Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Face-Lift 414


Guess the Plot

Penelope's Web

1. The CIA hired entomologist Penelope Thorne as a spy because she claimed to have contacts in every city around the world. What will they do when they discover her contacts are all arachnids?

2. Charlotte’s little daughter has always walked a little on the wild side. Unlike her boring sisters she’d rather hang with the bad elements in the barnyard- the dung beetles, the crickets that play punk, and rats who goose the geese. But when Penelope starts writing curse words in her web, Wilbur decides it is time to put down his hoof.

3. The web of mistrust and deceit surrounding illegal aliens is explored as a teenaged girl compares her job working in a citrus grove to hiding from the Nazis.

4. Virile young men are disappearing near the darkest parts of Daniel Boone National Forest. These men seem to possess only one common trait: marvelously sculpted buttocks. Word has it there’s a coven of witches back in that forest, whose high priestess, Penelope, is actually a policewoman working under cover to free those beautiful buttocks from magic bondage and unmask the sexual suspects in . . . Penelope’s Web.

5. After working in web design for a decade, Penelope is tired of the internet. Between the porn sites and the pop-ups, even Google's lost it's spark. Now that her children are old enough to override every filter she's installed on their laptops, she's determined to develop a viable alternative to the Web, even if it means stealing cutting edge technology from her boss's nemesis, a mildly autistic guru of technology with an exotic monkey obsession.

6. Insanely jealous of her sister’s popularity, Penelope Cavatica plots her revenge: a magnificent web of her own designed to snare her sister’s little piggy friend and hang him upside down from the barn door for all to see. But before Penelope can implement her plan, she’s eaten by a disheveled talking rat.


Original Version

Dear Editor,

María Elena Nuñez, a teenaged migrant farm worker presently working citrus orchards in Florida, befriends a camp school teacher who gives María The Diary of a Young Girl. María feels kinship to Anne Frank, as she reads, drawing parallels to her own life. [Man, picking these damn oranges is like being in Auschwitz.]

The Nuñez family travels with the Delgadoes, including Tomás, who seems as boring as Anne's housemate-in-hiding. María and her older brother Roberto become particularly disheartened when Roberto must quit school to work full days. María feels trapped in the migrant circuit just as Anne is trapped in hiding. She is bored with Tomás [Every time you mention Tomás you tell us he's boring; maybe you should talk about someone interesting.] and refuses to meet others, knowing they soon will go their separate ways.

María's little sister, Juanita, becomes frighteningly ill, [As did Anne Frank's sister Margot, in Bergen-Belsen. Coincidence? Or eerie parallel?] but the family has no money for treatment. Tomás save's Juanita's life by enlisting María's teacher who takes Juanita to her personal doctor. The doctor determines that Juanita has reacted to pesticides, confirmed by soil samples gathered by Tomás.

Now, María sees Tomás differently, and feeling [feels] more hopeful--as Anne had--but is crushed by the sudden, tragic end of Anne's story. While recovering from that shock, the Nuñez family is taken into custody by the [Gestapo] INS, since they are illegals (setting: 1970s). Tomás happens to be with them and is improperly taken since his [yellow star] green card is at home.

Later, Tomás is released and María is about to be returned to Mexico. Can she find the courage that she learned from Anne to overcome this sad turn and work to undo this harm? [Vague. What is the harm that can be undone? Is it courage that's required to undo it?]

Penelope's Web is a middle grades novel of 26,000 words. I hope will want to read the rest of the story. Thank you for your time.


Notes

Who's Penelope? Is this the best title?

A lot of characters to keep track of. The query can do without Roberto.

