Sunday, February 10, 2013

Bouncer Post #155

Genre: YA Paranormal thriller
Word Count: 50,000


Fifteen-year-old Lydia Thompson is schizophrenic. Growing up, she has been plagued by hallucinations of the same man chasing her during a walk to school and showing up outside her bedroom window. He was always around. It isn’t until Lydia spots a hottie ghost in her backyard that her drunk mother decides to take action and put her daughter on meds.

Things only get worse, however, when the ghost shows up in her class and her best friend Lee can see him as if he’s a real person. Lydia is losing time and her sanity. Just like recollections of her childhood, chunks of her short-term memory disappear. She can’t remember her first kiss with Lee, among other things.

When her mom dies and Lydia is put into foster care, she decides to let Lee go, for his sake. She doesn’t want him wrapped up in her craziness. But Lee has a mind of his own and races after her one day and ends up getting hit by a truck.

Lydia finds herself in the middle of a battle. She is what The Collaborators—people who work in the afterlife—are fighting over. Lydia’s imminent death looms and she must choose a side. She can pick to work with The Reapers taking souls or end up in Dominick’s Netherworld as his follower, giving people on Earth Cancer, pain, and all the other tortures this world has to offer.

She knows which option she would choose, but Dominick—the man that has afflicted her childhood “hallucinations”—has a leg up. He’s the one killing people around her and he’ll only stop if she’ll join him.

Lydia is torn between fighting for the future of her afterlife and the life of the boys she loves.

FROM CHILDHOOD’S HOUR is a 50,000-word YA paranormal thriller, a mesh between Dead Like Me and Lost Girl. Also, it has a THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER feel.

First 250:


My mother slapped strings of bacon into a pan with her fingertips, her usual glazed look set in her eyes.

With a dose of anti-psychotic meds on my tongue, I tipped some water into my mouth, swallowing it, and watched her. The breakfast nook stood at chin-level, so I rested mine on it and curled my lip at the smell of the popping meat. “You know I’ve converted to vegetarianism, right? I’m not going to eat that crap.”

Mom swiveled her head toward me lazily, like someone had pressed her slow motion button. She was always in slow motion in the mornings. If she was up at all. Her look was full of steel, mascara smudged over the corner of her eye from sleep. “Why am I making this then?” she spat, placing a hand on her thin hip. “I won’t eat it. I think I picked up that damn stomach bug again.” She flicked off the burner and stared down at the slices of meat like someone scrutinizing a murder scene. Her mouth curled over her deteriorated teeth. She should go get them pulled out. It wasn’t like she didn’t have the money to.

“It’s not called a stomach bug, Mom,” I said, rolling my eyes. She always put out the hypochondria bit. “It’s called being hung over. Either that, or you need to cut back on your Valium.”


  1. I really like your first 250. I get a sense right away about the mother and their relationship. Good imagery with the bacon.

    The query I found a tad confusing. I wasn't sure who the ghost was in the first paragraph as related to later in the story. I am assuming he's Dominik? Also, the ghost who shows up in class, is this the stalker ghost or the hottie? I think you just need to clarify your other entities outside of Lydia. The idea that someone is killing people around her until she joins a cause is strong - I would pull that to the forefront and maybe pare down some other details. Also, the second sentence about her being plagued by ghosts since childhood - love it and I would almost start with that (since I don't see schizophrenia playing a role later in the query).
    Good luck! Amy (#168)

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  3. Bouncer Colonel MustardFebruary 11, 2013 at 10:21 PM

    I'm going to wait until Thursday to announce my top three, but I'm giving everyone query feedback in the meantime.

    First, I love all the teen angst going on in here. My main feedback would be that the first 3 paragraphs read more like a contemporary ghost story and the last 3 paragraph read like sci-fi thriller. See what you can do to weave the tone of the two together. Also, focus in on no more than two characters. You start dropping names like "the Collaborators" and "Dominick" late in the query and it gets bogged down. Stick with terms instead of names if you need to go there. For instance, re-writing the last three paragraphs as simply as this:

    "Lydia discovers that she is a Reaper, of which there are two kinds. She can either bring a peaceful death to people, or a life of suffering. She knows what she wants to choose, but the netherworld also wants a say in how it uses its newest recruit. Can she resist, or will she bring misery to everyone she loves?"

    … or something like that!

    Okay. Stay tuned!

  4. I got a little lost in your query. I think you could pare it down. It seems to me that she's not really schizophrenic. So maybe if you came at from the angle that she's been labeled schizophrenic and put on meds but that hasn't stopped the ghosts from tormenting her and then go into why they're tormenting her it, would help you pull out the most important bits and leave the details behind.

    The first 250 sets a very dark tone and gives us a good picture of their relationship. Good job!

  5. Hello! Others have covered the over-arching query issues, but I wanted to throw in some more specific feedback. But generally, I am super intrigued by your query, and I love the feel of your first 250. I would definitely read on.

    I would tweak the first paragraph so: Fifteen-year-old Lydia Thompson has just been diagnosed as schizophrenic. Growing up, she was plagued by hallucinations of the same man chasing her and showing up outside her bedroom window. He was always around, but her mother took it for the over-active imagination of a child.* It isn’t until Lydia spots a hottie ghost in her backyard that her alcoholic** mother decides to take action and put her daughter on meds.

    *I'm guessing? Insert whatever is relevant to your story **drunk could mean her mother was only drunk at that moment, but I'm guessing you mean drunk as a chronic condition, ie: alcoholic. As a word, it will better convey your MC's home life situation.

    I would amend "best friend Lee" to say "best friend and maybe-boyfriend Lee" or something. When I got to the first kiss line, I was like "wait, he's her love interest?"

    In your final paragraph, instead of saying "Also, it has a THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER feel," I would say "I believe it will appeal to fans of THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER and INSERT ANOTHER COMP TITLE HERE." There's something about the "also" and saying it is stylistically like Mara Dyer that feels both overly casual and a bit bold to me (saying you write like someone else is a bit iffy to me). I would add another comp title... maybe Nova Ren Suma's Imaginary Girls? Sarah Rees Brennan's Unspoken?