Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Face-Lift 672


Guess the Plot

Save Us

1. Heeeeelllpppp! Haha, just kidding. Aahh! Help! Ha, got you again! Owowow, help! No, seriously this time!

2. As Jesus preaches his message of peace, a lowly fisherman leads a rebellion against the devil and his demon army. Can one fisherman save all the tortured souls of hell from damnation? And if he does, will Jesus take all the credit?

3. When a mass wave of solar radiation kills off all superheroes, the only ones who can save the world from the alien invasion are Mr. Paranoid, The Human Pebble, and Schitzy, who've been hiding in concrete bunkers since the Cold War.

4. Five friends go on a road trip from UC Berkeley to Colorado, but the car breaks down in nowhere, Utah, so they enter an abandoned junk yard in the desert to search for car parts in the old wrecks but end up getting haunted by ghosts of the car-crash dead and the mysterious Anasazi god known as Kokopelli.

5. Bob was Jesus's backup apostle, in case one of the twelve died, but his incompetence frustrated Jesus enough to send him into the future to get rid of him. When Bob arrives in rural 21st century America, he's more prone to mix up the holy wafers with garlic bread than to save any souls. Can he overcome his cluelessness and bring salvation to the people of Cheeseville, Wisconsin?

6. When a world-famous hero stops overnight in dull little Midtown, the people see their chance for fame and tourism dollars. They'll do anything to convince Badaz the Fist to make Midtown his home--even if it means faking a few disasters to keep him occupied.



Original Version

Dear Evil Editor:

Phoebus has had a busy few months: falling in love, dying, and leading a rebellion—in that order.

Phoebus is a young, orphaned fisherman living in ancient Phoenicia during the time of Christ. When he and his love Ariadna drown in a storm, they find themselves on the outskirts of Hell. Captured, separated, and enslaved, [Are you saying they aren't there because of their sinful ways, that they just happened to be passing the gates of hell on their way to heaven and got captured by Satan's minions?] they sink into despair, until Phoebus inadvertently sparks a rebellion against his demon captors.

He soon meets Durus, a mercenary angel sent to aid him, [If I were an angel, I'd be pretty pissed if a fisherman who couldn't even keep his boat afloat were chosen to lead a rebellion and I was just supposed to aid him. When you're taking on an army of demons, who do you want calling the shots: a mercenary angel or a dead fisherman?] who informs Phoebus that this conflict is meant by God to distract the devil from events on Earth. [Sort of like Dick Cheney starting a war halfway around the world to distract people from how bad things are at home. But hard to believe God would pull the same stunt.] Faced with this new mandate, the desire to find Ariadna, and the threat of a growing demon army, Phoebus becomes the unlikely leader of a desperate people. As Jesus’ path takes him to the cross, Phoebus undertakes a task that transforms him as much as it changes the fate of the slaves in Hell.

SAVE US is 75,000 words, and is my first novel.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,


Notes

As "mercenary" means greedy; covetous; working only for monetary gain, I don't see a mercenary angel being trusted on such an important mission.

I was under the impression those in hell were there because they deserved to be there. What's the story on how your slaves in hell got there?

A little more specificity would help. What are the stakes, i.e. what would happen if the devil weren't distracted from events on Earth? What was Phoebus transformed from/to?What does Phoebus bring to the table that convinces slaves who didn't think they had a chance in hell to defeat an army of demons that they can do so with Phoebus at the helm?

62 comments:

Steve Wright said...

I find the idea of a celestial Black Ops division ... intriguing, but possibly a little hard to swallow. (Wasn't the devil pretty much clued in about Jesus anyway? I mean, there was that whole temptation in the wilderness deal ... )

Phoebus and Ariadna sound more Greek than Phoenician to me (and shouldn't it be Ariadne?). Which raises the (possibly obligatory) question: have you done the research?

~Aimee States said...

What's with all the Jesus books?

I'm slightly curious about this because...

" As Jesus’ path takes him to the cross, Phoebus undertakes a task that transforms him as much as it changes the fate of the slaves in Hell."

...this sounds interesting to me. But they aren't a desperate people, they are a desperate dead people.

And they don't do a very good job of distracting the devil on earth seeing as how Jesus gets crucified.

Why is he an unlikely leader? All I know about him is that he was schmuck enough to drown with his girlfriend, and that's not a good angle. You have to make sense with this, something about him has to make him 'the one'.

Anonymous said...

Mixing mythologies is a dangerous ploy, especially when you use someone as well-known as Jesus as a character. Because people already have so many ideas about Jesus, etc. If you take a fresh approach and have your own original Jesus, plus a new take on Hell, angels, etc many people will be confused because this really isn't about the Hell or Jesus or angel they know. Others will find it upsetting that you got everything they take so seriously so very "wrong."