Does María keep a diary? It would be interesting to see this book written in diary form.7

Every so often someone compares something to Nazi Germany and justifiably takes heat in the press. A Googling of things that have been compared to Nazi Germany brings up 21st-century America, Australia's immigration centers, The British political system, the firing of Don Imus, Israel of today, Michael Moore's films, abortion rights advocates, China, Al Gore's film, tyrannical distribution of soup (on Seinfeld) . . . Godwin's Law

This could work if you subtly let the reader see the parallels between Anne Frank and María. Fear of discovery would feel similar, though the consequences are obviously different. But if you actually point out the parallels through María or a narrator you may take a lot of flak. No need to say "just as Anne is trapped in hiding" in paragraph 2. Or in the book. A thoughtful reader will get it. Just tell María's story; the fact that she's reading Anne Frank's diary should be enough. And maybe it'll inspire middle-graders to read the diary.

57 comments:

Lightsmith said...

http://xkcd.com/261/

Anonymous said...

This is a children's book? Not for any kid of mine! You might rethink this description for a literary novel.

Bernita said...

Hmm, they say latino protagoists are hot, but...
How about just saying that "Inspired by Anne Frank's 'Diary," Maria...then outline the family's tribulations which make certain parellels obvious - and avoid the inevitable accusations of bathos.

Anonymous said...

Multi-cultural middle grade is hot right now. And telling the story of an illegal immigrant from the teenage POV is a great idea.

The parallels to Anne Frank feel heavy handed and more like a device to move the story along whereas this story should be strong enough to stand on its own. It’s seems like you want to hit us over the head with how we should view the plight of the illegals the same as that of the Jews during the holocaust.

Maybe the kinship exploration would be more effective if it were based on feelings and not facts. The only one I see you explore here is feeling trapped. There’s a lot of fear to talk about. What is life like on a daily basis? What are the feelings she must work through? How is her life different from those of legal children?

There is a lot of potential for conflict and tension building. You mention these, but, I think, pushing the Anne Frank parallel actually dilutes your story’s conflict. I’d much rather see this as its own story and not have the parallels to Anne Frank at all.

Sarah

Church Lady said...

Does María keep a diary? It would be interesting to see this book written in diary form.

I really like that idea. It works on so many levels.

I became confused with all the names in the query. But I think your idea sounds interesting.

Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Comparing being illegal in the US to nazis...that's more than a bit off, IMO. The topic of illegals in a children's book turns me off, frankly, but my preferences are not everybody's. I couldn't say if this is a topic that is current or not in children's lit, either. Personally, I'd rather read If I Did It than a book that makes being an illegal alien (lawbreaker) okay to children.

Robin S. said...

I can’t think of an immigrant group, other than the Brits trickling in, now and again, that’s been welcomed here with open arms. And then, of course, there were the “immigrants” who arrived in chains. That’s, as they say, a whole ‘nother story.

My daughter brought home a high school history textbook a few years ago that gave me pause. Inside it were pictures of an African man’s head and an Irish man’s head. These pictures were taken out of an old textbook, from the 1800’s; in the book were descriptions of these heads, explaining why these races of people were considered sub-human. Descending on both sides of my family entirely from Irish immigrants, I was not amused. The Irish came here in droves in the 1800s, and were treated like pond scum. Now they have St. Patrick’s Day parades, and everyone’s all happy and they drink green beer, and memories fade. Mostly.

Almost all immigrant groups were initially betrayed by the purported promises of the “sea to shining sea” place we now call home. Think of the Vietnamese in the 60s and 70s.

My point is – I agree with Sarah. I’d cool off about this immigrant girl’s similarity to Anne Frank- a girl whose “race” was used and destroyed by the millions, by a megalomaniacal sociopathic little fuck.

I think your story is potentially powerful – but more so if it is not oversold on the pathos/bathos, as Bernita mentioned.

Lightsmith said...

I'm not really seeing what objection anon 11:43 could have to this being a middle grade novel. Is it because the heroine is an illegal immigrant?

I have a good friend who came to this country illegally when he was a boy. (He's since become legal, in case la Migra is reading this.) His stories about the crossing from Mexico are fascinating and very dramatic. His experiences of adjusting to life in the US are also very interesting. So I think this is certainly fertile ground for a novel.

I would recommend, however, setting the book in the present day, simply because I imagine that anyone interested in this topic will want to know about the experiences of current illegal immigrants, not the experiences of people from thirty or forty years ago. But I could be wrong.

