Monday, October 1, 2012

1st Rd Sm Press Contest #2 - Jennifer Strange

Jennifer Strange
YA Paranormal Horror


Fifteen-year-old Jennifer Strange never wanted her parents to go missing, a ghost to haunt her, or a Ghost Hunter named Marcus Blackwell to tell her she is a Medium. She believes in measurable facts, not in the occult. When a ghost tears apart her Chemistry class, Jennifer must admit that ghosts exist and a spirit needs her help.

Jennifer pairs up with Marcus to find out the ghost's identity and inadvertently meets Marcus's sinister Grandmother and their family of Ghost Hunters. While she doesn't believe the Grandmother's claim that Jennifer is the most powerful Medium to ever live, one thing is clear: Jennifer can touch ghosts. With no desire to use her power, Jennifer must still help the ghost remember who he is before a wraith possessing his soul is unleashed and devours them all.

In a “Ghostbusters” meets Kendare Blake's "Anna Dressed in Blood," JENNIFER STRANGE shares dark occult themes, black comedy laughs, vibrant horrors, and forbidden love told through both Jennifer's and Marcus's perspectives in alternating chapters.

First 150:

If the house is the face of a home, my grandmother’s house was an obvious mental case. I wasn’t thrilled about visiting her. My mother hadn’t even bother to ask me if I wanted to meet the stupid old bird. There wasn't a word from my Grandmother in the thirteen years since I was born. If she didn't want to meet me, I wanted nothing to do with her.

“Be polite Marcus,” Mom warned.

“Why?” I yawned. “I shouldn’t have to. Why are we even bothering to come here?”

“Grandmother Miriam wants to meet you. You should be excited.”

I rolled my eyes at her.

“This blows.”

Mom shook her head in disgust and said nothing. I knew she was pissed, but I didn’t care. I was tired of Mom always changing the subject when I asked about her past, my Grandma, and the photo of the house on Blackwell Mountain.


Mystery Science Theater Geek said...

Your query is pretty strong. In the second to last paragraph, though, the last sentence is out of place. You've discussed ghosts but nothing of possession or the concept of "destroys them all." I'd include something in the earlier paragraph about her ability with the occult and possession, as well as "spirit management." Otherwise, this feels disjointed.

Your opening line is excellent. I love it. However, I thought the story was about Jennifer? Written in first person, you open with Marcus responding to the Mother's command to "be polite." Because it's first person and the query is about Jennifer, I'm very, very confused. If you want to change points of view, the story should really be written in third person. If you develop a name for yourself and want to try playing with points of view, your editor may let you. But as a debut novelist, you'll want to stick to traditional POV rules. It will help you sell initially.

Mara Valderran said...

I already told you this on Twitter, but I absolutely love how this query has improved from the original! I think that in the first paragraph, right after you state that a spirit needs her help, might be a good place to mention the threat of the wraith. Other than that, I really don't have any suggestions. I look forward to reading the full book someday!

Anonymous said...

I agree with Mystery Science Theater Geek - the first 150 from Marcus' POV threw me a bit. But I love the premise! Good luck!

Honey Badger said...

Hey, Entry #2!

I’m going around giving everyone at least one critique and one positive today. (Maybe more, if I spot something helpful.)

- Distinct YA voice. I like it!

- I’m going to echo what Mystery Science Theater Geek said. If it’s dual-POV, you might want to allude to that in the query. Otherwise, we’ll assume we’re in Jennifer’s head (until the mother speaks).

Best of luck! :)

Lone Star said...

Like everyone else, I was taken aback by Marcus's POV since the query seems to be about Jennifer. If it's multiple POV, that's fine, but it's best if the POV of the query and the opening section match. I liked the first line but I would have liked a little more detail. I'm sure you probably get into it later, but what about her house is so crazy? Even throwing in one detail might make a huge difference like, "Apparently my grandmother's idea for a lawn ornament was a headless teddy bear on a unicycle." I bet there is a lot of fun stuff in this first scene but right now we can't see it! :)

CScully said...

Thanks for the critique! Please note the addition above. Thanks again!

CScully said...

Thanks for the critique! Please not the above addition. Thanks again!

CScully said...

Thanks for the critique! Please note the above addition. Thanks again!

CScully said...

Thanks for the critique! Please note the above addition. Thanks again!

TL Sumner said...

I loved your first line. I'd definitly like a detail that makes me visualize what's absurd about the house.

Typo in this line: My mother hadn’t even bother to ask me if I wanted to meet the stupid old bird.

You want bother to be bothered I do believe. :)

Nice hook to end on.

Best of luck.

Unknown said...

Not to be redundant, but I have to agree with the above comments about starting the story with the POV of a different character than the one the query is written about.
I have a multi-POV MS as well, and ended up having to add another scene to the beginning to be able to use the best POV for my query. Maybe you can do that or swap scenes?

Other than that, I like it. It sounds like a good read. I love the house is a mental case line!

The only thing I saw in your first 150 which you may want to tweak is the "I rolled my eyes at her." line. The reader knows he's rolling eyes at the mom, so you just need to tell us he rolled his eyes. I'd have it read "I rolled my eyes." You never want to tell the reader what they already know.

Otherwise, great job and good luck!

Unknown said...

I really like how this is looking! I, too, am going to have to jump on the bandwagon and say it's confusing that the story starts in Marcus' POV (I think I'm jumping back on, having said it before).

I know you're probably tired of reworking this pitch but since you do have two POV you might want to format the pitch like this:

Marcus & his new discovery. Some reaction/out come of this.

Jennifer and her disbelief. Then the event which proves to her it's real.

Together they ... find a ghost who has powerful wraith possessing its soul. Together they must stop this OR... the wraith is unleashed and demolishes them all.

That way you have introduced the two main characters, told us a bit about each and their reaction to the situation then moved on to them both working to repel the 'bad'.

With the strong (and FIRST) introduction of Marcus in the Query, we won't be thrown out to be in his POV to start.

Hope this helps!

p.s. I like what you've done with the first 150!

Unknown said...

Here, this is something like the style I was talking about. This needs a lot of work, it's merely here to show you a sample of something which might work:

At fifteen Marcus discovers he's a ghost hunter like the rest of his family and is responsible for keeping spirits from disturbing the living. Immediately he's sent to find the Medium he will need to help accomplish his task.

Highschooler Jennifer doesn't believe in ghosts, until one wrecks her chemistry class room while she watches. When Marcus tells her they are real, and he needs her help, she refuses to accept she has to deal with them.

Until she touches a ghost and Marcus points out her ability is why he needs her. When they find wraith possessing a spirits' soul with intention of using him to come to their world and destroy them, they realize just how high the stakes are and set out to stop the menace before all they love is lost.

Okay, that's uber awkward, but it's the style of what I was talking about.