Saturday, March 25, 2017

Face-Lift 1346


Guess the Plot

No Gods Before Us

1. WE are the best. No one is as awesome as WE. SMITE here! SMITE there! Look at OUR big hands of SMITING. 


2. The rambling essays of college students who just discovered sex and drugs.

3. Some have wings, some have fins, some have horns, some give blessings, some cause destruction. A view of the world from the perspective of a fly on the wall. Literally.

4. When a fun trip to the temples of Angor Wat turns deadly, can the Good Book Club from Brigham, Utah keep the faith?


5. Janiris is on a quest. He hates every day he spends on it, for it never ends. When he meets Malora, a witch also on an endless quest, they concoct a plan. To end their quests, they shall dispose of those who gave them the quests:  The gods.



6. When U.S. general Hunter Ellison invented the "Cloak of Invisibility," he never dreamed it would be used by NATO to nuke terrorists all over the world. Actually, he doesn't even remember inventing it because his ex-lover/psychologist cleverly wiped his memory of it, and now all the NATO generals are after Hunter, but if he can just remember how to invent a cloaking device, he can turn invisible and they'll never find him.  



Original Version


I am currently seeking representation for my 89,900-word adult mystery thriller entitled "No Gods Before Us[period]"


Hunter Ellison is a retiring U.S.[ ]General [general]. On the last day on the job, he receives evidence from an old Cold War adversary codenamed Darkstorm that a group of NATO generals is planning a coup. Their goal is to replace civilian governments and use Nuclear [nuclear] weapons to eliminate terrorism. 


[General 1: There are terrorists in this London neighborhood. 

General 2: One nuclear bomb should take care of the problem.

General 1: Agreed.]

From this information, he finds that American Defense [defense] contractors are in on the scheme and have developed an invisibility cloak for the operation. But when he reviews the source material, he discovers its inventor was him! He has no recollection of this and does not know why! [If someone told me I'd invented an invisibility cloak that would somehow make it easier to nuke terrorists, and I had no memory of this, I would assume that they were lying, not that it was a mystery I had to investigate.] His investigation is detected by the conspirators and they try to kill him but he gets away. Meanwhile, a former lover by the name of Rallah Fralish[comma] a Jewish Officer [officer] and Psychologist[comma] [psychologist] intervenes to help. [To help him get away?] [I'm assuming that the former lover, the officer and the psychologist are all Rallah Fralish. If they're two or three people, we need to make that clear.] But secretly she too is in on the plan and so is he! [He, meaning Hunter Ellison? You might want to mention his name more than once in the query.] She has cleverly manipulated him by exacerbating an emotional trauma he experienced by witnessing a murder. One so heinous and personal it caused him hysterical amnesia. 
[She cleverly manipulated him into inventing an invisibility cloak? Or into forgetting that he invented it? If the former, that's ridiculous. If the latter, what's the point? They're willing to nuke the world's terrorists, but not to kill this guy after he's no longer useful to them?] In essence, he has two personalities. He was never supposed to remember who he once was and has to be eliminated. [Why doesn't she intervene to eliminate him instead of to help?] Now fleeing for his life[comma] he is on a journey of self-discovery as he fights with his inner demons to save the world from destruction. [Not the best way to end it. If he has a plan to save the world, give us a hint what he thinks he can do. Like, if he remembers how to invent an invisibility cloak, he could make another one and try to murder all the NATO generals.]


Notes


Are his inner demons trying to convince him not to save the world from destruction? 

If I were a retired U.S general who wanted to go on a journey of self-discovery, I would put it off until I'd finished fleeing for my life. But that's me.

Is there anyone in this book who isn't (and never has been) in on the plan to nuke terrorists?

I don't see how this cloak of invisibility is that big a deal. Is it like the Romulan cloaking device, which makes a spaceship invisible, and would allow a plane carrying nuclear bombs to sneak up on terrorists? Or is it like in The Invisible Man, allowing one guy with a nuclear bomb to walk unseen into a terrorist enclave? I think instead of a cloaking device, Hunter should invent a transporter beam. Then he could transport nuclear bombs into terrorist lairs without getting near them.

What Jewish person would give their kid a name that contains the word Allah?

Once you have a clear summary of your story, break it up into paragraphs. Three would be a good number.



Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Feedback Request


Dear EE,

Here you are, with my thanks. One quick question, though: Should I mention that the book is in 3 voices (Fred's, Malek's, and the narrator's)? [The number of voices is of little interest. If you mean the number of points of view, most books that aren't exclusively in 1st person have more than one POV, so it's not worth mentioning.]

Click here for most recent version.


Fred smiles in his hospital bed after being assaulted by his straight crush, because now he has Malek right where he wants him. Manipulative and obsessed, Fred knows that Malek has the potential to be the dominant of his wildest dreams. Already godly with his muscular physique and basso voice, he just needs a little direction in how to direct Fred. After Fred’s lawyers coerce Malek into signing a contract instead of going to jail, Malek has to meet with Fred twice a month for some “possibly sexual” favors.

Malek is heavy with guilt after drunkenly assaulting Fred, but he is also dreading meeting with him. What if Fred makes him like, kiss and stuff? Foreseeing this apprehension, Fred shows Malek the perks of having a “slave”, like massaging his feet and maintaining his shisha pipe. [The way it's worded, it could be the master massaging the slave's feet. And having one's shisha pipe maintained is unlikely to sway a straight guy's opinion of this arrangement.] A painter, he also draws Malek in scenes of dominion and power. The paintings are different from anything he’s done before, and they could free him from his tedious PhD program and abusive father.

For Malek the choice is play along, or go to jail. Disgusted at first, Malek realizes that there’s no way he’s letting a fag keep him on edge, and he should try enjoying Fred’s servitude. He finds he has a knack for domination and things become more sexual with Fred. But if anyone discovers their arrangement, it would shame Malek’s Iraqi immigrant family, and embarrass him among the frat-boys. Thus he makes Fred promise to keep the paintings a secret. Fred breaks this promise when he sells them to pay rent. [I'd be more worried about the foot massages and sexual aspects becoming public than the paintings.]

However, not only do the paintings sell, there is lucrative demand [It's the selling that's lucrative, not the demand.] for more. Well, anything is justified if it leads to pampering Malek, of course. [Selling more paintings seems unlikely to lead to more Malek pampering, since Malek didn't want any of them sold.]

But then an art enthusiast offers Fred the gallery exhibit of his career. If Fred accepts, it would shatter Malek’s trust and thus his livelihood. [Whose livelihood? They're both college students, right?] If he declines, he would keep his Prince, but remain poor, unknown, and at his father’s mercy. [Can't he just paint portraits that feature someone other than Malek? Is the buyer asking him to keep churning out paintings of the same person?]

Given that you are looking for LGBT Romance and/or erotica, I believe you will find THE GLORIOUS PRINCE, complete at just under 85,000 words, of interest. It is the first in a planned series, but can stand alone.

I have previously resided in the US capital in 2013; the setting of my story. I wrote this novel to answer the question: What are my straight crushes so damn afraid of? [If this novel answers that question, I guess the answer is that your straight crushes are afraid you'll break your promises to keep whatever secrets they want you to keep. And since Fred does break his promise, I guess their fear is well-founded. In any case, the reason you wrote the novel can be revealed to your agent after she sells your book; no reason it should be in the query.]

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Feedback Request

Dear Evil Editor,

Here’s another stab at a query for IN THE SHADOW OF LIES (Most recently seen here). This one is written from the perspective of another character in the story, and presents a more straightforward story. Perhaps this approach can reduce some of the questions that have been raised by you and others.


Ren, 19, has only one wish: to see his best friend again. Marla was captured on a mission a year ago and imprisoned in a lab. Ren doesn’t care what experiments have been performed on her.  He just wants to rescue her. 

Ren brings Marla home to Somret, [Whoa, we seem to have skipped over the part where he actually rescues her.] hidden city and sanctuary against a power-hungry government. She stands accused of murdering her teammate, betraying Somret, and being brainwashed by the government. [It sounds like she's accused of being brainwashed, which she wouldn't have had any control over.] As Marla searches for the details of her capture in order to clear her name, Ren’s guilt is a tightening noose around his neck.

For he knows the truth: there never was a mission.

[It still feels like you're taking four paragraphs just to explain Marla's situation, which is: 

Rescued after a year in captivity, Marla returns to her home city, Somret, only to be accused of murder and treason. She'd like to clear her name, but she has no memory of her captivity or of the mission she was sent on, and with good reason: there was no mission.] 

