Monday, November 13, 2006

Face-Lift 228

Guess the Plot

Gasparilla's Gold

1. At least, that's what ad exec Morton Flume's Clio-winning commercial says. But Gasparilla, the hip new soft drink, really does contain gold, and for silver-throated soprano Bubbles Silverman that spells trouble.

2. Nosy spinster detective Amelia Pettipants, on a cooking vacation in Spain, discovers it isn't all flamenco and flan. Rummaging through the pantry looking for boullion de pollo, she finds a Basque separatist's cache of bullion instead. And tomorrow they are making iced bombe!

3. After his fiancée dies, tee shirt salesman Jack Darby decides to simplify his life. And what better way than to go off in search of the pirate treasure known as . . . Gasparilla's Gold.

4. One Sunday morning, Bert Dweeble looked out his window. What he saw was a hairy man, chain smoking Marlboros. Now Bert feels compelled to lean the strange story of the man they call Gasparilla.

5. Gaston Gasparilla masquerades as a high-priced rent boy in the evenings, but few know of his real daytime identity, Herbert Gold, securities exchange trader. Few, that is, until the blackmail notes arrive.

6. A new strain of apple takes the market by storm. Nutritionists hail the fruit that people can't get enough of--until it's discovered that Gasparilla's Gold is more addictive than heroin.

Original Version

Dear Mr. Evil,

Gasparilla’s Gold is a mystery written for an adult audience, and is complete with a word count of 105,000.

Small-time entrepreneur Jack Darby is trying to let go of his past and rebuild his life, keeping the complications to a minimum. The death of his fiancé [Presumably you mean "fiancée," though I'd better not rush to judgment.] and his resulting battle with alcohol have left him with a desire for simplicity, and for now he is content to operate his tee shirt business and enjoy the slow lane in Neptune Beach, Florida. [His best-selling shirt: My uncle rebuilt his life, and all I got was this lousy T-shirt.] Life gets tricky when he encounters Lou De Silva, a mysterious drifter on a quest for ancient pirate treasure buried near the coast of northeast Florida. After saving Lou from a deadly assault [What deadly assault?] Jack is drawn to his adventure, [Drawn to his pirate treasure adventure? I don't think so. A more likely scenario:

Lou: My God, those guys were trying to kill me! If you hadn't come along, pulled me out of the line of fire, shot out their tires and driven me to safety, I'd be dead meat.

Jack: No problem.

Lou: Hey, I know what we can do . . . you wanna go search for pirate treasure?

Jack (slowly backing away): Umm, I . . . think I'll pass.]

and they set out with only a family myth, a peculiar painting, [The Last Supper, by Da Vinci. If you look closely at the painting, you'll see the tablecloth is actually a map of Florida, the item toward which Jesus is gesturing represents Key Largo, and the apostle to Jesus's left is actually the Dread Pirate Roberts.] and a cryptic poem

[An old pirate named Gasparilla,
Stole some gold from a bank in Manila.
He hid it in Florida
Near the I-95 corridor,
In the crypt of a wench named Priscilla.]

to serve as clues in their pursuit of the gold. [Wait a minute, they have a myth, a Limerick, and The Last Supper, and they have to search northern Florida? I can't find my remote control, even when I haven't moved from the couch since the last time I used it. They have no chance.]

Lou De Silva isn’t the only interesting development in Jack’s life. Samantha Dubois has captured his attention, but even as his interest is growing, a part of him still clings to the remnants of his tragedy. He knows he must allow his past to fall away and permit his heart to heal, and he struggles to move forward.

Graham Kilpatrick – a ruthless drug dealer who attempts to eliminate Lou for being a witness to murder – learns of their hunt for the hoary plunder and plans a heist that will provide him with the means for an early retirement, and leave Jack and Lou in a watery grave. When he abducts Samantha to use as leverage, Jack must find the treasure they are to have any hope of survival. [Assault, murder, drugs, kidnaping, etc. Out of curiosity, what was Jack's life like before he decided to keep the complications to a minimum?] As Jack unlocks the riddles and follows the clues to the gold, he discovers that he and Lou share a destiny wove together by tragic threads from the past that bind them to their demons here and now. [Technically, the threads are the destiny, woven together by a tragic loom from the past.] Intrigue, deception, and revenge interlace as the [loom of death goes on a killing spree and the] search for the treasure becomes a quest for redemption and closure. [How is this plot any different from Sleepless in Seattle?]

I’ll be pleased to send a partial or the full manuscript at your request. Thank you for your consideration.



So the mystery is . . . where's the pirate treasure? Is there a murder with a bunch of suspects? If not, you might describe it as a thriller rather than a mystery. There's mystery in most fiction, but to appeal to mystery fans, you usually need a character who solves a murder case.

Rarely does anyone drop everything to search for pirate treasure just because some stranger suggests it. What makes Jack think this is a good decision?


braun said...

