Friday, November 30, 2012

(39) YA Paranormal Romance: Diary of a Ghost

TITLE: Diary of a Ghost
GENRE: YA Paranormal Romance

For perpetual eighteen-year-old Cordelia Baxter, there are worse things than being dead: Falling in love with someone who is alive. That's just what happens when the Cahill family moves into the house where Cordelia was murdered, and among them is the hunky and brooding son, Julian.

The Diary of Cordelia Ann Baxter

Born: January 28, 1971

Died: May 27, 1989

Recorded by: Julian Patrick Cahill

Born: October 21, 1989

Died: Once, but not yet

April 22, 2010

“Is anyone there?”

I meander into reluctant awareness, shaking my head to clear the foggy remnants of rejuvenation. It’s been a while since I’ve been… awake, so I have to blink a few times to shed the confusion. Then I see the girl sitting cross-legged on the floor with a Ouija board leveled on her knees.

She’s waiting for an answer.

From me.

It isn’t every day I get summoned by a Ouija-board-wielding teenager. In fact, this is the first time for me.

“If anyone is there can you please give me a sign?”

I roll my eyes. For real?

While she’s waiting patiently for me to pick up a lamp or slam a door or toss a book across the room, I study the lithe creature sitting on the floor in wonder, mainly because she’s alive. Everything about her screams living, breathing – alive - and I’m taken by a ferocious moment of jealousy. Everything from her vibrant green eyes to her long honey-blonde hair reeks of life, and I automatically hate her for it.

My sudden irritation causes a power surge and the lights flicker, unwittingly providing the sign she was hoping for.

She licks her lips, darts her eyes around the room, nervous now that she has the proof she wanted.

“Is someone really there?”


  1. Love the idea of a ouija board scene from the ghost's point of view!
    I was a little confused by the diary entry opening, but intrigued by the "Once, but not yet" line.
    Like the jealousy of the girl who is alive, and I'm left curious about what will happen--so I would read on!

  2. Wow. I flew through your sample. Starting with your MC ghost being summoned by a Ouija board is wicked interesting. I really get a sense of her jealously for the living girl.

    One thing confused me upfront, and it's this: "Died: Once, but not yet"

    If he's died once, than he HAS died, just not for good. I'd switch it to something clearer like what I just mentioned:

    "Died: Once, but not for good"

    Good luck!

  3. There are only two entries that really grabbed me and this was one of them. I wish I was an agent! I'd totally scoop this up. I LOVE it. I wish I could read more. I'll be waiting to see this in the stores. Good luck!

  4. Oh wow, what a fabulous opening scene. Ouija board from the perspective of a ghost? AWESOME. Wonderful detail -- creepy and funny at the same time. Good luck!

  5. Love this idea, but I do agree with what Ambiguous_A said about the "Died--once, but not yet" line. It threw me as I was reading, too. To echo the other comments, I think the idea of seeing a summoning from the ghost's POV is exciting! I'd definitely keep reading.

  6. You totally caught my attention with both logline and excerpt - I would say you're a natural writer. Loved the POV. I would buy this book.

    The only part I stumble on were these lines: The Diary of Cordelia Ann Baxter

    Born: January 28, 1971

    Died: May 27, 1989

    Recorded by: Julian Patrick Cahill

    Born: October 21, 1989

    Died: Once, but not yet

    This confused me, and I would take it out. Your date that follows, April 22, 2010, is enough to orient the reader. Great work!

  7. I think you have a wonderful idea here. However, I would ditch the diary heading entry lines and dive right into the narrative action. JMO.

    However, if the diary entries are part of each chapter beginning, then I get it, but if this is the only place you do this, again, I would scrap it.

    Regarding your logline (which was indeed interesting), you mention worse "thingS" than being dead. But you only mention one thing. I might do it this way:

    "For perpetual eighteen-year-old Cordelia Baxter, there are worse things than being dead —- falling in love with someone who is alive is one of them."

    I would add a comma after "there" ("If anyone is there, can you please give me a sign?").

