Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Face-Lift 585

Guess the Plot

Lucifer's Porsche

1. Sherry Turner owns a ski lodge on Mt. Ames, home of the treacherous run known as Lucifer's Porsche. When handsome Olympic skier Ross Hardman is nearly killed on the slopes, she must choose--her man or her manor?

2. T-Dawg had stole some fine hoopties before, but nothing like this black Porsche. Tha peeps down at tha Park gonna love his mad skillz! Little does he know he's stolen Lucifer's car, and he's gonna really be ghostrifing this whip.

3. When Satan finds himself having a mid-life crisis, he has two choices: He'll either have to fall in love and start performing acts of kindness . . . or buy a Porsche.

4. Tom Stop figured he'd boosted the sweetest ride on the streets. But, as he pulled out of the parking lot at Club 666 and the painted flames along the sides burst into real flames, he began to think he'd made a mistake. Now he's got 24 hours to find the car's owner or he'll discover that "highway to hell" isn't just a figure of speech.

5. When the devil offers to trade in his 2008 Porsche for a 2004 Prius--and the salesman's soul--Honest Bob doesn't think twice about closing the deal. After all, has any car salesman ever made it to the Pearly Gates anyway?

6. Amy Jackson lost control of Todd's new Porsche convertible on her way to the veterinary clinic with Mad Felix, the injured cat. As the car plunged into Lake Wintucktim and disappeared, Amy could barely swim ashore and save herself. Felix, alas, died of his injuries. Good thing the car wasn't totaled!! Too bad it's now haunted by the glowing-eyed ghost of Mad Felix, who sits in the backseat and flies the vehicle on his evil missions from Hell, using mental telepathy.

7. As the Devil attempts to make his stylish reentry into modern society, his cloven hooves slip off the pedals of his Porsche speedster, which crashes into a tree, sending this churlish Demon head-over-hooves into the garden of spinster Madge Gatwick as she fails to prune the mistletoe from her plum tree. It's love at first sight for this odd couple, but how will the ladies' charity club react? And what will Father Murphy say?

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Satan's having a mid-life crisis. Mutilation, asphyxiation, blah, blah, blah. [Don't you mean yadda, yadda, yadda?] Nothing's delivering that old, delicious zing. And his minions are threatening mutiny. Can he help it that the pristine souls needed to power the underworld are becoming harder to locate and almost impossible to seduce?

Gazing at an endless line of the Damned, Satan feels the weight of eternity pulling on his leathery wings. He sets off to outer-Earth on a soul-acquisition journey. Per the Elysium-Hades treaty, he and God are each allotted one soul-deal per decade. Satan targets Eden Grace, a Seattle landscaper who possesses a soul pure enough to fuel ten new disembowelment chambers. His plan is simple: hire Eden for a big-budget job, fog her mind with romance, and offer to save her sickly daughter. Problem is, he experiences more of a thrill from helping Eden than from hurting her. What kind of King of Darkness gets a buzz from doing good? And why does he feel such deranged exhilaration whenever he's with her? His celestial powers are waning, his assistant demons are conspiring, and Eden's invading his psyche. Ultimately, he must choose between an eternity of crushing despair and a love that could destroy him...Damn.

LUCIFER'S PORSCHE is a 70,000 word urban fantasy which placed third in the Science Fiction/Fantasy category of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association's literary contest this year. [I'll try not to hold it against you that you couldn't even win your category of this obscure contest; there's no accounting for the taste of contest judges.] I've completed the advanced fiction writers program at the University of Washington. Although I do not have direct experience with hell, I spent five years in Detroit.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


[Title note (not part of query): The Porsche is a reference to Satan's 'mid-life crisis'. Obviously, immortal beings don't have a mid-life; however, he needs something to combat his crushing ennui. The only thing that provides the sizzle he misses is performing good deeds, i.e., his version of engaging in dangerous behavior.]


I like this, though not necessarily as an urban fantasy. As I understand it, urban fantasy has come to mean a contemporary fantasy with a kick-ass female protagonist who has a lot of attitude. Humor is common, but the humor tends to be in the heroine's 'tude, not the plot, which is fairly dark. This query makes the book sound like a comedy (which I assume it is), and Satan seems to be your main character. So unless the minions say otherwise, you might want to call this a fantastical comedy or a humorous fantasy.

Mutilation, asphyxiation, blah, blah, blah, makes Satan sound like a run-of-the-mill serial killer. The biggest serial killer ever does things on a grander scale. Try something like "Lake of fire, pit of despair, arena of tortures . . . Nothing's delivering that old, delicious zing."

You might turn that long paragraph into two, breaking after "decade" or "chambers."


December/Stacia said...

Sounds more like paranormal romance to me. (Oh, and UF doesn't *have* to be contemporary.) It seems like the love interest angle is a significant part of the plot?

Either way, this sounds like a total hoot. I love it.

