Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Guess the Plot
1. A renegade demon messed with the heat controls in the afterlife. Now heaven is doing a slow burn. Can archangel Damia and damned furnace repairman Hector Blunt restore order before hell freezes over?
2. The idea was inspiring: clone Robbie Burns, the Scots' most famous incoherent poet. But the pubs of Aberdeen are no place for genetics, and what the patrons of the Lang Syne end up with is a lager-soaked, semi-retarded homunculus. Their only hope to have their achievement recognized is to run him for Parliament. First, though, they'll have to teach him to pluralize correctly.
3. It's taken Nancy fifteen years to get up a head of anger against her unfaithful husband, but now that her fuse is lit, she's on the rampage. Will Detective Crusoe work out that the women burning on upside-down crosses aren't the work of the local Satanists?
4. To heck with Beano and unpronounceable Mexican herbs: Zelda had found a secret ingredient for her 5-alarm chili that would prevent esophageal meltdown. But the disappearance of asbestos wrap from the wiring in abandoned factories across Elmville has made City Health Inspector Hamlin very suspicious.
5. Memoirs of a career fireman, focusing on the numerous people who've died in his arms at the scenes of vehicle accidents and house fires. Also, a dead man opens his eyes: resurrection or zombie?
6. When Yvonne, a struggling bartender, invents a hot new drink, she finds herself a hit among the club scene in Las Vegas. But her sudden success takes a strange turn when she learns an aerobics mogul plans to sue her for 'stealing' his title Slow Burn. It's all a lawyer thing until they actually meet, and Yvonne lets the hunky mogul teach her a thing or two about what that phrase really means.
Dear Evil Editor,
My 66,500 word memoir, Slow Burn; The Personal and Professional Evolution of a Firefighter and Paramedic, is the story of my growth as a person and public servant. Sixteen years as a firefighter and paramedic can rattle a person to his core.
As an 18-year-old, timid EMT student, I froze in awe and watched a dead man open his eyes after being blasted with a cardiac defibrillator. [Immediately I reached over and closed his eyes, as I'd seen done to dead people on TV numerous times.] Instantly, I knew I had found the career for me [, a career as the guy they call in to close the eyes of dead people. Hey, every city's got one]. [While we're on the subject, maybe you can tell me: is it as easy to close the eyes of a dead guy as it looks on TV? They just sort of put their hand over the dead guy's eyes, make a slight downward motion and the eyes close, and I'm thinking, I'll bet that's just an actor and he's actually alive and he closed his eyes himself. Possibly in real life you would have to grab hold of the guy's eyelashes and pull them down like a roller shade that you let go of and it went all the way up. Or is it easier, more like using one of those sliding dimmer switches?]
By 22, I question whether I am cut out for this kind of work. On a dark, slippery road, a young woman loses control of her pickup truck and is hurled from the cab. [I would put that sentence in past tense unless you were present when she lost control.] As I frantically provide her valuable air, the image of my fiancée’s face flashes before me and sucks my own breath away. [Quickly I snatch the woman's oxygen mask away and put it on my own face, and as a result I survive, but...]This young lady dies and as it eats away at me, I realize I need to be a stronger, harder person.
Just before dawn a few years later, a flashover from a house fire engulfs my partner and me. The lens of my SCBA mask distorts, melting from the scorching heat. I clutch the nozzle with both hands and roll onto my back. [Because if you're about to die anyway, you might as well spend your last few moments clutching the nozzle.] With only seconds to escape, I blast the ceiling with water. The flames vanish, only temporarily, and I scramble to find my missing partner. My screams of his name go unanswered and I fear he is dead.
A confident, seasoned firefighter at age 31, I walk into a house where a 15-year-old has delivered a lifeless baby onto a cold, cement floor in a dark, dingy basement. It barely fazes me anymore.
I fear I have lost my compassion forever by the time I reach 34 years of age. Then I hold the broken body of a six-year-old boy in my arms and watch the life leave his eyes. [No offense, but does anyone you come in contact with ever survive?] The shattered plastic, metal and glass of his family’s mini-van lie scattered across the highway as his parents hover and pray beside us. I want to cry. I hate myself for not being able to save him. This little boy’s violent death pulls me from a dark place and shows me I still care. [Interesting. I would have expected you to be pulled from your dark place by some rewarding experience, finally saving a life perhaps. Instead you're pulled out by putting the kiss of death on yet another victim.]
I am still an active firefighter today and live with my wife of 12 years and our 3-year-old son.
Thank you for your consideration.
I like that you've given specific examples, but I feel you need to tie it all together with a general description of the book. It's the story of a man whose experiences with tragedy leave him cynical and empty, but who grows to realize whatever it is you grow to realize.
I assume there were at least a few occasions on which you failed to kill someone. Possibly you could mention one of them in the query. Possibly you could lie and claim it was one such event that made you realize that while you can't save everyone, saving anyone makes it all worthwhile. Otherwise, make it more clear why the other deaths left you jaded and unfazed, but the boy's death showed you still care. What was different this time? It sounds like more of the same.