Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Face-Lift 1059

Guess the Plot

Blood Stemma

1. When a strange ahnentafel drawn in blood connects the Principality of Monaco to the culture that built the Huachimontones site, genetic investigator Kirk Trader is called in. Can he unearth the truth or will he be buried under extreme, uncalled-for cliffhangers?
2. The chaos in Africa has driven people into the bush, where starving refugees have inadvertently contracted a new, blood-borne pathogen. Now it's infected UN workers, and is killing its way through hospitals. Can Dr Mylie Serontis develop a vaccine in time to save the human race from annihilation?

3. Penelope Featherham, Manhattan's top genealogist, is locking up late when a tall stranger slips into the office. He has hypnotic eyes and a seductive voice. He wants to hire her for $50,000/month -- Penelope likes that. She'll have to do a lot of flying -- she doesn’t mind. It involves working nights -- she says life is short. He says sometimes it’s long. Will Penelope end history’s oldest bloodline or will she get an extension?
4. After siring four new vampires for Lorenzo, Kaia is entitled to her freedom. At least that's what the Hematophagy Council says. But Lorenzo won't release her unless she comes up with millions of dollars in tribute. If you can't trust a 1000-year-old vampire, who can you trust?

5. Genealogy isn't exactly in Martin Cruz's blood, but when Mrs. Starling assigns all the third graders to plot out their family tree, Martin gets the surprise of his young life - he's the product of a long line of blood-sucking aliens. Also, a tether-ball competition.

6. Buzzer is the queen flea of the growing population of Spot. When a strange illness comes over the swarm and fleas start bleeding off one eye (stemma), Buzzer must flee to a new host before she catches the wretched disease.

Original Version

Your evilness,

I’m querying you first because, as the rest of your faithful minions, I seem to possess latent masochistic tendencies. Also, I want to know if getting published is just another deranged idea of mine and I’d have better opportunities at [be better off] cooking meth for a living. [That's like asking if a burger flipper would be better off as CEO of a multinational banking conglomerate. Stephen King would do better cooking meth.]

Kaia Senet had her life set: she ran a successful business, her life was surrounded by luxury, and she had her community's high regard (the human one, at least). But after siring four new vampires [Whoa, we've skipped a step. Jane Doe doesn't just sire four vampires. Is she a vampire? How did that happen?] while still will-bound to the possessive, tyrannic, passive-aggressive, thousand year old Lorenzo; her uneventful years came to an end. [I would think her uneventful years ended the moment she became will-bound to Lorenzo.] [Also, hyphenate "thousand-year-old," change the semicolon to a comma, and shorten that list of adjectives. I'd go with "possessive, tyrannical," but then I haven't met the guy.]

Once she learns that as a sire she’s entitled to be released of Enzo's will, Kaia takes the matter to the Hematophagy Council. After his citation, the old vampire demands Tribute in exchange: she must pay him a bonus of a million dollars per head [Per head? What does that mean? Head of what?] in a year’s time or he will progressively kill her Lover, Twin and Pupils [Why are we capitalizing these words? Wait, is "Twin and Pupils" her lover's name?] as he had intended to do all along. [She's entitled to her release. I would be heading back to the Hematophagy Council to lodge a complaint so fast . . . ] No progeny, no sire, no Release right. [What does that mean?]

With their lives on the line Kaia, Ludo, Shaw, Rick and Boyd [Are those Kaia's progeny or her Lover, Twin and Pupils? If the latter, are they vampires?] dismiss no idea as too wild. Illegal racing, fighting, and blood trading are all on the table; [I'll trade you two units of type O for that unit of AB negative.] and stealing blood isn’t the worst thing they’ll do to survive. [It's illegal for vampires to race?]

Blood Stemma is a character[hyphen]oriented 100K[hyphen]word supernatural fiction novel [Your novel isn't supernatural; your characters are. Also, all novels are fiction, and even if they weren't, the ones with vampires would be, so no need to say this is fiction.] set in an alternate universe where humans and vampires have coexisted for centuries. [Humans and vampires have coexisted for centuries (in fiction) in our universe. Why do you need a different universe?] The novel is packed with action, drama and blood-lust. It will appeal to fans of ‘true’, burning-under-sunlight vampires as well as fans of modern[hyphen]day vampire TV series. Blood Stemma is a standalone book with strong potential for a series; it's also my first novel, waiting to be queried around.

Thanking you for your time and praising your wickedness,


This is the setup. What's the story? It should be the story of what Kaia and company do to destroy Lorenzo and win their freedom/lives. But it sounds more like the story of what they do to come up with millions of dollars.

