Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Guess the Plot
Rain on the Dust
1. Country singer Lady Winters had one hit--the haunting 'Rain on the Dust'. Now she's been approached by a young singer who wants to do a cover. But can she let go--and see her beloved autobiographical lyrics turned into droning hiphop noise?
2. During the Dust Bowl, three sisters--Molly, Sadie, and Sarah--decide to brave the road to California. Will they find hope and love, or only despair? Also, a guardian angel.
3. Small-town reporter George Keevers is looking for the big story that'll get him a job on the Washington Post, so he goes to Thailand to report on a typhoon. When he runs out of money, he has no choice but to rely on the kindness of his Evil Editor if he wants to get home.
4. Pamela Gleeb has given up on housekeeping. But leaving the windows open night and day has a downside when the storms hit her tiny village, and she finds herself buried in mud up to her pretty neck. Will the handsome hunk from the Fire Brigade dig her out?
5. Widow Kate Darby runs the only saloon in tiny Dos Banos, out in the wilds of Arizona. When Frank Jeffers is shot and left for dead in the street, she decides to save him. But to do that, she'll have to disguise him while his enemies are in town. Will they notice the strange new girl at the saloon?
6. A storm's coming. But Great-Aunt Muriel's urn just fell out the window onto the front lawn. Can Joanna Frisby sort aunt from lawn in time, or will it . . . Rain on the Dust.
Dear Agent or Editor
Vietnamese Amerasian teenager Tran Thi Mai is stigmatized by her mixed race and abandonment by her soldier-father. Mai's bitter aunt unfairly blames her sister's death on Mai and presses her into a harrowing overland refugee journey from post-war Vietnam, across Cambodia, into Thailand. In Thailand, Mai finds a kind social worker, Mother Agnes, who arranges a stabile life for her with an expatriated Vietnamese farm family. However, a typhoon shatters that stability. Because of a personal myth surrounding her mother's death, Mai stands against the typhoon to learn if rain controls her life as it seems. [Not sure what "stands against the typhoon" means.]
Meanwhile, George Keevers, a dissatisfied small-town reporter in the US, makes an impulsive trip to Thailand to chase a typhoon story, to tweak and impress his "Evil Editor," Shelly Lyon (whom he loves/hates). He craves a career-defining story to pave the way to his beloved Washington Post [/New York Times]. He hears odd tales about Mai's behavior during the storm and smells his story. (Alternating viewpoints have allowed the two main characters to converge at this place/time without confusion.) [No need to boast about pulling off this feat.]
George is astonished by Mai's mixture of grace and fatalism. [grace/fatalism] Feeling like a waste of oxygen, he raises his ambition to a life-defining story about Mai. Mai's adoptive family asks George to return her to Mother Agnes due to the storm's devastation. But Mother Agnes is outraged that George would remove Mai from a family for a threadbare refugee aid station. George finally admits his desire to take Mai home with him. Mai casts her lot with George and they go to Bangkok [where Mai is kidnapped and sold into sex slavery.] to face the tangle of international emigration and refugee laws. George has only a few problems: he has no more money or credit; he's single; [This is an immediate problem? Or he just wishes he weren't single?] and worst of all: he'll have to make double-nice with his Evil Editor to get back home.
Rain on the Dust is a YA historical novel complete at 40,000 words that is imbued with humor despite its setting [and despite the fact that I've made it sound about as funny as the Bataan Death March]. I have found little YA fiction about Amerasians. My writing credentials are mostly for professional technical publications. Thank you for your time and I hope you will want to read the complete manuscript.
The personal rain myth isn't clear, and seems more important than the backstory we get at the beginning. You could begin: Ever since she drowned her mother in the Mekong River, Tran Thi Mai has theorized that water is the dominant influence in her life. When a typhoon strikes Thailand, Mai is there to test her theory by braving the storm in a rowboat with no umbrella.
Then move on to George, and how he writes Mai's story and tries to take her home. I realize the book may be largely pre-George material, but unless it's a biography of Mai, your story seems to start with the typhoon. If they make it to the US, give us something about that, especially if it includes teenaged friends/classmates, as right now it doesn't sound like YA.
Getting rid of Cambodia and the refugee camp and Mother Agnes will help make it conceivable that the book is loaded with yucks.