Thursday, February 19, 2015


YA/Romantic thriller/historical fiction/mystery


Imagine seeing the ghost of Mary, Queen of Scots and finding out she’s hidden a treasure! Suppose the treasure is the Holy Grail.

Dru and her geeky boyfriend discover finding the treasure is easy compared to trying to stay alive. A killer is also seeking the grail, and he’s not going to let two teenagers get in his way, even if it means shooting the boyfriend and tossing the girl off the bell tower.

This was not the vacation Dru planned when she traveled to Edinburgh. She and Darcy just wanted to visit the old castles and ruins. If only their imaginations hadn’t been stirred by the sight of the ghost!

As Dru waited for her death atop the tower, the apparition appeared again. The ghost’s earlier warning was about to come true. Someone was going to die.

First Page:


Dru heard James’ heavy footsteps as he raced up the winding concrete steps of the bell tower. “He’s going to take the Queen’s treasure and then kill me,” she whispered.

She pulled her cell phone from her jacket pocket and quickly dialed her father’s number. Again it went to voice mail. Choking back tears, she left a message. “I love you, Dad. Tell Mom I love her, too. Bye.”

Hiding in the shadows, Dru felt James’ presence. Slowly she raised her eyes and gasped. James was looming over her. From the glint in his eyes, she knew she didn’t have long to live. She held her breath and waited for James to make his move.

Three days earlier…..

Dru, standing in the courtyard of Edinburgh’s Castle, stared at the doorway leading to the banquet hall. “It’s a ghost!” she murmured.

She rubbed her eyes and then looked again. The apparition, an auburn haired maiden wearing a full length black velvet gown, was still there. A high white tatted lace collar hid her long neck. Sunlight bounced off the gold beads woven in her hair.  A pearl necklace and a simple gold cross were her only jewels. She wasn’t wearing a crown, but Dru knew she was a Queen.


  1. I'm always interested the Holy Grail, though I haven't heard it associated with Mary, Queen of Scots before. It's an unusual premise and I must admit I'm curious as to whether it's based on an actual legend or story. I'm very impressed at how much information you've managed to fit into your pitch but wonder if perhaps you are giving away too much of the plot.

    It can be so hard to find the right place to start a story like this. I completely understand that you want to get the story moving quickly, without overloading on backstory but perhaps, when you come to the 3 days earlier section, you could give us some idea of Dru, her boyfriend, and how their holiday is going before they see the ghost, just so we can see how the ghost causes things to change. Hope this makes some sense.

    Best of luck,

  2. Intriguing premise and I love your choice of the history-rich location.
    What grabs me right away: "Hiding in the shadows, Dru felt James’ presence." It instantly creates a sense of mystery and danger and feels like a great opening line.
    Good luck!!

  3. I love the premise. I love how rich history is in the UK with ghosts and their associated lore.

    My first thought with the first page is that it's a hell of a place to start. I wish the opener had gone on a little bit longer before we got to the "three days earlier" part. I'd love to see the setting enriched a bit without too much plain narrative description, but I know it's hard to convey where the book is going in 250 words. I love the peek we got, though.

    Nice job! Great premise! Good luck.

  4. I agree that the pitch seems to give away too much of the plot. I'm not left with much of a sense of mystery. I'd try focusing on their vacation then seeing the ghost and how that sets them off on a life and death treasure hunt.

    Also want to second that I feel like the beginning is maybe in the wrong place. I think it would be better if you just started with the part that comes after "three days later" but it still might need to be backed up a little bit.

    But it does sound like a very interesting premise and like there is lots of chance for suspense.

  5. I will have to say I am on board with the 'don't give away the whole story except the last few pages'. If that was on the dust jacket, I would pop the book open in Borders and zip through the last five or so pages. Bam, book complete and I didn't spend a dime. (Forgive me Lord for that is probably a sin).
    Is the villain in this one the ghost that is possessing James or the killer?
    How'd she know it was Mary? I would have to Google what she looked like? History project? I'm sure it's explained past the first 250.
    Who is she whispering too? Herself?
    The phone call section didn't match the intensity of the moment. I maybe being picky here, but give it a whirl - She dialed her fathers number. Again it went... INSTEAD: ...she dialed her fathers number for the (#) time. She was sure his voicemail message would be the last time she would hear his voice. Her final message would be spoken through her tears, "“I love you, Dad...
    Lot packed in here! I hope the whole story is just as good of a ride as what is here!
    Good Luck!
    Fellow Contestant & Writing Friend

  6. I really want to be helpful, so please take what you find fits, and ignore the rest. Okay? Okay!

    On the pitch:
    I would completely do away with your first paragraph and start with "Dru and her geeky boyfriend discover...". I really like the setting you are offering, and the treasure hunt is a great idea, but I don't understand why the killer is after them, though. Did they witness a murder? Is the killer, not just a killer, but also a treasure hunter after the same goal? When the query ends, it feels like I still don't know how Dru will be looking for the treasure -following painting clues in a particular castle? All over the city of Edinburgh, following clues from books? Scotland? Who is leaving the clues, beyond the one ghost they saw once? Just feels like there isn't enough information.

    On the pages:

    I am also confused by the whispering to herself. People don't do that, so it sounds... well... made up? Then it says she kept calling her father, but she pulled the phone from the jacket. If I'm terrified, I won't be putting the phone away at any point, I'll be dialing that number over and over, and maybe even calling police, hoping they can trace my call, not just my father. Maybe all of it makes sense in the context of the story, but we are not in the story yet, so it sounds confusing. I don't think that's what you want. Don't be afraid to start in the beginning. Just make the beginning great! By the way, I really like books that span a short period of time, i.e. three days only kind of thing. So you have that going for you, definitely.

    One more thing, Mary Queen of Scots is super important kind of ghost, so I hope there is a good reason she chooses to show herself to this teenager.

    Good luck!

    -Lyuda (#40)


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