Thursday, April 05, 2007
Guess the Plot
The Vember Mill
1. Grampa says hundreds of years ago they made a drink called cider here. Now it's where I come to meditate. To contemplate life. And to plan my revenge.
2. Jason has the most boring job ever, grinding pepper on people's salads. Then one afternoon in a curiosity shoppe he finds a small package of spice called vember. Now the female customers are throwing themselves at him, he makes more in tips than Trump, and the beautiful restaurant manager has given him Fridays off.
3. Max and Brad grind their coffee by hand in an antique mill Max got in Vember, Idaho. When the mill falls off the counter and breaks, revealing a secret treasure map, will they repair the appliance and resume their routine? Or will they follow the map to terrifying adventure . . . and romance?
4. Everyone in Rose Hill avoided the old, half-ruined Vember Mill. But when Karrie's dog Ralph chases a ball into the crumbling hulk, she follows--and discovers a portal to the ninth dimension.
5. As construction on his new mill nears completion, an evil miller makes plans to increase profits by enslaving the river spirits, forcing them to make water flow faster through his mill.
6. Forget the salt mines. Forget the rack. Forget the electrodes on the genitals. Evil Overlord Quarg has devised a more perfect form of torture . . . The Vember Mill.
Please consider my 70,000 word YA novel, The Vember Mill. It is a modern rural fantasy about a boy who befriends a family of river spirits, and about the impending environmental catastrophe they face.
Preston can’t understand why people won’t just fix their own problems and get on with life. Everybody he knows is whining or sulking all the time, but Preston would never let himself feel like a victim. Maybe he doesn’t like the fact that he had to move away from his home and his school to live in Northern Utah surrounded by farms. Maybe he doesn’t like the way everyone avoids talking about his father’s death. But at least Preston isn’t sulking or whining.
Unfortunately, Preston’s own friends are sulkers, and they’re not even human. Corvery is a cornfield raven who worries about a mean shabby hound that went missing a long time ago, and seems to have returned. The Toll siblings are river spirits from the nearby hills, where an environmentally unsound mill is soon to be built. Everybody has a problem, but nobody is doing anything about it. Preston decides to change that. [That's two paragraphs just to introduce the setting and a few characters.]
But when he starts pushing them to take control of their lives, his friends learn that their problems run deeper than they thought. The miller plans to enslave the river spirits. They have a lot of power over their river, and he wants to use it to make water flow more quickly through his mill. He has profits and losses to consider, and if he wears out the spirits and turns a whole river to poison, so be it. Never mind the damage it will do to the Tolls, or the fact that the poisoned water will then flow down to the irrigation ditches used by farmers. To make matters worse, Corvery’s hound is on the miller’s side, and has gotten more vicious since the last time Corvery saw him. [Fortunately, Corvery has an ace up his sleeve: he knows how to fly.]
To fend off construction of the mill, Preston and his friends will need help from people who don’t want to solve their own problems, let alone somebody else’s. They’ll need help from Preston’s over-stressed stepfather, or from his depression-addled mother, or from the monstrous hawk that would rather eat Corvery than assist him. But the risks are acceptable. [Sure, they're acceptable--to Preston; he's not the one in danger of being eaten.] Preston is not willing to sulk away from a problem. [This whole thing is setting up the situation. The story, I assume, lies in the attempt to take down the miller. You never get to that part. What's their plan? What does the miller do to foil their plan? What's their new plan? Does anyone think to call in the EPA, which has strict laws against slavery?]
My short fiction has been published in paying markets, and this is my first novel. I look forward to hearing from you.
Preston Sturgess had to move to Northern Utah with his mom and his stepfather. He wasn't happy about it, but he's finally made some new friends, including a cornfield raven named Corvery and the Toll siblings, river spirits from the nearby hills. Okay, they're not human friends, but what do you expect? It's Utah.
A new mill is under construction, and the miller plans to enslave the river spirits. They have a lot of power over their river, and he wants to use it to make water flow more quickly through his mill. He has profits and losses to consider, and if he wears out the spirits and turns a whole river to poison, so be it. Never mind that the poisoned water will then flow down to the irrigation ditches used by farmers.
Preston isn't one to ignore a problem; he decides it's up to him to fend off construction of the mill. With help from his friends, he trains a giant hawk as a suicide bomber to blow up the mill. But the miller has allies too, an army of mercenary basset hounds who'll stop at nothing to destroy all life on the planet. Will team Preston survive to prevent an environmental catastrophe? Or will the state of Utah become a turbid cesspool of feculence, all because of . . . The Vember Mill?
The Vember Mill is a 70,000-word modern rural fantasy for a YA audience. My short fiction has been published in paying markets; this is my first novel. Thank you for your time and consideration.
This sounds like a book for a younger audience than YA. Teens may not flock to a book about a boy whose best friend is a crow.
Much of this is repetitive and general/vague. You keep saying people won't solve their own problems, won't take control of their lives, whine and sulk. Say it once, preferably specifying which people and problems you're talking about. Or leave it out entirely, as it's kind of boring.
It's not clear how it poisons the river if more water flows by. Presumably in times of melting snow or heavy rain there would be more water flowing--does this also cause pollution?
The dog may play a major role in the book, but it's not adding anything here.
If the miller plans to grind the farmers' grain, poisoning their water supply seems like bad business. It's like a company that sells bottled spring water building a plastic bottle factory that dumps chemical sludge into the lake they get the water from. Evil businessmen, like evil editors, are seldom complete idiots.