Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Face-Lift 124


Guess the Plot

Castle of Fears

1. When Jack and Sandra built their sand castle, they didn't expect to be shrunk and locked inside it! Now, they await the high tide...

2. Stephen the Unsure doesn't know why anyone would build a castle made of ears. But, after searching for a fortnight, he begins to suspect he may have misunderstood His Highness’ instructions.

3. Ellie thought it would be good clean fun when she rented the bouncy castle for her daughter's Halloween party. When she discovers that all twelve children have died of fright, she wonders how she'll explain to their parents.

4. King Arthur orders his knights to write novels at the round table. Then, he forces them to exchange their works, and (horrors!) read them.

5. Horfrost is a neurotic squire doing his best to become a knight of the realm, but his wacky phobias keep getting in the way.

6. Fourteen-year-old Tony Quigley's nemesis Marcus is being held captive by an evil magician. Can Tony use his soccer skills to rescue Marcus from the magician's castle?


Original Version

Dear Mr. Evil:

I’m seeking representation for my 70,000 word middle-grade fantasy, THE CASTLE OF FEARS. Fourteen year-old Tony Quigley can’t do magic. He can’t wield a sword or a spear, and the only animal he befriends is a slimy nuisance. [It's a talking slug with attitude.] [Coming soon as a Happy Meal prize.] When he becomes trapped in a magical world, escaping the jungle and eluding mythical creatures is the easy part. A battle is beginning, and Tony joins the forces fighting an evil magician, even though he knows that his skills -- playing soccer and starting fights with Marcus, his nemesis at school -- are useless.

But Tony learns that Marcus is being held captive by the magician, [Are all of Tony's friends trapped in this magical world, or just Marcus?] and none of Tony’s powerful friends have the time or the desire to rescue him. [If the "powerful friends" don't know Marcus is a jerk, why have they no desire to rescue him?] Despite his dislike of his classmate, Tony is unwilling to let Marcus suffer, so he fights his way into an enchanted castle to free him. [In short, freeing Marcus is Tony's GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL!!!!!] But when Tony also becomes trapped, his courage, sense of self, and even his soccer skills are all that can save them. [Nothing strikes fear into the heart of an evil wizard like a kid who knows how to dribble.]

Similar in theme to the works of Madeleine L’Engle and Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, this story shows that the greatest powers are not in kings, magic, and weapons, but in the ability of ordinary people to do the extraordinary. [Personally, I'll take the magic and weapons, but that's just me.]

The Castle of Fears is written as a stand-alone novel, but could also be the first book in a series. [For instance, in the second book Tony can take on an army of orcs using only his dodgeball skills.] I am a member of the SCBWI. Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,


Dear Mr. Evil:

Fourteen year-old Tony Quigley can’t do magic and can't wield a sword or a spear. But when Tony falls through a portal into a strange new world, he doesn't need magic and weapons; traversing the jungle and eluding its mythical creatures is the easy part.

A battle is brewing, and Tony joins the forces fighting an evil magician, even though he knows that his skills--playing soccer and starting fights with Marcus, his nemesis at school--are useless. When Tony learns that Marcus is being held captive by the magician, and none of Tony's new comrades has any interest in a rescue attempt, he's unwilling to let Marcus suffer. Not too much, anyway.

Despite his dislike of his classmate, Tony fights his way into an enchanted castle to free him. But Tony also becomes trapped. Now his courage, sense of self-- and maybe even his soccer skills--are all that can save them.

I’m seeking representation for my 70,000 word middle-grade fantasy, The Castle of Fears. The story teaches that the greatest power lies not with kings, magic, and weapons, but with the ability of ordinary people to do the extraordinary. The book is written as a stand-alone novel, but could also be the first book in a series. I am a member of the SCBWI. Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

20 comments:

Bernita said...

Must say I like the Nevil Shute premise - ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
Nearly lost it though over "a kid who can dribble."

Steve Prosapio said...

I thank God that I read this just BEFORE taking a mouthful of coffee!!!

...the only animal he befriends is a slimy nuisance. [It's a talking slug with attitude.] [Coming soon as a Happy Meal prize.]

