Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Face-Lift 97


Guess the Plot

A Guardian's Tale

1. Jo Ann falls in love with her guardian angel, or rather the man he was, before he died 50 years ago. Obsessed with finding him, she gets lucky and discovers she can time travel.

2. An English lord, suddenly finding himself guardian of the children of the deceased sister he didn't know he had, hires a governess to whom he's strangely attracted--before realizing she's the ghost of the deceased sister he did know he had.

3. When an elderly neighbor is mugged, Destiny Rojas volunteers for the Guardian Angels, never expecting that the person most in need of her guardianship would actually be an angel.

4. Samael Bender is a lawyer with new-found religious zeal. As he comes to believe that his life parallels the accounts of the biblical Satan, originally a guardian and prosecutor doing God's duty, he confronts his destiny of eternal damnation.

5. Jasper, the grandson of The Guardian, knowing it meant he would have to listen to yet another Guardian’s tale, begged and pleaded with his mother not to leave him with Grandpa.

6. This was not just any mousehole, as Tess the feline Guardian knew well. This was a doorway into the realm of Fairie, and if she lapsed in her duties the real world was doomed!


Original Version

Here it is:

I wish I had a crystal ball and knew exactly what you're looking for in a query letter and manuscript, as yours is the agency I'm most impressed with and would love to have represent me. [Aw, I bet you say that to all the agents.] With a sinking heart, I know I'm not alone in this desire; [Cute, but wasted, as the agent either started with your second paragraph (if you're lucky), or rejected this after the first sentence.] nonetheless, I humbly invite you to read my manuscript, "A Guardian's Tale," and consider representing me. It is a romance/time travel fiction work of 114,521 words.

The story of Cameron, a Guardian Angel, and his charge who was once his wife in another lifetime is the center of this romantic tale that begins in 1993 but travels back to 1943. Their love begins with a passion that time and tragedy can not destroy. Jo Ann Kerk is a successful public relations executive in 1993 Los Angeles, who secretly longs for a man she sees only in her dreams. His face haunts her nights and clouds any chance for a relationship with a living man. [Evil Editor hopes Jo Ann one day meets this man, and that when she does, he turns out to be a gifted psychiatrist.] Jo pursues him as rabidly as she has her career and learns that he actually lived fifty years before. [Isn't this the plot of Dead Again?] [How does she pursue someone she's seen only in a dream? Presumably she hires a police artist to draw a portrait of the guy from her description. Then she hacks into the FBI's database and uses their face-recognition software, which comes up with only one match: a guy who died 50 years ago. Undiscouraged, she seeks a way to go back to 1943. Am I close?] Through a twist of fate, she travesl back to 1943, [A twist of fate? You're going to have to do better than that. A twist of fate is when you accidentally catch the wrong bus and end up in Hoboken where you meet your future spouse. Catching the bus to 1943 is a massive, wrenching contortion of fate.] where she meets Cameron in the flesh and falls deeply in love with him [That was fast.] [Is this the life in which she was his wife? Is he currently married to 1943 Jo Ann? Does he cheat on 1943 Jo Ann with 1993 Jo Ann? It's not one of those confusing time-travel tales where Cameron, who is actually Jo's father, gets Jo pregnant in 1943, and she later has a baby who's her own sister, is it? Heinlein's short story "All You Zombies" is the best example of such a story, which I bring up only for the satisfaction of working zombies into yet another critique.] and hopes to change his fate of dying young at the hands of the Nazis. Along the way, Jo is befriended by an extraordinary young woman who teaches her about life in the 1940s. It doesn't take Jo long to realize that her new best friend in 1943 is her future mother. [Where is Jo Ann? One might assume Cameron is in Europe fighting Nazis, and Jo Ann's mother is in the U.S. collecting scrap metal. Apparently they're both in the same place. Or is the guardian angel zipping Jo Ann from place to place, like ghosts zipping Ebenezer Scrooge everywhere. It's all a dream, right?] Meeting the decesased mother she barely remembers from her childhood gives Jo a renewed hope for love and the self-acceptance she had been missing her entire life. Although Jo's romance with her angel incarnate in 1943 is doomed by World War II, her heart becomes more open to listening to the guidance of her Guardian Angel as she returns to 1993 [And immediately has a Christmas goose delivered to the Cratchit household.] and to the life she was meant to lead.

"A Guardian's Tale" is the second novel I have written, but the first I am actively marketing, and I'm currently considering a sequel. [In the sequel, Jo Ann will fall in love with General MacArthur, and serendipitously find herself in the Philippines in 1944.] I've incorporated stories I've heard all my life from my father and relatives about my family's history, especially their experiences during World War II. The character of Irene, Jo's mother, is based on my own mother, who passed away when I was child but has been one of my own guardian angels throughout my life.

