Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Face-Lift 1020

Guess the Plot

Playing with Fire

1. Mena's always called 4 year old Rafe the 'devil's own son, and after Rafe sets his 42nd fire at the preschool, toasts the cat on the barbeque, and merrily dances in the exploding fireworks, John is beginning to think a paternity test might be in order.

2. Trapped in an Amazon.com shipping center during a blizzard, plucky warehouse worker Ila Ilsky survives by burning copies of the 7,600 different books already entitled Playing With Fire.

3. What shall we kindle today Mr. Fire?
A marshmallow roast, or a funeral pyre?
This delightful picture book features dozens of games, crafts, and rainy-day projects for ages 5 to 8 all told in verse.
4. A teenaged girl with superhuman power uses it to commit crimes for other people. It's a better way to pick up cash than babysitting--until she gets hired by the guy who murdered her parents. Will she get burned . . . playing with fire?

5. After astronomer Jake Newberg names the killer asteroid about to destroy the world after his ex-wife, she conjures up a fire demon to break the space rock into small chunks that target Jake alone. The entire world watches and places bets.

6. Kieran Keene lands the sax gig with Fire Robinson’s Rock-N-Blues Band. When mutilated groupies are found near the band’s venues. Kieran suspects Fire but hot detective Mary McRae suspects Kieran. He can try solving the mystery and risk being arrested or he can return to second rate bands in third rate clubs.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Seventeen-year-old Pollock Avery can steal anything for anyone. [Either change "can" to "will" or delete "for anyone."] Her electrokinesis allows her to short out security systems with a quick zap, then it’s easy as rolling out of bed to nab an ancient artifact. Since her parents’ murders, the money has kept her and her little sister out of the foster system. [If she just stole money for herself, cutting out the middle-man, she wouldn't need to devote time to selling artifacts to other people.]

When a mysterious new client offers Pollock information about the murders in exchange for stealing exclusively for him, she can’t resist the allure of finally uncovering the killer,

[Client: I know who killed your parents, but rather than inform the police I've kept this information to myself. If you'll commit multiple crimes for me I'll gradually give you clues that will eventually allow you to find the killer.

Pollock: Okay. You seem trustworthy enough.]

and getting her revenge. As the heists get riskier, Pollock’s client grows more deceptive and she learns he wants more than art and jewels…he wants the key to her ability. [So that he can short out electrical systems and risk getting caught while stealing art and jewels? Sometimes it's better to have a middle-man.]

But ending their arrangement won’t be easy.  Even though Pollock manages to slip out of the client's grasp, he gets his hands on her sister.  Now Pollock must face the reality he'll murder her sister just like he did her parents, [Whoa, I missed the part where you revealed that the client is also the murderer.] all to get the secret of their abilities. Killing a murderer won't be as easy as stealing, [That does sound better than "murdering a killer."] but Pollock’s electrokinesis packs a shocking punch.

PLAYING WITH FIRE, a 77,000 word young adult urban fantasy, is a stand alone novel with series potential.  Thank you for your time and consideration.


Avery Pollock sounds like a person's name. Pollock Avery sounds like a wealth management company. Besides, she needs a superhero name.

My theory is that the person who wants the stolen goods is safer letting someone else do the stealing, while the person who wants the money is better off stealing money. Presumably, then, the client wants Pollock's power for something besides acquiring stuff. Namely . . . what?

If I'm the client, I would assume Pollock's power is some kind of accident of nature, a genetic mutation. Not a secret that, once revealed, will grant me the same power.

Client: Tell me the secret of electrokinesis or your sister dies.

Pollock: It's easy. You just stick this fork into that electrical outlet.


Anonymous said...

Pollock is a type of fish, fyi. Do as EE said and make Avery the first name, then reconsider the last....or incorporate tartar sauce into the story.
The concept you have here is interesting, I'm just having a bit of trouble with the same stuff EE pointed out. It may make perfect sense in the book, but you have to find a way to translate it into the query. Good Luck!

Sarah said...

Thanks Evil Editor! I know this needs work and am thankful for some evil eyes on it.

Pollock's also from Jackson Pollock, the artist. The MC mostly steals art, so...yeah. Her sister is named Rembrandt. And Avery turns out not to be her real name...but I will take these things into consideration.

150 said...

