Monday, May 29, 2006

Face-Lift 41

Guess the Plot

Honor Lost Honor Bound

1. Twins separated at birth, Honoria and Honorine take differing paths. Honoria adopted by the Carringtons in Boston and Honorine fostered by absinthe-swilling bohemians in Paris. One becomes an intrepid explorer, the other a flamboyant bondage model.

2. The feudal society of Gon'rha is falling apart, revolutionaries abound. The twin daughters of the High Priest must fulfill a legend to bring about a century of peace. However, the legend predicts the death of one of the girls.

3. Canadian separatists attempt to drag the United States into a civil war in Canada, but no one south of the border even knew the war was going on.

4. When temple virgin Castizia is seduced and sold into slavery by the rogue Renart, she vows revenge. When Renart falls into her power, will her hatred bring her to abandon the teachings of the god she was dedicated to in childhood?

5. Honors student Josh Wilton's world crumbled when he was accused of cheating and his exam papers vanished mysteriously. Josh vows that nothing will stand in the way of his acceptance by the university of his choice. Not even Principal Grimble.

6. Forced into an embarrassing retreat by a heavily armed street gang, an army battalion chooses an easier target: a local Brownie troop.

Original Version

How close did Canada come to being torn apart and how close did the U.S. come to having another war to deal with? [One thing about going to war with Canada, our draft dodgers wouldn't be able to move to Canada to get out of fighting, eh?] [Also, there wouldn't be any casualties, as we'd agree to settle our differences on the curling sheet, eh?]
In 1995, French-Canadian separatists lost a vote to secede by less than one percent; one-third of the Canadian army is French-Canadian; and the James Bay Hydro Station supplies power to the U.S. [Things you learned on Jeopardy?] HONOR LOST HONOR BOUND, my 90,000-word suspense novel, weaves these facts into one brief timeframe and describes Canada's nightmare: civil war. [Our top story tonight, Canada declared war today. Predictably, they declared it on Canada.] [The good thing about going to war with yourself instead of someone else is that you don't have to worry about the United States butting in. Right? Eh?]

Captain James Morgan's [Is this the hoser they named the rum after?] bravery is matched only by his temper, and when that temper is roused, someone, possibly even he himself, will end up in jail, or the hospital. In Yugoslavia, Morgan's rifle jams in the middle of a firefight and he is almost killed by Bosnian snipers. [Is this event so important to the plot that it must be in the query letter?] Later, while recuperating in Canada, he discovers that the French-Canadian company manufacturing the army's rifles is purposely using substandard metal. Morgan's wife, a strong-willed naval officer, accidentally sees plans for a Quebec attack and is almost killed for her discovery. As his marriage crumbles, Morgan turns to the nurse who comforted him after the attack in Bosnia. [Hang on a minute, I think I'm going to need a scorecard to keep up with this.] Morgan's investigation progresses and a Quebec soldier is sent to stop him (or kill him, whichever is easier) but defects instead. [Defects from Quebec to Saskatchewan.] Although Canadian officials are alerted to the impending danger, they are unable to stop the separatists. In an effort to secure their new nation, the "Quebec Army" moves to take over the James Bay Hydro Station. [This paragraph is reading like a series of one-sentence synopses of your chapters. Too many events and no flow. Less is more.] Throughout, Morgan struggles with his hatred of the separatists and their beliefs as he fights to avenge his wife [Is she dead? I missed that part.] and ultimately, battles to save his country from a war that can have no winners.

As a retired Canadian army officer, [Aha, so you are Captain Morgan.] I have personally experienced the separatist mentality. My first novel, "Till Death Do Us Part" was published in 1996 [by?]. I have been published in military magazines and was an editorial columnist for The Saint, in Windsor, Ontario. In addition, I have been active in a writer's critique group since 2001.

I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.


Revised Version

Dear Evil Editor:

In 1995, French-Canadian separatists lost a vote to secede by less than one percent. In my alternate history novel HONOR LOST, HONOR BOUND, separatists refuse to accept the results of that referendum. In an effort to secure a new nation, the "Quebec Army" moves to take over the James Bay Hydro Station (which supplies power to the U.S.), thus bringing Canada to the brink of civil war.

