Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Face-Lift 999

Guess the Plot

Judas Pistol

1. In a nation that seems to believe, irrationally, that guns somehow prevent violence, the Judas Pistol, a trick gun that shoots the person firing it, may be the only way to restore sanity.

2. I work 1st century; I’m a time cop. Centurions say Iscariot hanged himself--talk about your cold cases--but the discovery of a stash with thirty pieces of tarnished silver and six corroded cartridges tells me Judas was the victim of a ride-by camelback shooting.

3. Les and his assistant Gunz help historical societies with the investigation of old battle sites. Of course, investigating whether Judas was pistol whipped during the Roman-Persian wars isn't the greatest gig, so when some elderly lawmen ask the guys to investigate a more recent gunfight, they jump at the chance.

4. When a wealthy gun collector is found stabbed to death in the middle of his looted vault, Detective Zack Martinez knows two things: he's looking for a killer with a finely honed sense of irony, and there's no way in hell he's going to fire something called a "Judas Pistol."

5. When Carrie's vegetarian meet and greet is crashed by cannibals, she calls on her brother's garage band to help--only to find they've been abducted by a cult of treacherous time-traveling aliens. Also, a gun metaphor.

6. Archeologist Gary Davis is approached by a strange woman in Jerusalem, and soon learns her secret. She has a box, with a gun in it--the gun used to kill Jesus. Now the Vatican is after him, and he may need that gun.

Original Version

Dear agent,

JUDAS PISTOL is an 81,000-word amateur sleuth mystery set in the gun culture of 2001 Montana.

Les Huntsman returns from the Gulf War totally deaf, unable to continue teaching history. [Why would a history teacher need to be able to hear? Everyone in his class is asleep.] Instead, he competes in handgun tournaments to augment private investigations of old battle sites for historical societies and other clients--such as a committee of elderly lawmen, who provide helpers and point Les to a more recent gunfight investigation being mishandled by local police.

[Lawman 1: This investigation is being mishandled. We should step in.

Lawman 2: Us? But we're not as young as we used to be.

Lawman 3: True. Hey, that deaf guy in the handgun tournament looks pretty young.]

D’arcy is another former teacher with challenges. In a wheelchair, she runs a private communication service, including interpretation for the deaf. [I see where this is going. A team of superheroes. The deaf guy will call himself Vangoh. The woman is known as The Paraplegic.]

On loan to the pair is Gunz, a rookie deputy considered slow [Instead of Gunz, we'll call him Moose, an homage to the slow guy in Archie comics. Make that The Moose. We don't want to get sued.] and mostly a go-for at the sheriff’s office. The trio quickly clears two law-enforcement suspects who were also victims of the shooting, and the search for the real killer or killers begins amid multiple murders. [Brilliant. Before they begin searching for the real killers they clear the killers' victims? This team isn't going anywhere unless they can recruit Daredevil to be their leader.] [I wonder who decides which superhero is the leader. In the Fantastic Four, the leader is the guy who can stretch. I mean, come on! Stretching is his power? In the X-Men the leader is the guy in the wheelchair. Apparently the most pitiful superhero has to be the leader because no one else wants the job. That probably means the leader of the Justice League would be Aquaman or Green Arrow. But no! Someone asked that question on Yahoo Answers and the response chosen as best answer was: "as far as i know, superman is the leader of them because when you look at their pictures with the justice league, superman is always at the front with batman and wonderwoman in his sides...."] 

[Is there anything the Justice League can do that Superman couldn't do all by himself?

Superman: I'll take out that division of tanks and super robots; Green Arrow, you shoot that little guy on the left.

Aquaman: What about me?

Superman: You prepare the after-battle seafood buffet.]

Roots of the crime spree are exposed as dirty city officials and killers-for-hire to protect a small-town bank’s money-laundering scheme. [Not the clearest of sentences.] The killers harbor agendas of their own, [What are their agendas?] leading a chase along northern Montana’s border and central mountains. [Topic for discussion: Who is considered to be leading a chase: the one being chased or the chaser who's closest to the one being chased or the leader of the team doing the chasing?]

I’m a former English teacher with a bachelor of science from Eastern Montana College and a master and doctorate of arts from Idaho State University. I served in the U.S. Army, Montana National Guard, and National Rifle Association over fifty years as a firearms instructor. [In short, this is autobiographical, except that I taught English instead of history and I don't really have super powers.]

JUDAS PISTOL is my first novel, manuscript immediately available via e-mail or U.S. Postal Service mail at your request.



Separately, a deaf guy, a stupid guy and a woman in a wheelchair can accomplish great things. Put them all together and they have as much chance of solving this case as the Keystone Cops.

For starters, it would be hard to choose a leader, as all of them have the required unimpressive powers:

Gunz: I shud be the leader cause she's in a wheelchair and yer deaf.

