Query: GHOSTS VS ALIENS

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Kirril
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Query: GHOSTS VS ALIENS

Post by Kirril » May 19th, 2010, 4:32 pm

Hi all! I've contributed to these forums off and on for a while, so if you take a gander, I'll be sure to return the favor.

LATEST VERSION IS ON PAGE 2 WITH A BANNER WRITTEN IN FIRE ENGINE RED AND THE POSSIBILITY OF FREE CUPCAKES!

Dear Agent:

The day everyone died sucked for Lucy.

No high school graduation, no prom, and forget law school. But Lucy's never taken anything lying down even if, technically, her dead body is slumped over her parents' kitchen table. She reconnects with friends and family and starts dating the guy she's had a crush on since her freshman year. Even though life goes on without humans, Lucy figures the afterlife isn't so bad.

But just when life as a ghost seems pretty cool, aliens arrive on Earth and start vaporizing the remnants of human civilization. That wouldn't be such a big deal except ghosts start vanishing too. Everyone panics. But Lucy finds hope in a young Indian boy who's figured out how to merge with living creatures. The only problem: mess up and your ghost might vanish forever. Bridging the gap with humans was already hard enough while alive. Now Lucy has to bridge it with aliens while dead. Oh well, nobody ever said death was easy.

GHOSTS VS ALIENS, a paranormal YA novel, is complete at 75,000 words.
Last edited by Kirril on August 16th, 2010, 3:50 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Query: GHOSTS VS ALIENS

Post by ceiser » May 19th, 2010, 7:16 pm

Wow, what a cool idea! Here were my impressions.
Kirril wrote:Hi all! I've contributed to these forums off and on for a while, so if you take a gander, I'll be sure to return the favor.

Dear Agent:

The day everyone died sucked for Lucy.

No high school graduation, no prom, and forget law school. But Lucy's never taken anything lying down even if, technically, her dead body is slumped over her parents' kitchen table. This seemed a bit abrupt. What about something like: Being a ghost isn't so bad, though. She reconnects with friends and family and starts dating the guy she's had a crush on since her freshman year. Even though life goes on without humans, Lucy figures the afterlife isn't so bad.

But just when her new life as a ghost seems pretty cool this phrase doesn't really work with "just when..." maybe something like: But just when her new life starts getting good, aliens arrive on Earth and start vaporizing the remnants of human civilization. That wouldn't be such a big deal except ghosts start vanishing too. Everyone panics. But Lucy finds hope in a young Indian boy who's figured out how to merge with living creatures any creatures, or just the human variety?. The only problem: mess up and your ghost might vanish forever. Bridging the gap do you mean socializing? with humans while alive or dead? was already hard enough while alive. Now Lucy has to bridge it is she going to socialize with them or try to merge with them? I think I know what you're trying to say but this seems a bit unclear with aliens while dead. Oh well, nobody ever said death was easy.

GHOSTS VS ALIENS, a paranormal YA novel, is complete at 75,000 words.
Overall, I think your query is pretty darned good. I think you've got most of the elements everyone's always clamoring for and it just needs to be tightened up a bit. The only other thing might be some word/phrase repetition, but I didn't pay too close attention to that. I'll say again, I really like the idea and if this were rainbowsheeps agent machine thingy, I'd request pages. But I'm no agent. Anyway, good work and good luck!

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Re: Query: GHOSTS VS ALIENS

Post by GeeGee55 » May 19th, 2010, 8:02 pm

Hi, K:'

You've got an interesting idea. My only concern is with the tone of the query - it seems kind of fun/light-hearted which doesn't really seem to fit with the events. Is this the tone your novel is written in?

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Re: Query: GHOSTS VS ALIENS

Post by bigheadx » May 20th, 2010, 6:18 pm

Reading this fresh without looking at existing comments, here goes....
Kirril wrote:Hi all! I've contributed to these forums off and on for a while, so if you take a gander, I'll be sure to return the favor.

Dear Agent:

The day everyone died sucked for Lucy. [If everyone is dead, what are these "remnants" mentioned below? I'm probably in error, but it makes me think not everyone is dead.]

