Monday, June 1, 2015


Entry nickname: I Kissed A Ghoul
Title: Under the Icy Lake
Word count: 54K
Genre: YA Horror


Fifteen-year-old Marianne doesn’t remember floating in midair or shattering windows without touching them. Her mom was the one who saw it happen. The day after, all Marianne can recall is a single image: a silent shore under a starless sky, with something in the depths groping its way towards her.

With an unseen force flinging objects at her hard enough to crack a chalkboard and scrawling “THIS IS MINE” across her math exam, Marianne is certain that the presence stalking her through the water was more than just a dream. She breaks her shell of bookish anonymity to confide in loner goth-girl Rhiannon, whose badassery she’s long admired from a safe distance. When Rhiannon’s psychic but flaky mother refuses to help, Rhiannon declares that they can deal with whatever is haunting Marianne by themselves. But their attempt to communicate with it only calls down the full force of its rage: now it's throwing knives.

Marianne's assailant will do whatever it takes to claim her place in the real world and leave her trapped under the icy lake she glimpsed in her dream. Rhiannon, who’s becoming more than a friend, is one more weakness it can use against her. Marianne must confront the truth about what – and who – her enemy is before it finds a way to possess her completely.

First 250 words:

The silence still clings to me.

If I close my eyes it's there waiting for me, filling my mouth, heavy as water. Ready to swallow me again.

I rest my forehead against the window, willing the ordinary sounds around me to wash the memory away. listen to the windshield wipers, the spatter of the rain, the rattle in the wheel-well. In the driver’s seat beside me, Mom breathes in little hitches, trying not to let me hear her crying.

I risk a glance at her; she's wiping her eyes. Her hair is usually tied up in a neat sweep of gleaming black, silver threads glinting through it. Today she's just yanked it through an elastic, pieces straggling dull and stringy around her face. Before I can look away again her gaze meets mine and she attempts a half-smile.

It hurts to see it. I study the flowers in my lap. They're for Aunt Marjorie. Lilies, big splashy orange ones. The smell is giving me a headache. Mom slams on the brakes and I have to clutch the bouquet to stop it from sliding to the floor; she grates out a few choice swear words at the car ahead of us.

"I left your father a message." She says the words like she's throwing rocks. "I sure hope he calls you."

I take the rocks in like water - like a lake, an icy lake, swallowing their impact without a splash, letting them sink. 


Entry Nickname: Skins of the Father
Title: The Sumerlin Curse
Word count: 66K
Genre: YA Southern Gothic


Sixteen-year-old George Sumerlin is a boy, no matter what he looks like.

Born under a wicked family curse, he has the wings of a bat, horns of a bull, and the scaly tail of a lizard. While it doesn’t stop him from dribbling a basketball, it does keep him trapped on his family’s derelict plantation. He calls it prison. Mama calls it protection. The islanders would not understand him. They would kill him.

When Grace, a young hoodoo-doctor, sneaks through George’s window to kill a monster—him!—George sees an opportunity: prove he’s not the creature that’s been terrorizing her village and maybe she’ll use her folk magic to help him escape, or even break his curse. He promises to help her track down the real monster—something she calls a Boo Hag, which haunts the marshes—even if it will suck his soul, or worse, take his skin. His scaly butt is worth risking, though he never imagined what dangerous family secrets their search would unearth—secrets that put Grace’s soul in the Boo Hag’s sights and prove George is more of a beast than he realized.

First 250 words:

Today, the third Wednesday of July, is a good day to run away.

Everything has gone according to routine.

This morning, Clarence walked here from the village, taking the dirt road I can just make out through the slits in the fence. I’ve never been to the village—I’ve never left the yard—but I know where the road leads because I’ve stared at its serpentine black line on the map pinned to my bedroom wall.

Clarence passes me the ball. We always play basketball after morning studies. Today we graphed quadratic equations—snore—and finished our unit on the War of Northern Aggression. Because even when time seems to be the only thing I have in unlimited quantities, there’s never enough to kill on learning about the South’s “glorious cause.”