That's why Tolkein wrote about rings and Hobbits. That's why fantasy novels routinely have such odd names. The proven technique = take inspiration from whatever assortment of myths you care to, then free yourself from the baggage by using "replace all" to change "Jesus" to "Neo" or "Uthgar" or "Harry Potter."

blogless troll said...

I agree Steve and Aimee, unless Phoebus turns out to be The Human Pebble from GTP#3. Then I'd say you have a winner.

_*Rachel*_ said...

Is this at all related to Orpheus and Euripedes? Just wondering.

Aimee--if their goal is to provide a soldier-consuming distraction during the battle after Jesus dies, that could be what's happening.

Eric P. said...

Sounds kind of like Spawn (which I hated) + Spartacus (which I liked). But overall I think it's a reasonably cool concept, as long as you show that it's consistent with traditional Christian beliefs on heaven and hell. (The "mercenary angel" might be problematic; aren't angels the good guys?)

Steve has a good point on the Greek names. Though I believe Phoenicia was somewhat Hellenized by the time of Christ (thanks to Alexander), having your Phoenicians named after figures from Greek mythology still doesn't quite ring true to me.

I always supposed that the devil was all in favor of the Crucifixion but then got a big surprise. If that's the case, distracting him from it might be a bit irrelevant. Or are there other "events on earth" he needs to be distracted from?

Anonymous said...

I still think its problematic writing a book involving Christian concepts, which may seem contradictory to what is in the Bible - but you know Dante did in the Divine Comedy. So you know it just might work.

I was always taught that Satan knew exactly who Jesus was and his purpose - hence the temptations after His 40 days in the wilderness.

Here are a few plot problems I see -

1. sounds like the hero was kidnaped by Hell after death - this may stir up some needless controversy. Just make him a sinner, like the rest of us.

2. Duras does not sound very angel like, even his name is a bit unheavenly. I don't have too much problems with the concept, however, Satan is a fallen angel, I guess we can have a mercenary angel. I don't think God is putting him on the Christmas card list, however.

3. I think Satan not only had a good idea what was going on on Earth but probably has a good handle on what is happening in hell as well. Maybe Satan didn't have enough resources for the two-front war on man and God and enslaved dead souls. . . wait that's a three front war. It could work.

4. What's in it for the dead slaves to help out Phoebus - and what's in it for him other than finding his lost love? And - while we are here talking about the main character - what makes him so special dead people and mercenary angels are going to help him out as well.

Aimee - I think the Jesus stories may be the result of the success of The Shack or 2012 or who knows. I want to know where are the werewolves came from - the vampires I got but the whole moon thing plus death, destruction, furry creatures - someone should have caught on to them long ago.

vkw

Anonymous said...

Wait a minute...it's not comedy?

Dave F. said...

I didn't think of Spawn or Spartacus. I thought of Ben Hur -- the story of a man entwined around the ministry and crucifixion of Jesus but not directly involved. The other Biblical movie I thought about was Barabbas -- the sinner who was set free and only then came to realize what his life was to be. And to a lesser degree "The Robe" about the centurion who won the undivided garment and is haunted by it.

The query misses is the redemption of Phoebus in his search for Ariadne (in Greek) Arianna (in French). We need to care about Phoebus. The query has to focus on him. We need to see Phoebus as Ben Hur or Barabbas or Marcellus Gallo

Also If Duras is changed by the story, then we need to care about him, also.

Why do we care about Orpheus and Eurydice? Because it is a love story. Why do we care about Phoebus in your story?

BTW "Duras" is the name of a Klingon in Star Trek TNG. That's a lot of baggage.

Now as to theology, what if Lucifer doesn't know the future? What if Lucifer didn't know that Jesus of Nazareth was more than a prophet? Would a rebellion in Hell distracted him from the events on Earth so that Jesus is not just rebuked but crucified? That sets up the Harrowing of Hell and the defeat of Death. Now that presages an ending where some of the damned receive redemption and march victoriously out of Hell.

I don't know if that's the story. We need to know something about Phoebus's success in the query.

~Aimee States said...

I will say outright that I think the bible is more of a Grimm's Farity Tales type book. I am not religious, and I think it is just a list of moral plays to be honest.

BUT, If Lucifer knew the future (ie- being thrown in hell for all time when his gig is up), I doubt he would have rebelled. So the idea that he doesn't know the future has plausibility. But, he had to know who Jesus was, hence the temptation in the desert. (It's not like the Big L will show up at my place and hand me one too many martinis)

The idea that a rebellion in Hades kept the devil from seeing that Christ LIVED (thus not 'saving' mankind)is a pretty damn good one though, I have to admit.

~Aimee States said...

And for the record, in my five years of blogging that's the first time I've seen my name three times in a discussion about someone else.

