Guess the Plot
Blood from a Stone
1. In a world where fear of pain and disease makes donating blood a scary prospect, high school nerd Milton Pill makes an amazing discovery in geology class. But will his frequent trips to the local quarry make him the quarry? Also, a vampire.
2. Graham Furguson infiltrates the back rooms at The Stone, a new casino in Las Vegas, looking for someone named Fareed. There he discovers . . . blood. In The Stone. Now his life is in danger in this thriller featuring dialogue like an ice-cold martini.
3. Leading medical researchers are convinced it's bio-terrorism when people around the world contract a disease that makes them urinate blood until they die. But a rogue homeopath from Detroit discovers what they’re really up against: Flesh-Eating Kidney Stones from Outer Space!
4. He wanted to be America's newest serial killer, but he needed an angle. It came to him one night in Santa Monica. Four hours later, Oliver Stone, Sharon Stone and "Stone" Phillips were chalk lines on the pavement.
5. Identical twins Lester and Leslie compete in the Iron Chef Cooking Challenge. In round 4 Lester finally has to admit defeat when his sister serves blood pudding made with the most precious ingredient in the world - the stones of a Komodo dragon.
6. When young vampire Damarco hears that many superstars are followed around by "bloodsuckers," he attends a Rolling Stones concert. Hilarity ensues when he slips backstage and bites Keith Richards . . . and experiences his first psychedelic trip.
I am seeking representation for "Blood from a Stone," a 125,000 word medical thriller.
Somehow, even though it's his weekend away from the hospital, Graham Ferguson winds up with a scalpel in his hand. Sometimes he's just too curious for his own good.
Graham is a young surgeon visiting Las Vegas for a medical conference. When the lectures grow dull, he can't resist the pull of the blackjack tables at The Stone, the city's newest casino. While playing he shares an intriguing conversation with a man named Fareed whose wheezing and pinprick bruises suggest he belongs in a hospital bed rather than a card table. [I have a long-standing policy whose adoption I recommend to my minions: if you're in a casino and a wheezing guy named Fareed starts a conversation with you, move to a different table. If he follows, move to a different casino.] When Graham next sees Fareed, the man is collapsed on the floor, gulping for air. [Also, if you're in a casino, and you look down at the floor by your feet and see a wheezing guy named Fareed, slowly back away and then run for the exit.] Graham rushes to his aid but is rebuffed by the casino physician, Dr. Hampstead – who seems more concerned with the knot in his tie than the gasping casino guest at his feet [Be with you in a minute, Fareed; I'm having trouble deciding if I should be in a Windsor or a Four-in-hand when the CSI film crew gets here.] – and Mr. Darling, the meaty director of casino security. Fareed is whisked away with the speed and ceremony of sweeping up a broken cocktail glass, leaving Graham stunned, concerned, and more than a little curious about what happened to his new acquaintance.
With the help of Karen, a waitress with a penchant for making him blush, Graham slips behind the façade of the casino in search of Fareed. [If you slip into the back rooms at a casino, and you want to come out alive, you'd better have a damn good excuse. And "I'm looking for a guy named Fareed" is unlikely to cut it.] In the depths of the casino – a grimy city unto itself that supports the fantasy world of card tables and floor shows [Oz and Middle Earth are fantasy worlds; card tables and floor shows, incredible as it may seem, exist.] – they find a room of beds with shackles dangling from the frames and a bloody clue that Graham can't quite decipher. [It reads:
O Draconian devil!
Oh, lame saint!
P.S. Find Fareed Langdon]
Karen drags Graham from the casino just ahead of the security guards, but when they go to the police, a skeptical detective story dismisses them [A skeptical detective story?] as troublesome tourists with overindulgent imaginations fueled by too many vodka tonics.
[Graham: There was this guy named Fareed. He was wheezing.
Detective: Go on.
Graham: Darling whisked him away.
Detective: What did Darling look like?
Graham: He was meaty.
