Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Face-Lift 271

Guess the Plot

The Search for Mr. Lincoln: and the Encounter with Cornbread and the Three Eyed Man

1. When celebrity chef and Yaqui shaman Don Mescalo visits Illinois, he meets the adolescent Mary Todd. Mary spends hours in the kitchen mastering Mescalo’s culinary techniques and developing a fondness for his little cactus buttons. The rest, as they say, is alternate history.

2. After their teacher Mr. Lincoln disappears, three students set out on a cross-country road trip to find him. But someone is chasing them, too, two ruthless criminals with a total of five eyes. Also, exploding cows.

3. In the run-up to the 1964 World’s Fair, the Disney-created animatronic Abraham Lincoln has gone missing, and it’s up to bumbling security guard Gopher Miles to find him, or else there won’t be any Great Moments come opening day. After a series of bizarre, near fatal encounters, Gopher decides Mr. Lincoln is definitely not in the Monsanto pavilion. (Book 1 of the 12-part Unisphere series

4. When American Idol holds auditions in Lincoln, they get lots of great female voices but can't find "Mr. Lincoln"--the one male voice who could make it to the finals. Instead, Paula generates controversy with a contestant named "Cornbread" while Simon is accosted by the Three Eyed Man.

5. When President Lincoln goes missing the night he's scheduled to attend Our American Cousin at Ford's Theater, he is finally located eating cornbread with a mysterious three-eyed man in the White House kitchen. The three-eyed man begs Abe to stay, but Abe's handlers insist that if he refuses to go out in public, the South has won.

6. Her neighbor, Mr. Lincoln, invited Amy over for cookies. But when she finishes eating, he's nowhere to be seen. As she searches his house, Amy encounters a three-eyed man, a giant duck named Lulabelle, and Cornbread Maxwell. All she really wants is to find some more of those intoxicatingly delicious cookies.

Original Version

Dear agent-like creature:

I would like to invite you to consider representing my 50,000 word young adult novel, The Search for Mr. Lincoln: and the Encounter with Cornbread and the Three Eyed Man. [If a man has three eyes, and you're talking to him, is it rude to constantly look at the third eye, even if that eye is looking at you?] [No matter how strange the guy looks, the only thing you'd see is his third eye. Sort of like, despite all the weird things in this book title, I can't help looking at that colon, and thinking, What's that doing there?]

Mr. Lincoln is Mae Be’s favorite teacher. Well, he’s not just her favorite teacher; she is actually obsessed with him. He is more intelligent, unique and interesting than any of the students at Paul Rueben High School could ever hope to be. [That's spelled "Reubens" if you were going for the guy known as Pee Wee Herman. And if you weren't, I'd change it.]

So when the normally reliable Mr. Lincoln misses three days of class in a row, Mae Be panics. She enlists the help of her best friends Amber, the pretty and popular pseudo-socialite, and Stuff, the brilliant but mildly schizophrenic loner, [Bad move. Bringing Amber and Stuff together is like mixing matter and anti-matter.] to help her find out what happened.

Eventually, a search of Mr. Lincoln’s house and interrogations of the odd stable of teachers at the school, yield a cryptic note and a lead. The clues direct Mae Be and her friends on a cross country road trip in search of a bar named the Yellow Rose, a criminal rumored to have three eyes, and his lackey Cornbread.

On the way, the friends get distracted by a genetically altered lab mouse, bizarre roadside tourist attractions, exploding cows, a raisin throwing old lady on a Rascal, a sexy hitchhiker, and their own insecurities. [The longer a list goes on, the more boring it becomes. I'd trim the hitchhiker, the insecurities and the roadside attractions. If it's vital to convey that it's more than three, you can say "numerous bizarre characters, including . . . ] When they finally get to the Yellow Rose and uncover the dark secrets within, their road trip becomes a frantic attempt to escape as the three friends are mercilessly stalked by the dangerous, charismatic three eyed man and his dim partner Cornbread. [Charisma is important when you're running for president, but no matter how charismatic he was, I think a three-eyed man would have trouble getting elected.] [Not sure I'd refer to Cornbread as a partner when you've already called him a lackey.] [I'd leave out "dangerous, charismatic" as well; we already know the three-eyed man is a criminal and is mercilessly stalking them.]

