Son of a Pitch Entry #5 – Old Man Boone

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Title: OLD MAN BOONE

Age and Genre: YA Romantic Suspense

Word Count: 75,000

 

Query:

In OLD MAN BOONE, sixteen-year-old Hailey Johnston fears her life is over when her divorced mother moves them to Clearmont, Wyoming. But fear takes on a new meaning when someone starts terrorizing her family—especially at night, when the sky is darkest and the countryside quiet beneath a blanket of slumber, and Hailey awakens to her little sister’s bloodcurdling screams… A new love interest and his vindictive ex-girlfriend bring added uncertainty to Hailey’s world, as does the eerie story of a ghost—the ghost of Old Man Boone—who has haunted the rural town for decades. To save her family, Hailey must discover the truth behind who is frightening them.

 

 

First 250 Words:

This was hard for all of them. But whatever their troubles, they were in this together. The three of them. They had survived the upheaval of the last six months, and they could survive the next six. They were making a fresh start in a new place.

Things could only get better.

Hailey stared out the window at fields overflowing with sagebrush and felt the familiar hot rush that came just before an onslaught of free-flowing tears. She swallowed, forcing down the sob threatening to burst free. It would do no good to cry. She’d already spilled a million tears, but it hadn’t changed anything.

“What do you think?” Her mom, Ruth, glanced over from the driver’s seat, a cautiously hopeful expression on her too-lean face. The weight loss from everything that had happened over the last six months was evident, as were the gray hairs—hairs that had been dark brown a year ago. 

Hailey knew her mom was doing her best to find the positive in a bad situation, and it was because of her example that Hailey found the strength to calm the gush of bitter emotion.

She summoned a small smile. “It looks like it could use a few more people, Mom. Maybe even people like us.”

The creases in her mom’s forehead smoothed. “Good!” She smacked the steering wheel enthusiastically. “I whole-heartedly agree. Why don’t you wake up Sarah? We’ll be at our new home in no time.” She stepped on the gas.

18 thoughts on “Son of a Pitch Entry #5 – Old Man Boone

  1. First, my disclaimer: All suggestions are IMHO and are meant to be thought provoking. Take ‘em, leave ‘em. This is your rodeo, so it’s up to you.

    Query:
    In OLD MAN BOONE, sixteen-year-old Hailey Johnston fears her life is over when her divorced mother moves them to Clearmont, Wyoming. But fear takes on a new meaning when someone starts terrorizing her family—especially at night, when the sky is darkest and the countryside quiet beneath a blanket of slumber, and Hailey awakens to her little sister’s bloodcurdling screams…

    Can we amp up the intro here? Hmmm…
    Nothing screams your life is over louder than when your recently divorced mom uproots you to Clearmont, Wyoming. Sixteen-Year-Old Hailey fears she may actually die of boredom in this deserted/dead town. But fear takes on a new meaning when she awakens to her little sister’s bloodcurdling screams. At night, when the sky is darkest and the countryside rests quietly beneath a blanket of slumber, someone is terrorizing her family .

    **A new love interest and his vindictive ex-girlfriend bring added uncertainty to Hailey’s world, as does the eerie story of a ghost—the ghost of Old Man Boone—who has haunted the rural town for decades. To save her family, Hailey must discover the truth behind who is frightening them.

    **Need a little more info about the boyfriend so you can build him into the query. And what does added uncertainty mean? The vindictive ex-girlfriend sets her sites on making Hailey’s life horrible or to make her want to get out of town? Does she burn anything down?
    Do eerie happenings now seem coincidental? Are there clues that raise suspicions? Then add the close of discovering the truth.

    The plot of the story seems solid but the query needs to be dialed up to a higher level so we understand the what drives the conflict. The intrigue is there – show us ☺ I made a few comments that may help you tinker. Good start!

    First 250 Words:
    Moved first paragraph down.

    Things could only get better.

    Hailey stared out the window at fields overflowing with sagebrush and felt the familiar hot rush that came just before an onslaught of free-flowing tears. She swallowed, forcing down the sob threatening to burst free. It would do no good to cry. She’d already spilled a million tears, but it hadn’t changed anything. (well done!) ** add first paragraph here? This was hard for all of them. But whatever their troubles, they were in this together. The three of them. They had survived the upheaval of the last six months, and they could survive the next six. They were making a fresh start in a new place.)

    “What do you think?” Her mom, Ruth, glanced over from the driver’s seat, a (cautiously – needed?) hopeful expression on her too-lean face. The weight loss from everything that had happened over the last six months (More detail ?- Her cheeks never had those carved hollows?), as were the gray hairs—hairs that had been dark brown a year ago.

