Sunday, March 2, 2014


Title: Nanny Morto

Genre: MG, Fantasy

Word Count: 25,000


Only Eva and Phillip see the new nanny as a freaky skeleton - smooth skull for a face, bony fingers under the velvet gloves. Forget the park and playgrounds! Trips to the cemetery and visiting antique stores to collect seemingly random items become their new routine. Even so, the children slowly warm up to their peculiar caretaker.
However, Nanny Morto comes with a secret. She is here to earn her death angel wings and requires a few items in order to build her wings, including a soul of a child. Nanny Morto must choose one of the siblings in order to complete her task, and at the end of the summer - she does.

First Page: 

A clean chalk-white skull grinned at Phillip from underneath a black velvet hat adorned with a golden broche. A large beaded purse sat on the floor.
The new nanny finished the interview with Mr. and Mrs. Kiev. She answered the questions satisfactorily, provided impeccable references, and was offered the position on the spot. When the parents inquired what the children should call her, she removed her gloves, revealing skinless bony hands, and replied, “Nanny Morto.”
Phillip wasn’t the skittish type, but when the hard white finger-bones stretched out to shake his hand, he paused.
“Mom?” His raised eyebrows and wide-eyed expression should have counted for something, but Mrs. Kiev didn’t  understand her son’s hesitation. Unlike Phillip, all she saw was an elegant young woman qualified enough to care for her two children on a last minute notice. And so Mrs. Kiev frowned and nodded with meaning, prompting her ten-year old to take the bony fingers of their new nanny and shake.
“Pleased to meet you, Phillip,” Nanny Morto said as soon as their hands met. Her velvety voice matched her hat.
The bones gripped Phillip’s hand, and moved it up and down. The boy withdrew as soon as good manners allowed and retreated behind the yellow sofa, mumbling, “Nice to meet you,” and rubbing his hands as if they were cold. Soon after, Phillip disappeared into the kitchen, but he continued to spy on the adults from the doorway, curiosity and the sense of imminent adventure rising in his veins.


  1. Love, love, LOVE the pitch. Mary Poppins meets Graveyard Book is an awesome way to summarize a story. I like the way you end with "she does." I'm already wondering how in the world this story can end well. Middle Schoolers will probably wonder the same thing. Great job.

    The first page is also intriguing. I did catch a wee bit of head-hopping to Mom. "Unlike Phillip, all she saw was an elegant young woman qualified enough to care for her two children on a last minute notice." Mom's pov, right? Or dangerously close to it. Maybe change it up just a little. Like, "Knowing Mom, all she saw was..."

    Something else that I think is a wide hole here is Phillip's strong reaction to a skull for a head and visible bones. I was expecting a freak out feeling from him. Shown, not told. Maybe dig into the Emotion Thesaurus for fear or confusion. That would make this more believable. OR if there's a reason why Phillip doesn't react with fear or confusion, we should have a hint as to why.

    Also, this opening page ends with thoughts of "imminent adventure." Why not fear? She's a skeleton. Again, if there's reason why he doesn't freak out at her appearance, like if he's had experiences with skeletons before, just a quick line would help this make more sense. Like "Another skeleton. I hope this one bakes better pies." Or something like that.

    Otherwise, a great pitch and an intriguing opening. Well done!

  2. Terrific premise and pitch, with a killer (heh) hook at the end that makes us wonder which sibling is chosen! I wondered if you might consider providing one or two quick examples about how and why the children warm up to Nanny Morto. I was curious about that and I think a detail would help the pitch come alive even more.

    In the first page, this sentence stood out for me: "Phillip wasn’t the skittish type, but when the hard white finger-bones stretched out to shake his hand, he paused."

    I don't know that one needs to be the skittish type to be horrified by a skinless hand and grinning skull face. I expected Phillip to yell in fright or surprise or terror, or even run, unless this type of event is something that occasionally happens in the world you're created, in which case I think it'd be great to allude to that.

    I can see this story being both scary and funny -- one of my favorite combinations! You're off to a wonderful start. Good luck.


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