Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Face-Lift 240

Guess the Plot

Personal Demons

1. In a world of witchcraft, zombies, and therapy clinics run by soul-sucking creatures, a psychic therapist's life is in the hands of three demons named Malleus, Maleficarum, and Spud.

2. In an attempt to distinguish their store from all the rest, a Fifth Avenue boutique does away with personal shoppers and brings in Personal Demons. Hilarity ensues when the evil ones try to coordinate Dolce and Gabbano.

3. Becoming a demon master wasn't on the agenda for bridge night, but it's in the cards when intrepid Amelia Pettipants finds a gateway to Hell burgeoning in her basement. Will the bridge mix hold up to the heat?

4. Tom McClintock is put in a bad situation when his personals ad is accidentally truncated and his invitation to enjoy a "personal demonstration" draws interest from more than just the girls.

5. Janet Jones has given up cigarettes, beer, overeating, overspending, fast driving, worthless boyfriends, loud music, skimpy outfits, and blue eyeshadow, but can she surrender the ultimate demon--her cell phone?

6. Seeing a niche with self-serving baby boomers, Satan secretly modifies thousands of laptop computers by adding chips that disable the consciences of their users. Also, a rodeo clown!

Original Version

Dear Agent Wonderful,

PERSONAL DEMONS is a sexy urban fantasy novel. It is approximately 94,000 words long.

Therapist Megan Chase keeps her psychic abilities secret, but finds they come in handy in her work. When she's offered a job as host of her own radio show, Personal Demons, she's pleased to help people who never would have been able to become her patients before.

But her radio program puts Megan's life in serious danger. Personal demons really exist, and they believe the show's "slay your demons" concept is a threat. They plan to kill her, but not before terrorizing her a little first for fun. Knowing this, a mysterious man— [Mysterious man? Is this the mysterious man who lives on Miss Pettipants's street?] who is either a vicious demon, the hero Megan's been waiting for all her life, or possibly both—steps in. He wants to help her, but gaining the use of her powers in order to take over his demon "family" is a bonus he's counting on, too. Aside from trying his hardest to spend the night, he assigns her three demon bodyguards—Malleus, Maleficarum, and Spud, all of whom have a little trouble adjusting to this 'helping people' gig. On top of it all, the publicity has put her practice in jeopardy, [The publicity of having a radio show? Why, her practice should have tripled in size.] and she's being shadowed by a reporter with psychic abilities of his own— [Is there anyone in this book who doesn't belong in the X-Men?] and a very strong conviction that Megan is flirting with the wrong side of the Good vs. Evil battle. His questions force Megan to re-examine a tragedy she thought she left in her past—the death of a homeless man, who Megan was wrongfully suspected of murdering.

As Megan discovers a world she never knew existed—a world of demons who really sit on people's shoulders and convince them to do bad things, a world of witchcraft, zombies, [Zombies! Send me the complete manuscript, FedEx overnight.] and therapy clinics run by soul-sucking creatures of unspeakable evil, [She's psychic. Shouldn't she have known at least some of these things existed? Zombies and demons all around her, and she's using her powers to guess whether some card has a cross or wavy lines on it.] she must face not only the threat to her life but some of her own personal demons. Maybe those radio paychecks aren't big enough, after all.

PERSONAL DEMONS is a stand-alone novel, but I do have ideas for several more books using these characters [, especially Spud, who I see breaking out with his own self-help series and a cookbook,] and different characters in this universe. Under my pen name, [redacted], I've published three erotic romance short stories [Send me those, too. We don't publish them, but I need to get a handle on your body. Of work.] and a soon-to-be-released novel with [small publisher]. Another novel, a historical romance, was released by [medium publisher] and I recently sold an erotic romance novel to [fairly big publisher], as well.


Revised Version

Dear Agent Wonderful,

PERSONAL DEMONS is a sexy urban fantasy novel. It is approximately 94,000 words long.

Therapist Megan Chase hosts a radio call-in show called Personal Demons, helping people who otherwise could never be her patients. But when it turns out that personal demons actually exist, and that they see the program's "slay your demons" catchphrase as a threat, Megan's life is suddenly in danger.

But Megan has a protector, a mysterious man who just might be the hero she's been waiting for all her life. He assigns her three klutzy demon bodyguards—Malleus, Maleficarum, and Spud—all of whom have trouble adjusting to their "helping people" gig. Megan isn't sure she'll survive their kind of help. And making matters worse, she begins to suspect that her hero may have his own self-serving motives for coming to her aid.

As Megan discovers a world she never knew existed—a world in which demons really sit on people's shoulders and convince them to lie, cheat and steal, she must deal with the threat to her life, with a reporter who insists on delving into her past, and with a few of her own personal demons. Maybe those radio paychecks aren't worth the price she's paying, after all.

