Saturday, April 27, 2019

Face-Lift 1393


Guess the Plot

Believing in Magic

1. Soon there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean. Our planet has just had the warmest year ever. Countries with nuclear weaponry are increasingly run by megalomaniacs. But it's all good. Just sit back and believe in a magical fix-it that requires no effort whatsoever.

2. One man's quest for a weedless lawn. 

3. When Marcy starts seeing dragons, unicorns, and fire-breathing monsters wherever she goes, threatening her life, she decides to find the being controlling them all. Yet as she goes about her quest, she starts to doubt that what she sees is real.

4. A patrician president, wishing to appear sympathetic to minorities, appoints a black basketball star to the National Commission on Aids only to have the ballplayer openly criticize the president’s policies. Then at the height of the election cycle…Oh, wait. This is real life not a novel.

5. Alyss has the most dexterous digits of any prestidigitator in Cathayathay, and she's going to need them when she's caught between the vizier and the most important wife in the sultan's harem. Treachery, magic, politics, magic, illusion, magic, and of course a genie.

6. Seventeen-year-old Maggie just found out she's a witch, but that her powers will disappear unless she devotes herself to learning how to use them. But that might mean abandoning her family. Tough decision. Of course, as a witch, she could probably just make a new family.

7. Having been dumped by his girlfriend, ripped off by his best friend, and disowned by his parents, Philly Philmore needs something to believe in. Why not magic?



Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Seventeen years ago, in Door County, Wisconsin, a powerful young witch gave birth to a little girl. Three days later, the new mother mysteriously died. The girl was put up for adoption and the records were sealed.

Now it’s the summer of 2019 and the Bennett family is headed to Door County on vacation. Maggie has no idea a chance meeting with local shop owner, Carlee Corey, is about to change her life. The only detail Maggie has ever known about her birth is the peculiar request her adoptive parents agreed to: to name the little girl ‘Magic’.

She’s about to find out why.

Carlee Corey not only spells out how she and Maggie are related, but also insists they’re witches; that they come from a long line of witches. Maggie’s uncertain what to believe, but with the secrets of her true origins on display, she can’t help but be drawn in. She’s tempted by this new world, with its magic spells and ghostly messages, not to mention Keller, a handsome young charmer with secrets of his own. As summer’s end approaches, Maggie must choose: explore her newfound destiny or go back to the comfortable life she knows and loves, leaving magic behind forever. Adding to her fray [dilemma]; if she doesn’t decide soon, the powers she never knew she had will disappear before she ever learns to use them.

Torn, Maggie will attempt to combine the craft and her old life, but it won’t be without cost. When she [Maggie] returns home she’ll need to put[s] her feelings for Keller aside and attempt[s] to learn magic from a teacher who’s 300 miles away – all the while keeping her newfound talents hidden from the people who mean the most to her. As time goes on, [But] the more magic she learns, the more powerless she feels. When her powers take a dark turn, a near tragedy will teach her to believe in the path – and the people – she’s been bound to all along. [Can you be more specific about the dark turn and the near tragedy?]

BELIEVING IN MAGIC is a complete, polished YA magical realism manuscript at 75,000 words. [By the simplest definition of magical realism, this may qualify, but I think I'd just call it a fantasy.] Fans of Hoffman’s Practical Magic and the television series Charmed will enjoy this variety of witches, [Not sure what you mean by "this variety of witches." Are there lots of different witches? Because it sounded like Maggie went home to study witchcraft in solitude.] while its young cast of characters and fun, light brand of fantasy will have it appealing [appeal] to a broad range of readers. If successful, it could readily be the foundation for a series.

