Monday, September 21, 2009

Face-Lift 675

Guess the Plot


1. Johnny Wilson tries to improve his love life through chemistry, but now he changes into something different every month. He's been a werewolf, a werellama, a werelion, a werevelociraptor.... Can he cure himself before his new girlfriend finds out?

2. Three baseball players named Who, What, and I Don't Know consult a pair of PR experts to find the perfect name for their team.

3. Jack Hoboken could have put up with everyone in his family turning into wereanimals if it weren't for the gargantuan lobsters. Can he convince them to leave Hobokenstone Manor before he gets pincered? Plus, torch-wielding villagers.

4. Detective Fred "Zombie" Jones must solve the mystery of the WereThing before it devours another tourist, or Miss Nannette will have to sell her chicken ranch to a mob of developers who plan to turn WhoVille into WhatNot.

5. Tina's crush on Todd is going nowhere as sinister forces counter the efforts of this wee lass. Plus, an army of diabolical robots, the WhoDo.

6. After joining the Peace Corps, Tilda struggles to comprehend existential philosophy in Romania. Plus a terrifying WhereWho.

7. O, Dingo, Dingo, Werefore art thou? When 16 year old Juliet Jones introduces her new boyfriend, Dingo Smith, to the wrinklies, they are not amused. When they catch a glimpse of him and Juliet naked under the harvest moon, they get their pitchforks. Hilarity ensues.

8. TimeiscompressedtoaninstantasBertquestionsthe

Original Version

When the Hobokens learn they’ve inherited a mansion from a great aunt they didn’t know existed, 12-year-old Jack Henry thinks it’s just another move to yet another house.

But Hobokenstone Manor isn’t even close to anything he could have imagined. [This makes it sound like he was imagining something mildly fantastic.] It’s not so bad that it’s located by the sea [An awkward way of saying At least it wasn't near the sea.] (even if there are . . . shudder . . . lobsters). He could even learn to live with the fact that the rooms move and that there's no real comics store in town – eventually. Nope, it’s not until his entire family turns into WereAnimals at his belated birthday party that Jack Henry realizes life at the manor is even more complicated than the plot of The Gargoyle Knight vs. the Changeling Monster.

Now Jack Henry must face gargantuan lobsters, [Are they werelobsters, or is this a different problem altogether?] deal with the ghosts of his evil ancestors and convince his parents that turning into WereAnimals isn’t normal if he’s ever going to get his family out of Hobokenstone Manor and find somewhere they can call home. Of course, they have to make it past the pitchfork- and torch-wielding villagers first.

WereWhat?, an mid-grade novel, is complete at 60,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

(Author’s note: WereWhat? comes from the fact that each member of the Hoboken family turns into a different WereAnimal on the full moon and Hobokenstone Manor turns out to be a WereHouse that changes to fit the needs of each individual.)

Revised Version

When the Hobokens learn they’ve inherited a mansion from a great aunt they didn’t know existed, 12-year-old Jack Henry thinks it’s yet another move to yet another town with yet another school.

But Hobokenstone Manor is no ordinary house. For one thing, the rooms move around like puzzle pieces. And the place is haunted by the ghosts of Jack's evil ancestors. And let's not forget the gargantuan . . . shudder . . . lobsters.

He could live with all this, and maybe with the fact that there's no comics store in town. But when his entire family turn into WereAnimals at his birthday party, Jack Henry realizes life at the manor is even more complicated than the plot of his favorite book, The Gargoyle Knight vs. the Changeling Monster.

Now, if he’s ever going to get his family out of Hobokenstone Manor and find somewhere they can truly call home, Jack Henry must convince his parents that turning into WereAnimals isn’t normal. Of course, they'll also have to get past the pitchfork- and torch-wielding villagers.

WereHouse, a mid-grade novel, is complete at 60,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


It sounds like kids would enjoy the book. But the query is disorganized: no need to mention lobsters twice, the paragraph about the house not being normal has too much in it that's not on topic, too listy. It was easier to reorganize it than to pick at it.

It seems like if the family name is Hoboken, the house would be known as Hoboken Manor.

Apparently Jack's parents argue that turning into wereanimals is normal. That's odd, if it never happened until they moved here. Do they realize that they turn into wereanimals? Do they do bad things when they're wereanimals? Does Jack Henry change too?

WereHouse is a better title, unless it's already been used a lot.

It might be amusing to provide examples of the kinds of wereanimals the family change to. Presumably weredingo is one of them. It would be refreshing if none of them was a werewolf.


_*rachel*_ said...

I'm not the expert, but I liked this. Take the revised version, maybe expound on the plot, and I think it'll be pretty good. You've got some character in the voice and an interesting story.