Yeah, I'm with EE: being a fancy cat burglar is badass, but if you're just trying to make a living, it's less time, trouble, and danger just to knock over stores that keep cash in their drawers overnight. Does she have a good reason for endangering herself and her sister by doing it the hard way?

Where I grew up, Polack was an ethnic slur. Just to throw that into the naming slurry.

journeytogao said...

Another one that came out of nowhere was "the secret of their abilities." Their? So kid sis can do it, too?

I might change "nab an ancient artifact." It sounds as though she's disappearing Navajo relics when apparently she's stealing luxury objets that millionaires buy as investments.

Dave Fragments said...

Jackson Pollock was an artist who tended to work in paint splatters.

Jackson Five was a long ago boy band.

Action Jackson was a movie character.

Avery Brundidge was a diplomat.

Robert Pollock is The Wall Street Journal's editorial features editor.

Pollock is a small town located in the Kisatchie National Forest in Central Louisiana.

Avery makes office supplies too.

However, if the name Pollock Avery steams your glasses and makes your heart go pity-pat. Run with it and write your story.

sarahhawthorne said...

Hi Author!

I liked this. I thought it seemed pretty solid.

Were Pollack and Rembrandt's parents art thieves too? That would explain the two things everybody seems to be getting caught on: 1) her name and 2) why she steals rare artifacts instead of cash.

And I agree Pollack is an odd first name for a girl. If she's got to be named after an artist, seems like there ought to be more logical choices. (Monet, Manet, Matisse, Rivera, Cezanne, Dali, Renoir, Chagall, Georgia O'Keefe Avery, Mary Cassatt Avery, etc.)

Anonymous said...

somewhere in the query, I do think you need to explain why art is better than stealing cash and how such a young girl developed connections in the underground world of stolen art.

I also think you should explain why this girl trusts this person enough to steal for him and why she believes he'll tell her who killed her parents.

Otherwise, I think I like this in YA kind of way.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Jackson Pollock was a splashy artist, whose photograph you must famously recognize to pass the Foreign Service exam.

Pollock itself is a kind of fish that's turned into imitation crabmeat, imitation lobster, and imitation any-kind-of-fish-that's-harder-to-catch-than-pollock.

When I saw the character's name I never stopped thinking of her as the star ingredient in Seafood Salad.

Consider changing. Maybe call her Mackerel instead. Or King Salmon.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Oh, oops, I should've read the comments first-- I see the name has been dissed from here to breakfast.

Okay; I'll just add my vote to those who think that stealing objets d'art is way more complicated than stealing, say, bundles of small unmarked bills. If there's a reason-- eg that her power is only activated by the reverence she feels for great art (Jackson Pollock? Seriously?) then make sure that's in the query.

Also in the manuscript.

150 said...

For the "why art theft" question, I would also accept some kind of psychological flaw--a grudge against art galleries, the urge to show off--since those are the kinds of bad decisions that make good fiction.

Jo-Ann said...

I loved GTP #3. Please write it!

I liked the concept of electrical telekinesis ability...I haven't come across it before.

Do computers go into meltdown around her, or do they obligingly allow her to hack into top secret data bases?

She could cause major havoc around town by disrupting telecommunications, blasting power stations, destroying electronic data storage and so on. You could make her this generation's Carrie if you were so inclined - and give her a real badass vengeance on Mr Killer guy.

none said...

Playing with Fire doesn't seem to fit as a title, going by this query.

PLaF said...

You could always call her Poll or Polly. I like the idea of her being an art theif - it suggests finesse. And maybe stealing one or two pieces a year is enough to keep her and her sister housed and fed.
As far as the bad guy wanting to steal her powers - I never like this plot. I can believe a "use them or lose them" or temporary superpower situation. I can even go for a method by which powers are rendered ineffective. Other than that, you either have powers or you don't.

St0n3henge said...

I agree that the idea of stealing superpowers is implausible. Most people would just assume they were hereditary or caused by a later-acquired mutation, or some combination of both. Finding a way to put the hero in your power so they'll work for you seems to make more sense.

Pollock Avery definitely has something to do with mutual funds or the word "equity."

As far as the art-stealing thing, it's what makes the whole story interesting so as long as you can explain it in some way it doesn't bother me much. Teens in YA novels are often assassins, spies, and other really complicated things and only a cursory explanation usually suffices.