Thursday, December 06, 2018

Face-Lift 1386


Guess the Plot

Pickled Punk

1. Mike Maloney, a circus punk from Detroit grew up cleaning up after elephants and alcoholic clowns. When his ideas on modernizing the circus destroy it instead, he goes into hiding from the furious clown cabal. How long can he escape the swift justice of the International Clown Court?

2. There's this guy named Bob, and the author is way overqualified to be writing this, so the book should fly off the shelves, and any and all persons involved in its publication will be living the high life aboard a twenty-foot yacht with three years of booze included. 

3. Detective Martinez has the case of a lifetime. The punk found dead at the pickle factory turns out to be the heir to a billionaire. Dozens are suspect, but he can't get past a single question: How many pickled peppers did the pickled punk pilfer? 

4. When their only hit from the 70's is used as a movie theme song, the band Pickled Punk are suddenly awash with cash. And groupies. Then Rory Rotten agrees to transport a package home from Thailand for his cute new girlfriend, and the guy in customs makes him open the package, and this punk is in a real pickle.

5. Amanda Green couldn't be happier when her animated character Tickled Pink goes viral on the Internet. But where there's success, there's parody, and soon the poorly drawn, foul-mouthed "Pickled Punk" comes on the scene. When Punk becomes more popular than Pink, Amanda declares war on his creator- her brother. Their sibling rivalry divides the Internet and makes family gatherings much more interesting.

6. After some punk robs Amanda at gunpoint, he takes off running, but he trips and falls into a vat of balsamic vinegar. He can't swim, and he asks Amanda to help him, but she wants her purse back first, so he gives it to her and she still lets him drown. Also, an appearance by Emperor Tojo.



Original Version


Dear Evil Editor,


A secret society of circus clowns, formed in reaction to the Nazi clown ban in occupied France, has infiltrated the Chambers of Commerce, Lions Clubs, VFW halls, and popular family restaurants throughout midwestern America. [Why?]

[Bozo: The Nazis have banned clowns in France.

Krusty: Then we must unite in a secret society here in the midwestern USA.

Pennywise: Makes sense. And we should infiltrate family restaurants.

Ronald:  How? I can't cook. I can't even make a decent hamburger.]

Pickled Punk tells the story of Mike Maloney, a circus punk from Detroit who grows up cleaning up after elephants and clowns, [Are clowns that messy? I'd clean up after a dozen clowns before I'd clean up after one elephant. Although I suppose most clowns would create a lot of empty liquor bottles and puke-covered bedsheets and bloody costumes from butchering children.] learns about heavy drinking and irresponsible sex from his dwarf coworkers, and gets promoted to business manager of the Great Western Circus of the Americas. [Was he qualified for this job?] Mike goes into hiding from the furious clown cabal after his grandiose ideas about how to modernize the circus end up destroying it instead. [Never mind previous question.]

Mike manages to avoid the certain and swift justice of the International Clown Court for twenty years. It's not until his secret protector in the circus dies and he's betrayed by his own sister that Mike is forced to go on the run. [Are the clowns he's on the run from driving a clown car? Just asking. ] [Why is it only the clowns who want revenge? If he destroyed the circus, I would think the lion tamers and guys who get shot out of cannons would also be pissed at him. Perhaps it's only clowns who've unionized.] Along the way, he's poisoned by a mysterious stranger, he picks up a con-woman companion, and he befriends the illegitimate son of a famous Russian entertainer.

Pickled Punk is my second novel and is complete at 103,000 words. I'm a professional technical writer and computer programming teacher, and I've authored or co-authored over a dozen published technical books.

I self-published my first novel in 2017, and it received good reviews on Amazon and elsewhere. I recorded an audiobook, built a website, and created a Facebook page that today has more than 5,000 followers.

The experience of self-publishing convinced me to seek representation by an agent for my second novel so that I can benefit from the help of an experienced editor and the distribution of a publisher. [This red stuff is unlikely to matter to an agent.]

