Guess the Plot
Aliens, White Fur and Troubles
1. The eyes of Kaylee's white cat named Trouble are different colors--all three of them.
2. Name three things you get with the Kardashians.
3. Natasha Brodski learns the hard way what NOT to declare on her US customs form.
4. Black cat Dagger is assigned the task of training a rookie in the fine art of catjitsu, so that the two of them can guard the extra lives chest from invisible aliens. Trouble arrives when the rookie turns out to be a huge white dog that stinks like . . . a dog.
5. Beau Pontmercy is tracking the legendary Great White Moose across the Canadian wilderness when he sees blue lights and hears an eerie keening. As he loads his trusty flintlock he knows whatever scared off his game is about to find more trouble than they ever expected.
6. White Fur feels a special bond with Leoma, the beautiful Latino who rubs his ears every time she feeds him pellets. When the mean pet store owner steals Leoma's green card, White Fur plots to bring him down. But what can one albino guinea pig do?
7. To save the polar bears and protect their Fall outerwear collection, fashionistas from Unitard IV want to plunge Earth into a new ice age. PETA activitist Acocado Sunshine and supermodel-climatologist Adriana Jaeger have three days to convince the Unitardians that faux is fab... and then save the polar bears.
8. The Tribbles are back, this time with white fur and as big [and nasty] as polar bears. Can the crew of the Enterprise MCMLVII overcome, as Tribbles eat and reproduce and take over an entire planet?
9. Roger parked his pickup in front of Home Depot and pointed to the three strongest-looking candidates. He had no idea they were albino werewolves. Now there are blood trails leading to his yard, neighborhood pets gone missing, and the only way he's going to get his garage finished in time to sell the house is to add another shift of cheap labor. Luckily the Home Depot is now open late, and he's found a few men who seem more than happy to work only at night.
10. Polar Bear Krug thought he had enough to worry about with the ice cap shrinking and fish stocks diminishing but that was before those Northern Lights brought strange little green people and their painful probes. Or was that the result of eating tundra moss?
Dear Evil Editor,
Dagger, a black warrior cat of the Feline Guard Corps, is not a team player. He’s order-obeying [obedience?] challenged and prefers fighting vicious lycis –aliens invisible to humans– single-pawed and without backup. After disobeying Captain Slash’s orders once [yet] again, Dagger is punished in a singular way; [:] he has to train a rookie [the newest recruit] or Slash will take fifteen of his [Dagger's] twenty-seven lives. [Is there a good reason this isn't 5 of his 9 lives?] Losing so many lives without fighting is a humiliation Dagger can’t tolerate, but [Luckily,] for the best fighter in town [, training] a rookie is not a big deal. Except that the rookie isn’t a cat but a huge, white dog named Alka.
That’s a tragedy. How is Dagger supposed to teach the fine art of the catjitsu to a dog, who moreover has a white coat? [I'd move that sentence to the end of the previous paragraph.] On top of that, the Cat Intelligence Agency has evidence that the lycis know where the Lives Chest –the container of the guards’ extra lives- is and want to destroy it. Without those extra lives killing the guards will be easier [to kill], and the lycis will have a free hand on Earth, eating everything that moves and doesn’t speak Lyciese. [Including cars and boats?]
As [Of course] the mission to protect the Chest is assigned to Dagger and his rookie [Alka.] To succeed Dagger has [will somehow have] to overcome his prejudice against dogs –especially [big, goofy, slobbery,] white ones– and train Alka. But he’s optimistic. [But hey,] If he can endure a dog’s stench, he can probably do anything.
ALIENS, WHITE FUR AND TROUBLES is a Middle Grade fantasy novel complete at 50.000 words.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Sounds like a winner. I see it as a future graphic novel and a Pixar animated feature.
Most of my suggestions are nitpicks. Ignore those you hate.
Did you consider making Dagger a female? Surely cats are enlightened enough to allow women in the military, which would make Dagger a great role model for girls. Besides, cats are girls and dogs are boys.
