Monday, July 18, 2011

Face-Lift 930

Guess the Plot

Bridge of Giants

1. Four retired giants meet for their weekly Bridge game and exchange tales of how many humans they terrified in their younger days.

2. Ivan Stansky longs to be part of the family tradition by working on the Golden Gate Bridge. Can he overcome the fact that he's blind, a quadriplegic and confined to house arrest? Also, a cute girl.

3. Near the entrance to forbidding Black Canyon is the Bridge of Giants, a vast natural bridge carved from sandstone. Can Rhatupet and his little band of adventurers battle wild desert elves and dune dwarves to prove how apt the name is?

4. When NASA decides to cut expenses for once and for all by building a bridge to the moon, soon-to-be-ex-astronaut Bud Narayana goes rogue and attempts to pilot an asteroid into the new structure. It's up to alcoholic environmentalist Rosie Grimaldi to save the day - and Bud's career.

5. Everyone who wants a job keeps leaving the tiny Irish village of Kerryboondoggle - until a prodigal son returns from America and builds a theme park on Giant's Island. Now even Granny O'Hare is raking in the cash in costume as a ticket-taking banshee, and won't listen when Padraig reminds her about the poltergeist.

6. Nathan discovers a cache of bizarre maps that can magically transport him across the world from his home in Wisconsin to exotic places like Mongolia. But which map will help him find his missing mother before Evil Santa gets her?

Original Version

I am seeking representation for Mapwalkers:Bridge of Giants, a 72,000 word middle grade fantasy, the first in the Mapwalkers series.

After the inexplicable disappearance of his mother, thirteen year old Nathan Hillbridge finds a collection of bizarre maps in her belongings. He follows one of these maps, [Follows the map? In which direction? Is it like a pirate map with a big X at the end of a dotted line?] and moments after walking out of his back door in small-town Wisconsin, finds himself pursued by armed horsemen across the wilds of Mongolia. [If he's fleeing through the wilds of Mongolia the minute he leaves his house, how can you claim that he followed the map at all? Wait, does the map look like this:

Narrowly escaping, [In Mongolia, on foot, he escapes armed horsemen? Are they blind armed horsemen?] he retraces his steps and somehow returns home. [That is, he wakes up.] He soon discovers that he and his mother are Mapwalkers—members of an ancient people with the ability to travel to distant lands as easily as most people walk down the street to visit a friend. [Is this like the transporter on the Enterprise? By which I mean, Does it malfunction most of the time?] Desperate to find his mother, he begins using her cache of mysterious maps [They're bizarre maps, not mysterious maps.] to scour the world for her.

As he searches, Nathan finds friends who aid him in his quest: Robert, an honors student who helps him decipher the bizarre clues [The maps are bizarre. Maybe the clues can be mysterious?] [Is one of the clues a mysterious bazaar?] [I think they should be Bizarro maps, made out of crystal.] that litter his mother's trail, and Kahn, a Mongolian girl eager to explore the world with him. But as he learns about his mysterious power [We just decided the clues are mysterious. Let's call his power "uncanny."] and the secret history of the Mapwalkers, he realizes that he [and Robert may soon be facing . . .the wrath of Kahn!] and his friends may be up against far more than they can handle: a sinister man in red who stalks their steps,

the uncanny in-between places infested by hideous creatures that may or may not have once been men, [Why does this keep happening? Okay, as Nathan's power is now uncanny, we'll call the in-between places infested by hideous creatures that may or may not have once been men "nightmarish."] and the long-lost hordes of Genghis Kahn. [Kaaaahhhhhnnnn!] [I don't mind if the Mongolian girl spells her name Kahn, but we spell Genghis's name "Khan."]

This novel would best be compared with “A wrinkle in time”, or the “His Dark Materials” trilogy. [That sounded familiar, so I searched this blog and found: "...can be compared to other fantasy works such as “Eragon” or the “His Dark Materials” trilogy. (Face-Lift 762); " has similarities to Philip Pullman’s ‘His Dark Materials Book One... (Face-Lift 547); "Similar in theme to the works of Madeleine L’Engle and Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy... (Face-Lift 124); "...their unique adventure combines the quirky humor of Maniac Magee and the heart-capturing adventure of A Wrinkle in Time. (Face-Lift 505). One possible problem with claiming your book is like some classic is that the agent may think, Christ, not another book that's like the His Dark Materials trilogy. Can't anyone write a book that's like something I've never heard of?]