    Hailey’s mom was doing her best to find the positive in their bad situation. , And Hailey credited her mom for the newfound strength to calm the gush of bitter emotion.

    She summoned a small smile. “It looks like it could use a few more people, Mom. Maybe even people like us.” (Inner thought for Hailey – did she make that comment for her good or her mom’s?_)

    The creases on? her mom’s forehead smoothed. “Good!” She smacked the steering wheel enthusiastically. “I whole-heartedly agree. Why don’t you wake up Sarah? We’ll be at our new home in no time.” She stepped on the gas.

    The story has a nice start. I made a few suggestions in the text. Good dialogue with mom and Hailey – keep it up☺ Best of luck!!

    Like

    • Elsie, thanks for your feedback! Hercules must have blasted me with a lightening bolt when I first wrote the query, numbing my creativity. Here are my edits.

      **Query**

      Sixteen-year-old Hailey Johnston suspects her life is over when her divorced mother moves them to Clearmont, Wyoming. But anywhere is better than living with her lying, cheating, no-good father. Even a town with more horses than people.

      Life looks up when star athlete Josh Turner asks her out. Smart, gorgeous, and kind, he’s the guy every girl dreams of—but with the ex-girlfriend that every girl fears. And when Hailey sees Josh and his ex getting cozy in the hall during basketball practice, she begins to doubt his feelings.

      Then things start happening. Bugs in her locker, rattlesnake in her backpack… the kind of stunts a vindictive ex-girlfriend might pull. Even worse, Hailey’s little sister swears the rumored town ghost—the ghost of Old Man Boone—is following her. Hailey doesn’t believe her at first, until Sarah’s bloodcurdling screams wake her up at night.

      Someone is lurking outside her sister’s window. Someone is playing games with them. Someone evil. Is Josh’s ex causing trouble, or is someone—or something—else terrorizing Hailey’s family? And can she count on Josh to help her discover the truth, or is he as untrustworthy as her father? All Hailey knows for sure is, if she doesn’t find out who’s stalking her family, she or someone she loves is going to get hurt.

      **First 250 Words**

      Things could only get better.

      Hailey stared out the window at fields overflowing with sagebrush and felt the familiar hot rush that came just before an onslaught of free-flowing tears. She swallowed, forcing down the sob threatening to burst free. It would do no good to cry. She’d already spilled a million tears, but it hadn’t changed anything.

      This was hard for all of them. But whatever their troubles, they were in this together. The three of them. They had survived the upheaval of the last six months, and they could survive the next six. They were making a fresh start in a new place.

      “What do you think?” Her mom, Ruth, glanced over from the driver’s seat, a hopeful expression on her too-lean face. The weight loss from everything that had happened over the last six months was evident in her hollow cheeks. And those gray hairs had been dark brown a year ago.

      Hailey knew her mom was doing her best to find the positive in a bad situation, and it was because of her example that Hailey found the strength to calm the gush of bitter emotion.

      She summoned a small smile. “It looks like it could use a few more people, Mom. Maybe even people like us.”

      The creases on her mom’s forehead smoothed. “Good!” She smacked the steering wheel enthusiastically. “I wholeheartedly agree. Why don’t you wake up Sarah? We’ll be at our new home in no time.” She stepped on the gas.

      P.S. Elsie, I didn’t add the inner thoughts for Hailey (referring to her mother’s example), because it’s addressed later in the story. Awesome, awesome feedback. Thank you!

      Like

  2. Sixteen-year-old Hailey Johnston suspects her life is over when her divorced mother moves them to Clearmont, Wyoming. But anywhere is better than living with her lying, cheating, no-good father. Even a town with more horses than people. *(It is suggested on queryshark to never start a sentence in a query with but or however.)*
    Life looks up when star athlete Josh Turner asks her out. Smart, gorgeous, and kind, he’s the guy every girl dreams of—but with the ex-girlfriend that every girl fears. And when Hailey sees Josh and his ex getting cozy in the hall during basketball practice, she begins to doubt his feelings.
    Then things start happening. Bugs in her locker, rattlesnake in her backpack… the kind of stunts a vindictive ex-girlfriend might pull. Even worse, Hailey’s little sister swears the rumored town ghost—the ghost of Old Man Boone—is following her. Hailey doesn’t believe her at first, until Sarah’s bloodcurdling screams wake her up at night.
    Someone is lurking outside her sister’s window. Someone is playing games with them. Someone evil. Is Josh’s ex causing trouble, or is someone—or something—else terrorizing Hailey’s family? And can she count on Josh to help her discover the truth, or is he as untrustworthy as her father? All Hailey knows for sure is, if she doesn’t find out who’s stalking her family, she or someone she loves is going to get hurt. **Need to work on this paragraph. It’s not bad- just a little clunky.**

    ***My suggestions are intended to help. Take them or leave them at your discretion. Remember-this is your baby! :-) Here is my version. Hope it helps a little.

