Monday, March 10, 2014
Guess the Plot
When Fire Ignites
1. Boarding school? Try bored-ing school. How many games of field hockey can one girl tolerate? Silvy's ready to run away until she discovers just how much fun pyromania can be.
2. Shortly after an irascible literary editor rejects a manuscript for being thinly-disguised plagiarism of a Ray Bradbury novel, he bursts into flames.
3. Bad enough that fire elemental Cassidy got stuck hosting Thanksgiving dinner yet again, but then air elementals crash the party, murder some of the guests and kidnap others. And you thought Thanksgiving sucked in your family.
4. Severely burned in a suspicious local church fire, fireman Sam slips into a coma. His soul travels out of his body in an attempt to solve the mystery of the arson. Will a nurse who seems able to communicate with ghosts help him or will she and Sam succumb to vicious demons that appear to be planning something evil for all the parishioners?
5. Tina is a rare elemental fairy, able to control fire. Imprisoned in an iron cage and sold to a wizard, Tina must use every trick in her tiny little body to win the wizard's love . . . and expose a ring of black-market fairy traders.
6. Beautiful Beverly is the youngest of the Smoke Eaters, brave firefighters who parachute into dangerous wildfires. She's never thought a man could meet all her dreams, until she meets Captain Hank Jordan. Unfortunately, Jason Bradley feels the same way.
7. When Jonathon Storm was a little boy he hated water. The rain made him sad and Saturday bath night made him bat shit. His sister, Susan, could just disappear whenever she wanted, but she never skipped bathing. Magic happened the first time Jonathon lit a match, and his screams of, "Flame on!" are legendary. When Fire Ignites: The Human Torch, an unauthorized biography.
8. It's usually a one-way trip to the remote mining planet of Shiro. The indentured workers have been tricked into accepting such lousy wages they will never earn their passage home. Until one stands up to the corporation and ignites the fire of revolt in the hearts of the downtrodden. And ignites fires in the oxygen generators . . . oops, didn't think that one through.
Dear Agent X,
For Cassidy MacNamara, Thanksgiving’s no piece of piss—after all, throwing a bunch of fire elementals in one room incites brawls and torched curtains. [It sounds more like Thanksgiving is a piece of piss. Not that I'm familiar with the term, but I assume it means the same thing as piece of crap or piece of shit.] [Oops, a bit of research reveals it's British and means the same as piece of cake. Hey, at least cake, unlike piss, comes in pieces, you crazy Brits.] [Wait, do Brits even celebrate Thanksgiving? Additional research shows they don't, but these could be Americans in Britain or Brits in America, so I'll let it go.] However, this year air elementals crash their dinner, killing some of her own and kidnapping others. including her little sister. [The word "however" suggests that this year Thanksgiving is a piece of piss, when in fact it's still no piece of piss. What you want is something like: Thanksgiving's never been a piece of piss, but at least it's never been a piece of shit. Or: Cassidy didn't expect Thanksgiving to be a piece of piss—after all, putting a bunch of fire elementals into one room incites brawls and torched curtains. But when air elementals crash their dinner, killing some of her own and kidnapping others, including her little sister, she declares it her second-worst Thanksgiving ever.] [Note that I changed "throwing" to "putting." "Throwing" was giving the wrong impression.] [By the way, "piece of piss" is a great tongue twister. Say it five times fast.]
With her aunts and uncles arguing among themselves and her drunk Ma cradling a bottle in the corner, [This is in the same room with the corpses of their relatives lying on the floor?] Cassidy, like always, has to take responsibility. Those bastard air elementals took her little sister, but she’s going to get her back.
Problem numero uno though: fire elementals are restricted to the South. If she crosses the border, the elemental Council will send their extraction team after her. [Problem numero uno should be arranging for the Council's disposal team to get rid of the bodies in the dining room. Otherwise Sis will be coming home to a highly unpleasant scene.] [Are air elementals restricted to the North? If so, why didn't the extraction team deal with them? If not, how does Cassidy know her sister's been taken to the North?] If caught, not only will her little sister be gone for good, but Cassidy will be stripped of her powers. A fire elemental without fire is nothing. Even though all she’s armed with is a couple of her crazy, but loyal cousins, her ‘69 Camaro and a hostage who won’t shut up, [You forgot to include the ability to manipulate fire. When you have flamethrowers and your enemy has leaf blowers, I like your chances.] Cassidy will make sure her family comes home, no matter what the cost.
"When Fire Ignites" is a 90,000 word urban fantasy.
You'd think a society that has extraction teams to keep elementals in their own areas would also have authorities to deal with renegade air elementals who commit crimes.
Presumably the mix of mythological creatures, Thanksgiving, "piece of piss," "numero uno," is part of the book's charm, and not anachronism gone wild.
I like the voice and humor if the book is also funny, but it's unusual for a query in which the main plot development is that characters are murdered and kidnapped to stress the comical aspects. Is the plot more adventure/thriller or comedy?
The query is mostly setup. When her little sister is kidnapped by air elementals, Cassidy and two of her cousins head into the forbidden North on a rescue mission. Expand that into a three or four-sentence paragraph that includes the important stuff I left out, and you still have room to tell us what the plan is, what obstacles pop up, what the air elementals want with Little Sis.