I dribble the ball between my legs, masterfully avoiding my scaly tail, and float it off my claws. Swish! It catches only the bottom of the net. Clarence claps and says something about how good I’m getting. It’s a small consolation for being trapped here like a rabid animal.

A magnolia-scented breeze picks up. It hits me like the air blowing out of Mama’s hair dryer. The million degrees of south Georgia heat and humidity bake the tips of my leathery wings. Sour moisture pools on my brow, drenching my dark bangs and curling the hairs around my ears and horns.

I dribble…dribble…dribble again, then fire a fading jump-shot. Swish! Clarence pulls down the rebound and passes it back. Again and again.


  1. I'd like to see more about what's going on with the father and what he's done to cause the drama of the first 250. Also, I'd like to know more about how the two girls try to establish contact with whatever it is. I can picture two teenagers fiddling around with a Ouija Board or the more colorful Psychic Circle.

    The mother is mentioned briefly in the query but the 250 opens with her. How is she part of the story at hand? Just as a witness?

    Skins - your genre is Southern Gothic but I don't get a distinct sense of place from either your 250 or query. The mention of "Hoodoo" suggests the Mississippi Delta though you say "south Georgia" in the 250. Why is the south important to the story itself?

    And, I'd like to see more about the curse in the query. Why this family? What did they do?

    The query feels a little short but the 250 definitely gives a great sense of his isolation.

  2. I kissed a ghoul -

    I was a bit surprised when at the end it mentioned that the 'thing' after her was trying to possess her. It seemed it was just haunting her. If it's trying to possess her, it seems strange that the presence would try to physically harm her by throwing knives. Doesn't it need her body?

    If you don't mean actually possess, exorcist style, maybe that last sentence could be reworded.

    For the 250 -

    I don't think 'the silence still clings to me' is necessary. The second line is so strong it can easily stand on its own.

    Skins of the father -

    I love the hook for this. Nice job.

    I feel like in the last paragraph there are too many dashes. You might want to split this paragraph up into two.

    For the 250 -
    Love the first line!

    I feel like the second sentence should be - "Everything has gone according to plan."

    The voice really shines here: "Because even when time seems to be the only thing I have in unlimited quantities, there’s never enough to kill on learning about the South’s “glorious cause.”

  3. Awesome entries! Here are my two cents, for whatever they're worth:

    KISSED: This sounds awesomely creepy :) I love a good horror story. For your query, the word "groped" kind of threw me some--how does something grope through water? The image just didn't work for me, but that could definitely just be personal preference. Also, I was a little thrown on why she'd confess something so major to a relative stranger. Is there a particular reason why she'd approach Rhiannon? Is it because of her psychic mother? I felt like some indication of why she'd trust someone with something so big, seemingly out of the blue, would strengthen that relationship--especially if it becomes a romantic one. As for your first 250, the writing is beautiful, and I especially love the last lines. Is the mom crying for the aunt? That's what I assumed, but if it's because of something Marianne did, a hint of that would up the impact of her mother's emotions :)

    SKINS: Um, I read this twice because I couldn't get enough. Seriously, it's great. I want to read it, now, preferably. I just can't come up with anything constructive to say, because that's just flipping awesome.

  4. Princess of LlamasJune 2, 2015 at 2:21 AM

    I KISSED A GHOUL: I like a lot about this query! I have only two suggestions. First, I’d oust Rhiannon’s mom from the query as she’s a character that doesn’t add anything. Keep it focused on Marianne and Rhiannon. Next, your conflict can be more detailed. Instead of “confront the truth about what and who her enemy is” tell us specifically what she needs to do, i.e., offer details on how she’s going to do the confronting. If Marianne can’t ______, then ________.