    Sixteen year old Hailey Johnston suspects her life is over when her mother moves them to Clearmonth, Wyoming—a town with more horses than people.
    Life is looking up for Hailey when Josh Turner, gorgeous star athlete, asks her out. Josh may be the boy girls dream about, but his ex is the stuff of nightmares. When Hailey witnesses Josh getting cozy with his crazy ex-girlfriend, she doubts his feelings.

    When she finds a rattlesnake in her backpack, and bugs in her locker, Hailey assumes these stunts are the work of Josh’s vindictive ex. Things take a turn for the weird when Hailey’s little sister swears the town ghost—the ghost of Old Man Boone—is following her.

    The trouble escalates when it is discovered that someone has been lurking outside of Hailey’s sister’s window. (From here I don’t really know enough about the story to go further—but I hope my suggestions are thought provoking and help you on your way.)

    Like

  3. Wow. Amazing comments. Elsie, I borrowed some of your suggestions. Let me know if that’s not okay. I had no idea about the “and” and “but” rule. Many thanks.

    **Query Redo**

    Anything is better than living with a lying, cheating, no-good father—even living in a town with more horses than people. Still, sixteen-year-old Hailey Johnston suspects her life is over when her divorced mother moves them to Clearmont, Wyoming.

    Life looks up when Josh Turner, gorgeous star athlete, asks Hailey out. He’s the guy every girl dreams of, but his ex-girlfriend is the stuff of nightmares. When Hailey sees Josh and his ex getting cozy in the hall after school, she doubts his feelings.

    When she finds bugs in her locker and a rattlesnake in her backpack, Hailey assumes Josh’s vindictive ex is the culprit. Things take a strange turn when Hailey’s little sister claims the rumored town ghost—the ghost of Old Man Boone—is following her. When her sister wakes up screaming in the middle of the night, claiming someone is lurking outside her window, Hailey realizes just how serious the situation is. The terror escalates when Hailey’s sister disappears one snowy night.

    To save her family, Hailey must overcome her fear that Josh is as untrustworthy as her father. Working together is the only way they will survive the storm and defeat an unexpected villain.

    Like

  4. So here goes 🙂

    Anything is better than living with a lying, cheating, no-good father—even living in a town with more horses than people. (much stronger start!) Still, sixteen-year-old Hailey Johnston suspects her life is over when her divorced mother moves them to Clearmont, Wyoming.
    Life looks up when (Clearmont sucks a whole lot less after? i think you can find something stronger than looks up…) Josh Turner, gorgeous star athlete, asks Hailey out. He’s the guy every girl dreams of, but his ex-girlfriend is the stuff of nightmares. (nice )When Hailey sees Josh and his ex getting cozy in the hall after school, she doubts his feelings (for her are genuine? clarify).
    The bugs in her locker and the rattlesnake in her backpack did not come form the welcome wagon/have psycho ex written all over them. , , Hailey assumes Josh’s vindictive ex is the culprit. Who else would do that? But things take a strange turn for the worse/more damned? when Hailey’s little sister claims the rumored town ghost—the ghost of Old Man Boone (there’s an echo with ghost…. thinker?)—is following her. When her sister wakes up screaming in the middle of the night, claiming someone is lurking outside her window, Hailey realizes just how serious the situation is/knows the danger is real/?. Before Haley can solve the dilemma/remedy the situation/find someone to help, her sister disappears one snowy night. (without a trace? – I added the connector to transition the action)
    To save her family, Hailey must overcome her fear that Josh is as untrustworthy as her father. (To save her family, Haley must get over her daddy trust issues and lean on Josh?). Working together is the only way they will survive the storm and defeat an unexpected villain. (So, is the storm the one mentioned where sissy gets nabbed? If yes, you may want to introduce that in the end to makes the drama higher.)
    Hope that helps! Your tinkering shows. Good job!

    Like

  5. Here goes another…

    Query:

    Anything is better than living with a lying, cheating, no-good father—even living in a town with more horses than people. Still, sixteen-year-old Hailey Johnston suspects her life is over when her divorced mother moves them to Clearmont, Wyoming.

    The rural town looks more promising when Josh Turner, gorgeous star athlete, asks Hailey out. He’s the guy every girl dreams of, but his ex-girlfriend is the stuff of nightmares. Once Hailey sees Josh and his ex getting cozy in the hall after school, she doubts his feelings are genuine.

