Thursday, August 10, 2006

Face-Lift 152


Guess the Plot

Small Luck

1. Sick and tired of being the only stunt midget in the entire Hong Kong kung fu film industry, Small Luck decides to follow his dream of opening a pet-grooming franchise - only to stumble upon a ruthless gang of cat killers.

2. When the luxury liner Lucky Lady sank beneath the waves, only six survivors made it into her lifeboat, the Small Luck. By the seventh day adrift, obnoxious teenager Randy was really wishing he hadn't chosen to wear his "Eat Me" t-shirt the day the ship went down.

3. When Joe inherits a house from his Aunt Magnolia, he thinks it's his lucky day. But it turns out Aunt Magnolia was a mad serial killer, and the house burns down, so Joe is out of luck--until he's lucky enough to run into attorney Lancelot Fimby.

4. A mysterious vending machine dispenses good luck in two sizes: small or large, depending on how much of your soul you're willing to sacrifice. Timmy thinks he's playing it smart by selecting "small," but a series of mishaps has him returning to the machine again and again - until he's sacrificed all to the demonic Frito-Lay corporation.

5. Wilfred Nardo has never bought a losing lottery ticket, his winnings varying between one free play and five bucks. Now, Gwendolyn has told him that wouldn't marry him if he had a hundred million dollars--and the Powerball jackpot is up to $102 million. Wilfred's ready to make his small luck go big time.

6. Small Luck's parents spent their life savings sending her to school in the United States. Instead of getting her law degree, she cashed in her tuition check and opened an Asian cowgirl-themed brothel in Nevada.


Original Version

Dear Mr. E. Editor

It is 1983, and Joe Morrissey is a bullshitter, a dreamer and a bowler in L.A. who knows, deep in his heart, that someday he will make it big - though he's not sure yet how that's going to work. [The first step, of course, is to start a blog. Oh wait, it's 1983. He should be a pro bowler for a few years, and then invent the blog.] When he learns that the Aunt Magnolia he never knew existed has plunged suicidally into the heart of High Point Lake, leaving him her sole heir, he sells what little he has to claim his inheritance in Lynchburg, Pennsylvania. [If he has to sell everything just to buy a bus ticket, he's bowling way too much.]

He intends a surgical strike: get in, get the money, get out. But getting in costs him everything he has, [Already stated.] getting the money turns problematic when his inheritance - a Victorian house - has burned down, [Uninsured?] and he has no way of getting out. [Actually there's no way in or out, as Lynchburg, PA doesn't exist. Perhaps he's in Virginia?] But his luck kicks back in when he meets Lancelot Fimby, a lawyer on the verge of a breakdown, and Delilah Humprhies, a sixteen year old girl who wants nothing more than to escape her small town life and her oppressive father, and will do what it takes to get free. [What is it about meeting them that signifies a change in his luck?] The three are connected, in difficult, terrible ways, by Joe's aunt, Magnolia Morrissey, a serial killer and madwoman who [killed Lancelot's son, Galahad, and Delilah's boyfriend, Samson.] loved Joe, [He didn't know she existed, but she loved him?] and loved Delilah, and who seems to be watching them all from the bottom of High Point Lake.

Small Luck is a literary novel, complete at 128,000 words. It is a multigenerational story, stretching back to the beginnings of Magnolia's madness, and moving forward through the voice Joe and Delilah's daughter, exploring themes of madness and sanity, fortune and fate, love and loss, the comedy of luck, and the possibility of salvation in the middle of destruction. [Choose two or three themes and let the other ones be a surprise bonus.]

I hold an MFA from the University of San Francisco, and am a columnist for Strange Horizons and a reviewer for Bookslut. I received second place in Nimrod International Journal'a 2005 Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Fiction, [Change the word "fiction" to "haiku," and the name of the contest would be longer than the winning entry.] and was nominated for inclusion in the 2004 Best New American Voices. My work has appeared in Nimrod, Clean Sheets, Strange Horizons and Flytrap. [You know, I'm sure these are all respectable venues for publication, but somehow Clean Sheets, Flytrap, Bookslut, etc. aren't names that sound impressive. Would it sound better to say, My work has appeared in several respected literary journals?] I've enclosed the first three pages and an SASE, and very much look forward to hearing from you.

Best regards, etc.


Revised Version

Dear Mr. E. Editor

Joe Morrissey knows, deep in his heart, that someday he will make it big - though he's not sure yet how that's going to work. When he learns that the Aunt Magnolia he never knew existed has plunged suicidally into the heart of High Point Lake, naming him her sole heir, he heads for Lynchburg, Pennsylvania to claim his inheritance.