EE, you seem uncomfortably familiar with our local Northeast Florida geography.

More so than the querier, at any rate, I can't imagine a less likely place to find buried pirate treasure than Neptune Beach. It is a great place to sell t-shirts and smoke pot*, though.

* c'mon, you can't tell me you're selling t-shirts in Neptune Beach and you're not lighting up. "Slow lane" indeed.

pacatrue said...

Loom of death.

EE wins!!

Anonymous said...

The Last Supper, by Da Vinci. If you look closely at the painting, you'll see the tablecloth is actually a map of Florida, the item toward which Jesus is gesturing represents Key Largo, and the apostle to Jesus's left is actually the Dread Pirate Roberts.

EE, I thought that was the funniest thing you've ever written. But then I got to the loom of death. Your vacation must be doing you good!

Kate Thornton said...

Loom of Death! I nearly choked!

Anonymous said...

We have a new nominee for unconventional murder weapon of the week: the common, household loom. Melonballer, your reign of terror is at an end!


kiss-me-at-the-gate said...

EE, I think you've killed me... officially. My heart seems to have taken a nap, anyway.

This is definitely one of the best. Ever. (I've said that at least seven or eight times now...)

learns of their hunt for the hoary plunder and plans a heist that will provide him with the means for an early retirement, and leave Jack and Lou in a watery grave.

Author, that sentence made me giggle, and I don't think that is what you were going for. It was just a little over the top.

Um, hi, everyone. I've been one of those anonymice posting for a few months now and I finally decided to get my own name so I could be more than "anonymous 12:34".

Dave Fragments said...

My goodness, gracious - vacation seems to have invigorated the EE.

1) weaving the threads of fate - - didn't Richard Wagner use that in gimmick in four operas? (Norns)

2) Nostalgia alert: My Aunt who lived in NYC used to describe "silver-throated soprano Bubbles Silverman" as a large, redheaded Jewish woman wearing a floor-length mink and draggin her husband and daughter through Macy's bargain basement. I love that description of the best coloratura soprano of our time. Thanks, I needed that memroy of my Aunt and Bubbles Silverman tonight.

3) Samatha Dubious has caught his attention. How may I ask and shy do we care.

4) Graham Kilpatrick? Isn't that kind of a whitebread name for a villainous drug dealer? How about something less stereotypical?

5) "share a destiny wove together by tragic threads from the past that bind them to their demons here and now." uh, dude or dudette (whatever the case), perfect strangers share a fate from their deep dark pasts that suddenly results from demons haunting them? Do da demons of fate usually choose perfect strangers? Did they find a lamp and rub it? Did the drug dealer summon a demon.

Sorry to have so much fun at your expense.

Anonymous said...

The last time I saw the phrase "hoary plunder" was in a gay porn novel and it referred to the hero getting the love interest's {shhhh} private parts...

Anonymous said...

I think I rode this ride at Disneyland!

Loom of death--almost as much fun as the serial scrubber.

Author, I'm having a difficult time discerning how this is different than any other treasure hunt-type story. Also, the phrases, "hoary plunder" and "watery grave" have to go.

Stacia said...

Agreed with kiss-me-at-the-gate on that "hoary plunder" sentence. Too wordy, doesn't say enough.

But, while I think the query overall needs tightening, I love the idea of a book about a guy looking for pirate treasure. You had me at "pirate treasure".

Anonymous said...

I'm really starting to like this Amelia Pettipants chick.

Anonymous said...

You know, EE, if you had a contest where people fleshed out these Amelia Pettipants plots, it would be an amusing new book to print: Novel Deviations: The Amelia Pettipants Mysteries

I also think this is the funniest thing I've read of yours, EE.

Author, the basic idea is workable, but letter makes me feel like this book isn't written yet. WHY would the tee shirt salesman and the treasure hunter continue their relationship and band together? Is it because by saving the treasure hunter he is now considered to have some vital info that the killers want? That would work. But whatever the reason, plese give the logical reasons upon which the plot elements hang. We need to know the reasons for the events, at least enough so you seem like you know what you are doing with the book.

Also, and this is just an observation of a total layman who watches National Geographic and Discovery channels too much: Treasure hunting is NOT easy, cheap, or quick. Clues involve such things as endless hours of exploration and research like first finding then reading nearly illegible manifests and ledgers.

I mention this because your letter presents the plot as too simplistic for my taste. You describe a sort of Treasure Island "found a map, have a clue, let's find treasure" simplicity of plot that I don't think will work for a 105K mystery for adults. (Unless the treasure hunter has already found something, or has inherited the clue of someone who has already died but has found the treasure. That would work.)

That said, it sounds like it could be a real action-adventure mystery, and I'd like to read it. :)

Anonymous said...