A year ago, Marla was found to have the power to peer into minds. The Council of Somret locked her in a mind prison to harness her powers and hone her into a weapon. After a spy sold information to the government, she was snatched and hidden in a lab until retrieved on the Council’s orders. [rescued by her best friend, Ren.] [Not clear what this spy and information has to do with it, so let's simplify things by not bringing it up.] 

Ren doesn’t give a damn about the Council’s agenda. He doesn’t care [that] one of the accusations leveled at Marla is true. [The rest of this paragraph should tell us what Ren does care about.] But telling Marla the truth won’t help her. However dark and twisted Somret’s tunnels are, outside the city, both he and Marla are fugitives. [She's a fugitive inside the city, isn't she?]

A dying girl bears a dire message to Somret, [Vague. What's the message?] and Ren realizes he must decide where his loyalties lie. Marla’s powers could save an ambassador’s life and end a war, at the price of her freedom. Is saving everyone in Somret worth withholding the truth and ruining Marla’s trust in him? [Is that a serious question?]

IN THE SHADOW OF LIES is YA science fiction, complete at 117,000 words. Told in multiple POVs, it is mainly set on Ilah, a world of metal forests and lightning-fueled cities. It will appeal to fans of Rick Yancey’s THE 5TH WAVE and Victoria Aveyard’s RED QUEEN.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Warmest regards,


Notes

I prefer Marla as the focus of the query. Which, if you work with my opening paragraph, won't require much of a change except in the last plot paragraph, which is currently focused on Ren. Just make Marla the one who must decide where loyalties lie.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Publication Opportunity


Khazar-khum reports:

Last year, FARK.com's writers' group created an anthology to be sold for charity. It went so well that we're doing it again this year. Those who purchased it read some terrific stories.

We're open for submissions, which may interest minions.

Submissions must be in the Fantasy, Horror, Humor, Mystery or SciFi genres. Poetry in any of these genres is also acceptable. Entries must be no longer than 10,000 words. If it's a WIP or part of a longer work, please indicate this; last year some interesting things were passed up because we didn't know they were the first chapter of a WIP.

If you'd like to submit, go here:

http://farkfiction.net/ffa2017/


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Feedback Request


The author of the book featured in Face-Lift 1343 would like your feedback regarding the revision below:


Dear Evil Editor,

18-year-old Marla’s life on Earth is a lie. She was captured on a mission for Somret, hidden city and sanctuary against Arrental, the draconian government of her home planet Ilah. She was forced into a mind prison, to live a faux life on Earth. Her body lies in an Arrenth lab, her brain decoded to glean the secrets of Somret. A year later her friends locate her and rescue her mind and body. [Arrenth is not a good adjective for Arrental. Nepal and Portugal go with Nepalese and Portuguese because changing the al to h would make the adjectives Neph and Portugh. Hannibal, Missouri sticks with Hannibal as the adjective. Choosing a random means of forming an adjective could lead to confusion. For instance: Marla was captured by cannibals and imprisoned in a cannabis barn. This could be very bad for Marla, or very good, depending on your interpretation of "cannabis."  I recommend either Arrentali or Arrentalese. Better yet, change the place to Arrenthia, and use Arrenthian as the adjective. ]

Marla has returned to Somret, but her memories of Ilah’s metal forests and lightning-fueled cities are gone. All she wants is to belong. However, she is held responsible for that failed mission. Accusations trail her: she murdered her teammate; she betrayed Somret; she was brainwashed by Arrental. Without her memories, she cannot refute these claims. [You said her friends rescued her mind and body. To say they rescued her mind when her memories are gone is like saying they rescued her body when her internal organs are missing.]

A strange autopsy file sets Marla on a search for the truth of that mission. Finding it is the only way to understand why the people of Somret hate and fear her. A botched supply run, a dying messenger, and a quest to the heart of Arrental lead her to the devastating truth.

There was never a mission.

A year ago, Marla was found to have the power to travel to other worlds and peer into minds. The Council of Somret locked her in a mind prison to harness her powers and hone her into a weapon. After a spy sold information to Arrental, she was snatched and brought to an Arrenth lab until retrieved on the Council’s orders.

