Thursday, August 20, 2009
Guess the Plot
The Mermaid Virus
1. When a dead mermaid with open sores washes up on the beach it causes a media frenzy. Can Dr. Michaels stop the plague she carries from spreading to humanity--before Arnold Toole convinces everyone that eating mermaid flesh grants immortality?
2. In a village famous for its seafood and its smell, Kayla's scientist parents are studying a mysterious virus that kills one teen-aged girl per year. When her parents suddenly die, Kayla must finish their work before she becomes the next victim of . . . The Mermaid Virus. Also, Rastafarian surfers.
3. Kyle designed the Mermaid Virus to trail bubbles across random office monitors and to relieve boredom. But when the saucy fish-tail starts skimming the managers' accounts and transferring the money to orphanages, cancer research, and Save the Whales, Kyle isn't sure if he's created a monster or an angel.
4. For years, virologist Lyle Bodecker has been studying the "Mermaid Virus", a mysterious disease that transforms women into near-duplicates of Daryl Hannah during the filming of Splash. Now he's announced he's on the verge of finding a cure. Can he be stopped in time?
5. Navy SEAL Hank Deadle knows he and his badass comrades are the best of the best . . . until they start growing iridescent green tails. Could it have anything to do with that top-secret medical research project funded by Disney that they volunteered for?
6. When fishermen in Nova Scotia land a mermaid, they think they've hit the jackpot--until they're stricken with a mysterious illness that makes them unable to breathe except while underwater. Can fish pathologist Hank Walley decipher the genetic code of this nightmare virus and identify a cure in time to save himself? Or must he, too, soon be tanked?
Dear Evil Editor,
Sandstone is an unusual village, not just because of its uncanny success in the seafood industry [despite its location 800 miles from the ocean,] or the mysterious virus that takes the life of one teenage girl every year, but because of its smell. [There's nothing unusual about a village that's famous for seafood also being famous for its smell.] The smell of Sandstone air is the first thing that strikes Kayla as unusual when she moves to the seaside village with her parents, scientists that are determined to discover the cure for the Mermaid Virus [thus saving 100 lives per century]. [I smell a Nobel Prize in medicine coming their way.]
Kayla is soon befriended by the mysterious and green-eyed Joseph [I'd rather know what's mysterious about him than what color his eyes are.] and a delinquent crew of Rastafarian surfers. When attacks from strange water creatures [Mermaids.] begin to take their toll on the surfers and fishermen alike, Kayla starts to realize that there is more to Sandstone's annual deaths than a “virus.” When her parents meet an untimely death at the verge of scientific breakthrough, she becomes sure of it. [It's the fact that one teen-aged girl per year dies that indicates "virus" should be in quotation marks, not the fact that sea creatures are trying to rid their waters of Rastafarian surfers, or that Kayla's parents, who aren't teenagers, died. What killed her parents?] Now, under the guardianship of a woman she does not trust, Kayla must continue the work that her parents began—discovering the cause of the Mermaid Virus—before she becomes its next victim, even as she struggles with her grief over her parent's [parents'] death, the unusual nature of her relationship with Joseph, [If you aren't going to tell us what's mysterious about Joseph or what's unusual about their relationship, why is he in the query?] and the dark secrets her surfing friends fail to keep hidden. [But that you have no trouble keeping hidden.]
The Mermaid Virus is complete at 67,000 words. I have spent several years on both the East and West coast and have become an avid reader of mermaid lore. I hold a BA in Literary Studies from Brigham Young University-Idaho. [BYU Idaho? That makes as much sense as MIT at Chicago.] My shorter creative work [A Haiku and a non-rhyming limerick.] has appeared in The Claremont Review and Bottle Rockets, and has earned several awards at my university's annual pre-professional conferences. I thought that this project may be suitable for you because of your interest in folklore, cannibalism, and obscure Asian history. Thank you for your time in reviewing this query. [For the record, my interest in cannibalism isn't literary in nature; I just like the flavor of a well-seasoned grilled human thigh.]
So what's so unusual about the smell of the air? If you're going to bring it up, you have to explain.
I don't see how scientists can be so convinced there's a virus that targets one teen girl per year, that they pack up their family and move to the scene of the deaths to find a cure. It sounds more like a case for amateur sleuth Amelia Pettipants.
On the other hand, if the villagers are sacrificing one girl per year to Aquaman, how did word that there was a mysterious virus reach Kayla's parents? Was it CSI Sandstone that originally determined that the annual deaths were caused by a virus?
How can a teen-aged girl just take over the work of her scientist parents? Doesn't this work require years of training?