The Thorn Tree - YA Paranormal

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bgannon
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The Thorn Tree - YA Paranormal

Post by bgannon » September 30th, 2010, 4:17 pm

Hi everyone. Here's the query for THE THORN TREE, a 60,000 word YA Supernatural. I haven't bothered with the basic intro/closing parts. Please have at it! I have a thick skin.


When Carolyn Lepworth’s parents die in a subway accident she moves in with her estranged grandmother in Rathcrannog, New Hampshire. There she runs into John Lanford, a historian who claims to be an old friend of her mother’s. Eager to get to know someone who was close to her mom, Carolyn agrees to do him a favor: she will look up the location of a wooden box lost over a century ago on the edge of town. But as she learns about the box and its background she discovers that this John Lanford was in fact a corrupt village priest murdered in the nineteenth century. Spooked by vivid dreams and freak accidents, Carolyn tracks down the box and gives it to him in the hopes of laying him to rest.

Lanford, however, means to take revenge on Rathcrannog. In the days that follow a skeletal horse appears in the forest and swamps, and innocent people are found comatose in lonely places. Carolyn’s nightmares become hallucinations, and as she searches for a way to stop Lanford she struggles to hide her rising panic from the kids at school. The popular girls have unexpectedly welcomed her into their clique, and she would give anything to fit in and be normal. When Lanford’s spectral horse kills its first victim, she must choose: be a regular 8th grader with a date for the Halloween Dance, or confront Lanford at the height of his power—and face dark secrets about herself.

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androidblues
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Re: The Thorn Tree - YA Paranormal

Post by androidblues » September 30th, 2010, 6:35 pm

I don't think it's bad but it's lacking that umph that makes me want to read a horror/supernatural story. It sounds sort of like a Fear Street novel, but without the hook. Or like Scooby Doo and the Witches Ghost. BTW I think Carolyn needs a bigger reason to not tell anyone at school about Lansford. Their needs to be something that makes me want to read to find out about the mystery. Like in Forget You, which I've never read but the mystery is intriguing enough for me to want to find out what it is. Rather than just hinting at a secret, you should spill part of if and leave the rest to the reader's imagination. Part of the reason why Harry Potter was so popular was because it left reader's wanting more and creating stories off of the mysteries inside of it. I think the summary is very clear though.
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Re: The Thorn Tree - YA Paranormal

Post by Tangynt » September 30th, 2010, 7:49 pm

I have to agree that this reads more like a synopsis than a query. There is not hook to draw me into the story, just a series of events listed chronologically. Granted, they are interesting events on an interesting list, but it doesn't pop. I'm not compelled to continue reading when I reach the end of either paragraph.

What's the drive in the story? The death of her parents is what gets Carolyn to where she needs to be but what compels her to act? This man who says he knew her mother asks her for a favor. Well, Carolyn barely knows him, so what is it he has to offer her to get her to do something she otherwise wouldn't? Or, what is brought to the surface by everything done by her and this Lanford individual? Dig deep into what's here and pull out something that just screams "read more".

The premise is something I'd want to delve into, then again I rather enjoyed The Witch's Ghost way back when. ^_^

Hope this helps.

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Re: The Thorn Tree - YA Paranormal

Post by pollymilton » September 30th, 2010, 8:13 pm

Just from a rhythmic standpoint, I don't think you need the name of the town. It yanks the reader right out.

How about something like "When her new friend John Lanford asks a favor, she's eager to help, since he was a friend of her mother's, too."

I wonder if you can make clear the split she's facing - fighting ghost priests and trying to fit in at the same time. - because both are important to the story. Can you clean up the divide in the paragraphs a bit?

I think you've got a good start.
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Re: The Thorn Tree - YA Paranormal

Post by notw » September 30th, 2010, 10:31 pm

bgannon wrote:Hi everyone. Here's the query for THE THORN TREE, a 60,000 word YA Supernatural. I haven't bothered with the basic intro/closing parts. Please have at it! I have a thick skin.


When Carolyn Lepworth’s parents die in a subway accident she moves in with her estranged grandmother in Rathcrannog, New Hampshire. Might want to consider adding what age she was when they died. There she runs into John Lanford, a historian who claims to be an old friend of her mother’s. Eager to get to know someone who was close to her mom, Carolyn agrees to do him a favor: she will look up the location of a wooden box lost over a century ago on the edge of town. Why does she agree to do this? But as she learns about the box and its background she discovers that this John Lanford was in fact a corrupt village priest murdered in the nineteenth century.Interesting! Spooked by vivid dreams and freak accidents, Carolyn tracks down the box and gives it to him in the hopes of laying him to rest. Why does she think this will lay him to rest?