Marla no longer knows who the enemy is: the government that imprisoned her, or the city she calls home. If she succumbs to the Council’s manipulations, her powers could save an ambassador’s life and prevent a war, at the cost of her freedom, the safety of her friends, and perhaps her life. A web of lies tightens around Marla. She cannot fight alone, but to trust is to be betrayed. [Or is it to risk betrayal? Is she guaranteed to be betrayed if she trusts anyone?]

IN THE SHADOW OF LIES is YA science fiction. Complete at 117,000 words, it has series potential and will appeal to fans of Rick Yancey’s THE 5TH WAVE and Victoria Aveyard’s RED QUEEN.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Warmest regards,


Notes

The first three paragraphs set up Marla's situation, which is important, but not worthy of more space than the main story, which begins when she discovers the truth. Something like this would be enough:

Rescued by her friends, 18-year-old Marla is returned to her home city of Somret after a failed mission during which she was captured and her memories stolen. She wants only to return to her life, but accusations trail her: she murdered her teammate; she betrayed Somret; she was brainwashed by the Arrenthians. Without her memories, she cannot defend herself. 

Then you can get into the story, beginning: A search for the details of her mission turns up a devastating truth: there was no mission.

I don't see why Earth needs to be in the query. Actually, I don't see why the whole book can't be set either on Ilah or on Earth. Even at the speed of light it takes forever to get to other worlds, so it seems more useful to hone Marla into a weapon that can be used against Arrental than against other worlds. Marla's people are just the hidden city of Somret. For them to be conducting experiments involving Earth is like the people of Teaneck, New Jersey secretly getting involved in the lives of people on Trappist-1d. Of course it would all make perfect sense if we knew Somret's ultimate objective.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Feedback Request

The author of the book featured in Face-Lift 1344 would like your feedback on this new attempt at a query:


Dear Agent,

Fred smiled [smiles] in his hospital bed after being assaulted by his straight crush, because now he has Malek right where he wants him. Manipulative and obsessed, Fred knows that Malek has the potential to be the dominant of his wildest dreams. Already godly with his muscle-bound physique and basso voice, he just needs a little direction until he can [in how to] direct Fred. After Fred’s lawyers coerce Malek into signing a contract instead of going to jail, Malek has to meet Fred twice a month for some “possibly sexual” favors.

Malek is heavy with guilt after drunkenly assaulting Fred, but he is also dreading meeting with him. What if Fred makes him like, kiss and stuff? Foreseeing this apprehension, Fred slowly shows Malek the perks of having a “harmless bitch”, like massaging his feet [frequent foot massages and backrubs] and maintaining his shisha pipe. A painter, he also draws Malek in vivid scenes of dominion and power. Far from innocent, Fred hopes that Malek will become comfortable enough for things to get more sexual.

For Malek, there’s no way he’s letting a fag keep him on edge, and he realizes that he can [begins to] enjoy Fred’s servitude. His improving domination also improves his self-confidence, but he fears embarrassment if anyone discovers their arrangement. Thus he makes Fred promise to keep the paintings a secret. Fred breaks this promise when he sells them to pay rent. The growing interest in these paintings might just be what Fred needs to become a famous artist instead of working at the gallery of his abusive father.

But Fred’s two dreams are on a collision course: Malek gets an epiphany and benevolently becomes more sexual with Fred right before a gallery is about to exhibit his works to career-changing clients. Thus Fred faces the decision of his life: His career or his Prince? [Sounds like he's having his cake and eating it too. Spell out why this is an either/or choice (presumably because the gallery exhibit will reveal the embarrassing paintings to the public and/or because it will reveal that Fred broke his promise and can never be trusted.] [Does Fred consider just changing Malek's facial features in the paintings before trying to sell them?] 

Given that you are looking for LGBT Romance and/or erotica, I believe you will find The Glorious Prince, complete at just under 85,000 words, of interest. It is the first in a planned series, but can stand alone. It is set in modern Washington, D.C., and couples the fun narrative voice of White Teeth by Zadie Smith, with the first-person voice in novels such as 50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James. There has also yet to be a popular straight-gay romantic/erotic novel, and I believe my book would appeal to the growing New Adult audience. I have already started promoting the book through an eponymous Instagram account.