No high school graduation, no prom, and forget law school. But Lucy's never taken anything lying down even if, technically at the moment, [??], her dead body is slumped over her parents' kitchen table. [Looking for something about here that brings in the "ghostness" so the next sentence makes more sense to me.] She reconnects with friends and family and starts dating the guy she's had a crush on since her freshman year. Even though life goes on without humans, Lucy figures the afterlife isn't so bad. [Here is where I'm looking for the wit you showed at the get-go; e.g., people act a lot different when they're ghosts, so maybe this afterlife "isn't so bad." Maybe this is what Heaven is really like! Etc.]

But j Just when life as a ghost seems pretty cool, aliens arrive on Earth and start vaporizing the remnants of human civilization. That wouldn't be such a big deal except ghosts start vanishing too. [Is part of Lucy's "quest" to find an answer as to why they "vanish?"] Everyone panics. [The implied message here is that people settled into "ghostness" much like Lucy, which is pretty cool, but might need a bit more fleshing out to be clear.] But Lucy finds hope in a young Indian boy who's figured out how to merge with living creatures. [With animals?] The only problem: mess up and your ghost might vanish forever. Bridging the gap with humans was already hard enough while alive. [Nice character establishment line here, altho I might add "...already hard enough for Lucy while she was alive."] Now Lucy has to bridge it with aliens while dead. [Okay, now maybe you've gone a bit obscure here, because this reader is wondering why a bridge is needed to the apparent opponent.] Oh well, nobody ever said death was easy. [I like this last line, as I like your first!]

GHOSTS VS ALIENS, a paranormal YA novel, is complete at 75,000 words. I am submitting to you because of you/your agency's interest in such material and/or your representation of XXX and YYY. [I get a good vibe about this "personalizing" the query and also because so many suggest it. Plus it indicates you've researched the agent before making the query. Again JMHO.
I am probably the last person to judge a YA query because it's just not my genre, but here are my observations anyway:

  • * Your tongue seems firmly in your cheek, so I'll envision a "Beetlejuice"-esque story and cast of characters. Am I warm? Sure seems like good YA material to me.

  • * The merging with living creatures angle threw me a bit, because it doesn't seem to tie into the apparent conflict with the aliens

  • * Questions raised include: Has everyone in the ghost world had time to settle in before the aliens arrive? Or, are you going to set up Lucy's high school life in early chapters and the inciting incident is when Lucy discovers that everyone "woke up dead?" At the risk of sounding like a screenwriter, this would offer up some great post-inciting incident "ghost" world-building, leading up to when the aliens appear, throw a monkey-wrench into what Lucy thought was shaping up as a pretty nice new world, and zip your story into that wild second act where Lucy has to figure out what do with these aliens while pondering this merging with living creatures offered by the young Indian boy.

  • * Just had a thought: Is that young Indian boy's talent a set-up for ghosts being able to "live" again? If so, that might create a nice internal conflict for Lucy as to "do I stay or do I go back?"


Again, take this with a big grain of salt, because I feel inadequate commenting on YA. I will say I got a good idea of your character and your conflict and, since you do have some room to expand, a bit more about the opponent's motives and the meaning of the young Indian boy's talent would clear away my other questions.
Hope this helps a bit. Good luck!

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Re: Query: GHOSTS VS ALIENS

Post by Yoshima » May 20th, 2010, 6:46 pm

Howdy Kirril! Gotta say, I think this query was pretty tight already. Just a few toughts:

Title: Well, with a movie called "Monsters Vs. Aliens" that recently came out and "Alien Vs. Predator" not too long ago...bluntly, I think you can do better, sir. :)
Kirril wrote:Hi all! I've contributed to these forums off and on for a while, so if you take a gander, I'll be sure to return the favor.

Dear Agent:

The day everyone died sucked for Lucy. Instead of everyone, maybe "all humans" or something that encompasses Lucy a little more clearly, since I was thinking along the lines of "OMG, EVERYONE hated my new purple hair" rather than "Well, crap, humanity's gone." I think it's because "everyone" is abused a little with our tendencies to overexaggerate things, so just a switch of words would nip that in the bud.

No high school graduation, no prom, and forget law school. But Lucy's never taken anything lying down even if, technically, her dead body is slumped over her parents' kitchen table. Great (morbid, of course, but great) image. Love this. She reconnects with friends and family and starts dating the guy she's had a crush on since her freshman year. (...I thought she was slumped over a table? *a minute later* Ooohhh, she's a ghost. Okay. Honestly I think since you've only got one shot not to confuse an agent in a query, you might want to look into coming out and saying she's a ghost before this line.) Even though life goes on without humans, Lucy figures the afterlife isn't so bad.

