Tuesday, July 20, 2010

3 #97 Annie McElfresh

Query Letter

Sixteen-year-old gothic outcast Natalie Sugarman bartered her soul for her dying mother’s life eleven years ago to a boy demon that could stop time. Now, the lifelines on her palms are slowly vanishing, and she knows it’s just a matter of time before Satan’s little helper returns.

Natalie's learned to keep the soul bargain to herself; after all, blabbing about it in the past has only landed her on a suicide watch, which was followed by a string of lame psychiatric appointments. But when the weirdness begins—snakes gathering around her, disappearing beetles—she seeks answers about her dwindling lifelines from a freaky, glowing-eyed fortuneteller. Creeped out by the psychic’s methods, she bolts from the reading and misses the warning that the demon who stole her soul is closer than she thinks.

After some strange incidents with her new boyfriend, including a hot, levitating make-out session, she realizes he’s the grown-up version of her little nightmare and he’s returned to collect. Natalie must figure out how to win her soul back from the demon before her lifeline completely disappears—even if that means making a deal to damn five other souls to take her place.


Chapter One

Life lines. Most people think of them as options game show contestants use to help themselves win a million dollars or something else just as equally lame. Me? I know different. I know that the schoolyard game about those little squiggly lines on your palm forecasting your life is actually real. Believe me, I’ve done the research. Which brings me to the mess I’m in. Why the hell are mine disappearing?

Maybe it’s because of that sadistic, five-year-old soul-stealing bastard.

This is the fourth therapist I’ve been to this year. Each one causes me to question my sanity a little more, so there’s no way I’m going to spill my guts about my newly discovered countdown-clock of death. My chart’s filled with enough crazy.

Tearing my eyes away from my palm, I tuck my hand tightly under my opposite arm to get my mind off the creepy issue rolling through my brain. Seeing a doctor is Mom’s idea. Did I mention how much I resent being here? My last doctor kicked me out of his practice for not “trying” enough. I begged Mom to let me quit at that point and try to heal myself, but since I’m not legally an adult yet, she still calls the shots for what she deems best for me.

As I wait for the doctor to come in, I gaze around the room and notice Dr. Fletcher’s family photos. They’re all smiling, and it occurs to me that people always seem to smile in photos. It’s like they’re always perpetually happy.


  1. You really get my attention with the second paragraph. I want to know about the sadistic, five-year-old bastard. The opening, however, could use a little tweaking. I would drop the Millionaire reference. I had to read it twice to get it and I'm not sure a teenager would get it at all. Tell us that the game on the playground reading those lines are real, then tell us yours are disappearing. Boom. You've got me. Your MC has plenty of attitude. That's great.

  2. Your voice is very clear and compelling. I really like the first paragraph. As a teen, I do understand the reference to life lines on “Do You Want To Be A Millionaire?” and I think most teens do, even if it’s only because they’ve watched Tina Fey on Saturday Night Live. I think you should get rid of “something else equally as lame”, “schoolyard game” and “squiggly” because I think they distract from and minimize a powerful idea/problem. This is a very intriguing idea and you definitely draw the reader into the story. I think that, while you obviously want to convey your protagonist’s voice and attitude, and you do a great job of doing so, I feel like the line “Did I mention how much I resent being here?” is unnecessary and feels like forced defiance. Other than that, I think that this is a very strong opening and I want to keep reading.

    I think your query is great! Excellent job of summarizing your plot while conveying some of your protagonist’s voice. I wouldn’t change it. Nicely done!

  3. Thank you soooo much for the comments! :)


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