I'd be happy to send you the complete manuscript. Thank you for your time and consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Best Regards,


Notes

There's a lot of stuff that sounds like it's really funny, and this could appeal to some agents, but I think the query is too listy. All three plot paragraphs include lists. Plus, many of the items being listed don't seem important enough to be in the query. Better to connect ideas so that you tell the main story. I can't tell if the story is mostly what happens after Mike goes on the run, or during the twenty years he's in hiding, or something else. 

Is there a second character important enough to be named, maybe the con-woman or Mike's secret protector in the circus, or his sister?

What does Mike want, what's keeping him from getting it, what's his plan to overcome this obstacle, what's at stake if he fails? Once you work all of that into a cohesive summary of the plot, you can embellish to show your humorous voice. But we need to know you have a story.

You could start: Mike Maloney, a one-time circus punk from Detroit, has risen through the ranks from cleaning up after elephants to apprentice clown to business manager of the Great Western Circus of the Americas. But when his grandiose ideas for modernizing the circus end up destroying it instead, he's forced into hiding by the furious clown cabal. 

Where you go from there depends. Maybe the circus is in his blood and he'll do whatever he has to to keep his feet in his giant shoes, which he does with the help of his secret protector. Or maybe he infiltrates Denny's and his ideas on how to modernize the restaurant make him a millionaire, but then his jealous sister rats him out to the International Clown Court.


Thursday, November 08, 2018

Face-Lift 1385

Guess the Plot

Crowns Shall Wail


1. The bastards should wail while I beat and torture the giant shoes, white makeup and big damned fake red noses right off their creepy faces and--what? Crowns? OK, nevermind. My bad.

2. In a world where song is immoral, Kings and Queens compete not with armies but by emitting prolonged, mournful laments while rending their garments. But twelve-year-old princess Tallionia has a beautiful voice and can only sing like an angel. Besides, she likes her only summer dress. What’s a girl to do? 

3. The Wailing Crown will cry out unless it is on the head of the proper king. It hasn't stopped wailing since Friday, when the king died. None of his heirs could make it stop, and Alicia is going to murder someone if she has to listen to its wails one more time. 

4. The old knight stared at the ancient inscription on the castle wall. No one knew who put it there or why. It read:
"Crowns shall wail
Empires fall.
Kings shall weep
Beggars, all.
Swords shall break
Reapers win.
Get those whiskers
Off your chin.
Burma Shave"

What could it possibly mean? 


5. Briar Rose has been wishing for another hundred years of sleep ever since giving birth to identical princelings, Howlin, Waylon and Yelp, whose interminable caterwauling is keeping her awake all night. In desperation, she decides to place three spinning wheels in their nursery. Will this solve her problem or bury the castle under a mountain of tea cozies? 


6. Orphan Fiona wants to know why her parents abandoned her, so when she meets a boy who claims he can take her back in time to see for herself, she jumps at the chance. But will she learn that he parents were actually the king and queen? Also, bad hypnotism.

7. When expert thief Silvi finds a hoard of coins from dozens of countries throughout history, she's divided as to whether to find collectors to sell them to or melt them down for their base value in gold. The problem: the coins start screaming when she removes them from their erstwhile home. Next up, DRAGONS!!!!!! 


Original Version

Dear Agent,

I am writing to seek representation for my manuscript. [This goes without saying.]

Fiona has spent her whole life [In the interest of accuracy, I'd change that to: For as long as she can remember, Fiona has been] brooding over the identity of her parents and why she was abandoned to be an orphan. After an encounter with a witch, she finally has the answer to her question, but it is not what she wants to hear. [What was the answer?] [More informative would be "After a witch's spell shows Fiona the past..."]  To top it off, she also finds out her ability to hypnotize via [by] playing her vielle is not a gift but a curse. [For example, when she tells a guy under hypnosis that when he wakes up he'll think he's a bear, he wakes up and mauls her.] Determined that what she currently knows is a lie, Fiona seeks the aid of a refugee boy to travel back in time and see the truth for herself. [Wait, an actual witch was unable to show her the past, but some random refugee boy can take her there?] Alas, not everything is as simple as it seems, [Nothing seemed that simple to me.] and trust must be wisely placed. [Would it be wiser to trust a witch to be able to see the past and tell me the truth, or to trust a refugee boy to be able to take me into the past?]

