Monday, December 02, 2013

Face-Lift 1172

Guess the Plot

Captured by the Pirate

1. When Henri the pirate captures Kadi and puts the moves on her, she wonders if she should tell him that she's the queen of the vampires? He's pretty handsome, and something like that can be a stumbling block to a relationship.

2. Johnny Depp is on the run for a crime he didn't commit. When Hollywood hopeful, Stacy Sterling, stumbles onto his hiding place will she be . . . Captured by the Pirate?

3. Marcy jokes often, as she drinks from her rum-filled flask, that she has a little well-endowed pirate inside her. When he crawls out of her one night and whisks her away to his big ship, Marcy knows she's found her prince. Her friends will never believe her adventure!

4. Starlet Ruby McMahon is believed lost at sea, but a garbled voicemail brings her cold case to light. DJ Shazam is on the trail, if only he can get past Ruby's boytoy Ex. Also, a heroic dolphin trainer.

5. Feisty, fiery Annabelle takes over her father's merchant ship when he drinks himself to death. Using her cunning, sharp swordsmanship, and bouncing breasts, she quickly becomes the greatest pirate in the bay. When she takes a handsome young man prisoner, she must decide--feed him to her pet sharks, or see if he can survive her own 'feeding frenzy' while tied to the mast?

6. Impulsive, tempestuous Lady Ramona Bledsoe has vowed she will never give her heart to any man. Fiercely independent, with fiery-red hair and a will of iron, she bows to no one. Somehow, she's captured by a pirate and then she rips off her bodice. Erotica ensues.

7. With his magic markers, Ben draws a pirate who subsequently comes to life and takes Ben on his marvelous adventures at sea. But getting lost in a vast ocean and being forced to drink his own urine gets stale real quick for young Ben.

Original Version

Dear Deliciously Evil Editor,

Kadi, Queen of Fair vampire bloodlines, has embodied a pantheon of goddesses over her five thousand years. Though her days as the hidden world's greatest supernatural grifter have passed, she struggles to free herself from the stranglehold of the bards' myths. But, with the gathering of clans approaching, she forsakes the dream of life on her own terms until she can recover her sacred Aberdeenshire lands and defend her people from Raven lines' domination. [To someone who hasn't read your book, the following phrases are either open to multiple interpretations or make no sense at all: Queen of Fair vampire bloodlines; embodied a pantheon of goddesses; world's greatest supernatural grifter; the stranglehold of the bards' myths; Raven lines' domination. A simple opening such as After 5000 years, Kadi, a vampire queen, longs to settle down on her sacred Aberdeenshire lands. But first she must recover those lands from a flock of Ravens who've built their nests there. more likely to lure us into the second paragraph.]

Then, the restoration of Charles II renders Kadi's planned marriage of convenience to a Cromwell favorite inconvenient. Moneylender Seamus MacGregor calls her betrothed's markers, so she visits Port Royal's most mysterious bachelor to renegotiate. [Not clear whether Port Royal's most mysterious bachelor is her betrothed or the person who originally negotiated her betrothal.] Instead of the rumored pirate, she finds an ancient Raven eager to win her favor. [But it's hard to even have a conversation with someone who never says anything except "Nevermore."] [Am I assumed to know what a Raven is?] Despite his unnerving collection of her past, [Knowledge of her past? Collection of mementos from her past?] including the labyrinth of her secret catastrophe at Knossos, [He has a labyrinth that used to be in Knossos?] Kadi's charmed by Seamus'[s] courtship. [Wait, Seamus the moneylender is courting her? So he's the mysterious bachelor? And her betrothed is . . . the un-mysterious bachelor?] So, when he offers her land, passage to England, and a god in her bed, she leaps at the chance for freedom. [The land and passage are just icing on the cake. The god in her bed was enough to clinch the deal.]

While Kadi revels, the real pirate [As opposed to the rumored pirate. It wasn't clear that there was a real pirate; it sounded like everyone thought someone was a pirate, but when Kadi met him he turned out to be a decent guy.] schemes. Henri Abelard, protégé of her estranged sire, suffers the labyrinth's thousand cuts to challenge her in combat. [Why?] Then, he attacks Seamus'[s] ship, taking her hostage. ["Her" meaning the ship or Kadi? What happened with the combat challenge? Did they fight? If so, where, and who won?] She resists Henri's advances, but discovers a true soul mate as he reveals his tragic past, and fights at his side against a bewitched crew. When his life is threatened, [By whom?] Kadi must decide whether to trust her heart and risk the fate of her people and eternal soul to save the man who loves the woman over the goddess. [How does saving Henri put her people at any more risk? Whaddaya mean, "loves the woman over the goddess"? Is Kadi the woman and the goddess?]

CAPTURED BY THE PIRATE is a complete 50K-word stand-alone historical paranormal romance novella and the first book of Blood Gods, a retelling of the hero's journey from a female perspective.

