Monday, January 08, 2007

Face-Lift 257

Guess the Plot

With Gloves Off

1. Lou Sweeney enrolled in med school because he knew it would finally lead to an outlet for his sexual deviance. But what will the proctology department director say when he sees Dr. Sweeney performing examinations au naturale?

2. With the village busybody on vacation, it's up to grumpy Nomar Underpants to gain the upper hand over a seedy glove maker who may have fingered the wrong man.

3. Devout Catholic Dana Carmichael wears gloves to avoid picking up psychic impressions from everything she touches. But when a demon torments her with his theory that Jesus was a zombie, the gloves come off.

4. Miss Judith Mostly's dress, a calico print shirtwaist that draped to the floor, had demure written all over it, in contrast to the brilliant satins and taffetas of the society ladies. But it's her arrival without gloves that sets tongues wagging and signals the end of Miss Judith's future.

5. After the championship football game, sophomore Suzy Snarple conquered her obsessive compulsive disorder, determined to hold the love of tight end Brett Studdington. Little did she know what would erupt under the bleachers when she stroked more than his ego . . . with gloves off.

6. Zelda has trouble: the Curse of the Giblet. When a power outage occurs on Gloves Off Day for her germ-o-phobic support group, Zelda gets arrested as the mastermind of an alleged grope-fest. Can old Voodoo Bob use psychic rays to neutralize the Giblet and save her?

Original Version

Dear Agent Person:

I'm offering With Gloves Off, a 90,000 word fantasy novel. [I don't care if your gloves are on or off; what's the title of your book?] An SASE is enclosed for your response.

As a devout Catholic, it is a mortal sin for Dana Carmichael to use her psychometry, even if she can't help picking up psychic impressions from the objects and people she touches. That same ability and her status as a "foreigner" in the Illiniwek Nation leaves her little choice but to take the one job open to her: psychic researcher. [I can't say I know what the employment situation is like in the Illiniwek Nation, but I would be amazed to find that the one open position is psychic researcher.] [If she can't use her psychometry, why does she have little choice but to take a job as psychic researcher? That's like an Orthodox Jew having little choice but to take a job as a food taster in a bacon factory.]

Dana thought that boring work authenticating museum pieces would be a low-profile way to make a living while she lobbied the bishop for a dispensation. What she hadn't counted on was working with a demon who torments her with theories about werewolf popes [Actually, I pulled up some papal portraits, and have reached the conclusion that Popes Gregory XIII, Sixtus V and Innocent VI were probably werewolves:

I also contend that Pope Pius V was actually Santa Claus.]

or whether Jesus was a zombie. [Considering that atheists are often called upon to explain how Jesus could have risen from the dead if he were not the Son of God, I'm surprised more of them haven't embraced this zombie theory. It seems to explain everything.] [I checked through some art depicting Jesus after the resurrection, to see if any showed him as a zombie.

This painting,
by von Kulmbach, doesn't show his face, but it's obvious that at least three of the people watching the ascension are zombies. Also, note that the man kneeling in the left foreground has six toes on each foot, and the third person from the right in the back row--the one whose lower face is obscured--isn't looking upward, as you'd expect, but seems to be looking across the way at the bald guy who looks like Peter Boyle in Young Frankenstein. Does this prove Jesus was a zombie? Not entirely; you'll have to read my book, The von Kulmbach Code for the additional evidence.] Nor had she expected to be pulled into a hunt for the person behind a series of deadly monster attacks.

Yuseph Szabo is an aethereal genius [Aethereal genius? An odd way of saying "evil overlord."] intent on creating the perfect monstrous assassin [Are we still in the same book? This is turning into a James Bond novel.] and he's using the citizens of Checagou as his guinea pigs. Dana must use her psychic abilities to stop Yuseph, risking Church approbation, perhaps even excommunication.

[Dana: Well, thanks to my psychic abilities, I prevented the creation of the perfect monstrous assassin, and saved untold lives.

Bishop: Great. I hear the Protestants are hiring.]

And if she does stop him, save her job and her soul, she still has to contend with a surly demon.

I would be delighted to send you the full manuscript for your review. Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.



It seems like any job, anywhere, would be a low-profile way to make a living while she lobbied the bishop for a dispensation. Why is psychic researcher for the Illiniwek Nation the one Dana chooses? Why is she there?

She lobbies the bishop for a dispensation (permission to commit mortal sins) before the monster attacks? On what grounds?

In researching werewolf popes, I strayed outside the Roman Catholic religion, and discovered the current pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church, who is clearly a werewolf.

Interestingly, I came across this article in the Harvard University Gazette, describing a meeting between the Coptic Pope and a student named Miranda Yousef. Note that her last name is the same as your villain's first name. Coincidence? Right. And I suppose it's also a coincidence that Yuseph Szabo, anagrammed, spells O yes! Zap Bush! The evidence continues to mount. Remember, that's The von Kulmbach Code, coming soon.