Les: What?

What happened to Vangoh, The Moose, and The Paraplegic? They disappeared from the query. Are they the ones chasing the killers across Montana? I'd try focusing the whole thing on Les. The others don't do anything in the query.

Some clarity about what's going on would help. You mention a gunfight in which apparently two people were killed, additional multiple murders, a money laundering bank, a crime spree, killers for hire... and it's up to the deaf guy, paraplegic and gofer to deal with all that?


Anonymous said...

This query gives me the impression you love urban cop shows, but there you are: out in Montana, so that's where you set it. Not sure if the query's just not working, or if the plot and characters are lost in this setting. Being more specific would help.

Like what mountains are you talking about, why are they racing along the border mountains instead of running down a valley into Idaho or Canada or wherever, and are they on horseback, foot, or driving?

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

I want to read fake plot #2.

Two exercises for you, dear writer.

1. Rewrite every sentence in this query with "Les" as the subject. (And no passive voice.) Not because that will lead to a better query, but because it will help you organize your thoughts. This book is about Les. This query should be about Les. It's wandering all over the place as it is.

2. Done that? Now write one sentence, less than 20 words in length, that summarizes your novel.

Done that? That's it. That's what your novel's about. Now write your query about that.

Wilkins MacQueen said...

Montana's northern border is Canada.
There are about a hundred mountain ranges and sub-ranges in Montana. The Rockies are likely the best known.

The name "Montana" comes from the Spanish word "montaƱosas", mountains.

Anonymous said...

Um, was that for the benefit of the Brits?

Wilkins MacQueen said...

No, my comment was not directed at any nationality. Just trying to pass on a little general info to Anon that if the chase went along the northern border it could easily run into Canada. The author hasn't told us if it did. Plus there a lot of mountains in Montana. The author does refer to mountains in central Montana.

Anon's last paragraph indicated to me that Anon may not be clear on those two points. No shot at any residents of any country was intended in the formation of my comments, before or currently.

It's too early for this.

Author, the idea of three ordinary people with challenges facing unusual turns of events appeals to me very much.

I've been pondering the query,I may be back later with something more helpful.

none said...

Could be an interesting book, but I think the query needs less set up and more of the plot.

Anonymous said...

I was just trying to think who you would think might not know what lay to the north of Montana.

Anonymous said...

Yes, hi, I actually live out west here. My real question about the chase going 'along the border mountains' is not what's north of Montana, but why and how they go 'along' the border, meaning up and down and up and down from east to west, or west to east, where there isn't even a road, when they could just use the next valley to dash across into Canada. Maybe they're trying to avoid Canada and get to Idaho? If so, please explain that curious plot.

More likely the 'along' word is just a bad choice: he meant 'across the border' and either doesn't see the difference or is careless about his words and expects you to read what he meant, not what he said, in which case that book needs a lot of line-editing.

The grateful anonymous author said...

Thank you so much (Charlie Chan absolutely drilling it for me).

I love the terrific humor and helps from my three stalwart advisers. I’ll check back for more joining the party, but this gives me a start toward a much improved query.

EE's spot on: D’arcy (Paraplegic) indeed jokes about herself morphing from Diana Prince to Wonder Woman in the JloA.

Highway 2 does parallel (run along) near the Montana-Alberta/Saskatchewan border, but the action never crosses into Canada. I'll try to make that clearer.

Thanks again,

Wilkins MacQueen said...

Hi Author,

I rewrote, OCD.

JUDAS PISTOL is an 81,000-word amateur sleuth mystery set in the gun culture of 2001 Montana.

Les Huntsman returned from the Gulf War profoundly deaf and unable to work. He keeps busy competing in handgun tournaments and historical re-enactments. An historical society committee of elderly lawmen, wants Les to investigate a shooting they feel is being mishandled by local police.

D’arcy, confined to a wheelchair, runs a service for the physically challenged. Les, one of her clients, invites her to join his investigation. He needs her analytical powers. Gunz, a deputy not know for his mental agility, is assigned to Les’s investigation.

Dirty city officials safeguard an illegal money supply and the bank laundering it until for hire killers are put in play. The three work out who holds the power on the opposing bad guy teams and deal with complication after complication during a chase through the central mountains and along the Montana-Canada border.

Three ordinary people with difficult life struggles face extraordinary challenges as they attempt to finish their investigation.

I would put some humor into the query.

What makes a deaf man, a parapalegic and a dimwit think they can... But don't be as crude as that.

I think with more work you can give us the essence of these people who are trying to solve a problem and prove that a handicap/challenge doesn't have to be a limiting factor.

Truly, good luck.

Angela Sargenti said...

This is too funny. The actual query is as ludicrous as the guessed plots.