Friday, May 08, 2009

Face-Lift 630

Guess the Plot

Heavens Gate

1. When Roger sneaks off for a tryst with his best friend's wife, they step out on the hotel balcony to admire the view and are shocked to see their spouses frolicking in the pool. Roger freaks out. No wonder Nancy didn't mind him "working late" and going to monthly "conventions!" Now he's desperate to save his marriage! What will it take?

2. After Monty gets murdered, he's reborn as an angel. God sends him to save the earth from some very bad angels, a task Monty might be able to handle thanks to his special powers, but then that bastard Satan has to get involved. Is Monty on a collision course with Armageddon?

3. Aunt Trina got just that far, then turned back. Now she's interfering in Mandy's driving lessons, Todd's job promotion, and everybody's cell talk. Jackie's only hope is to lure her into the flying car of Mad Felix, terrible red-eyed ghost of Aunt Sally's cat, so he can levitate her out past the moon, and leave her there. Can it be done?

4. Two political-correctness-challenged angels find themselves locked out of heaven and must track down the key before Satan's minions can do a little 'breaking and entering.' But when both Angels fall for the same mortal--a single mom named Nellie--how will they save heaven and keep their friendship intact? Especially since Nellie is...*CHOKE, GASP*, an atheist?

5. Saint Peter installs a digital system and takes his first break in 1990 years. All goes well until sirens blare and Heaven's Gate slams shut on winsome Nell O'Brien. It's a false alarm, but Paddy McGann can't make it stop. Soon thousands of irate souls are waiting to get in. When Joe Thomkins leads them in chanting for refunds, Paddy knows -- it's time to call God.

6. As Bud Emery worked his way through the first 23,844 heavens his enthusiasm waned. Now he's just dallying around, plunking tuneless noise on the harp, waiting for the chance to escape. Which is exactly what Wanda Higgins is doing on the other side of the cloud! What will happen when these two misfits take flight and collide???

7. Based on the mail they get, postman Jeff Dunbar doesn't believe the "Heaven's Gate" people are really a bunch of prayerful zealots preparing to leave Earth on the next comet. They're more likely making bombs. But how can he prove it to Deputy Jackson?

8. Homicide dectective Zack Martinez knows that "Heaven's Gate" is the code name of the box super spy Tina Shoemaker was supposed to pick up at the secret drop off. Too bad she lost her head instead. Now Zack must find the axeman before Gorilla Jones does, or there'll be another head rolling around.

9. After being told she was special all her life, Tiffany Barns did not expect to go to Hell. But she did. After burning for a week, she was so obnoxious about the unfairness of it all, even Satan wanted to kick her out. So he bet God she'd be just as bad the second time around.

10. Rafael was just an ordinary goldsmith, but when he died he found out he had gotten the job of rebuilding Heaven's Gate. If he succeeds his work will be immortalized, but if he fails he'll surely be damned for all time. Can he possibly build a gate that even God Himself can't find fault with?

Original Version

Heavens Gate: Revelations, a 37,267 word novel, is a diverse religious fiction novel revolving around Montgomery “Monty” Graves and his troubled soul. [That sounds too much like Montgomery “Monty” Burns, who also has a troubled soul.] His conflict with God is only exceeded by the pain and anger he carries around daily. At one time he though he had a life full of promise, one secure in God’s love. His life goes crashing downward when his grandmother is murdered by senseless neighborhood violence. Monty then turns his back on the church and loses all belief and faith in God. [At which point he is murdered in senseless neighborhood violence. Coincidence?]

Monty shuffles between foster care homes and is expelled from numerous of schools. Always trying to find his purpose, he never finds the peace he once had when his grandmother was alive. His two friends, Jenaye and B.J., provide one source of comfort but it’s not enough. He tries to begin a relationship with Jenaye but his bitter feelings for God manifest to hatred, making Jenaye afraid to get close to him. [Actually, if you've ever been on a date with someone who wouldn't shut up about God's wonderfulness, you might find it refreshing to be out with someone who constantly spews invective about God.]

Monty gets a top paying job and his arrogance and cut-throat attitude gets him promoted to Vice President [I was under the impression Monty was a teenager. How much time has passed since he was shuffling between foster homes?] of the company.

[Job interviewer: I see your education consists of being expelled from six schools. I'm afraid I can only offer you a high-paying position.