Through the eyes of Captain James Morgan, of the Canadian Forces, Honor Lost, Honor Bound follows the events leading up to the revolt. Morgan struggles with his hatred of the separatists and their beliefs as he attempts to avenge his murdered wife, and ultimately, to save his country from a war that can have no winners.

A retired Canadian army officer, I have personally experienced the separatist mentality. My first novel, Till Death Do Us Part was published in 1996 by Molson House. I have been published in military magazines and was an editorial columnist for The Saint, in Windsor, Ontario. In addition, I have been active in a writer's critique group since 2001.

Thank you for your time and consideration.



Concentrating on one plot thread gives more of a feel for a unified story. Whether it's the story you've written, Evil Editor doesn't know, but if not, a few tweaks and a few more pertinent details should get it right.


Flood said...

'Honor' is spelled incorrectly for a Canadian book, and Canadians are really the only ones who would care about this story. Maybe.

Anonymous said...

Dear "Captain Morgan", a.k.a. author of HONO(U)R LOST, HONO(U)R BOUND,

I just wanted to point out a few things that sounded illogical to me, based on the query letter. You might want to consider whether they come across better in the novel itself.

As a (English speaking) Canadian, I didn't find it very believable to suppose that, immediately in the wake of the referendum, the separatist movement would have been so organised as to already have military hit men in place and be engaging in such subtle acts of terrorism, i.e. sabotaging weapons used in Bosnia doesn't help Quebec, so that would be terrorism.

Tensions ran pretty high back then, so I can believe the speculation that a Quebec Army might form - but at first, such an army would be a rabble. Yes, there would be trained soldiers in it, but it would also contain a lot of angry young yahoos, who traditionally aren't very good at taking orders or being effective fighters (or saboteurs).

Also, there would be no way for the company sabotaging the rifles to ensure that soldiers from Quebec would NOT be getting those faulty rifles also - so they'd be hurting their own people, and thus their own cause. Soldiers trained by the Canadian military would likely be the recruits of choice by the Quebec Army, so the separatist movement wouldn't be doing itself any favours by alienating these soldiers. No one feels kindly toward the people who blew your arm off - or your buddy's arm off, even if your buddy spoke English.

Canada and Quebec are pretty civil places, and although there are some people with very violent separatist sentiments, it was the level of organisation your story implied that bothered me. The sabotage angle in particular implies that the terrorist wing of this Quebec Army has been in action for a very long time, and has both financial support and political collusion. I can't believe that the average Quebecois approves of violence, so it's very difficult for me to believe that a terrorist group could get so entrenched in Quebec that they could get away with messing around with military contracts.

Please know that my comments are intended to be helpful, not hurtful, and that I do realise I couldn't possibly have a good grasp on your novel's logical build-up based on a query letter - so please give my comments only as much thought as you think they deserve. It just seemed to me that it might be useful to you to know what sorts of things my brain stumbled over when I was reading your query letter.

Anonymous said...

As a Canadian I found this quite funny. What 'Captain Morgan' left out is that the Canadian military would have a hard time fighting even itself. It has boats that can't float, helicopters that can't stay in the air and an army that is armed with thos 'Bosnian' rifles. If this was being touted as a comedy of errors it might be fun, but as a serious novel? Please.

Anonymous said...

Ack, my entire rant just disappeared when I hit preview! Now no one will get to read my pearls, my beautiful, beautiful pearls!

OK, now that I got that out, I shall try to reconstruct my lengthy dissertation on why this premise is silly.

1)Quebec separatists and subtle terrorism are mutually exclusive terms. The Quebecquois idea of subtlety is stuffing federal politicos in the trunks of cars.

2)Separatists don't really want separation. They want "sovereignty association." They want to be their own country, but you know, we can share a currency, and some juicy trade deals, come home on weekends to raid the fridge, hey, mom, I got some laundry for ya. Oh, and where's my care package? Can I have fifty bucks, I'm a little short on the rent, eh?

3)The rest of the country is getting so sick of this dumb-ass attitude, we probably wouldn't fight a war to keep those jerks. Let them go, see how long they last. The west has virtually all the resources, Alberta's even running a surplus every year, for crying out loud. All Quebec has is mouths to feed. Well, let the ungrateful little bastards eat k.d. and ichiban noodles for a while and see how long it takes them to want back in. I just hope mom wasn't smart enough to change the locks while they were gone.

