Monday, March 02, 2009
Guess the Plot
1. Life isn't easy when you're a snake in the grass. It gets worse when you piss God off by spoiling His creation, and you realize that you only have Hell to look forward to after . . . Surviving Eden.
2. On an alternate Earth, where the apple went untouched and mankind continued naked and unashamed, would-be fashionista Carlotta Jones yearns to design the perfect apron of fig-leaves.
3. In an unspoiled part of America, Sarah moves into the home of a mysterious spinster. But can her ambition to become a spinster herself survive when she meets hunky Tyler wandering in the forest?
4. They called it Eden: a mythical planet of beauty and fruitfulness, hidden in the far reaches of the galaxy. Jonah Starfarer found it at last--but no one had mentioned the sword-wielding angel who guarded it.
5. Everyone knows about Adam & Eve. But what about the poor animals? Lion Aslan must lead the animals from their world to the dangerous one of humans. But is there a snake in his path, too?
6. Eden seemed so fragile and delicate that Walter dedicated himself to protecting her. But after five years of her mood shifts and erratic behaviour, he was forced to acknowledge that he was barely . . . Surviving Eden.
Dear Evil Editor,
Night falls when seventeen-year-old Sarah packs up her few possessions and flees her pioneer home and an arranged marriage. Fortune lands her a place in the home of a weaver and his mother-in-law [He lives with his mother-in-law? It must be annoying to a woman when she throws her husband out and he immediately moves in with her mother.] spinster willing to teach her their trades.
[Sarah: Is there much money in being a spinster?
Weaver's mother-in-law: "Spinsterhood ain't a lucrative trade, honey, but it beats living for the rest of your life with some a-hole."]
[Okay, you probably meant the less common definition of "spinster," a woman who spins. I found it in the dictionary, and the only example of its use they could find was taken from Piers Plowman, written in the late 1300's. I suggest going with "spinning wheel tech" or "filament artisan."] Soon she adapts to their quirky personalities, but several mysteries lurk at the edges of the pair's droll banter. In the midst of all this, [All what? All she's done so far is move into a weaver's house.] Sarah runs headfirst into Tyler, a secretive young man, one day while alone in the forest. [Or, more accurately, while not alone in the forest.]
Her journey eventually leads her back home [Has it been an eventful journey? We still don't know anything she's done except move into a weaver's house.] to confront the painful reality of her mother's death—and her negligent and abusive father. As she looks toward a new life with Tyler, [The secretive guy she ran into once? They're now a thing? Is she still seventeen? How old's Tyler? Does he live with his parents?] she must find the strength to forgive her father and, more importantly, herself.
Surviving Eden is an 80,000 word young adult novel that examines teen-parent relationships [The query starts as Sarah leaves home, and her mother dies while she's gone. You might want to add something about what was going on before the run-away if it's truly an examination of teen/parent relationships.] and one young woman's desire to become more than her circumstances dictate. [What does she want to become?] It is refreshingly divergent in a young adult market saturated with vampires and zombies. [You may assume your correspondent knows whether your plot is refreshingly divergent.]
I am an associate editor with Gibbs Smith, a national nonfiction publisher based in Utah. I previously worked as a copy editor and reporter for the Deseret Morning News in Salt Lake City.
Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from you.
Why must she forgive her father for being negligent and abusive?
The most intriguing parts to me were the mysteries lurking within the weaver and spinster and Tyler's secretiveness, but nothing is made of either.
Perhaps it would be better to describe Tyler as hunky rather than secretive so we have a hint that he's a romantic interest. As it is, Sarah's looking ahead to a future with Tyler seems out of the blue. I assumed he was a vampire or zombie. Have you considered making him a vampire or zombie? It would be refreshingly divergent for a YA vampire story to be set in pioneer times.
Examining teen/parent relationships in pioneer days, when they were radically different from today, doesn't seem like a big selling point in a query. It's interesting, but unless you can convince us it's relevant to today's teens, I'd use that space to provide more of the story. What percentage of this book involves Sarah's parents?
Does Sarah go from home to weaver and then from weaver to home? If there's more to her journey, let's hear about some of it. How long is she away from home?