Friday, January 27, 2012

Face-Lift 984

Guess the Plot

The Star Bear Odyssey

1. Microbrewer Dave Fitzsimmons thinks he's found a winning name for his secret lager. He dreams of hitting it big. Then there's a mistake at the printer. Hilarity ensues.

2. A space bear travels to Earth and meets a tragic end, but his cells serve as the building blocks of life on our planet. Written entirely in haiku.

3. Sam and Belle Star, horse and cattle rustlers, stop in a bar where a depressed stockbroker says there’s a bear market at the Chicago Exchange. So the Star gang raid Missouri and Iowa zoos, stealing bears and herding them toward Chicago.

4. When Olga Petrovna, the lead bear in the Moscow Circus's bicycle act, is kidnapped by a rival ringmaster, plucky 11-year-old acrobat Ivan Ivanovich must cross Siberia to far off Irkutsk to recover her.

5. A crew of astronauts set out on the most dangerous mission ever, a voyage from Mizar in Ursa Major (The Great Bear) to Polaris in Ursa Minor (The Little Bear). Apparently they're obsessed with bears, although this is carrying it a bit far.

6. Seventeen-year-old Kendra Langton sets out to follow the path of Odysseus in her sailboat, Star Bear. It's supposed to be an educational vacation, but when she encounters Charybdis and then gets attacked by a Cyclops, she realizes she's in for rough sailing. Could Circe be behind this?

7. Every solstice, Grock the centaur makes the pilgrimage to the Ring of Stones to learn about his destiny from the Star Bear. This year, his oracle is silent and Grock needs to find out why the stars' voices have been stilled.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Attached please find my 523 word very haiku horror picture story for all ages, [If it's haiku, we don't need a word count; we need a syllable count.] [Not sure what the word "very" is modifying. Very haiku? As opposed to somewhat haiku? Would a somewhat haiku book be written using a lower percentage of haiku, or would it just have some inferior haiku, like with eight syllables in the middle line?] The Star Bear Odyssey. You mentioned that you would be interested in seeing it. [Note to self: Henceforth no more than two beers per night at a writers conference.]

The crash-landing of another traveller, expelled from his own star, rudely interrupts a small water bear space traveller’s journey. [These strings of modifiers (very haiku horror picture, small water bear space) don't help your cause, partly because they seem like randomly chosen words.] [Here's a haiku I just composed using your word-string method:

Small water bear space
Very haiku horror pics
Charge tennis cow spring.

Is that what the haiku in your book are like?]

The empathetic star bear is glad to receive company and agrees to take care of the foundling. A tale reminiscent of a twining of Roald Dahl’s dark humor and Poe’s psychological distress unfolds.

[Edgar Allan Poe
And Roald Dahl entwining.
Wackiness ensues.]

On one level it is a simple story of survival. On another level it is about depression, abuse, and the betrayal of trust.

[Depression, abuse,
And the betrayal of trust.
Sounds like a downer.]

The outcome is necessarily tragic, but also a pyrrhic victory, in that the star bear’s cells serve as a fragile evolutionary bridge on earth. Panspermia is an unlikely but possible scientific theory for the sustenance of life on earth. [For those who don't want to look it up, panspermia is the theory that sperm from a star bear traveled through space until it encountered the egg of an Earth mammal, resulting in the creation of Yogi Bear.]

I wrote the book during a period of severe depression, for which it served as a kind of catharsis. I have had it edited professionally by Hat Trick Rooster, a published Xanaduian poet. [I Googled the words Xanaduian poet but Google insisted I meant Canadian poet. I guess that means they never heard of a poet from Xanadu. (Personally, I'm surprised they've heard of any poets from Canada.) Then I Googled Hat Trick Rooster and got this 1961 Australian ad for Red Rooster's Hawaiian Hat Trick box of food.] [I had no idea Australian ads were as annoying as American ads. "Chunks and chips." That sounds appetizing.] [Does a haiku author really need a haiku editor? Haiku are only about eight words long. I guess the editor can confirm that each line has the right number of syllables. And some words do have questionable syllabic totals. For instance, Xanaduian. If you pronounce it Zan a du ee an it's five syllables, but if you pronounce it Zan a du yen it's four. If I were writing a haiku, I'd go with four syllables. Otherwise it takes up the entire first line. To illustrate, compare these haiku:

Xanaduian dome
Brings pleasure to Kublai Khan
But not to students.

It describes Rooster Hat Trick,
Whoever that is.

As haiku, they're equally great, but the first one has more words. That's the point I'm trying to make.] [Wild guess: Xanaduian TV ads are less annoying than Australian TV ads.]

I am at a loss as to what type of publication (other than/self-publishing) it might appeal to. (which I won't mention) [I agree that it's a mistake to mention in a query that you believe self-publishing is your best bet.]

