Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Face-Lift 461

Guess the Plot


1. A shy carrot, a silly potato, and a twerpy bunch of celery go downtown in search of the bravest vegetable of all . . . Garlic!

2. Tommy's a student at Vampire Tech, where he takes courses like Remedial Blood Sucking, but he has a problem: his favorite food is garlic, and they don't serve garlic at the Vampire Tech cafeteria. What's an Italian vampire to do?

3. An epidemic of terrible disease spreads across North America. For three days, patients seem to have influenza. On day four they become zombies. But everyone at the Happy Hills Organic Herb Farm and Goat Dairy collective commune in Tennessee stays healthy. President Hannah Jones reads the Top Secret report from the CDC and wonders: could it really be -- the garlic?

4. Dating was never such a pleasure. Margo is happy to be married, because it means no more limiting her garlic consumption. But how can her husband Percy take it? One more clove, and he's rushing out the door and into the arms of Jolene Trumbull, vampire librarian.

5. When Mr. and Mrs. Potatohead are found dead in the bottom of the refrigerator, it's up to ace homicide detective Tiny Peas to find the culprit before he kills again. But when Tiny confronts dark secrets in the crisper drawer, she realizes that to solve the case, she'll have to team up with her arch-rival, a root known only as . . . The Turnip.

6. Rob Windruff, who works in the mayor's office of a small, mid-western town, in a bid to attract new residents, comes up with the slogan Get A Real Life In Charlestown. He didn't notice the acronym, but when the garlic jokes start and he loses his job, he is forced to reevaluate his life. And then the vampires arrive.

Original Version

Dear Editor,

I found your information on blah and am submitting this query to you because blah, blah, blah. [While I realize your actual query won't say "Blah, blah, blah," it blahs me that it would be refreshing to receive a query that blah blah blahed. It's not like I pay any attention to why you blah blahed me, so blah blah blah.]

Tommy loves his Italian Dad’s cooking, especially the garlic. But being half vampire means that garlic will be in the zits that pop up all over his face [, and he's tired of his father making him pop his zits into the spaghetti sauce just to get out of pressing garlic cloves]. His mother, afraid that Tommy’s too steeped in human culture and human food, packs him off to Vampire-Tech. Tommy starts the new school year by making an enemy – Garth, the school’s biggest bully and Tommy’s assigned mentor.

On top of that, Tommy’s stuck in classes, like remedial blood sucking, with full-blooded vampires half his age who know a lot more about being a vampire. With physical differences – like the human blood running through his veins – making his half-blood obvious, [How does anyone know what kind of blood is running through his veins? What are the observable physical differences?] Tommy’s nicknamed Garlic. [The other nerds are nicknamed Cross, Wooden Stake, and Holy Water.] Though it’s meant to be an insult, he has a hard time feeling insulted by his favorite food.

Tommy gets a chance to get back at Garth when the math teacher assigns Tommy to be Garth’s tutor. If Tommy doesn’t help him, Garth won’t graduate. [On the other hand,] If Garth doesn’t graduate, he’ll be back at school the next year. It’s a tough choice and Garth isn’t making it any easier. He doesn’t want Garlic anywhere near him. [If it's a tough choice, Garth is making it easier. I contend that it's an easy choice, but Garth isn't cooperating when he avoids Garlic.]

Tommy struggles to find acceptance and to turn Garlic into a name worth having.

Garlic is a 25,000 word upper middle grade fantasy. Its gross factor is aimed at young men who like such things as the Grossology Museum Tour.

Thank you for your time and consideration. [Be consistent. Change that to Blah blah blah, blah blah.]


Your two main characters are named Garlic and Garth. Maybe too similar for speed readers.

So mother is a vampire and father isn't? Does mom mind that dad has garlic in the house? What is mom's diet?

Otherwise, blah blah blah.


Anonymous said...