He intends a surgical strike: get in, get the money, get out. But getting in costs him everything he has, getting the money proves problematic when his inheritance - a Victorian house - has burned down, and he has no means of getting out. His luck kicks back in when he meets Lancelot Fimby, a lawyer on the verge of a breakdown, and Delilah Humphries, a sixteen-year-old girl who wants nothing more than to escape her small town life. Lancelot and Delilah know that Aunt Magnolia, a serial killer, buried her fortune somewhere on her property, and are willing to help Joe find it--and to keep quiet about the many bodies also buried there--for a cut.

Small Luck is a literary novel, complete at 128,000 words. It is a multigenerational story, stretching back to the beginnings of Magnolia's madness, and forward beyond the birth of Joe's and Delilah's daughter, exploring themes of fate, loss and salvation amid destruction.

I hold an MFA from the University of San Francisco, and my work has appeared in several respected literary journals. I also placed second in Nimrod International Journal's 2005 Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Fiction. I've enclosed the first three pages and an SASE, and very much look forward to hearing from you. Best regards, etc.


Notes

The title isn't what I'd call catchy. Optional titles:

I Love You Too, Aunt Magnolia, but I Try to Limit the Amount of Time I Spend with Serial Killers.

Lancelot Fimby Saves the Day

Crazy Dead Lady in the Lake

Not Only Does This Dump Not Exist, It Doesn't Even Have a Bowling Alley

No doubt the minions will have offerings of their own.

13 comments:

Cathy said...

I hoped it would be the one about the serial killer aunt!

rkcooke said...

"Striking Out in the Gutter: The Earl Anthony Story (vol. 1)."

Anonymous said...

The obnoxious teenager with the "eat-me" t-shirt -- classic...

Anonymous said...

Hey Evil, just wondering, do you know for sure that Delilah didn't want her own name spelled that way? (Humprhies)

Nut said...

1. The Bowler's Fortune.

2. She wasn't REALLY evil, though she chopped them up like onions.

3. The Killer's Heart.

4. The Bullshiter and the Murderer.

I know, I'm gonna get bite prints on my butt, but I like the the first sentence, with a tiny rearangement. Like so:

'Joe Morrissey is a bowler, a dreamer and a a bullshitter.'

Kind of gives me an introduction with character. Of course, I'm probably, compleately wrong. I just like the idea of a 'bullshitter' main character.

Certainly, EE's revision is much more to the point.

'Small Luck' title made me think of a picture book about, I dunno... a puppy?

All that aside, it might be fun. If its not too serious, and keeps the main char. as a... bullshitter.

I just hope the bowler doesn't screw with the 16 yr old. Cause that would make me toss a book... uh, really far.

xiqay said...

I chose the right plot again (mainly because it was the one that I found least interesting or original.) I have to admit I didn't read the entire query--the premise of inheriting from an unknown rich relative just makes me zone out.

Best fake-plot, imho-# 4 (loved it). Fake-plots #2 and #6 were also contenders. (and I did like the eat-me tee shirt, too)

Nikki said...

I'd read this for the names. Lancelot Fimby. Delilah.

Poor people.

Anonymous said...

Lancelot Fimby -I could just say it over and over again. All you fantasy writers out there take note!

The author should get points for using the words: strange, bookslut, nimrod, and porter within the span of 2 sentences.

-JTC

mark said...

I'd read it, based on the description, in part because the query makes me think that you've probably done a good job with it.

Lancelot Fimby is a wonderful name, but I hope he goes by Lance after his second appearance or so.

I agree with the others that "Small Luck" refers to the chances of someone picking up and opening the book if that's what stays on the cover.

magz said...

Sounds pretty wild, might make a good movie with Jeff Bridges as Joe, and John Goodman as perhaps the PTSDed lawyer Lance?

Oh, wait: I think it has.

This may be very good Author, but all I could think about as I read it was "Oh GOODY! Pt 2 of The Big Lebowski has finally arrived!"

xhaar said...

Unless Joe is a lot younger than I'm thinking, the fact that he hooks up with Delilah makes me sick.

Kathleen said...

I definitely agree with EE to include the connection with Lancelot and Delilah, not just that he met them. Why are they important, what do they offer.

author, author said...

Thanks very much for the feedback! And especially for catching my stupid typos.

I am not sure I entirely understand the objections to the title, but that's clearly something I need to consider.

The concept of "small luck" (as opposed to the kind of luck that wins you the lottery) is pretty essential to the book, so I'll also think about incorporating it into the query somehow, as I clarify relationships and clean up the prose.