Thursday, September 30, 2010

4 Query Letter #20

Query Letter #20
Your Name: Andrea Pelleschi
Title: The Carousel Ghost
Genre: Mystery/Paranormal

Dear Ms. LaPolla,

The Carousel Ghost is a 63,000-word middle grade novel that’s part mystery, part ghost story. I am submitting it to you because I saw that you were recently reading paranormal mystery stories and because you’re interested in strong female characters.

When 14-year-old ghost detective, Kate O’Reilly, takes on a new case at an amusement park, she finds herself pulled back in time into the body of a woman whose husband may have murdered her and stuffed her into one of the carousel horses.

Hired by the curator at the park museum, who’s tired of her artifacts being tossed around in the middle of the night, Kate thinks it’s a simple poltergeist. But when she rides the antique 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.

Kate rushes to solve the case before curator puts the beautiful horse on display in the park museum, meaning Kate won’t be able to ride it anymore and learn all of Isabelle’s secrets—-or solve the case. And if she can’t solve the case, Isabelle will haunt Kate forever because, as Kate knows from her 14 years of ghostly experiences, ghosts have all the time in the world.

Currently, I am a children’s book editor and have experience in mass market, trade, and educational publishing. My writing credits include novelty books, storybooks, and leveled readers. I have an MFA in creative writing from Emerson College and also belong to SCBWI.

Thank you for you time and consideration. May I send you sample chapters or the complete manuscript of The Carousel Ghost?


Andrea Pelleschi


  1. This sounds like a fun read!


    The second and third paragraphs seem redundant. Is there a way to streamline them?

    Plus, I'm kind of wondering why a curator would "hire" a 14 year old...???

    Also, I'm wondering how the story works when the MC is in the body of an adult...

    And: what's at stake for Kate? That she'll be haunted forever? That she needs to solve the case? What are the consequences of whether or not she's successful?

  2. Great storyline. I like your combination of mystery & ghost story. I liked the second and third paragraphs. Perhaps the second paragraph sounds a little redundant with the first general line. Perhaps put the word count & reasons why querying with the agent at the end?

    Maybe you could shorten the first sentence of the second paragraph to this: When 14-year-old ghost detective, Kate O’Reilly, takes on a new case at an amusement park, she finds herself pulled back in time into the body of a woman whose husband may have murdered her.

    The last paragraph of the pitch could be tightened. Perhaps just say she needs to solve it before the horse is put on display. We get she couldn't ride it. I actually think you set up a stake at the end--she'll be haunted, but I think it's a little awkward. It makes it sound like she's been haunted for 14 years.

    Your credentials are great! Definitely keep them. Good luck with querying. I think there's a real need for middle grade books and hopefully yours will find a home.

  3. Hi Andrea,

    My first question was: why would Kate be riding the carousel if she's investigating a poltergeist?

    If she's transported into the past, I'm assuming Isabelle isn't yet a ghost?

    Also, the stakes seem really low in this query - that Kate won't get to ride the horse and learn all of Isabelle's secrets. Yes, you go on to say that she'll be haunted if she doesn't solve the case, but what does the poltergeist case have to do with Isabelle having already been murdered?

    Also, Kate's only 14? So how much experience does she have? Does she have some preternatural ability?

    Hope this is helpful! Good luck!

  4. I don't have any trouble with Kate riding the carousel. I deduced that she was riding it because it was the center of the haunting activity. I think if you were querying agents who were fans of ghostly stories, that would be understood by them too.

    I'd drop 'stuffed her in one of the carousel horses' from the first paragraph. I'd just say 'and hid the body'. You state the hidden body in the carousel horse in the second paragraph and I think it works better there.

    I'd also reword the bit about 'Kate knows from 14 years of ghostly experiences'. You could simply say 'after a lifetime of dealing with ghosts' or something to that effect.

    Overall I love it and I think you've done a great job of getting a lot of information into a small space.


Tell us what you think. We'd love to hear from you! :)