is pretty darn awesome and matches the voice of the 250 perfectly.

    My one criticism is that I think the last paragraph of the query could be a little streamlined. It gets a little redundant.

    Maybe something like:

    As Kirby embarks on a quest to find his dad and clear his name, he uncovers the Snaarl’s true plan, and a secret weapon that could threaten the entire galaxy. Now he must make some very un-Kirby like choices, such as breaking into a restricted Science lab, eating some questionable fruit, and… sneaking aboard a massive Snaarl warship? He’s going to have to hero-up big time for this one.


  2. Fibs Taste Cruddy


    Great concept! The second paragraph confused me a little with all the uses of the word magic. I had to read it a few times. I do think it sounds like an awesome story.


    Love the first line. It's very powerful. Watch tense. The third sentence slips into present while the rest is past. Nice job getting right into the action.

    Super Space Nerd


    The voice is there right from the start. Watch the questions. Try to re-word them as sentences. I don't know that you have to give so many examples in the last paragraph. It takes away from the intensity of the stakes, but I do love that last sentence!


    Fun opening! "Can we talk about this?" made me laugh. The only suggestion would be maybe a smoother transition from Kirby's great ideas to Jake's bad idea. It seemed a little choppy.

    These are both fabulous- I can't wait to add both of these books to my 10 year old's bookshelf 🙂


    First off, super fun nickname!


    This is a fun, unique concept! I love that she can tell when people lie and that she can’t lie herself. I also love the term holy moons! It adds some great voice to your query.

    “Her genetic traits allow her to see when others fib and unable to tell untruths.” This line confused me a little bit and I had to reread it a few times. I think it means that her traits allow her to tell when others lie and also prevent her from lying herself, but I’m not positive. Maybe reword that sentence to make it a little clearer.

    Is the “horrific event” the death of King Jarrod or her accusation toward her dad?

    Also, where is her father? Is he in prison or just disgraced? What exactly is she saving him from?

    Overall, this is a great book idea and a great start to the query. It just needs a few things cleared up and it’ll be golden.

    First 250:

    Great first line. It’s intriguing and gives an overview of the story.

    The voice is fun. I love “What the noggin-scum?” And I love the line, “Her tongue forked in her mouth as she attempted to swallow each discrediting syllable.”

    I do think that if I hadn’t read the query first, I’d be a little confused on what was going on in the first 250. I think it could be fixed with a slight change in the first paragraph, last sentence. Something like, “At least until one Kandrite accused her father of plotting King Jarrod’s murder.” Or possibly starting the book with the original accusation instead of just after the accusation.

    But the first 250 are strong. You’ve done a great job!



    I love this! I would definitely buy it!

    I will say that the first two paragraphs have a lot of great voice, but it drops off in the last two. If you can add in a little bit of voice to those last two paragraphs to keep it consistent, this query will sing.

    First 250:

    I laughed out loud a few times while reading this. I love it. And the last line: “Can we talk about this?” is perfect.

    My only suggestion is that you use the word idea/ideas a lot in the beginning. I think varying the word choice would help.

    But this is great. I want a copy…now!

  4. Fellow Kombatant, here. Not a judge.
    And here are two more strong entries. I do not envy the judges at all.

    Fibs Taste Cruddy:
    I'm intrigued by your query. Very interesting premise and I'm curious to read the story. Second sentence in the first paragraph reads awkwardly to me for some reason. I think it's because you've got "allow her to see" and "unable to tell" as your two actions and those are clashing for me. I'd also like something more in the third sentence of that paragraph, something which expresses the idea that she was compelled to accuse her father, unable to stop herself.

    In the second paragraph, I'm wondering if you want to mention that the evil magic is turning her into a tree. This is just my personal take, but that seems so static. Trees can't talk, they can't move… that idea holds no tension for me because I start wondering, where can the story go if the main character is a tree? I'm sure you've managed to make it work just fine in the book, but here in the query you don't really have the time to devote to explaining how you do that. Can you simply mention that she's being threatened by evil magic, without going into the specifics? Again, just my take on it and others might not agree, but I know my own critique partners are always warning me about making sure the tension feels powerful.

    Regarding the first 250, I wonder if you might want to re-order the paragraphs just a bit. The first line is a good one, but the next couple sentences introduce the Kandrites, kings of Hahnry and King Jarrod – three world-building elements. And this is before we've met the main character. If you start with your current first line, but then put the second paragraph right after it, your readers will be right there in that tense moment with Heshnee, engaged with her struggle. Then you can drop in the world building and we'll be a little bit more ready to begin understanding the complexity of it.

    I hope my comments are helpful. Overall, I find your premise compelling and your first page strong. Lots of tension there. I really want to keep reading. Nice job. Good luck with revisions.

    Super Space Nerd:
    Love your query. The voice is terrific and I'm already totally hooked. One suggestion in the first paragraph. I wonder if you could tweak the last sentence with the spoiler alert, something that would tells us what havoc explosive decompression has on Kirby – explosive flatulence maybe. Sorry if that's too gross, but kids like gross, so…. Other than that minor nitpick I have nothing else to offer. Your last line is knock-it-out-of-the-ballpark awesome. And so are your first 250. Stellar job (pun intended!). I want to read your book right now.

    QUERY: Love the voice in the query. I thought the last sentence of the first paragraph was very confusing. While it might be that way for the character, I thought you might try something like: But her world is shattered when some unknown magic forces her to tell an outright lie—that her father plotted to kill King Jarrod. Second point I’ll address in the First 250 section. Other than that, loved the stakes.
    FIRST 250: Again, great voice. The thing that stuck out to me is the tone: I didn’t feel like her world was shattered here. Maybe it was the “What the noggin-scum?” line or something. Could just be me.

    QUERY: I liked the query. The one thing that I would consider (depending on the other comments) is changing the second to last line the query to remove the ellipses and make it a sentence. Otherwise, loved the voice, loved the stakes.
    FIRST 250: I know that this is not helpful, so apologies, but I love this. I wouldn’t change anything.

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