Lanford, however, means to take revenge on Rathcrannog. In the days that follow a skeletal horse appears in the forest and swamps, and innocent people are found comatose in lonely places. Carolyn’s nightmares become hallucinations, and as she searches for a way to stop Lanford she struggles to hide her rising panic from the kids at school. The popular girls have unexpectedly welcomed her into their clique, and she would give anything to fit in and be normal. When Lanford’s spectral horse kills its first victim, she must choose: be a regular 8th grader with a date for the Halloween Dance, or confront Lanford at the height of his power—and face dark secrets about herself.
Sounds like an interesting story. I just made a few comments above and hope something is helpful. Good luck on the query process!

bgannon
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Re: The Thorn Tree - YA Paranormal

Post by bgannon » February 10th, 2011, 3:03 pm

Hi all,

Came up with a structure that I think is more compelling. Haven't fine-tuned the second paragraph yet, but would love some feedback. Thanks!



Carolyn Lepworth suspects her mom had a lot of secrets. The longer they stay hidden, the more people die. And she thought living in New Hampshire would be boring.

John Lanford, a corrupt 19th century priest, has returned to the village of Rathcrannog and is gaining strength in the world of the living. The newspaper reports sightings of a skeletal horse, and members of the town’s oldest families are turning up in the hospital and the morgue. Still reeling from her parent’s accidental death, Carolyn is determined to save her estranged grandmother and the rest of town. Her search for a way to stop Lanford leads her back to her mother’s childhood: her own encounter with the dead priest, hints of a terrifying family secret, and her resolve to leave Rathcrannog forever. Carolyn must accept a legacy her mother left behind if she is to keep the dead where they belong.

The popular girls at school think she’s one of them, and if she can hide the nightmares and hallucinations, she will be. In fact, school is fine, except that someone there knows Carolyn’s secret.

She accidentally-on-purpose set John Lanford free.

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Re: The Thorn Tree - YA Paranormal

Post by Emily J » February 10th, 2011, 6:48 pm

bgannon wrote:Hi all,

Came up with a structure that I think is more compelling. Haven't fine-tuned the second paragraph yet, but would love some feedback. Thanks!



Carolyn Lepworth suspects her mom had a lot of secrets. The longer they stay hidden, the more people die. And she thought living in New Hampshire would be boring.

John Lanford, a corrupt 19th century priest, has returned to the village of Rathcrannog and is gaining strength in the world of the living. The newspaper reports sightings of a skeletal horse, and members of the town’s oldest families are turning up in the hospital and the morgue. Still reeling from her parent’s accidental death, Carolyn is determined to save her estranged grandmother and the rest of town. Her search for a way to stop Lanford leads her back to her mother’s childhood: her own encounter with the dead priest, hints of a terrifying family secret, and her resolve to leave Rathcrannog forever. Carolyn must accept a legacy her mother left behind if she is to keep the dead where they belong.

The popular girls at school think she’s one of them, and if she can hide the nightmares and hallucinations, she will be. In fact, school is fine, except that someone there knows Carolyn’s secret.

She accidentally-on-purpose set John Lanford free.
While there are a lot of sentences that pack a punch, my main concern is the order of how information is revealed and the transitions between paragraphs. The second paragraph sounds like an opening paragraph in the first sentence with John Lanford as the MC. The last sentence in this paragraph sounds like the end of the query. The part about the popular girls strikes me as sort of out of nowhere. So, I like the plot, the length is good I am having problems with the overall structure. It's like the sentences are good, but I want to rearrange them or something. Basically I think one sentence and one paragraph should tie in better to the one that follows. But that's just my opinion. Also, the information about her parents being dead feels like an aside. But, as I said, I think the sentences themselves are well written. And I love the name Rathcrannog!

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Re: The Thorn Tree - YA Paranormal

Post by Joel Q » February 11th, 2011, 10:03 pm

I liked the first one better, it flowed. (but still needs some work.)
The second seems short and choppy.
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wilderness
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Re: The Thorn Tree - YA Paranormal

Post by wilderness » February 11th, 2011, 11:47 pm

There is a lot of potential here! I think you've got a good story. But as others have mentioned, you haven't quite figured out the right angle to wow us.

