Monday, September 17, 2012

GUTGAA Pitch Contest #27: AFTERLIFE

YA Paranomal


Samantha Cole never believed in ghosts, until she got a letter from her brother two months after his death, blaming her for the accident. She’s  spent the last two years hunting ghosts, in the hope that she will find out what happened to her brother, and be able to make amends.

Now  sixteen, Samantha and  Matt, her best friend and partner, have explored most of the east coast, looking for evidence of paranormal activity, with no results. Until Matt finds a lead, a story surrounding a child ghost in the rural stretches of Rhode Island. Sam risks expulsion and escapes from her boarding school to investigate, but the answers she finds confuse her more than enlighten her.

The ghost that she finds can become corporeal, a revelation that challenges Sam’s  preconceptions, and prompts Matt to make a shocking confession: he passed away nearly twenty years before he ever met Sam.  Sam finds herself torn, unsure of how to help the ghosts in her life, and swept up into a century old murder investigation. 

First 150 Words:

The dilapidated house looked perfect for a haunting. The walkway was covered with a thick layer of fallen leaves that had been gathering for long enough that the bottom layer had rotted, making the air smell faintly musty and damp.The house even carried an excessive history of violence including at least one murder and a suicide. But in the end the science didn’t lie, all of the meters and metrics I took pointed to one solidly boring, and soon to be condemned house. I sighed and stared wistfully at the colonial. I’d thought that it’d be our first break, but I’d thought that a lot over the past two years.

“There’s nothing here, Matt,” I said through the walkie. This was the fifth house we had investigated in a  year that was either a hoax or a mistake.

I heard him sigh. “Yeah, I’m kind of getting that.” 


  1. Hi,
    I love a good ghost story, and I think your story promises to be a good one. Your MC's voice comes through in the query and the first 150.
    best of luck

  2. Oooh, creepy! I got goosebumps when I read the truth about Matt! The first 150 has atmosphere, and I really like that. :) Good luck!!

  3. I love ghost stories, and yours has such a good twist! I remember liking it during the pitch polish, and I still like it now. I've heard ghost stories be forecasted as a new trend in YA, so I think you'll find an agent for this... either here or seeking an agent on your own. Best of luck!

  4. I loved this from the pitch polish and I still do. Seriously, if it were available now, I'd buy it. Corporeal ghosts? Yes, please!

    Awesome job.

  5. ZOINKS!! Creepy stuff, Shaggy!

    I love this premise. It gets me all in the mood for Halloween!

    I think you've got the foundation for a great, timely ghost story on your hands. (I'm sort of wondering about the feels a little Vampire-ish *shudders* to me. For some reason I'm craving something with a ghostly appeal...but that's just my initial thought. Toss it/keep it--all good).

    Based on your samples, I am glad to see you implementing the scientific aspect to ghost tracking. With the popularity of shows like Ghost Hunters, etc., that's a nice, current element to tie in.

    I am really excited about this story. I wish you all the best.


  6. I also love the creepiness of this query (especially its killer first line) and the atmospheric details in this beginning. I would definitely read on. I do think the query could be a little clearer, though. At first it sounds like the main conflict is going to be about Sam's brother, but then he kind of disappears and the conflict shifts to Sam's relationship with ghost-Matt, so I was confused about what one conflict had to do with the other (if at all). Will she find out what happened to her brother? That's what I wanted to know from the beginning of the query. Good luck!

  7. I can just feel the creepiness oozing through my computer screen here! And what a great first line! I was a little sad the brother doesn't get brought up again, but it sounds like a great read!

    Congratulations and good luck!


  8. PITCH: This is a well-written pitch, and conveys an intriguing relationship between Samantha & Matt. At the same time, I’m not sure what the stakes are. They get involved in a century-old mystery—what happens if they don’t solve it? Is it linked to her brother’s death? I think if you clarify what’s at stake, this could garner some requests.
    Total nitpick: I was thrown off by the word “partner.” Is she a ghost detective? After reading it again, it seems so, and I think that could be made more explicit.
    FIRST 150: I like the opening very much, with the concrete details of the house in front of her, as well as how her voice comes through in her reaction to those details. When she spoke through the walkie, though, I was hooked. I’d suggest leaving off the bit about “This was the fifth house in over a year…” because it essentially says the same thing as the end of the paragraph above.

  9. This is the kind of book you want to snuggle with, next to the fire in the deep midwinter - something creepy and intriguing with lots of twists. I like the corporeal ghost angle and the dose of scientific-ish metrics. My only tweak would be, like Missus Braidyhead, that I was confused by 'partner' I think stating explicitly that they run a paranormal investigations co. would help. But really well done! YOU'VE GOT MY VOTE!

  10. Thank you all so much! I appreciate all of the help, votes, and support I have gotten. You guys are the best!