I agree with everyone else about the title. Most people have heard of Charlotte's Web, but far fewer are familiar with the term Penelope's Web, even though it came first. (I'd never heard of it myself and was surprised to find an entry about it in Wikipedia. Perhaps in other countries with better educational systems it is better known.) People will incorrectly assume that the title is a play on Charlotte's Web, or even worse, a rip off of it.

Good luck, author

Evil Editor said...

So it's the mythological Penelope.

Amazon has a book with the same title, subtitled Gender, Modernity, H.D.'s fiction. Cover price: $130.00.

Robin S. said...

Never heard of it before- but now that I've Googled it, I see that...

"This is the famous Penelope's web, which is used as
a proverbial expression for anything which is perpetually doing
but never done."

Khazar-khum said...

I'm Hispanic, and I am sick of the handwringing over the illegals. My grandfather came here legally (as did most of the Irish, btw). Hispanics who are citizens resent illegals, and another book being shoved at kids about how these 'people are being persecuted' isn't going to sit well with them.

It might do well with people suffering liberal guilt, or those whose only contact with Hispanics is to tell Maria to wash the floor; but for people who have to hear the insults & accusations all day long it's not going to fly.

150 said...

Time period is an important part of the setting, so move it up:

María Elena Nuñez, a teenaged migrant farm worker in the citrus orchards in 1970s Florida, befriends a camp school teacher who gives María The Diary of a Young Girl.

"Save's" should be "saves".

"Middle grades" should be "middle grade."

"I hope will" should be "I hope you will", although I'd encourage you to change it to something like "The full manuscript is available."

Between those errors and the one EE picked out, plus the subject material, I'd guess that English is your second language. Make sure you give this to a native English speaker to proofread before you send it anywhere.

26,000 words seems really short.

Take EE's advice, and I think your query will be on the right track.

writtenwyrdd said...

Remove the references to nazis, Anne Frank and illegal immigrants and focus on the little girl's actions and motivations.

And I agree that this sounds more like a depressing literary novel the way the letter is now.

Lightsmith said...

It might do well with people suffering liberal guilt, or those whose only contact with Hispanics is to tell Maria to wash the floor

It's funny you should say that, because my only contacts with Hispanics is to tell Maria to wash the floor. It usually goes something like this:

Me: Maria!!!! That floor's not going to wash itself!!!

Maria: What are you talking about?

Me: Turn off your telenovelas and wash the floor!

Maria: This isn't a television. This is a computer screen. I'm coding in C++.

Me: If only I could remember my high school spanish. [loudly and slowly] Maaarrriiiaaaa.......necesita...lavar ...el floor-o.

Maria: Go back to your own cubicle, O'Brien, or I'm gonna kick you in the nuts.

Me: [shaking head] you just can't find good help these days...

Phoenix said...

Well, Author, you're taking a lot of heat simply for your subject matter. Perhaps no one has heard of ASK ME NO QUESTIONS, a multi-award-winning book for middle graders. Only the illegal aliens there are from Bangladesh. Read about it here:

http://www.simonsays.com/content/book.cfm?pid=514238

So I don't think the subject of illegal aliens is taboo or off-putting for middle graders. I do think 26K words is a bit short for an upper middle grade novel. I think it's an upper MG novel because I remember reading The Diary of AF in 7th grade, and those younger will likely not have been exposed to that book yet.

My personal feeling is that comparing Maria's plight to that of Anne's is not the right analogy. Perhaps to the internment of the Japanese on US soil during WWII. But horrific genocide/persecution based on religion (6 million Jews) or sexual orientation (2 million gays) does not really compare to the economic disadvantages that are forcing immigrants to the US, nor with the INS' disposition of those illegal aliens it captures. Perhaps a couple of choice parallels may be appropriate, but Maria is still going to school and the family has access to a doctor through a friend (or does the doctor turn the family in to the INS?).