PERSONAL DEMONS is a stand-alone novel, but I'm planning additional books using many of the same characters. Under my pen name, [redacted], I've published ________, a historical romance ([medium publisher]), and have sold two as-yet-unpublished novels to [fairly big publisher] and [small publisher]. Thank you.



There were a few awkward sentences I was going to attempt to fix, but eliminating them was easier.

While I'm sure it's perfectly logical in the book that Megan is suspected of murdering a homeless guy, it seems far-fetched in the query, and it seemed to be out on an island by itself anyway. I also didn't see the need to bring up psychic powers. An editor might want to believe there's someone normal in the book. Of course the toughest decision was taking out the zombies. It killed me to take out the zombies. Are you sure there are zombies in the book? You didn't just throw them into the query to make Evil Editor happy?


Anonymous said...

Wow, you've written and published all of those books and still need an agent? Or do writers need multiple agents when writing different genres? Confused. Interesting premise, though.

s.w. vaughn said...

Aw, c'mon... we want zombies!

Love the bit about the "helping people gig." I'd totally read this.

Anonymous said...

I like the general plot. It's the sort of book I love to read. I also like what you say about your main character, that she wants to help people and she uses her psychic powers to do so.

However, I see plot holes.

You don't give me a reason that the psychic abilities are relevant to the plot. If they aren't, then don't mention them/omit them.

You refer to a mysterious man. We need to see why he is involved. Some guy just showing up for no apparant reason is a plot hole. I am sure there isn't a plot hole in the actual book, but you need to share the no doubt excellent reason he shows up. If he is a demon lord,maybe put in the letter, "However, a demon lord believes that her statement 'destroy your demons' is a threat"

I am reading between the lines, but I think the hook is that her psychic powers empower the radio show in some manner dangerous to demons? That in your heroine's case, "destroying your demons" advice is a bit too effective for the demon lord and his minions?

Also, I would like to know why she needs demon bodyguards, why the demon lord/mysterious stranger has an agenda to harness some demon lord powers of the woman's.

My final question is this: What is the big conflict? Why is her life at risk? I think you need to mention this in your letter!

I might have misunderstood all that's going on, or just inferred too much, too liberally from your letter. It's a bit confused.

I do really like the idea of her powers accidentally getting her attention from demons, but the connections aren't showing up in the letter.

I'm looking forward to seeing this at the bookstore, though.

Anonymous said...

I would give this one a read. If nothing else, it seems like it's got unpredictability -which I love. -JTC

Anonymous said...

Oh, yeah. Whoever is doing the "Also, a rodeo clown!" (etc.) stuff at the end of their GTPs it cracks me up every time.

Of course, it may not be the same person each time or it could be I'm the only one not smart enough to figure out who is doing it. But, keep it up. -JTC

Naomi said...

Zombies! And demons? ZOMG! I'll read it!

Lol, I wanted it to be this plot. Elements of it sound similar to Kitty and the Midnight Hour but I'm intrigued nonetheless. I'd definitely pick it up.

Kate Thornton said...

This sounds like a fun read to me - lots of interesting action of all kinds and who could resist the zombies?

I would read this!

Staff said...

This was bizarre. But even Santa Claus recognizes zombies.

Stacia said...

EE, I swear there are zombies. There's a whole zombie attack scene, and the heroine beats them off with a toilet plunger and a detachable shower head (she's trapped in a bathroom) then sets them on fire with Lysol and a match.

Thanks, and thanks for the comments so far!

Nancy Beck said...

To anonymous 7:20 - yes, even the best selling authors need agents, because agents take care of a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff. A different agent for different genres? My guess is that it depends on whether or not a specific agent handles the genres you've written.

Yes! Finally, I picked the right one. (And it's got zombies!)

This sounds interesting, and I think I'd pick up this one to read. (It's got zombies!)

Good luck with it!


Anonymous said...

Nancy, I realize all authors need agents, but I guess I assumed that with all of those publishing credits, that the author would have already secured one in order to get those previous works published. I was curious as to why he/she would need to query a new one. Does the current one not rep SF? Was there a falling out? Why do authors change agents (other than for bad reasons -- agent not doing their job, etc).

Anonymous said...

Actually, it is entirely possible that this author has acquired all these creds without the connivance of an agent. Agents don't tend to be interested in repping short fiction, or selling novels to small presses or ebook publishers. I think that's the case here, in which case, the author deserves extreme kudos for accomplishing this on his/her own.

GutterBall said...

We don't publish [erotic stories], but I need to get a handle on your body. Of work.


Oh, and I would so read this. I liked the opening when it was up a couple of weeks (months?) ago. I remember the radio catchphrase. How funny is that? I guess it means it's a good hook!