Monty: That's okay, I'm willing to--

Job interviewer: Wait, I see you list as one of your hobbies constantly spewing invective at God. How would you like to be vice president of the company?]

This brings much jealously, including his best friend B.J.. Monty's arrogance has him sitting on top of the world but is about to brought to his knees like never before. Monty is murdered and the reborn as an angel with special powers. Not long after, Monty is summoned by God himself, who tells Monty that seven more angels will be sent to earth, each bearing one of the seven deadly sins of man. God tells Monty that if the earth is to survive then he must defeat these angels. [It's one against seven. Maybe you better tell us what Monty's special powers are.] [Also, as a resident of Earth, I'm not crazy about our survival depending on one guy, who's been constantly spewing invective at God, doing what God wants done.] But when Satan gets involved things take a turn for the worse. [Amazing how often that happens. Coincidence?] Monty embarks on a personal journey fraught with emotional peril. He can either accept his fate or cling to the past on his inevitable crash course towards Armageddon. [Collision course with Armageddon. A crash course is what you take when you have to learn something really fast (or where you work when you're an automobile test-driver).] Earth’s fate belongs to Heavens Gate! [Your big finish would be more effective if I knew what it meant.]

Hello, my name is Jeffrey Brown. I am 29 years old and I currently work as a truck driver. Heavens Gate is my first novel and it is currently self-published. [What does that mean? Self-publishing should come after you give up on finding a publisher, not before you start looking. Now that you've already sold your book to all your friends and family, I can't count on any sales if I publish it.] I believe the my novel can survive in many different mediums and markets because of its diversity. Heavens Gate is creative, visual, and imaginative. Enclosed is a SASE for your response and thank you for taking the time to review my letter.


It's never a good sign when the title is spelled wrong. No way would Uncle Tom's Cabin, Gravity's Rainbow or Portnoy's Complaint have been published if the authors left out the apostrophes. True, Finnegans Wake got published, but the proofreader missed it and the publisher assumed Joyce was using experimental punctuation. Aren't you glad you have EE to provide literary trivia?

The query is loaded with errors. The most glaring may be the missing apostrophe, but there are numerous missing words, misused words and misspelled words.

Why does the title include :Revelations in the first sentence, when it's just Heavens Gate (twice) in the last paragraph? Is Revelations the first book of the Heavens Gate trilogy?

Is God sending the seven angels to Earth? Why, just to see if Monty defeats them? And we all die if he fails? This sounds less like God than like those ethereal cerebral entities on Star Trek who arranged stuff like this just so they could gamble on it.


150 said...

Hello, Jeffrey Brown.

Since this book is very short and already available through iUniverse (great cover!), your best bet is probably to leave this where it is and write the next book.

none said...

37k is too short for a novel. Further, if it's written with the same disregard for the English language as the query, it probably isn't publishable.

150 is right, except you should probably take an English course as well.

batgirl said...

What 150 said. Very few agents will consider a self-published book. If it's sold well, you might be able to include it as writing credit in the bio paragraph for your next book.

Dave Fragments said...

The way to go from a self published book into the catalog of a publisher, is to have a market for your book.

The few examples of the success of such self published books are the ones that created their own market and sold well as self published. What that shows is that there is an audience or a fan base willing to spend money on the books.

I can cite "Still Alice" for one title.

Whirlochre said...

The query is as long as the novel is short and I'm not sure how you're going to fit it all in.

I'm with everyone else so far in that there are too many mistakes in this as it stands.

If you can correct those and ditch the last paragraph, you'll have something closer to the mark, though I'm not sure the subject matter is quite my cup of tea.

_*rachel*_ said...

This reminds me of the only self-published novel I own, Coffee with the Prophet. The idea behind it is OK, but the author has more experience writing nonfiction--the first reason it was self-published. The second reason involved the possibility of very angry people. Still, not bad.

What I'd advise you to do here is the same I'd like to see Mark Gabriel do: write another novel. It'll be better than the first, and you'll have a better possibility of getting it published. Might I recommend making your next one a bit longer? Maybe not Peretti long, but longer than Narnia, especially if it's meant for adults.

One advantage of traditional publishing is editing and copyediting. You'll have to do your own for now, and you might want to step it up a bit. I know, annoying--my view exactly. Oh, well.

Dave Fragments said...

