Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Guess the Plot
1. Tired of not knowing what time it is on shady days, Leonardo da Vinci trashes his sundial, vowing to come up with something better.
2. A boy finds a magical egg timer in his grandmother's cupboard that takes the user forward or backward in time. The problem: it works for only three minutes.
3. When diets and corsets don't quite do the job, Cassie looks into plastic surgery in her obsessive quest for the ideal body. Can her family convince her that the perfect measurements just aren't worth the cost?
4. Mika wears a necklace with an hourglass on it that shows how long she has to live. As the family curse drains her life away, will it occur to her that she can gain precious time by learning to walk on her hands?
5. Marilee Tate has started her own modeling agency, 'Hourglass,' with gorgeous, sexy, real women of all sizes. The toothpicks snicker at first, but when demand proves that the world is ready for the change, one of the toothpicks opts for a career change: assassin. And her first job is to take Marilee out.
6. The superhero known as Black Widow wears a costume with a red hourglass on the front. Okay, he's not really a superhero, he's an exterminator. But a guy can dream, can't he?
Dear Evil Editor,
Magic and insanity are a dangerous combination. [As are power tools and insanity, machine guns and insanity, earth-moving equipment and insanity . . . Actually, pretty much anything is dangerous when combined with insanity.] As the sole heir to a cursed [and insane] family, this is something Mika Haitara knows far too well.
When Mika's mentor is the latest victim in a series of brutal attacks, Mika is charged with finding who or what is responsible. [Is Mika an officer of the law? If not, who charges her with this task?] [Also, who or what? Here's a tip: if he was killed with a gun, knife, rope, lead pipe, candlestick or wrench, it's who. If he's covered with claw and bite marks, it's what.] Not an easy task when there's a family enemy insisting he wants to help, her best friend seems to thinks it's his job to protect her, and her familiar, Akiran, would rather join the killing spree.
But Mika has bigger problems. Every spell she casts steals a little of her life energy, yet using magic is the only way to prevent her family's curse from destroying her sanity. [This is the plot of Catch 22, but in the Pacific Theater.]
Time is running out.
HOURGLASS is a [an] urban fantasy complete at 68,000 words and would appeal to fans of Robin D. Owens's 'Enchanted No More'. [Never heard of it, but a visit to the author's site reveals the plot to be: "Guilt-ridden by a mistake that cost her family their lives, half-Lightfolk, half-human Jenni Weavers turns her back on her magical heritage...until her remaining brother who hates her is trapped and she's the only one who can step into an alternate dimension to save him." This leads me to suggest that you say Hourglass would appeal to readers who would enjoy reading something less wacko than Enchanted No More.] It's my first novel and I would be delighted to send you the manuscript at your request.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
* The title Hourglass comes from a miniature hourglass Mika wears on a necklace that shows how long she has to live. [If I'm gonna wear an hourglass that shows how long I have to live, there's not gonna be anything miniature about it. Except the hole in the middle. The hourglass itself is gonna be the size of a Buick.] [How long does it take the necklace hourglass to de-sand? How long has she had it? Where'd she get it?]
People have an innate hatred of hourglasses, thanks to the tiny hourglass that appears on the monitor when their computer freezes. Even those who switched to a Mac to escape the hourglass haven't forgotten. So you might want to change Mika's hourglass necklace to a countdown timer like you see on TV bombs that the hero is trying to disarm. I've always wondered why criminal masterminds include a visible countdown timer that allows the hero to know exactly how much time is left before it explodes. If I manufactured a bomb with a countdown timer, I'd rig it to explode at four seconds instead of zero, since the hero tends to disarm it somewhere in the one to three range.
It doesn't seem like hourglasses would ever have been useful for anything except timing something that lasts one hour. Unless you had a crew of workers who did eight hour shifts watching and flipping the hourglass and recording the time on a wall chart. I have a theory that the reason soccer (football) uses the ridiculous system of running the clock even during time outs for goals and penalties and fights, instead of stopping the clock when the action is stopped, is because originally the time was kept with a forty-five-minute hourglass, which was flipped at halftime. Hey, it's the 21st century, FIFA, not the 19th. We have clocks that can be stopped and started with the push of a button.
I think an interesting experiment would be for everyone to have to go a week with no clocks, just hourglasses. Maybe then we'd appreciate what life was like in the Middle Ages.
As for the query, it's mainly setup. You provide us with Mika's situation, and a list of some obstacles she must overcome, but how does she plan to find the killer? How much time is on that hourglass? Can the curse be broken, and if so, does Mika know how? Does stopping the killing spree somehow break the curse? It would be more exciting if we knew how much time she had, and what she had to do in that much time. In short, make us feel the tension as the grains of sand inexorably fall.