    The bugs in her locker and rattlesnake in her backpack have psycho written all over them, and Hailey can only assume Josh’s vindictive ex is the culprit. Things take a strange turn, however, when Hailey’s little sister claims the rumored town phantom—the ghost of Old Man Boone—is following her. When her sister wakes up screaming in the middle of the night, claiming someone is lurking outside her window, Hailey knows the danger is real. Before Hailey can solve the dilemma, her sister disappears one stormy winter night without a trace.

    To save her family, Hailey must put her doubts aside and trust Josh. Working together is the only way they will survive the snowstorm and defeat an unexpected villain.

    First 250:

    Things could only get better.

    Hailey stared out the window at fields overflowing with sagebrush and felt the familiar hot rush that came just before an onslaught of free-flowing tears. She swallowed, forcing down the sob threatening to burst free. It would do no good to cry. She’d already spilled a million tears, but it hadn’t changed anything.

    This was hard for all of them. But whatever their troubles, they were in this together. The three of them. They had survived the upheaval of the last six months, and they could survive the next six. They were making a fresh start in a new place.

    “What do you think?” Her mom, Ruth, glanced over from the driver’s seat, a hopeful expression on her too-lean face. The weight loss from everything that had happened over the last six months was evident in her hollow cheeks. The gray hairs at her temples were new, too.

    Hailey knew her mom was doing her best to find the positive in a bad situation, and it was because of her example that Hailey found the strength to calm the gush of bitter emotion.

    She summoned a small smile. “It looks like it could use a few more people, Mom. Maybe even people like us.”

    The creases on her mom’s forehead smoothed. “Good!” She smacked the steering wheel enthusiastically. “I wholeheartedly agree. Why don’t you wake up Sarah? We’ll be at our new home in no time.” She stepped on the gas.

    Like

    • This is strong! I do wonder though- you mention she has to trust Josh to find her sister? As someone who hasn’t read the story- this is confusing. I would find a way to tie that in somehow. Does josh know about old man Boone? Is he the only one who believes her? Let me know! This letter is really getting there!

      Like

  6. **Query Redo**

    Anything is better than living with a lying, cheating, no-good father—even living in a town with more horses than people. Still, sixteen-year-old Hailey Johnston suspects her life is over when her divorced mother moves them (just her and her mom?) to Clearmont, Wyoming.

    Life looks up when Josh Turner, gorgeous star athlete, asks Hailey out. He’s the guy every girl dreams of, but his ex-girlfriend is the stuff of nightmares. When Hailey sees Josh and his ex getting cozy in the hall after school, she doubts his feelings. (I’d add in a bit here about her fear of men being like her dad, tie it in to the end.)

    When she finds bugs in her locker and a rattlesnake in her backpack, Hailey assumes Josh’s vindictive ex is the culprit. (what does this have to do with the story?) Things take a strange turn when Hailey’s little sister (a sister? I’d mention her at the beginning, just to give a bit of their relationship, so when the sister starts talking about a ghost we know how Hailey might react, tie it all together) claims the rumored town ghost—the ghost of Old Man Boone—(I LOVE GHOSTS, but it’s not a ghost…is it…) is following her. When her sister wakes up screaming in the middle of the night, claiming someone is lurking outside her window, Hailey realizes just how serious the situation is (She believes her? Not just go back to sleep, you had a nightmare?). The terror escalates when Hailey’s sister disappears one snowy night. (OH NOOOO!)

    To save her family, Hailey must overcome her fear that Josh is as untrustworthy as her father. Working together (Why do they have to work together?) is the only way they will survive the storm (an actual storm?) and defeat an unexpected villain.

    ~I think things need to tie together. There’s a move…a boy…an ex girlfriend…then a sister…then a ghost…It feels disjointed. How do all these things relate?

    The newest first 250… I think…
    Things could only get better. (Like this first line!)

    Hailey stared out the window at fields overflowing with sagebrush and felt the familiar hot rush that came just before an onslaught of free-flowing tears. She swallowed, forcing down the sob threatening to burst free. It would do no good to cry. She’d already spilled a million tears, but it hadn’t changed anything. (In a car? House? Smells? Sounds?)

    This was hard for all of them. But whatever their troubles, they were in this together. The three of them. They had survived the upheaval of the last six months, and they could survive the next six. They were making a fresh start in a new place.

