Saturday, December 4, 2010

#13 Paranormal Mystery: Ghost River (BAKER'S DOZEN AGENT AUCTION)


When Veronica learns she signed an agreement in a former life to help lost souls -ghosts- who are stuck in this dimension, she must use clues the ghosts provide to prove a friend is innocent of murder, which gains spiritual points for the ghosts but puts Veronica directly in the path of the real killer.

The first thing that popped into my head as I drove through what was to be my new hometown was the theme from "Deliverance".

Probably not a good sign. Then again, I was undoubtedly looking for the worst in everything because I wasn't happy with my situation. Dr. Phil might give me points for admitting this, but I wasn't ready to let go of my crappy mood yet.

A rusty pickup raced by, a confederate flag flying from its large antenna. Seriously dude, we're in freaking Oregon, not the Deep South. I sighed and glanced at my directions. Five more miles after the edge of town, turn left at the red school bus shack and go down the hill. I drove the rest of the way in a daze, not sure what to expect. I turned at the bus stop and wound my way down the steep little hill. It took me straight into the parking lot. I turned into a space, switched off the
engine, gathered up my nerve and opened the door.

I stood next to my car and looked around. There were all these big green things surrounding the parking lot, what were they called? Oh yeah, trees. Didn't have a lot of them at my condominium in the wilds of stripmall suburbia. We had lots of cement, though. This place seemed kinda low on their cement quota. Lots of green, not much gray. This could take some getting used to.

But change can be good, right?


  1. Thank you, Dear Authoress, for posting my excerpt. It's fine except the first line about "Deliverance" should be a stand-alone paragraph.

    Of course, it may have emailed that way for all I know and it probably isn't that big of deal.I'm just excited about the contest and can't wait to get reading!

  2. It would be good to pay attention to tiny things, especially in opening pages - unless you're British, that quotation mark at the end of Deliverance should come after the period, not before, and Confederate is capitalized when it's used in this context. (And, in fact, movie titles should be in italics - this is why the Chicago Manual of Style could be your new best friend.)

    The sarcasm about not knowing what trees are didn't work for me - and the tone of the writing here led me to think this must be YA, not an adult book.

    This may pick up steam soon thereafter, but it's not the strongest opening page I've seen.

  3. I thought the tone was interesting, but I tripped up on two items. One, your logline is hard to follow because the sentence is too long. Would have been much easier broken up into two. Second problem was with the tenses. The narrative is in the past tense, but then there are personal comments from the protag inserted that really feel like present tense. I found it very confusing to read.

  4. If I hadn't read the logline, there's no way I would think this excerpt was from something paranormal. It starts off sorta flat. The voice is almost snarky but not quite. If you want to pull off sarcasm, I think you need to push it a bit more. Otherwise, it just sounds like complaining and we can't empathize with someone who does nothing but complain.

  5. Logline:
    Interesting logline!

    Line comments:
    -The sarcastic line about what trees were called didn't really do it for me; it's too obvious, imo.

    I think the voice needs more work. Right now, the tone of the novel reads YA--not sure if that's your intent or not, but either way, I suggest reading Rachel Hawkins's novel HEX HALL--she has a similar snarky tone and that might help you discover your own voice.

  6. Funny! She's obviously nervous but trying to cope and the last bit shows her looking for the good as she faces her new home or whatever. I love the voice- it's very Lisa Lutz.

    Good logline too.

  7. I agree with the others about the voice sounding more YA than adult. It didn't work for me here. I thought the log line was interesting, but based on this excerpt, I wouldn't continue to read.

  8. Log line - what is it she is supposed to help lost souls do?

    Excerpt - Nothing happened and I didn't learn anything about your MC except that she/he likes to complain. Is the MC male /female? What's the MC's name? (Yes, it's in the log line, but the reader won't have that) Why is she moving to a new town?

    As is, this is basically a rant, but if you just answered the 'why' question, you could turn it into much more. Saying why she was moving could present a problem, show characterization, offer up a bit of back story and give the reader a reason to stay with you.

  9. Logline - Lots of good content here, but I'd break it into two sentences to make it more clear. In it's current form, it's a very long sentence and you can get a little lost in it.

    Excerpt - There's not a lot that happens in this first section and it's not even really setting atmosphere. It's more like driving directions. I wonder if you could tighten up this first part somewhat by editing down your third paragraph and having the scene start at she opens the door. That might give the scene a sense of immediacy.

    And I'm sorry, I'm echoing other comments, but the lack of recognition on the trees didn't work for me either. I think it's a good way to express that she's a city girl, but I think you could soften that lack of recognition for a better effect.

    Good luck!

  10. I'll bid 10 pages.
    - Sarah LaPolla, Curtis Brown, Ltd.

  11. I'll bid 20 pages
    Suzie Townsend
    FinePrint Lit


  13. Great evocation of setting in the first couple paragraphs, combined w/ some good character development using cues that a contemporary adult reader would generally pick up on. However, the Deliverance theme made me think she was in the South, and so finding out in the 3rd graph that she's actually in Oregon was jarring (great line there, though, w/ the guy in a pickup waving the Confederate flag).

    Most of the 3rd graph is a little too traveloguey--get to the plot, or at least establish where she's going and why, because right now the end of graph 3 and all of graph 4 are a little too vague, making it hard to sympathize w/ her.

    Also, the "big green things" line is too cheesy.

    Good potential, though. Other than those hiccups, the voice works well.

  14. Forgot to add: Mostly, I'm not hooked. You don't have to have ghosts in the first paragraph--you don't have enough time in this short segment you've got here to get to the ghosts yet if they're going to be new to her. But I would hope for a slightly creepy feel to it to hook a reader, and just referencing Deliverance isn't quite enough. Take those 3rd and 4th graph travelogues and make them work to do at least two things: establish why she's there and establish more creepy ambiance.