Either I posed the most ridiculous thoughts known to man, or I'm about to have a Sally Fields moment. (Feel free not to clarify)

Vipul said...

Hey guys, thanks for all the comments. I guess there were some things that I took for granted that need to be clarified in the query. To address some of them:

A lot of you commented on the authenticity of the idea. The book presupposes that Satan is not omniscient like God, and can see certain things but not everything. The Bible illustrates that he knows who Jesus is, but not what He will do: ie. die for the sins of the world. The struggle in Hell is to make sure that Jesus is crucified, not the opposite. Dave F. hits the rest of it on the head--the harrowing of Hell follows. I don't believe the book is "mixing mythologies," it is in keeping with Christian theology--Hell is never described and so there can be quite a bit of poetic license with it.

This is, incidentally, why the protagonist is sent to Hell: because salvation has not been purchased yet. Christian theology is clear that all are sinners, so they are no different.

"Mercenary" is a poor word choice, I will change that to something else, but a "warrior-type" angel is certainly in keeping with Christian tradition and several recent Christian works, so the idea of one who works on his own in a "special-ops" manner is not that far-fetched. Angels always have the job of assisting people, not leading them, so it is also consistent that he is there to help Phoebus.

It's been nine years since I researched these names, but I will recheck for authenticity.

I will try to focus more on illustrating the motive for Phoebus as hero.

"What's with the all the Jesus books?" There's a whole arm of publishing dedicated to it.

And, no, this isn't a comedy, Anon.

~Aimee States said...

""What's with the all the Jesus books?" There's a whole arm of publishing dedicated to it."

Ok, now that's just trite. I highly doubt that any of us do not realize that there is a christian publishing industry. Hiss boo on you.

I don't see a problem with mixing mythology with the bible either. The new testament was written in Greek, and those guys could spin a good yarn. Best of luck.

Bethany said...

I'm reading that this novel is set BEFORE Christ died, hence you all being mistaken in thinking that Phoebus and Ariadna need be sinners in order to enter Hell. Before Christ died, all souls went to Hell (or a 'holding cell'/Purgatory for those who believed in the prophecies foretelling Christ's coming). Christ reclaimed ownership or "the keys" before ascending to Heaven.

In my humble opinion, this book should be submitted to a Strang, Tyndale, Zondervan, etc. Publishing House, as it is a "Christian" story.

I do agree that research should be done to find the origins of Phoenician/Greek names as well as the author not using the word "mercenary" (I believe the author meant altruistic?) to describe the Protagonist in this query.

Anonymous, you said that it may be problematic to write this story, but have you heard of The Shack? For crying out loud, God is a big, black woman and it is very effective! Also, Satan knew of Christ's comings and goings, but unlike God, he is not omniscient.

This novel seems to be more in the vein of a Frank Peretti, not a Lewis or Tolkien, but is definitely a novel to and for Christians.

Sorry to address the actual novel, instead of the query, but there are a lot of good questions that are not very able to be answered without having more information about the book itself.

The query letter, however, (minus the Evil Editor's added comments), seems to cover the basics of the story, whetting the appetite, without giving too much away.

See you in Family Bookstore, my friend.

~Aimee States said...

Generalized babble:

As far as taking license with Hell goes, absolutely (I can't shut up, somebody please stop me). Evil badies doing evil things without restraint, what's not to love? MY problem is...I don't buy the concept of hell for a minute, but that doesn't stop anyone from writing about it.

Really, if we're made in God's image, and WE HUMANS wouldn't throw our children into a bonfire (at least not nowadays), it's hard to image a perfect God would. Seems highly insulting to me, to assume we are capable of learning a greater love than our "creator" possesses.

I'd love to see some good writing about an imperfect version of God. I don't know the bible well enough to attempt it.

Xiexie said...

Hi author,

The concept, I like; however, we need to know why Phoebus is the Chosen One here.

I don't have too much of a problem with the names other than Phoebus is Latin while Ariadne is Greek, and if Phoebus is to be named after a god then he should be Helios or Apollo.

~Aimee States said...

Let me clear up this comment- "And they don't do a very good job of distracting the devil on earth seeing as how Jesus gets crucified."

If you look at the bible, which is the greatest story ever told for a reason, The crucifixion MUST happen for it to work. If they were doing a good job of distracting the devil, that story would change. Christ's death still must happen, but the road to it would be changed entirely. That's a hook worth mentioning, if the author wrote it.

Evil Editor said...

Lemme get this straight. For the first 1.9 million years humans existed, they all went to hell? Babies who died before taking their first breath went to hell? Noah, who built an ark and was, with his family, saved when everyone else was killed in the flood was then sent to hell?

Anonymous said...