    “What do you think?” Her mom, Ruth, glanced over from the driver’s seat, a hopeful expression on her too-lean face. The weight loss from everything that had happened over the last six months was evident in her hollow cheeks. And those gray hairs had been dark brown a year ago. (Nice! We know something terrible has happened…something life changing)

    Hailey knew her mom was doing her best to find the positive in a bad situation, and it was because of her example that Hailey found the strength to calm the gush of bitter emotion.

    She summoned a small smile. “It looks like it could use a few more people, Mom. Maybe even people like us.” (good kid!)

    The creases on her mom’s forehead smoothed. “Good!” She smacked the steering wheel enthusiastically. “I wholeheartedly agree. Why don’t you wake up Sarah? We’ll be at our new home in no time.” She stepped on the gas.

    ~Nice opening. Looking forward to something new…a past that will be revealed as we go (I hope)… Possibilities. I’d like to be grounded a bit more in the setting in the beginning, not much, just a touch. I wonder what Hailey wants…I would keep reading to find out.

    Like

  7. The query redo is amazing, and addressed all of the concerns I had. I still am feeling a little ungrounded in the 250, so I’ll still paste what I had –

    I love the 250 – the only thing I’m uncertain about is whether her mom is actually driving while this is happening. I picture them at their house…but they’re not. Maybe they’re stopped on the side of the road, but I don’t know why they would be. I’d clear this up. You could show whether the landscape is flying by, or not…and have her mom ask, “What do you think about our new neighborhood?” or something, so we don’t think she’s asking about their new house.
    Good character development. I love your MC already.

    Like

  8. Phew! This evil villain is working up a sweat. Conquering humanity is an arduous task. Here’s my latest revision…

    QUERY:

    Anything is better than living with a lying, cheating, no-good father—even living in a town with more horses than people. Still, sixteen-year-old Hailey Johnston suspects her life is over when her divorced mother moves her and her little sister to Clearmont, Wyoming.

    The rural town looks more promising when Josh Turner, gorgeous star athlete, asks Hailey out. He’s the guy every girl dreams of, but his ex-girlfriend is the stuff of nightmares. Once Hailey sees Josh and his ex getting cozy in the hall after school, she doubts his feelings are genuine.

    The bugs in her locker and rattlesnake in her backpack have psycho written all over them, and Hailey can only assume Josh’s vindictive ex is the culprit. Things take a strange turn, however, when Hailey’s little sister claims the rumored town phantom—the ghost of Old Man Boone—is following her. When her sister wakes up screaming in the middle of the night, claiming someone is lurking outside her window, Hailey realizes the danger is real. And when Josh’s ex is mysteriously attacked and left in a coma, Hailey suspects more than jealousy is afoot. Before she can solve the dilemma, her sister disappears one stormy winter night without a trace.

    To save her family, Hailey must put her trust issues aside and team up with Josh on the hunt. Working together is the only way they will survive the snowstorm that spirited away her sister, and defeat an unexpected villain.

    FIRST 250:

    Things could only get better.

    Hailey stared as valleys overflowing with gray-green sagebrush flew past the window, and felt the familiar hot rush that came just before an onslaught of free-flowing tears. She swallowed, forcing down the sob threatening to burst free. It would do no good to cry. She’d already spilled a million tears, but it hadn’t changed anything.

    This was hard for all of them. But whatever their troubles, they were in this together. The three of them. They had survived the upheaval of the last six months, and they could survive the next six. They were making a fresh start in a new place.

    “What do you think?” Her mom, Ruth, glanced over from the driver’s seat, a hopeful expression on her too-lean face. The weight loss from everything that had happened over the last six months was evident in her hollow cheeks. The gray hairs at her temples were new, too.

    Hailey knew her mom was doing her best to find the positive in a bad situation, and it was because of her example that Hailey found the strength to calm the gush of bitter emotion.

    **Stupid question moment: With the changes to the 250, I added a comma after “window” in the second paragraph. It sounds better with the comma, in my opinion, but the second part of the the sentence technically isn’t an independent clause. Can anyone advise me on whether I should keep that comma? I’d hate to have an error right at the beginning of the book. Sadly, I never took more than one English class in college. World Domination 201 and 202 were much more appealing.

    Like

  9. Oh, this is so much stronger. Yay 🙂

    Tiny, teeny, itsy bitsy thing…Can the stake can be amped up a touch?: To save her family, Hailey must put her trust issues aside and team up with Josh on the hunt. The first goal is finding her sister. The second is surviving the night?? Tinker with that to add more drama. You got this.

    and then you rest. Drinks are on Hercules.

    Like

  10. Robin, Thank you for participating in SOAP this week and sharing your work. Your tireless efforts paid off and transformed your query. Great job… please keep me posted on OLD MAN BOONE’s success. All the best!

    Like

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