After years of unreciprocated crushes on straight men, and a recent delve into the world of domination, I have utilized my first-hand insight in writing out my characters’ experiences. I am a Lebanese scholar studying in Japan after having worked with refugees, and have previously resided in the US capital [where my story is set]. I wrote this novel to answer the question: What are my straight crushes so damn afraid of?

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Notes

It's an improvement. As it's still too long, I've suggested removing what you don't need, namely vague comparisons to other books, telling the agent things she should already know better than you do about whether your book will sell, and your life story, which might interest her after she becomes your agent.


Friday, March 10, 2017

Face-Lift 1345


Guess the Plot

The Ruined World

1. A poetic, photographic paean to the eerie world of abandoned amusement parks. 

2. When the apocalypse hits, and you go underground to survive, you don't expect to be stuck down there for fifty years. As for what you expect to find when you finally come up, it's probably a wasteland, not a thriving world and evidence that the apocalypse never happened and you just blew fifty years of your life. (Of course that won't matter so much if you've become immortal.)

3. After countless generations, Earth has produced enough trash to cover it in a disgusting pile. The following generation wants to leave, but first they have to dig through the layers of garbage to find the spaceships left a few generations back. Instead they find the mole-men.

4. Eriadne is a recreational planet for treasure hunters, but not all the ruins are man-made. Some are much, much, older even than Earth. So how is space archaeologist Jonas to explain the rocks with Spanish words carved into them?

5. When the body of director Michael Dey is found on the set of his new dystopian thriller The Ruined World, homicide detective Zack Martinez knows two things. One, Dey didn't cut himself in half with that chainsaw, and two, he really should take his wife out for dinner and a movie.

6. Sixteen-year-old Ashley never imagined she would become warrior princess of the fairy realm Aeoleanua. But something's wrong: her smart phone won't take her password, her BFF Britney doesn't recognize her, and her homeroom teacher keeps marking her absent. What's going on here? 


Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Ten has lived the past fifty years believing that she and the others in her underground world are the only survivors of an apocalypse brought on by warlike mortals, escaping with all but their memories intact. [I'm assuming it's Ten and company who escaped, not the warlike mortals, though it's easy enough to interpret it either way. For instance, the warlike mortals could have lit the fuse on the planet-destroying bomb and jumped into their spaceship, barely escaping.] [Also, "mortals" seems a bit vague. Is it a race of aliens, like Klingons? A country on this planet? We can handle knowing what they're called, assuming anyone still remembers.] When they aren’t occupied with widening the walls of their prison under the watchful eye [eyes?] of the elders, and engaging in memory services to honor the Ruined World and its victims, their eternally young days [Their days are eternally young? Do you mean their lives? Are they immortal? Were they immortal before going underground?] consist of lazing around playing games, swimming and sleeping. Luxury life or total bore-fest? Ten can’t decide but it’s all she knows until she and her best friend Rask stumble upon knowledge of a different sort: [evidence] that the wasteland above their heads is anything but.

Curiosity killed the cat, but Ten doesn’t know any cats, and for all she knows, she also can’t die, so when she becomes convinced her favorite elder, the mysterious Eros, is secretly encouraging her to rebel, she takes his advice. [Being immortal and not knowing cats don't belong on opposite sides of "also." It's like a guy comes home and his wife says, "Honey, I'm pregnant with triplets, and I also don't own any green shirts." In any case, it's not clear what the first half of that sentence has to do with the second. Changing "rebel" to "investigate" makes for a better connection, though I think I'd just get rid of the cat and say: The surface is off limits, but Ten wants to investigate anyway, so when she becomes convinced....] Risking being thrown to the insanity-inducing Dark if she’s discovered, [Who's gonna throw her to the Dark? The elders? It's an elder who's goading her into going.] Ten makes a bid for an upper world she only remembers in flashes, but nothing can prepare her for what she finds when she gets there…or for the discovery that she can’t get back.

THE RUINED WORLD is a YA paranormal fantasy complete at 100,000 words and is a bit like if Maggie Stiefvater met Jonathan Stroud overlaid with the darkened tones reminiscent of Lindqvist’s Let the Right One In. [A search of this blog for "Maggie Stiefvater" reveals that two other people have dropped her name in queries. And that before she had ever been published, Maggie submitted a query to us. No doubt, if asked, she would credit EE and his minions with her subsequent success.]