Hi Bethany -

I am so happy you chimed in. I, in fact, do know about The Shack and actually referenced it in my original post. (12:06) No worries, I too have been known to read too quickly or just scanned something, thus missing something altogether. All the regulars here would be able to give testimony to that fact.

You did very succintly illustrate my concerns over using Biblical and Christian concepts - simply put - controversy seldom has helped a cause, in my opinion. I much prefer to find in another person the common ground we share and focus on that.

Some of the ideas you wrote as being fact are, in fact, interpreted differently, by different people and denominations - hence we have found the heart of my concern. If a novel falls too far away from most traditional or agreed upon beliefs then I don't think it will be published by any publisher, especially one that specializes in religious books. That's my opinion, but there may be more educated people here that may know a hellavu lot more than mois. And, if you re-read what I wrote, I don't necessary think this query does that.

If this book is meant to be spirtual, uplifting, life confirming, or gives the meaning and purpose of life, a deeper understanding of Christian, God, salvation, redemption, the Holy Spirit - then the query must somehow reflect this. I am sorry to say that after re-reading the query several times - I fail to see how it is geared toward me - a Christian, who enjoys spirtual books and, in fact, reading two right now.

That is my opinion and in no way is it meant to attack your beliefs or the book.

I would encourage the author to start with the spirtual piece. In one sentence what is the spirtual message you hope to relay to your audience? That should be your first sentence - now write your query.

vkw

~Aimee States said...

"For the first 1.9 million years humans existed, they all went to hell?"

No, they didn't. If a person studies the transliteration of words for hell in the bible, it is not "A fiery burning lake". It's a reference to death. Gehanna was a literal place to burn the dead, a garbage dump. Hades is Greek translates to limbo. Basically, you have to think about Adam being made from dust. "from dust you came and to dust you will return." It means you came from nothing, and you will go to nothing, sort of like sleep.

And I don't want to hear any particular reference to any particular religion because of my response, thank you. I follow none.

Kings Falcon said...

I was so hoping for GTP #6.

I'd like to know the whys and wherefores of Pheobus being assigned this task and what the Devil's not suppose to notice.

blogless troll said...

Before Christ died, all souls went to Hell (or a 'holding cell'/Purgatory for those who believed in the prophecies foretelling Christ's coming). Christ reclaimed ownership or "the keys" before ascending to Heaven.

Typical bloated bureaucracy. It takes a friggin lifetime to get even the simplest procedural change enacted. You'd think with an all-powerful omniscient being involved things would've run more smoothly. Can you imagine Dr. Manhattan putting up with that kind of red tape?

Anonymous said...

Not sure what kind of authentic you think those names have.

Ariadne was from Crete, a mortal sister of the Minotaur, and she betrayed her family to help Theseus escape certain death, but then the cad left her to perish on Naxos. Fortunately the beloved son of god came along and saved her and gave her immortality and married her so they had oodles of exciting adventures, though not as zombies.

Check the scoop on your classical deities here: http://www.theoi.com/

Vipul said...

Boy, this has gone into some distant theological territory. My thanks to those of you who were able to critique the query without getting your personal feelings all wrapped up in it.

Aimee, I understand your feelings about the Bible, God, and whether there is a Hell, but there are many people who believe in these things, and the book obviously presupposes their existence. Many people beyond just devout Christians believe in God and Satan. There are many books that have worldviews that I don't believe in or agree with, but that doesn't mean I can't help those writers in their goal to be published. And just to clarify, the goal of the distraction is to make sure that Jesus is crucified, thereby saving everyone. If Satan knew what Jesus planned or its implications, perhaps he would have tried to stop it.

Evil Editor - Your comment addresses vague theological territory which is not discussed in the Bible. It has been dealt with in several other books, both fictional and non-, and is very much open to conjecture. Some feel that pre-Christ people were sent to Hell and then rescued by Christ (the Harrowing of Hell, which is followed in my book), and some feel that Christ's salvation reached backward through time to reach people at all points in history.

Anon- I am sorry that you don't see anything uplifting in the query, but the goal of the query is to advertise a good story, which happens to be uplifting, not to be a self-help book proposal. As far as being controversial, this book is fiction, and deals with topics and places that are not covered in the Bible, and does not in any way contradict mainstream Christian theology. I think Christian publishers are always looking for stories that push the boundaries of our imaginations while still illustrating core beliefs.

Kathleen said...

looks like an interesting concept to me, but I agree with the other advice about making Phoebus' role and conflict more clear. Right now I am not really seeing who is rebelling and why, and why Phoebus has been chosen.

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Is it possibly to discuss the merits of the query without making statements of so called fact about your own particular religious views? As in before Jesus everyone went to hell. Even a little "in my opinion" tossed in there, or even better a "most Christians believe..." would go a long way here to keep the conversation where it should be for a non-Christian, non-religious blog about writing.

