Monday, April 12, 2010

Entry 5

Genre: YA Paranormal

Eighteen-year-old Tessa James can’t even watch Casper the Friendly
Ghost without nightmares, so when letters written in a foreign
language appear on her nightstand she does her damnedest to ignore the
implications. She has enough ghosts of her own, thank you very much.

Soon Tessa realizes the letters are pieces of a diary, and the tale of
Ava Dubois, a runaway millgirl turned rising starlet, begins to
unravel. As Tessa is unwillingly drawn into Ava’s past, connections to
the present become stark—and scary. Manchester’s Castle Theatre, her
employer and once Ava's, is about to produce Hamlet, the very play
canceled by Ava’s untimely death in 1935. A bizarre series of
accidents plague the theatre staff, while the steady stream of letters
and rumors of ghosts force Tessa into a dangerous game. A séance goes
horribly awry, a boiler room acts as though it has a mind of its own,
and an entire cast of otherworldly inhabitants—including a poltergeist
willing to kill to protect his secret—come out to play. Tessa wants no
part of it, but the spirits won’t leave her alone, nor will the
suspicious detective investigating the accidents. With the body count
piling up—in the past and present—Tessa must checkmate her ghosts and
Ava's if she wants to live long enough to have a future.

I'm seeking representation for THE GHOST WRITER, a YA paranormal novel
complete at 60,000 words. I hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Literature and
Music from Hampshire College. As the former marketing director of a
professional theatre, I have the skill set to actively promote my
work. That theatre and its longstanding legends of hauntings inspired
my book.

I understand you have a passion for young adult literature. I would be
happy to supply sample chapters or a full manuscript of THE GHOST
WRITER upon request.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


  1. This is something I would love to read.

  2. This sounds like a very interesting and suspense-filled book.

    I have a few suggestions...

    If she is a scaredy-cat, why does she have ghosts of her own? Could you lose that last sentence of the opening paragraph? Also, could the opening sentence read: Eighteen-year-old Tessa James can't even watch Casper the Friendly Ghost without nightmares, so when letters written in a foreign language appear on her nightstand, she sort of freaks out.

    Could you shorten this sentence to?:
    A bizarre series of accidents plague the theatre staff.

    Good luck!!

  3. Wow. There's a lot of stuff going on in here. But it sounds interesting.

    I'm not sure if all of this needs to be included in your query - makes it read just a tad like a synopsis. I'm not saying it's bad - I don't think it is - but maybe just too much.

    I wish you good luck with this. Sounds like something I'd like to read.

  4. I think you're trying to tell us too much about what's going on. In the first paragraph, you mention that "she has enough ghosts of her own," but you don't really elaborate on that. What haunts her?

    Also, I'm getting some passiveness from your query. Note verbs and phrases like "realizes" and "unwillingly drawn into" and "wants no part of it" don't really show proactivity on the part of your MC. It just shows us that she's going along for the ride. What does your MC want?

  5. Although this sounds like an interesting topic, I would suggest condensing the query. I think you might have too much here...but I'm certainly not a query expert. Also, I think it's understood that all of us would be happy to send our work, so that part needs to be left out. Best of luck.

  6. Jamie Weiss ChiltonApril 26, 2010 at 9:17 PM

    This query is action-packed; I know there will be no lack of drama in this story.

    It seems to me that your story incorporates both YA and Middle Grade elements, which made for a confusing pitch. For example, the mention of Casper the Friendly Ghost in your first line. I know what you're getting at here, but there's a dissonance in this example because an eighteen-year-old would not watch Casper. I see what you're getting at here, but this example tripped me up. Also the historical fiction / play performance aspect struck me as more middle grade than YA. However, with an actual body count (especially on arrived at in graphic, bloody, ways), you're more in YA territory than Middle Grade. The diary element seemed more Middle Grade to me, too. Now, this is just my opinion so another agent or editor could see this completely differently. So please take my opinion as it is -- as just one opinion.

    You have a strong query structure -- no quibbles there. Nice job.


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