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Notes

You say they escaped with all but their memories intact. Which is the opposite of escaping with only their memories intact. The mention of remembering in flashes and memory services suggests "all but" is correct, but it seems more likely, when you go underground to escape an apocalypse, your memories would be the only thing you take with you. Did they escape into an underground city that already existed and had plenty of space for all their belongings?

I don't know how much of the book is set underground, but it feels like the underground portion is all setting up Ten's situation, and the story starts when she gets to the surface. In which case you probably should condense this whole thing into one setup paragraph and then give us some idea of what happens. What she finds when she gets above is a good stopping point for the back of the book. For the query, it's what's going to sell the book, and the stopping point might be when Ten has to make a crucial decision that will determine the fate of her people or the planet or herself.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Face-Lift 1344


Guess the Plot

The Glorious Prince

1. The Glorious Prince goes on an Epic Quest to defeat the Evil Wizard and his Rampaging Dragon. Read as along the way he rescues a Damsel in Distress, who hates being stuck in an Endless Bog of Doom, with help from his Helpful Steed before they die a Lame Death.

2. Melissa gets letters from a secret admirer who signs them "The Glorious Prince." Her affections are torn between him and the king of the zombie overlords. Then, aliens invade and she has a third choice. What's a sentient tree to do?

3. The premier ocean liner "The Glorious Prince" takes tour groups through the Bermudas, including the notorious triangle. Or, at least, it did until it went missing after a strange call about food poisoning and sea slime. Now navy seal Chuck Norin must find the ship to rescue his accountant before taxes are due. 

4. Fred, a gay guy, falls for a straight guy, but when he comes on to him, the guy assaults him. Fred threatens to go to the cops unless the straight guy signs a contract agreeing to let Fred rub his feet and paint his portrait and be his lover. In other words, treat him like a glorious prince.

5. The Glorious Prince and his cousins Prince Andrew Romanov, Prince Felix Yusupov, and Prince Nikolai Putyatin slip into the village for a bit of fun with the peasants. Can they sneak back into the castle before someone raises the drawbridge?

6. The Glorious Queen and the Glorious King finally produce the long-awaited heir, the Glorious Prince. But tongues start a-waggin in the Glorious kingdom when the Glorious Subjects notice that he bears a strong resemblance to the Glorious Gamekeeper. 


7. Raphael has killed 500 men with his bare hands and pleasured 500 women. He's the hottest prince alive, but he's in love with a kitchen wench. But if he won't marry the ugliest, but richest, princess in the kingdom, his father will kill the wench and turn Raphael into a eunuch. Also, a lovable cook.

8. Locked in a tower by an evil troll, young Jane longs for rescue by a handsome knight. So she is delighted when the Glorious Prince swoops in and magnificently the troll and sets her free. Unfortunately for Jane, the Prince is also a thousand-year-old vampire who has been feeding off her family for generations and the whole tower thing had actually been for her protection. Who'd a thunk it? 


Original Version

I hope this message finds you well. According to your website, you are interested in all subgenres of romance. On that note, I am pleased to introduce my novel, The Glorious Prince, the story of Fred, a gay Fine Arts PhD student, who falls in obsessive love with Malek (Mah-leck), a straight frat boy. [Did I say all subgenres? Remind me to update my website.]

For Fred, Malek is another straight crush he will never have, but he decides to pursue him regardless. However, after Malek assaults Fred, the former must choose between jail or signing a contract binding him to Fred with vague favors. [A contract with vague provisions is pretty worthless. For instance, if you find a publisher for this book, would you want your contract to state The publisher pays the author 10% of each sale, or just The publisher gives the author something?] Malek chooses the contract. [I'm not sure I'd want to owe vague favors to someone who's assaulted me. Then again, that's what prison would be like, except with worse food.] In their next meeting, Malek is surprised to find his former victim bowing to him and confessing his submissive urges, and Malek must bring himself to play along or risk breaching the contract. [My punishment for assaulting you is that I have to assault you? Only this time with a riding crop?]

Malek is confused and repulsed, suspecting that Fred wants to make him homosexual. He is terrified of anyone finding out about this arrangement, fearing ridicule from the other frat boys, and scandalizing his Iraqi immigrant family. [Knowing frat boys, they're gonna ridicule him anyway, for being Iraqi. ] However, he realizes that this fear gives Fred power over him, so he decides to tackle it by trying to enjoy Fred’s servitude.

