Monday, July 03, 2006

Face-Lift 96


Guess the Plot

Sandstorm

1. Curtis the Camel, bullied by the other camels because of his glowing neon ears, becomes a hero when he leads the caravan to safety.

2. When a flurry of wiener-stuffed fists and elbows raises a sirocco over LA during the Venice Beach hot dog eating contest, only Corps of Engineers specialist Grim Carnage can rescue the city.

3. Josh and Lauren wanted an adventure honeymoon in Outer Mongolia. They hadn't planned on becoming CIA agents in the process.

4. An inexplicable explosion rocks the antiquities collection of a London museum -- a devastating blast that sets off alarms in clandestine organizations around the world.

5. Lost in a desert ghost town, Emma comes across a group of children led by a one-eyed boy named Miguel. But are they friend or foe?

6. Two camels trapped in a sandstorm muse on the human condition and the philosophical merits of existentialism. Is the world merely a manifestation of our own subconscious desires, or a shared hallucination of the collective consciousness? And why is there so much sand?


Original Version

Evil Editor:

I am seeking representation for my middle-grade fantasy novel, Sandstorm, complete at 48,000 words. Based on your listing in the Whatever Catalogue of Publishers, I believe that this manuscript is a good fit for your imprint.

Emma Tellerman is lost. Stranded in a derelict ghost town, she doesn't even know where she came from, let alone how she ended up in this unearthly red desert. [Allow Evil Editor to enlighten her. She's on the desert planet Tatooine, and she was knocked out by Tusken raiders (sand people) who stole her droid and left her to die.] All she wants is to find her home and memories--but she has little time to search in a place where everything from the weather to the statuary is out to get her. [Statuary? Is there an art museum in this desert ghost town?] After her only ally loses his soul to swarms of beetles, [Who was her ally, an azalea bush? And what do you mean, "loses his soul?" Is he now a zombie?] she meets a group of children [named Jack, Piggy, Ralph, Simon . . . ] who survive week to week on their own wits and the strength of their leader, a one-eyed boy named Miguel who has more experience in the desert than he will admit. [He played Paul Atreides in the Dune miniseries.] [Note that Evil Editor has managed to bring Star Wars, Dune, Lord of the Flies, and zombies into his critique. But how many of them can I bring in a second time?]

On a mix of intuition and desperation, Emma strikes out across the desert to seek answers in the mysterious mountain far in the distance. She finds allies along the way, [Including Anakin Skywalker.] but the desert is also full of enemies... [Sandworms.] and all of them are hungry. [Hungry for human flesh? May I suggest a better title? Zombie Desert.] [Desert of the Living Dead.] [Re-an-Emma-tor.] [While extensively researching the previous titles, I came across a list of actual zombie movies, which includes the following: I Eat Your Skin; Dr. Butcher, M.D.; Chopper Chicks in Zombietown; Redneck Zombies; and Zombies on Broadway.] [Wait, how about, Miguel and Emma Visit the Zombietown White Castle?

Pursued by predators, deadly swarms [of Beasties], and an increasingly hostile environment, Emma must fight to hold on to her identity in a world where it is challenged at every turn--or she will be lost to the desert forever.

I have enclosed a short synopsis and a few sample pages. I would be pleased to provide sample chapters at your request; the manuscript is available electronically. I have enclosed a self-addressed stamped envelope for your reply. Thank you very much for your time and consideration.

Best regards,


Notes

Is Emma an adult? Middle school age? It's not clear what makes this a middle-grade novel, unless she's a kid, so perhaps her age should be mentioned. Outside of that, it sounds good, or will, if you answer a few of Evil Editor's questions.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yes! Nothing is too much for EE, he did bring Star Wars, Dune, Lord of the Flies, and zombies (lots of zombies) into his critique a second time. I suppose he could have made it around a third time, but ran out of query.

Anonymous Too said...

I suppose he could have made it around a third time, but ran out of query.

Which is precisely why writers should keey their queries short. :-)

Suzie said...

Middle grade (and I'm not saying this to be mean), always makes me think that people are putting-down their work.

Editor: "And how would you rate your work (Like I care)?"
Author: "It's middly."
Editor: "About middle grade work?"
Author: "Mmhmm, that's about right."

I know that's not the intention of the term. This isn't even a comment on the queery. Just that term...

It also makes me think of eggs.

SpecRom Joyce said...

There IS an interesting plot in there, but it's hidden under finger-proud turns of phrase.

I wanted to glean more about the work's tone from the query. How dark and threatening is the novel? Does humor lighten it? What sort of protag is Emma?

Kids mysteriously lost in a freaky desert soul-eating ghost town is pretty interesting on its face. But the kind of kids and just how freaky would be the information needed to make the query pop.

In my opinion of course.

Of course, after paying attention in EE's class here, my query went 3/5 in requests for fulls and sample chapters last month. Thank you, Evil Editor!

msjones said...

I like it, especially Miguel the one-eyed archangel. But can I make a suggestion? Setting off across the desert to find answers in a distant mountain is too derivative of "Holes."

Maybe Emma could see something else, like a giant flowering boojum tree (the word comes from Lewis Carroll - the tree is called cilio by the Spanish because it resembles a candle, and this provides some useful symbolism).

Not only that, but the Carroll poem in which the boojum appears is called The Hunting of the Snark, and since you, gentle writer, are in search of a literary agent, it's a nice little double entendre.

Of course, most readers won't "get" it, but that is the fun of writing from the depths of a literary background: you can embed your prose with in-jokes.

(wordveri lovbk - google is omniscient.)