He's walked out his back door a thousand times and ended up in Wisconsin, but if he walks out the same door because a map said to, he ends up in Mongolia? Have I got that straight?

Any creatures can accurately be described by saying they "may or may not have once been men."

Okay, he goes here, he goes there, and each place he goes he has another adventure. And eventually he ends up where his mother is. Is it just a series of trips? Or is the man in red a villain who appears on all of his mapwalks? Is the man in red trying to prevent Nathan from finding his mother? Why? Does he have to find his mother before the hordes of Genghis Khan do?


AlaskaRavenclaw said...

What's this? A middle grade query in which the writer evinces absolutely no desire to teach his or her readers an important lesson?

The story idea's not a bad one. Comparing it to already-published books that have sold millions of copies is. There's no need to compare your book to anything. And the two series you chose for comparison don't actually have much in common with each other. (Other than that they both deal with religion. RATHER differently.)

Other than that, this looks good to me, sounds like an interesting idea and will probably get some requests.

Good luck with it.

JM Gines said...

Every kid wants to find a map to something awesome so props for the subject! I'm interested in the main character and would be excited to read about an adventure like this one.
I think if you delve a little deeper into portraying the motives, take out a bunch of stuff we don't care about yet (like who the friends are)and add some specifics that make this story unique it could read quite nicely.

Whenever I read queries I always ask myself "Why should I care about this book?" He's searching for his mother, great. But what stands in his way? I can't get much from a vague "man in red", creatures we can't picture, and something about Khan. What makes them threatening? And what is so bad about being a mapmaker? What is he fighting? What's the major conflict that stands in his way of getting what he wants? That's what I'd like to know a little more about. Good luck!

vkw said...

I think it sounds more like a magical tree house series - but for older kids.

actually it does sound interesting.


david hanley said...

Thank you, everyone ( particularly you, Evil Editor)! I'm already busily revising my query based on the comments and feedback thus far. I really appreciate the feedback and encouragement!

Dave Fragments said...

It needs some feeling. It felt dry as dust as I read it the first time.

batgirl said...

It sounds like fun, but why is the girl named Kahn? That sounds more Jewish than Mongolian.
How about Khongordzoi, or Oyunbileg?

Anonymous said...

Very nice. I think a few wording changes suggested by EE and you're good to go. I get that if he goes outside of the house WITH the map, he's transported but being a bit clearer might be helpful.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I still remember what an impression Hans Christian Andersen's Snow Queen made on me as a wee tot. (Andersen is one cynical writer.) The little girl, Gerda, sets off heartbroken in search of her friend Kai, who had unexpectedly starting being mean to her and then disappeared. She's stuck with indifferent or capricious assistants on her long, agonizing search for him.

All I get from your query is "Hmm, wonder where Mom is?" Maybe that's what you intend, maybe not. In any case, I'd infuse Nathan's quest with a sense of urgency. As it is, he's simply looking for the answer to a question, not the answer to a problem.

But I do like the concept.

none said...

What makes Genghis Khan so threatening? You're asking that question for REALS?

I like this. And I'm with Steve on the idea that it's carrying the map with him as he leaves the house that makes the difference. The story does sound fun.

A little more clarity on the goals and obstacles would be good, esp the man-in-red.

JM Gines said...

Obviously, hordes of Khan-ites are threatening :) But I meant, how do they threaten the storyline? Are they literally standing between him and his mother? The same for the man in red and other creatures, do they want a map he has? etc..I think being more descriptive here will add force to the conflict and intrigue and better pique an agent's interest.

none said...

If you're a little boy with a map, one Khanite is pretty threatening :). But yes, the query needs to up the stakes.

Unknown said...

I really liked the premise, it sounds like a brilliant series that you get to basically write in whatever time period you feel like ^_^

My main problem was a bit of a practical one - so is it only these maps his mother owns he can use to mapwalk? If not, why has he never disappeared in the middle of geography class? If yes, then I'd be fascinated by how they were made, and by whom, and how many of them there are in existence.

Best of luck!

Unknown said...

Oh, and the idea of crystal maps kicks ass.