I read this statement to a friend of mine:
"a personal journey fraught with emotional peril"To be honest, neither of us could figure out what it meant. So then we called a friend each and asked if they ever went on a a personal journey fraught with emotional peril and they said "what?"... No one of the four of us knew what sort of personal journal would be marked by emotional peril.

If we had such trouble with those words, and we're all deep, brainy and thoughtful philosophical people... then how would anyone else have a chance at understanding it?

He said tongue firmly planted in cheek.

Chelsea Pitcher said...

Monty's murder and subsequent transformation into an Armageddon-stopping angel seem to be where the story really gets going, so maybe consider shortening the human part of Monty's story so you can tell a little more about the angel-fighting part. Monty's struggle with his faith is clearly a big part of the novel, but I'm not sure it needs to be in the query because he ends up working for God anyway . . . right?

"Senseless neighborhood violence" was a bit vague for me. Is this a gang thing, or are there unusual circumstances here?

Khazar-khum said...

BuffySquirrel, 37 K is a little short, yes. But "Of Mice & Men" is something like 32K and I don't think anyone would deny it's a novel.

Unknown said...

The query seems to focus a lot on information that is back history and set-up. At 37K words, I think it would be difficult to follow Monty from teenage years to some undefined point as an adult when he dies, and Armageddon. But then, I could be wrong.

Is this the first installment of 7 stories - one for each deadly sin? If so, you might want to make that clear.

Try to focus the query on the story that happens in the 37K. The last paragraph about your credentials can be cut since it doesn't help you.

I suspect you're going to have a hard time finding someone to represent a previously self-published book. Pat yourself on the back for finishing since that sets you aside from probably 90% of the people who want to write and work on book 2.

none said...

I think things have changed since 1937; further, OMAM is clearly a novella.

Anonymous said...

Neil Gaiman's "Coraline" for middle-schoolers is self-described as a novella at about 50K words.

The title, for the 50+ crowd, conjures the first mega-bomb movie; it brought down a movie studio, but resulted in a riveting non-fiction book by the exec producer for the movie, Stephen Bach: "Final Cut: Art, Money, and Ego in the Making of Heaven's Gate, the Film That Sank United Artists." The book is highly recommended by moi.

Bill H.

_*rachel*_ said...

The only non-classic novella I've ever seen was included in a book of short stories. Something that short won't usually get printed alone unless they want to teach in English classes or you self-publish.

Unknown said...

If you have to use the words visual, and imaginative in the query, that indicates that you're afraid the writing actually isn't. Let agents discover those qualities themselves.

writtenwyrdd said...

The real story seems to begin when when Monty is murdered and comes back as some sort of avenging angel. That means all the meat of your query letter is taken up with backstory.

I would leave out that you are a truck driver, as it isn't relevant. Only the quality of your writing is relevant.

One thing that I noticed in this query is that you start talking about how bad things are happening to your protagonist, and you imply that they continue for some divine purpose, but then seque into your character's murder and his afterlife job. (I was inclined to think the point of the story was Job-like punishment and testing until the death/avenging angel part showed up.)

What we are lacking here is what your protagonist's goals are and a hint at how he resolves them. Tell us about that stuff, not how he ended up that way. (I too thought he was a teenager until we hear about his job and the rest.)

As far as being self-published with this book (and yes it is too short to be called a novel) it really is a handicap. I'd suggest going on to the next project, too.

deb hoag said...

Am I the only one to get completely distracted by the idea of a friend named BJ offering 'one type of comfort?' Because as soon as I read it, I spewed coffee all over my keyboard. Unfortunately, I realized right after that this was not THAT kind of novel; and had to go get my kicks with a bagel.

Jeffrey Brown said...

Thank You all for your comments. I take all critisism with a smile. After reading your comments you guys have confirmed what I have already started to believe.

YOU CAN'T JUDGE A BOOK BY IT'S QUERY LETTER!! The entire process is smoke and mirrors. You have to submit this perfect letter to the publisher/agent who (depends on how he/her feel on that day) may take my letter however they want. All 37K words is interesting. My book is diverse and that's why I have a hard time putting it into one letter. There is so much that happens and (trust me)it all comes together. I have decided to continue to self-publish. I will take some writing courses. I will find my market. I will succeed! The traditional way to get published is not fair and it doesn't allow writer's of raw talent to achive their goals. Look for me in Hollywood guys. And again, Thank you for comments.