Man, what a tough weekend. After all the sad news lately, we did have one bright spot. My kids decided to rescue a dog that was found near my daughter's new job. He is a Jack Russel Terrier, about 12 weeks old. They have named him Captain Jack Harkness. Whovians and nerds will get it.
Anyway, let's get to work on Tasha's letter. This time it will include my feedback, in blue.
Nora Clark arrives in a cheap hotel room of the afterlife with no recollection of how she got there. Whoa. Huh. This is certainly unique. To check in on her husband of thirty years and their sons, she has to complete the life to life transition. What does that mean? Her progression stalls when, of everyone who died that day, Nora is unable to complete the first major step.
Wow. Okay. I'm really undecided about this opening hook. On the one hand, it's so unique, you may get requests on premise alone. On the other hand, we have absolutely no sense of Nora's character. I always counsel people to introduce a character, and clue readers in to why we should care about them before introducing us to what happens to them, but I'm not actually sure that would work here.
If you introduced us to living Nora first, you would lose all the punch this unique opening hook packs as is.
She is told the problem is simply that she hasn’t accepted her death, but the pain of separation from her husband and sons has made that reality clear enough. Then, Nora discovers she can interact with strangers still living, and is certain they need her help. When her assistance allows glimpses of her family, her resolve strengthens.
Okay, I'm struggling to put my finger on tone here. At first, with the mention of the cheap hotel room, I was getting a kind of a Beetlejuice vibe, but now it sounds more like Ghost. Either one is fine, and certainly ghost stories can be compelling, especially when the protagonist is the ghost, but I think the lack of a clear sense of voice is hurting this query a little. Is the story funny at parts, or is it mostly sad and serious? It can be both, of course, but try to be sure that the tone of the query matches the tone of the manuscript.
While heaven keeps giving her menial tasks, her capabilities with the strangers increase. What can she do, exactly? Just speak to the living, and help them out because she can pass along information? Or does she have other powers? Equipped with both her own knowledge and the perspective of the afterlife, she bends the regulations to better the lives of her family and the strangers. But the rules of heaven still have consequences, and Nora’s actions could jeopardize the happiness of the living and her own place in forever. Because she could get kicked out? Or what? If you could clarify this, you'd have a much better sadistic choice to end on.
TRANSCEND, women’s fiction with elements of magic realism, Is there magical realism in addition to the fact that this is already a supernatural/ghost story? Because they're not exactly the same thing. is complete at 81,000 words and would appeal to readers of Susanna Kearsley and Alice Hoffman. I currently teach high school English.
Otherwise, this housekeeping is great.
So, to summarize, I think you're in pretty good shape here. The strength of this unique premise is going to be what carries you through to some requests, I think.
Normally I would suggest opening with a better sense of character, but I think you can skip that here because of how interesting the premise is. You could certainly try to work a better sense of character in during the middle, and in addition to that I think you should focus on voice and tone. If the story is funny and light, keep the cheap hotel room and sprinkle more like that throughout the later parts. If it's darker and more serious in tone, perhaps consider cutting that detail from the beginning.
What do you all think?