    For the first 250, you had me until the last two paragraphs. I’m not getting why “father” is italicized or the rock throwing simile or what that’s supposed to represent. Granted, it can all become clear in words 251-400, but for this contest we don't have more, and as a result, it ends flat.

    SKINS OF THE FATHER: Good query! My only suggestion is that you’re walking a fine line on being a bit vague with the “dangerous family secrets” and putting Grace’s soul in the Hag’s sights. Your query isn’t too long. You might consider breaking the third paragraph into two paragraphs and offering a little more detail on how the dangerous family secrets up the stakes/are important to the conflict facing George.

    For the 250, this is great! The only suggestion is the last paragraph, and again, this is partly due to the nature of the contest in having to end at 250 words, but the story slows down with him dribbling again. I’d like a hint of something else going on to make me want to keep reading. Otherwise, great descriptions, good intro to Clarence, etc. Nicely done!

    These are two of the stronger queries and first 250s I’ve read. Unfortunately, the meanie hosts put you two against each other! I know you’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it again, but subjectivity plays a role here, and for me, victory goes to SKINS OF THE FATHER.

  5. I don’t envy the judges on this one – can’t you keep them both? Hmm? Hmm?
    I Kissed a Ghoul
    Query: The first sentence pulled me in, and the rest of the query held me tight throughout. Everything is there: plot, characters, stakes. The premise reminds me of the Lois Duncan books I devoured as a teen, with a modern spin. I’m invested in the relationship between Marianne and Rhiannon, and I love that you’ve kept the identity of the assailant a surprise.
    First 250: Again, a fabulous first line. I was immediately drawn into Marianne’s murky world. You’ve done a great job with the sensory imagery, keeping the reader close at all times. I felt as though I was there.
    This entry is my favourite so far, to me it is perfect.

    Skins of the Father
    Query: Wow! Having fallen so hard for the previous entry, I was expecting a comedown with this one, but I was wrong. Your story captivated me as well and just as I love the mystery of Ghoul’s entry, I love the gothic detail of this one. I’m delighted by the words Boo-Hag and hoodoo. Again, this one has it all: plot, stakes and character. This one may even have an edge with the voice. There was only one part that confused me. I had to read the following sentence twice: “His scaly butt is worth risking, though he never imagined what dangerous family secrets their search would unearth…”
    First 250: This is fabulous. I love how you’ve created opportunities to identify with George: through the everyday game of basketball; and his desire to explore the wider world. Casually dropping the “masterfully avoiding my scaly tail…” line into the basketball play was genius. The teen male voice rings true, and there’s a strong sense of place in this passage. I felt the oppressive heat while reading it.
    If I had to pick a book to read first, I’d pick Under the Icy Lake for nostalgic reasons, but I’d be reaching for The Summerlin Curse next.

  6. Kissed a Ghoul:

    Query: “With an unseen force flinging objects at her hard enough to crack a chalkboard and scrawling “THIS IS MINE” across her math exam, Marianne is certain that the presence stalking her through the water was more than just a dream.” is too long and doesn’t actually make a lot of sense. And it labels her assailant as a female—I think “their” instead of “her” is creepier, more mysterious. Otherwise I wonder if her assailant is Rhiannon even though I’m sure that isn’t what you mean.

    250: A lot of those paragraphs start with “I” and they stand out. Otherwise, I like it.

    Skins of the Father:

    Query: Maybe add “from dribbling a basketball at home” just to show his shut-in-ness. And I’d put a semi-colon between the last 2 sentences of the 2nd paragraph. That first sentence of the 3rd paragraph is really long. Maybe you could mention that there’s a creature terrorizing the village in that 2nd paragraph, part of the reason why his mom keeps him locked up.

    250: I’m not quite sure about the first two sentences. I kind of like the idea of the first line being “I’ve never been to the village…” but I’m not quite sure.