I am a recent college graduate with a degree in History Education. The first chapter of my next novel, a dark comedy titled Sunshine Kids Make Money, [Either you stole that title from the guy who wrote the last query we did, or this is one incredible coincidence.] has recently been published in the online journal edifice Wrecked.

Thank you kindly for taking the time to read my letter. If you would you like to read part of my novel(s) please contact me at______________ or _________. Good luck with your current clients and projects.



The names have been changed, but this is the plot of the movie Nurse Betty. Which is a good thing.

This may be as quirky as the Sunshine Kids, but thanks to the plot thread of the search, it sounds like a story, rather than just the (eventually tiresome) ramblings of a character.

Don't let the book lose its focus on the search by including too many side-tracking stops. Dorothy stopped several times on the way to the Emerald City, but she brought the odd characters along with her and they became part of the main storyline. If it feels like the search is being interrupted just to inflate the word count, it might not go over well.

Does the three-eyed man look like this guy, from the pilot episode of The Twilight Zone?

I still say if man had a third eye, it should be on the back of his head. In fact, the strongest piece of evidence creationists have against Darwin's theories is that man didn't evolve an eye on the back of his head.


Rei said...

So... this is a different Abe Lincoln book from this?

How'd that one go?

Anonymous said...

By the way, if "Mae Be" is pronounced "maybe", that joke has already been worked over quite thoroughly on the comedy show Arrested Development, where "Maeby" is the name of the niece.

Stacia said...

Isn't it Paul Reubens?

I think this sounds like fun, even if I am one of the only people who saw a cheezy 70s movie called Cornbread, Earl and Me and so cannot stop hearing that little voice shouting "they shot Cornbread!" when I read this query?

Yeah, I thought so.

Anonymous said...

this is a spinoff of that Abe lincoln book, yes.

I'm not sure what you mean by how'd that one go.

I totally stole that name from the show. (It's more of an intended reference, rather than actual theivery) it was one of my favorite shows of all time. I figured that *IF* this gets published, it will be at least a year from now. So most of its intended YA audience will not have ever watched ARRESTED.

evil editor: your suggestions were very helpful, thank you.

Anonymous said...

I hate to say this (but I wlil, anyway)...

This reminds me of an old joke about a man who was born with three testicles. In his twenties, he used to use it to finance his drinking in bars. He used to walk into a bar and bet the patrons that between the bartender and himself, they had more than the usual number of testicles.

This worked fine until one bartender (a huge, musclebound guy with a testosterone patch on his shoulder) grabbed him and threatened his life stating that he lost both of his testicles as a child and the man had better have four, or else he wouldn't have any.

That being said, I'm going to hide.

Interesting story, by the way. But, you have ot be careful about the obvious jokes (Master Bates at J*** O** High, etc.).

pacatrue said...

Yes, I had the same question as Rei the entire time I was reading. The other Abe Lincoln query also features a road trip, odd characters, and the same sense of humor as here (and in Sunshine).

So did you just rewrite the query, or did you rewrite the novel? I guess the latter since 30,000 words seem to have disappeared and it's now young adult. (Kudos to you on the stamina to cut words you love by the way.)

The good news seems to be that each query has gotten more and more favorable reviews from EE, who is the only one of us with actual experience here. No, we've got a few published authors too, I believe. Anyway, what's the story of the two Abes?

Anonymous said...

I also think this sounds fun. In fact, I was strongly reminded of "Another Roadside Attraction," which I think is one hilarious book. Not for kids, though!

This could sell, I'd think. Good luck with it.

Anonymous said...

I don't read YA, but this sounds like it could be an interesting adventure. I don't know how a three-eyed man could be described as "charismatic", as most people associate charisma with charm. I guess a three-eyed man could be charming, and he'd certainly have the element of "mystique", and should the band Third Eye Blind ever need a new front man, he could be a contender depending on the sacrifice he's willing to make.

Anonymous said...

I kind of liked this one. It had enough absurd humor to hook me and an odd array of characters.

Anonymous said...

Nice comment on the colon, EE. I debated whether to focus my GTP entry on that, but I knew you'd come up with something far more amusing.