I'd leave out the contest thing as well, but leave the line about Detroit.

writtenwyrdd said...

This is very much like the plot of Jeri Smith-Ready's "Requiem for the Devil."

I like the touch of humor at the end. The humor in the beginning is trying a bit too hard for me.

Brigid said...

I really like this too, and I second EE's comments. It would soften up the beginning a bit, especially since we're supposed to relate to this guy with the asphyxiating, etc. later in the query.

Chris Eldin said...

Love it!

Dave F. said...

Speaking of mid-life crises... Robert Redford just showed up on TV with flaming red-blond hair not even slightly gray at the temples. He's been hitting the bottle again.

I agree this isn't urban fantasy.

The title doesn't work but if you get this published, they'll change the title. "Satan Gets a Lap Dance" would pop some eyebrows but it sucks worse than Lucifer's Porsche.

The first paragraph needs to be a touch lighter in tone. At least as light and wryly humorous as the end of the second paragraph. That final "DAMN" is so funny.

BuffySquirrel said...

Ouch, mixing Graeco-Roman and Christian mythology really hurts. Pick one? pls?

This seems potentially amusing. Altho' if the love's going to destroy him, doesn't seem like much of a choice to me. Maybe "turn him mortal" or something?

Brenda Bradshaw said...

I agree with EE on upping the destruction factors.

I also agree with December. This sounds like a paranormal romance to me too, and the length would fit Harlequin's Blaze and Sillouette's Nocturne lines (although not knowing the amount of sexuality in the novel, it's hard to say for sure). I like the tone, and LOVE the "lived in Detroit".

Jennifer said...

Okay, this is not at all my kind of story, but I love this query. At the very least it says that the author can write. And entertain.

For subtle emphasis, I would say "but I *did* spend 5 years in Detroit" but that's just personal preference-y.

On an unrelated note, EE thank you, thank you, thank you for the big red Santa cartoon. If I hit page down, I know to stop when the top half comes into the screen. You know, to avoid the post-cleanse photos.

Anonymous said...

Great query. I would leave out the 3rd place award, though. I think it hurts more than it helps.

JAMRyan said...

Thanks for the helpful feedback, EE and commentors! I'll try to finesse the beginning paras and will rethink the category. It's kinda tricky going the romance route since boy does not get girl in the end.

I haven't read "Requiem for the Devil", but just added it to my Christmas wish-list. (yes, i see the irony in this)

Wonderwood said...

I like this query. I agree with the previous comments and EE's suggestions, for whatever that's worth. I think this is real close to ready.

Also agree with Jennifer about, *but I did spend five years in Detroit*. I think it gives the line more punch, and it's a great line. Good luck with it, sounds like a fun story.

December/Stacia said...

Hmm. Okay. If boy doesn't get girl in the end you can't call it romance. Um...paranormal fiction? Contemporary fantasy? Paranormal comedy? Any of those grab you?

writtenwyrdd said...

Maybe it's best to just say it's a novel and let the agent decide about the marketing angle?

JAMRyan said...

December - I like contemporary fantasy. Seems like the most fitting description. Thanks.

chelsea said...

From what I understand, urban fantasy is simply a story that take place in the real world and has fantastical elements brought in, as opposed to high fantasy, which takes place in a magical world and often seems to include a quest, a la Lord of the Rings.

I think the feisty heroine thing that's running rampant in urban fantasy is simply a response to the nauseating tendency in chick lit and the like to perpetuate the damsel in distress schtick.

But anyway.

"Soul-acquisition journey" tripped me up. Felt little wordy compared to the rest of the query.

I really like this. I've now read it on two separate occasions and the ending "Damn" managed to make me laugh both times. It sounds humorous and unique, and the boy-not-getting-the-girl fits in with that well.

I would read this, but if it shows up in the romance section, I will never, never see it.

JLR said...

This sounds interesting. A few things I did not like. One, I agree with Buffy Squirrel. It's off-putting to call Heaven and Hell by names from another religion. Next, the same with "celestial". That term is laden with heavenly, not hellish, connotations, and I get hung up on it when it's applied to Satan. Other than that, if I saw this on a book shelf, I'd give it a go. Good luck!


JAMRyan said...

Thanks, JLR. Your (and BuffySquirrel's) points are well taken. I've written the manuscript with the mindset that no single religion/culture/mythology is the 'correct' one, so I've borrowed from many traditions.

I can see how that might put off those with a theological background. Unfortunately, I haven't figured out how to avoid this without promoting a single world view.

JLR said...

JAMRyan wrote: "Unfortunately, I haven't figured out how to avoid this without promoting a single world view."

If the religion isn't so specific, have you considered less specific names? Generics or the like? For example, Prince of Darkness instead of Satan. To me Satan is Judeo-Christian-Islamic, not Greek or anything else.

Hope that helps.