Because you're coming pretty close to saying that all non-Christians still go to hell. And if that's where discussion on this blog is going, I'm out.

Steve Wright said...

Lemme get this straight. For the first 1.9 million years humans existed, they all went to hell? Babies who died before taking their first breath went to hell? Noah, who built an ark and was, with his family, saved when everyone else was killed in the flood was then sent to hell?

Some Christians do, in fact, believe this. And some of us don't - we find this impossible to reconcile with the idea of a loving God. (The mediaeval concept of the Harrowing of Hell is one attempt to address the problem.)

Personally, I'm a Christian, but not a Fundamentalist or any other brand of Biblical literalist; I've got my own idas about this sort of thing ... and I suppose this is hardly the time or the place to discuss them, so I'll shut up now.

BuffySquirrel said...

The book might not be published by a Christian publisher, but deviation from denominational quirks of interpretation seems unlikely to deter mainstream publishers. I've seen plenty of books published that play on Christian mythology; it's not exempt.

_*Rachel*_ said...

I somewhat agree with Anon 10:35. The only books I've really been able to read that haven't done that have been This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness. But then again, I prefer flat-out fantasy over stuff where I have to watch my back.

This sounds--and I'm being cautious here--reasonably plausible. It sounds like something that didn't happen, but almost might have. That's speaking from a pretty traditional standpoint. I'd say that if you wrote it well, it might work for a Christian publisher.

Vipul--Please do change the word mercenary; that's not the word you meant. You also might want to think about the "captured, separated, and enslaved" sentence, and possibly explain a bit more at the end.

EE--I doubt you'll find many Christians who believe that everyone before Christ went to Hell and stayed there. If you look into sacrifices in the Old Testament, those are generally considered a parallel/forshadowing/symbol of what Jesus did. I don't know exactly how God figured it out, but I truly believe that there are many, many people who lived and died before Christ who are in Heaven, including children who never grew up enough to understand.

ril said...

Evil badies doing evil things without restraint, what's not to love?

I read this as "Evil babies..." and was right with you: that's a book I'd read.

Not all typos are infortuitous.

Dave F. said...

It's nice to see that the old liturgical pastime of determining the number of angels who can dance atop a pin (and what dance they might be doing) is still alive and well. The answer is, of course, not a number but the following question: "Why does an angel have to dance on the head of a pin?"

JR Tolkein, CS Lewis and a few other writers were openly Christian. Frodo is merciful to a fault and sacrifices himself. Aslan the Lion is an obvious Christ figure. We've even discussed "Christian-themed" books (Chesterton) and the current "Twilight"... Why would this book be special? Because it aspires to be inspirational? All books endeavor to inspire.

Many Evangelicals were awfully critical of Harry Potter until they reached the end of the story and discovered just how well it celebrated the family.

If there is a market and you have a book idea for that market, write it. The worst you might have to do is lie about your past as a writer of rip-snorting, rootin' tootin' porn. I think this has already happened, BTW.

~Aimee States said...

"There are many books that have worldviews that I don't believe in or agree with, but that doesn't mean I can't help those writers in their goal to be published."

And that's exactly why I say what I do. I AM interested in seeing other writers published.

"If Satan knew what Jesus planned or its implications, perhaps he would have tried to stop it."

Again, that's why I bring it up. I think it would be a great work-in for your novel. How do you know, that Satan DIDN'T know? He did try to make Jesus sin; and Jesus wouldn't have been quite the sacrificial lamb if he had fallen for it.

I'm not trying to be the bully heathen here, and my belief or lack thereof in a God has nothing to do with my comments. I've studied religion more than your average Sunday funny. I'm talking about a STORY, one that can sell. I wouldn't waste my time and energy if I didn't think you had a good premise to work with.

Basically, you're not hearing that people are trying to give you valid advice. It's not only about what you believe, it's about marketability. If you need to cleave to what you wrote, self publish, because an editor won't care when push comes to revision.

~Aimee States said...

"Evil Editor - Your comment addresses vague theological territory which is not discussed in the Bible."

Of course it is. Everything is explained in the bible. Handy fact; no one before Moses can ever be resurrected, including Adam. Dead, gone, forever. No heaven OR hell. And that's not personal belief there, or some handy interpretation, it's actual scripture. I wonder sometimes if people have even read the book?

I really have to remove myself from this one before I start banging myself about the head with a cold beer.

pacatrue said...