When everything falls, [Fails?] Fiona has to decide what’s more important- the wilted past or the possibly blooming future. But time is running out; maybe it’s all too late and sacrifices must be made. [This is all vague. Why is time running out? What must be sacrificed?] 

CROWNS SHALL WAIL is an MG historical fantasy complete at 37,00 [37,000?] words. The full manuscript is immediately available upon request.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Yours sincerely,


Notes

How old is Fiona? Is the whole story Fiona's search for knowledge about her parents? If so, tell us about that. All we know is she encountered a witch and a refugee boy, each of whom claimed they could satisfy her curiosity. Your format could be:

Fifteen-year-old hypnotist Fiona has long wondered why her parents abandoned her. She consults a witch, who says her parents couldn't stand her whining, but Fiona doesn't buy it. Then she meets a refugee boy who claims he can take her back in time to see for herself.

That's all I know, but you know the rest, so add two more paragraphs telling us what happens in the past, what obstacles Fiona must overcome, what she learns, what decision she must make now that she knows what happened. You might mention where crowns come in. Be specific.



Thursday, October 11, 2018

New Beginning 1083

Running. I’ve just got to keep going, keep putting one foot in front of the other. And breathing of course, I mustn’t forget that. I can hear them right behind me; the footsteps cracking the same twigs mine just cracked, the lungs sucking in and blowing out my partly used air. They’re getting closer, and I don’t even know what they’ll do if they catch me, but it’ll definitely be terrible and it’ll all be my fault, for taking the short cut through the woods even though I’ve been told (how many times!) that it’s not safe at this time of day, and it’s not so much further to go the other way and… Just keep going, keep going…

Then…I can’t hear them any more. They’ve stopped.

I’m still focussed on escape, watching for trip hazards on the ground instead of looking forward, when I blunder into something. It’s not soft, but it doesn’t hurt, even when it …she… grabs my arms and hisses “What the fuck, Bry?”

It’s big sister Jen – only three years older, but with her by my side I can turn and face them. And it turns out they aren’t six feet tall and armed with mutant superpowers, just normal kids, my age, maybe even a bit younger. Jen just stands there glaring, arms folded, and they slink off. They don’t even know she does Judo at the weekends, it’s all in her, I don’t know, her posture I suppose.

“Jesus, Bry, do I have to do everything for you?”

Hmm, yes, the glaring works on me too and I feel about 6 years old.

That's probably because I am six years old.

Suddenly, everything goes black. As I slump to the ground, cracking twigs, I hear
Jen's voice: "What the fuck, Bry? Did you forget to breathe again?"


Opening: Mel.....Continuation: St0n3henge

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Face-Lift 1384

Guess the Plot

The Tragedy of Us

1. He's a millennial wine snob who wears deck shoes with no socks and keeps a vinyl record collection of bands before they "sold out." I'm a neo-hippie life coach and chakra counselor who shames mothers for using disposable diapers. How did we get this way? He blames Mom. I blame society. 

2. She's a political 
activist, carb lover, and future Pulitzer Prize winner. He's a star athlete who needs a tutor if he's ever gonna get that diploma. The question is, which one will drag the other down to rock bottom?

3. Throughout history, our souls have been reborn and found one another, but never quite connected. In 500 BC, I heard your song calling me, but I didn't hear the rampaging elephant herd. In 1903, you ran to me with arms outstretched, but got pulled under the wheels of the first car either of us had ever seen. That time you were a beekeeper and I ran a peanut farm, and both of us were ready to learn about love, but learned about anaphylaxis instead. Can we ever fulfill our destinies, and somehow avoid another bad ending?

4. A Marin County couple share the methods by which they've managed to overcome such lifestyle-threatening adversities as: How to live with only ten streaming services; My smart toilet stopped talking to me; Amazon delivered the skin exfoliator to my wrong Tesla. 


5.  Andrew and Jonathan, a Manhattan power couple, try to come to grips with where they failed after their adopted child Carl's resume is rejected from the Chelsea Kids Preschool.

6. She put a promising career on hold to raise their children. He became a Supreme Court Justice despite committing perjury and attempted rape. It doesn't look good for this baby-boomer couple.