  7. I Kissed a Ghoul: Wow! Just wow! I think I'm in love with your query and 250! Okay, I better stop because I'm not supposed to cheerlead...Hmm, what to say, what to say...Honestly, I wouldn't change a thing about your 250. As for your query, I only saw one minor nit picky thing. In this sentence, change "was" to "is" to continue in present tense: "Marianne is certain that the presence stalking her through the water was more than just a dream." Other than that, great job!! Can't wait to read this one someday!

    Skins of the Father: Another WOW from me! What a cool concept with the MC as a boy who is trapped as a "monster" because of a wicked curse. I love the voice in both your query and 250. I certainly don't envy the judges who have to decide between yours and I Kissed a Ghoul!

  8. I Kissed A Ghoul

    [word count is probably skating at the low end for YA]

    My two main comments here would be clarity and details:

    In terms of clarity, for one the terms of reference keep changing (“shore” becomes “water” becomes “icy lake”; which is it?). I would also suggest mentioning Rhiannon’s psychic connection as the basis for Marianne seeking her out (otherwise I was momentarily left wondering why would she suddenly confide in this person, because what does being a “badass” have to do with fighting the supernatural). The line “who’s becoming more than a friend” suggests there’s a love story here as well. If that’s a prominent part of the story, better to introduce it earlier; if not, it might be best not to mention it at all (put another way, it’s current treatment in the query feels cursory and thus of questionable relevance).

    In terms of details, I think the beginning starts out strong, but the last paragraph is full of clichéd lines. For example, “her place in the real world” (which is what place exactly?), “becoming more than a friend” (too vague; open to interpretation), “confront the truth” (what truth precisely?), etc. Details are your best friend in a query. They make it stand out.

    Connected to that, overall it feels like a fairly standard poltergeist story, so again I’m left looking for the details that make this particular poltergeist story stand out.

    Final question: where’s the hook? Every protagonist in a horror story is fighting for her life. So what’s the catch here (for example, does she have to choose between herself and Rhiannon on any level, that sort of thing)?

    First 250 words:
    Wow. I have very little to offer here. Very powerful writing. The only thing I can find is to suggest a few possible line edits:

    It hurts to see it. — with such evocative language, this bold statement felt a little too strong. Everything else is so subtle, and so having an emotion stated straight out felt… jarring.

    They're for Aunt Marjorie. — Would suggest cutting “They're”

    The smell is giving me a headache. — Possibly “scent” instead of smell?

    Great opening. Well done!

    Skins of the Father

    This is already a pretty strong query IMO. My only comment is that the pacing feels a bit off, mostly in the final paragraph. There’s so much crammed in there in a short span that I had to read it twice to make sure I’d taken it all in. Your only at 188 words. Although you don’t want to run overly long (250 is generally consider the desired max for the pitch part of your query) you also don’t want to shortchange yourself. I wouldn’t necessarily cram in more detail, but would suggest giving everything that’s already there a bit of breathing room, maybe by injecting a little more voice.

    My suggestion? Keep the three paragraph structure, but put all of the details about George into the first one, use the second to introduce Grace and the opportunity she presents, and use the third for their team up and what it uncovers. The stakes and the hook are there, but make them as strong and clear as possible.

    First 250 words:
    This could just be me, but I found that the combination of the first person POV and the early introduction of Clarence made this a hard read. I think the writing itself is decent, but it wasn’t until I hit the first “I” that I was sure of the POV. That maybe seems like a small thing, but clarity is essential. Even tiny things can throw a reader out of the story. Also, I think I was also partially thrown because the query set me up to think this boy is completely isolated, but all of a sudden at the very beginning he seems to have a friend. I have no idea who Clarence is, of course, but it makes it feel like the query and opening page are at odds with one another (or that I’ve missed something somewhere).


    Folks, seriously, you’re killing me with having to make these choices. In this case, although I think the query definitely needs more work, the writing blew me away, so it’s VICTORY TO I KISSED A GHOUL!

