Thursday, July 26, 2007

Face-Lift 386

Guess the Plot


1. Would-be prom queen Sadie's quest for the perfect shade of red hair ends in the murder of her hair stylist. But can she cover her tracks as a blonde?

2. Scarlet's ex left town seven years ago, after she transformed him into a vampire. Now he's back, and he's out for blood--literally.

3. In her newest book of handy household tips, Martha Stewart proves that you can, indeed, get blood out of a turnip, as well as parsnips, carrots and onions. Includes bonus recipes for czarnina, boudin noir and biroldo.

4. To save his beloved from agonizing death, Dorn must find the mythical bloodroot that can cure any illness. But to cultivate the plant, one must sow it in the living flesh of a virgin priestess of Talur. Can he find seeds and a willing host? Or must his true love die?

5. Harold's garden produces the finest vegetables in the state. Is his secret the spring water and perfect climate? Or is it the bone meal he gets from the vampires in the woods in exchange for his special . . . Bloodroot?

6. Mitzi thought her mom said "beetroot" when she sent her to the store for dinner fixings. But two pounds of beets weren't what her zombie-witch mother had in mind and it's getting dark fast. Also, a weredingo.

Original Version

Attn. [Agent/Editor],

When a vampiric journalist regains consciousness beside two corpses, it's not just her career that's at stake. [It's the entire planet.]

Scarlet Fleischer is a bloodsucker, [also known as a literary agent,] but she's no murderer ... right? Her sanity isn't up to scratch, but some sessions with a parapsychiatric intern could help. Unfortunately, the intern's professional conduct makes Scar's lusty blood boil.

She then learns that her ex is back in town – the same man she unintentionally transmitted the vampiric disease to seven years ago. [Sorry, honey, I didn't mean to sink my fangs into your throat and suck out all your blood.] Scar's convinced he's out for blood – literally. At least she's got her barrister father to look after her [Daddy, there's a vampire after me; can you get a restraining order?] ... only he isn't biologically hers, which brings up the question of who is.

Bloodroot, complete at approximately 67,000 words, is an adult women's urban fantasy novel. Written under the penname of Tez Miller, it may appeal to readers of Jennifer Armintrout's Blood Ties series, Charlaine Harris's Southern Vampire series, and Kelley Armstrong's Otherworld series. The Australian Supernature setting will interest international readers wanting a different paranormal location. [Long-time readers, or at least those who've been here since yesterday, will note that the credits, etc. make it obvious this is the same author as yesterday's query. The author was kind enough to send five queries when I was running low; as you'll tire of reading the same credits, I'll just post the plot on the next three.]

I have written columns and reviews for the ACHQ and The Northern Sound, both international websites. Two of my short stories won second prize in the Eastern Regional Libraries Short Story Writing Competition (2000 and 2003), with a third receiving an honourable mention (2003). Another short story won the October Writing Challenge (2006), administrated by the international Otherworld Writing Group.

A synopsis, partial or full manuscript will be sent at your request. Thank you for your time and consideration.



It feels like you're trying to hook us with every sentence, which leads to a lack of focus on the real hook. If the main plot is Vampire journalist awakens between two corpses, stick with that. Somewhere in the query you can mention that Scarlet must deal with a hunky parapsychiatrist and the return to town of her vampiric ex as she tries to solve the mystery, but concentrate on the mystery. Or, if the main plot is her romance with the parapsychiatrist, focus the query on that. Jumping from the corpses to the doctor to her ex to her father isn't working. If all of this stuff is vital (unlikely), lengthen the query by elaborating on each subject so that we see how everything's connected.


Anonymous said...

Could not make sense of this plot. Didn't need so much info re other people's books and your prior pubs.

Bernita said...

Yes, with Anon, what happens?
We cannot assume consequences just because she is vampiric, has a hot therapist and a possibly revengeful ex.
And I think you need to mention something beside a different locale to set this story apart from the many other vampiric novels out there.

writtenwyrdd said...

ditto, there's no plot description.

Xenith said...

Pinched from Miss Snark

The starting point for creating a hook (to include in the query letter):

X is the main guy; he wants to do:
Y is the bad guy; he wants to do:
they meet at Z and all L breaks loose.
If they don't resolve Q, then R starts and if they do it's L squared.

Obviously, not all plots will fit that formula exactly, there might not be a bad guy for example, but it's a good starting point. I find it helps focus on what should be included.

(There was a shorter version too, something like "here is the protag, here is what they want, this is why they can't get it" but I can't find that one.)

I also thought, if you're pushing your setting as a selling point, what makes it special? "An Australian setting" makes it sound like some generic outback country town (yawn). If the story is set in, say, suburban Melbourne, what makes this different from a story set in New York or small town USA.

Anonymous said...

What plot points are here aren't really connected to one another. From the query, I can't tell if it's only after she wakes up with the corpses that she begins to think her sanity isn't up to scratch, or if that's something that's plagued her for awhile. And I can't really tell whether she's attracted to the intern's pro conduct or if she's ready to kill him/her. Blood boiling (even lusty blood) could go either way. Especially since you mention it's unfortunate. Why unfortunate, and for whom?

Then the query mentions Scar's adoptive dad, but since there isn't any hint that Scar just discovered she was adopted, why should the question come up or matter who her bio dad is? And how does a barrister human dad look after a vampiric daughter who's being stalked by another vampire? Is Dad a vampire slayer cum lawyer? Just trying to get a sense of connection in the query.

not just her career that's at stake - is stake intentional? Maybe I'm just jaded, but "stake" and "bloodsucker" fall flat with me. Although I do applaud that you're going for voice in your query.

What does "adult women's" mean? Erotica? If so, say it; don't let the reader guess. If not, then leave it out. "Urban fantasy" is fine.

Pen names: Seems to be some disagreement about them, but it comes down to either presenting yourself to the agent under your pen name if you're absolutely sure you'll be able to use that name, or leave the conversation about pen names for later since the editor/publisher may have a say in the matter.

I don't think I would list more than two other books/series that yours is like. Mentioning Australia as the setting is OK, but no reason not to mention where in Australia it's placed.

Credits: since your short stories haven't been pub'd, it might be best just to collapse all your awards into a single sentence and highlight just one of the awards. To be honest, I'd even be a bit vague considering the contests: Several of my short stories have won awards in various contests, including [whichever one you want to highlight].