Friday, August 17, 2012

Face-Lift 1065

Guess the Plot

The Atchison Haunting

1. Book 1 of my trilogy about a ghost train, to be followed by The Topeka Haunting and The Santa Fe Haunting.

2. Halloween is coming, and the kids on the block make plans to scare the poop out of the crotchety old codger in the forbidding mansion at the end of Atchison Lane. Wait till they see what former Vice President Cheney has cooked up for them.

3. Do you hear that shrieking
Down the line?
I reckon that it's banshee number--69
She's the only one that howls that way
On the Atchison Topeka and the Dead Man's Way!

OOh oooh oo ohhh
OO OOO oo oo oo
Charon better get your rig
OO oo oooh Oo OOO
OO OOO o OO oo
She's got a load of passengers that's mighty big

And they'll all want lifts to Downtown Hell
Cuz most of them been travellin for quite a spell
From New York, Detroit and West LA
On the Atchison Topeka and the Dead Man's Way!

4. Atchison, Kansas. The country’s most haunted town. The cast of TV’s Xavier Paranormal Investigators roll in, but are they any match for ghosts set on making the entire town pay the ultimate price?

5. When the ghost of a murdered railroad employee sets out to haunt the town in which he was killed, he discovers that nobody lives there; they've all moved to Topeka and Santa Fe.

6. The ghost of aviatrix Amelia Earhart returns to her hometown to haunt the descendants of the people who told her she should take up flying instead of settling down and raising a family.

7. After over a century in purgatory, a former US Senator visits 21st-century Earth to atone for the harm he caused as a slaveholder and participant in anti-abolitionist violence. But he quickly acquires a wicked Internet addiction and becomes absorbed in Wikipedia... literally.

Original Version

The Atchison Haunting

Zach Kalusky and the cast of Sci-D TV’s Xavier Paranormal Investigators travel to the country’s most haunted town—Atchison, Kansas. A family living on the property of a mass murder fears that either their daughter or their house—or both—are possessed. [It's the house. The daughter's just going through the "tween" stage.] When Zach and company hit a patch of black ice at the border, [The border of the property or of Atchison?] the resulting crash lands one of the team in the hospital. Is the mishap random coincidence or a warning to abort their mission? [Depends. Is it January or July?]

As XPI investigates the town, [If they're in town because one family fears their daughter or property is possessed, why are they investigating the whole town? Has everyone else in Atchison reported paranormal activity?] their efforts are met with resistance from the police. [We don't want your kind here. The Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe leaves in an hour. Be on it.] A skeptic stalks the team, vowing to expose them as charlatans. [I'm sure that happens every episode. It happened in both Ghostbusters movies.] [Does anyone get slimed in this book?] With the spirit that possesses Zach showing signs of atrophy and unreliability, can he continue to count on it, as he’s done in the past, to help him solve this case? If not, in addition to Zach’s team, an entire family—perhaps even an entire town—may pay the ultimate price. [What makes them think everyone in the whole town may be wiped out? What has happened so far?]

The Atchison Haunting is complete at 82,000 words. I await your measured and constructive advice.

all the best,


Those who've been around a few years may recognize this as a sequel to the book featured in Face-Lift 679.

The ice accident isn't bothering me, but it isn't needed in the query. What is needed, in my opinion, is evidence that there is a haunting. Unexplained deaths, heads turning 360 degrees, visitations to past Christmases...

"Is the mishap random coincidence or a warning?" "Perhaps even an entire town—may pay the ultimate price." Add to these equivocal statements the atrophy and unreliability issue, and I'm about ready to side with the skeptic.

What does "solving the case" entail? Proving whether there's a haunting? Destroying the haunters? Bringing closure and peace to the haunters?


Stephen Prosapio said...

Thanks EE. Already worth the price of admission! I look forward to minion comments/suggestions as well.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Sounds like the Amityville Horror.

You're calling Atchison, Kansas, the most haunted town in America, so I'm off to teh Google, which shows me that the modest little burg only claims to be one of the most haunted towns in Kansas. I guess they don't want to get into any slugfests with other Kansas (heh) ghost-towns.

How does the Atchison Horror threaten the whole town, and not just the family who bought the murder site? The connection's not clear. (Does Kansas have real estate disclosure laws, btw?)

PLaF said...

I agree with EE (only a fool would not) that the query lacks evidence of a haunting.
There’s nothing spooky or compelling in the query aside from the mention of Zach’s spirit not working just right. What’s going on at the farmhouse that should imperil the town and Zach’s team?

sarahhawthorne said...

It comes off a little ho-hum. To me the most interesting story point is Zach losing his longtime possessing spirit, but you only mention this in the context of how it affects Zach's business. If he's been haunted for years, it seems he ought to have some kind of emotional connection to this ghost, either positive or negative. How does he feel, and what steps is he going to take to either save or get rid of his spirit for good? If he's been possessed, is his personality changing in front of his increasingly-suspicious team, or do they already know about this and are worried for him?

I would drop the sentence about the black ice, unless you can link it more directly to the haunting. Traffic accidents are pretty typical, malevolent hauntings are not.

Also, I would change the second sentence to either "former property of a mass murderer" or "the location of a mass murder." Otherwise, the pronoun implies that the property belongs to a mass murder.

150 said...

Is the idea to query this at places other than the prequel's publisher? If yes, you must mention the prequel and its sales numbers.