Monday, September 17, 2012

GUTGAA Pitch Contest #28: JENNIFER STRANGE

JENNIFER STRANGE
A PARANORMAL
55,000

Query:

It's not the ghosts that Jennifer needs to worry about - it's the ghost hunters that want her power for themselves. In order to become the next leader of his clan, ghost hunter Marcus must find a Medium with the ability to touch ghosts. Easy, but he never imagined he'd fall for Jennifer.

Big on scares and surprising laughs, "Jennifer Strange" is a start to an eight book series chronicling the dark tales of ghost mediums Jennifer and Marcus. Jennifer Strange can’t accept herself, much less her budding ability to touch ghosts. No other medium ever knew such power, but Jennifer wants nothing to do with the ghosts seeking the help of a 15-year-old girl. Marcus must fight his growing feelings for Jennifer while fulfilling his duty to become the heir to his grandmother Miriam's ghost-summoning cult. Together, Jennifer and Marcus learn the true dark purpose behind Miriam's intentions for Jennifer and the world.

In a “Ghostbusters” meets Kendare Blake's "Anna Dressed in Blood," the Jennifer Strange series shares similar occult ghost-hunting themes, laughs juxtaposed to vibrant horrors, and palpable forbidden love between Marcus and Jennifer.

First 150 Words:

If the house is the face of a home, my grandmother’s house is an obvious mental case. 

I can’t say I’m thrilled about visiting her. My mother didn’t even bother to tell me we were going. You would think my first visit with grandma was before now and that she wanted to be a part of my life. Nope. Never met the old bird. Not a word from her since in the thirteen years since I was born. I seriously wanted nothing to do with her. 

After an early Saturday wake from my sleep, bags packed and protests made, in the car Mom drove. We left before my brain was awake enough to process our leaving. Our trek for a joyful and possibly tearful reunion didn’t make sense to me and wasn’t enough of an explanation. No matter how much I asked, Mom always talked about something else whenever I mentioned her past, my Grandma, and the photo of the house on Blackwell Mountain. 

12 comments:

  1. Great name for a lead character. I can see Jennifer Strange plastered all over a bookshop (or a movie theater).

    Nice first line - shows your voice well.

    One minor improvement for the query might be to explore the stakes for Jennifer - what happens to her if the ghost hunters get her power?

    Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the comment! I really appreciate it!

      As for Jennifer, if I revealed that now, I wouldn't be able to write the series ;)

      I like that it left you wondering "Wait! What's going to happen to her?"

      That's the idea. To leave you curious.

      Delete
  2. Awesome query! It definitely leaves us wanting to know more about Jennifer Strange.

    The only little thing I would change would be this sentence:

    "No other medium ever knew such power, but Jennifer wants nothing to do with the ghosts seeking the help of a 15-year-old girl."

    I had to reread the sentence. It could just be me, but I felt like it slowed me down a little and took me out of the moment. But other than that tiny detail, it is a great query. I cannot wait until I can buy my copy.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hey! Followed you here from your twitter. I think you have interesting characters and a clear voice that really comes through both in the query and your 150.

    One suggestion: move the sentence "Big on scares. . ." to the third paragraph, as it's less about the plot than it is about how you characterize the book.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Nice query, nothing to add which hasn't been said. :-)

    I like the start of the story, the non-contact with grandma and the tension. I did find some of your verb usage/tenses threw me out of the story because I had to stop and think what you were trying to say, rather than keep reading:

    After an early Saturday wake from my sleep, bags packed and protests made, in the car Mom drove.

    I don't think that's a complete sentence and it definitely confused me. Like the atmosphere you create and this looks to be a great start to a series.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi there!

    I agree with the comments above. Love your MC's name and moving the "Big on scares" is a really good idea. It's best to keep the reader in the MC POV the entire query until you're about to give your credentials at the end. To me, it seems like you have three POV in your query. Jennifer, Marcus, and you the author.

    Other than that, I like your concept and now have the Ghostbuster's theme song in my head :)
    Good luck with GUTGAA!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is actually from both Marcus's and Jennifer's POV, so that's correct! So, it flops back and forth between them chapter by chapter.