Original Version

Dear Agent,

Charlie is young enough to think she knows it all until life sends her [a] curve ball forcing her to reevaluate everything, even herself. 

The Tragedy of US [Us] is a young Adult [adult] contemporary novel, which is complete at 85k [words]. I believe this book will appeal to Simone’s [Simone] Elkeles and Kasie West fans. 

Sixteen-year-old Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Miller—activist, smartass and carb lover—is sure she has it all figured out. She has a plan: finish high school with her best friend, then go to college to become a Pulitzer prize winning [Pulitzer Prize-winning] journalist - clear and simple, right?

Things change when she finds herself doing something she never thought she would do – tutoring, against her will, one of the school’s star athletes. [What "things change"? Her plans to finish high school, go to college and become a journalist?] She realizes there might be something more than what meets the eye. [Something more to what than what meets the eye? To life?] As she finds herself involved in a situation which is more than she bargains [bargained] for – she understands that even our own selves can cheat us, let us down and somehow surprise us. [What situation is she in that's more than she bargained for?] When the time comes to make hard choices she had [has] to decide if she steps up, runs away or hides to [from] everyone even herself? [That was a question?] [What happens that forces her to choose whether to step up, run away or hide?] [This paragraph is totally vague. We need specific information about what happens in your book.]

I am a 36 years old Corporate Lawyer, but writing has always been my passion which I tried to satisfy by publishing many fanfictions and being a co-owner of a facebook blog called ‘xxxxx’ which has now close to 10,000 followers. However, I have decided it is not enough and have taken the leap and wrote [written] my first novel. [This paragraph is a waste of space, better used telling us about the plot.]

For your convenience, I’ve attached the three first chapters [Presumably you mean the first three chapters. Although a book with three first chapters would be good for readers who quit reading after one chapter. Now, if you don't like the first chapter, instead of giving up on the book you can try one of the other two first chapters.] [Once you have a first chapter you like, you then get three second chapters to choose from. Etc. I see this as the future of reading.] of The Tragedy of Us. I would love to send you the complete manuscript if you’re interested.


Notes

Your first sentence is a log line, the type of opening you might use if trying to sell a movie script. Your second paragraph should come before you start telling us about the plot or after you finish telling us about the plot. Preferably the latter, as it lacks attention-grabbing information. Your plot summary is vague. All I know is a high school student who aspires to be a journalist is ordered to tutor an athlete. 

There are way too many minor errors. This leads me to assume the book has minor errors on every page, and I don't want to have to deal with that. As a corporate lawyer, you know the importance of getting all the details just right. Start over.


Friday, September 21, 2018

Face-Lift 1383

Guess the Plot

Heil Safari

1. When Diedrich Heil is sent to an adventure camp for troubled teens, he's hoping to hike to the nearest town and spend the summer busking. The problem: the camp is in the middle of Africa, 200 miles from civilization, and his singing tends to attract hostile wildlife.

2. Being a German prisoner in an American POW camp in WWII is bad enough, but when you also suffer from wire enclosure fever, can your fellow POWs trust you to build a tunnel under the barbed wire and lead them to freedom across the Mexican border?

3. Hijinks ensue when a group of Hitler Youth are sent to Africa to "toughen up" for a possible war. What with rampaging rhinos, bloodthirsty lions and territorial baboons, most of the 13-year-old kids won't survive to see combat. But it's all sooo much fun, who cares? 

4. Is Hitler alive and well in Argentina? Most people would say NO, but Sheldon Davis, grandson of Holocaust survivors and Moche culture specialist, is pretty sure he knows where Der Fuhrer is hiding. All he needs is a GoFundMe, some new phones to trade with the locals, a couple of mercenaries, and he'll be in business. If only he wasn't 12 years old.

5. Join Viktor on a guilt trip through polluted deserts, deforested jungles, a museum of endangered and extinct species, and a general wail about human ineptitude. Then, send him money. 

6. A documentary journal of a legion of Nazis sent to hunt rare animals. By the end, they all die (the Nazis that is).

7. A big game hunt gone wrong on the planet Heil VI leads to a missing heiress, a miraculous vaccine, and a spy working for so many sides he doesn't care anymore. Thankfully, Monty is on hand to tame the devils of Hell, er Heil, laser pistol-bullwhip style. Also, genetic manipulation gone horribly wrong. 