Considering that your letter is meant to court an agent not a gross-out kid, you might want to be a little more suave and mention zits later in the query, if at all. You might want to just say something like "It's full of gross-out potty humor" without actually instantly grossing her out, and let her see how gruesome your pages are, if she wants to.

Anonymous said...

If this wasn't middle-grade, I'd give you a harder time about having a class for remedial blood-suckers. Really, how hard is it to suck blood? You don't take classes on how to drink from a straw and eat with forks. Still, assuming this was funny enough and the class focused on things like choosing a target and getting the proper neck angle, I'd probably give you a pass.

I agree with EE about Garth and Garlic being too similar. How about Barth?

It would be refreshing to see a vampire book that wasn't steeped in either sensuality or gore, but both of those are so intrinsic to the whole concept that I'm not even sure how you'd do it.

Good luck!

(EE: Mom's diet is Dad.)

Anonymous said...

Is it important that his Dad's Italian? Or is there more than one Dad and we need to know we're talking about the Italian one here?

Dave Fragments said...

I wondered when this query was going to surface after the opening appeared. I guess "appeared" is the wrong word. Erupted in spots is a good phrase and (to use an old, Victorian word) pustules popping up is gross like the query.

This is a coming of age story for a kid who is different. Granted it's humorous and too an extent silly. But what crisis of growing up is Tommy going to face? That's what we don't find out. That's the selling point of the book.

One thing that does frighten me since we've seen both the query and the opening, is that this is a one joke book on garlic, vampires and zits.

Robin S. said...

Oh, is this the query for the kid with the garlic zits?

I didn't get that beginning immediately- until I fully understood the garlic zit bit, and how weird that would be for a vampire kid. I kind of like the idea of this. It all depends on how it reads, doesn't it, just like anything else?

I've never been a young boy (or an old boy, for that matter)but I can imagine boys getting this humor.

OK- I just checked with my 15 year old daughter, who's lying on the floor near me doing her French homework. I asked her to harken back to the days when she was young, and think about this plot. She really liked the part of the half-Italian, half-vampire- and how weird that would be because he'd like garlic but be vampirically allergic to it, but the part about the garlic zits grossed her out.

talpianna said...

150 said...
You don't take classes on how to drink from a straw and eat with forks.

Obviously you didn't watch the deservedly short-lived summer-replacement TV show So You Want to Be a Hilton.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Good point, Dave. The zits are really only in the beginning (so far) so maybe I need to tone that down in the query and just mention he's allergic. The rest is campy and tries to maintain the tone of the beginning. It comes across as Hogwarts for vampires right now, but without the deathly serious side.

This is less than half written. We'll see how it goes. Who knows what might pop up in future chapters that will change the direction of the query.

All the vampires have 'G' names and most of them are one syllable. It's another way Tommy stands out as being different.

I can change the physical difference to the tips of his rounded ears, but then you'd have to know vampire ears are pointy - or maybe just saying that means they're different somehow and the how doesn't matter.

His human blood is obvious from the flush of his face, the smell when he blushes and the blood that pours from his nose when Garth punches him. Too much detail for a query, I think. I'll think on that.

Remedial means he's a seventh year student in first year classes. And blood sucking is only done in bat form. I haven't decided the details of that class yet. I like the proper neck angle and choosing targets idea. This seemed like the best choice of classes to list in the query as it required the least explanation (to me).

The sensuality and gore are extremely limited though there is an older girl involved who flirts rather heavily with Tommy.

Oh, and EE - blah blah. Blah!

Robin S. said...

You tell him, Sarah!

Anonymous said...

Tommy struggles to find acceptance and to turn Garlic into a name worth having.

Perhaps you could change this sentence to a "when . . . " ? For example, when Garlic shoves a huge chunk of lasagna into Garth's face the stupid bully decides he likes Italian food and he might even like Garlic!!

Chris Eldin said...

I think I missed the opening for this? Which one is it?

