Pitch D-Kahlotus Disposal Site

Young Adult
65,000 words


In 1953 teen resident Helen Bixby’s suicide spurred an investigation that closed the Eastern Washington Hospital for the Mentally Retarded and Insane. Helen has been mostly alone since then in the abandoned institution that caused her such pain. Thankfully, her death ended the seizures and the hospital closure ended the screams. She thought the worst was over.

When the notice is nailed to the heavy front doors Helen is shocked to realize she’s been dead sixty years. Work on the building brings fear of what will come, but the building is meant to be opened as a school. Unfortunately, the damaged young people assigned to the Kahlotus Project have not entirely bought into the idea of reform school. They bring with them tragic pasts, mental illness, and a vast deficiency in coping skills. They posture for dominance, manipulate each other, and, when official backs are turned, harm each other and themselves. Worse, neglect and new abuses by the adults in charge trigger painful memories of life at the hospital in her own time. She decides she must do whatever she can to change its course.

Only a handful of the new residents can see Helen, and for those, admitting it is taken as evidence of psychosis, only making matters worse. But the girl who really touches her seems almost as invisible as Helen. When it appears Serena is going to fall victim to the abuses of those in charge, Helen forms a plan to protect the students so the horrors that so adversely affected her life don’t destroy the lives of another generation.

First 150 Words:

I was shocked to realize I’d been dead so long. The notice nailed on the door was dated 2012. Sixty years was a long time to be fifteen years old. I’d been so convinced the world would end in 1984, like that book said. Time had stopped being relevant until that sign went up. I tried to talk to old Mr. Harrelson about it, but he shooed me off with a cough and a wave of his hand. It’s what he always did. At least this time he didn’t call me a pest. That was at the new moon. It was waning again before anything else unusual happened.

I can move through things, and things can move through me, but it’s not like I don’t notice. I’m insubstantial enough that I can fill the blank spaces. But if all your blank spaces were filled, you’d notice, too. So when the building started to rumble and a two by four that had been propped in a corner for decades fell through me, I suddenly paid attention to the new noises.

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6 thoughts about "Pitch D-Kahlotus Disposal Site"

  • Erin Butler says:

    I love the idea of your book! And the first sentence in your 150 words rocks!

    Your query comes off as too long and a little wordy for me though. I think it would be a lot better if you cut some.

    Good luck!

  • Marcy says:

    I really love your first line.

  • Indigo says:

    Love the first query paragraph, though the editor in me sees ways it can be tweaked to read more clearly. The second para needs to start with the remodeling of the hospital so the reader is clear on that point. Then the bulk of that para can be tightened up and boiled down a little more efficiently. The third para is pretty good except that there is no clear choice or consequences which is needed to ratchet up the tension and conflict. So fix that and this query should work well.

    The first para of your first 150 is good, too, but the last sentence feels off and out of place. The second para is strong. Good job. You’ve got my vote!

  • Writerlicious says:

    Your query needs to be tightened, but I loved your first page!

  • Juliana says:

    You have a great premise here and your query is wonderful, but it’s true that it can be tightened up. Your query actually starts in the second paragraph, the first is really just background. As an example: “Helen Bixby has haunted her old stomping ground, the Eastern Washington Hospital for the Mentally Retarded and Insane, for years, but she’s shocked to find out 60yrs have passed since her suicide, when a notice is nailed to the heavy front doors.” See how you’re starting with the inciting incident right at the beginning of the query then?

    Hit me up if you need anything! And be sure to stop by the blog tomorrow for the birthday giveaway 🙂

  • Terri K. Rowe says:

    Your storyline is unique and I love the different approach to your main character-the narrator. I like how you have set this up and would love to read more!

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