Friday, December 2, 2011

#41 YA Paranormal: My Sister's Reaper

GENRE: YA Paranormal

Sixteen-year-old Zadie’s first mistake was telling the boy she liked she could bring her dead sister back to life. Her second mistake was actually doing it. When Zadie accidentally messes with the Reaper’s Rite that should have claimed her sister Mara, things go horribly wrong. Mara isn’t the same anymore—Zadie isn’t even sure she’s completely human. And now Zadie must figure out how to defeat her sister’s Reaper or let Mara die … this time for good.

I didn’t know what scared me more, sneaking out to crash a graveyard party at midnight or knowing that Gavin was going to be there. Wriggling through the crawlspace someone had cut into the chain link fence surrounding the cemetery, I fought off nausea and focused on not making too much noise.

“Ow!” Naomi, on the other hand, was not as discreet. “Watch it, Zadie.”

“Sorry,” I said, realizing I had let a branch smack her in the face as she crawled behind me.

When I was able to get to my feet, I extended a hand to help her up. We followed the voices and flickers of light that fell across the faces of headstones. My skin prickled at the thought of some poor soul’s grave being used as a fire pit.

I heard Gavin’s voice and clenched my stomach to stop it from churning. As soon as I spotted him, I sucked in a breath, self-consciously smoothing my hair. It took all I had to hold myself together when Gavin’s eyes met mine.

“What are they doing here?” The cold glance Emily Broding—Miss High and Mighty herself—gave me almost made me wince.

“There’s no guest list.” Gavin shifted the wood in the fire. “Grab a seat.”

“Cool, thanks,” Naomi said.

“Zadie, right?” he asked. Shocked that he actually knew my name, the only response I could offer was a curt nod.

Gavin’s best friend Danny gave me a quizzical look. “You’re Mara’s sister, right? Is she still in a coma?”


  1. I think your logline is fantastic! Definitely hooked me right away. I wanted to know what a Reaper was and why Mara had one.

    The writing in your sample was great as well, I was immediately drawn into the scene of the two girls creeping into the cemetery. I'd love a few more sensory details to really up the creepy factor though, and maybe less physical telling of things like skin prickling or sucking in breath and more internal thoughts.

    Overall though, this totally hooked me - I'm a sucker for this kind of story!

  2. Just a little confused-- she can bring her sister back from the dead, and she's "not sure" if she's all human? :) Cute scene-- very curious what they're up to.

  3. I found the logline to be clear: she has the ability to bring people back from the dead but that doesn't mean that screw-ups aren't possible. I enjoyed it. You drew me in. Good work!

  4. Good, creepy premise. I like that you jump straight into the conflict. I'd definitely keep reading.

  5. I liked the premise in the logline but I think it could be made a bit clearer - it's not clear to me if she knows she can or is only bluffing. I also like the conflict you've set up for her around her sister. I found the excerpt to be well written and I liked the voice of the MC. Good luck!

  6. This is a very realistic teen voice, coming from a teen herself. :) But there are several things I want to point out:

    1) what everyone else said about the logline.
    2)"I said, realizing I had let a branch smack her in the face as she crawled behind me" reads a bit awkward to me. Maybe something like, "I said. That branch I ignored must have smacked her when she crawled behind me"?
    3)"The cold glance Emily Broding—Miss High and Mighty herself—gave me almost made me wince." The cold glance tells me enough about Emily that I don't think you need "Miss High and Mighty." That throws off your dialogue tag and jerks me out of the situation a bit.
    4) Wanna up the creep-o-meter of the scene? ;)

    Overall, though, GREAT job, and good luck! :D

  7. Having read a large portion of this manuscript, you already know how I feel about this entry. ;-)

    I love Zadie's voice, but I agree that you could insert a little more of an eerie vibe into this scene (which you totally master, later in the story, by the way).

    Good luck! ((hugs)) I'm rooting for you!

  8. I LOVE your excerpt's opening line, it snagged me immediately! Sneaking out and a cute boy involved? Love love love. Excellent premise, and the rest of the excerpt was good too. I love where it ended, definitely raises questions and keeps me wanting more!

  9. Really liked this. The author makes it seem so effortless. Very well done. I love it.

  10. Your logline pulled me in right away. Your opening made me want to read more. I want to know what Zadie's powers are and how exactly she brings her sister back. Creepy!

