Catch Me If You Can Blogfest, hosted by KayKay's Corner blog.
As stated on her blog, "We've all heard it a millon times: If your book doesn't catch the agent/publisher's eye quickly, they'll probably reject it. So, I'm sure at one time or another we've asked ourselves, 'Does my WIP catch people's attention right away?'" Her contest will give us writers a chance to bounce our first 550 words off each other as part of her fun blog fest.
Here's my first 550 or so words of my newest novel, a middle grade science fiction with the working title of Tree Boy:
If Pete didn’t win, he would die.
Okay, he wouldn’t really die. But it was his best hope for pulling his stinky-shoe life out of the toilet. If everyone at Sulfur Springs Middle School could recognize his genius, they would finally appreciate Peter Oaks. Even his dad would.
“Exactly what are we supposed to be looking for again?” Cassie pulled a twig from her hair with obvious revulsion and threw it on the ground.
“Anything that you might consider to be a pine cone.” Pete pulled open a brown grocery bag and shoved it in front of his sister’s face. “As long as it looks different from these.” He couldn’t understand his sister’s dingy brain. “I told you that a million times.”
“Sorry, your highness, master of geeks.” She exaggerated a bow, her hand sweeping an arc in the air in front of her face.
“I am not a geek.”
“Okay, then you’re a nerd.” Cassie straightened her back.
Pete kept his eyes busy scanning each side of the mountain trail for new species. “I can live with ‘nerd.’”
“That’s good, ‘cause no normal brother would drag their big sister out into a flippin’ forest in the middle of April to help them with a stupid sixth grade science project. Can’t you just build a volcano out of Play-doh, or something?”
“You know my favorite field of science is botany.” Why couldn’t his sister remember that? “And a volcano would never make it to the state competition. Duh!”
“I guess I still don’t get it. Isn’t a pine cone a pine cone?” Cassie held onto a corner of the paper bag and peered inside. She jerked her fingers away and then held them up like she was a hand model. “Look what this stupid forest is doing to my nails. They’re filthy. I’ll need a manicure when I get home.”
“Never mind. You’re no help.” Pete pulled the bag away and rolled down the top so he could hold on better. He resumed scanning the forest. “I tried to explain it as simple as I could. I mean, would it help if I told you I’m looking for the seeds of all the indigenous species of conifers that populate the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains?”
“There you go again.” Cassie stomped off the trail and headed toward a giant Ponderosa Pine. “Talking like a geek. Oh, excuse me, a nerd. I’m smart too, you know. I’ll have you know I’m the only one in Mrs. Smedley’s seventh grade creative writing class that’s getting an A.” She stretched up on her tip toes and pulled a cone from the lower branches of the tree. “If Mom is going to make me come with you, then I’m going be of some use.”
“I’ve already got a specimen from that variety of tree.”
“What about that one?” Cassie pointed to a gnarled pine tree. It appeared to grow almost sideways from an outcropping of rock about a hundred yards up the mountainside. She took off at a near sprint.
Pete stopped. He squinted his eyes through his glasses to get a better look at the tree. Maybe she was worth bringing along. “Good eye, Cass.” Pete climbed after her. “I don’t have that one. In fact I didn’t even know those grew around here. Let me get a closer look. Is it? No, can’t be!”