Debbie Dorris

Writer of Paranormal, Mysteries, and Romance

Pre-contest query party

15 Comments

For the QueryKombat pre-contest Query Party:

 I’ve done tons of rewrites on both the  query and first 250. Any feedback will be greatly appreciated. Thanks for your help.

 

Query for The Seer and the Shaman, Adult, Genre: Horror because of ghosts (need help to confirm this) 

Seeing ghosts and visions isn’t thirty-two-year-old Sarah Nance’s idea of fun, and trying to ignore them is a fiasco. Physical side effects from being an empath flat out piss her off. She’d rather lead a ‘normal’ life than deal with the troubles and frustrations caused by her gifts. On the other hand Rebecca, Sarah’s Shaman sister, embraces her intuitive abilities and enhances them every chance she gets. Her calming effects are apt to save the day when things go awry. While Sarah sees ghosts, Rebecca senses their presence and emotions. Since childhood the sisters have shared unusual talents, namely telepathy and telekinesis.

Snubbing her gifts proves impossible when a wedding dress clad ghost decides Sarah is the one to solve her murder. As she tends to do, Sarah reaches out to Rebecca for help and guidance. Much to her chagrin, and Rebecca’s delight, the duo agree to aid the skeptical detective working the case and who’s in for a rude awakening when the specter joins the investigation. The sisters’ amateur sleuthing uncovers information indicating the murderer is a serial killer controlled by an evil spirit. Rebecca gives Sarah on-the-job training in the fine art of dealing with bad spirits, including the not so delicate use of Frog’s Breath. The sisters combine their skill sets in an effort to identify the ghost, unravel the murder secrets, and fight to stop the killer and evil being. If they fail, their lives, and the life of the ghostly bride’s daughter, will be lost.

 

 

First 250 words:

Moonlight shimmering through lacy curtains cast an eerie glow over the room. Thirty-two-year-old Sarah Nance sat on the bed hugging her knees to her chest, trembling. An all-consuming sense of foreboding kept her eyes wide as she nervously waited. Glancing at her sleeping husband she knew nothing he could do would stop what’s coming. With a heavy sigh she peered into a shadowy corner and sensed a familiar shift in the energy surrounding her. Heaviness filled the air. As it did the last three nights, adrenaline surged through her veins when the chilling apparition floated out of the shadows directly toward her.

Rendered speechless and unable to move Sarah couldn’t pull the blankets over her head. Sweat mingling with tears and heart pounding, her mind franticly screamed, ‘What do you want? Go away! Leave me alone!’

Hovering inches off the floor next to the bed, the wedding dress clad woman ignored Sarah’s telepathic ranting. Slowly raising an arm the ghost pointed at Sarah.

By the look of determination raging in the specters huge eyes, Sarah knew the visions would come. In a futile attempt to block them she squeezed her eyes shut and braced herself.

Without saying a word the ghost imprinted thoughts in Sarah’s mind, ‘Look at my dress. See my dress. Notice my dress.’

 Sarah didn’t respond.

The specter vehemently demanded, ‘Look—at—my—dress!’

 She squeezed her eyes tighter. ‘You’ve already shown me your dress! Go away!’ Feeling a cold breeze her eyes popped open, ‘Oooh crap!’…

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Author: Debbie Dorris

Writer of Novels: Paranormal, Horror, and Mystery

15 thoughts on “Pre-contest query party

  1. Sounds like a fun story. You’ve done a good job laying out the story and the stakes are clear.

    I think you need hyphens for “a wedding-dress-clad ghost”.

    I got a little lost in this sentence: Much to her chagrin, and Rebecca’s delight, the duo agree to aid the skeptical detective working the case and who’s in for a rude awakening when the specter joins the investigation.

    Maybe just a case of too many characters.

    Good job and good luck!

  2. (Re: my note above. I didn’t mean “too many characters” in your story. Just in that sentence. May also just be me. 🙂 )

  3. Hey, Debbie! Fun idea — I like the idea of the sisters. Good luck in Query Kombat! Here are some notes — hope they are helpful!

    Query for The Seer and the Shaman, Adult, Genre: Horror because of ghosts (need help to confirm this) I’m not sure it would be horror — no slasher elements (that I know of) or even really demonic activity. I’m wondering if it would just be paranormal mystery?

    Seeing ghosts and visions isn’t thirty-two-year-old Sarah Nance’s idea of fun, and trying to ignore them is a fiasco. Physical side effects from being an empath flat out piss her off. She’d rather lead a ‘normal’ life than deal with the troubles and frustrations caused by her gifts.