I'd change the last word of the title to Trouble if I couldn't think of a better title for the book. Like Black Cat, White Dog. And I'd call the Chest the Extra Lives Chest.
My first impression was that this was really hard to read, but that's entirely EE's fault, because of all the blue and red fixes. :) Taking these out and reading it as you originally sent it, I have to say this sounds pretty good.
There's no shortage of opportunity for conflict (cat vs. dog, cat/dog vs. alien, old guard vs. new blood, etc.) However, I wonder about the black cat / white dog issue. If it's an overt racial metaphor, it may be a bit heavy for a middle grade book. Depends how you handle it in the book, I suppose.
Every time I saw "lycis" I read it as "lyrics". It's probably just me, but it had me picturing rap battles at first.
My only real nit is confusion over the extra lives. If the captain is going to take away some of Dagger's lives as punishment, does that mean they earn extra lives as pay? Can the dog earn / use these extra lives as well? With names like Feline Guard Corps and Cat Intelligence Agency, why is a dog joining? Is this the first dog ever to join, or are there forces made up of both dogs and cats (or other pets?)
All in all, I'd be happy to check out the book to get these answers, so the query (for me) did its job.
And back to those blue and red comments EE made -- most of them are style, not substance, so (a) good for you but (b) I'd still accept most of them because EE has a great ear for how words flow. If I could afford it, I'd have him blue and red all over my next book. Wait ... that sounded wrong, somehow.
No, JRMosher, it wasn't just you who kept misreading 'lycis' as 'lyrics'. I'd suggest a change of name for the aliens.
I also wondered if the black/white contrast was meant to be social allegory. I don't think any child is too young to read stories about why senseless bigotry is wrong, so I hope the issue is handled with care.
I figured the black cat was because black cats are traditionally thought of as unlucky and looked down on (black cats are generally the ones least often adopted). Don't know what the significance of the dog being white is, though. Seems like if you're not trying to make it a metaphor, you should just make the dog another color (or any other pattern that dogs have), just so a lot of people don't start thinking you're trying to say something you're not.
Also, I did have trouble with 'lycis' as well. I didn't read it as 'lyrics', but it's such a weird word for me to wrap my mental mouth around that my eyes just skip over it entirely.
LC Russell: Thank you Evil Editor, the query flows much better with your corrections. The idea of a female Dagger is intriguing!
Thanks minions for the comments. As for the black/white issue, I see now that it came out wrong in the query. Dagger is a lieutenant of the XII Night Division. He’s a night fighter, and Alka’s white fur is a problem. It’s too conspicuous. So it’s more a safety issue than a social one.
That’s all really.
That makes sense. Then yeah, you might just want to explain that differently in the query.
I had thought the white fur issue might have been more about visibility than a racial metaphor, but yes, it does need to be clarified on the query. I've read books where fur color is used as a stand-in for skin color and the prejudices that come with it and it tends to not go well.
I'd also put in just a line or so confirming that these are all ordinary housepets and not anthropomorphic animals living in an animal world. I got it, but the passing mention of humans might be missed in a less thorough read through.
This looks solid. While "what animals do when no one's watching" is not a new idea, it looks like you have enough in here to make it stand out. I particularly like the idea that cats who appear to be flipping out over nothing are actually locked in combat with invisible aliens.
Title isn't great, but it's not so bad that it needs to be changed immediately.
Note that the fur color isn't an issue if the author deletes the portions I colored red.
LC Russell said: Yes! Thanks EE. That’s perfect.
"I particularly like the idea that cats who appear to be flipping out over nothing are actually locked in combat with invisible aliens."
Me too. As a cat owner, I find that quite amusing. When my cat stares intently at nothing, it makes me think of this episode of Stargate SG-1 where one of the characters develops the ability to see strange alien creatures everywhere that no one else can, only to discover that they've been there all along and the only difference is now he can see them.
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