    A power surge making the lights flicker? Hmm. I like the idea that Cordelia's irritation can do this, but I don't think people use a Ouija board with the lights on. Maybe a candle can flicker or something like that? It makes the visual more eerie IMO.

    Hope you get a lot of agent interest with this story. Good luck.

  8. I know I was only really supposed to comment on adult entries, but the premise of this captured me, so I read it. And then I had a strong opinion, so of course I'm going to share it!

    I actually like "Died: once, but not yet" as if he knows he'll die eventually, and it will be final. I think it's cute.

    But I didn't feel the voice rang true as YA ("I meander to reluctant awareness..."). It sounded far more mature, and it didn't read like a diary entry to me. I also was confused about who was using the Ouija board and got tripped up when it was a girl because I thought it would be Julian. I think the first scene needs to be Cordelia meeting him and showing that she's dictating to him, especially if it's going to be in present tense.

    These little details might not stand out to casual readers, but when you see as many submissions as editors and agents do, the small stuff matters. You don't want to give us ANY reason to say no.

  9. I was a bit confused by the diary entry part at the beginning, but the "Died: Once, but not yet" totally intrigues me.

    From the logline I expected this to be told from Cordelia's point of view so I was (and am) a bit confused by whose POV we're actually in.

    That being said, I love that this is from the ghost's point of view so I'd give this a little longer to see if it got clearer.

  10. This gave me some great visuals. I love it when I can see and feel the action unfolding in my mind.

    Like a few of the comment above - I'd ditch the whole diary start and just wade on it with "Is anyone there?"

    Good luck with the auction, I think you will do well.

  11. I really enjoyed this entry!

    I'm a little confused by some of the other comments regrading whose head we're in. it seemed clear to me that we're in Cordelia's head. But now I'm second-guessing that assumption since so many others have referred to the ghost as "him." Am I missing something?

    The ouija board idea is excellent! I would suggest beefing that part up with a maybe a description of the girl's hands hovering over the little sliding thingy that moves around the board (can't remember the name for it). I just love the idea of the reader visualizing a ouija board and thought you could nail that point home even more.

    As for the "once, but not yet" line, I was thoroughly confused by that. IN A GOOD WAY. Don't change it. Just my opinion, but I strongly feel it's packed with just enough intrigue and confusion for me love it and not be so utterly confused by it that I wouldn't keep reading. It's great as is!

    Good luck!

  12. I love this premise, and I love this scene. Her jealousy at seeing the live girl is so palpable. Great job!
    I'd suggest cutting the "Recorded by" line at the beginning, unless Julian is sitting in the room somewhere and we haven't seen him. Otherwise this seems like Cordelia's recollection of what happened, and Cordelia's diary entry.

    I'd definitely read on.

  13. This is a great opening. I thought we were in Cordelia's head, too, and I loved that she shows up because of the Ouija board.

    A nit-picky criticism--one word threw me a bit. You say the ghost notices the "vibrant green eyes" and "long honey-blonde hair" of the teen girl who summons her. I don't think I'd use the word "reeks" in that line, since the ghost is pining away to have life again. Maybe choose a more positive verb to fit with the other pleasant images you have in that sentence.

    Good job with this. I would definitely read more.

  14. I think there’s something very intriguing about this excerpt. It certainly has created some confusion, though, hasn’t it?

    I thought that this was clearly Cordelia speaking, but I do agree with Peter (hi Peter!) that I was a bit thrown by a girl summoning the ghost given the opening. Truthfully, with just a bite of the manuscript, it’s probably not fair for us to be judging that element. Even so, I think the fact that you have created so much confusion means you need to do something to make it a little clearer who we’re aligned with.

    I don’t think you’re opening “The Diary” bit is a problem at all. As an editor, I’d have that set on a separate page. That’s something easily handled so it doesn’t visually throw off your reader. And, again, I’m going to agree with Peter. Don’t you dare ditch “Died: Once, but not yet.” That line drips with mystery, and it’s what propelled me to want to know more. It would make this stand out in my pile of submissions.