The second version was confusing, mainly because of the order things were explained. I did really like the last line though:
She accidentally-on-purpose set John Lanford free. Very nice! But I think you want to explain this a bit more. Why is it a bad thing?
I liked the first one better, so here are some thoughts on it:
bgannon wrote: When Carolyn Lepworth’s parents die in a subway accident she moves in with her estranged grandmother in Rathcrannog, New Hampshire. You might want to start with something less common than an orphan. It doesn't really seem to tie into the plot with Lanford anyhow, so I wonder if it is necessary at all.There she runs into John Lanford, a historian who claims to be an old friend of her mother’s. Interesting, but it never comes to play that he knows her mother. Also why did he seek her out in particular? Eager to get to know someone who was close to her mom, Carolyn agrees to do him a favor: she will look up the location of a wooden box lost over a century ago on the edge of town. But as she learns about the box and its background she discovers that this John Lanford was in fact a corrupt village priest murdered in the nineteenth century. Maybe tell us how she finds this out. Spooked by vivid dreams and freak accidents, Carolyn tracks down the box and gives it to him in the hopes of laying him to rest. Never tell us the conclusion of any plot thread in a query. If Carolyn was searching for the box, don't just tell she found it. Make us wonder what will happen!

Lanford, however, means to take revenge on Rathcrannog. In the days that follow a skeletal horse appears in the forest and swamps, and innocent people are found comatose in lonely places. This is probably around where in the plot you want to end the query (of course end with a line with punch). Carolyn’s nightmares become hallucinations, and as she searches for a way to stop Lanford she struggles to hide her rising panic from the kids at school. The popular girls have unexpectedly welcomed her into their clique, and she would give anything to fit in and be normal. When Lanford’s spectral horse kills its first victim, she must choose: be a regular 8th grader with a date for the Halloween Dance, or confront Lanford at the height of his power—and face dark secrets about herself.I think you're telling us too much of the plot in the second paragraph. All you really have to do is set up the book. I think you should focus on just the first few chapters. Make it really spooky and intriguing.
You don't have to answer all my questions above, they are just ideas on what might further entice us. Good luck!

bgannon
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Re: The Thorn Tree - YA Paranormal

Post by bgannon » February 13th, 2011, 12:32 am

Thanks for the feedback, very helpful! Back to the drawing board.

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Re: The Thorn Tree - YA Paranormal

Post by Janet_T » February 23rd, 2011, 9:56 am

bgannon wrote:
Carolyn Lepworth suspects her mom had a lot of secrets.I think I'd mention the death right here, make it more central to the story. The longer they stay hidden, the more people die. And she thought living in New Hampshire would be boring.I love that sentence.

John Lanford, a corrupt 19th century priest, has returned to the village of Rathcrannog and is gaining strength in the world of the living. The newspaper reports sightings of a skeletal horse, and members of the town’s oldest families are turning up in the hospital and the morgue. Still reeling from her parent’s accidental death, Carolyn is determined to save her estranged grandmotherBefore this, I think I'd mention that her grandmother is of the oldest families and the rest of town. Her search for a way to stop Lanford leads her back to her mother’s childhood: her own encounter with the dead priest, hints of a terrifying family secret, and her resolve to leave Rathcrannog forever. Carolyn must accept a legacy her mother left behind if she is to keep the dead where they belong.

The popular girls at school think she’s one of them, and if she can hide the nightmares and hallucinations, she will be.this seems like a pretty secondary plot line, when you consider that she lost her parents and is fighting this evil ghost In fact, school is fine, except that someone there knows Carolyn’s secret.

She accidentally-on-purpose set John Lanford free.
I like this version and with some tweaking, I think it could be really good--it pops. The premise is very intriguing! Good luck!! :)

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Re: The Thorn Tree - YA Paranormal

Post by littlebird » February 25th, 2011, 2:46 pm

Call me stupid, but I wasn't aware there was a genre 'Supernatural.' I thought it was all paranormal. My bad.

Your first paragraph is a little convoluted. I don't feel motivated to read on. Maybe start with something about the accidents, "Disaster follows Carolyn Lepworth. Her parents were killed in a freak subway accident, blah, and blah. A family friend, John Lanford thinks she might be able to escape this curse if she tracks down a wooden box that's been lost for almost a century.

As Carolyn begins her search, she's plagued with horrific nightmares that warn her to...something. And that John isn't everything she assumes him to be..."

Then you can intro Lanford and raise the stakes with the rest of the query.

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