Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Face-Lift 491

Guess the Plot

Angel Girl

1. The Geometry League is group of crime-fighting superheroes. Sally Jenkins's dream is to one day join the ranks of Protractor Boy, Captain Rhombus, and Isosceles. She's even got her own alter-ego and costume. But first she needs to conquer that pesky dyslexia.

2. A plane-Jane geometry whiz named Polly gets caught up with three misfit dyslexics on a protracted road trip to the national spelling bee finals. Things take an acute turn when they break down in 90-degree heat in the middle of nowhere. She leaves them, but they're too obtuse to notice Polly gone.

3. Kicked out of heaven, guardian angel Adora is now a high school student. When her brother--Lucifer--shows up wanting the soul of her babysitting charge, Adora refuses to give her up. But can she win this battle in the age-old war between good and evil in time to make it to the prom?

4. Aging hipster "Boppin'" Bobby Farrel has lived a comfortable life on the back of his one hit single, "Angel Girl". But when the girl in question appears in his room one night, with an important message, he has to discover what happened to them both since they parted; and is she really an angel?

5. Archangels Michael and Gabriel wager to see who gets the unwanted assignment of babysitting the ditzy heiress Claire Sheraton before Satan can tempt her into having his child and creating a horrible chain of disastrous events marking the end of humanity.

6. Linda is your average 14-year old, busy with classes, boys, fashions and keeping her snotty brother out of trouble while her mother struggles to support them. When a school bus accident reunites Linda with her late father ahead of schedule, Linda chooses to postpone the afterlife, becoming her family's Guardian Angel. But can she protect them from the malevolent forces of Darkness?

Original Version

Dear Agent,

As if being booted out of Heaven weren't bad enough, former guardian angel Adora Adams had to go and be born in a small southern town where being different doesn't go over too well. [We all don't cotton to no ex-angels in these parts, girlie.] And being raised by hippie parents? Well, that's all it took for her to be an outsider from day 1.

[Y'all's mammy and pappy's them hippies, ain't they? Bet they don't even lahk NASCAR. We don't want your kind here.

Okay, Principal Davis. I'll see if we can afford a private school.]

Toss in a few more eccentricities, such as her ability to sniff out evil like it was last week's garbage pickup, and there are days Adora is ready to crawl back into bed until Hell freezes over.

But not today, because Adora's biggest secret has just paid her a visit. Her brother Luke, known to the rest of the world as Lucifer, [You know, if the whole world knew him as Luke, he wouldn't have such a bad reputation. Going by Lucifer can really get you off on the wrong foot when trying to make friends. In fact, a check of the 1200 most common male names in the US reveals that Lucifer, Satan and Beelzebub aren't there, and Mephistopheles is way down in the 800s. The only questionable name, which inexplicably comes in at number 29, is Larry.] is threatening to rain down on her with every bit of his power to force her to let go of one very important little soul: that of 8-year-old Malia Soner [anagram: sore animal], Adora's babysitting charge. And if Luke wants her that badly, then Adora wants her even more. And so another battle in the age-old war of good versus evil begins, and just three weeks before prom. [Who would go to the prom with the daughter of hippie parents?]

Although neither sibling understands the role Malia will play in the destiny of the world, neither is willing to give up or give in, even for the sake of family unity. But when the battle is over and Adora begins to believe she's won, influences beyond Luke will shatter her trust in her ability to control her own destiny, let alone the world's.

Angel Girl is young adult urban fantasy, and is complete at 55,000 words.

Thank you for your time


This is well done, though I have a few questions, some of which you might want to answer in the query:

Adora wants to protect Malia because Luke wants her. But if Luke doesn't understand the role Malia will play, why does he want her? Is he taking orders from someone else?

Booted out of heaven for what? When they boot you out of heaven, they let you remain powerful enough to take on Lucifer? What are her powers? All we get is that she can sniff out evil. She would need to have more abilities than that to win the battle against evil.

Does this start when Adora is a teen or when she's booted out of heaven?


Anonymous said...

Just a minor nit:

...influences beyond Luke will shatter her trust in her ability to control her own destiny, let alone the world's.

She was booted out of heaven and forced to be born to hippy parents. So, why would she even have any trust in her ability to control her own destiny? It seems to have been pretty much out of her hands, so far.

Anonymous said...

Who would go to the prom with the daughter of hippie parents?

I would. It's a lifestyle choice.

Clearly, EE, you've never been with a hippie chick.

