Friday, June 26, 2020

Face-Lift 1403

Guess the Plot


1. Perty's days working at Stillgrove Asylum have never been boring. Until now--the whispers have stopped.

2. Sixteen-year-old Samantha hears whispering. Is it ghosts, or has she just been working in the state mental hospital too long? Also, a visit to the circles of hell.

3. Mia picks up conversations in her retainer, but it's not the local radio station, it's a drug cartel using a government restricted frequency. With the help of two classmates--a conspiracy theorist and a budding actor--Mia will get into more trouble than three teenagers can handle. And maybe save the city.

4. Iggy the busboy must descend into the basement of Bud's Diner. This time he's on a mission to listen to the wireless for an important breakfast order from the French Underground. But the chatter he hears sounds more like a Guy Fawkes plan to blow up Parliament. Has he entered a time tunnel? Or does the free world now depend on himself and savvy waitress Loretta Muldoon?

5. Quiet voices tell Marge to torture small animals, but she doesn't believe in being cruel. They tell her that her parents are zombies; it's kind of cool to help them pretend to be human. On the other hand, Billy Westmeier should have been strangled at birth, long before he became host to a hostile-alien bug colony.

6. As he wanders in the dark on Halloween, hillbilly boy genius Buddy Boone hears whispering voices and realizes he's near the spot where Fred Jones, bootleg distiller, vanished during Prohibition. And he sees a foggy figure in the shrubbery. Plus his iPhone spectral apparition meter app is buzzing.

Original Version

Dear Ms. ,

Whispers is a 74,000-word YA contemporary ghost story which reveals secrets from The Book of the Dead.

Sixteen-year-old Samantha must help a group of whispering ghosts or they won't leave her alone. As she investigates, Samantha realizes there may be supernatural forces at work she cannot control. [She's been tormented by ghosts who won't leave her alone, but she's just now realizing supernatural forces are at work?] [What is she investigating? The ghosts? Or something the ghosts want her to investigate, in which case . . . What?] 

Samantha is compelled by an unseen entity to trudge from the bus to her after-school job as a nurses aide at the Wisconsin State Mental Hospital. [As she'd be going to her after school job anyway, how do we know an unseen entity is compelling her to go? Now that I think about it, am I freely typing at my computer right now, or is an unseen entity compelling me to do so? It's possible everyone in the world is being compelled to do everything they do by unseen entities. Was that the plot of The Matrix?] [Wait, is it the trudging part that's being compelled? She normally skips but now she's trudging? No, everyone normally trudges to their job. Especially if their job is nurses aide at the Wisconsin State Mental Hospital.] Menacing whispers call her name. Aidan, a boy in her psychology class tells her only she can help the undead cross over. [Are you sure the person who told her that wasn't a patient at the Wisconsin State Mental Hospital?] [How does Aiden know she's the one? She consults with a mystic and visits the Circles of Hell with her deceased Mom. [WTF?] Samantha must use what she learns to help the whisperers and her mother by Christmas or all the undead will be sentenced to wander Earth forever. [As ghosts or zombies?] [According to whom?] [How close to Christmas is it?] 

Whispers would fit on the shelf next to The Poison Thread (Laura Purcel [Purcell]), House of Furies (Madeleine Roux), and Asylum (Madeleine Roux). [As it happens, I have those three books on my shelf, and as you can see, your book would not fit next to them:]

At sixteen, like my main character, I worked as a nurses aide in a small-town Wisconsin hospital. The nurse in charge scheduled me to do mortuary care for a patient who had died in her bed the night before. It was so spooky, I kept waiting for the woman to sit up and say something. [Finally she did, but it was in Spanish, which I don't speak, so I clubbed her over the head, and this time she stayed dead.] As a new nurse, I worked nights on a psychiatric unit where many weird things happened that could not be explained and on a unit next to the one where Ed Gein, the serial killer popularized in Psycho, resided. I took first place in a Virginia Romance Writers YA novel contest and second place in a YA State of Florida Competition. My author page at Amazon is [That you've worked as a nurse in a psychiatric institution is relevant. Unless your dead patient said something or the ghost of Ed Gein whispered to you, the rest of this paragraph isn't helpful. More about what happens in the book would be a better use of the space.] 



A book set in a psych ward where Ed Gein is a resident and unexplained things happen sounds more promising than one involving ghosts, unseen entities, a mystic, The Book of the Dead, an undead mother, a visit to the Circles of Hell, and Ed Gein residing in some other ward besides the one where your book is set. 

If the one thing you tell me about your book is that it reveals secrets from The Book of the Dead, it might be better to touch on that in the query instead of on circles of hell and unseen entities etc. All this stuff is okay in the book which is 74,000 words. Working all that into your plot summary, which is a mere seven sentences, could give the impression your book is disorganized at best.

Is there something about Samantha that makes her the ideal person to help the undead cross over? 

Use this outline to summarize the plot, and see if it turns out more coherent:

1. What's Samantha's situation and what's her goal?
2. What's her plan and what obstacles could thwart it?
3. What will happen if she fails to achieve her goal? (Whether to her or to the universe.)


Anonymous said...

Author, it seems like you’ve provided more detail about yourself than the story you are querying. The spooky things that happened in your working life probably inspired the story, (which probably makes for interesting reading), but you are at risk of just haivng the novel as vehicle to tell these stories - try to not go down that path.
As it happened, it sounds like you have stakes (if Samantha doesn’t solve the problem, the undead will come back to haunt the world), which is great! But it’s not clear what the whisperers want, other than something to do with the seven circles of hell. I think a little more detail in the query will help.
Follow EE’s advice!!
And, EE - -I want to read those books on your shelf!

Anonymous said...

Are the undead sentenced to wandering the earth forever going to be doing it as ghosts, zombies or what? Why is this a Bad Thing? I think people could eventually adapt.

I'll vote with the others for Needs more plot, not just a series of events but connected ones leading from incident to effect to effect to effect, and maybe a few causes thrown in instead of just mystery.

Good Luck