Thursday, September 16, 2010

Face-Lift 822

Guess the Plot

Sisters Across the Sea

1. Twins are usually close, but Anna and Hannah Kensun are closer than most. They spent the first 18 years of their life literally joined at the hip. But now Hannah got a job in London and Anna’s business in Boston is taking off. Can two people used to being one step apart deal with an ocean between them?

2. Savvy waitress Loretta Muldoon sends Iggy the busboy to answer the phone in the basement of Bud's Diner. It's Bud's sister Nancy; she and Janet are being held by terrorists in Yemen who will sell them to pirates unless Bud deposits $10,000 ransom. Too bad Bud's in a coma! Can Iggy and Loretta save these hapless teens from a fate worse than death?

3. Young and beautiful Gwyn has undertaken to retrieve the talisman that can destroy the cursed zombie army of Francis the Furious from the nunnery at Ammanpur. With the aid of a handsome seaman, Gwyn crosses the ocean only to find the nunnery surrounded and besieged. Can she retrieve the Amulet of Ammanpur and save the . . . sisters across the sea?

4. Shoplifter Todd Wallace is horrified! Christmas is coming and he just realized -- his girlfriend in Liverpool is the sister of his girlfriend in Dublin!

5. Ai-ting, Carmencita, and Gbodi. Three girls from three cultures. None knows about the others. Yet they are sisters, and somehow they must meet and bond or the world will be lost.

6. Nikki flies from the US to India. There she meets an Indian woman who turns out to be her sister. Nikki also meets Rick, an American, and falls in love with him. But both Rick and sis have secrets, secrets that could destroy Nikki's new-found family, secrets worth killing for. Maybe she should have vacationed in Orlando.

Original Version

I would like to query you for my romantic women’s fiction novel titled Sisters Across the Sea.

Nikki Kashyap [Anagram: khaki yakskin.] is a completely Americanized twenty-eight-year-old who has rejected her Indian roots and disapproving Indian relatives.

Soon after her father mysteriously disappears, she learns she has a mother and sister alive in India. [Who and where are the disapproving Indian relatives? If it's Nikki's Americanization they disapprove of, I would think they would have mentioned her mother and sister to her at some point, as examples of people who haven't rejected their Indian roots. Does everyone think they're dead?] She flies there hoping to form the family bonds and connection she never had. [While I don't see the desire to fly to India and form family bonds as contradicting the completely Americanized/rejected her Indian roots description, maybe we don't need to know she's rejected her roots.]

Her sister is welcoming; her mother is not. Even as Nikki grows closer to her sister, the cultural differences between them lead to unbridgeable [Unresolvable?] conflicts.

As Nikki probes [into] the reason for her mother's hostility, she realizes there are family secrets associated with her birth; secrets someone is willing to kill to keep.

Nikki finds herself mixed up in mystery and murder. [What's the mystery? Who gets murdered?] To complicate matters, she meets an American, Rick Harper, who is supposedly here on a spiritual quest. As Nikki falls in love with him, she learns he is hiding some secrets of his own, and has an agenda that could destroy her family. [I can live with characters who hide secrets; it's when the author hides secrets that I get annoyed. Wouldn't we have a better idea of how exciting/suspenseful/intriguing the book is if we knew the secret that could destroy Nikki's family? I'm not gonna read your book just to find out what the secrets are, but I might read it to find out how Nikki deals with them.]


Nikki's father can mysteriously disappear from the query, as his mysterious disappearance in the book is never elaborated upon.

This is mainly the setup. Try combining the first four plot paragraphs into something like:

When Nikki Kashyap, an Americanized twenty-eight-year-old, learns she has a mother and sister alive in India, she flies there hoping to form the family bonds she never had. But while her sister is welcoming, her mother is not. Behind her mother's hostility are family secrets associated with Nikki's birth--secrets someone is willing to kill to keep.