Thank you for your consideration.

Best regards,


If this is a romance, and Henri is the love interest, more of the query needs to be focused on Henri. One paragraph of setup is plenty. That'll leave you more space to tell us about the Henri/Kadi relationship. I can do without Ravens and labyrinths and Oliver Cromwell.

Not clear who Kadi's people are. People living on her sacred Aberdeenshire lands? People she's turned into her vampire subjects? Both?

Actually, very little is clear. You need to treat the reader as an idiot who knows nothing about anything, not as someone who's read the book and is testing you on whether you've read it.


150 said...

This sounds just crazy enough to be awesome, but the query is incredibly muddled.

By "a retelling of the hero's journey from a female perspective" do you mean a woman is the hero (which makes it just the hero's journey, period) or a hero's journey as witnessed by an ancillary character? You know what, just don't use that phrase. Trying to sound fancy is much of the problem.

I am all about a Scottish vampire getting her groove back in Jamaica, but worried that the book is as difficult to make sense of as the query letter.

Mich (author) said...

Thanks, EE, for the savaging that query obviously needed. After swearing to never do it, I fell prey to trying to shove in too much information without explanation. I'm glad you pull no punches, because this earned a lot of them I'd rather get now than when it can hurt.

Now, with that abomination done, I'll start writing the *ahem* real one that actually makes sense to someone who's not me.

@150 - It's the hero's journey with a female protagonist. My readers have reported the story being easy to follow (thank Pesci), so one hopes the query is the source of the great sucking sound. Thanks for the input. It's most appreciated.

CavalierdeNuit said...

I agree with 150 about the book maybe not making sense.

Kadi sounds more like an immortal witch. Vampires have a need to feed weekly and even nightly, and it doesn't sound like you've given Kadi a chance to simply be a vampire. It seems she's doing everything but being a vampire.

And, what is a Raven?

AA said...

It's good that you see your query is muddled. I tried the opening paragraph a few times.

This is what I get: Kadi has Vampire bloodlines. She has embodied a pantheon of goddesses. Something I don't understand about a stranglehold. She has to recover her lands from the Raven people. Or actual ravens.

Then, her marriage somehow becomes inconvenient by something that does not seem like it could possibly make a marriage inconvenient. She visits a bachelor to negotiate some debts. The bachelor is a Raven person (or actual raven). He has a collection of labyrinths, and something about a catastrophe. He offers her many incongruous things.

Henri Abelard is a pirate who challenges her in combat for no obvious reason. It's a draw, so he more straightforwardly boards the ship and takes Kadi hostage, which turns out not to be required after all because she likes him, so she turns on the crew. His life is threatened by something, and helping him will somehow put a lot of other things at risk.

I have a lot of questions, but I think I'll just wait for the rewrite.

Veronica Rundell said...

hi author,
Glad to hear you are going to start fresh. Remember to focus on giving a likeable character with an identifiable problem and some reasonable attempt to solve it.

I was lost in the first sentence and unable gain any foothold with the grandiose and sweeping statements so my best advice is to keep it simple.

Not everything must be explained in the query, but that which is present must make sense...
Best of luck!

150 said...

Oh, thank goodness. Your reply gives me hope this is a good book/bad query situation. Post another try, we'll look at it again. Good luck!

Down Girl said...

This read to me as if EE took three or four queries, chopped them into sentences, and made a query salad.

To expand on AA's comment, I got that Kadi is -- okay, I don't get what she is. She is:

1 - a Queen
2 - some stand-in for every female divinity of the past 5000 years
3 - a supernatural inhabitant of the hidden world (maybe there are natural inhabitants of that world, too)
4 - a grifter (of whom? the inhabitants of the hidden world, or of our world?)
5 - a captive of myths that were created by bards
6 - the owner or ruler of the Abdereenshire lands
7 - the defender of her people against the Ravens
8 - the fiance of a human (?)
9 - an estranged daughter

She is also:

1 - charmed by Seamus
2 - thrilled to get in bed with a god
3 - in love with Henri

Why isn't all of "Queen of Fair vampire bloodlines" capitalized? Are the bloodlines fair, are the vampires fair, or is Kadi the queen of the fair, who all happen to have vampire blood?

And that's just Kadi's identity.

You say all this happens within 50k words?

Mich (author) said...

Thank you, everyone, for your notes. They were a huge help in hunkering down to take another whack. I hope you'll be equally brutal with this one.

To answer a few of your questions:

There's plenty of blood-drinking in the story, though it's not central to the main romance plot until the end. FWIW, vampire lore is exceptionally diverse in regard to blood consumption, with plenty of variations that involve no blood-drinking at all.

Fair and Raven are the rival bloodlines. Fair are based on myths of faire folk, muses, and sirens. Ravens are based on warrior god myths and Grigori/Watchers.