This is my second endeavor in novel writing, the first being a self-published YA/Women’s Lit piece titled LITTLE FISH, which serves as a platform for my work against domestic violence. I studied Professional Communication at Moraine Park Technical College and I work as a freelance / staff writer. I’ve been published in several local and regional magazines and news outlets, such as InSpire Magazine, Hoards, AgriView and Wisconsin State Farmer. I think it’s worth mentioning, with me you get a writer who not only is a passionate about her work, but also understands publishing is a business and professionalism is the cornerstone of any good business relationship. [This whole paragraph can go. Yes, even the part about being published in Wisconsin State Farmer.]

My sincerest wish in querying is to find an agent who will guide me as I work to build a writing career that’s not only successful, but enduring as well. I look forward to hearing if you feel we would be a good fit. (As a professional courtesy, I will let you know I am currently querying multiple agents / publishers.)

Thank you so much for your time and consideration

Please find the first twenty pages of my manuscript below signature, per instruction.

Regards,


Notes

This is longer than most agents want in a query. We can cut the first 3+ paragraphs down to:

During her adoptive family's summer vacation in Wisconsin, 17-year-old Maggie has a chance meeting with a shop owner who claims she and Maggie are related--and that they come from a long line of witches.

Italicize titles of books, magazines, TV series.




Saturday, April 20, 2019

Face-Lift 1392

Guess the Plot

Roadside Attractions


1. When ace detective Zack Martinez is called to investigate a body found near Interstate 10, he knows one thing: all those buzzards must be here for a reason. 

2. He was standing on the shoulder of the northbound interstate, handsome and rugged, with his thumb outstretched and a smile in his bright blue eyes. She was going the other way, white dress and red hair dancing in the wind of passing vehicles. The attraction was immediate, intense, undeniable … but could it survive crossing eight lanes of high-speed traffic? 

3. Mrs. Lovette's Roadside Attractions is the best bar and grill off highway 666, with a sympathetic bartender who tells outrageous local ghost stories. Until, that is, the health inspector arrives to find out what's in the Mystery Meat Special. Fortunately, he stops at the barbershop next door first. 

4. After Amanda's boyfriend dumps her in the middle of their romantic road trip, she has a choice to make. Go home or take advantage of all the roadside attractions, namely the bars and motels and truck stops along I-95. Time for an adventure.

5. For over 70 years people have stopped at the MacDonald family of Nevada's little roadside gift shop to eat at the 'best burger joint in the galaxy' and pay a few bucks to see the 'alien mummy'. It's great, until the day the aliens show up to claim their son's body. Will the MacDonalds cede possession of their prize attraction without a fight?

6. Julia has always walked the same roadway to school. To the side, there is always someone new selling a new thing. After she gets her allowance, a new attraction has caught her eye. Too bad she has also caught its eye. 


Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Amanda’s romantic road trip becomes a celibate single’s tour after her boyfriend dumps her. She envisions miles of loneliness with only sarcasm and liquor to keep her warm. Audacious isn’t a self-descriptor, but she’s off and running. [Not sure what that sentence is saying, but it seems contradictory to the previous sentence. Is it saying she never considered herself audacious, but now she's gonna prove herself wrong? Would "adventurous" be a better word?] [Were they in her car or her boyfriend's?]

On the road, Amanda realizes the difference between lonely and alone. She squirms less while dining solo and unapologetically builds blazing campfires for one. All this independence doesn’t go unnoticed. She’s befriended by a group of men out for one last hurrah. [This sounds like the men all befriended her at once. Which may be the case, but if it's not, change "group" to "string."] [Also, I don't know that men out for a last hurrah are specifically drawn to independence in a woman. Unless "independence" means aloneness.]

Old-Amanda would’ve relinquished her singlehood with the first husky hello. ["Singlehood" meaning solitariness, rather than marital status, I assume.] But old-Amanda was stuffed in the trunk somewhere along I-95. 
[So she has the car. That she was building campfires had me wondering if she was walking and hitchhiking.] Even so, it’s hard to ignore her thumping, especially when two of the men want more than a single night. 

It’s one thing to allow them in her bed, [or her sleeping bag] but her heart, well that’s another matter.