So, in the end, what is it that Maria does? It seems that Juanita cannot continue the migrant lifestyle (or is the pesticide poisoning a one-time deal? I'm thinking she continues to be intolerant of the chemicals.), so what are the choices and the consequences Maria faces? Find a way to stay in the US and possibly see her sister die or return to Mexico and -- what? Apply for a green card?

I want to read GTP #2!

Khazar-khum said...

writtenwyrdd brought up something: Not everyone who works in the fields is an illegal alien. Maybe the illegal part should be left out, as it is a major sore spot for many. Concentrating instead on Maria's alienation & struggling to belong, her desire to rise out of the migrant worker life, and it could be inspirational instead of heavy-handed.

AmyB said...

Lightsmith, you just totally cracked me up.

pacatrue said...

Wow.

Um, I wasn't as put off by the heroine reading Anne Frank as others have been. Isn't the power of the diary that we all identify with her in various ways? Not that we all believe we are in her situation (if we did, we are delusional), but she is an amazing person with all these everyday cares and we read them and identify and only then do we, who may not have a personal connection to the Holocaust, really, really get it. It's not an ethnicity or statistics being sent off to death camps, it's millions of wonderful people like Anne.

The point is that one can identify with Anne Frank without thinking you are being chased by Nazis.

That's what I got from the query. Our main character is reading the diary of another amazing girl, and she finds herself using Anne's experiences and thoughts to interpret her own life. Of course, if she actually thinks that being an illegal immigrant in 70s Florida IS like trying to survive the Holocaust, then there is a problem.

As for the illegal immigration issue, which has set people off, I have no problem with it as a novel. The basic fact is that there are millions of children in the U.S. who are (or were) here without papers, and their stories are worth telling as well. We can all reach very different conclusions on what the correct American immigration and enforcement policies should be without hiding Maria's story from other people her age.

Dave said...

I could see this as a middle grade or YA book.
It's like The Grapes of Wrath with migrant workers.

I like the fact that the young girl finds inspiration and courage to act in literature. That's an educated person. it a good example to hold up to kids of any age.

I gave my Niece's 12 year old son the latest biography of Roberto Clemente who I saw play baseball and is a good role model.

So I like this heroine who reads history.

Robin S. said...

Hi paca,

I'm with you that there's a potentially powerful story here to tell (I mentioned that earlier today), but as the query reads to me, it seemed, as Sarah mentioned, that the author phrased the query in order to "want to hit us over the head with how we should view the plight of the illegals the same as that of the Jews during the holocaust." Different issues at stake, I believe than --

I've just been given the "are you ready to drive me to the field hockey game? " look by my 15 year old - so I gotta go. I'll try to finish my thoughts later.

Anonymous said...

María ... befriends a camp school teacher who gives María The Diary of a Young Girl...

OK, so is he camp because he happens to have a copy of The Diary of a Young Girl, or are there other signs? And is it really germaine to the story? Do they sing a showtune together at the end?

Anonymous said...

Author says:

Thank you all for your comments. Some were gut reactions to the idea of comparing INS arrests to the holocaust, but there is no such comparison made in the story. This shows a major weakness in the query.

Pacatrue nailed the intent of the story, even if the query did not. Maria simply loved and identified with Anne Frank. The main comparison in the story was the tediousness of the endless migrant cycle (thus the Penelope's web literary reference) and the tediousness of Anne's life in the Secret Annexe.

Part of my last-minute hack job reducing the query by a third was eliminating the fact that Maria wrote diary letters to Anne and her teacher wrote responses in Anne's voice (about one-tenth of the text).

It was this teacher who found Maria's diary after the arrest. This event and the arrest are tough scenes. But the INS agents are not portrayed as Nazis; they're almost abstract in the story. The reader knows, even if she has not read Anne's diary, that in the end, Anne was exterminated by evil people and that Maria and her family are well, though unhappily displaced. (She's even allowed to mail a letter to her teacher after her arrest.) Maria remains hopeful and the readers are left with little doubt she will be be fine.

