Friday, November 11, 2016

On The Block #15 - THIRD TIME'S A CURSE 11:20 AM EST

TITLE: Third Time's A Curse
GENRE: YA Supernatural

When fifteen-year-old competitive softball pitcher Tish Reilly and her friends investigate a haunted road, they uncover two bitter ghosts and a long buried secret. Tish must find a way to help the ghosts move on or they’ll all end up on the losing team of a deadly game; a game her mother started.

The old convertible swept out of town with a throaty purr. I sat next to Tony and tried to act nonchalant, like it was perfectly natural to be up front with him, while Sophia and Ethan were in the back seat, going out on a Friday night.

Not that this was a date or anything.

It had been Tony’s idea to skip the first football game of the season and drive down creepy Weary Lane, something different to do on the last Friday night of summer.

An orange moon rose above the trees and cast eerie shapes on the dark pavement. Tony shifted and the GTO lurched as it ground into gear. “Sorry, Tish,” he said, wincing. “Still getting used to this old shifter.”

Sophia never missed a chance to tweak her brother. “If they gave you a driver’s license, I shouldn’t have any trouble getting mine next year.”

I thought he was doing pretty well considering he’d only had the car for a week. He shifted into the next gear, a little more smoothly this time. One strong hand rested on the steering wheel, the other on the shifter.

Shadows partially hid his face, but there was enough light to see his square jaw, dark hair long enough to curl at the neck of his t-shirt, full lips, and . . .

He definitely wasn’t the scrawny kid who’d chased me with dead frogs when we were little.


  1. I clicked on this because the blurb interested me more than the excerpt. The characters are likeable and the setup is fine. The last line takes care of backstory very neatly. I would keep reading to get to the angry ghosts, because the excerpt doesn't yet fulfill the blurb's promise.

    On rereading what I wrote, I realize it comes across as negative overall. That's not my intention! The writing is clean and the characterization is crisp.

  2. The voice in this is DYNAMIC. Love it. Love the first line with its "throaty purr." Love the flow of the excerpt. Love the premise. I have two super nitpicky things: 1) Italicize YOU in this sentence-"If they gave you a driver’s license" (see... nitpicky) and 2) a little clarity on the paragraph about who is going out in the first paragraph. At first I thought it was Sophia and Ethan... now I think it's a general reference to all of them. Other than that - love this! Excited to see how you do Tuesday! Good luck!

  3. Logline was great and really pulled me into wanting to read this. My only issue was the end of it...the part about "a game her mother started." For some reason I felt like it ended much stronger without those words, although I understand that it might be important to know that her mom is involved.

    I wonder if the excerpt itself could be tighter. I felt like I had a bunch of disconnected questions that kept bumping me out of the story before I really got pulled into it- like who are all these people, which ones are going out together (any of them?), why are they driving down this road instead of going to the game (is this a known creepy place to go?), etc. Even her description of Tony when it's obvious she's thinking of him as a romantic interest could come later...I want to get to the ghosts or at least the hint that we'll see them very soon.

    I do like the characters and you've set up the scene so I can really see it. I'd be interested to keep reading!

  4. The logline pulled me in, but I felt the excerpt didn't do it justice. It's done well, but it's a bit slow. There's no hook on the page.

    If something weird or spooky will happen on this road in this chapter, perhaps start a bit closer to that event, close enough to get the start of it on page one. Or perhaps include something weird or eerie in this excerpt. Or create an eerie mood. Get something on the page that says this is supernatutal, and that will pull the reader in.

  5. Nothing wrong here (okay, except for "throaty purr"), but there's nothing on this page to show that this is more than a teen romance novel.

    I wouldn't keep reading with what's here, but I suspect there is much stronger material following this. Get to it faster. Streamline this scene, where all that happens is a kid shifts gears in a GTO.

  6. I like this. It introduces the character nicely.

    The orange moon and eerie shapes hint at creepiness down the road, but it seemed almost out of the scene because nothing else reads that way.

    The "going out on a Friday night" tacked onto the end of the sentence confused me.

    I like a slow build into the larger picture especially when the beginning is well written, which this is.

  7. I got really excited when I read the logline - it's been a while since I've seen a good supernatural set in the real world. But the first page didn't quite suck me in. Some of it was that a few areas needed clarity - I had to go back and re-read to understand Tony & Sophia were brother/sister. I also think the tension could be heightened - Tish TELLS us they are driving down a creepy road but I don't get a corresponding eerie feeling that I would expect from a supernatural thriller. The tone seems to be leaning more teen romance. But you already have some big fans above, so it just goes to show you how subjective this business can be - best of luck with this piece! :)

  8. Love ghost stories. A bit of eerie foreboding would work well here - air turns cold, girls shivers, car stutters. Off to a great start.

  9. I like your pitch. It arouses interest and curiosity - and I'm not one for ghost stories!

    I'm in the minority here but I didn't like the throaty purr first line.
    A much more impactful first line - "It had been Tony’s idea to skip the first football game of the season and drive down creepy Weary Lane, something different to do on the last Friday night of summer."

    Sophia never missed a chance to tweak her brother. - Telling not showing.

    Love your last line.

    All the best!

  10. I was intrigued by the logline, and do like the premise. I agree with LM that a stronger first line could be the one that starts with, "It had been Tony's idea..." And the orange moon line does a good job of describing the scene.

    I also agree with others who said that this could be tightened a bit (Tony's driving ability/inability, and the GTO, would be best served later in the first chapter), focusing more on the scene setting and hinting at the conflict to come.

  11. This sounds like a fun read. I love "throaty purr" by the way . The opening paragraph needs tightening. For me, it was too wordy and I felt a little lost. If I had picked it up in a bookstore, I might have closed the book right there. I sort of thought reversing lines and making, Not like it was a date or anything, your first line would make a nice hook and explain more when you read the original first paragraph. Also, Sophia and Ethan threw me. It felt like I was supposed to know who they were and what I need to know is who the MC is. Call them little brother and sister, or little sister and her date, you get the idea. To nitpick, so you make it as strong as possible, you use the word "shifter" too often. Maybe have Tony refer to it as this old stick. I'm not a big ghost story/supernatural reader, but this one has me intrigued. Especially the last line in your log line, a game my mother started...Very Goosebumps meets Stephen King! Good Luck

  12. It's fun reading all the comments on this. We have such diverse readers out there! There are some great comments that have already been covered so I'll just add that I think your opening and premise is excellent. I'd love to read on.
    Yes, it starts slow and easy, but what's wrong with that? Some people like fast cars with throaty-purrs and some people like safe cars with good gas mileage. I like to be wooed every now and again instead of dropped in the middle of a war zone.
    Your opening works for me. Good luck. :)

  13. Your story premise pulls me right in: bitter ghosts, secrets, a potentially deadly 'game.' Great fun!
    The intro could use more foreshadowing of danger, spookiness. The vibe is more teen romance than ghost story--but I'd read on to get to the ghost-story part. :)

  14. I enjoy this type of story and you're launching it nicely. Great mood and use of detail. I think that expanding a conflict or potential conflict facing Tish, even if it's a hint, would give this a little narrative hook. And then you're really on your way...

  15. Great pitch, very intriguing. I agree with LM and Laura with changing the first line to bring us in more directly. I feel like the spookiness is right around the corner, so to speak. Maybe it comes up right after this, but a little more detail on the visuals of Weary Lane would add to the atmosphere. Good luck!