HH Com 565

Middle-grade fiction, 20,000 words

When ten-year-old Lulie comes across an antique ring that seems to grant wishes, she's torn. Sure, she's thrilled that magic has entered her boring life. But she's freaked, too. She knows magic's not real, so either something's gone majorly wrong with reality, or she and her mentally ill Uncle Bobby have a lot more in common than she'd care to admit.

Every time Lulie makes a wish now, it comes true. Coincidence or magic? A fire drill that frees her from a surprise math quiz might be pure dumb luck, but how about her beloved uncle acting almost normal for a change? Still, Lulie frets that either she's gone off the deep end, or she's meddling with folks in a way that she just has no right to.

What to do?

She confides in Isabelle, her best friend since kindergarten--Isabelle, who used to be good old Izzy but who is working at turning herself into somebody named Belle. Lulie shows her the ring anyway.

Big mistake.

A feisty fifth-grader with a maybe-magical ring ought to be sitting pretty. Could be, though, that Lulie's luck has taken a turn for the worse.

I love this.
Notice how you get a sense of character without "description", and the conflict is a natural flow in the story? This is really good. It doesn't follow the XYZ template (and shouldn't!!) but every element is here implicitly or explicitly.


jeanne said...

LOVE it. Perfect for the age -- the conflict over what's right or fair and what's easy is so age appropriate. So is the Izzy to Belle in some girls. Can't wait to see the 750.

Inkwolf said...

The moral conflict sounded good, and the Belle thing just made me grin--I think you have enough here to add new dimensions to the old wishing-ring story!

Anonymous said...

:Tired editor perks up:

Hey, this is...is... *interesting!* Send me the whole thing; we'll see if the writing is up to it.

Dave said...

Look at the words, the construction. It's not sunk by excess description. It's easy to read. The sentence structure is simple and direct.

And It's all about one character, her discovery and the problem it causes. We know the hero, her friends, and her situation in plain, ordinary language.

Zappadong said...

Yap. Sometimes you read something and you know it's just right. I would definitely buy the book!


Anonymous said...

Ohhh, I would've eaten this up as a kid! It reminds me of my all-time favorite Edward Eager book, Half Magic. This sounds like something I would buy for my daughters and then sneak off their shelves to read myself.

Bella Stander said...

Well done! I'm wondering whether 20,000 words isn't a bit short for middle-grade fiction.

Anonymous said...

Author -- this is great! IMHO, the best of them all, really. Including my own! Original, clever and well written. Good job and good luck.

I Said said...

My question would be how Izzy's change is important and why it causes the problems for the MC. It doesn't really tell us much about what is attempted, what is gained or lost. But then again, I'm not into YA and realize that there's a difference in story.

Virginia Miss said...

Great job hooking Miss Snark

20k sounds a tad short, is that within normal range for mid grade?

the author said...

Oh, thank you, Miss Snark, Your Benevolence; and thank you, comment-writers, too.

*author does Sally-Field-at-the-Oscars impersonation*

Um... about the length... well, gee, yanno(tm), we'll have to see how long it turns out to be when I actually finish writing the thing...

*author grins sheepishly*

(But I have to say I'm pretty motivated now to get it finished!)

Anonymous said...

It really should end up closer to 35-50K. That's more standard for MG, but I loved the voice. I would pick this up.

Anonymous said...

20,000 words is just fine for mg fiction. It's on the lower end but it's fine.

A Paperback Writer said...

I didn't fall in love with this, but I really liked the part about Isabelle. I'd want to read more just to see how that works out, for sure.

JPD said...

*author does Sally-Field-at-the-Oscars impersonation*

As charming as the hook was, the author's reaction was even sweeter! Congratulations!

JPD (Crossing "yanno" off his list of words to trademark in '07)

Kiskadee said...

Congratulations, atuhto!
This is one of the few that grabbed me, and I really _don't_ like magic.

Adrian said...

I guess I'm just stupid. I don't see the conflict or the stakes. Why am I supposed to care?

I don't mean to be overly negative. I'm just trying to understand the differences between the hooks that make the grade and the ones that don't. This one seems to have many of the flaws Miss Snark has been harping about throughout this incredible educational experience.

Anonymous said...


I struggle with figuring out what hooks the snark too but this one grabbed me.

I think it starts with voice. It's so readable, like the writer was sitting across the kitchen table telling you the tale.

The there's the unique factor. There's magic like in a couple hundred hooks we've read here, but the protag is trying to deny the magic. And it's the kind of magic that's plausible. All of that makes this feel fresh.

As for the conflicts, I'm no expert but I'd say:
Internal - Is she going crazy? Is it morally correct to manipulate lives?
External - Will she lose her best friend? Will something she's done be the cause of it?

I wish I'd written this.

xiqay said...

This does not seem original to me.

It's charming. It has potential. And I could see kids loving it.

But it does not seem original at all.


Congrats on making the cut, and good luck.

takoda said...

Hi Author! I really liked this too! My MG (hook number 92) is about 3/4 completed. I'm thinking it'll be about 25,000 words. I think that you shouldn't worry about the length. Don't stretch it out if it changes your voice. You have a great voice!! What's the title of your book? Do you have one yet? Great work!!

skybluepinkrose said...


20,000K is on the low end of normal for MG.

Anonymous said...

Count me on on the 'love this' one.
Look forward to the 750