I personally really like your concept. When I started reading EE's blog, I thought how fun it could be to do a children's story on zombies or vampires. The adult market is flooded with them. But not the kids. I personally don't want to do the research to write these, but I think it's a great idea and an open market.

Have you read "Millicent Min, Girl Genius?" If not, then just read the jacket copy for verbage on awkward kid/unwilling tutor. Then read the book because it's awesome.

Good luck Sarah!!

Evil Editor said...

I think I missed the opening for this? Which one is it?


Chris Eldin said...


Sorry Sarah, I hated the zits.

Although Blogless' continuation about the hems was pretty funny.

I still think this is a terrific concept.

Oh, and Robin S. had opening 394.
Seems you two are cycling through material together...

talpianna said...

church lady, have you seen the Bunnicula series about a (sort of) vampire rabbit?


Sarah Laurenson said...

Dear Sparky,

Just had to use that name once. You’re the best editor on the planet so naturally, I’m sending this gem to you.

Fifteen year old, half-Italian, half-Vampire Tommy gets packed off to boarding school to learn about his Vampire heritage. He attracts a lot of attention – from the biggest bully to a gang that wants a taste of Tommy’s human blood. Instead of improving his bloodsucking skills, he learns that there are Vampire Rules and his parents may be breaking every single one of them.

Aided by a quirky, hyper boy half his age, Tommy stumbles through the unfamiliar culture and tries to figure out what the rules are before he starts breaking them, too. Then Tommy’s worst fears are realized when the gang after his blood is not punished and the new blood drink in the school dining room is named after his dad’s human apprentice.

Garlic is a 30,000 word middle grade novel. Its gross humor is aimed at children who like such things as the Grossology Museum Tour.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Robin S. said...

Hey Sarah,

You know I'm the last person you want any query advice from, girl - but I love your "Dear Sparky,"!

Plus, I love the idea behind your book - I think it's cool.

Dave Fragments said...

It needs to be lighter, more fun, even a little breezy...

What could be worse than being shipped off to boarding school? Well, being a half-vampire with a taste for garlic pizza and skin troubles is bad, but even worse is having the high school bully who wants to taste your blood.

That's what Tommy has to face when he enters Vampire High. Between learning about bloodsucking, bat transforms, and algebra ... ... ...

Something like that.

PS. does the blood sucking bully sound a little gay to anyone beside me? A guy wants to bite his neck and suck on it because his blood tastes good. That's kinda intimate, ain't it? Maybe I've been in the sun too long today...

McKoala said...

Hi Sarah

I think this is much clearer, and quirkier.

Does it matter that his parents are breaking the Vampire Rules? Only if there will be consequences, or a threat to them, and you don't say that.

I'm guessing that the naming of a blood drink is a hint that his family is in danger, but it's not 100% clear.

Other than that, I think this is pretty much working, though.

Dave, I think it's just you. It's kind of what vampires do!

Sarah Laurenson said...

Thanks, guys!

OK. Examples, humor, stakes...

When fifteen year old half-Vampire Tommy breaks out in garlic zits – again – he gets packed off to boarding school to learn about his Vampire heritage and be far away from his dad's Italian cooking. At V-Tech, Tommy attracts a lot of attention; from the biggest bully to a gang that wants a taste of Tommy's forbidden human blood. Aided by a quirky, hyper boy half his age, Tommy stumbles through the cultural differences like kissing girls' hands instead of shaking them, and begins to make more friends than enemies.

While improving his bloodsucking skills and his ability to morph between human and bat form, Tommy learns that there are unwritten taboos that every full blooded Vampire seems to know. These Vampire Rules keep humans from finding out Vampires are real. And Tommy's parents may be breaking all of them. Tommy's half breed status is undeniable proof they broke at least one. Then his worst fears are realized when the gang thirsty for his blood is not punished and the new blood drink in the school dining room is named after Emeline, his dad's human apprentice and Tommy's secret crush. Will all this rule breaking threaten the existence of the secretive Vampires? And, more important to Tommy, is Emeline still alive?