    As to the timeframe, though, I’m always of two minds when dealing with dates. On the one hand it gives your reader immediate context. On the other, it’s a surefire way to date your book. In any case, the 2010 date would be bumped up to closer to whatever your pub year is going to be. Something to remain aware of.

    Now, down to the brass tacks of the writing, itself. This line – “I meander into reluctant awareness, shaking my head to clear the foggy remnants of rejuvenation.” – is incredibly overwritten. It doesn’t sound like a teen at all. And it doesn’t mesh with what follows. Overall, I think you need more consistency in the ghost’s voice. Your opening line feels quite mature or, perhaps, old fashioned, but as you settle in, it get very teen. But is it the voice of the ‘80s teen you’ve crafted, or a little too contemporary? (Again, why dates can be oh so tricky!)

    Your portrayal of the ghost’s jealousy drips with venom. I think it’s great.

    I have no problem with starting in this moment as long as you do a little demystifying. My interest is piqued, and I’d definitely read on. I hope the human/ghost relationship is chock full twisty complications so that this very fine opening corresponds with a gripping narrative that haunts long after the final pages. (Sorry, the pun was just too good.)

  15. I really like this concept. I enjoy reading diary-style narration, but the hang-up I have here is that this doesn't read like someone writing in their diary. If you had a quote from the narrator at the start, then followed up with the narration here, I think it would read more clearly. Moving beyond that, I like the voice and this initial scene of being conjured by a Ouiji board. The first line reads a little clunky, but you have so much to work with here to craft a really cool opening line. A little tweaking and this will shine. Good luck!

  16. Loved this!

    Just a couple of things that stood out to me--the voice of the ghost sounds old-fashioned, like someone who was alive in the 1800s.

    Also, the love interest is twenty years old, which I've heard is a little too old for YA. Does he need to be 20? Can you make him 18?

    Overall, great job! I want to read more!

  17. This has great voice, and I loved it! I also love the name Cordelia, but that's beside the point, right? ;)

    I'll admit, I didn't know this was from Cordelia's POV at first either. I thought "recorded by: Julian Patrick Cahill," meant it would be in his voice. Because of the 2010 date, I did wonder if this was a prologue from Cordelia's POV and then we move to 2012 and switch to Julian recording the diary? I also agree that it doesn't sound like an authentic "diary" entry. And I'm not sure about "Died: Once, but not yet." He died once, as in some people die more than once, but not him? (Yikes, that seems like a stupid question!) And "not yet" as of when? April 22, 2010? Or the current 2012 date? (Or maybe the whole thing takes place in 2010 and I'm completely off!)

    Regardless of all that, this opening stood out to me! I'm sure it will do well in the auction. Good luck!

  18. I saw this as the diary entry being a completely separate page from the rest. I read it as Cordelia's POV, way to go with the Lady Jealousy, and I'm guessing the blond is Julian's sister. Please do tell me if I'm right! (Or wrong, too, I guess, though that won't be as satisfying.)

    In a market where paranormal is over saturated, I'd pick this up in a hot minute. I don't think Cordelia is a nice (dead) person, and I'd like to see what kind of trouble she can get up to.

  19. Oh my gosh this is an instant buy for me. Can I buy it now? I mean why isn't this available yet??? You're killing me.

    The logline and diary heading ar eintriguing, but what cinched it for me is the ghost's jealousy of the living girl. Very rarely do I see a first page where I right away know what the MC wants and it's so clear hear and even extra points for saying indirectly and causing the power surge.

    My only suggestion is a better last question than "Is someone really here?" It's too similar to the first, there's so much opportunity for creativity in that question.

  20. Freaking awesome! I want to read more. NOW.

    One niggle. Instead of rolling her eyes, maybe her aura could flicker? Or something among those lines???

    Great work! Good luck!

  21. Tricia Lawrence of Erin Murphy LiteraryDecember 4, 2012 at 11:01 AM

    5 pages