Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Face-Lift 995

Guess the Plot

When Kings Fall

1. Jem Bartholomew bets his wife and farm at the gambling table. When rival farmer Bill Dexter trumps Jem’s four kings with four aces, Jem’s future doesn’t look so bright anymore. Though his wife isn't complaining.

2. King Edward II asks Cedric the apprentice tile-maker to tile his royal bathroom. Honored, Young Cedric and his fiancée, Guinevere, dream of fame and fortune . . . until the king slips on Cedric's handiwork and a death warrant is issued for the runaway couple.

3. It's been said that when kings fall, it is their queens who suffer. Well, Queen Alibeth has been waiting twenty years for someone to take out King Kramersty. Watching that magnificent black stallion Prince Lok'N'Reth stride to the throne, she knows she's going to enjoy the 'suffering'.

4. The establishment of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is viewed through the eyes of a destitute Syrian doctor who happens to meet King Saud, and who offers (after his wife mysteriously disappears) to recruit soldiers to tip the scale of war.

5. After the disastrous banking collapse, "Synapse," sacrifices his true name and identity to go undercover and track down the kings of finance responsible. His quest takes him through the riot-ravaged cities of Beijing, London, New York and Dubai and finally to a cigar store on the backstreets of Hong Kong.

6. Aboud Al-Youssef, a pro-democracy activist who predicted the fall of the Arab monarchies three years ago, is about to blow the lid off the coming Arab winter when he mysteriously disappears. Can special agent James Burns find him and uncover a conspiracy threatening to engulf the world in another war?

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor:

Dr. Rashad Pharaon is chased into exile when he secretly marries Jamila, the governor of Syria's arranged fiancée. [This would read more clearly as: ... secretly marries Jamila, fiancée of the governor of Syria.] [My research into the history of Syria, hoping to catch you in an embarrassing factual error, turned up this timeline fact: 1910: Mary Ajamy, a recent nursing graduate from AUB, launches the first women’s rights magazine in the Middle East, called al-`Arus (The Bride). Googling Mary Ajamy led to this article. So my question is: Given that women buy most of the books, why isn't your book about Mary Ajamy?] [And my question to Mary Ajamy is: Isn't it amazing how far Syria has come in the past century?] Without money or home, the couple take refuge in nearby Jordan amongst insurgents who call themselves the Brotherhood. Rashad leaps at the opportunity for a fresh start when, in return for helping their wounded, the leader offers them safe passage to the exotic city of Medina in Arabia. [If a doctor shows up at my doorstep, and I have a steady influx of wounded, no way am I shipping him to Medina. I'm chaining him to an operating table and he's working longer shifts than a med school intern.]

The newcomers' illusion of triumph quickly fades as they fall on dire financial times. [They had no money two sentences ago; perhaps they had already fallen on dire financial times.] Their bad fortunes seem momentarily reversed when they meet King Saud, who grants them aid and citizenship, but Arabia simmers with bad blood. A powerful sultan to the North threatens to overthrow Saud.

The king gathers his war-ravaged army and asks Rashad to recruit the Brotherhood, a force needed to tip the scales in their favor. [These armies must be pretty puny if some insurgents 500 miles away can tip the scales of their war. Are they coming by camel?] Rashad is about to petition the rebels when Jamila vanishes. His conviction rocked, he must now soul-search and make a difficult choice. Should he stay in Arabia and help his new people in their time of greatest need? Or should he find his wife, the rose of his life, and let the king fall? [My guess: He stays; King Saud wins, names the country after himself, locks up the oil rights in perpetuity for his descendants, and then releases Jamila.] [Recommendation: have Rashad go after his wife; romance sells a lot better than Arabian history.]

WHEN KINGS FALL is a 94,000 word historical work of fiction based on the true story of Dr. Rashad Pharaon, who became a leading figure in modern Arabian history and helped establish the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It is set during the Arabian wars of the early 1900s, and depicts the [his] journey and hardships after his ouster from Syria.

I am an avid reader of your blog and, being a debut writer, find it very helpful. I would love the opportunity to work with you. [If you're a member of the royal family who doesn't know what to do with his billions in oil revenues, let's do lunch.] I can be reached by email at _______________, and will be glad to send chapters or manuscript upon request, with exotic postcard attached of course.


I would like to see the next-to-last paragraph moved to the front of the query. Otherwise I may (did) read the entire plot thinking it's set in modern times and 100% fictional.

Do any kings actually fall in the book?

Why do these Brotherhood guys in Jordan care who wins between Saud and the sultan from the north? Isn't their own insurgency keeping them busy enough?

Does Rashad have to go to Jordan to petition the Brotherhood? Can't he send a telegram or a messenger while he stays back and looks for the rose of his life?


150 said...

I may (did) read the entire plot thinking it's set in modern times and 100% fictional.


AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Yeah, you need to open with making it clear this is historical fiction.

And-- not to be a total downer, but it's going to be a tough sell. I have a couple friends who have tried to sell Middle East-related novels recently. Friends who normally sell like hot cakes. No dice.

However, there's always someone who breaks through a publishing blockade. Could be you.

Anonymous said...

Is this a historical romance?

I get the impression that it is, and that you have improperly classified it as simple historical fiction. It seems the first line is based on romance and running away in the name of love.

There is a vast difference between the two and I would be interested in the romantic aspect, not so much the historical one.

If you (the author) are any relation to the physician, you have a significant platform to work off of and you should make that known in your query. If you are no relation, then why would I be interested and what insight could you provide if interviewed? ie what is your relation to such a targeted person and subject?

My opinion.

Anonymous said...

I dunno-- I've read some pretty bad historical fiction written by people who were related to the protagonist.

Author said...

Thank you for the suggestion, very helpful and has me pondering.

@ EE... yes'r, a king does fall..

@Alaska.. I agree, tough market--what with being bombarded as it is with daily news on the M.E. If it doesn't workout, I'll move on to the next book. Not without a solid fight though *smile*

@ Stacey.. yes, it is heavily weighed on romance and not Arabian history (as a matter of fact I don't think I've once described backstory on Caliphs/Sultans etc). Maybe I need to strengthen the romantic aspect in the query.. I just never thought to call it historical romance?

@ Anonymous.. I completely agree. Read some myself (from the kindle store).

Khazar-khum said...

Does TE Lawrence fit into this somehow? If so, add that to the query.

I'm also in the 'historic romance' category. It seems more like a romance than a thriller.

Anonymous said...

Hey, anonymous author -- kind of coincidentally, a blogger named Rashad Pharaon has been commenting on this site recently. You two should get together!


batgirl said...

Subject to the clarifications mentioned, I liked the sound of this. Maybe it would be better to market it as a true story / narrative non-fiction than as a novel, given what Alaska says? My impression is that there's a fair bit of interest in the actual history of the Middle East.

One really minor point - would Medina be that exotic to the characters?

Anonymous said...

Lyrical prose tends to permeate the works of many foreign authors. I feel it is one of their strengths. IF your mastery of English is not very strong, I would recommend writing it in your native tongue and then having it translated. Please note the 'IF'. Otherwise, my point is moot.