      Delete
  6. LOVE your opening sentence. It's funny and really hooks me and would definitely keep me reading.

    I'm sure it differs from agent to agent, but I've read that some agents would rather you not mention the number of books you have planned in a series. However, I think it's definitely a good idea to mention that the book has sequel/series potential.

    Overall, great job! This sounds like such an intriguing story.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Super opening sentence! Love the voice in your writing but I agree with comments on voice in your query. This is well on it's way to being a best seller :)

    One change to look at: "After an early Saturday wake from my sleep, bags packed and protests made, in the car Mom drove." I am having a hard time following this sentence. Did you mean something like this: "After an early start Saturday morning, the bags were pack, protests made, mom threw me in the car and we drove." Not an expert, just wondering. GOOD LUCK!!!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Like everyone else, I agree with most of what's been said. Especially that one sentence that seems to be giving everyone some trouble!

    "After an early Saturday wake from my sleep, bags packed and protests made, in the car Mom drove."
    Maybe something like
    "After being woken up early Saturday morning, my mother had my bags and I packed and in the car before I could even protest."

    ...or something. I know there's a sense of that "it's way too early in the morning for this what is happening where are we going" feeling in this scene, so just maybe ponder that wording a bit to make it a bit more clear!

    Otherwise I think it's very strong. I like how many questions it makes me ask. Any of the other questions and comments I would have would be answered in the meat of the story, so I feel the pitch does a good job of making me want more as a reader!

    Great stuff! Best of luck and I look forward to seeing more!

    ReplyDelete
  9. PITCH: The first two paragraphs jump from Jennifer to Marcus, and I was a little disoriented. Maybe give them each a paragraph, instead of combining their goals?
    Also, I’d leave out the mention of an eight-book series, which might scare some agents off. Let the first book be brilliant and hook them on its own. When an offer is made, that’s the time to talk about possibilities for a series, in my opinion.
    FIRST 150: LOVE the first sentence. Like, gaga over it. I have some suggestions for the rest of the excerpt, though. We start off in present tense, then we’re in past-tense to the lead-up of going to Grandma’s. Maybe staying in the moment and conveying a little of the reluctance in dialogue rather than backstory?

    ReplyDelete
  10. The query is a bit confusing because you mix the POVs. Remember a query is to entice the agent to ask more, so you need to make it feel immediate. Great formula to follow is: when A meets B, X and Y happens, causing Z. You could just rearrange your query like this...

    In order to become the next leader of his clan, fifteen-year-old ghost hunter, Marcus, must find a Medium with the ability to touch ghosts. Easy, but he never imagined he'd fall for Jennifer Strange. She’s the only Medium around who can help him fulfill his duty to become the heir to his grandmother’s ghost-summoning cult, and what he has to do will put Jennifer in danger.

    At fifteen, Jennifer Strange can’t accept herself, much less her budding ability to touch ghosts. No other medium has ever known such power, but Jennifer wants nothing to do with the ghosts seeking her help to communicate with the living. It's not the ghosts that Jennifer needs to worry about—it's the ghost hunters that want her power for themselves.

    Together, Jennifer and Marcus learn the true dark purpose behind his grandmother’s intentions for Jennifer and the world. ****(You need another sentence here. What are the stakes? After learning about the dark purpose, what do they have to do to prevent it and what will happen if they fail? Finish this paragraph off with the stakes.)

    In a “Ghostbusters” meets Kendare Blake's "Anna Dressed in Blood," JENNIFER STRANGE shares similar occult ghost-hunting themes, laughs juxtaposed to vibrant horrors, and palpable forbidden love between Marcus and Jennifer.****(I like this comparison but you need to fix the last part of the sentence. It reads off and is a mouthful of words. Simplicity and clarity is key.)


    **** The first pages aren't pulling me in. It's reading a little old. The first sentence, is your voice. The rest didn't sound the same to me. Work the rest of this opening to match the voice in the beginning sentence by choosing better "teen" verbs and bring in the attitude of the first line.

    I hope this helps.


    ReplyDelete

Help prove the void can talk back...