But just when life as a ghost seems pretty cool, aliens arrive on Earth and start vaporizing the remnants of human civilization. That wouldn't be such a big deal except ghosts start vanishing too. Everyone panics. (kind of a given, methinks) But Lucy finds hope in a young Indian boy who's figured out how to merge with living creatures. The only problem: mess up and your ghost might vanish forever. Bridging the gap with humans was already hard enough while alive. Now Lucy has to bridge it with aliens while dead. Oh well, nobody ever said death was easy. Think you could take out "oh well." You've got plenty of great voice in the query without it.

GHOSTS VS ALIENS, a paranormal YA novel, is complete at 75,000 words.
I really like how I have a basic outline in this without any info I don't feel like I need. Everyone dies. Lucy meets McHottie in the afterlife and things seem to be going good. Crap, aliens! Double crap, ghosts vanishing! Lucy and Indian boy have to save the ghost world! How? Request a full and find out! :) It also felt like YA to me, so great job on that. Good luck!!

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Re: Query: GHOSTS VS ALIENS

Post by Jessica Peter » May 21st, 2010, 1:51 am

Kirril wrote:
Dear Agent:

The day everyone died sucked for Lucy. The first thing I'm wondering is: how? Although maybe that's not a bad thing....

No high school graduation, no prom, and forget law school. But Lucy's never taken anything lying down even if, technically, her dead body is slumped over her parents' kitchen table. Hilarious! Love this. She reconnects with friends and family and starts dating the guy she's had a crush on since her freshman year. Even though life goes on without humans,I would say they're still humans, just the ghosts of humans. . . maybe take this out? Lucy figures the afterlife isn't so bad.

But just when life as a ghost seems pretty cool, aliens arrive on Earth and start vaporizing the remnants of human civilization. A) Do you have a better name for aliens in your book? 'Aliens' just sounds a bit... cheesy. B) I thought everybody died, who else is left?That wouldn't be such a big deal except ghosts start vanishing too. Everyone panics. This is a bit vague. Either stick in what's happening here [panics how?], or take it out. It isn't really affecting Lucy anyway. But Lucy finds hope in a young Indian boy who's figured out how to merge with living creatures. Needs clarity: what living creatures? (humans? or animals? plants? ;)), how does that help anything? The only problem: mess up and your ghost might vanish forever. Good definite problem. Bridging the gap with humans was already hard enough while alive. This sounds a bit awkward, since she WAS a human while alive (I think?), and is now just the ghost of a human . . Now Lucy has to bridge it with aliens while dead. Oh.. with aliens? What about the remnants of human civilization? And why does she have to bridge the gap with aliens anywa? Oh well, nobody ever said death was easy.Snicker. Good line.

GHOSTS VS ALIENS, a paranormal YA novel, is complete at 75,000 words.
This query really strongly shows your voice, and it even makes me laugh. Big points there! My major issue is with the whole bonding with living beings thing at the end (which you may notice from my critique). Basically, I have no idea what that means or why that would be desirable. And I do wonder about genre. The title and tone sound almost more MG though the age of the protagonist might fall into YA. . .

And I didn't read any of the other critiques, so I may just be repeating anyone else.
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Kirril
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Re: Query: GHOSTS VS ALIENS

Post by Kirril » May 21st, 2010, 11:23 am

Thanks guys!

Living creatures refers to all non-human life on earth. The humans are dead. All of them. (Well except one, but shhh! Secret.) The remnants of human civilization would be buildings, dead bodies, etc.

Apparently I didn't do a very good job of clarifying the situation, so I'll need to spruce that up.

I appreciate the comments on the title GHOST VERSUS ALIENS. I meant it as kind of a jab at the whole "Versus" thing that people seem to love in movies, namely Aliens vs Predator, Monsters vs Aliens, etc. It's more of a working title than anything. It seemed to grab your attention though, right?

The novel lurks on the border of YA and Adult. There are some adult themes in it that might at times carry it over the border, but I'm not sure. I found inspiration in THE LOVELY BONES for some of this, but it's by no means anything like that book.

Thanks again! I'll post an update soon, but meanwhile I'll stalk your presence in the forums, find your queries, and make judicious but well-meaning comments about each of them.

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Re: Query: GHOSTS VS ALIENS

Post by bigheadx » May 21st, 2010, 1:59 pm

I was just wondering, when everyone "wakes up dead" will they also see people who have died before them (naturally)?
Kirril wrote:Thanks guys!