8. Did you know there are dangerous things like boar, stags, and wolves in Germany? Colin didn't either, and that's why he's now struggling to stay alive after his school's German club trip goes disastrously wrong. Also, an ancient Nazi hermit.

9.  1887. Helmut Schmeir, archaeologist and hunter, leads a dedicated group of scientists across German East Africa in search of the elusive Ogopogo, a living apatosaurus. With a love triangle between Schmeir, lovely Ingrid Braun, and Dr. Ludwig Meyer. 


Original Version


German officer Captain Martin Beyer is desperate to escape from an American prisoner of war camp. To get out, he and other prisoners are digging a tunnel under the barbed wire fence. Beyer's concern for its success is not only that the Americans might find it, but can it be finished by the engineer in charge, a mentally unstable officer on the verge of suicide from wire enclosure fever. [On the bright side, the barbed wire is above ground and the tunnel is underground.] 

Beyer is worried that his close friend, the engineer, may not complete the project of digging out for another reason. The engineer is in opposition to the fanatical Nazis who rule the camp inside, the Nazis regarding him as unpatriotic. They want him dead. They don't care if it jeopardizes the escape. [We don't mind escaping from this prison, but we refuse to escape through a tunnel built by someone we feel is insufficiently patriotic.] But Beyer can't allow failure. Being too long cooped in the enclosure, he's becoming unhinged. 

He must get out or die.

Through sheer determination and effort, and just as the Americans are about to discover the tunnel, Beyer manages the escape. [Typical officer, takes all the credit after doing none of the work.] On the outside they are met by Heidi Zimmermann, a German-American female relative of one of the escapees. She provides the initial transportation to the Mexican border. In pursuit to recapture the prisoners before they get there are camp guards and FBI agents. [Imagine, there was a time when the US tried to prevent people from crossing the border  into Mexico.] Beyer has trouble eluding them, but he will not give up. He would rather be killed than go back. ["The spectacular views of the mountains are nice, but they keep feeding us those damn Rocky Mountain oysters."] [How many escapees are there? Does Heidi have a bus? It wouldn't be hard to recapture escapees if they were on a 700-mile bus trip.]

It remains little known that during World War II there were over 360,000 German POWs interned in the United States. [450,000 according to Wikipedia.] My story is based on the true event that at Camp Trinidad, Colorado, prisoners escaped through a tunnel. [Camp Trinidad opened in 1943, and while I would become unhinged after two weeks in a POW camp, it seems like a professional soldier ought to be able to handle it for a few years.]

HEIL SAFARI is a 90,000 word thriller novel that is told from three points of view: the German prisoners, the American guards, and the FBI agents. I've had articles and short stories published in magazines, and I have a bachelor's degree in philosophy from a state university. Thank you for your time ans [and] consideration. Below I've included the first 10 pages. 


Notes

As these POW camps in the US remain little-known, it might be better to mention them up front. Otherwise the mention of the Mexican border may give readers who thought the setting was somewhere in Europe the impression this is alternate history in which WWII was fought on US soil.



Friday, September 14, 2018

Feedback Request

I failed to notice that this was a rewrite of an earlier query submission, and placed the title in the query queue. So you get to read some more fake plots for Adore. Most recently the title was seen here.



1. A literary novel about the symbiotic relationship between Maureen Montgomery and her 47 cats, all living in a Brooklyn apartment.


2. When a singer at a local Italian restaurant and theater goes silent mid-note during one of his late night practice sessions, 68-year-old next door neighbor Mac Fach (who's been complaining about the place for years) must find the killer, since between dementia and a bloody ax, he suspects it might be him. 

3. When spokesmodel for fragrance Adore La Alina turns up dead in a hotel swimming pool, homicide detective Zack Martinez knows two things. One, that arrow through her head probably didn't drown her, and two, maybe his wife would like to try some Adore perfume instead of Chanel.

