Thursday, August 26, 2010

13 Pitch Entry #20: Andrea Pelleschi

Title: THE CASE OF THE CAROUSEL GHOST


Genre: MG/mystery/paranormal

Fourteen-year-old Kate O’Reilly takes on a new ghost case at the local amusement park. At first it looks like a simple poltergeist, but when Kate rides the new carousel, she finds herself transported back in time and into the body of Isabelle, a ghost who died 80 years ago. In fact, each time Kate rides the carousel, she relives another snippet from Isabelle’s life. Rumor has it that Isabelle’s husband, a famous carousel carver, murdered her and put her body inside one of the horses.

It’s Kate’s most complicated case yet, but it’s still easier than dealing with real life where her best friend is ignoring her and the most obnoxious boy in school won’t leave her alone. Luckily Jack, a ghost and former vaudeville performer, is always there to lend a helping hand or a wry comment.

Kate rushes to solve the case before the carousel horse is put in the park museum. Otherwise, she won’t be able to collect her fee and Isabelle will be doomed to haunt the carousel forever.

13 comments:

  1. Sounds interesting, but needs a better hook. Something that grabs the reader. While this query is interesting, I'm not into ghosts. I'd have to have a better hook to pull me in.

    Maybe mix something mundane, such as a school activity with ghost hunting, or whatever you call it.

    "Between ghost hunting and planning the eighth grade school dance, fourteen-year-old Kate O'Reilly has her hands full." Just change the words around to fit your book. Good luck! :)

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  2. Sounds like a great ghost story but I have to agree with AJ that it needs a better hook and I like her bit about ghost sluething tied to her school life at the beginning.

    With that said, I have to say that this query makes me feel I should already know Kate. As if I should have already read book 1 and 2 and you're pitching book 3. What I mean is that in book 1 Kate becomes a ghost something and book 2 she learns how to solve cases and now here at book 3 she gets another case. Does that make sense?

    Start if off by letting me know that she's always solved ghost mysteries or something. Like -- Fourteen-year-old Kate O'Reilly has been solving ghostly crimes since she was twelve. So when so-and-so hires her for a new ghost case at the local amusement park ...

    Also, really make it clear how she can solve cases. Does she see dead people or is it just that if she touches something like riding the horse she sees something about these dead people?

    Hope this helps. Good luck! :D

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  3. Great premise! Love ghost stories, antique carousels, and a strong girl character so this is definitely something I'd pick up. I would like a one-sentence intro to Kate, though. How did she get to be a fourteen-yr-old ghost hunter? How did she get hooked up with this particular case?
    I'd also like a little more info about why her best friend is ignoring her and the obnoxious boy in school is bothering her. If it's that important to the story, you should probably give more details. If not, then I'd leave it out because it's too general as is.

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  4. Fourteen-year-old Kate O’Reilly takes on a new ghost case at the local amusement park. At first it looks like a simple poltergeist, but when Kate rides the new carousel, she finds herself transported back in time and into the body of Isabelle, a ghost who died 80 years ago. (Cool hook, a kid paranormal mystery solver. I like it. would cut one of your 'new's though, you use it twice in these few sentences.)

    In fact, each time Kate rides the carousel, she relives another snippet from Isabelle’s life. Rumor has it that Isabelle’s husband, a famous carousel carver, murdered her and put her body inside one of the horses. (Creepy!)

    It’s Kate’s most complicated case yet, but it’s still easier than dealing with real life where her best friend is ignoring her and the most obnoxious boy in school won’t leave her alone. Luckily Jack, a ghost and former vaudeville performer, is always there to lend a helping hand or a wry comment. (While I like this, I think it only bogs down the pitch. I'd cut it.)

    Kate rushes to solve the case before the carousel horse is put in the park museum. (You said it was a new carousel, so why would it be moved to the museum? why wouldn't she be bale to finish the case just because it's moved?) Otherwise, she won’t be able to collect her fee and Isabelle will be doomed to haunt the carousel forever.

    I'd want more about how Kate plans to solve the case.

    I have to disagree with everyone about wanting more introduction -- it's refreshing to have a character who isn't just discovering her super cool new powers or just joining some super cool secret organization. It just kind of sounds like Scooby-Doo to me (which is great).

    Good luck!

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  5. Ditto the hook--don't worry about sounding cheesy or anything, which was always my concern when trying to write a "hook." What's the craziest, most unique aspect of your book?

    Kind of nitpicky, but I think it should be "Isballe, a woman (not ghost) who died 80 years ago." I assume, because you say "body," that Kate is inhabiting the living body of the woman, before she turns into the ghost.