I have been writing for more than 20 years, mostly non-fiction. My career has spanned magazine publishing, public relations and media marketing in Los Angeles and Honolulu. As a reporter and features editor, I had many non-fiction pieces published. I have spent the last eight years in media marketing, including writing broadcast copy for commercials, [You're not responsible for those Red Stripe beer commercials, are you?] and writing fiction in my "spare" time. I have a B.A. in journalism, with a minor in literature. I am a member of the Romance Writers of America.

Thank you for considering my project. I hope to hear a positive response back from you. And, if it's a form rejection letter, please make it a kind one, as I will be thoroughly disappointed. [If you can handle submitting to Evil Editor, you can handle one of those brutal, insulting form rejection letters.]


Revised Version

Here it is:

Cameron, a guardian angel, and his charge, who was his wife in another lifetime, are the central characters in A Guardian's Tale, my 115,000-word romance/time travel novel. Neither time nor tragedy can destroy their love.

Jo Ann Kerk, a successful public relations executive in 1993 Los Angeles, secretly longs for a man she sees only in her dreams. When she happens upon a photograph of this man, a photo taken fifty years earlier, she is discouraged. But she hasn't reckoned with the powers of her guardian angel, Cameron--who is the man in her dreams.

When Jo finds herself in 1943, she meets Cameron in the flesh and falls in love with him. She is also befriended by an extraordinary woman who proves to be her future mother. Meeting the mother she barely remembers gives Jo a renewed hope for love and for the self-acceptance that had been missing from her life. Although her romance with Cameron is doomed by World War II, her heart becomes more open to listening to her guardian angel's guidance as she returns to 1993 and to the life she was meant to lead.

A Guardian's Tale incorporates stories I've heard all my life about my family's experiences during World War II. The character of Irene, Jo's mother, is based on my own mother, who died when I was a child but has been one of my own guardian angels throughout my life.

I have a B.A. in journalism, with a minor in literature, and have worked as a reporter, a features editor, and a media copy writer, while writing fiction in my spare time. I am a member of the Romance Writers of America.

Thank you for considering my project.


Notes

It was, of course too long. And the cutesy stuff at the beginning and end didn't exactly reek of professionalism.

These time-travel stories can be confusing; Evil Editor surely got some of the facts wrong. He's confident you can handle the repair job.

19 comments:

Bernita said...

Strongly agree that "twist of fate" is not enough of an axis axel to reverse the wheel of time...

Fish Monkey said...

But I like Red Stripe commercials!

Cheryl Mills said...

I simply have a problem with a human becoming an angel. Humans become spirits. Angels are a whole other species and never live as humans.

I know, I know, it's fiction. But the audience for this book is people who are interested in angels, so when you violate a fundamental belief about angels, you lose the audience.

December Quinn said...

Where's the Happily Ever After? Because it seems like he's still killed in the war and goes back to just being her guardian angel giving her advice.

Although there are a few publishers out there who are relaxing the rules on the HEAs a little (one or two epubs come to mind)...No HEA=no sale. We read romance for a happy ending, not one where a woman gets to listen to a guardian angel (if she could hear and see her guardian angel all along, how did she not know he was her dream man, btw?) give her advice but she's still essentially alone. This sounds more like romantic women's fiction than romance to me.

But then, I'm awfully grumpy today, so I'll let the others confirm or deny what I said, because it might just be me misreading something.

Evil Author #96 said...

The bus with the license plate number D X MCHNA.

I bet Cameron gets blitzed; that would put him and his mother in the same place. Author, I looked up the name Cameron to see if it had any currency in WWII; here's the website, but the short answer is that it was really really rare. You might do better with a Frank or George, or your protagonist will just look like an anachronism.

http://www.thenamemachine.com/baby-names-boys/Cameron.html

Anonymous said...

The "axis axel to reverse the wheel of time" was "The bus with the license plate number D X MCHNA"? Groan! Maybe the author should just stitch the comments together & try to piece together a patchwork plot?

Personally, I was rooting for Guess the Plot #2, except yanno, for the incest thing. Better make that the deceased sister of a friend ...

kis said...

DQ,

I've seen fantasy/time travel romances with no HEA on the main story arc, then in the epilogue, it shows the two MCs in a future life, meeting on a train or something and instantly falling for each other. So yeah, the star-crossed lovers do sorta hafta get it right eventually.

Anonymous said...

I agree with December Quinn since you're saying it's a romance. You're query letter makes it sound like a wallbanger to a lot of romance readers.

Barbara K said...

I'm still trying to unravel the relationships while the song, I'm My Own Grandpa plays on my IPod.

Guardian Angel Cameron is JoAnn's father. Cameron died fifty years ago. JoAnn's mother Irene was Cameron's wife in 1943.
If JoAnn is the reincarnation of Irene, Cameron's wife and Cameron is JoAnn's father then is this spiritual incest????

Does not compute.
Does not compute.
Squeee, squack, zzzzzzzt, squeee
Spiritual incest...
Does
Not
Compute

How does JoAnn 'meet' Irene in 1943 if both bodies essentially share the same soul/spirit?

