Son of a Pitch Team Ursula Entry 9: KISS OF DEATH

soap-FINALTitle: Kiss of Death

Age and Genre: YA Speculative Fiction

Word Count: 53,000

 

Query:

Sixteen-year-old skeptical, Nathaniel, doesn’t want to believe the haunted tales told about his hometown of Shadowlyn. Believing the myths and fables about Lilith stealing your soul are nothing but juvenile stories, until his best friend, Claire, has her soul stolen by Lilith the night before Halloween. While the townspeople remain clueless, Nathaniel takes it upon himself to find Claire and bring her back to the world of the living despite his parent’s warnings. But Lilith has other plans for her—ones that include Claire taking her place as the Ruler of Lost Souls while she enjoys a life that was once taken away from her.

 

If he can’t find a way to bring Claire back before the last stroke of the clock on Day of the Dead, she will remain stuck in the land where those who can’t move on reside. Worse, the only way for her to come back is for her to either kiss Lilith, or a new innocent soul, condemning them to death like she had to endure.

First 250 Words:

The smell of death hangs in the air.

Almost like a cemetery filled with decaying bodies all around.

The atmosphere is stale, the unpleasant stench is nothing new. In the town of Shadowlyn, you become accustom to it. It is, after all, known as the town of Death.

Scrunching my nose at the odor, I continue to wait for my best friend, Claire, outside my house. From the corner of my eye, I can see my mom throwing holy water on the house and saying a prayer under her breath.

“Mom, is all this really necessary?”

She finishes her prayer and turns to me. “Of course it is. Tomorrow is Halloween, and you know what that means. The dead are walking among us, Nathaniel. And you know who will be out and about tonight.”

I roll my eyes at her belief in the silly myths that surround this town. “Mom, Lilith is not going to be out tonight. The idea of a young woman going around and stealing souls through kisses is ridiculous.”

“We do not speak her name. You know this.”

“You’re being silly.” I smile, ready to test her patience. Before I can say anything else that might freak her out, I see Claire in the distance. Her long dark hair bounces with each step she takes.

“Gotta go mom,” I say stepping towards the gate.

She tugs on my hood, pulling me back to her.

4 thoughts on “Son of a Pitch Team Ursula Entry 9: KISS OF DEATH”

  1. Query:
    Oooh, neat concept. Creepy!
    “Skeptical” – is this a term from the book, or should it be “skeptic”?
    I would take out “While the townspeople remain clueless” because I stumble there, and I don’t think it’s necessary.
    “But Lilith has other plans…” I would remove the “for her”.
    “…in the land where those who can’t move on reside” is a little convoluted. Would it be appropriate to say “Purgatory”? And does Claire or Nathanial have to kiss Lilith? And it’s the kiss of death? I’m slightly vague on that.

    250:
    “…you become accustom…” should be “accustomed”.
    You talk about the smell for the first three sentences. I’m not sure you need the second one, because you give us a good enough sense of this just with the first sentence. And I’m not sure you need “The atmosphere is stale…” Just say, “The stench is nothing new.”
    I think you can leave it as “I roll my eyes.” The rest of that sentence is implied.
    This really hooks me, because I have to know why it smells like death and is called the Town of Death, etc.

  2. Query…
    Sixteen-year-old skeptical, Nathaniel, doesn’t want to believe the haunted tales told about his hometown of Shadowlyn. (Haunted? YES!) Believing the myths and fables about Lilith stealing your soul are nothing but juvenile stories, until his best friend, Claire, has her soul stolen by Lilith the night before Halloween. (Does he witness this? How does he know?) While the townspeople remain clueless, Nathaniel takes it upon himself to find Claire and bring her back to the world of the living despite his parent’s warnings. But Lilith has other plans for her—ones that include Claire taking her place as the Ruler of Lost Souls while she enjoys a life that was once taken away from her. (Sounds like creepy fun! Is this ms in multiple POVs? Seems we go into Lilith’s head at the end here. And Nathaniel, how is he dealing with the whole the stories are true thing?)

    If he can’t find a way to bring Claire back before the last stroke of the clock on Day of the Dead, she will remain stuck in the land where those who can’t move on reside. (Dude. Suck.) Worse, the only way for her to come back is for her to either kiss Lilith, or a new innocent soul, condemning them to death like she had to endure. ( Kiss of Death! Nice! What is Nathaniel trying to do to help, what is getting in the way? If this is his story, how is he changing? This paragraph makes it sound like Claire’s story, so I’m wondering.)

    First 250…
    The smell of death hangs in the air. (Lovely. Good creepy first line.)

    Almost like a cemetery filled with decaying bodies all around. (I’d cut “All around” and good visual.)

    The atmosphere is stale, the unpleasant stench is nothing new. In the town of Shadowlyn, you become accustom to it. It is, after all, known as the town of Death. (Nice! I’m moving there.)

