Saturday, May 27, 2006

Face-Lift 38

Guess the Plot

Canaan Mountain

1. Rapper T-Rex moved to remote country where he thought the few residents were too caught up in their own eccentricities to notice him. He thought wrong.

2. A city girl gives up her publishing career and moves to the mountains of Tennessee to live with a hillbilly she met in an online chat room.

3. No one has ever come back alive from Canaan Mountain. Is The Creature in the Cave responsible? Or is that merely legend? Big Tom aims to find out once and for all tonight.

4. It was once known as Canaan Valley, second to Death Valley as the lowest spot on the continent. Then it was turned into a landfill. Now it's second to Mount McKinley.

5. Strip miners set up shop to ravage Canaan Mountain, but the tables are turned when it proves to be a live volcano.

6. Ghosts from the Civil War haunt the Canaan Mountain Retirement Center. And they want vengeance.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor:

Canaan Mountain Retirement Center lays nestled in the hills of western North Carolina, a region where religion and nature are as interlocked as tobacco and paper. [Evil Editor is not crazy about this analogy. Some tobacco is wrapped in paper, true, but are they interlocked? One is rolled up inside the other, like sausage in a membrane. Of course it would be rather cumbersome to say, Religion and nature are as interlocked as two adjacent pieces of a completed jigsaw puzzle. Fortunately, the Evil Minions are nothing if not creative, so Evil Editor is giving them a limited time to submit conclusions to the phrase, "Where religion and nature are as interlocked as . . . " Evil Editor will gather the better ones into one post, so we all don't have to read 30 comments in search of the wittiest analogy. Of course this means there can't be a revised version, but at least we should end up with a better first sentence, which is three fourths of the battle.] In this setting, a group of characters meet and find a battle between good and evil still exists. Each of these characters finds themselves on their own personal journey.

Jack Heydon yearns to find his family. Chandler Heydon wants to find himself. Parker Heydon is trying to find his grandfather. [Are you sure this is a retirement center, and not a hedge maze?] [I think I can help Jack with his quest to find his family: Chandler and Parker, maybe? Hello?] Adam Cobalt looks to satisfy his greed. Ghosts from the Civil War haunt the center and they are looking for vengeance. [Shouldn't they be haunting a retirement center in the North if they want vengeance? Assuming there are any 160-year-old Yankee Civil War veterans to haunt.] [Wait, they could haunt the New York Yankees! No, seriously, Evil Editor is on to something here. Southern zombie Civil War vets want revenge against the Yankees, and discover the only Yankees left are the Bronx Bombers. This could be hilarious.] [If one of the Evil Minions decides to write this novel, Evil Editor wants an acknowledgment in the book, and half the take on the film rights.]

Jack, who cannot walk or speak, knows something is wrong. [For one thing, he cannot walk or speak.] The problem lies within the mind of Adam, a nursing home worker slowly turning mad as the demons from the Civil War haunt him. [Slowly turning mad? Let's face it, he's long gone.] Fifteen-year-old Parker is the only other person who knows something is wrong and who can save his grandfather. [Save his grandfather? You said he couldn't even find his grandfather.] He enlists the help of a handicapped friend. The two boys save Jack. [From what?]

But there is a cost.

I am a writer living in Chattanooga, Tenn. and have currently finished writing a novel called Canaan Mountain. The novel is part horror, part suspense and part thriller. It is a little more than 85,000 words long. I am a newspaper reporter, by trade. In June, I will be published in the online dark fiction magazine Dark Reveries. I have published short stories in the online fiction magazines The Dead Mule: School of Southern Literature and The Half Drunk Muse. [Credits can be helpful, even when an editor has never heard of them, as long as they have impressive-sounding names. The Dead Mule and The Half-Drunk Muse, might be better left out.] I have been named a poet of the week on Poetry Super Highway. The strength in my writing lies in interesting characters and a strong story driven by suspense and plot. Even though I'm a horror writer, gore and blood are secondary. The story and the characters drive my writing. I am currently working on a second novel [in which Greek nursing home residents are attacked by dead Pelopponesian War soldiers.]