  9. I Kissed A Ghoul

    Overall, I thought this read really well, so I don't have a whole ton of suggestions. I'd definitely cut out the mention of Rhiannon's mom and simply state that she goes to Rhiannon because of her psychic connections. (That is why she goes to her, right?) What I'd also like to see here is more of what makes your story unique. What makes it stand out from other similar stories? Also, you hint at a blossoming relationship between Rhiannon and Marianne--is it a romantic one? I'd definitely clarify either way. My last note, I was a little thrown off at the very end when you say, "finds a way to possess her completely." So, initially I wasn't getting the possession angle, I saw this more as a vengeful spirit who was throwing things at her. Maybe inject that a little earlier, and give us more specifics on conflict, and her plan. (It was mentioned above, but I'll agree that this seems to be on the low end for YA which is concerning)

    250: Love the opening line. I think this is really well written for the most part, it's quietly vivid. However, I'm a little confused as to where they're going and why her Mom is crying. Does it have to do with what happened to Marianne? Is it about Aunt Marjorie? Is she sick, is that why they're bringing her flowers? Or did someone die? The next thing that brings up a question for me is the mention of her Father. I'm also not a huge fan of the words like rocks/taking the rocks like water reference. Last note, be careful starting your sentences with "I." Four of the paragraphs here begin with it.


    Skins of the Father

    Query: Overall, this is a strong query. Although, I do think it is a little on the short side and wouldn't mind seeing you expand just a little on some of it. In your second paragraph, the last two sentences seem very choppy to me, especially combined with the short, staccato sentences before that. Can you rephrase that to make it flow better? I am curious whether George makes any type of deal with Grace, or if he's just hoping that she'll help him out in the end? I could use some minor details about (and these are just some suggestions) the curse, how the monster is terrorizing the village, what type of dangerous family secrets you mean, how Grace's soul is at risk. Love how you mention George being more of a beast than he realized, strong closing.

    250: Most of these are fairly nit-picky, and I think this is really well done. "Everything has gone according to routine." I feel like either everything has gone according to plan, or everything *is* routine. I'd like to know who Clarence is since you don't mention it. I'm assuming a family member. You say "rabid animal," but I wonder if "wild" might be a a better descriptor. I can't help but think that rabid animals are usually killed, not penned. For purposes of flow, I'd like to see you combine, "A magnolia-scented..." and "It hits me..." into one sentence. The very last paragraph seems repetitive, and especially with only 250 words for QK it isn't the best closing and doesn't get me the push I want to read more (not that I wouldn't read more).


    I'll be honest with you guys, of the entries I've read so far these two are some of the strongest. Both are really well written, but I do think the query is stronger for Skins of the Father. Therefore, VICTORY TO SKINS OF THE FATHER!

  10. I Kissed a Ghoul -
    To echo others, it would be good to clarify the relationship between Marianne, Rhiannon, and Rhiannon's mom. Marianne is seeking out Rhiannon because of her psychic mom, right? Is there a romance? If so, maybe it would be good to make that clear. If not, best to lose the "more than a friend" comment. The possession threat seemed unlikely after the throwing knives comment, but maybe a transition between the two could smooth the way. "...throwing knives, but only at Rhiannon." Then something about the threat the assailant poses to Marianne's mind, or soul. Your first page is ominous, as it should be.

    Skins of the Father -
    In the query, maybe there should be something about the monster terrorizing the village in the second paragraph. Otherwise good query. Meeting Clarence in the 250 was surprising. Is he the only one from the village who knows all about George? Maybe you could mention that. Why is Clarence studying at George's plantation instead of at the village? Even a hint would help. I'm also a little confused about the first line because while they're playing basketball George doesn't seem to be acting or thinking like someone about to run away.

  11. Kissed A Ghoul

    Solid query – it’s tight, well paced, and energetic. I was a little confused when I hit the reference to the icy lake/dream in the last paragraph as it felt like I was supposed to have already seen that reference and I had to backtrack. If it’s referencing the silent shore of the first paragraph, my brain didn’t make the connection (silent shore equaled “beach” in my mind). Anyway, MINOR issue. :)

    My only critique of the 250 is the last line. The “I take the rocks in like water” sounds like it’s equating the rocks to water, not the narrator.