Living creatures refers to all non-human life on earth. The humans are dead. All of them. (Well except one, but shhh! Secret.) The remnants of human civilization would be buildings, dead bodies, etc.

Apparently I didn't do a very good job of clarifying the situation, so I'll need to spruce that up.

I appreciate the comments on the title GHOST VERSUS ALIENS. I meant it as kind of a jab at the whole "Versus" thing that people seem to love in movies, namely Aliens vs Predator, Monsters vs Aliens, etc. It's more of a working title than anything. It seemed to grab your attention though, right?

The novel lurks on the border of YA and Adult. There are some adult themes in it that might at times carry it over the border, but I'm not sure. I found inspiration in THE LOVELY BONES for some of this, but it's by no means anything like that book.

Thanks again! I'll post an update soon, but meanwhile I'll stalk your presence in the forums, find your queries, and make judicious but well-meaning comments about each of them.

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Re: Query: GHOSTS VS ALIENS

Post by JadePhoenix » May 21st, 2010, 3:43 pm

This is a really good query. Pretty much the only few small things I saw have already been pointed out by others so I won't rehash them. The only point I would mention is the title - you did say it's tongue in cheek and a working title but if you do use it you're inviting comparisons between your book and all the other X vs. Y movies (particularly Monster vs. Aliens since the title is so close). It runs the risk of people assuming it's a children's book (when as you said it's on the edge of YA/Adult) and I don't know that you want to set it up beforehand to be compared to anything else (if it's a "wow, his book is WAY cooler than Monster vs. Aliens", then you're good but if it's "Man, Monsters vs. Aliens is SO much better", then you've put yourself at a disadvantage). Again, totally up to you but agents and readers alike tend to make quick judgements and you don't want them seeing your title and assuming they know plot/tone/characters/etc. because such and such movie/book over here has a similar title.

Anyway, awesome query and good luck! :)

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Re: Query: GHOSTS VS ALIENS

Post by Kirril » May 21st, 2010, 4:28 pm

Jade, your point is well made regarding the title. I had actually changed it to GHOSTS AND ALIENS at one point but never could get the whole Versus thing out of my head. You know how those things get stuck up in there right?

BigHead, they do see other ghosts from times past, but not much. I have reasons for that. Part I is about getting used to life as a ghost, exploring Heavenly, etc. and discovering the new rules for their existence. Part II is HOLY CRAP ALIENS! and everything they need to do to "survive".

I'm still poking and prodding the query. I'm gonna tweak it only a touch since most people seem to like it, but I want the confusing areas to be crystal clear without killing the voice.

Thanks!

By the way, I'm slowly finding everyone's queries and adding my advice. If I haven't hit yours up yet, please PM me with a link 'cause there were a couple I couldn't find. Maybe you don't have queries in the forum?

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Re: Query: GHOSTS VS ALIENS

Post by bigheadx » May 21st, 2010, 4:32 pm

Kirril wrote:....
BigHead, they do see other ghosts from times past, but not much. I have reasons for that. Part I is about getting used to life as a ghost, exploring Heavenly, etc. and discovering the new rules for their existence. Part II is HOLY CRAP ALIENS! and everything they need to do to "survive".
...
Nice!

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Re: Query: GHOSTS VS ALIENS

Post by JadePhoenix » May 21st, 2010, 10:48 pm

Kirril wrote:Jade, your point is well made regarding the title. I had actually changed it to GHOSTS AND ALIENS at one point but never could get the whole Versus thing out of my head. You know how those things get stuck up in there right?

BigHead, they do see other ghosts from times past, but not much. I have reasons for that. Part I is about getting used to life as a ghost, exploring Heavenly, etc. and discovering the new rules for their existence. Part II is HOLY CRAP ALIENS! and everything they need to do to "survive".

I'm still poking and prodding the query. I'm gonna tweak it only a touch since most people seem to like it, but I want the confusing areas to be crystal clear without killing the voice.

Thanks!

By the way, I'm slowly finding everyone's queries and adding my advice. If I haven't hit yours up yet, please PM me with a link 'cause there were a couple I couldn't find. Maybe you don't have queries in the forum?
I do know how things get stuck in your head! In my book I had the main character named Steven and then changed his name to Aaron midway through. Through the rest of the book I had to keep catching myself calling him Steven and THEN, when I wrote the query, I actually called him Steven in that as well!

