Wednesday, April 10, 2013

An Agent's Inbox #3

Dear Ms. Sarver,

There are ten rules to ghost hunting and seventeen-year-old Ivory Jack knows them all.

Along with her sisters, Ivory has been kicking ghost a** for a year using her gift as a medium and awesome ghost hunting equipment. They jump at the opportunity to investigate their first paid job, even if it is the most haunted house in Central Illinois. Ivory chalks up the recent deaths in the manor to lack of experience and knowledge, but the job isn’t as simple as it seems.

They are trapped inside by a powerful ghost. Rule Number Nine: ghosts are always attached to an object in the house. If they can find and destroy the object, they are free. The only problem is, they don’t know which spirit it is. As if crazy, agoraphobic ghosts weren’t enough, Ivory’s ex best friend, Roger, manages to get his stupid self stuck inside the house with them. The last thing she needs is him making fun of her while she tries to save everyone’s life. The closer Ivory gets to uncovering the secrets of the manor, the more violent the ghosts become. If she doesn’t find the who behind the haunting, the entire group could end up being the manor’s next victims.

NANCY DREW meets GHOST HUNTERS in my novel MOTHER MAY I. It is a young adult horror mystery novel complete at 60,000 words. I was part of a paranormal investigator club at the University of Illinois, and was able to add my knowledge of ghost hunting to the story. I saw on Literary Rambles: Agent Spotlight, that you are searching for young adult horror and thought my novel might appeal to you.

Thank You for Your Time,


I ignore the ‘No Trespassing’ sign and step over the low chain fence blocking the back access road. Everyone and their dog (and I literally mean their dog) knows that Mr. Tompson doesn’t care who walks down the gravel lane near his field. The moon is huge and orange in the sky, illuminating the vast expanse of empty cornfields.

Harvest season has suddenly become my least favorite time of year. Now that people at school know I can talk to ghosts, they all want me to do some pre-Halloween investigation. So instead of baking pumpkin pie and watching scary movies, I am up until the a**-crack of dawn trying to find somewhere haunted around Charon so the popular kids can throw a Halloween kegger at a genuine haunted house. Not exactly my idea of fun, especially since I know I won’t be invited.

“Are you guys coming or what?” I ask.

“J****, Ivory, don’t rush us. We don’t want to damage any of the equipment,” my youngest sister, Vi, says.

“I just stepped in dog s***. Freaking disgusting,” my other sister, Addie, groans and lugs a heavy camera case over the fence.

I shake my head and look down the long road. Rumor has it that the entire lane is haunted by the devil himself. Somehow, I very much doubt that is true, but the biggest stoner in school paid me fifty bucks to check the lane for ghosts and demons. I didn’t bother mentioning ghosts can’t haunt roads, they can only habitat structures. That is Rule Number One of ghost hunting.


Anonymous said...

I love this first line!

I think some of the pronouns need to be cleaned up in the third paragraph, particularly this sentence: If they can find and destroy the object, they are free. I assume the first "they" is the sisters and the second "they" is the ghosts, but it's not entirely clear. I'm also wondering how Roger ends up in the house with them. The stakes are clear, though, so that's good.

The first 250 has great voice. I think there's a typo in the second to last sentence--should habitat be inhabit? Otherwise, nice job. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Ack!! That typo kills me!! I thought I caught everything! Thanks for pointing that out :) and I see what you mean about the pronouns in the third paragraph. The they refers to the sisters both times, but I definitely see how that can be confusing. Thank you so much for your helpful critique! What post is yours so I can take a peek?

Anonymous said...

LOVE this. Love the voice in this. It is so killer! I'm not a huge fan of horror but I do love me some Nancy Drew! Some of the query can be confusing but I think you just need to change the "theys" to make it more clear.

Good luck!!

Entry #28

Lanette said...

This looks like an interesting ghost story/mystery. I love the idea of looking for a particular object to destroy. The query is slightly confusing, but it's an easy fix. Example, I don't know what this means- "they don’t know which spirit it is."

As to the first 250, I think you nailed it. The voice, the setting, and the characterization was very strong in this sample. Good luck!

Carla Luna Cullen said...

I agree with the others about the pronouns in the query, but otherwise it's solid. What I loved most was the voice in the first 250. Ivory's voice comes through clearly, and I liked the humor. I'd definitely keep reading this one.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jess! I didn't enter this time around. Just came by to comment, but thanks for asking!

Melissa Sarver said...

I think this query has great voice, which is a good thing, but it's light and fun - not at all what I think of for a horror novel. I think you may be mistaken in categorizing it as such. I do think if you are going fun, play up the voice even more in the query (and the pages, though there isn't enough here for me to know whether you've done so in the pages) so that you show the humor in the novel and in the narrator's voice. Does she have a particular way of speaking? Does she view the world in a funny way? I was confused on how scary this novel would be - if it IS scary, the query needs to reflect this more. (As someone mentioned above, the use of "habitat" is incorrect in the last paragraph.) Overall, this is a well written query but just make sure it's not trying to sell something different than the novel you've written.

Unknown said...

I enjoyed your query. The only thing that bothered me was the wording of the sentence 'Along with her sisters, Ivory has been kicking ghost a**...' And I'm left wanting to know what the other nine rules are, but I'm hoping this is something you learn in the book. I think you have a fun concept though and you've got me interested.

Ahh, my question about the rules was somewhat cleared up in your 250 since you've already introduced us to rule number one. I enjoyed your 250, the only thing that caught me off guard, and maybe it's just because they stand out, but, I felt like there was a lot of profanity for a YA. However, your line about the a**crack of dawn, had me giggling out loud.

Best of luck! :)

Mim said...


This sounds like a fun concept. You've got lots of elements here in addition to the horror and ghost hunting. I like the rules concept you mention in the query.

I also think you do a good job on the opener. You work in a lot of detail without getting telly and set up the premise for the book.

Since horror has so many different types, I'm wondering if this is more slasher with people getting killed off, or more suspenseful horror.

You've got all of the elements for a great story, and I read more.

MC #24