4)As for the sub-standard guns, well, doesn't Captain Morgan here realize everything made in Quebec (with the exception of government scandals) is made half-ass?

Oops, did I say all of that out loud?

Anonymous said...

Pat, haha.

Just give them the Sea Kings and watch them all crash on their first flight!

Rei said...

I agree completely with Whitemouse. Not to mention the things that are brought up and then dropped. How does the US get involved here? Is the US threatening to invade its largest trading partner over a measley 16 GW of generating capacity? The US has something like 850 GW of generating capacity. Not only that, but wouldn't the Quebecois *want* the income for their newfound state? Their share of Canada's debt is pretty big; from what I understand from my Canadian friends, that is one thing that held some people back from voting to secede. Also, while you may have been against secession, the Canadians I knew would have been glad to let them go. Their only concern was that a weaker Canada would end up being more culturally and ecnomically assimilated by America.

What is this "plan to invade Quebec"? Where did that come from? Are we to believe that the Canadian government was secretly developing plans to invade itself? And that they're assassinating their own citizens over them?

Anonymous said...

OK, I'm done. Shutting up now. :)

Anonymous said...

I lived in Quebec during the sixties when the FLQ was up to its shenanigans. They were pretty organized back then. More than once I had to walk home from school in winter without my coat because of bomb scares.

While the thought of war in Canada is unlikely, terrorism isn't.
Couldn't we just call it a fantasy?
My word verification is veqfu. How appropriate.

Anonymous said...

OK, I know I said I was shutting up, but I couldn't stop myself. The whole idea of the US invading Canada is pretty silly. It certainly wouldn't be over electricity. It would be more like "we can't let those crazy French-men mess with NAFTA, Mr. President."

I hope Captain Morgan doesn't take my comments the wrong way--99% of my ridicule is aimed at Quebec sovereigntists, not him. If he's bleeding, it was stray shrapnel.

Rei is right, most people I know would be happy to get rid of Quebec. Quebec is like that teenage brat who's always making trouble, eating more than his share of the groceries, and bullying his younger siblings. Quebec insists on special treatment--they even have language laws that contravene freedom of speech--but in reality, they hardly contribute enough to our economy to justify their existence.

So what's a motherland to do? Kick them out and hope it teaches them a little about the real world? When you consider the kind of behavior they've displayed (revenge of the cradle, the FLQ and all that) I don't think its unreasonable to leave their shit out on the curb and change the locks.

Word verification: fugbm. Haha.

Bernita said...

WHY, since Canada is the location, do you have to haul out that ridiculous "eh" business?

Anonymous said...

Hey, I'm Canadian, and I see it comin' from a kilometre away. Stage seven: ACCEPT!

Anonymous said...

Oh, and I think EE has been watching way too much Bob & Doug MacKenzie. Howzit goin', eh?

Anonymous said...

Hey, chumplet, I never thought I'd meet another proud hoser here. You actually lived in Quebec? All I can say is "Ack!"

And I hope you don't think I hate Quebec. I just hate so many of the whiny, bigoted, self-entitled people who stir up shit there. I've been living in "have" provinces all my life, and it burns my ass that I have to pay extra taxes so other people's kids in Que. can get free dental--and yes, all you Yanks, I did say FREE--and their government can persecute people for putting English signs in their shop windows.

THERE. I swear to god, I really AM done now.

Anonymous said...

Er... I'd like to apologise to all Quebecois everywhere for the behaviour of all obnoxious anglos everywhere. Really; we're not all like that, and we don't all feel that way.

Sheesh, KIS, that was just embarrassing. I like my country in one piece, thanks.

Anonymous said...

Embarrassing pehaps, but an opinion shared by many. I would love to keep Quebec in confederation, but as an equal partner, not the position they've enjoyed for so long. Politicians there and in the federal government have been doing such a good job of alienating everyone, it's difficult to see a way through. Memories are long in Canada, just like anywhere else. Alberta's felt slighted by central Canada almost since they joined confederation, but you never saw them making bomb threats or commiting kidnapping and murder.

