Thursday, November 02, 2006
Guess the Plot
1. Roger Groobney's fantastic new murder mystery was rejected by every agent in the known universe, all with the same hand-written message: "It's gotta have a murder in it, Roger!"
2. Yes, we have no beryllium; we have no beryllium today.
3. With a supply of deuterium from a North Korean friend, Physicist Elmo Lurp agrees to build a nuclear device in the basement of his apartment building. But he realizes his need for a more sophisticated laboratory when he discovers his wife has used all the heavy water for the laundry.
4. In this nineteenth book in the Miss Amelia Pettipants series, the doughty spinster discovers why none of the village's electric stoves are working.
5. Teaching the Periodic Table by each day removing one element from the laboratory and letting the students discover the Missing Element was not such a good idea after all. Professor Eavull regrets starting with oxygen, thereby asphyxiating the entire class.
6. Dmitri warned his wife about not tidying up his lab, but Mrs. Mendeleev's fanatical cleanliness knows no bounds. Now Dmitri has to start from scratch--unless he can get to the dumpster before the garbagemen do.
Dear (Agent’s Name Spelled Correctly)
(One sentence explaining why I’m querying this particular agent … liked a book one of his or her authors wrote, recommended by a friend, met at a conference, [have already tried all the agents who aren't on the 20 worst agents list,] etc.)
In MISSING ELEMENT, an Air Force officer turned corporate trouble-shooter uncovers an illicit link between an American weapons firm and an African dictator planning to foment genocide to protect an illegal but highly profitable venture. To prevent the killings, Dr. Eleanor Swan must team with an FBI agent, despite her antipathy toward the Bureau since it investigated her father’s supposed death 20 years earlier and branded him a traitor. [Is Eleanor Swan the corporate trouble-shooter? If not, who is she? If so, I'd stick her name in the first sentence, right after the title, so it's clear.] [Why would she be involved in preventing this genocide? Wouldn't she just report the illicit link to the authorities and bow out?]
[Eleanor: I've discovered that an American weapons manufacturer is working with an African dictator on a project that will foment genocide.
FBI: Hmm, okay we'll provide one agent to eliminate this threat to the lives of millions.
Eleanor: Only one?
FBI: Plus you. Who did you say you were again?]
Four women with father issues drive the plot. The National Security Council staffer wants revenge on her father. [Who did what?] The Médecins Sans Frontières doctor has given her life to medicine since her dad’s death. The African President’s daughter must choose between loyalty to her father and her country. And Eleanor Swan must live down her father’s notorious past to derail the conspiracy that stretches from the deserts of East Africa to the highest offices of the U.S. government. [This sounds more like a job for the NSC staffer (or Superman) than the corporate trouble-shooter. Does Eleanor go to Africa? How can she hope to succeed against such powerful entities? I'm more interested in what the plot is than in who drives it.] Two will die. One will lose her career. One will save a nation.
I spent twenty years as an Air Force intelligence officer and am published in book-length non-fiction (Title and Publisher of book, 2003). I speak to a variety of forums on military topics including women in the military, ethics, and leadership.
MISSING ELEMENT is a 90,000-word geopolitical thriller. May I send you sample chapters and a synopsis or the complete manuscript?
[My title, MISSING ELEMENT, refers both to my protagonist’s missing father and to beryllium, a strategic element necessary for making various parts of nuclear weapons. In the novel, an American weapons manufacturer is mining beryllium illegally in a fictional African country and selling it to the Iranians.]
An additional paragraph between your plot and character paragraphs would be helpful in clarifying the issues I've brought up. More facts about the bad guys' plot (the information on where you got your title is a good start) and the good guys' plan (presumably Eleanor calls in a favor from her days in the Air Force, and arranges B-52 carpet bombings of the beryllium mine, the American weapons manufacturer, and Iran) would be a major improvement.