Some years ago, an editor suggested that I remove Anne Frank from the story, but before I did that, the editor left the publishing house and I couldn't track her down. I've struggled with that suggestion and may consider it, but I would hate doing.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:58 PM.

From Wikipedia: camp: a place usually away from urban areas where tents or simple buildings (as cabins) are erected for shelter or for temporary residence (as for laborers, prisoners, or vacationers) *migrant labor camp*

Evil Editor said...

I see no problem with Maria reading the Diary in the book; it may be what sets the book apart from others in the same field--as long as you leave the comparisons to the reader, rather than point them out.

Hey, at 26,000 words, you can't afford to take anything out.

Robin S. said...

Hi Author,

I'm glad you're here, and I'm, I guess the word would be, relieved that your intentions concerning the inclusion of Anne Frank's diary in your query differed from those of us who looked at the wording and surmised otherwise.

Perhaps the editor had the same misgivings in mind when he/she suggested reomoval of the reference in your manuscript?

So many, many people inhabiting this country come from impoverished and disadvantaged backgrounds, (it's how so many of us ended up here, by and large, after all) whether one or two or three generations ago, I'm wondering if, although your story is a personal and cultural one for you, and rightly so - to make the story more inclusive in its appeal - well -

I'm tired tonght, so I may well not be explaining this in the way I'm trying to, but what I mean is this, in a shorthand version - when I read John Steinbeck long ago, he seemed to speak directly to me, although he described workers I could never have known, in a different era, in a different part of the country.

I'd never heard of Godwin's Law, or whatever it was, before it was mentioned here today. Even so, the reference to Anne Frank disturbed me, because, no matter what my ancestors endured, it was nothing, absolutely nothing, compared to wholesale extermination.

And when you mentioned that "The reader knows, even if she has not read Anne's diary, that in the end, Anne was exterminated by evil people and that Maria and her family are well, though unhappily displaced" I have to say honestly, especially given the time that has passed since Anne Frank's diary was published and the time distance (and societal distance, change of reading habits, LACK of reading habits of so many young people, etc.), that I'm not sure the nuances of your message will be clear on this point.

Anonymous said...

Clearly you've realised you need to emphasise that Maria is drawing inspiration from Anne Frank -- as is only right -- rather than doing a "help, help I'm being oppressed" number. Lighten up on the the things that make us think we're beign compared to Hitler.

I think this has more potential than another poor little rich kid, who'll take me to the prom paperback. But 26,000 words feels too short to do that potential justice. Without having read it, I do worry about it being as superficial as some of the comments suggest.

We don't have to be judgmental -- don't blame the child for the "sins" of the father.

Evil Editor said...

I wish you people would quit piling on the author. It's getting so submitting a query to this blog is like living under the Third Reich.

Anonymous said...

Author says,

Robin, thanks for your comments. The reader will know about the nature of Anne's demise because of Maria's reaction to it. She tell's her friend, Tomas (and therefore the reader) about it.

BTW, I'm not hispanic. I'm an American WASP, born and bred.

anonywuss said...

I wish you people would quit piling on the author.

You people? Isn't that how it all starts..?

Look: I get my kicks out of coming here and pretending I'm some kind of authority who knows something about something, without the need to back it up with credentials or even a name. Please don't deny me that one small pleasure.

pacatrue said...

Resistance is futile, Herr EE. Resistance is futile.

Anonymous said...

Evil Editor said...
I wish you people would quit piling on the author. It's getting so submitting a query to this blog is like living under the Third Reich.


Well, you know, I blame it on all those newbies crawling under the wire from Kristin Nelson's blog or whereever it is they come from. I mean, it was OK when there were just one or two of them and they were just picking at the small stuff. But now they're bringing their friends and they're all over the place, and a lot of them have opinions of their own and they're willing to give them just like that. I liked the good old days when everyone knew everyone and everyone knew their place. I don't trust these newcomers; I mean, they say they're here to learn and to better themselves, but can you really trust them? Jeez, half the time it's like they don't even speak our language.

iago said...