    Scrunching my nose at the odor, I continue to wait for my best friend, Claire, outside my house (Which looks like…what? What does he see, hear, you’ve done well with the smell). From the corner of my eye, I can see my mom throwing holy water on the house and saying a prayer under her breath. (Maybe…Mom throws holy water on the house and says a prayer under her breath…Can he hear the water splatter against the siding?)

    “Mom, is all this really necessary?” (How does he say this? As a whisper as if embarrassed?)

    She finishes her prayer and turns to me. “Of course it is. Tomorrow is Halloween, and you know what that means. The dead are walking among us, Nathaniel. And you know who will be out and about tonight.”

    I roll my eyes at her belief in the silly myths that surround this town. “Mom, Lilith is not going to be out tonight. The idea of a young woman going around and stealing souls through kisses is ridiculous.”

    “We do not speak her name. You know this.”

    “You’re being silly.” I smile, ready to test her patience. Before I can say anything else that might freak her out, I see Claire in the distance. Her long dark hair bounces with each step she takes.

    “Gotta go mom,” I say stepping towards the gate.

    She tugs on my hood, pulling me back to her.

    I like Nathaniel. I like the set up. I have an idea of where the story is headed. I would like a bit more description to really set me in the story. Set the scene and in so doing you can set the tone…up the creep if you like to go with Halloween and Liltih. Neat concept!

  3. Query:
    Sixteen-year-old Nathaniel doesn’t believe the haunted tales told about his hometown of Shadowlyn. Myths and fables about Lilith stealing your soul are nothing but juvenile stories, until his best friend, Claire, has her soul stolen by Lilith the night before Halloween. While the townspeople remain clueless, Nathaniel takes it upon himself to find Claire and bring her back to the world of the living (despite his parent’s warnings – while I’m sure they are going to warn him and the myths probably suggest he not go this route either, I’m inclined to say leave this out. I think it kicks it up a notch). But Lilith has other plans—ones that include Claire taking her place as the Ruler of Lost Souls while she enjoys a life that was once taken away from her.

    If Nathaniel can’t bring Claire back before the last stroke of the clock on Day of the Dead, she will remain stuck in the land where those who can’t move on reside.

    Worse, the only way for her to come back is for her to either kiss Lilith, or a new innocent soul, condemning them to death like she had to endure. (Yep, that sounds worse – definitely. I’d tinker a bit to fuse these together a touch. This sentence has wondering a few things… Can Clare come back without Nathaniel’s help if she kisses Lilith/steals another soul? So is this happening concurrently? If yes, what if….

    Nathaniel fights to bring Claire back before the last stroke of the clock on Day of the Dead seals her fate in the land where those who can’t move on reside. But Claire needs more than time on the clock. She must either exchange a kiss with the Ruler of Lost Souls or with a new innocent soul, condemning them to death like she had to endure (to take her place)

    If it’ not happening concurrently and Claire returns with this options still hanging over her head. I’d think about:

    Nathaniel fights to bring Claire back before the last stroke of the clock on Day of the Dead seals her fate in the land where those who can’t move on reside. But Claire’s return hinges upon a secret deal with Lilith. Either a kiss would be given to the Ruler of Lost Souls or to a new innocent soul, condemning them to take her place. Unsuspecting Nathaniel will soon find out her choice.

    Either way, this story has a creepy vibe that is fabulous. The voice in the query is good and the plot seems strong. Great job! Seriously, creeptastic!

    First 250 Words:
    The smell of death hangs in the air. (Yesh! Love it)
    Almost like a cemetery filled with decaying bodies all around.
    The unpleasant stench of Shadowlyn is nothing new. In town, you become accustom to stale atmosphere and the hint of XXXX. , It is, after all, known as the town of Death.
    Outside my house, I Scrunch my nose and wait for Claire to arrive while mom throws holy water on the house and repeats a litany of prayers under her breath.
    “Mom, is all this really necessary?”
    She finishes her prayer and turns to me. “Of course it is. Tomorrow is Halloween, and you know what that means. The dead are walking among us, Nathaniel. And you know who will be out and about tonight.”
    I roll my eyes at her belief in the silly myths that surround this town. “Mom, Lilith is not going to be out tonight. The idea of a young woman going around and stealing souls through kisses is ridiculous.”
    “We do not speak her name. You know this.” (Are her eyes looking a little wild or narrowed about now? Are her words clipped by panic or authority?)
    “You’re being silly.” I smile, ready to test her patience. Before I can say anything else that might freak her out, Claire appears in the distance. Her long dark hair bounces with each step she takes.
    “Gotta go mom,” I say stepping towards the gate.
    She tugs on my hood, pulling me back to her.

    I tinkered with the order in your first paragraph, but I love this story start and how Nathaniel’s laid back nature contradicts the mom’s actions. Great work at setting the tone of the story. Really good stuff.

    And the disclaimer: All suggestions are IMHO and are meant to be thought provoking, maybe helpful, but not gospel. Take ‘em, leave ‘em. This is your rodeo, so it’s up to you. Best of luck🙂

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