ROADSIDE ATTRACTIONS is women’s fiction at 87,000 words.

Thank you for your consideration,



Notes

So her boyfriend dumps her and she decides she's not gonna let that jerk ruin her road trip, and the plot is basically a string of events as she drives the Interstate, most of them involving men chasing a last hurrah? That's a typical format for a road trip novel and there's nothing wrong with it, but perhaps some specific examples of her encounters (the funniest, the worst, the most appealing...) would give us a better idea if we want to read about this trip. We want to know there's more than bars and motels. We want to know what really goes on at South of the Border.

There's some good stuff here, and I mostly nitpicked, but do throw in some sexy details and hint at the attempted murder.



Friday, April 12, 2019

Face-Lift 1391

Guess the Plot

The Murderer from Jerusalem

1. In ancient Jerusalem, there's a murderer loose in the temple. If scrub maid Arsiya can expose him, she's positive the king will make her the first Priestess of Jerusalem. 

2. Someone killed Lord George, but detective Collier isn't sure whether it was the butler from Jerusalem or the gardener from Geneva. You'll never guess which one.

3. Don't believe everything you read. That story about Jesus being crucified? Hogwash. He was murdered by a fat guy from Jerusalem. This is his story.

4. Tel Aviv police detective Lev Mendelsohn has enough on his plate, what with Passover approaching, but when someone starts killing people by battering them with stones stolen from the Wailing Wall, it looks like he'll be missing the seder. Oy vey.


Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

In ancient Jerusalem, lofty priests sitting in luxurious temples control science and magic. Being a priest in the Holy Temple is one of the most desirable jobs a man can have. Unfortunately, Arsiya is a thirteen-year-old girl who dreams of becoming a priestess. Honestly, she’s done nothing wrong. Trying to get accepted into the priesthood program with the boys in her city doesn’t count, right? Alas, the snotty priests who sentenced her think she’d do better as a scrub maid in the Holy Temple. [That was a lot of words to set up the situation. This is more concise: In ancient Jerusalem, thirteen-year-old Arsiya dreams of becoming a priestess. But the temple priests would never accept a girl into the priesthood program. They put her to work as a scrub maid in the Holy Temple.]

Yeah, right. Arsiya would rather spend her time in prison than waste her days tasting firemelons and other strange fruit as part of her work. [I don't see tasting fruit as a scrub maid's job.] But right before she tries to escape her “new home”, she overhears a conversation about magic. Now, that’s an opportunity she is not going to miss. She decides to stay, read some scrolls, and become the first priestess of Jerusalem. [A shorter version of this paragraph: No way is Arsiya going to waste her days cleaning floors and scrubbing pots. But then she overhears a conversation about magic, and decides to stick around after all. She'll secretly study some scrolls, and become the first priestess of Jerusalem.] 

Refusing to give up on her dream, Arsiya scours the temple for a scroll of secret [arcane] knowledge that will help her prove she’s as good as any other apprentice. Instead, she finds the mutilated body of a maid. Eyes pricked and flying in the air, the dead maid is definitely [has] not [been] sacrificed to the god Resheph; she has been murdered. As the bodies pile up, Arsiya’s quest of [for] secret scrolls turns into [becomes] a search for a killer. If she catches the murderer who lurks within the walls of the Holy Temple, the king will name her First Priestess of Jerusalem. If she fails, she might be the next victim.

ALADDIN meets AGATHA CHRISTIE, THE MURDERER FROM JERUSALEM is an #OwnVoice middle grade fantasy, complete at 54,000 words.

Best,


Notes

There's a lot that's unclear. What was the sentence the priests handed her? Is she in prison? If not, why does she need to escape? If so, how is she free to look for scrolls? Did the king tell her he'd make her a priestess? Whose bodies are piling up? Important people or maids? Eyes pricked and flying in the air? If you shorten what you have as suggested, you might have room to answer some of these questions.

A better title would help.