Derek Hyde isn’t tingling with undiluted joy that the spookiest old mansion in town is about to become the Hyde Funeral Home & Used Coffin Outlet. Especially since he has to move in there with his adoptive mortician parents, Jack and Formalda.

Of course, being driven in the family hearse to his first day at middle school doesn’t exactly add whipped cream to his broccoli.

As if things couldn’t get more horrific, an evil classmate named Nussbaum attacks him in the cafeteria with a plate of beef stroganoff. Seems this kid loved living in the old mansion himself, but got yanked out after accidentally blowing up his own mom and dad. With his chemistry set. Now his dead parents are stuck as ghosts and Nussbaum is a foster kid stuck on revenge, vowing to get even with Derek’s family for taking over his haunted home.

If twelve-year-old Derek can’t live in a nice place (preferably without any blood-curdling apparitions that scare the pants off him and a classmate bent on ensuring he doesn’t make it to thirteen), he’ll have to run away. Far, far away.

DEREK HYDE KNOWS SPOOKY WHEN HE SEES IT is a 41,000-word MG ghost story with series potential.

Thanks for checking it out!

Michael Lunsford



There are far worse things in life than being raised in a funeral home. For example, you could… um…

Okay, here’s one. You could have your brains eaten alive and slurped down by cranky, overworked zombies who haven’t had their morning coffee.

Or how about this? You could be stuffed into a spin dryer at Leo’s Laundromat & Hideous Stain Removal Service and set to Extra Dry/Huge Load.

But Derek wasn’t eaten and he definitely wasn’t spin dried, either. Just driven to the narcoleptic town of Littleburp in the family car (actually, an old yellow school bus), and then to a really unfortunate and grossly undesirable address: 1313 Slimeytoes Lane.

As the bus splashed its way through a beautifully timed thunderstorm on the worst day of Derek’s life (so far), his mom and dad worked at keeping his spirits up by singing their favorite song: Poopy Head, Poopy Head, Don’t You Be a Poopy Head.

It didn’t help.

It was bad enough his adoptive parents had dragged Derek out of his seventh grade class and away from all his friends to limp across the country in a broken-down school bus on this Journey to Nowhere. Much worse was the notion that they were about to move him into a spooky old mansion they planned to convert into a funeral home.

You see, his parents were funeral directors. Morticians. Undertakers.

On this appropriately stormy autumn day, noisy brakes slowed them to a squealing stop in front of their new home.

5 Responses

  1. Excellent all around. Your voice shines through. One place I’d be careful is using an MG voice on the query though. For instance the “doesn’t exactly add whipped cream to his broccoli” felt out of place. The analogy didn’t work well for me since whipped cream wouldn’t like help broccoli anyhow. Does anything though?
    I’d have to agree with Jess on the stakes.

    I’d dial back some of the “cuteness” especially in the comparison line with other stories similar to this one.

    The first 250 is full of terrific voice and nails your target audience. I wasn’t quite sure if it this is set out to be 1st POV, close 2nd, or 3rd. Started out 1st, then quickly seemed to jump to a 2nd/3rd.

    Overall, this is a fantastic start.

  2. Michael

    Ditto on Tim’s comment on voice – I thought you nailed your audience as well, and the POV switch in the sample a little jarring. But this sounds so much like books my kids read at that age.

    Little confused on Derek’s family situation – are his parents dead too? I’m not sure what “adoptive morticians” are.

    I think that especially for younger audiences that the query should be reflective of the author and the work, and so I thought the whipped cream on broccoli OK.

    Forget about buying this book for my kids, I want to buy it for me. Terrific voice and premise.

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