Wednesday, February 19, 2014


Title: The Ghost in The Gardens

Genre: Middle grade/mystery150 word 


Thirteen year old Chrysantha Howe has her summer planned. Then the ghost shows up and the trouble starts.

Chrys argues with her best friend. She has to share her coveted school-break ecology project with that nuisance Dalton Dyer. Her uncle begins plotting a mysterious event that will take place in twelve days. And her favorite teacher has disappeared.

As her plans spiral out of control, Chrys learns she’s been worrying far too much about the wrong things. With friendship and family at stake, she struggles to right her upended world.

Making up with her best friend means swallowing her pride. Digging out Dalton’s secret puts a new spin his behavior. Wit, along with a hidden-in-plain-sight clue—and a bit of spooky help from the ghost—brings to light the truth about her uncle and why everyone thinks he had something to do with her teacher’s disappearance.

First sentence: 

I was standing in my favorite place in the entire world when I figured out why the dark hours just before dawn were called the dead of night: because that was when the dead came to visit.


  1. I love stories about ghosts almost as much as I love middle grade books. I'm not feeling pulled in by the query. From what I can tell by the query, it promises to be an intriguing read. What we need in the query is something about the ghost. Man or woman? Age? Name? Something to connect us to the ghost. Is it an evil or nice ghost? Was the ghost's death tragic or humorous (as in a strange death)? What are these
    ambiguous plans of Chrys's? And how do they spiral out of control? We need to know what happens without giving away spoilers or the ending. Being too vague will lose the agent.

    I do like the first line, but it reads a bit lackluster. As if it's just a ho-hum discovery. Make it more scary and immediate by shortening the sentences, giving us a clue where she is, and delivering more of punch. Such as this --> I stood under the cypress tree by the river, my most favorite place in the world, in the dark hours before dawn, when it hit me. That's why they called it the dead of night. Because that's when the dead came to visit.

    Great idea. I hope this helps, and good luck!

  2. What I like: I love a mystery

    What I would like: but I feel like there are too many elements for me to keep up with and I’m not exactly sure what the story is about- the ghost? The disappearance? The mysterious event? A lot of the elements are also vague; define them for greater impact.

    Great job!

  3. A great big ditto to the above comments. Great suggestions there. I think with a bit of tweaking this pitch will really come to life. :) Good luck!

  4. Also agreeing with the others. Brenda gave some great feedback. This pitch feels more like a vauge synopsis. I don't really feel like it's pulling me along. A good query tells us all the basics of the story and makes us want to read it, but it also entertains us. The second paragraph especially is just a list of things that happen. I think you were trying to make it a list of all the things that have gone wrong but it feels more like I'm struggling to catch up with all these seemingly random events. You are telling us all the little events that happen in the book, and you don't need to. If the ghost is the main story, tell us about that. Mention only the events that are the very most important to understand the story.

    Good luck!

  5. I also love mystery and middle grade novels. I also enjoyed your first sentence. While the first sentence of your query pulled me in, you lost me a bit in the middle. Perhaps bring up her missing teacher sooner as I believe that is the mystery that has to be solved?

  6. Thank you, Rena. You put your finger on it. When cutting the pitch to fit the word count, we got a little overzealous and took out some important information--the mystery you teased out--while leaving some information that mattered less. We appreciate your comments.

  7. Interesting premise! Have to agree with the great comments above, especially with identifying the mystery/stakes right up front. Best of Luck to you!


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