I think the premise is interesting and there is a human story to be told.

What was that Hilary Swank movie recently where the kids drew inspiration from the Anne Frank diary?

Author: I have to ask -- and I don't know any way to ask without sounding unintentionally nasty, as a self-described through and through WASP -- what "qualifies" you to write this story? Were you a camp teacher? Were you that camp teacher? I wouldn't mind my kids reading a story like this, but I'd sure want it to have the voice of authenticity.

Dave said...

You might try something like:
Maria, whose parents labor as migrant workers, wants to break the cycle of poor education and poverty that trap her family. She doesn't want to sit around, learn nothing but boredom and pick vegetables. A teacher at the migrant camp assists her efforts by {how}... {?} Maria finds a heroine in the diary of Anne Frank. After her younger sister gets sickened by fertilizers, she uses those lessons as her family is ultimately arrested and deported.


That's painfully clunky. Tomas isn't there, maybe he doesn't have to be, maybe he does. He has to have a more compelling reason to be there other that as a foil for her boredom.
And you need the climax or lesson that Maria learns as she is shipped back.
There's a good idea here, don't give up. This query is not straightforward.

writtenwyrdd said...

Truly, in a children's book, there is no discernable need to mention one's immigration status unless you make it necessary in the plot.

Seems to me the difficulties of living in the 'sharecropper' life (which my relatives did in the 30s) is probably enough.

BuffySquirrel said...

Being qualified is for non-fiction, not fiction. A novel can have an authentic voice and still be entirely made up. That's the test--not whether it is authentic, but whether it convinces the reader.

There're no grounds on which to start dictating who's entitled to write fiction about what. Novels ain't autobiographies.

Anonymous said...

Author says,

Iago, valid question: lots of research. There is no earth-shattering revelation in the story. And as Master EE has made clear, the length disqualifies it from "definitive" status. It is a children's novel/novella with, I hope, a charming character who dotes on her little sister. Also, she is a migrant farm worker.

I've written a vampire short story or two, but never met one, as far as I know. I'm not sure about Anne Rice.

Robin S. said...

"Piling on the author."

Oh. That certainly was not my intention.

ME said...

Hope somone gets around to actually writing GTP#4

iago said...

Being qualified is for non-fiction, not fiction.

Which is why I put "qualified in quotes.

There're no grounds on which to start dictating who's entitled to write fiction about what.

There's no debate about entitlement here. You're reading way to much into the question.

There's a reason why it's useful sometimes to be able to put into a query "I grew up in that environment" or "I taught some of those kids". Because sometimes that hints at a little more versimilitude in the writing. Research is good too. Just making stuff up -- that's hit and miss. You might convince me, but you won't necessarily convince someone who's living or has lived that life.

Anonymous said...

Ohh, Buffy, please.

Even in fiction, the facts need to have a basis in fact. Even if the author is being subversive, he or she needs to be conversant with the truth that is being subverted.

If a man is going to write from a woman's point of view, he'd better know a little about women, don't you think? You're going to call him on it if he says something like stilettoes are the most comfortable shoes available.

Robin S. said...

Maybe I will, me. Glad you liked it.

I guess I was too busy piling on yesterday to get a kick out of that being my first GTP.

Evil Editor said...

No one was piling on. My comment was nothing more than proof of Godwin's Law.

Phoenix said...

Most comments here, I thought, were directed toward the subject matter and its execution, not the author. And most that pointed a finger at the author, I thought, were respectfully phrased.

If you're writing for publication, especially for kids, better to know early on what touches a nerve. Call it "trial by candlelight" rather than "trial by fire" since this ain't nothing compared to what parents are likely to put a book and its author through if there's the least bit of controversy surrounding it.

However, we minions do forget sometimes that we're critiquing the query letter, not the premise or the way the author chooses to handle the subject matter. I've been guilty of doing that, too.

Now, my last query took a lot of heat over subject matter, and while I expected the story to get ragged on, it was a bit frustrating to not get more feedback on the query letter itself.