4. Jimmy has discovered a thousand guaranteed methods to pick up girls and wrote them down in a book. Only now that book has gone missing. Can he still woo the girl that has captured his heart this time, or will his faulty memory be his downfall? 

5. Casey thought Grummon loved her. "You are adore," he said, and she thought that was cute, in an English-isn't-my-first-language sort of way. Turns out he was saying "You are a door," in a human-soul-as-gateway-to-another-dimension sort of way. Crap. Now instead of people walking all over her, she has people (and other creatures) walking right through her. Worst of all, she thinks she might be pregnant. 




Dear Evil Editor,

Fourteen year old Liz Morton is so weak she can barely hold her recess apple let alone chew it. [No need to tell us it's her recess apple, unless she has no trouble holding non-recess apples.] Something is deeply wrong. Liz follows her intuition to secluded Spraggs Road, searching the forest for a cure to her exhaustion and spots Nathaniel Tillack at night fall. [She's too weak to hold an apple, but she can search a forest?] 

She met him the night before. She remembers that. Now. [I would go with: She remembers that . . . now.] Shocked at the holes in her memory, Liz opens up to him, sensing he has answers. Nat says he knows exactly how she feels. 'Empathy', apparently, is a sixth sense Liz doesn’t realize she possesses.  Nat is a vampire and his preternatural torment ( including his self-imposed starvation ) is stuck inside her and will kill her within weeks.

 Nat thinks they can solve the problem with a little experimentation. Liz stays with Nat, his dutch painter friend Yvonne and their freaky half-vampire cat at their cottage, so they can go on a midnight hunt. When Nat drinks blood from a victim, Liz feels instant relief. Just like Nat. He insists this insight has broken [means] the empathic connection [is broken] , and takes her home.

Only growing sicker, Liz can’t find Nat [Has she looked in his coffin?] and no doctor believes she’s ill. [She's too weak to hold an apple, yet multiple doctors say there's nothing wrong with her? Are her parents involved in trying to find out what's wrong with her?] With her last reserves of energy, she returns to Spraggs Road, but Nat's enemy is there. Wild eyed Isaskia explains Nat is just using Liz as a walking [living?] storage vessel for his 'Permanent Feeling' (the feeling that will haunt him for all eternity due to how the moment he died affected him.) [That's a wordy and vague explanation for "Permanent Feeling," which is also vague. I'd just say a living storage vessel for his anguish.] [Why is Isaskia there? If I'm the enemy of a vampire, I'm staying as far from his home as possible, not hanging out there. Is Isaskia also a vampire?]

 Liz doesn't know whom to trust: Nat, who has always been kind, or Isaskia, who is willing to share all those secrets Nat keeps close to his chest. One thing is certain, with her body thinking it's a starving vampire, the one person Liz cannot trust for anything is herself—and she is running out of time.

 ADORE, at 94,000-words, is a YA urban Fantasy novel set in a small mountain town in Australia. ( It's not a romance, despite title ) 



Thank you for your time and consideration, 


Notes

She suddenly remembers that she met this guy who's a vampire the night before she became impossibly weak, a vampire with whom she now has an empathic connection, and she can't decide whether to trust him? She needs to trust neither of them and check into a hospital for a full battery of tests.

This isn't doing it for me. Maybe start something like: After a night she can barely remember, 14-year-old Liz Morton is as weak as a kitten. She returns to secluded Spraggs Road, hoping to find a clue to her condition, and spots Nathaniel Tillack. Him she remembers. She senses that he has the answers she seeks.

Then Nat claims her exhaustion is caused by their empathy, which he can remedy.

Then Isaskia shows up and claims her exhaustion is caused by Nat, who's using her as a vessel for his anguish.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Face-Lift 1382


Guess the Plot


The Blade and the Bow

1. She has a short blade. He has a longbow. Together they must find the only key that separates two worlds, but the key is held by the brutal magpie who rules Katoomba, so forget it.

2. Raised by a single Elf mother, Rachisa learns to be tough and strong to defend the family. One night she has a visionary dream about her father, and goes on a journey to find him and since you're probably bored out of your mind by now, don't worry, she gets abducted by aliens from Tau Seti and turned into a velkron trainer.