Does not compute.
Does not compute.
Squeee, squack, zzzzzzzt, squeee
One soul/two bodies.
Does
Not
Compute

Zachary Gole said...

I simply have a problem with a human becoming an angel. Humans become spirits. Angels are a whole other species and never live as humans.

Depends on your particular theology. In the beliefs of Catholic and most Protestant denominations, I think that's the case, but in Mormon doctrine, for example, angels in fact are spirits that either were once human or will become human.

On the other hand, I don't think Mormons believe in guardian angels. But, on the other other hand, I understand the TV show Touched By An Angel is very popular among Mormons, despite not according to their beliefs.

Anyway, I really don't think the human becoming an angel is really a problem. Some Christian denominations believe that does happen, and even among those that don't, most people will probably be willing to accept it for the sake of the story as long as the ground rules are laid out.

Evil Editor said...

How does JoAnn 'meet' Irene in 1943 if both bodies essentially share the same soul/spirit?

I told you time travel was confusing. At 10 a.m. you're watching television. At noon you board a time machine that takes you back in time to 10 a.m. And you meet yourself, watching television. You even tell yourself how the show ends, causing a big argument.

It wasn't spelled out that Cameron was Jo's father, or ever met Irene, or that Jo was the reincarnation of Irene--though all of that may be the case in the book. Hey, didn't Marty McFly have the hots for his own mother in Back to the Future?

kis said...

Oh, shame, EE.

It was Marty McFly's mom who had the hots for him. And she thought his name was Calvin Klein.

Barbara K said...

I'm undecided between Plot #3 and Plot #6 as my favorites. Both plots have great potential in my humble opinion.

pacatrue said...

I'm excited to have an author from Honolulu where I am, so I'm a big fan. I do agree that the plot is confusing me still, though EE's fix helps. I like the ideas in the book, though, and will agree with December Quinn and others that this may not be category fiction, but general fic, which is still cool. I always wondered if that is something the agent will help you fix. I don't mean she'd tell you to rewrite, though some do, I mean she'd think, "this is a great book, so I will make an offer, but I will talk to the author abour selling it as contemporary lit instead of Romance."

Evil Editor said...

It was Marty McFly's mom who had the hots for him.

Marty knew that was his mom, and he nobly refrained from revealing his true feelings. But let's get real. He wanted her.

Anony Mouse #173 said...

I'm a bit puzzled by just how indignant writers here get whenever someone queries a book they think breaks some rule or other. "How dare you query a 50,000 word novel! Or write a book without a happily ever after! Or even--worst of all--break all the rules about angels!"

Is it just me or, issues of professionalism aside, is there such a think as getting too caught up in the rules?

Don't writers need to bring their own judgment into play, and balance any rules they hear against their own sense of what the story wants, and then just go ahead and take the marketing risks that go with that?

Isn't every story a marketing risk, no matter how many rules you follow, more likely to not sell than otherwise? Doesn't doing what's right for the story do more to improve a book's chances than, say, cramming a happily-ever-after ending onto an exactly-100,000-word angel-free book, if none of those things belong there anyway?

Umbrella Girl said...

I'd read this book in a second because I like this kind of stuff.
If it's available for a sneak preview, let me know. The Time Traveler's Wife was a huge seller, and it took some really strange twists. I liked it a lot, and my sister is enjoying it now.

I agree with December, though. You should label it as romantic women's fiction if the couple don't end up together in the end. Which may be better for you in the long run since romances generally disappear the month after they're printed - or so I've been told by an author who writes them.

And imho, just because the couple doesn't end up together doesn't mean there's not a happy ending. A satisfying ending is all that's necessary in women's fiction. I hope you have great luck with it.

ver: eququp. Excuse me.

Anonymous said...

Reverse the roles in those Red Stripe commercials and you'd have the NAACP, Nation of Islam, the UN, and all those phony Liberals breathing down your neck so hard you'd be better off standing in the middle of a street in Somalia with an American flag.

December Quinn said...

I'm a bit puzzled by just how indignant writers here get whenever someone queries a book they think breaks some rule or other. "How dare you query a 50,000 word novel! Or write a book without a happily ever after! Or even--worst of all--break all the rules about angels!"

Is it just me or, issues of professionalism aside, is there such a think as getting too caught up in the rules?


I wasn't being indignant, I hope I didn't come off that way. I was just pointing out that according to most agents and editors in the romance industry, a book without a HEA isn't a romance. It won't sell and they won't buy it.

I didn't say it wasn't a good book or a good idea. Just that it would probably have a better shot at publication if marketed as romantic women's fiction, not romance, whose buyers expect a HEA.

To me that's not anything about rules, just common sense. You want to present your book to the markets most likely to buy it, right? So why send a book about gardening to a sci-fi publisher?