Kadi gained her fame by using her innate skills and a good hustle to impersonate gods.

Here's the new query:

After five thousand years as Queen of her bloodline, vampire Kadi DeEsse longs to escape her notorious past. Before starting a new life, she must recover her sacred Aberdeenshire lands to ensure the safety of her clan. Her quest leads to Port Royal, where she's courted by Seamus MacGregor, an ancient vampire and confidante of Charles II. Seamus unnerves her with obsessive knowledge of her exploits; he's even built a twin of her labyrinth at Knossos. But, he offers her lands with his affection, and she gladly accepts.

Henri Abelard, her estranged sire's protégé, curses her cold-blooded affair. When Seamus dares her to race the labyrinth, Henri foils their rendezvous, crawling through the maze's wall of thorns to challenge Kadi for her favors in the combat ring. Weakened by passion, she falls, but refuses to yield. Though he cedes the fight, Henri returns to attack her ship en route to England, taking Kadi hostage.

Riled by his taunts, she invades his mind, forcing him to experience her grief at Knossos, when her lover sacrificed his life for hers. Henri reveals that, as a boy, he had to kill his mother when she was infected with contaminated blood. They find solace and the will to love again in each other's arms. But, someone has bewitched his crew, so Kadi and Henri battle to survive a mutiny. When Henri is critically wounded, Kadi can only heal him by giving her heart's blood, but Death will claim her soul if her love isn't true. She must decide whether to trust her heart, and risk an eternity of Death's wrath to save him.

CAPTURED BY THE PIRATE is a completed 50,000-word historical paranormal romance, and the first book of Blood Gods, a vampire hero's journey.

Evil Editor said...

The first paragraph is okay, though I would get rid of "he's even built a twin of her labyrinth at Knossos." I would then make the second paragraph:

Henri Abelard, Kadi's estranged sire's protégé, attacks her ship en route to England, taking her hostage. Riled by his taunts, she invades his mind, forcing him to experience the grief she felt when her lover sacrificed his life for hers. Henri reveals that, as a boy, he had to kill his mother when she was infected with contaminated blood. They find solace and the will to love again in each other's arms.

The two sentences that start "But," don't need those commas.

Veronica Rundell said...

It is too long, and I think you should take EE's direction in chopping. Remember, you still need to add the greeting and all, so the plot summary should be 200 words, or less.

That being said, it is certainly more direct, and gets the story's main plot in an understandable form.

I'd be surprised if you didn't get some nibbles....
Good luck!

Anma Natsu said...

The second one is much better!

Does Seamus actually have any major point beyond being the mechanism by which Henri and Kadi get together? Or is he the antagonist to be watched. If he isn't a major player, I'd drop him from the query all together. If he is the antagonist, I'd still drop the second paragraph and then mention him towards the end as one of the challenges to over come.

How much of that last paragraph is the ending of the novel itself? Also, does Henri reveal his past willingly or by force when Kadi invades his mind? Is any of that necessary to know beyond: The longer they spend time together, the harder it seems to be to view Henri as her enemy.

It's not real clear on how her "heart's blood" can save him: turn him into a vampire? Why would that be a risk on her life?

Also, 50,000 words seems really really short for a historical romance.

AA said...

This is better and more direct. It still has problems.

"When Seamus dares her to race the labyrinth, Henri foils their rendezvous, crawling through the maze's wall of thorns to challenge Kadi for her favors in the combat ring. Weakened by passion, she falls, but refuses to yield. Though he cedes the fight, Henri returns to attack her ship en route to England, taking Kadi hostage."

Here you're condensing a lot of information into a few sentences, and it isn't working right. You introduce Henri, he falls passionately in love with your MC and she with him, they fight, she won't cede the fight, (fill in blank here), next thing you know she's sailing to England, whatever happens to Seamus, who knows, and Henri takes her hostage. All in a few seconds of read time.

After that it just goes on too long.

You've gotten some good feedback here. I think you can work it out.

SB said...

I have to admit, even with the second one, you kinda lost me. It starts where "he offers her lands", which has me wondering if he is the one who owns her lands, if he's just able to help her get them back, or... what? And then it just keeps being muddled from there.

It seems like there's way too much information in the last two paragraphs, like you're trying to tell the whole story rather than just setting it up for us.

Mich (author) said...

Your suggestions are great, EE. Thank you. You're all such a huge help in whittling this damned thing down to something workable. I appreciate everyone taking the time to offer advice and criticism. If I could send you all rodeo hugs through the interwebs, I would. It's my first book/query and, even after faithfully reading EE for years, I've still managed to fall into newb traps.

I'm heading back to the drawing board to simplify the hell out of it and keep the main points without piling on extraneous info. Hopefully the third is the charm.

Thanks again, EE and minions. If I can finally massage this into a query that'll get requests, I'll owe it all to you.