Friday, December 2, 2011

#32 YA Contemporary: Ghost Light

GENRE: YA Contemporary

When sixteen year-old Cal’s car is totaled by a drunk driver, his friend Lizzie is killed and only a heart transplant saves his life. He thinks he’s lost everything: Lizzie; a promising future as a baseball player; and any chance he ever had with the girl of his dreams. But when he discovers that his donated heart was Lizzie’s and starts hearing her voice, sharing her dreams, and feeling her desire for their mutual friend Spencer, Cal fears he’s losing the only thing he has left: his mind.

No one ever calls in the middle of the night to tell you that you’ve won the lottery.

Or that you aced your chem final.

Or that your favorite team won the series.

If the phone rings in the middle of the night, it’s a pretty sure bet someone has died. Or broken up with his girlfriend. Or, in my case, that something awful has happened to Lizzie.

She doesn’t always call me. Sometimes she calls Spencer. Sometimes, I suspect, she just deals with her mom’s drinking and her loser stepfather’s temper and doesn’t tell either of us. I hate that even more than I hate the phone ringing in the middle of the night.

This time when it rings, I’m dreaming that I’m kissing Ally Martin while standing on first base. Yeah, I’m getting to first base on first base. My subconscious obviously has a sense of humor.

I know it’s a dream because you can’t really kiss someone you haven’t had the courage to speak to. But still I pull her closer and, as I do, her breasts rub against me and suddenly I know why most guys have been drooling over girls while I’ve been perfecting my swing and beating myself up for being a coward.

My cell keeps ringing, shrill and demanding. I pull my hand away from Ally and fumble around on my nightstand just as it stops. Somehow, I resist the urge to smash it against the wall in frustration. And then it starts again.


  1. WOW! Your logline KNOCKED MY SOCKS OFF! N' the opening sentences literally blew my heart right out of my body, with the dread of bad things coming...


  2. Agree with Sam - seriously freaking out about your logline. It's so awesome that the gears in my head were already turning - it could be paranormal, or it could *not* be. And how awesome it would be either way.

    The first few lines just made my heart sink. Love how you introduced all the important characters in just a couple of paragraphs.

    The "It's a pretty sure bet someone has died." combined with "And then it starts again." as the closing line? Totally makes my heart sink. Guaranteed I would pick this one up.

    Awesome work! So much luck to you!

  3. I think your logline needs to lose a couple of semi-colons, and find a couple of commas, to make it a little clearer. I stumbled over "his Lizzie's"...I thought for a second that his heart was his. BUT, your first page was fabulous. I loved the voice, and the character. I would definitely love to read more. I have my fingers corssed for you!

  4. Okay, your premise...ROCKS. So unique. And you seem to capture a YA boy voice very well in that first page.

  5. Love your voice. And the fact that the protag. is male! Great tension in these opening lines. My only suggestion would be to change "I hate that even more than I hate the phone ringing in the middle of the night" to "I hate that even more than the phone ringing in the middle of the night." (You don't need to repeat "hate".) Best of luck to you!!!

  6. I agree, great voice. I love this line.
    "Yeah, I’m getting to first base on first base. My subconscious obviously has a sense of humor."

    Great logline. I had to read it twice to understand it completely, though. But that could just mean that I'm being dense. LOL

    The first three sentences are fabulous. I'd keep reading ;o)

  7. Your logline gave me chills. It's so well written! I think you did a great job with the voice in this piece. Good luck!

  8. Very nice. I like the premise, and I would read more. You have a great way of setting the tone for this story.

    All the best.

  9. I love this. I really loved "Yeah, I'm getting to first base on first base." I would cut the next line though. Jokes are funnier if you don't have to explain them.

  10. I agree with Erica in that I had to read the logline twice. Might just need some tightening, but ultimately it's a great premise. Good luck!

  11. Wow. This premise is definitely unique and a BIG hook.

    In the logline, though, I had to reread it a few times to completely understand it. The first line was especially confusing (at least to me). A little tweaking will make this great.

    As for the first 250, I was struck by the juxtaposition between the phone ringing in the middle of the night (foreshadowing something awful), and him getting to first base. It's powerful, and I'll be interested to see what others think. That aside, I think the excerpt really shows the MC well.

  12. I don't read much YA, but if I did, I'd pick this up and read further.

    Best of luck!

  13. Oh! There are so many things I loved about this one!

    "Yeah, I’m getting to first base on first base. My subconscious obviously has a sense of humor."

    "I pull my hand away from Ally and fumble around on my nightstand just as it stops."
    And I loved this last line because that's the way it happens when you wake up from a dream.
    So clever!

    The only but I have about the first 250 is that you start with a really conscious MC, as if he were awake. But he's sleeping! So the narration didn't work for me in the beginning.

    I *think* I get why you want to do that--because starting with a dream and then having the character waking up might sound gimmicky?

    Also, the present tense didn't work for me because I *think* that when you write in present tense you have to respect a timeline.
    And you sort of start foreshadowing what's going to happen in the future.

    For me, it *might* work if you changed to past tense, or if you started with something like:
    "I know this is a dream because you can't really kiss someone..."
    And THEN move on with the phone call.

    So I guess what I'm saying, is: DON'T nix anything. Just rearrange the first lines so that the reader gets to them when he really wakes up and maybe he looks at the phone and thinks something like, "it can't be good news that someone is calling in the middle of the night."
    Anyway, I'm babbling now. But I think you get what I mean, right?
    And I think I'd also tighten and polish the logline a bit, but I like the premise.

    I wish you luck with this one. :D

  14. GREAT logline. I love the concept, and this passage pulls me right into the story.

  15. I have the advantage of having read the whole manuscript since I'm one of the author's critique partners, but I have to say the writing is tight, the story is well-done--contemporary with just a touch of paranormal that feels very realistic, very plausible. It was emotionally gripping as Cal dealt with his guilt and grief. I was intrigued by the love "triangle" that Cal didn't ask for and enjoyed the sweet romance as he got more confident around Ally.
    Overall a great story! Best wishes to the author!

  16. Love the voice, love the premise, and I really want to read this!

    The first line is really strong, and I was hooked right away. The next two, however, felt a little overkill. I'd already got a sick feeling from the first line, thinking, oh no, what's happened? I wonder if it would be just as strong, or stronger, if you took away the next two lines, or maybe just one of them.

    It's a fantastic intro and I love it. Awesome!

  17. #32 GHOST LIGHT

    Logline: First thought, WOAH. This has impact. Without a more detailed genre, I found myself wondering how much this was going to be supernatural vs purely psychological. The title says paranormal, but I found myself wishing for something more grounded in reality, if unexplainable. But I’m very interested in the emotional things going on here.

    Line notes: I think the sample needs a bit of tightening – the series of reasons your phone might or might not ring in the middle of the night doesn’t have quite the parallel structure for greatest resonance that I think it could have.

    Overall: The pitch is intriguing. I’m very curious to see how this is handled. I think girls love the inside look at a boy’s brain workings, but especially when the boys are also getting a dose of girl brain workings, that’s a whole other level. Could have a lot of appeal.

  18. I'd like to open the bidding with 5 pages please!

  19. I am trumping you with 25 pages.

  20. full manuscript, did i do this right?


    (Yep, Melissa, you did it right!)

  22. Wow, I am so late to this one. But:

    LOVE.LOVELOVELOVELOVELOVE. Very, very real and very, very great voice. WHEN it gets published, and you have extra ARCs, send me one, will ya? ;)