To be honest, I do think it's certain politicians who just won't let the issue die--Chretien's liberals were especially bad for this, bringing up the subject to stir up resentment and patriotic angst when no one had been thinking about it for months or years. If people were just left to their own devices, we'd all probably be able to coexist.

Yes, Quebec as a political entity is often guilty of acting spoiled. And yes, the west as a political entity, is often guilty of automatically thinking the worst of them. Those attitudes have become as firmly entrenched in our regional identities as oil and pea soup.

But as I've told people before, most of the stuff that comes out of my mouth--or my keyboard--is said with tongue planted solidly in cheek. I guess my shit-eating grin doesn't come across as well in the blogoshpere as it does in person.

Anonymous said...

Born in Montreal, raised part-time in Pierrefonds, and Gaspe. My dad is French but not Quebecois - he's an Acadian through and through - direct ancestor of the first Cormier that arrived in 1644. I've seen the ebb and flow of the attitudes inside and outside of Quebec. I don't understand it much - maybe my brain refuses to process all the nonsense.
Buy hey, whoever thought up the plot for the book - go for it - nothing like a good story! I don't think it'll start a revolution or anything like that.

Anonymous said...

I have friends here on the far coast--francophones, in fact--who moved from Quebec because they couldn't stand the politics. Much of what I have said in these posts is directly from my friend Sylvie's mouth.

It's not so much a question of ethnicity--at least not for those of us languishing in the west--as it is a deep-seated resentment over what is perceived as special treatment. There are cultural issues, never doubt it, but essentially, the sibling analogy stands. The west plays the younger, neglected sister to older, bigger Quebec. And dear old dad--Ottawa--can't seem to put his foot down and ensure equal treatment.

Certainly, a united Canada is the best solution for all concerned. I'm just not sure the "language police" and repeated threats of separation are very helpful in that regard.

Anonymous said...

So, Quebec is Canada'a California.

Anonymous said...

Ack, no, anon! Quebec is Canada's Chechnya.

(Please don't smack me again, whitemouse! It was a joke! A joke!)

Anonymous said...


whitemouse gonna have to smack a kis?


Anonymous said...

To Whitemouse (et al)
From Captain Morgan

Sorry I didn't respond sooner, but I've been on vacation and just got onto the thread and EEs response (many thanks EE). HLHB is my baby, so I guess that makes me Captain Morgan. I wanted to respond to a couple points you and the others raised.

1. Re: quick organization of the PQ army: what if soldiers with a separatist bent had been transferring back to the Quebec brigade for the past year?

2. The arms maker didn't sabotage the Bosnian rifles, they sabotaged the rifles during manufacture that were intended for the bases outside Quebec. That's easy enough to do. If the Quebec commanders knew about the plan, wouldn't it be feasable that they would make sure good rifles were in Quebec?

3. Yes, Canada is a civil place, but the FLQ caused the War Measures Act to be used back in the early 70's. As well, during the 1995 referendum, the Canadian military was on alert. Take that as a fact from someone who was sweating the details that night and wondering what would come the next day.

For Pat Brown: I never said Morgan was using Bosnian rifles. He was in Bosnia when his rifle failed. But thanks for letting everyone know that you've never served a day in uniform.

For kis: Sovreignty Association is a relatively new term and not something that most of Quebec understood at the time. It wasn't in play in 1995

For Rei: The US has a very small part in the novel and isn't invading. As for invading Quebec, of course there are plans to do such a thing. The military has plans to invade and defend against invasions from all possibilities.

For all: I appreciate the comments (and commentary) and it just goes to prove a belief that I've long held: as long as separatists keep yapping, discussions about Quebec will stay hostile.

By the way, in the mid 1960's, the CF had to send back most of their machine guns because of massive failures. Seems the bolts were made from soft/substandard metal. Did I mention it was a Quebec company that manufactured the machine guns?

Captain Morgan

Anonymous said...

Crap, now I have to think back a bit.... Let's see, I lived in Pierrefonds during Grades 5 and 6, so that would be 1970-71. That's when we had the bomb scares. Did Monsieur Laporte get stuffed in the trunk before or after that date?
Oh, oh... The hockey game's on. Game Seven! Gotta see who's going to face Edmonton in the finals.
Go Sabres Go?