I'm terrible, terrible at titles so sadly I can't offer any help in that area. In school if the teacher said to write a paper on the ghost in Hamlet my paper would be called "The Ghost in Hamlet". I figure I'll write the book and then someone else can tell me what the title should be and I'll go "great idea!" :)

I don't have a query posted, I will confess to not being nearly as brave as the rest of you. So far I've gotten two requests out of the query I've been sending so I guess it's at least all right. Perhaps I'll get up the courage at some point and post it here to make it better and get more requests!

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Re: Query: GHOSTS VS ALIENS

Post by kenpochick » May 22nd, 2010, 10:17 am

This sounds fabulous! I was hooked from the first sentence and I think you'll do well. I agree with the others on the title, it needs to change. I know you changed it ghosts and aliens but maybe something a little more creative.

I was confused though when you mentioned "Lovely Bones" as an inspiration. Your query strikes me as lighthearted and fun and Lovely Bones was anything but.

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Kirril
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Re: Query: GHOSTS VS ALIENS

Post by Kirril » May 22nd, 2010, 1:27 pm

Thanks for all the input!!

I tweaked the original a little trying to de-confuse the confusing parts. So here goes!

The day humanity died sucked for Lucy.

No high school graduation, no prom, and forget law school. But Lucy's never taken anything lying down even if, technically, her dead body is slumped over her parents' kitchen table. She reconnects with her friends and family in the afterlife and starts dating the guy she's had a crush on since her freshman year. Lucy figures being dead isn't so bad after all.

Just when life as a ghost seems pretty cool, aliens arrive on Earth and start vaporizing the artifacts of human civilization. That wouldn't be such a big deal except ghosts start vanishing when their corpses do. But Lucy finds hope in a young Indian boy who's figured out how to possess living creatures. The only problem: mess up and your ghost might vanish forever. Figuring out how to be human was already hard enough while alive. Now Lucy has to put herself in an alien's shoes while dead. Oh well, nobody ever said death was easy.

GHOSTS VS ALIENS is complete at 75,000 words. I'm querying you because I heard you were abducted by aliens as a child and could, like totally, identify with the main character.


How does "humanity" work for you guys as opposed to "everyone"?
Should I put the first sentence in present tense: The day humanity dies sucks for Lucy?
Is it clearer now that this is taking place in the afterlife?
Did I manage to clarify without sending the voice to the afterlife?

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Re: Query: GHOSTS VS ALIENS

Post by Quill » May 22nd, 2010, 3:54 pm

Kirril wrote:
The day humanity died sucked for Lucy.
Humanity doesn't work for me.
No high school graduation, no prom, and forget law school. But Lucy's never taken anything lying down even if, technically, her dead body is slumped over her parents' kitchen table.
So far, intriguing.
She reconnects with her friends and family in the afterlife and starts dating the guy she's had a crush on since her freshman year. Lucy figures being dead isn't so bad after all.
A little concerned about the lack of explanation for what's got to be the biggest event in world history. In fact, Lucy seems a little shallow to just be going about her business as usual after such a sea change. Actually, it sounds like no change at all, so whatever drama has been generated so far is being diffused pretty quick here.
Just when life as a ghost seems pretty cool, aliens arrive on Earth and start vaporizing the artifacts of human civilization.
Not sure what these artifacts are. Leveling the cities? Why?
That wouldn't be such a big deal except ghosts start vanishing when their corpses do.
Not sure why this is. Doesn't it go against all we know about ghosts, that they can hang around and haunt places long after their earthly remains are gone? And confused about the timeline; she gets comfy in Heaven, which presumably takes some time, yet the corpses from this unknown catastrophe are still hanging around on Earth? How come they haven't decomposed?
But Lucy finds hope in a young Indian boy who's figured out how to possess living creatures.
Boy? or ghost of boy? Assume ghost but unclear. And possess which creatures? The aliens? Unclear.
The only problem: mess up and your ghost might vanish forever.
Mess up what, and how? What is the mission?
Figuring out how to be human was already hard enough while alive. Now Lucy has to put herself in an alien's shoes while dead.
Sounds like a snap. You've led us to believe she's not dead, but enjoying an afterlife pretty much the same as before. And this Indian dude knows the ropes...
Oh well, nobody ever said death was easy.
But you've made it sound like it is.

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