Maybe if we try to remember to balance saying something useful about the query along with whatever thoughts we have about the story, it'll be win-win for all.

*steps down from soapbox*

iago said...

"I've written a vampire short story or two, but never met one, as far as I know. I'm not sure about Anne Rice."

I'm arguing in the abstract here because, of course, I neither know what's in your story nor know what life is really like for the daughter of a migrant worker.

I'm guessing there are no vampire parents around reading vampire stories to their vampire kids, getting half way through, and saying "hey, it wasn't like that at all back then."

If you have worked with those children in those migrant labor camps, it would possibly be a great thing to put in the query. It would be a great thing to have in the author bio in the back of the book.

Well, that's what I think, anyway.

Anonymous said...

Author says,

You're right, iago. That would be great for the query. Maybe I should lie...nah.

BuffySquirrel said...

*shrugs*

I've read many books and stories where the author clearly wasn't "qualified" to write for someone with my level of knowledge of the subject. Nonetheless, those books and stories garnered praise from other readers. This book isn't a "how-to" for being an illegal in America; it's fiction. Even if the author had direct experience of what they're writing about, someone who had a similar experience but had different reactions could still find it didn't convince. You pays your money and you takes your choice.

As for stilletoes...I know nothing about what they're like to wear!

writtenwyrdd said...

Regarding what phoenix says, recall the recent brouhaha about a recent kid's book?

"The Power of Lucky" set off a firestorm because on the first page it mentions a dog's scrotum. And this book won the Newbery Award.

iago said...

You pays your money and you takes your choice.

Maybe you're right. Don't knock me for being an idealist, though... Or a hand-wringing liberal.

It's not like there aren't other choices, like books by Hispanic authors, for instance. If the story's well told, it's well told.

Still, if this query came across my desk, I'd want to ask a couple of those questions. Maybe it just needs more of Maria's story and less of Anne's in the query so I don't think of it as a "message" book.

Anonymous said...

However, we minions do forget sometimes that we're critiquing the query letter, not the premise...

I think it's OK to critique the premise. Or rather, what we infer the premise to be based on the query. That can also give the author some valuable clues as to what worked and what didn't work in the query.

It seems here that the premise that was inferred by some wasn't the permise the author wanted to describe. This seems like a pretty good way of finding that out.

blogless_troll said...

See what happens when you bring up Nazis? Everybody's at each other's throat. It's like the bad slime under NYC in Ghostbusters II.

BuffySquirrel said...

Don't knock me for being an idealist, though... Or a hand-wringing liberal.

Oh, ok. If you insist :).

WouldBe said...

Don't knock me for being an idealist, though... Or a hand-wringing liberal.

Tell the truth, Iago, how many bumper stickers do you have on your car?

iago said...

Tell the truth, Iago, how many bumper stickers do you have on your car?

Bicycle. Obviously.

Robin S. said...

Oh, Good Lord, iago, are you one of those bike guys I just about run over every morning in my black car? ('Cause they're trying to ride in my f-ing CAR lane?)

Please say it ain't so. Honestly.

iago said...

Oh, Good Lord, iago, are you one of those bike guys...

I don't know... Was he wearing Birkenstocks? With socks?

Robin S. said...

Well, that's a relief, iago.

Nope. These guys are the helmet heads, with the bright, cheerful-colored, I-think-if-I'd-just -tried-harder-I could've made-it-onto-the-tour-de-France-team-for-America shiny little outfits.

And they usually have no discernible asses. Just these little bony things. No fun to look at, AND, they're attached to the bodies that're riding right in my way. Not a good combo.

Glad that wasn't you I almost took out this morning. Love those Birks with socks. Do you also wear Henleys with vests?

Dave said...

The last bike rider I saw in front of my car was from my Alma Mater and definately didn't have a bony ass with skinny legs.

The kid looked liked Superman with thighs of steel the size of my waist and a really cute ass. He was wearing white and burgundy spandex at the time so not much was left to the imagination.