    Since childhood [Sarah and her sister Rebecca] have shared unusual talents, namely telepathy and telekinesis, [but while Sarah fights her talents, Rebecca embraces her intuitive abilities and enhances them every chance she gets. Her calming effects are apt to save the day when things go awry. While Sarah sees ghosts, Rebecca senses their presence and emotions [and how does this help?].

    Snubbing her gifts proves impossible [for Sarah] when a [bridal] ghost decides Sarah is the one to solve her murder. Sarah reaches out to Rebecca for help and guidance., and, the duo agrees to aid the detective working the case who is skeptical of their abilities. He is in for a rude awakening when the specter herself joins the investigation. The sisters’ amateur sleuthing uncovers information indicating that the murderer is a serial killer controlled by an evil spirit [what tells them this? what happens?]. The sisters combine their skill sets in an effort to identify the ghost, unravel the murder, and stop the killer and evil being. If they fail, their lives, and the life of the ghostly bride’s daughter, will be lost. [when did the daughter come in? She should probably be mentioned before]

    Again, good luck, and let me know if you need clarification!

    • Hi Judy,
      Thank you for your input! I like your ideas and will get to work on clarifying things.

      Did you see anything in the first 250 that I should address?

      Again, thanks for your help and have a GREAT day!

      • In the 250:

        I agree with kzahm that the adverbs should go. As she said, you already are showing the emotions. Here are some editing suggestions. Good luck!

        Moonlight shimmering through lacy curtains cast an eerie glow over the room. Thirty-two-year-old Sarah Nance sat on the bed hugging her knees to her chest, trembling. An all-consuming sense of foreboding kept her eyes wide as she [ delete-nervously] waited. Glancing at her sleeping husband COMMA she knew nothing he could do would stop what WAS coming. With a [delete because you use “heaviness in next sentence heavy] sigh COMMA she peered into a shadowy corner and sensed a familiar shift in the energy surrounding her. Heaviness filled the air. As it did the last three nights, adrenaline surged through her veins when the chilling apparition floated out of the shadows directly toward her.
        Rendered speechless and unable to move COMMA Sarah couldn’t pull the blankets over her head. Sweat mingling with tears and heart pounding, her mind [delete – franticly] screamed, ‘What do you want? Go away! Leave me alone!’
        Hovering inches off the floor next to the bed, the wedding dress clad woman ignored Sarah’s telepathic ranting. Slowly raising an arm COMMA the ghost pointed at Sarah.
        By the look of determination raging in the specters huge eyes, Sarah knew the visions would come. In a futile attempt to block them she squeezed her eyes shut and braced herself. [Can you make this into one sentence instead of two, something like, “In a futile attempt to block the visions she knew would come, She squeezed her eyes shut so she wouldn’t see the specter’s huge eyes.” Make it yours, of course, but I think one sentence would serve you better. If not, make sure you at least put an apostrophe in “specter’s”]
        Without saying a word COMMA the ghost imprinted thoughts in Sarah’s mind, PERIOD ‘Look at my dress. See my dress. Notice my dress.’
        Sarah didn’t respond.
        The specter vehemently demanded, ‘Look—at—my—dress!’
        [Sarah] She squeezed her eyes tighter. ‘You’ve already shown me your dress! Go away!’ Feeling a cold breeze COMMA her eyes popped open, ‘Oooh crap!’…

  4. Love this! I agree with Judy that this would better work as a paranormal mystery. To add on to her feedback (which I also agree with), do the girls have other powers besides telekinesis and telepathy? You put “namely, telepathy and telekinesis.” The “namely” here threw me in a squirrel kind of fashion.
    I loved the descriptions in your first 250, but I would cut the adverbs as they detract from your beautiful images. Nervously, frantically, etc. are unnecessary because you are already showing us how your character is reacting with wide eyes, etc. Thanks for joining and good luck! Hope this helps!

    • Hi Kat,
      Thank you for your input! After reading the feedback from everyone, I agree with the comments. I am working on revising. I’m glad you liked it! Yeah!

      Have a GREAT evening!

  5. Hi! I like the image of the wedding dress-clad ghost! And I’d agree that it sounds more paranormal than horror – unless you’ve got some very scary portions of it. Good luck!