Detective: Let me guess. You were drinking vodka tonics?]
Yet Graham's curiosity drives him to keep digging for clues, and the thugs in tailored suits from The Stone show their disapproval with their knuckles. But when a split lip isn't enough to deter Graham, [He will find Fareed if it kills him; I admire a man who's so loyal to complete strangers.] a fresh body turns up, and now he and Karen are wanted for murder. With lives hanging in the balance – Fareed's, Karen's, even his own – Graham's only way out is to confront the enigmatic Mr. Pallinstone, [If you're going to call him enigmatic, make his last name Palindrome. Seriously. And his first name, of course, is Bob.] the self-made millionaire behind the eponymous casino, and uncover the secret of The Stone [They drug their patrons, then shackle them to beds and drain their blood to feed Mr. Palindrome. So much more civilized than fangs in the neck, plus it allows him to add a twist of lime.] before it's too late. [Palindrome, for those who haven't guessed, is, in fact, Count Dracucard.]
With dialogue as crisp as an ice-cold martini and a plot that snaps like a new playing card against the felt, [Whoa! Are you the author, or are you an overzealous publicist writing copy for the book's ad campaign after downing one too many ice-cold martinis?] "Blood from a Stone" takes a rollicking trip through Las Vegas, from the boisterous energy of the high stakes craps tables, to the dingy neon carnality of a strip club, to the chilly realities of coroner's office, [Do we get to meet Gil Grissom and Dr. Robbins?] to the penthouse of a casino high above the Nevada desert.
I am a surgical resident, and while my current publications include multiple scientific articles and textbook chapters, this is my first foray into fiction. I have enclosed the first three chapters and a SASE. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Somehow, though it's his weekend away from the hospital, Graham Ferguson winds up with a scalpel in his hand. Sometimes he's just too curious for his own good.
Graham is a young surgeon visiting Las Vegas for a medical conference. When the lectures grow dull, he can't resist the pull of the blackjack tables at The Pleasure Dome, the city's newest casino. While gambling, he shares an intriguing conversation with a man named Fareed whose wheezing and pinprick bruises suggest he belongs in a hospital bed, not at a card table.
Before Graham can inquire about Fareed's condition, the man collapses to the floor and is whisked away by casino security with the speed and ceremony of sweeping up a broken cocktail glass. Graham is left stunned, concerned, and more than a little curious about what happened to his new acquaintance.
With the help of Karen, a cocktail waitress, Graham slips into the depths of the casino in search of Fareed. They find a room of beds with shackles dangling from their frames and a bloody clue that Graham can't quite decipher. With lives hanging in the balance – Fareed's, Karen's, and his own – Graham has no choice but to perform a truthectomy on the enigmatic Mr. Palindrome, the self-made millionaire behind the mysterious casino.
Blood from a Stone is a 125,000-word medical thriller that takes a rollicking trip through Las Vegas, from the high stakes craps tables, to the neon carnality of a strip club, to the chilly realities of a coroner's office. I am a surgical resident with multiple scientific articles and textbook chapters to my credit; this is my first novel. I have enclosed the first three chapters and a SASE. Thank you.
What about the part where Graham ends up with a scalpel in his hand? Does he perform an operation? An autopsy? Or is that how he confronts Palindrome? Do surgeons take their scalpels to conferences, just in case they're needed on an emergency spleenectomy?
If your introduction is one measly sentence, stick it in the conclusion and open with your hook.
Blood from a stone is a common enough expression. If you named the casino The Stone just so the title Blood from a Stone would seem more clever, it wasn't worth it. Besides which, now that the casino owner's name is Bob Palindrome, you have to change the name of the casino to The Drome, and Blood from a Drome makes no sense.
The story sounds exciting, but the original version had too much trivial detail. The revised version gets rid of that, but what it lacks is an explanation of why this is a "medical" thriller. You might want to at least hint more strongly at what's going on from a medical standpoint in the casino's dungeons.