What happens to non-Christians before and after Jesus is a cool and controversial topic. When the person mentioned that "all before Jesus went to Hell" I had in mind Dante as the exemplar for such a notion. His great hero, Virgil, is sitting there in the first ring of Hell since he wasn't Christian, along with Plato, Socrates, and all. However, I supposed Virgil didn't believe in the Judeo-Christian God either, not having missed out only on Jesus. C.S. Lewis has an interesting take on it in Mere Christianity. Something like "The Bible makes it clear that heaven can only be reached through Jesus, but that doesn't mean we know all the ways of knowing Jesus or the plans God has for those." Though he says it much better than that.

Anyway, as for the query, I think earlier comments have made all the critical points. I think you might make it more clear what market you have in mind for this, as well as the tone of the book. The audience in Christian bookstores is quite different from the audience for cool Christian mythology almost as urban fantasy -- you know, Archangel Michael is jaded and hot with tattoos and he makes out with the protagonist before beheading some demons. I wasn't sure which way you were headed.

_*Rachel*_ said...

Aimee--Where in the Bible did you find that? I can't recall seeing anything remotely like it.

Evil Editor said...

It's in Epistles 4, 12-16:

And God said, resurrections shall not be performed willy-nilly, but shall be reserved for those born after Moses, inclusive. Thus no Cro-Magnon man nor Neanderthal nor Peking man shall be resurrected. Nor any caveman of any description, nor cavewoman. Nor the parents of Moses, nor his grandparents, nor his great-grandparents. Thus hath I decreed.

Anonymous said...

The task is the narrative thread, the details should be in the query.

Joel G.

ril said...

Thus no Cro-Magnon man nor Neanderthal nor Peking man shall be resurrected. Nor any caveman of any description, nor cavewoman.

Well clearly that's not true: I've seen those Geico ads.

Vipul said...

Just to be clear: I don't truly believe that everybody before Christ went to Hell (I agree with Rachel, Steve, and CS Lewis that God made a way for those people), but I thought it would be a good premise for a book. That premise is integral to the book, and the query, and therefore the discussion of the query. It wasn't my intent to get into deep theological debate, I just wanted help with the query. Evil Editor didn't mention any restriction on Christian or other religious works, so I felt it was ok to submit it.

Aimee, I apologize that my query has struck such a nerve with you. I disagree that I'm not listening to helpful advice, I certainly appreciate the many points the other commenters have given. I respect that you don't believe the book or the concept itself is marketable, but I would disagree. I guess we'll find out.

Again, thanks to all of you for your help. Queries are tough to get right, and I need to do some more work on mine.

Evil Editor said...

There's no restriction on any kind of book here. In fact, we're so desperate for queries at the moment, we'll even take pornography, celebrity autobiographies, and literary fiction.

As for your query, I thought it was pretty good, especially once you address my "Notes" (not counting the middle one, though it wouldn't hurt to anticipate others having the same objection I did by starting the query, Back in the old days, when everyone went to hell...

ril said...

...and literary fiction.

Seriously?

_*Rachel*_ said...

No, seriously.

Adam Heine said...

I thought Satan wanted Jesus to be crucified, but he didn't realize the full ramifications of it. Didn't Satan incite Judas to betray Jesus?

I mean this as a comment on the query. This was my (personal) problem with the whole "distracting Satan" angle.

~Aimee States said...

@Racheal - Wow, I blew that one bigtime. My bad. I was talking about the people before Noah, and all those lovely folks in Sodom and Gamorrah now that I'm thinking about it. Although, there is a rather angry bit about defying Moses. Let me get back to you on that. I refuse to whip out a bible at midnight.

Dave F. said...

If I may step into the theological discussion. There is much in the New Testament that relates to the Kingdom of Heaven being for all men as they understood that at the time. That is to say, not the animals or the fishes or the birds, but mankind. The the just and righteous are taken into Heaven at the Last Judgment and the sinners are cast out into the darkness.

A primary text would be Matthew 25: 31-46 -- the parable of the sheep and goats which is one of the main texts in Christian eschatology. It is clear that Jesus' words are meant for all men. It is too lengthy to cite here in the comments:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sheep_and_the_Goats

All men are judged at the Final Judgment.

A second text would be the Parable of the Wedding Feast in Matthew 22:1-14. The King orders an improperly clothed (disrespectful guest) and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. There is a similar passage in Luke 14: 16-24 that speaks to the inclusion of all.

Thus punishment is not fire and brimstone. Punishment is being removed from the presence of God Almighty -- cast out from the light into the darkness.

Anonymous said...

First off, I'd like to hire an Angel. That said, wouldn't Mercenary Angels pose a problem for God? I mean to win the war, all the devil has to do is hire all the Angles (and something tells he's paying better.)

Angel: I don't think God would like it if I come work for you.

Devil: Our benefits are much better. You can have all the things God gave to men: sloth, greed, gluttony, pestilence, whores.

Angel: "That does sound like fun. God never lets us have any fun. Look I don't even have a ...."