    Seeing ghosts and visions isn’t thirty-two-year-old Sarah Nance’s idea of fun, and trying to ignore them is a fiasco. Physical side effects [might be good to say what they are] from being an empath flat out piss her off. She’d rather lead a ‘normal’ life than deal with the troubles and frustrations caused by her gifts. On the other hand [comma] Rebecca, Sarah’s Shaman sister, embraces her intuitive abilities and enhances them every chance she gets. Her calming effects are apt [I don’t think you need “are apt to”] to save the day when things go awry. While Sarah sees ghosts, Rebecca senses their presence and emotions. Since childhood the sisters have shared unusual talents, namely telepathy and telekinesis.

    Snubbing her gifts proves impossible [why can’t she ignore her like the other ghosts?] when a wedding dress clad ghost decides Sarah is the one to solve her murder. As she tends to do, Sarah reaches out to Rebecca for help and guidance. Much to her chagrin, and Rebecca’s delight, [I don’t think you need the details of reaching out to Rebecca. I think you could jumpt right into the fact that the two of them together agree to help] the duo agree to aid the skeptical detective working the case and who’s in for a rude awakening when the specter joins the investigation [I really like the idea of the ghost helping out]. The sisters’ amateur sleuthing uncovers information indicating the murderer is a serial killer controlled by an evil spirit. Rebecca gives Sarah on-the-job training in the fine art of dealing with bad spirits, including the not so delicate use of Frog’s Breath. The sisters combine their skill sets in an effort to identify the ghost, unravel the murder secrets, and fight to stop the killer and evil being. If they fail, their lives, and the life of the ghostly bride’s daughter [I think you should mention her earlier. How is she important and why is she in danger?], will be lost.

    • Hi Laura,
      Thank you so much for your feedback. I am implementing your suggestions along with the others. I think it’s tightening my writing, and hopefully my voice will come through! Thanks again and good luck in the contest!

  6. I thought it would be easier to have the 1st 250 in a separate comment. 🙂

    Moonlight shimmering through lacy curtains [nice image] cast an eerie glow over the room. Thirty-two-year-old Sarah Nance sat on the bed hugging her knees to her chest, trembling. An all-consuming sense of foreboding kept her eyes wide as she nervously [I don’t think you need “nervously” since she’s trembling] waited. Glancing at her sleeping husband [comma] she knew nothing he could do would stop what’s coming. With a heavy sigh [comma] she peered into a shadowy corner and sensed a familiar shift in the energy surrounding her. Heaviness filled the air. As it did the last three nights, adrenaline surged through her veins when the chilling apparition floated out of the shadows directly toward her.

    Rendered speechless and unable to move [comma] Sarah [I feel like something’s missing here, like we should know she has the urge to do this. Maybe “Sarah couldn’t even obey the urge to pull…”] couldn’t pull the blankets over her head. Sweat mingling with tears and heart pounding, her mind franticly screamed, ‘What do you want? Go away! Leave me alone!’

    Hovering inches off the floor next to the bed, the wedding dress [hyphen]clad woman ignored Sarah’s telepathic ranting. Slowly raising an arm [comma] the ghost pointed at Sarah.

    By the look of determination raging in the specters [apostrophe before s] huge eyes, Sarah knew the visions would come. In a futile attempt to block them [comma] she squeezed her eyes shut and braced herself.

    Without saying [I don’t think you need “saying”] a word [comma] the ghost imprinted thoughts in Sarah’s mind, ‘Look at my dress. See my dress. Notice my dress.’

    Sarah didn’t respond.

    The specter vehemently [I doN’t think you need “vehemently”] demanded, ‘Look—at—my—dress!’ [I like the focus on the dress]

    She squeezed her eyes tighter. ‘You’ve already shown me your dress! Go away!’ Feeling a cold breeze [could you reword to avoid the filter phrase “feeling”? If not, I think you need a comma after “breeze”] her eyes popped open, ‘Oooh crap!’…

  7. I have to say everyone is great with feedback. This is great fun and agree on genre descriptions. Yes and cut the adverbs, you don’t need them. Trust you have shown us with what your character is doing rather than telling us with the adverbs! WEll done and good luck.

  8. I think your query is pretty solid and the comments above touch on what I wanted to add. As for your 250, your description is great, but I would try to vary the sentence structure a bit more than you have. You have a lot sentences starting with -ings (e.g. An all-consuming sense of foreboding… – Glancing at her sleeping husband… – Sweat mingling with tears and heart pounding,…) I think if you throw in a few short and snappy sentence, your voice will come out clearer, and the flow of the sentences will be more powerful. I agree with Ksahm about the adverbs, they do distract from your awesome description.

    Otherwise, great job! Your story sounds interesting. Good luck!

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