Over the course of four months, Fred brings Malek closer and closer to fully dominating him as Malek gets more comfortable with his role as ‘King’. [Or ‘Queen.’] To assist this transition, Fred paints portraits of Malek, depicting him as a sultan in a harem, a king receiving homage, [a freshman philosophy professor, the CEO of Uber,] and other scenarios of power and dominance. [I'm already contractually obligated to do you vague favors, but that's not enough. I also feel I should paint your portrait numerous times.] Fred also tends to Malek’s feet, believing the act of pampering them as the key to making Malek feel kingly. [Or princely. Which one is the glorious prince?] [Wait, pampering Malek's feet is Fred's idea? If I'm Fred, and that idea pops into my head, I'm keeping it to myself.] 

Malek is flattered by the paintings, but asserts that he wants them gone, fearing anybody would [somebody might] see them. However when Fred faces financial problems, he decides to try and sell the paintings. The paintings are sold, making Malek even more important to Fred. [Important because portraits of Malek are Fred's only source of income? Has he tried selling portraits of other people? I would expect customers of a portrait artist to want portraits of themselves or their loved ones, not of some stranger named Malek.]

But Fred’s relationship with the manipulative father he loathes begins bearing similarity to his own relationship with Malek, and so he burns the contract to enact a justice he had sought for himself. [You can't call off a deal by burning a contract. When your book becomes a bestseller and you go to your publisher to complain that they haven't sent you any royalties, they can't say, Oh, that. We burned the contract. I someone signed a contract stating he wouldn't have me arrested for assault, and then burned it, that would worry me.] After this, Malek tries suppressing his new urge for dominating Fred, believing that without the contract, this would betray affection for Fred. The urge grows worse due to his dating blunders. Malek must decide: dominating Fred or no sex at all. [I'm having trouble with Malek wanting to continue the relationship if the contract is no longer an issue. But what do I know?] 

After finding some demand from an art enthusiast, Fred calls Malek, offering to pay him for a meeting, while secretly plotting to produce more paintings. [You sit over there, and we'll have a conversation while I stand over here painting a landscape or a still life. Oh, and try not to move.] However, what Fred did not consider was Malek having a change of heart toward Fred, allowing him more liberty with his body even to the point of oral sex. Thereafter, when the art enthusiast offers Fred a gallery exhibit, he must make the painful choice: His artistic career or Malek’s trust? [Let's see, my career or the trust of a straight guy who assaulted me. Tough decision. Screw my career, this guy lets me rub his feet.] 

There has yet to be a popular story of a straight-gay romance/erotic arrangement. [I Googled "straight gay erotic romance novel" and the top hit was a Goodreads list of 117 books. Possibly none of them is what you'd consider popular, but it's better to let the person you're writing to decide how unique and popular your book will be than to make a sweeping claim.] These reasons [That was only one reason.] draw me to believe that the novel will be well-received by the audience of the New Adult genre.

The setting is modern Washington, D.C. [Wait, a fraternity in Washington D.C. has an Iraqi member named Malek?] It is complete at 84,800 words and I find it to be somewhere between 50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James and White Teeth, by Zadie Smith. [I can guarantee it will be between those two books on bookshelves, having noted that your last name begins with the letters Sa.]

I am a Lebanese gay man, I graduated with a degree in sociology from the American University of Beirut before working as an interpreter for refugees. At present, I am a scholarship recipient studying International Relations in Japan. I am also a kinkster and will shamelessly expand on this if given the green light. [My light seems to be stuck on red.] 

Thank you for your time.


Notes

This is way too long for a query letter. If someone requests a synopsis, this might be a good length; in a query, you want your plot summary to be no more than ten sentences.

The contract feels like a contrivance just to take the relationship where you want it to go. I don't doubt that there are some gay guys seeking a straight/gay erotic romance, and straight guys seeking the same thing, and it's wonderful if they find each other. But when you're the gay guy and the straight guy's reaction to your come-on is assaulting you, you either move on, or have him arrested. You don't whip out a legal contract binding him to you.   

Apparently Malek is growing to believe he acted hastily in rejecting Fred. This probably needs to be spelled out, not just hinted at. Is Malek thinking, I'm not having any luck with women lately, maybe I can live happily ever after with Fred?