" As Jesus’ path takes him to the cross, Phoebus undertakes a task that transforms him as much as it changes the fate of the slaves in Hell."

This sentence doesn't work for me. It's not clear if you intend "as" to mean "at the same time" or to compare Phebus' path to Jesus' path. Though your intent may be to compare Phoebus to Jesus. (I would hope not. the subject of the sentence is path, after all, not Jesus.)

Is this Christian lit????

_*Rachel*_ said...

OK, if what you mean is that everybody who wasn't on the Ark during the flood went to hell, as well as everyone in Sodom and Gomorrah, a couple hundred? years later, I get ya. Debate's a bit open about if some of Noah's ancestors died in the flood; I'd rather not try to figure it out after midnight. As far as everyone before Noah going to hell--well, the only one I'm 100% sure didn't was Abel, but that's because info about pre-flood people is pretty limited.

Adam--I'm guessing that the rebellion is to distract Satan from realizing that Jesus needs to die on the cross. So around the climax, he wins on both fronts and then WHAM! loses in three days.

pacatrue said...

Porn... Christian... literary fic. Sounds like a Maplethorpe exhibit, particularly if someone shows their really big stamen.

BuffySquirrel said...

But what we really need to know is, did Zeus rape Leda in the missionary position or doggy-fashion?

_*Rachel*_ said...

I really don't need to know that, Buffy.

Greek gods make me so happy they're not mine.

~Aimee States said...

@Racheal - But I don't think they went to hell, they just ceased to be alive (but that's me). Here's the premise on this for those who don't read the big book...

You have Satan cast out of hell, and his buddies follow. Fast forward to the Nephilim of Noah's time (coolest concept ever, why does no one write about THEM?). Here's where you get the impression Satan already knows about Jesus' future arrival and his purpose. His rebel angels have been knocking up the girls on earth and now you have this race of evil giants because he wants to destroy Adam's blood line (If I have to find a passage for that I will, but someone's gonna owe me a cookie). Noah preaches for 120 years trying to find regular people to go on this boat trip, and no one wants to go (and rough estimates are a global population of around 3 billion I hear).

Bang, boom, bam, lighting and rain. Everyone dead.

Here's where I get irked. People in general take the bible and twist it like a slice of lemon to suit their needs. What it says it says, and you don't get to change it later, yanno? The actual chapters I was thinking of start with Isaiah 24--but the scripture in general is Isaiah 26:14-

KJV- They are dead, they shall not live; they are deceased, they shall not rise: therefore hast thou visited and destroyed them, and made all their memory to perish.

Viola. Gone baby. "Shall not rise"

But people don't like that thought, so of course it's death, right? No, it already said they shall not live, they shall not RISE. Same with Adam, for different reasons.

ANYWAY- there's a lot of twisting. Kind of like Jesus' Law of Love cancels out the law of Moses. Sooo... there's no more tithe, but don't tell the congregation that!

(You gotta love that Isaiah called the earth a circle 2K years before Columbus did his big thinking.)

I think the bible is a fascinating book. I'd like to believe in God, I really would. After all, he wasn't a preacher, he was a writer.

@author- I never said I don't think your book is believable or marketable, reread my comment. As a matter of fact, I recall saying I thought your book had potential. But the idea that Satan wants Jesus to die is hollow, in my opinion. The reason for the temptation in the desert was to try and render his sacrifice moot. I also think it's more believable that he does know who and why Jesus is, and is distracted in this battle from seeing that Jesus lives. I don't think people are going to buy a Satan who doesn't know what the hell is going on. Again, just my opinions.

BuffySquirrel said...

Yeah, Rachel, much better to have a god who drowns everyone, or destroys entire cities, or thinks a man who offers his daughters to be raped is a good man.

Anonymous said...

As far as "...everyone going to Hell", I too believe that God made a way for many, as Vipul said, but if you continue to read Bethany's response (Evil Editor) like Anonymous so clearly rebuked her for not doing, she wrote, Hell/Purgatory/Holding Cell...as we all know, the Bible can be interpreted in many ways.

Vipul - the query iteself needs some minor changes, but as far as the subject matter, this is not the forum. Looks to me that you have a scriptural swordfight going on and that wasn't what you were looking for. I would take the actual criticism of the query and make those changes, but for all of the religion bashing, "C'est la vie". Everyone has an opinion, just like everyone has a butt hole...they all stink.

B. said...

@ Vipul - Aimee wrote "Viola". I'm sorry Aimee, it has become somewhat of a huge inside joke.

Vipul said...

Adam - You are exactly right. In the book, Satan pushes for Jesus' crucifixion, knowing exactly who and what He is, but doesn't realize the ramifications until it's too late. I need to do a better job in the query with that, which would also address the "stakes" issue that EE raises. Thanks for clarifying the distinction, it's helpful.