Anonymous said...

same story, two books.

the first one tells the story of abe's kidnapping.

the ya book tells the story of soem students who go to find him.

the two plots never intersect, so each book could easily stand alone.

hope that clears up the confusion.

thanks for the kind words.


Anonymous said...

same story, two books.


You're not really Tom Clancy by any chance, are you?

Blogless Troll said...

So Mr. Lincoln is a teacher, a history teacher in the previous version rei dug up, and the author has a degree in History Education and another novel titled Sunshine Kids Make Money...

I recuse myself for the purpose of not beating a dead horse.

merper said...


Conversely, if man was so intelligently designed, then why DIDN'T we get an eye on the back of the head?

Anonymous said...

If man did have a third eye in the back of his head, by design or evolution, would it necessarily have 20/20 vision? If not, there goes the old cliche.

Anonymous said...

If you did have an eye on the back of your head, you'd need a completely separate part of your brain to deal with it, since information from the back-eye would have nothing to do with the information from the face-eyes.

A lot of brain is already dedicated to dealing with vision. If we had back-eye, we might need to be stupider than we currently are, or have bigger heads.

And humans already have birthing problems due to our big heads.

Although we also have problems due to being stupid, now that I think of it.

Anonymous said...

We ain't got eyes on de back of de head because ever since most ancient paleozoic times we've moved toward good things ahead [food, water, sex] and left behind what we left behind.

As far as the query goes, my brain snaps off and goes looking for something more coherent in response to lists of random characters. Interesting as yours may be in the book, EE is right, this kind of list is boring and making it longer only makes it worse.

In the first part of the query I thought you were talking about 13-14 year old main characters but then it sounds like they're driving around on some sort of Jack Kerouac meets the Wizard of Oz road trip and then I thought maybe the book was a college stoner autobiography traveling incognito as a lark for the Harry Potter crowd. I don't know. Try repeating this mantra about a thousand times: focus and coherence.

Anonymous said...

Conversely, if man was so intelligently designed, then why DIDN'T we get an eye on the back of the head?

God, it turns me on when someone uses the word "conversely" properly.

Brenda said...

I think I may be in love with anon 1:17am.

Anonymous said...

If we had back-eye, we might need to ... have bigger heads.

Little bitty birds have little bitty brains, and eyes that point in opposite directions.

Go figure.

Anonymous said...

note on the "eye in back of head", man, being carnivorous (sorry to all of you vegans, but it's true) has two eyes directly in front to focus and give depth "knowledge" to the prey he is stalking. (have to know exactly how far away dinner is.) Prey animals have eyes on the side of their heads so they can see behind and all around them. They don't necessarily need to know that the lion is exactly 10 feet behind them, just that he is there, and RUN! No need for a predator to see behind him, he could care less. Thus, man evolved without an extra eye on the back of his head. (Although some children might argue that fact re: their mothers.)

Rashenbo said...

LOL! The picture definitely tops the cake here!

Anonymous said...

What are you talking about, we were predators, not prey? That's hooey. We're still prey. You've never seen a gizzly bear? Most of our early fossil record is thanks to the habits of big cats. Pliocene felines did just like mountain lions do now: knock the ape down, bite them about head & neck until they go limp, then drag the carcass away by the skull and munch the big yummy brain plus some limbs and visera. The cats especially liked to lounge in a cool shady cave to eat, so some of the leftovers got preserved. Big bears just consume the whole body, teeth and all, but they don't like heavy-duty hiking/climbing boots so if you're wearing those, the grizz will probably toss your feet in a bush.

Evil Editor said...

Bears and cats? You've forgotten the animals on the top of the food chain: sharks, zombies and vampires.

Anonymous said...

cm allison...I hate to break it to you, but humans are omnivorous, not carnivorous. Note the teeth, the digestive tract and other small clues that we are designed by nature of god or the flying spaghetti monster to eat both.

Anonymous said...

Little bitty birds have little bitty brains, and eyes that point in opposite directions.

Go figure.

Yes, but part of the reason why birds are stupider than, say, rats, is because so much of that little bitty brain is devoted to processing their necessarily acute eyesight.

The reason why zombies are stupider than, say, vampires, is because if a zombie needs a brain - well, he just goes out and gets himself one. Easy as pie (and twice as yummy).

Plus, vampires can use sonar when they're in bat form, so they don't need the same visual acuity that birds do.