    Good job! You thoroughly creeped me out. I will be avoiding all icy lakes.

    Skins of the Fathers

    Mmm – being a born-and-bred Alabamian, I love some Southern Gothic. Even better when there’s a family curse.

    The first paragraph of the query is solid. The second feels like I’m shoveling a mouthful of information. Perhaps breaking it up into more sentences rather than using the hyphens would help?

    The setting confused me at first - you mention south Georgia and magnolias, but then there’s islanders and a village. I don’t immediately associate Georgia with its islands, so perhaps the location could be clearer.

    I really like your opening lines of the 250, but then the tone of the following paragraphs is less interesting. Some direct dialogue would be more engaging.

    Your premise is fascinating, and I would definitely read!

  12. I Kissed a Ghoul
    Query: I LOVE horror and don't always see enough of it, so I was really excited by this one. It's well written, and so completely sounds like something I would pick up. My only complaint was that the final sentence fell flat for me compared to all of the other awesome that was in this. "Confront the truth" is pretty vague--and I also don't understand how knowing "the truth" (that's unspecified) will help defeat this evil. What awesome and exciting things is Marianne going to have to actually do to defeat this thing?

    First 250: Also mostly love this. The line near the end "I take the rocks in like water" reads like the rocks are like water, not that she is like water, so I tripped over the rest of the sentence. But I'd keep reading for sure.

    Skins of the Father
    Query: Also awesome, but the last line fell flat to me in this one, too. "Family secrets" are so vague, too vague for me to understand their importance or be excited by them or care much. I'd rather see more specifics (and there's definitely room for them). It'd be cool to actually know what the secrets are--then, I might be excited by them. I'd also love to see maybe a bit more on what George will actually have to do to defeat the monster and save Grace's soul and his own or whatnot. He is "risking" himself, but what does that mean? What exactly is he going to have to do (and maybe sacrifice) to defeat the Boo Hag?

    First 250: I was drawn in at the start, but the promise of plotting an escape in those first two lines that excited me wasn't fulfilled. Instead, he's just--playing basketball? I don't know. There were one two many lines in there (especially the final paragraph) describing playing basketball for my taste. I would probably turn the page, but if something didn't happen in the following 250 words, I think that'd be it for me. :( (I know that sounds harsh, but the query and first two sentences just had me so excited! and then I just wasn't into the rest, so it was way more disappointing than if I hadn't been so hopeful to start).

  13. Enjoyed both of these well-crafted entries!

    GHOUL: The low word count on this entry worries me a bit. Other than that, just a few comments, mostly nit-picky. :) You can delete "that" before the presence in the 2nd paragraph to make it smoother. For the query, it was a bit disconcerting that she went from floating in the air to going back to school. Maybe a little transition there about what they're doing about it -- doesn't have to be much. In the 250: you could delete "just" in "just yanked it through" for a cleaner read. Also you could delete "have to" before "clutch the bouquet." I really like at the end with the italicized "father" and the whole bit with her voice being like rocks. Very creative. All in all, a good entry!

    SKINS: Great entry. Just a few nit-picks. In the query "family secrets" is vague. Can you do something to make this more unique to your story? In 250 -- could delete "masterfully" because it's not necessary and just clutters up your beautiful prose.

    Really like both these entries, and don't have a whole lot to say about them that would make them better!

    Hard to choose, but mostly because of the low word count I'm going to go with Victory to SKINS OF THE FATHER.