"That said, it sounds like it could be a real action-adventure mystery, and I'd like to read it. :) "

LOL, sure sounds like you're dying to read this!

Anonymous said...

The hoary plunder might have to be my new identity...

Pirate treasure, or indeed pirate anything, gets my vote every time, but elements of the plot seemed far-fetched. Like, why would you trust the pirate-treasure-rantings of a mysterious drifter to begin with?

Anonymous said...

I'm the author. I guess it's my luck to be the first query that EE critiques after his vacation and the minions are chomping at the bit. I don't mind the fun at my expense, I don't take myself so seriously that I can't laugh at me. I appreciate EE's comments, particularly about presenting it as a thriller rather than a mystery. This gave me problems because this is my first manuscript and I wrote the story as it came to me, rather than writing it to fit a particular genre description. I've learned a great deal in the last couple of years about writing, querying, and getting published, and I understand that if one wishes to have a novel published, the publisher needs to be able to fit the story it into a slot. I'm keeping that in mind as I plot my new WIP. I appreciate the comments on my query letter, some of you have been encouraging and I'm grateful for the constructive comments.

braun, as far as your comments, I didn't state in the query that the treasure was located in Neptune Beach - not that it couldn't be - only that the MC resides there. If you're from this area, you must know that pirates populated this coast from St. Augustine up to Charleston for decades in the 1700's; the premise of the story is based on factual research. As far as smoking weed in Neptune Beach, sounds like you're speaking from experience ;-)

Daisy Bateman said...

Gasparilla? Seriously? Isn't one of the primary benefits of being a pirate captain that you get to pick yourself a cool/intimidating name? (See: Dread Pirate Roberts) I can't see any self-respecting pirate wanting to be one of "Gasparilla's men".

GutterBall said...

The Last Supper, by Da Vinci. If you look closely at the painting, you'll see the tablecloth is actually a map of Florida, the item toward which Jesus is gesturing represents Key Largo, and the apostle to Jesus's left is actually the Dread Pirate Roberts.

I think I read that book. What was it called again?

Anonymous said...

Ah, so Daisy, you are not up on your pirate lore. Jose Gaspar was his name, and the Spanish meaning of "Gasparilla" is "Gaspar, the outlaw". He was, and still is, a rather well known pirate, best known in the Tampa area and the southwest coast of Florida, where he was most famous for his mariniacal activities. (I think I just made up the word "mariniacal": translation - crazy bastard in a boat.) Some research indicates that prior to having his headquarters down by the keys, he had a large Federation operating off the coast of northeast Florida, near Fernandina. He left the area because it became a little too busy with other pirates, like Blackbeard and some others with cool names ;-) The premise of the treasure is that he left a cache behind near Fernandina, a rainy day stash (not that kind, Braun) he could come back to if things didn't work out down south.

So, anyway, I'm glad there's a new query on the blog LOL.

The guy who thought Gasparilla was a cool name...

Dave Fragments said...

Hey author, don't be discouraged, Pirates and Pirate treasure is in. It's hot. So are treasure hunts.
Fix up the query and send it out!
What ya going to lose? 39 cents?

pacatrue said...

I do think I once had a girlfriend who regularly drank strawberry gasparillas when we went out. It sort of went like this:

Paca: "So then I wrote back to the agent, 'you wouldn't know good clean writing if a mack truck full of writing were to hit you somewhere in the vicinity of the mandibular area...."

Girlfriend: "Bartender, two more strawberry gasparillas please."

I don't see her much now. The agent or my girlfriend.

braun said...


I'm not the one selling t-shirts in Neptune Beach. I'm just saying that if you did, you'd probably light up from time-to-time.

Anyways, while I'm sure there were pirates AND gold up and down the coast back in the day, at this point I'm betting it's all been either dug up by beach bums or paved over for high-rise condos.

I've lived within twenty minutes of the "First Coast" most of my life. I guess maybe it's just not mysterious enough for me to imagine it being loaded with hidden treasure. Mind you, the mysterious drifter, that I buy.

Anonymous said...

braun, I hear what you're saying. The treasure in the book is actually up on Amelia Island in the swamp area, but the protag is based in Neptune Beach. And being from the area, I can see how it may not be that mysterious to you, but it is tropical and scenic with a lot of history, and makes a pretty good setting for a mysterious thriller (I guess that's what I've written). Thanks for the comments. Peace.

acd said...

Just because I'm nitpicky like that: Gasparilla doesn't mean "Gaspar the outlaw", it's just a name that he picked. Given that -illo can be a diminuitive suffix in Spanish, and the ending -a is feminine, it probably translates to "Gaspar the little girl."

Also, I believe that the anonymous that said this should start signing on as "mariniacal", because that's a cool word.

Anonymous said...

I think I know the author of 'Gasparila's Gold. How do I get in touch with him?

Evil Editor said...

Sorry, no idea.