Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Guess the Plot
The Nature of Santa Cruz
1. Well, it's near the beach and there's nice sidewalks, but there are a lot of college kids and it sort of rains a lot.
2. Trees and stones take human form to wage a secret war in Santa Cruz. 15-year-old Cassie has the ability to bridge the gap between man and nature, tipping the balance of power. But will her mom let her go into the woods by herself?
3. Like mother, like daughter, knows Professor Irons. It's no surprise when young Jade flees the mundanity of Peoria for the glamour of the West Coast. But when she falls into the company of communal hydroponic farmers, it's up to the Professor to rescue her, before she succumbs to . . . The Nature of Santa Cruz.
4. When “undocumented worker” Carlos Cruz shows up at the day labor pool on Christmas Eve, the only guy offering work is a pequeno duende with bells on his shoes. Driving the sleigh is no problem, but will Christmas be ruined when Carlos has to take a leak at 30,000 feet? The kid who asked for the jar of marbles will probably think so.
5. Sasha, a young ecologist, fights to protect the endangered wildlife refuge near her Santa Cruz home. Things heat up, however, when she meets Don, a hunky land developer who claims to have a heart for the environment. Will Sasha have to choose between her newfound love and . . . The Nature of Santa Cruz?
6. Hot tubs, hot bikinis, and hot days on the boardwalk don't convince Marvin he's seen the real Santa Cruz. Join Marvin for a walk amid the downtrodden--migrant workers, homeless runaways, and Internet porn slaves--and learn that even these forgotten souls can cry, laugh, and love.
Dear Evil Editor,
I am looking for representation for my young adult fantasy novel, The Nature of Santa Cruz (100,000 words).
Don't talk to strangers. Stay with the group. Listen to your mother. Fifteen-year-old Cassie Ravenssen knows all the rules. In the next three months she'll break every one of them. [She'll even run with scissors.] The Nature of Santa Cruz is the story of a girl growing up, a mother facing her past, and a world about to slip into war.
Cassie hates living on the run. The frequent moves, the fake names, and the non-stop lies leave her aching for a normal existence. [You might want to mention why she's living on the run.] Her mother's over-the-top restrictions make it impossible for her to have any fun, so when a letter arrives and they head for the west coast, Cassie hopes things are finally going to change. [What's in the letter? What makes her think things might change?]
But Santa Cruz hides mysteries Cassie can't leave alone, and her search for explanations takes her way out of bounds. Who is setting fires around town? Why are there soldiers in the woods? And since when are Australians the enemy? [Since they started training kangaroos as suicide bombers.] Her new friends Stan and Hawk hold the answers. When they introduce her to their charismatic leader, Jay, Cassie knows she wants to join the shadowy Western Forest Authority on its environmental mission. [What's their mission?]
Stan, Hawk, and Jay don't just defend the natural world, however; they are part of it – Arborei and Stannen – trees and stones turned human to wage a secret war. It is no accident Cassie has come to Santa Cruz. Someone wants her there and someone else wants her dead, for Cassie is a hybrid who can bridge the gap between man and nature, a weapon that can tip the balance of power forever. [Does she know she's a weapon? Is she always on the run because she's a hybrid? Was the letter that brought her to Santa Cruz written by a human or a tree?]
If only she'd listened to her mother. Once her cover is blown and Jay knows who she is, Cassie's thrilled to be accepted into the Arborei. But the Stannen have her mom, Jay has a plan for Cassie, and she'll soon learn no one's on her side. [She can't even go to the cops:
Cassie: My mother's been kidnaped.
Officer: By whom?
Cassie: The stones.
Officer: The stones? You mean the Rolling Stones?
Cassie: No, age-old rock-people who never die.
Officer: That's what I said. The Rolling Stones.]
The Nature of Santa Cruz is the first in the Tipping Point series; one of four novels that follow Cassie as nature goes to war. Uniquely placed between man and the environment, ["Uniquely," meaning she's the only hybrid?] she'll raise her own army, fight her own battles, and forge a brand new path to peace.
Maybe it's just me, but mentioning that Cassie's a hybrid and her friends used to be rocks and trees might be done earlier. Perhaps in an introductory paragraph. As it is, it's kind of a "Whoa!" moment. If I'm reading about a world in which rocks and trees turn into teenagers, I want to know it up front. The current introductory paragraph can be dumped. Her mother's rules aren't that intriguing, and certainly aren't what I'd call "over-the-top restrictions."
Are the bad guys the soldiers or the stones and trees?
I'm more interested in the answers to some of my questions than in the questions about fires and Australians.
The book is the story of a girl growing up, a mother facing her past, and a world about to slip into war. It might be better if the query focused on one of these. We know nothing of the mother's past, little about the trials of Cassie's growing up, and the war seems more local than world-encompassing. Focus on the aspect most likely to appeal to the target audience. Is it mainly a story about trying to fit in in a new town and school when there's lots of weird stuff going on? Or is it mainly about The Chosen One trying to defeat the forces of evil who are out to destroy goodness and light?