Kelsey (Dominique) Ridge said...

I actually liked both versions, though the revised version is probably tighter. You've got good voice.

Dave Fragments said...

Hoboken? Hoboken? Hoboken isn't on the sea, it's on the Hudson and if any river doesn't resemble a body of water, it's Hoboken. The Hudson is a well known sewar/cesspool of flowing stuff that exits New York State and pollutes New Jersey resulting the the ultimate hell-hole the Passaic Swamp that surrounds Giant Stadium. Sorry, I have OCD about insulting New Jersey. I once lived in Manhattan, near the UN. I had a classy address.

His name is Jack Henry and his family inherits Hoboken Stone or Manor. That gives me a little pause but then, Hoboken is a funny name -- like giggly funny and I can see why you used it. I think Hoboken House is funnier than Stone. Hoboken House is sort-of scarier too. Like Harvest Home is scary.

Lighten up the query. I get the impression your story is comic and fun, so lighten up the query.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Love the revised version. Sounds like a fun story and you have a good voice.

Tintin said...

Man, I was really hoping for the tale of Johnny Wilson. Somebody write that one, please. D:

I think this query shows a lot of promise, though. It sounds like an enjoyable book.

Eric P. said...

I like it.

Take a lesson from EE's revised version on ways to improve your thought structuring and paragraph flow, but the essential material all seems to be there. A good voice and a fun, original concept. I think a lot of kids would enjoy this. (Please don't make that into a blurb.)

I do have misgivings about the title: I read it as "[They] were what?" rather than making the connection with were-creatures. Might be just me. But probably it's worth floating a few other options with a focus group of ten-year-olds. (Don't say it aloud-- hand them a sheet of titles and ask which ones they would read. You'll learn a lot.)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tips! I'm happily surprised that people "like" the story.

Good news: no WereWolves!

_*rachel*_ said...

Suggested titles:

Confessions of a Teenage WerePoodle
Mama's a WereSnake
Hoboken House Strikes Again

But the 10-year-old focus group is a good idea.

Anonymous said...

I'm voting with the you-could-improve-the-title bunch, but one hears publishers and agents commonly change titles, so don't let the quest for a perfect title keep you from sending the query. Never been to Hoboken, so can't comment on that. Sounds like it could be good. Immediately thought of the Harry Potter 'Room of Requirement' which may or may not have been your inspiration for the changing house, but you should be ready for people to ask about the similarity.

Xiexie said...

Hmmm, a room to suit one's need -- or even a house or something magical/paranormal that reacts to the "user" of said magical/paranormal thing --> sorry anonymous, I just don't immediately think of The Room of Requirement.

I like this debiwrites. The revised version is better, I think. I also agree that WereHouse is a better title though I did immediately read WereWhat? as /wear-what/. (Those slashes are supposed to indicate phonetic sounds.)

Uberman said...

I love anything with werewolves or shapeshifters in it, and this concept highly amuses me. Hobokenstone Manor makes me think of a parody of the Winchester Mystery House, what with its moving rooms and confusing construction. And arbitrarily tacking on a word like "stone" or "son" or "field" at the end of your name to make it sound fancier for a big, expansive mansion is a funny idea.

I prefer the revised query over the first one, as well. The first one feels a little rambly, and the revised one communicates the idea far better.

A few issues, though. Why does moving there turn everyone (except Jack Henry, at least at first) into wereanimals? Did it happen unexpectedly when they moved in, or did they move there because they expected it and never told Jack Henry until they thought he would be ready for it, such as on his birthday? A family of wereanimals that want to prepare him to take up the "family business" is an intriguing premise, especially if Jack Henry tries to talk them out of it. It would also make how they think it's "normal" make more sense, rather than just being terribly blasé about this sudden turn of events.

Also, what is a WereHouse? Does it change into, like, an apartment block or something under the full moon? What are the implications of it? It sounds weird enough with all the shifting rooms and everything.

I also prefer the title "WereWhat?" It seems more unconventional, and it's both about how Jack Henry's family are all different wereanimals ("werebear, werejaguar, were...what?"), and also about Jack Henry's own confusion. "Were-WHAT?!"

It's a cool idea. I hope it goes well.

Mame said...

I think Hobokenstonesonfield might be too much of a mouthful.

I kid.

Anonymous said...

Thanks again, all. I definitely like EE's revised version better, too.

I appreciate everyone's comments.

batgirl said...

Joining the chorus of 'I like this one!' Just one thought about the title - what's with the capital W for what? Werewolves aren't usually WereWolves, Werepanthers aren't WerePanthers, so why would variable changers be WereWhats instead of Werewhats?
It makes me think either that there's a space missing (making Were a verb) or this is a computer programming joke that I'm not getting.