HawkOwl said...

I was bored from "sexy" and I stayed bored. And, judging by the rest of the query, the book seems a lot more comedic than sexy. The most interesting part was really the publishing credits.

If I were an agent I'd use the "I don't do this genre" form rejection.

Anonymous said...

But hawkowl, if you were an agent, you'd have guidelines saying not to submit anything erotic (or several other genres) to you, so you'd never see this to give it a form rejection.
This author doesn't seem to be clueless enough to spam-query.
Okay, I'm curious now. If you were an agent, which genres would you be open to? America's Next Top Model with zombies?

Stacia said...

Lol, Hawkowl, I hope you will take this in the fond and amused way it's meant, but I sent the following in an email to a friend yesterday morning:

"and hawkowl will make some comment about how she wouldn't read it because she doesn't read that kind of thing..."

Thanks for the comment about the sexy...less hook, more sexy is needed, I see.

Everyone is being so helpful, thank you!

And no, no agent yet. I sold all my stuff so far myself.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the plot to the novel "Kitty and the Midnight Hour." There are differences, sure, but the talk show host on supernatural tpics is central to both.

The person proposing this book probably figured that since Vaughn's book sold well enough to have a sequel, there was room in the market for "me toos."

Stacia said...

Sounds like the plot to the novel "Kitty and the Midnight Hour." There are differences, sure, but the talk show host on supernatural tpics is central to both.

The person proposing this book probably figured that since Vaughn's book sold well enough to have a sequel, there was room in the market for "me toos."

Actually, Mark, since I'd never heard of "Kitty and the Midnight Hour" until it was mentioned when I posted my opening a few weeks back, and considering that I've still never read it (and don't know the plot aside from Amazon blurbs) because it isn't available in bookstores here in Southwest England...I'd say, no, I didn't figure there was "room for a me too".

I also wasn't aware that only one book with a MC doing a certain type of job was allowed at any one time.

I also thought, since "Kitty" is apparently a werewolf (right?) who is an actual radio host, and my heroine is a therapist who also does a radio show and is not a werewolf at all, they weren't actually similar in any other way aside from the "having a radio show" angle.

Pointing out similarities in my query and someone else's book with an eye towards "how is your book different" is fine. Accusing me of plagiarism or copycatting is pretty rude, and I don't appreciate it.

HawkOwl said...

Batgirl: isn't ANTM all about zombies already? Pale, skinny, empty-headed quasi-people actuated entirely by some hideous evil zombie master's will?

Genres I would accept if I were an agent: definitely chick lit, definitely mainstream. Probably historical fiction. Maybe fantasy because I used to be totally into it, but it's such a long time now since I read any fantasy that I really enjoyed. And I wish I'd want to do science fiction, but people are just too damn bad at it.

Genres I would definitely not accept: comedy, romance, mystery / thriller / horror, teenagers.

December Quinn: I'm flattered. :) I'm glad I'm predictable: it shows I'm consistent. :)

Anonymous said...

Hawkowl=predictable=consistently negative.

My response upon reading Hawkowl's comments is usually, "What is she so pissed off about?" I'd like to see her efforts posted here, just to see if she has any talent, or just likes to disparage those of us who are trying to improve our own skills. Constructive criticism is helpful, but I fail to see the value in the "I wouldn't read this" commentary that is so predictable, er, consistent.

HawkOwl said...

Yeah, yeah, yeah. You know how much I value opinions from anonymous whiny people.

Just to remind you, 11:51, the question EE asked with the New Beginnings is "would you read more," not "can you offer constructive criticism."

And my reject rate is slightly lower than Miss Snark's, so I'm not unrealistically negative. LOL

That being said, there's a simple solution to your aggravation: don't read my comments.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Hawkowl, we all know how much you try to emulate Miss Snark, but ah, you're not even close. Unlike you, she offers constructive criticism, thus her comments have value.

HawkOwl said...

I make no effort to emulate Miss Snark. Unlike Miss Snark, and your cowardly ass, I sign my name to my opinions.

Bernita said...

Damn good title.
I like the idea of the demon bodyguards - but can't take their names seriously.Maybe we're not meant to?

Anonymous said...

Thank you, hawkowl, that clarifies greatly. So you'd have liked the historical Old Beginnings if they hadn't involved teenage girls?
I see that EE is out of queries, and now I'm being tempted to invent a story that you'd like, at least in query form.
I'm not sure whether it's Malleus, Malificarum, or Spud who's behind the tempting, though.

HawkOwl said...

Batgirl: As a matter of fact, yes. I was quite disappointed that such potentially interesting topics were rendered in such not-potentially interesting points of view. :)