I am an artist and aspiring illustrator-author, an avid reader, and fascinated by the evolution of books, reading and technology. The illustrations for Star Bear are done on smooth, bleed proof paper in mixed media. The haikus are written in calligraphy as part of each illustration. I found the physical act of handwriting in itself therapeutic. [I don't even remember how to perform the physical act of handwriting.]

I look forward to hearing from you.



Maybe this would be a hit in Japan. Or maybe it would be cool for teachers to use when covering poetry in elementary school.

Clearly you need to include sample pages so editors can judge the quality of the art, calligraphy and haiku. If they like what they see, they will probably want a lot more of the story than you provide here. The mention of horror/Poe/Dahl leads me to believe there's a plot. Are the bear and the foundling the only characters? What happens when they get here? What's this about betrayal? Summarize the story. Then add:

Haiku book, complete
With space bear illustrations.
Request manuscript?


150 said...

If you're going to keep querying this, my advice is to ask librarians for scary picture books and query those publishers after taking all the unprofessional hemming and hawing out of your query. But my actual advice is to scan this and publish it on the Internet for free as a webcomic. You won't make any money, but it could really find an audience (and if it does and you're desperate to feel it in your hands, that could justify a short self-published print run or just putting it onto CafePress.)

An example of an awesome dark webcomic:

John said...

I think I smell a future Evil Editor Classic.

Anonymous said...

As mentioned, maybe the best option would be self-publishing. However, do NOT do what 150 says until you have tried other options and found them unworkable.

Do your homework on the self-publishing option, which has numerous alternatives for illustrated work that don't work very well for a prose-only project. Also, depending on how long it is, some literary magazines you can find on the duotrope site take submissions of work like this 'graphic stories' or whatever they call it and although they generally do not pay anything, they do have an audience and getting a publication credit is better than throwing your first rights away.

You can also figure out how to print and bind it yourself as a small edition, then submit it to calls for artist books, and/or places like the Minnesota Center for Book Arts. If you are in the USA, have a look at the kickstarter website and consider funding/selling it as a kickstarter art book project. Something like Amazon's createspace might also be a good option, but it probably won't get noticed there unless you have some way of promoting the book to lots of potential readers.

Laurie said...

What John said - definitely a future EE classic. (For my keyboard's sake, I gotta learn not to read these during lunch.)

150 beat me to it - my first thought was that this should be posted on-line as a webcomic, and then, if there's enough interest, self-pub a hard copy. On-line comics artists find the free version acts as advertising for the print version and builds up an audience.

I'm not a poetry fan, or a depressing ending fan, but this actually intrigues me. If you do continue with querying it, maybe a line or two more about what actually happens might help. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Ah, could I but make it to the hallowed halls of the hemming= and hawingless Classics. I feel inspired instead to develop plot #5. I'm not sure that would lead to a blissful ending either. I have looked at the self-publishing options- so many, it's confusing. Thank you all for your most excellent suggestions. I enjoyed the emcarroll webcomic. Maybe I should go with a creative commons free ebook on something like smashwords. That wouldn't be the best for the artwork though, since one cannot upload files larger than 5MB. Thanks again; let the adventure continue...(Author)

Dave Fragments said...

Please remove the word "Panspermia"from any mention in your query or in the picture book. I somehow think that a picture book for kids will never succeed with that word in it or as a description of what happens in it.

Children's books can be dark or (in my case there was one) controversial (I can't tell you the problems "Walter the Farting Dog" caused me, honest) but they need to be appropriate age-level language and of a single concept.

AS for self-publishing, I can't say.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Not a hoax, then?

Okay. Some form of self-publishing is for you, author. But if you decide to try the traditional route and query, look up "pyrrhic victory".

Khazar-khum said...

Water bear? Do you mean the little bugs??

Wilkins MacQueen said...

Google "Haiku publishers" for starters. There is a long list of publishers accepting submissions for you to research. Follow the guidelines.

Rewrite the query, remove the personal struggles.I glanced at the list and it was interesting.
Good luck.

Whirlochre said...

chawersIt's a very cluttered query considering what's on offer is haiku-driven.

Are you sure this all fits into a 523 word story? You could easily spend 300 words detailing the small water bear space traveller's outfit — 200 if it was naked (which would leave 100 for the fur).

Your main problem is all the negativity and fluff, none of which agents will find endearing (even if they are big interstellar bear fans).

So lose the depression and the being at a loss — and the levels. With only 523 words, you can't possibly have levels.

Also, don't mention the Xanaduian poet. Makes you sound crazier than he/she/it is. That said, if this poet is a bear, a mention would add kudos.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I'm surprised they've heard of any poets from Canada

Leonard Cohen.

New album out on Jan 31, by the way.

Anonymous said...

Margaret Atwood
Leonard Cohen (aforementioned in comments)
Bliss Carman
John McCrae
Lucy Maud Montgomery
Erin Moure
Desi Di Nardo
Michael Ondaatje
P. K. Page
Robert William Service
Mark Strand
Duncan Campbell Scott
Elizabeth Smart

To name a couple or three.