Evil Editor said...

Wrong. And if you'll read the rest of the critique, you'll realize

a. Adora is not a hippie chick; her mother is. Her mother isn't going to the prom.

b. this was an exaggeration based on the claim that the daughters of hippie chicks are considered outcasts in this town.

Anonymous said...

In general I think the query's pretty good. But I have a pesky plot question: If angel girl was, well, an angel, was she a grown angel or a teen angel?(And why do I hear the soundtrack to American Graffiti?) Is it the human incarnation which makes her a teenager? Is Luke/Lucifer/Beezybub a teen devil? I understand it's YA, so your protag is a teen. But are we to understand that Lucifer is likewise an obnoxious older brother who's just acting out because his hormones are in an uproar?

Anonymous said...

Ok. So I should leave the jokes to EE. Fair enough.

Bobbie said...

Thanks for you help, EE. And to answer what may just have been rhetorical questions:

This begins when Adora is 16. And she was a teenage angel as well. Luke is her older brother, but an adult.

Luke wants Malia because he has no effect on her. She is immune to his influences, which makes him just want to try harder, especially once Adora gets involved. But he wants Adora to believe he only cares because she does. She doesn't find out the truth, including why he has no effect on her, until the end.

She was sent away from Heaven b/c she wasn't doing her job well anymore after Luke was banished. She was told she had a choice, but it didn't feel like it at the time. And then at the end of the story, she finds out she was sent down so she could protect Malia in person, which makes her feel betrayed, as though her entire life (lives) has been manipulated.

As for her powers, telling the good from the bad plus the tenacity that comes from knowing she's right are all she needs right now. She's not out to win the war of good v. evil, just this particular battle.

Oh, and having hippie parents wasn't a punishment. It just so happens that having them means she's a misfit. And her southern town is less Nascar racing and more... debutante balls.

Phoenix Sullivan said...

Generally liking this query very much. Up until that Although neither sibling paragraph. For me, the tone changes too abruptly, and it has me questioning what the real plot of the book is? I thought it was the battle over the soul before the prom, but now it seems it's something more than that, but what that something is is very vague here. And it changes from funny urban chick fantasy to dark and soul-searching urban fantasy in an eyeblink. And the voice switches just as fast.

If you're going for the hook being your voice here (which I think it will need to be), then I would cut the query right before that paragraph. And maybe use EE's question from the GTP to end it.

If the voice in your book is the one in that last paragraph, you may want to rethink how you present the story.

none said...

So...she was assigned to protect a child who's immune to diabolical influences from those diabolical influences? Seems like that shouldn't be a priority.

Evil Editor said...

Ok. So I should leave the jokes to EE. Fair enough.

No, no, joke away. After two hours on a cell phone being transferred and put on hold while trying to find out why my land line wasn't working, only to have the cell battery conk out when I was finally getting somewhere, I was in no mood for reminders that my daughter Evilette has become a hippie. As one who digs hippie chicks, you might want me to introduce you. Here's her picture:

Evil Editor said...

Was she the daughter of hippies, died, got kicked out of Heaven and came back to her own family? Or is she completely new to the hippies? She came to the hippies through birth, right? So from the time she leaves heaven to the time Luke shows up is fifteen or so years?

Anonymous said...

Aw. She's so sweet.

Forget the phone, man. Feel the love.

Blogless Troll said...

The resemblance is uncanny.

Anonymous said...

Did your landline go off around the same time as Blogger went offline today? That's about the same time it starting snowing where I am.

I can't help feeling they're all somehow connected.

pacatrue said...

The situation is so intriguing that I'd probably check out a few pages just to see what you'd done, but they query itself confused me. It's not clear how much our heroine is a normal girl with a sniffing ability and how much she's an angel sort of in a girl's body. Does she know she's an angel? I thought Lucifer was growing up with her as her brother, but it's only in her former life, right? Or... I don't know.

PJD said...

I liked the query better without the answers that were provided in the comments. My only questions were the same ones EE raised--what was she kicked out of Heaven for? Why does Luke want the kid? And why does Adora care that Luke wants the kid if she was kicked out of Heaven? But be sure not to lose the fairly strong hook you've got in the query by dropping in too many details.

I was so hoping this would be #4. Whoever submitted that, well done. If it's your type of book, I hope you write it some day.

Unknown said...