It shouldn't be that difficult for vampires to come up with millions of dollars. Armored truck drivers don't usually carry wooden stakes. Even if you don't want to steal the money, people would pay good money to watch you change into a bat. NBC would gladly build a reality TV show around a group of vampires living under one roof.

For that matter, if Lorenzo wants millions of dollars, he should have no trouble getting it. He's a thousand years old; if he's invested wisely, he should be a billionaire by now. I would expect Lorenzo to demand something more interesting than cash.

I'm guessing most people aren't familiar with the word "stemma" and those who say they are think we'll be impressed with their knowledge when actually we think they're liars. My guess is there's no stemma in the book, and you're better off with a title like Blood Relatives or Vampires!

Who are the Twin, Lover and Pupils? Are they from her life before she met Lorenzo? She ran a business; why would she have pupils?


AlaskaRavenclaw said...

As they say down South: Do-what nayow?

Or to put it more northernly: Huh?

Writer, I do sense that you have a story here. I really do. Right now it's hiding behind some pretty convoluted phrasing. Here's what I think you should do:

1. Reduce your story to a single sentence, under 20 words in length.

2. Using that sentence as a guide, write five simple sentences telling who your main character is, what she wants to accomplish, and what's standing in her way.

(No adjectives allowed! And no double-naming. Each character mentioned gets called only one thing.)

3. Rewrite your query. Don't try to impress the reader with your writing. Try to entice him/her with your story.

By the way, no offense intended, but the question you ask EE at the beginning is very... beginner. I asked it myself once upon a time, and have been asked it by many writers: Am I good enough to be published, or should I just quit?

The answer, for most of us, is:

Picture yourself standing in front of an enormous pile of... dirt. At the bottom of the pile lies Publication.

Here's a shovel.

Anonymous said...

The noun sire is misused. The word you want is dam, but it won't scan well, and while to sire works as a verb, to dam doesn't--at least not the way you want.

I'm guessing this usage permeates your manuscript.

Also, what Ravenclaw said.

sarahhawthorne said...

I would totally watch "The Real World: Vampire Edition." I can't believe this isn't already a plot thread on "True Blood."

Author, you're getting a little too caught up in the ins and outs of vampire law here. All we need to know is this: Kaia needs $4 million to buy her freedom from her sire. Her sire needs to kill Kaia's beloved vampire progeny to keep her under his control. So Kaia and her family embark on a vampire crime spree to raise the cash - all while ducking supernatural assassins.

Rachel6 said...

I didn't have trouble following the query as is. (For instance, per head: she has to pay a million for each of the four men she just turned.) However, in common with everyone else, I say it's a little too convoluted.

EE, the upsides of an alternate world are that real-world solutions don't always apply. Maybe they don't have armored cars, which makes the protag's job more difficult.

none said...

Who started this 'sire' thing anyway? Was it Buffy?

Kaia's will-bound to the evil antagonist, yet you say her life is 'set', by which I assume you mean she's where she wants to be. It's a bit like saying, Kaia Senet had it all: a business, two houses, three Ferraris and a brutal husband who rapes and beats her regularly. Lucky her!

Evil Editor said...

(For instance, per head: she has to pay a million for each of the four men she just turned.)

Per head could just as easily refer to her lover, twin and pupils, which are in the same sentence, as opposed to the four men that aren't even in the same paragraph. Also, as you find it so clear, I was under the impression the deal was No millions of dollars, no release. So what is meant by No sire no progeny, no release?

Ambee said...

"Wait, is 'Twin and Pupils' her lover's name?" I nearly spit my coffee out. Brilliant.

I was able to follow the idea of the query, but I read a lot of sf. I agree that it's mostly setup. A better idea of what happens in the book would be nice.

Also I noticed a lot of colons and semicolons in the query. I did the same with mine. At least one (the first semicolon) is unnecessary.

"But after siring four new vampires while still will-bound to the possessive, tyrannic, passive-aggressive, thousand year old Lorenzo; her uneventful years came to an end."

Wilkins MacQueen said...

With Evil.

I suggest you start over with who the mc is, what does she want, what's stopping her then raise the stakes.

And make us want to read on.

Too cute doesn't work, like the names.

Sire is misused so I don't trust the writing.

Turn you head around on the query. Read the archives. Come back when you're ready.

Good luck.

Lisa said...

EE, I know what stemma is, but, yeah, I had to look it up. I'm not sure I could use it in a sentence, though.

Author, I got lost with all the names and I don't think I know what the book is about at all. Sounds like it might have some fun action in it, but then you tell me it's character-driven, and I got confused all over again.

Most agents would have tossed this on "fiction novel". Sorry, but true.

none said...

If Sire is misused, we probably have to blame Joss Whedon.