Dave F - I personally agree that the Bible's depiction of Hell is eternal separation from God, and that there will be a final judgment. I thought it would be cooler (and more recognizable) to show Hell in a more fiery light. I think Rachel was pretty accurate in what my intent is: to show something that didn't happen, but could have with some imagination.

Aimee - It's true that people twist the Bible to say what they want, such as using a verse that states people will not be resurrected (not brought back to Earth) to mean that they are not sent to an afterlife. I don't see a correlation between the two. Nor do I think that believing in Hell means that one is twisting the Bible. And again, in my book Satan does know who and what Jesus is, but doesn't understand the ramifications of His actions. That Satan hates Jesus and Christians and wants death for them is pretty standard Christian doctrine, so I don't think that's "hollow."

Anon 1:02 - Yes, this is Christian fiction, although it would be cool if it had broader appeal. I see your point about that sentence, maybe "While" is a better word than "As." Thanks for pointing that out.

~Aimee States said...

"And again, in my book Satan does know who and what Jesus is, but doesn't understand the ramifications of His actions."

But he did. He put it into the hearts of the Sanhedrin and Sadducees (namely Caiaphas) to capture Jesus at night and hold him until after the passover, lest they cause a riot amongst Jesus followers. It would have prevented "The Sacrificial Lamb" from dying at Passover that way. He tried to kill him numerous times where he wouldn't have atoned for sins; his birth is one, and in John where they are trying to throw him off a cliff and he just disappears.

Satan overestimated the people. He tried to use Judas to push it out into the open, so the people would chose Christ over Barabbas. Satan wanted Jesus dead, but not that day. God trumped Satan.

You can use the Bible however you want. I'm not taking it personally, just talking about the stories. You have your views and I have mine. And really, my goal was to help you make a really great book; one that I would buy. Take it or leave it.

Adam Heine said...

Rachel wrote: "I'm guessing that the rebellion is to distract Satan from realizing that Jesus needs to die on the cross."

Ah, so the distraction is not to keep Satan away from stopping the crucifixion, but to keep him from realizing what it's really for. That makes sense (and I think the author backed this up too). I can get on board with that.

And that's what everyone wants, of course. My approval is so very important.

Eric P. said...

I actually work for a Christian publisher, though not one that handles much fiction. This thread illustrates something we see a lot of-- people take their beliefs very seriously, and are willing and ready to do some serious nitpicking for them. When we publish a Bible study we often get detailed letters (usually cordial ones) from readers asking whether this particular word or phrase was really what we intended, and how that fits with this chapter and verse, and whether their denomination believes.... It makes editing a bit daunting at times.

All that to say, I think the big-picture lesson from this discussion (which is very good and interesting all around, by the way) is that there's no nitpicker like a theological nitpicker. So be careful how much artistic license you take in your story--even when it's "just a story," you have a bunch of well-informed readers waiting to pounce!

For what it's worth, my own take on the theology is that the devil knew that Jesus was going to be crucified and actively encouraged it (chapter and verse: Luke 22:3ff), because he didn't realize what would happen as a result. Thus the devil in doing evil was actually working for good by inadvertently helping bring about his own downfall. That could be an interesting theme to play with... just my two cents.

~Aimee States said...

"Aimee wrote "Viola". I'm sorry Aimee, it has become somewhat of a huge inside joke."

Sigh. I hate when I do that. Second chance? Voila?

*crickets*

~Aimee States said...

One last bit, and then I'm outa this thread forever, I promise. My personal belief that there is no hell would not stop me from reading this book at all. I'm actually really interested in this battle in Hell you're talking about. I just form my comments and opinions on what I've read in the Bible. Two examples~

Ecclesiastes 9:5 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing

Psalms 146:4 His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.

I believe that people in Hell would be having some serious thoughts. So I'm with Dave in his previous comment that death equates to basically nothingness for those who aren't going to be resurrected. When I quoted the scripture saying "shall not rise", it was in line with that idea. There are believers and non believers of all kind, and some of them will read about a battle in Hell regardless of personal beliefs. But you have to be very discerning in how you use the Bible when writing nonfiction, because as a previous comment stated, we're watching.

Vipul said...

To those of you who commented on the names, after rechecking, Phoenicia was in fact thoroughly Hellenized for a couple hundred years at that time, and ruled by Rome for about a hundred. I think Greek names are really the only choice for that reason, but I'm going to find some that are less tied to Greek mythology, as Eric P suggests. Thanks again.

_*Rachel*_ said...

Did my last comment get eaten? Short version:

Check the context of Isaiah 26:14; "they" doesn't refer to everyone who dies.

Rather a just God than a rapist god.

Wow on the number of comments, Vipul. You may have come close to setting a record. Good luck on your novel!