  14. I Kissed A Ghoul: I have to confess I much prefer the nickname to the real title :) 54k might be a little short for YA. This story sounds fascinating, but it seems like all this paranormal activity comes out of nowhere – is there a catalyst for this beginning to happen you can start your query with, to give it more shape? Because at the moment it’s a bit formless, you’re just telling us all the creepy stuff that happens, which is hooking me, but I’d like a bit more structure. I’d suggest starting with your MC being quiet and bookish, then say something like: ‘until X happens. Unable to cope with *various terrifying things* alone, MC forces herself out of her shell to befriend badass goth girl Rhiannon...’ I also think you can cut Rhiannon’s mother, since she doesn’t help, and focus on Marianne and Rhiannon (take it this is an LGBT horror? Which is awesome).

    First page: Oh this is a lovely first page, well done, I really like your writing, nice and clear and smooth. Two small things: I’m guessing they’re going to Marjorie’s funeral and she’s her mother’s sister and that’s why she’s upset? I might just slide in a tiny bit more info so we know that by the end of this 250 words, perhaps just: ‘I study the flowers in my lap. The flowers for Aunt Marjorie, mom’s beloved little sister, who had the bad luck to run across the road at the wrong time.’ (or whatever, you get the gist :) I’d also note that 4 of your 7 paras begin with ‘I’, try to vary it a touch more.

    Skins of the Father: This sounds great, although it did immediately bring to mind recent release ‘Monstrous’, and like that book, it sounds more of an MG premise and tone than a YA one to me. This is a pretty good query – it does the job of making me want to read on, and that’s all a query needs to do. All the same it’s a little short and could be fleshed out a bit – perhaps tell us a bit more about the island and the Boo Hag and hint at what the family secrets are?

    First page: Very nice first page, and a clever way to tell us what your MC looks like in a non-clunky way. I’d like to know what age your MC and Clarence are (you could easily say something like ‘Clarence is gangly for 16, not like me’ or similar.) And who exactly is Clarence? You could just say ‘my friend Clarence’, but if George never leaves the house, how does he have friends from the village? Like the query, I feel this has much more of an MG tone than YA. I also hope we’re going to get back to the running away (or at least the plan of it) soon, or the hooky first line feels like a bit of a cheat.

    These are both great, so this is tough, but by a nose VICTORY TO I KISSED A GHOUL.

  15. I Kissed A Ghoul

    VERY interesting and well constructed query! I would consider revising the first paragraph to give us a stronger flavor of the story, as right not it does sound a bit cliché. I think all the stuff about the spirit interrupting her normal school life is much more compelling.

    First 250 words:

    I feel like you could give us a bit more upfront. The best part is the last few paragraphs, where we get to see how Marianne feels when her mother talks to her. You seem to be being vague on purpose, I think you should let some more light in on what's going on.

    Skins of the Father


    I like this premise, but you're basically giving a plot synopsis. Look at other queries and find a way to structure it a bit more like a query which presents the premise of the novel and less of a ploy synopsis. You've got some great stuff here, I love a lot of your saying "His scaly butt" for example, which gives me an idea that your novel is not only interesting but funny/fun. I just think you need to do more of that and less plot synopsis.

    250 words:
    I wish I had something more constructive but...this is just GOOD WRITING. Great job. I'm a fan.


    This is a hard choice! However, the writing of SKINS OF THE FATHER, got me! So VICTORY goes to SKINS OF THE FATHER.

  16. Note: For round 1 since there's so many entries, I'm judging based on the query only!


    Your query's really clear; I get a pretty good idea of Marianne's character and definitely get a feel for the terror she's facing.

    The only suggestion I have is that I didn't know while reading it if there was some sort of significance to the fact that Marianne's mom was the only one who saw her floating and shattering windows. I see now that it's to show how she KNOWS she did those things she doesn't remember herself doing, but it threw me off that her mom was never mentioned again.



    The concept of a young hoodoo-doctor/monster hunter befriending what is essentially a monster sounds really neat, and the setting and mythology surrounding it isn't something I've seen in YA before.

    I'm interested in what time period this takes place in; it isn't mentioned, but it seems like that would be an important aspect of the story.

    Victory to... SKINS OF THE FATHER!