Seconding Pacatrue on this: Why is an ex-angel acting like a normal teenager? I thought in Christian mythology angels were supposed to be 1000s of years old and have been messing around with humans here and there or at least watching them much of the time. Would a creature like that really care about the prom? Or is she born with amnesia, thinking she's a regular human and only finds out she's an angel later on?

Stacy said...

I've been looking at EE's daughter. Where are her mutton chops?

talpianna said...

Would I be out of line criticizing this from a theological point of view? Angels are beings of pure intellect united to perfect will: they don't reconsider, slack off, or change their minds. (Although there is a delightful legend that only a third of them fell, while another third stayed faithful and the last third couldn't decide; these fell to earth and became the longaevi-- the faerie folk, nymphs and satyrs, etc.) Fantasy fiction loves to play with the idea of angels falling and devils being redeemed; but neither Roman Catholic nor Protestant tradition authorizes it.

Also, angels don't have families. They have orders (angels, archangels, cherubim, seraphim, etc.) with, I presume, commanders; it's a military arrangement. So your heroine would have no closer attachment to Lucifer than she would to Michael, Gabriel, or any of the rest of the unfallen.

You may not give a damn about this. I said much the same about Niven and Pournelle's Inferno; and Larry replied that it was just fiction and I shouldn't take it so seriously. I think theology should be taken as seriously in religious fantasy as science is in SF.

If you do want to take this into account, I'd suggest that you make your heroine a soul in Purgatory who as a final exam to get into Heaven has to return to Earth as this kid's guardian. The relationship to Lucifer could be due to the fact that he's the one who seduced her just enough to keep her out of Heaven in the first place.

Kalynne Pudner said...

Bobbie -- I liked the story immediately, picturing Adora as a Valley-Girl version of Clarence from "It's a Wonderful Life." That would indeed make her a misfit (by the way, Junior Cotillion and NASCAR go together jus' fine, y'all). I could even see Luke the snarky older brother (think Wormwood and Screwtape). But when they start fighting over Sore Animal's soul, it didn't seem like fun anymore.

EE, I think this may be your funniest commentary so far this year. Except for the anti-Southern wisecracks.

Unknown said...

The principal line almost had me choke, and I wasn't even eating anything.

It's not anti-southern, it's anti-hillbilly. I've seen plenty of people who really do sound/act like that.

Kalynne Pudner said...

Talpianna, please write the book you're suggesting. I mean that!

But I think Bobbie should leave hers on the lighter side. Maybe instead of battling Adora for the soul of Sore Animal, Luke could be trying to infiltrate the middle-aged Southern hippie community. Or he could be the cold-hearted banker threatening to foreclose on their mobile home. Or the high school principal hell-bent (haha) on ruining everyone's prom. Someone the good folks of Adora's town think is just a run-of-the-mill jerk...and little do they know!

Bobbie said...

I go to bed and wake up to all these comments. Thank you all. Obviously I'm far out of everyone else's time zones.

Phoenix: The first two paragraphs of the query are closer to the voice of the story. I'll rethink that last paragraph so I don't shut people down suddenly like I did you.

BuffySquirrel: I don't think Satan would give up that easily. At least not the one I've written.

EE: She hasn't seen Luke for 16 years. This is her first time as a human.

Pacatrue and Prem: She's known she was an angel since she was 8 years old, as she started to make sense of her memories.

Talpianna: Without getting into my own personal beliefs, not all Christians have the same ideas about angels. And unlike with science, theology is subjective. So I took some liberties here . . . although I really do like your idea of her having to redeem herself out of purgatory. But at the end of the story, her feeling that she's been betrayed depends on her coming here from Heaven, not Hell.

Kalynne: Luke is pretty snarky. And Adora isn't so demure herself. I see you and I apparently grew up in different sorts of Southern towns. My high school actually had sororities. Still does from what I hear. The "other" school had the Nascar fans. :-)

talpianna said...

Kalynne--I was thinking of books I'd already read, like Jane Heller's INFERNAL AFFAIRS (middle-aged heroine just dumped for blonde trophy mistress gets a makeover by accidentally making a deal with the Devil), K.M. Briggs's HOBBERDY DICK (adventures of a house hobgoblin in a 17th century English manor house, by a famous folklorist), and Poul Anderson's OPERATION CHAOS (werewolf and witch invade Hell to rescue their kidnapped daughter, aided by her cat-familiar, temporarily inhabited by the spirit of Nikolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky {hey, the mission requirements called for a mathematician...}).