I look forward to speaking to you further about my novel. I can be reached at (insert e-mail address) or you can call me at (insert phone number). [Or you may return the enclosed SASE (insert form rejection slip.)]



This hedge maze looks cool.


Lisa Cohen said...

FYI: Half Drunk Muse is a very reputable on line poetry 'zine.

Anonymous said...

I think they mean religion, nature, tobacco [growing] and paper [mills] are all interlocked in western North Carolina's culture. So "interlocked" is the problem.

"a region where religion and nature are as ..... as tobacco and paper."

central to the culture? pervasive?

Evil Editor said...

Possibly they meant that, but tobacco is a secondary crop in western North Carolina's hills. It's the east that produces the crop in major volume. Also, having Googled North Carolina paper mills, Evil Editor finds that, at least today, there are very few in the western part of the state.

Anonymous said...

Evil Editor sir:

I very much like the idea of seeing the titles of the query letters on the list to be redone. However, since the titles are listed alphabetically, we have no way of knowing where we might be in the line up.

Is it possible for you to list them in the order you plan on doing them? Or is that according to your ever-changing whim, and you have no idea which one is next?

Your grateful minion.

Evil Editor said...

Evil Editor has no set order. He looks through all of them periodically, hoping to find one that inspires the kind of hilarity his minions demand.

Anonymous said...

"...hoping to find one that inspires the kind of hilarity his minions demand."

And so far, so good! It is an absolute rule in this Minion's house: No eating, drinking, or even swallowing spit while reading EE. (Hope that's not TMI.) You are as funny as Geoffrey Chaucer. (Well... Geoff's pretty damn hilarious when he's on his game.) (Still, the Sub-Mariner reference nearly did me in.) (Also, obscure 80's rock bands! Hit me with your rhythm stick, EE!)

(Wait, where did I pick up this parenthesis addiction? Oh, right.)

Verification fantasy name: JJdyee - High Priest of Wzrn, arch-nemesis of the Grand Duke.

Anonymous said...

"Canaan Mountain Retirement Center lays nestled in the hills of western North Carolina..."

Shouldn't that be 'lies'? Or is it like a hen?

A. M. said...

I think every query could start with: TITLE is a GENRE novel about....
and we'd neither be bored nor confused by seemingly unconnected second sentences.

Still wondering about what roles religion and nature play in this story. Nature as religion? Religion battling nature?

I've got it! It's a moral tale about the Heydon (Heathen!) clan, Harlot Heathen's offspring. I have a distinct feeling that religion is driving this Canaan tale. Why not go Dan-Brown-ish and give a real clue as to what the conflict is?

This particular writer might benefit from rewriting a query where the word find is used only once. At first I thought all the "finds" were a set-up for a final "find" punch, but no.

Bernita said...

Shouldn't it be "lies nestled in the hills" since present tense is used?

Beth said...

Oooh. I've been to Longleat! I remember that maze!

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering if the whole "interlocked" phrase refers to the abundance of Wiccans here in WNC. If so, take care to distinguish this nature religion from the more pervasive culture of Southern Baptists and evangelical Christians, who combine nature and religion when they pray for the fish to bite.

Does this retirement home lie in the mountains (Western North Carolina (please note the capital "W")) or the foothills (where tobacco is still somewhat important, though the same can't be said for paper)?

There was very little Civil War action here, because the region had minimal railroads and few rescources worth looting. Plus, the majority of land-owners were subsistance farmers for whom the war was a nuisance and travesty, not a cause. Deserters from both armies hid out in the mountains, so you can easily mend that plot hole.

I'm not trying to discourage you; it sounds like a chilling story. I just think you should put those journalistic research skills to work on the details. Spend a bit more time in the area. For tax purposes, this is clearly research, not vacation. (Hot Springs is lovely; be sure to reserve your hot tub in advance. WNC's economy focuses on tourism these days, and we're doing quite well, thank you.)

McKoala said...

Mazes get boring after you've been lost in one for longer than five minutes. Hedges, hedges and more hedges.