  11. I pretty much agree with everything Jamie Grey said above. It's okay to have the occasional "telling" bit. I also had thought something along the lines of Julianna Helms's #2. At this point in the comments, it's hard to come up with feedback that hasn't already been done!

    Despite the nitpicky nitpicks, the concept really pulled me in, and the voice is strong throughout the excerpt.

  12. Your blurb sets up a tricky situation with a mistake that must be put right - well done. And the scene has a nice feeling of rules being transgressed - with the gravestones being used as party furniture. I like Gavin mentioning the coma as though that's the only reason anyone would be interested in the narrator - nicely paving the way for the dumb things that might come out of her mouth next. Atmospheric beginning that packs in a lot and promises trouble!

  13. Really like the plot and the style of your writing! The storyline is intriguing as well! I'm pretty sure I'd keep on reading and that your book would end up on my shelf!

  14. Bravo! Colour me curious. I would like to read more!

  15. Lovin' it! You got all the right elements set in motion for a fantastic story. It definitely pulls me in. Can't wait to see more! :)

  16. I love the way you get us into the story like if we were invisible people there in the cementery following her.
    The premise of your story is intriguing and new!
    Good Luck! I'm crossing my fingers for you!

  17. Love the logline and the premise. The voice in the logline is really fun, and promises a sort of Paranormalcy feel --big serious issues, fun narrator.

    The opening paragraphs, however, feel a little overwritten to me. The first sentence is my first impression of Zadie, and when her fear was seeing Gavin was equal to her fear of sneaking into a graveyard party at night, I wondered if she would have the depth of character I'm hoping for. I have no issues with cute boys--definitely pro cute boys in YA--but I want to see strong girls as well and while being nervous around boys is definitely part of it, she just sort of started off on the wrong foot with me.

    Sentences like "Wriggling through the crawlspace" felt a little long too. I think you could remove the "surrounding the cemetery" as I understood she was sneaking in. Same with the "realizing I had let a branch smack her" line, which felt too telling.

    Emily Broding also felt a little thin here, the token mean girl sort of. I'm sure there's more to her, and I'm sure I will still pick up the vibe about her if she's more complex and not just "Miss High and Mighty."

    The line from Danny also felt a little forced. "Is she in a coma?" feels like you're telling me, not Zadie. Wouldn't it be more natural to say something like "How is she?" and take it from there?

    LOVE the premise and sounds like an exciting read.

  18. You already know how I feel about this story! Love the premise (I hadn't actually read your logline for it - it's awesome!). Only two things - first, maybe try to create a more eerie feel to the graveyard scene and maybe something a little less cliche for "High and Mighty". Otherwise, love it!

  19. Your log line is great at hooking the reader in immediately - nice job here!

    Similar to other comments, I'd look at rewording the Emily Broding sentence and the Miss High and MIghty title you've given her. So, so, many current teen descriptions / titles you could give her (maybe check out for some great examples?).

    Otherwise, solid writing here - I'd read on for sure!

    Best of luck in the contest!

  20. The storyline sounds interesting - and I'm normally not a big fan of paranormal stuff. But I would like to read more about Zadie and Mara. And of course I'm curious what a Reaper is :-)

  21. I really liked this, both the concept and the writing. I actually liked your first line, I thought it did a good job of setting the scene and telling us a bit about Zadie. I guess my only feedback would be to use the five senses a bit more - is she itchy from crawling on the grass through the fence? Is there a light breeze stirring through the graveyard? Can you hear the pop from the wood in the fire and smell the smoke? That's only a minor quibble though, otherwise this is well done.

    Good luck for the auction.

  22. I'll read 25 pages

  23. I'll go with 50


    Logline: This logline might have become very familiar, but I like the voice you infuse it with, with the repetition of the “mistakes” the character makes.

    Line notes: I felt a little thrown by some of the description of space in the first few lines – first I imagined we were in a small enclosed space (crawlspace) then it was just a gap in a fence, and then there was a branch that Zadie must have pushed through in order to let it smack her friend in the face. I think maybe it’s just working too hard, throwing too many descriptions at a simple action.

    Overall: The concept is familiar – I know I’ve seen at least two published teen novels where the mc brings a dead person back to life and ultimately regrets it. However, I think you’ve made an interesting choice with this opening scene in a graveyard and I’d like to read more to see what else you get up to.

    All best.