Now you can introduce the romantic element: While in India Nikki meets an American, Rick Harper, who is supposedly here on a spiritual quest. But as Nikki falls in love with him, she learns he is actually a CIA agent whose mission is to assassinate the Indian prime minister and frame Nikki's sister for the deed.

And then a closing paragraph in which you tell us what Nikki plans to do about this. We don't want to know just her situation; we want to know how she handles it.

That said, the title suggests that the focus of the book is on the sisters; if that's true, you might want to give the sister a name and say something about how they work together to solve the murder or to make the family whole or resolve their unresolvable conflicts.


_*rachel*_ said...

Be specific and tell us more of the plot.

The family's got mysterious secret. So do half the families in fiction. What makes yours different?

Dave Fragments said...

When I was young, I met a troubled fellow who was quite a bit if a wild man. He could be rude, crude and angry. He wasn't a bad person just uncontrolled. He told me that as a teen, his family died in a rather nasty moving vehicle accident (Father, Mother, brother, sister) while going to church. He was the only one left and a grandfather raised him. I didn't whore or drink so I was a good influence on him.

After having him as friend for a few years, he phones me and tells me that a woman he'd seen for a few years told him (and proved to him) that she was his birth mother and the stepmother (who died in the accident) wasn't his mom.

He changed as night and day and I was happy for him. I heard a few years later that he was married and had a good job and was running the family farm. The replacement family settled his life.

That's the emotional part of finding missing or lost or unknown relatives. It's the contrast between before and after. EE says almost the same things as I'm relating here as my experience. She's obviously bringing something back from America (a character trait, knowledge of some sort) that will defeat the bad guys.

That's where your query will get interesting. How does she handle these new relatives and end up with a gracious and loving family? This plot has great drama built into it, let the query reflect that.

Rebecca Christiansen said...

I like the idea of GTP #1. Into the idea vault it goes!

Anonymous said...

I was also intrigued by GPT #1! Great idea!

Phoenix Sullivan said...

Hi Author: I got tripped up on the father disappearing and Nikki leaving the country soon after. I don't know what Miss Manners would say is a minimum grieving time for a disappeared parent even just for decorum sake, but I don't think it would be "soon."

After that, what EE says.

What's the mystery? Who gets murdered?

M. G. E. said...

The problem with this query is that you've communicated everything in broad generalizations with no details, no specifics, and no rationale.

If your query were a physical object, it'd be a cue-ball: round, smooth, one color, no details or interest on its surface. And the queries that catch an agent's interest are more like a sculpture with all sorts of interesting and intriguing details to look at from multiple angles and the like.

After having him as friend for a few years, he phones me and tells me that a woman he'd seen for a few years told him (and proved to him) that she was his birth mother
- Well, I certainly hope he stopped dating his mother after she told him that :P You did mention he gets married later...

As for GTP#1, there were some famous Japanese siamese-twins around turn of the 20th century, joined at the hip, who came to America and made money off their celebrity.

Amazingly, they both got married and fathered 22 children between them (they could walk, and both had functioning genitalia--don't ask me how they worked out actually consummating a relationship >_> )

Also, later in life one of them became an alcoholic, but the other remained sober :P

Also, at one point one was arrested for striking a man, and the judge was going to sentence them to jail, but released them because he said it would've been false imprisonment for the other twin :P

And, on the boat to America the crew had to break up a fight between the twins! lol

But the poignant moment--one day one of the twins woke up and noticed his twin had died and gone cold in the night ;;;>_>

Someone sent for a doctor to try to separate the still living twin, but he just curled up around his brother and died himself, unable to bear being alone apparently.

angela robbins said...

"When I was young, I met a troubled fellow who was quite a bit (o)f a wild man. He could be rude, crude and angry. He wasn't a bad person just uncontrolled."

Sounds like EE, Dave.

I agree. What are the details of the conflict(s) and how does this affect/change our MC, and what is she going to do about the conflict, how is she going to handle it?