Monday, April 12, 2010

Entry 29

Genre: YA Historical Fiction

Sixteen year old Leah Sullivan shares a secret with her mother, a secret that her father must never know: her baby brother was conceived by hoodoo conjuring. Baby Elijah is perfect -except for a strange birthmark of three half moons on his left shoulder.

Only a few days after his birth, the newborn’s crib is found empty --Elijah has been taken! Determined to solve the mystery of his disappearance, Leah seeks out the conjurer Kali Despierre, only to discover that Kali is gone. She is the one who has kidnapped Elijah. Kali believes that Elijah is the legendary Voudou King, whose conjuring has been predicted and who would be identified at birth by half moon markings on his body. Kali is taking Elijah to New Orleans with plans to use Elijah as her way to claim Marie Laveau’s position as the Queen of Voudou.

Leah follows Kali through the war-devastated South toward New Orleans. She is accompanied by a mysterious man-ghost, who has mysteriously appeared and serves as Leah’s protective guardian angel. Also helping her is a young Civil War veteran she meets, Marcus Simonton, with whom she falls in love.

Arriving in New Orleans, Leah finds an ally in Marie Laveau, who is fighting Kali’s claim to her position. With potions provided by Marie and assistance from the man-ghost and Marcus, Leah sets a successful trap to overpower Kali. She rescues Elijah and in doing so, discovers even more secrets about Elijah’s real destiny.

THE SECRET OF ELIJAH is a historical YA novel (70,000 word count). The tone and voice may remind readers of historical fiction by Avi or Ann Rinaldi. I teach literature and composition in a junior college. While earning my MFA in Creative Writing, my mentors included Susan Campbell Bartoletti and Joyce McDonald. I am active in SCBWI and The Atlanta Writers Club, who awarded me 3rd place in the YA fiction category for my novel in verse Benevolence. Thank you for considering THE SECRET OF ELIJAH. I look forward to hearing from you.


  1. I really like the voice here and the premise, but your query reads more like a synopsis.

    I think you could shorten up the second paragraph quite a bit by just saying that the voodou conjurer steals the baby and Leah sets out to find him. I think there's just more detail there than we really need for the query.

    Also, the mysterious stranger mysteriously appears might need a little changing around. I tend to do that type of thing myself way too often.

    Overall, though, I like this and think it would be a great query with a little tweaking. Good luck.

  2. I agree with the previous commenter that this feels a lot like a synopsis. I think you might have too many characters thrown in here. I'd try re-working this by removing a character or two- it'll make the query more concise :)

  3. I'm having a bit of trouble getting a sense of time and place. Could you mention in the first paragraph the time period and where Leah's originally from?

    Also, a word of caution, I know several practitioners of Voudou and they're very sensitive about how they're portrayed. Looking at your background, I assume you did your homework, but just be careful about the subject. Good luck!

  4. This is a very interesting premise and it hooked me.

    Though, as a previous commenter had mentioned, I think you could strengthen the query by tightening to the essence of the conflict without giving all of the details, particularly in the second paragraph.

    Furthermore, outside of Kali and Elijah, I'm not certain you need to mention the other characters by name.

    You've got the base of a good query here and with a few modifications, could make it stand out.

  5. Jamie Weiss ChiltonMay 9, 2010 at 11:36 AM

    I'd like to see you set the time and place in the first paragraph. Also, I'm confused about what it means to conceive a baby by hoodo conjuring. Without the time and place, I'm thinking this could be a paranormal element.

    Can you give more character development details about Leah before getting into detail about the story? As it stands, I think the reader has trouble finding a foothold in the story, since there are so many competing characters and details to absorb.

    This is a fascinating premise. Nice job!


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