    Anyway, I think it's pretty straightforward and really gets the point across, so it's doing its job pretty well! I think jazzing up the first sentence will do a lot to transform this from a synopsis to a kick-ass pitch. :)

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  6. Really enticing premise, here. I don't have any major issues with the query, although the first line could pack more punch. My question is, is dealing with this complex case, where she's inhabiting a murdered woman's body really easier than dealing with her real life issues? If so, maybe you could show her distress a little more in that paragraph. I just had a hard time buying that aspect of the story. Otherwise, nice job! Best wishes!

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  7. Okay, first, I LOVE MG mysteries. There so much fun to read and this sounds perfect for the market. The first thing I thought when reading this was, she’s taking a NEW case? Is this the first book, or is there more before this? If this is the first, I would reword that first sentence, because some agents/editors might wonder if other books of this series are published already and you might have a hard time selling it.

    I don’t see a hook here and without it, I’m not feeling all that compelled to keep reading, because it sounds like every other MG mystery book out there.

    Some questions to consider. How is this different from the other books that are similar? What makes it stand out? Why should I or any one else buy this book? What are the goals, motivation, and conflict in this story? I’m not really seeing a motivation besides money here. Is she solving mysteries because she’s naturally curious, because her father is the chief of police, what? Why does she want to help Isabel, besides money? What does she want to accomplish? What’s the conflict? What’s stopping her from obtaining these goals? Is this the first book of a series? The second? Third? Is she a ghost hunter? Or just an amateur detective like Nancy Drew?

    Here’s a rewritten version:

    Fourteen-year-old Kate O’Reilly is the world’s youngest ghost hunter.

    She’s been taking on cases for what seems like forever. So when she’s offered another case that takes place at the local amusement park, she can’t resist. At first it looks like a simple poltergeist, but when Kate rides the new carousel, she finds herself transported back in time and into the body of Isabelle, a woman who died eighty years ago.

    Each time Kate rides the carousel, she relives another snippet from Isabelle’s life. And rumor has it that Isabelle’s husband, a famous carousel carver, murdered her and put her body inside one of the horses of that same carousel.

    It’s Kate’s most complicated case yet, but it’s still easier than dealing with real life where her best friend is ignoring her, and the most obnoxious boy in school won’t leave her alone. Luckily Jack, a ghost and former vaudeville performer, is always there to lend a helping hand or a wry comment.

    Kate rushes to solve the case before the carousel horse is put in the park museum. Otherwise, she won’t be able to collect her fee and Isabelle will be doomed to haunt the carousel forever. (I’m not in love with this end. I want there to be more dire consequences here? What is the conflict? Who cares if she doesn’t collect her fee? What would make me read it is if there was someone trying to prevent her from solving the case and her life, or sanity, or something important is on the line.)

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  8. And I have a typo. (*face/palm) So much for not editing it before posting.

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  9. Sorry, I have nothing to add, just dropped by to say I live MG mystery and this sounds like a great one. I too got the impression this was one in a series. I think an agent or publisher would want to be pitched the first book before they hear about this one.

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  11. Thanks for all the great comments. You've all given me a lot to think about. If anyone is still reading, does this sound like a better hook?

    Two years ago, fourteen-year-old Kate O’Reilly decided to stop helping ghosts for free—well not just for free—and started her own ghost detective business. She may be young, but she has a perfect track record so far, a track record she intends to keep as she takes on a new case at the local amusement park.

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  12. Okay, love the idea... with a few questions.

    Primarily, what happened to Kate's body when she inhabits a ghost? I mean is there a drooling fourteen year old hanging unconscious on the carousel? Or are her experiences limited to mere moments that no one notices?

    Also, while I LOVE the idea of Isabelle being murdered and her body hidden in one of the carousel horses... it's a little disturbing to think of a fourteen year old girl suddenly inhabiting the ghost of a married and murdered woman presumable at least ten years older than she is. It can work, but I'd make the age difference known immediately because I presumed that Isabelle was of a similar age to Kate at first and was thrown to think of the two being so different. Or is Isabelle that young? (possible considering the time at which she lived)

    In your revised hook, you say 'Two years ago, fourteen year old Kate O'Reilly decided to stop helping ghosts for free' Was she fourteen when she started charging them, making her sixteen now? Or was she twelve when she started charging them, making her fourteen now?

    You might want to be simply forthright and almost matter-of-fact:

    Fourteen year old Kate O'Reilly is a [um, what exactly IS Kate that she can communicate with ghosts?] dedicated to helping ghosts find their way beyond while turning a buck for her trouble. But when she takes on the seemingly simple job of ridding the local amusement park of a common poltergeist things get macabre, even by Kate's standards.

    Whatever you eventually settle on, you've got a great premise, and an AWESOME murder mystery going here. Love it!

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  13. Hi Andrea. I just read your new hook and I'm not loving it. It doesn't give me the rush I expect a hook to give me to make me want to read it.

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