Saturday, December 4, 2010

#28 Paranormal thriller: Crossing Dark Water (BAKER'S DOZEN AGENT AUCTION)

TITLE: Crossing Dark Water
GENRE: Paranormal thriller

When Jeep-loving Haley puts the pedal to the metal to free her sister from a mountaintop mental hospital, she collides with a cartel of doctors who deal in magic--and must risk her own sanity to save her sister's.

My twin sister, Sierra, sat in lotus position on the teacher's desk with a dozen prom committee members gawking at her. She stared at the ceiling like she was stoned out of her mind. Which was impossible, she was all about healthy eating and substance free living. I would have assumed it was some yoga thing except spit bubbled from one corner of her mouth and she was talking nonsense.


"Look." Sierra pointed a trembling finger upwards and everyone's eyes followed her gesture. "The ceiling's opening like a curtain. So much darkness--but there's the moon. Can you see it?"

Okay, I knew better, but I looked up too. A pencil jutted out of a cracked ceiling tile and there was a gross yellow smudge, but nothing moved.

Leah Newman, our junior class president, squealed excitedly. "A curtain on the gym ceiling--that's an awesome prom idea! We could have a shiny black sky above it and glittery stars with everybody's names on them."

I rushed toward the desk. I needed to get Sierra out of there before someone realized her babbling wasn't artsy brainstorming.

"My mom could donate the fabric," someone suggested.

Leah bounced on her tiptoes. "The guys from the building trades' class could hang the curtain and make it move."

Everyone began chattering at once. Blinking, Sierra stared from one committee member to the next.

I slipped past Leah and leaned in close to Sierra. "You alright?" I whispered.

Sierra's sweat-dampened face went scarlet. "I'm fine," she said.


  1. Sweet idea, I've never heard of pairing magic with mental hospitals. It sounds like a creepy-but-exciting story basis.

    I bet you get a bid. Way to go!

  2. I love this! I was excited when I saw your tagline up for your critique last month and your first page totally lives up to it. I predict a full request in your future.

    Good luck!!!

  3. Solid logline.

    You need a semi-colon after "impossible". Otherwise, the only thing I had a problem with was the "gawking". This implies they already think she's crazy but their comments don't sound like they have a clue.

  4. Great log line! Concise, and tells me everything.

    The excerpt let's me know something's off with Sierra, something Haley is familiar with. I loved how they're all volunteering other people to help with the prom. Typically teen.

    And add a hyphen between substance free.

  5. This is fabulous! The YA market could use a great paranormal thriller, and your plot is unique and has the added bonus of being about two sisters, not a romance... though a romantic subplot wouldn't be bad... :)
    And your writing is solid to boot!

    Oh, and because I should give some constructive criticism:
    - "Squealed excitedly" is a bit redundant.
    - In par 6, Haley rushes toward the desk, and then in par 10, she slips past Leah to get to Sierra. Was Leah blocking her unintentionally? Be a little clearer with the action. And the dialogue in between negates the urgency of her rushing/removes some tension for me.

    I'd request the full. Good luck!

  6. Fun excerpt! Nice voice and great tension.

    The only thing I that stuck out was the end of the first paragraph...the "I would have assumed" sentence. Perhaps the other kids would assume, but not your MC. Especially since her next line is "Again."

    Solid writing. Good luck!

  7. I like this a lot. The logline is perfect and the excerpt fun to read. I'd definitely read more. One thing I kept thinking about though: is it absolutely necessary that the sisters are twins? There seem to be many stories with twins as of late. (see next entry for example)

  8. Logline:
    Interesting, if a little vague.

    Line comments:
    -I find it a bit of a stretch that she's conked out, drooling, and spouting nonsense and no one notices but her sister--especially if they're all gawking. If you made a comment that Haley notices because she knows her sister better or something else, it would be more believable.

    And interesting premise, and nicely written.

  9. I'll leave out the part of my comments that would just echo critiques made above.

    I, too, love the idea of pairing mental hospitals and the paranormal, and particularly appreciate that you seem to be moving in a direction that isn't the traditional vampire/werewolf/mythical beast angle. The idea of "normal" sisters fighting against enemies who perform magic but are, at their core, humans is interesting and something I think your audience can relate to.

    The voice was nice, and I liked the choice of names. Sierra and Leah are unique enough to be memorable but not so strange as to distract a reader from the story.

    I'd read on.

  10. I bid to read the first 25 pages.
    Kate McKean
    Howard Morhaim Literary Agency

  11. I bid 40.
    Kate McKean
    Howard Morhaim Literary Agency


  13. I wanted to say thank you to everyone who commented on my entry. Great suggestions, especially about the word 'gawked'. I've changed that to 'huddled around' her.

    Also thank you to the agents who bid on my entry and to all the other agents--and Stacy Whitman. I've learned a ton not only from recieving comments, but from reading the other entries as well. You guys are the best!

  14. I'm hooked enough to want to know more--there's so much possibility in fantasy to play with sanity/not-sane-really-magic.

    The header doesn't say anything about this being YA, so it makes me wonder why we're starting in high school. Do we jump forward in time at some point to their 20s?

    I would like to get a better sense of place and character--specific details that make the setting non-generic, a little bit more of what's going on inside Haley's head. But that might happen on the next page. Sometimes it's a matter of not starting in the right place.

    But I do like how we start with immediate conflict, get immediately to the problem that will be an inciting incident for the story (if she's nuts in this scene, it's probably the reason she got put away), and so forth. The scene is establishing several good things--it just needs punching up.

    BTW, it is a *tiny* bit weird to refer to a group of doctors as a "cartel," but it does get the message across that they're not the good guys. I'm not sure what being a Jeep lover has to do with the plot, and how her risking her sanity will figure in, and if this were a query letter, I'd want to know specifics. A log line can use specific details while still being quite short, too.