Anonymous said...

Very funny comments, EE! I've already pre-ordered your book from Amazon.

A lot of fantasies feature an "ordinary" and "reluctant" "special" hero who must save all from powerful demons. Which totally follows the Roman polytheistic model of heros & dieties. For a Christian cosmology, wouldn't demon-busting have to be be the exclusive domain of God & church? Not just for administrative jealousy reasons but because mere mortals just ain't got the requisite divine powers? Not that I'm a Christian and would know for sure, but that was my impression. So does she channel Jesus like a saint or what?

Reading your query I found myself wondering, why would any heroine give a fig for some moldy old diety that does nothing but have his lackeys consider paperwork while she battles demons and saves the world on her own? Like who'd still vote for monotheism after a week like that? Does she ultimately tell the Pope to take a leap, or hit him with a thunderbolt or what?

Anonymous said...

Pictures of werewolf popes--omigod! I was laughing so hard I woke my husband up. You made my day, um, night, EE.

Anonymous said...

I thought all of the GTP's were fakes and this was a test. Wrong.

EE, while the pictures of the Roman Catholic Popes that you linked to as your picks for werewolves were convincing, the Coptic Pope doesn't pass muster. Granted he has either the worst hairdo ever or a funny hat on, but he's wearing a silver cross/crucifix. I don't think true werewolves could do that (or am I getting mixed up with vampires?).

I think EE is trying to say your plot has contrivance written all over it, and is therefore unacceptable. I like the idea in the GTP, though, of a devout (any religion) wearing gloves to interrupt psychic vibrations. Already I'm thinking this is a wacko and I might be interested in following her around for a while.

I'm less fond of demons and zombies.

Good luck.

Stacia said...

I can't wait to read The von Kulmbach Code.

I thought this sounded okay until we got to the Yousef guy. It seemed to take an awfully big turn. Presumably these two plots are more cloesly entwined in the book; here it almost sounds like the Yousef thing is just stuck in the middle of the book with no purpose.

Do Bishops grant dispensations?

writtenwyrdd said...

Evil, Jesus was a vampire. I clearly explain the whole thing in my trunk novel that no one wanted to buy.

Anonymous said...

I actually "Guessed The Plot" on this one.

EE was in top form on this one. Very funny.

This story could be o.k. I think some humor (humorous situations, etc.) would help it a lot.

Also, Checagou is a funny way to spell Chicago. -JTC

Blogless Troll said...

Is it possible the demon was confused and Jesus was really a revenant?

Bernita said...

Why do you assert an alternative reality, with place names like Checagou, and assorted demons yet name the church as Catholic?

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

I really thought all the GTPs were fakes. Whoops.

EE, I laughed so hard I swallowed my tongue. I'm sending you the bill.

roach said...

Thanks EE and everyone else for your comments. I appreciate having this query looked over by people who haven't already slogged through the manuscript.

The problem I'm having is boiling 90,000 words of alternate world-building, spiritual crisis/revival, monster hunting, international politics, and yes humorous demon-baiting, to a one page query that doesn't make the plot sound contrived.

Mentioning Youseph in the query was a last minute decision and I had thoughts of evil overlords rushing through my head when I wrote the sentence. Now I know my instincts were right and he'll get cut out.

And for JTC, Checagou is one variation of the original name for Chicago (which is only ever labeled a "Native American" term for stinky, onion smelling land). Part of the history of the world in the book is that the European conquest never got farther than the Appalachians--and thus the Illinewek Nation and good old Checagou. :D

Again, thanks for the comments. Now time for a rewrite and back to the query process.

Rei said...

That was just too funny. That does it. No more worshipping Jesus. EE, you are my Lord and Savior.

batgirl said...

Bernita makes an excellent point. An alternate world setting of what seems to be an unconquered North America sounds fascinating, but if so, I think you need to either spell it out in your query, or write around it so it doesn't just distract the query reader.

Dave Fragments said...

I don't understand why anyone would invoke an American Indian group - Illiniwek Nation - in the middle of a novel about demonology, Popes and libraries. Especially since the demons and bad guys aren't anything near American Indians. They sound vaguely Transylvanian and moderately Byzantine.

And philosophically, is there anything like a "good" demon? Seriously folks, if you create a demon character with charm, humor, wit and all that stuff, it's still going to DRAG YOU TO HELL in the end. Isn't it?
You say that this demon is special? It's a lesser demon who only inhabits libraries and has no advancement potential? It's going to let you go to heaven and report that it failed because you were so cute, adorable and worthy? NAH! That demon is going to haul your butt directly to hell (do not pass GO, do not collect $200)...

Marissa Doyle said...

This was sheer genius, EE. If I'd known all this back when I was a kid, I might never have told the church to go do something anatomically impossible with itself.

I agree with batgirl--the alternate reality aspect needs to mentioned up front. Otherwise what follows is confusing

Anonymous said...

Number 1 sounds like a true story.