If you can't find a publisher for this, you might try doing something similar but with both guys being gay. Malek hires Fred to paint his portrait, Fred falls for Malek, but Malek isn't interested, some gallery owner sees the portrait, wants more, Fred convinces Malek to pose for more, not telling him there's money involved, Malek starts to come around, but then discovers the money angle and thinks he's been played, etc.

To condense this it may help to format the plot summary into three paragraphs and focus on one of the men as your main character. 

P1: Who's the MC, what's his situation, what's his goal, what's his plan to achieve it?

P2: What goes wrong, what's plan B?

P3: What will happen if the MC fails? Succeeds? What's the big decision he must make that will determine his future?

Try writing the query with Fred as MC, then Malek. Possibly one will prove more intriguing.



Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Synopsis 58


JAY spends all his free time high upon the cliffs of Dover, watching the sailing ships below. All he wants is to go to the sea, far away from the grief that lingers at home.

When his father introduces him to his uncle, a Portuguese merchant, he joins his ship. TRISTAO, RUI and MIGUEL try to help him, [Who are they?] but he does not trust anyone. [Try to help him do what? Why doesn't he trust anyone? Joining the crew of a ship on which you trust no one: not too smart.] [Too many pronouns in this paragraph.]

Arriving in Lisboa, Jay puts himself in his uncle’s service. [Not sure what that means. Didn't he put himself in his uncle's service when he joined the ship's crew?] His travels lead him to Venice where he meets a tavern wench, LAURA, who both puzzles and intrigues him.

With every journey he makes, he grows closer to Laura. This frightens him and he escapes, [Escapes? He's been leaving every time his ship leaves Venice. How is this any different?] joining his friends on an adventure. Not all goes as planned [What was the plan and what actually happened?] and adrift on the ocean, Jay reflects on his life.

He returns to Venice, but finds that Laura has a husband and a child. [How long was he gone?] Embittered [Crushed?] he leaves her behind. [What other option was there? Move in with them?] 

Years later, Jay sails to England to see his dying father. Grieving, he returns to Lisboa and stays at land for a while. He is restless until he meets JOANA, who resembles Laura.

He again does not dare to get too close and Jay flees to the sea. During his next journey [voyage], he considers all that has happened and finds that he does not want to lose Joana too and upon his return, he marries her.

Meanwhile Rui struggles with life aboard and Jay gives him a position at land, helping Joana managing his affairs. [Something tells me his affairs aren't the affairs he should be worried about.] He is restless as ever, and his daughter’s birth does not change that. When she dies shortly after, he runs away once again, leaving Rui behind to comfort Joana. Over the years Jay finds that Rui becomes more important to her than he. When war rises again, [Again? There was a war?] he desperately tries to find death in battle. Miguel takes the blow in his place and Jay survives, troubled that his friend died because of him. [At least now he can finally trust Miguel.]

Guiltily, he decides to leave so Joana can be happy with Rui. However, Tristão exposes Joana’s adultery and forces her and Rui to go into exile. [When you're leaving your wife with another man so they can be happy, adultery is pretty much assumed, and doesn't need to be exposed.] Jay realises he does not want to be alone anymore and accepts to stay close to those that care for him. [Who are we talking about? Joana and Rui?]

Twenty years after, a man knocks at his door. He tells about his mother, and Jay finds Laura did not abandon him after all. [It was never suggested that she abandoned him. He got her pregnant, then left Venice long enough for her to get married and give birth. If anyone was abandoned, it was Laura.] The boy was his son and finally, he is at peace. [His son is now in his thirties. He missed out on his son's entire life. And he's at peace? I'd be tormented by the knowledge that some other guy raised my son while I was off feeling bitter and trying to get killed.]


Notes

These short paragraphs give the feeling of an outline. A list of some things that happen. To some extent that's what a synopsis is, but if you want to tell a story, you don't want years to pass between every two sentences. And you need to tell the story with more specificity. Some of this is vague: Jay reflects on his life. He considers all that has happened. Some of it is repetitive: he stays at land for a while; Jay flees to the sea; he runs away once again; he decides to leave; he accepts to stay.

It's hard to focus on the most important plot line when the book covers 35+ years of the MC's life. Maybe the synopsis (if not the book) should start when Daniel meets Laura on a stopover in Venice.