Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Face-Lift 745

Guess the Plot

Just Jezebel

1. After seventeen years of putting up with Merely Mother's crap, Just Jezebel hit the road. Now she's back seeking revenge, and there's hell to pay--unless Simply Chris can calm JJ down.

2. Jezebelliannalinalia is tired of having a name that's both unspellable and unpronounceable by anyone who's not a fan of epic fantasy. Can she survive the six months until she's old enough to have her name legally changed over her parents objections--or will she kill them?

3. King Gorg's rule of the Kiron Empire is the bloodiest in centuries, but it is Queen Jezebel who secretly holds the reins. When Centurion Marlak and his People's Army execute Gorg for his crimes and install Jezebel as sole ruler, she has no one left to hide behind. She can rule judiciously and against her nature, or lose Marlak's respect . . . and probably her life.

4. Tired of her bad reputation, Jezebel exchanges silk for gingham, tosses out the perfumed unguents and kohl, and starts referring to herself as "just Jezebel." But when Mary Magdalene moves to town calling herself "merely Maggie," a rivalry ensues that threatens to take down at least three religions.

5. To prove she's not shallow, Jezz, the hottest girl in Midlang HS, accepts a challenge: one week without makeup or super-cool clothes. Will she learn to be just Jezebel, or does her character depth depend on the depth of her foundation?

6. When a historian discovers that Jezebel, the murderous biblical queen, was actually a benevolent and popular ruler, can she convince the world of the truth before she's murdered by a Vatican faction determined to preserve Scripture ?

Original Version

Dear Evil Editer,

Lately, it seems like Jezebel’s whole world is in constant motion, between the news of her mother’s betrayal and their abrupt move across the globe, Jezebel is unable to catch her footing. [We're off to a bad start here. First you spell my last name wrong, which is better than using some other editor's name because you're sending simultaneous submissions and forgot to change the greeting, but still annoying. Then your first sentence is a comma splice; the comma after "motion" needs to be a period or a semicolon. Also, "catch her footing" isn't a common expression. "Get" or "regain" would be better than "catch." Finally, having looked ahead and seen that you don't later reveal what you mean by "her mother's betrayal" or where on the globe they moved to so abruptly, you should be more specific about these things up front.] If there is one thing she’s good at its [it's] keeping her mother’s secrets, and playing the faithful ally and cleanup crew. But four years ago Jezebel left California with the assumption that she was never coming back, it was the final goodbye—one that never happened—and a chance to leave all the loose strings behind. [It sounds like you mean she left California four years ago to get away from her mother, but earlier you referred to "their" abrupt move across the globe, from which I inferred that she moved with her mother.] Seventeen years makes for a lot of practice and four years makes for a lot of time to work up the nerve, but when faced with old friends and old feelings, Jezebel cannot apologize any more than she can forgive her mother for her deception or gain her father’s attention. [This entire paragraph is vague to the extreme. Only someone who's read the book would have any idea what you're talking about.]

Chris Freeman was the one string that kept on hanging… [Who?]

And when a plan concocted by Jezebel’s grandmother forces them together again, they find that four years can change a lot and that love can sometimes be forgotten in the dark of an attic. [At least it's consistent.]

JUST JEZEBEL (69,000 words) is a Contemporary YA, merging the confusion of a cynical [editor] girl, the romance of finding someone who makes you a better person, and a lesson in accepting that maybe you can’t fix everything.

This is my first novel, and I’m ready to take the next step with it with a long term agent by my side. JUST JEZEBEL will appeal to readers of Sarah Dessen and Deb Caletti and inspire thought provoking questions about growing up, love and its many cubby holes, and letting go of the past.

The manuscript is complete and ready upon request.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing back from you.

Kindly Yours,


Start over. I couldn't tell you a single thing that happens in the book. The only specific is that Jezebel left California four years ago, and I'm not even sure that happened. What did her mother do, where did they go, what are her mother's secrets, more about Chris Freeman, what does Jez want, what's stopping her from getting it, etc.?

We just need to know what happens in the book. We'll figure out the theme and the lesson if you give us enough specific detail.


150 said...

Just tell us what happens in the story. In order.

Anonymous said...

Wowzers! So...

Jezebel has spent her life keeping her mother's secrets and cleaning up her mistakes. --What mistakes?

Four years ago she left. --Why?

Now she's come home, her mother has betrayed her, and they have moved somewhere on the planet Earth. --Huh?

Jezebel can't apologize for something, and she can't forgive her mother for something. And her father is ignoring her. --uhm...

Someone named Chris Freeman exists. --I grok this!

Jezebel's grandma accidentally puts Jez and Chris in the same room. --Lacks drama.

Jez forgets what love is in an attic. --Get this girl a dictionary!

_*rachel*_ said...

It's all right to be a query newbie; just take a deep breath and start again.

Here's what you need to tell me in your query: title, wordcount, genre, any relevant bio or credits, and the plot.

Miss Snark's formula for a hook is a good starting place:
X is the main guy; he wants to do:
Y is the bad guy; he wants to do:
they meet at Z and all L breaks loose.
If they don’t resolve Q, then R starts and if they do it’s L squared.

Don't say it's your first novel (it implies it's your trunk novel) and don't say it's finished; if it wasn't you wouldn't be querying.

Try another query and send it in; with more specifics, we'll be able to help a lot more. If you haven't already, read through some of the archives here. I'd also recommend QueryShark, especially the winners. Good luck!

Steve Wright said...

To be honest, this sounds like you're trying for some catchy tag lines for your novel - and trying a bit too hard. Unfortunately, it doesn't tell us anything we actually need to know, like what the characters are like, or what happens in the story.

Forget trying to sound pithy, and just tell us what happens.

Stephen Prosapio said...

you did one thing right (inadvertantly)
"between the news of her mother’s betrayal and their abrupt move across the globe"

My grammar is terrible, but doesn't that technically mean that the news and the mother's betrayal moved abruptly across the globe? So maybe Jez and the mom *didn't* move anywhere? Kidding.

Author, listen to EE and Rachel. Also before sending queries out (or even subjecting them to our idiocy), be sure to double and triple check things like spelling with someone who will catch stuff like "Editer" and "its." That kind of thing isn't going to automatically disqualify you from an agent reading your material, but she isn't going to be very gung ho from the start.

Anonymous said...

It's so important not to have any spelling mistakes or random commas in your query letter. If you do have some, the agent is going to wonder if your book has lots of typos as well, and they're going to pass on it.

Chris Eldin said...

Okay, now that everyone critiqued the query, I'd like to critique the blue text. I didn't spew coffee once! Where's the funny? Who stole our caricuture editor and made him serious?

Evil Editor said...

A check of your blog to see if you manage to maintain the same entertainment level from day to day reveals that you haven't posted anything since early December. So lay off.

Stephen Prosapio said...

Heckling the heckler. EE I love it!

_*rachel*_ said...

Ooh, slam!

Appropriately enough, WV is toughtea.

Anonymous said...

After reading the first paragraph of this query, I still didn't know which of the GTPs it was... that's a bad sign. Just tell us what happens.

Sylvia said...

OK, that last EE comment did have me spewing coffee.

Author, my initial query for the novel I am currently submitting was similar to this. It made perfect sense anyone who had already read the book. I wish I knew a short-cut ! I just kept describing the book over and over to people who hadn't read it (friends via email, not waiting for my turn at the bank or anything!) until I started to see people making sense of what was happening.