3. One single blade of grass from the fabled Lawn of Dreams, or a thin strand of silk that was once tied into a bow to hold King Rockthorn's pony-tail. Alain, the chosen one, must select his weapon wisely. The blade or the bow? Of course, he is up against a barbarian horde with a dragon and a dark wizard, so he's pretty much screwed, either way. 


4. Elmer Humbrin was taught to always be respectful to the one he duels (and with a name like that, dueling is a common occurrence). Join him as he bows, genuflects, curtsies, bends the knee, kowtows, prostrates himself, and generally cuts every single opponent to ribbons. Yes, it's a serial killer novel. 


5. Orphaned in a mysterious oxcart explosion, peasant lad Ima Trope is raised by Orcs to become a warrior -- but Ima's love of ornamental candles cannot be crushed. When the Orc kingdom of Gru'Kak'Qtlstrk is threatened by Elves, can Ima's stunning table arrangements save the day, win over the Orc princess, and restore grace to Orcish mealtimes? 



6. The Blade is sharp. The bow-tie, crooked. Peter Wells-Larkin’s adoptive father (the Principal) informs Peter he’s leaving him out of his will. Months earlier Mr. Wells-Larkin Sr. discovered he has a biological son and everything’s going to him. But that's ok, if there's one thing Peter has, it's an alibi. 

7. Running a blacksmith shop has been difficult since Tin's father died, but it is the only thing keeping her family afloat. Yet when a ranger from beyond the mountains literally crashes into her shop, she must take up the blade to defend her home. 

8. The unlikely love affair between Priscilla, an itinerant knife-sharpener, and shoe-store clerk Oswald, he of buck teeth, suspenders and chronically-crooked bow tie, plays out in a series of quotidian events of little interest to anyone, including themselves. With that title, you were expecting an exciting tale of romance and derring-do set in the days when knighthood was in flower, weren't you? 


Original Version

Dear [Agent]:
Two hundred years after the world ended in ice, humanity endures in the sealed high-tech shelter of the Jenolan Caves, bound by the sacred duty of reproduction – a duty Tag Tailor is desperate to avoid. She hopes to be chosen as a Keeper: to lead, not breed. But it’s tough to make a good impression under the shadow of her disgraced ex-Breeder sister Sale, who clings to delusions of a livable world beyond Jenolan. When Tag is assigned as a Breeder to Sale’s insufferable former husband, she turns to Sale for help, but their disastrous escape attempt ends with Tag banished to the Waste, and Sale left behind.
The world above is far from the barren nightmare her Keepers threatened. With the help of an irascible crippled hermit, and the hindrance of a charming runaway thief, Tag learns to survive, [When you said the place was far from the barren nightmare etc. I assumed it wasn't such a bad place after all. Now you say Tag has to learn to survive. What's bad about the Waste?] haunted by the knowledge that she walks free in her sister’s place. [They both wanted to come here, so why is she in her sister's place?] Determined to breach the impenetrable Jenolan and rescue Sale, she must find the only Key that ever made it out. That Key is held by the Magpie Lor, brutal ruler of Katoomba, who seeks Jenolan weapons she can use to unleash hell on the mountain folk who won’t fall into line... folk like Tag’s new friends. [Is Lor an actual magpie?] All the Lor needs is the location of Jenolan’s door - something Tag alone knows. And the Lor isn’t the only one searching. [Is Lor the Magpie's name? If so, why do you keep saying the Lor?] [Also, when one of your characters is the Magpie Lor, brutal ruler of Katoomba, no one's gonna care about any of your other characters, so you may as well mention the Magpie Lor, brutal ruler of Katoomba earlier in the query.]