EE - you continue to outdo yourself!

Catherine said...

I agree, Steve. Either I've taken funny pills today (which I haven't) or EE is getting funnier.

illiterate said...

The 'Happy Meal' becomes the 'Slimy Meal'. Another reason, not to take your kids for junk food, eh, EE?

Mazement said...

But when Tony also becomes trapped, his courage, sense of self, and even his soccer skills are all that can save them.

Realizing that he's totally outmatched, Tony throws himself to the ground and rolls around holding his leg. The evil magician's spell passes harmlessly over his head and bounces off a conveniently-placed mirror.

Alternate ending: Realizing that he's totally outmatched, Tony insults the evil magician's mother. The evil magician is so upset that he head-butts Tony and gets red-carded.

Kidding aside, this sounds like a fun book and I'd buy a copy for my nephew. (I don't know about the L'Engle and Pullman tie-in, though. Those were dark, serious books...this one seems a lot lighter, even if the themes are the same.)

Anonymous said...

This is what it is going to take to make watching soccer less like watching grass grow. I mean, we're talking about a sport where a team can allow no goals against throughout the entire tournament and be eliminated from the world cup. If the writer can use this story to make soccer actually entertaining I say go for it. Maybe it will start airing on Nick instead of eating up time from real sports on ESPN. -JTC

JerseyGirl said...

EE did a nice job on the query.

Not having any kids, I don't usually look at such stuff, but this sounds pretty neat (esp. the ordinary doing extraordinary things bit). If I were in the middle grades, I'd definitely pick it up (sounds like it would've given a nice boost to my in-the-dirt self esteem).

Good job - and good luck!

~Nancy

Nut said...

author: go for mazement's alternate ending.

Anonymous said...

In an agent's blog I recently read - no more young adult portal stories pleeeeeease!!!! Maybe that was her personal preference - or maybe the market's full.

I'm a little wary of our hero's motivation for rescuing the bully. Characters need strong motivations and his seems to be... that he has a kind heart? I suggest something stronger is needed.

December Quinn said...

LOL Mazement!


I think this sounds fun. I'd read it.

illiterate said...

People, people... Will you never learn? DO NOT, and I mean EVER, drink, or eat, while reading EE's blog. Me? I try not to breethe...

pacatrue said...

I get the impression that people keep large tubs of coffee by their computer at all times based on the number of coffee spewing incidents that EE appears to be able to elicit. We must be over 100 coffee spews by this time or a spewing rate of .95 per face lift. Does no one ever drink anything else? Personally my monitor is covered in Zima.

Evil Editor said...

Mine's covered with bits of meat and corn and spittle. I really must start flossing in the bathroom.

illiterate said...

Mmmmmm... 'large tubs of coffee' Just what I need, a cafenated hot tub. Now if I could only get a waterproof laptop...

Daisy said...

See, this is why I only read blogs when I'm getting my martini by IV. Now, if only I could find a way to keep the olive from clogging up the tube...

Anonymous said...

-JTC,
Soccer: in which evenly matched sides wage a tedious back-and-forth battle of attrition for an indeterminate amount of time to a scoreless tie, leaving seething resentment that leads to another soccer game. In other words, WWI.
-kd

s. fish said...

I think this sounds interesting, and I personally like the soccer angle. I would totally buy this for my neice and nephews.

But I would hesitate to mention L'Engle and Pullman in the same breath. L'Engel is so Christian and Pullman is so, well, Satanic (in the Miltonic, not the Anton Levay sense). I think that they probably have very different ideas about where the greatest power lies.

Anonymous said...

Thanks EE for the re-do, as well as the rest of the evil minion's comments. You guys are funnier than I am, and now I really want change the ending to Mazement's version, plus add in the talking slug -- that would be a good way to add decades to the epic fantasy journey and I could make it into a 34-book series.

Nut said...

A talking slug? I LOVE the talking slug!

Minion #1555 said...

Sounds okay... but if Tony is the good guy I'd clarify why he's the one starting fights with Marcus.