To protect Jenolan and the Waste from one another, Tag knows she should walk away. But there’s someone inside she can’t leave behind, even if it means opening a door that has kept two worlds apart for centuries.
Some seeds need water to grow. Some need fire. [Some apples are red. Some are green.] THE BLADE AND THE BOW is a New Adult #ownvoices adventure with crossover appeal, featuring a diverse LGBTQ cast and a strong, flawed female lead. Building on the tradition of YA post-apocalyptic ‘shelter’ books like HIVE, this story doesn’t end with the discovery of a larger world; it kicks into a higher gear. Complete at 110,000 words, THE BLADE AND THE BOW is a stand-alone novel with series potential.
I hold a Bachelor of Arts in English (Creative Writing) and a Diploma of Professional Writing & Editing, and my short speculative fiction has won several prizes and appeared in Andromeda Spaceways, PodCastle, and Reckoning. THE BLADE AND THE BOW won the inaugural Erica Bell Mentorship Award, and was edited with the assistance of bestselling children’s author Lian Tanner.
I enclose the first (X) pages of THE BLADE AND THE BOW. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Sincerely,

--Note for Evil Editor on the meaning of the title--

'The Blade and the Bow' has a couple meanings within the story. Tag is given a small blade early on that she uses in a variety of ways to get herself out of trouble (excluding ever actually using it as a weapon). The hermit who rescues and then mentors her in the Waste uses a longbow. He's also the story's hidden primary villain; his motivations are similar to that of the Lor, but he's far more subtle about it. He already knows where to find Jenolan's door so, under the guise of helping Tag, he uses her to pinch the Key from under the Lor's nose. So the blade and the bow are references to the two main characters and the weapons they carry; and weapons (and how they're used) are really the focal point of this story.

The 'blade' and the 'bow' are also the formal names of the two parts of a key. The point I'm making with the title, which should become clear by the end of the story, is that it took two people to turn this particular Key.


Notes

That second paragraph has more information than the average reader wants to consume. "Im not sure the query needs the hermit and the thief and the hill people. Maybe it should start, Determined to rescue Sale, Tag must find the only key that can unlock the door into Jenolan. 

So the situation is, Tag knows where the door is but doesn't have the key. The Magpie Lor, brutal ruler of Katoomba, doesn't know where the door is, but has the key. Perfect opportunity to make a deal. I'll show you the door, we both fo in, and while you get Jenolan weapons, I'll rescue my sister. Win win.

I wouldn't call Sale's beliefs of a world beyond Jenovan "delusions." 

Why do Jenolan and the Waste need to be protected from one another? What would happen if the door were permanently open?

Why would they banish someone they'd chosen as a breeder to the Waste?


Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Feedback Request



The author of the book most recently featured here would like feedback on the following version:



Ilana’s deepest desire is to know what it’s like to have a family. [That sentence isn't needed, as the same info is provided in sentence 3.] Orphaned at a young age, Ilana finds friendship with mystical beings called Celestians and establishes loyalty to a band of warriors who preach harmony between Humans and Celestians. Still, she aches for the love and comfort of a family. Instead, she’s saddled with a foster sister who seeks to destroy everything Ilana holds dear.

Ilana Pond and Lucrezia Skye weren’t always enemies. They suffered through foster care together and loved one another as siblings - until Ilana’s Celestian-friend attacked Lucrezia, disfiguring her and planting a seed of hate in her heart for all Celestians. Years later, that hatred has grown into a mania. Lucrezia and her pro-Human zealots wreak havoc, slaughtering Celestians and marking every kill with the words “Find your own world, scum”. Humans aren’t safe, either; their Champion has been murdered and branded with Lucrezia’s signature.

Things go from bad to worse when Ilana is taken prisoner by Lucrezia. A fierce warrior, she [Apparently "she" refers to Ilana, but we assume it refers to Lucrezia, the most recent female mentioned.]  has the skill and resources to assassinate her sister. But can she? Lucrezia has shown signs of redemption, and to kill her is to kill the only family Ilana has ever known. [A fierce warrior with skills and resources should avoid being taken prisoner in the first place. I usually doesn't matter how skillful you are once you're imprisoned.] 

POND AND SKYE is a YA fantasy novel rife with family drama, discrimination, and conflicting loyalties. ["Rife with" doesn't sound right. "Featuring themes of" or something similar is probably better, although theoretically by the time we reach this point in the query we don't need to be told what the themes are.] Complete at 86,000 words with series potential, it features LGBTQ+ characters and a protagonist of color in a world where skin color isn’t what sparks hatred - either you’re Human, or you aren’t.

Sincerely,


Notes

This seems much better to me.