Monday, July 31, 2017

Face-Lift 1361

Guess the Plot

First Shadows

1. The planet XK-50 lay dead in darkness until the birth of a new star brought light for the first time. When Dr. Cushner and his crew go out to study the phenomenon, they discover SK-50 wasn't as dead as they thought.

2. Erick runs a shadow organization of teens dedicated to ending modern slavery. Sabrina has a tarot-reading business. They never meet, but if they did, the electricity would be as amazing as between Bella and Edward. In Twilight?

3. The First is the leader of Aruliassus III. His shadows follow him around and study how he works so they can become his sub-rulers on Aruliassus IV. But can they resist bumping the First off and taking control of all the Aruliassusses?

4. Melanaise needs the first shadows from a total eclipse to complete a love potion that will make a prince fall in love with her. She has two problems: a) all three moons were recently destroyed by a rival sorcerer, and b) where's she gonna find a prince who isn't a prat?

5. Every spring, Billy Groundhog dreams of being the first in his den to see his shadow. But he never awakens from hibernation until mid-July. Will Billy ever get his picture in the papers and become a hot chick magnet?

6. Callie and Betsy are sisters, both very dead. They've been playing with the other ghost kids in the cemetery, and under the watchful eye of old witch Denbow they've learned a lot about being good little spooks. With Halloween fast approaching, they're tearing their shrouds so that they can graduate by casting their . . . first shadows.

7. In this sequel to Point, Line, and Thinker, multimedia 2D and 3D renditions are conceptualized within an historical framework of poly-chromatic perspectives and the translucence phenomenon. Includes the psychological impact of dysphoric elisions.

8. When dawn breaks, optimists see the first light. And pessimists see the first shadows. And vampires. Another saga featuring a disengaged teen girl and a sexy undead fellow.

9. Puppeteer and clown Bert Bobo has hit rock bottom. His wife has left with the kids, and he's surviving on dry cereal. When he finds a box with a talking shadow inside, he exchanges his soul, something he thinks he doesn't have, for three wishes. Unfortunately, he was wrong about not having a soul.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Abandoned as a toddler, Erick Holt knows loneliness and grief. Now, on the precipice of adulthood, Erick and his adoptive brother, Ansel RunningWolf, head a secret organization of teens dedicated to ending modern slavery.

When a new state law concerning recently placed foster children goes into effect, they [the teens] see a rise in abductions and out-of-state adoptions. Erick and his team [they] quickly recognize "official interference" with the police[,] and [realize] caseworkers are rapidly becoming [have become] the earmarks [agents] of something more nefarious. [If you won't reveal what the law says, don't bother mentioning it.] 

Suddenly, Erick and The Knowing find themselves in the midst of a silent, but very deadly war; with The Knowing as the target. [Are we supposed to know what "The Knowing" is? If it's the secret organization, you might mention that in paragraph 1.] Erick is doing all he can to keep The Knowing protected and obscure. But is it enough?

When the first death is reported, it could be considered [might have been] an accident. After the next two, Erick realizes they are under attack. [As they earlier found themselves in the midst of a deadly war, Erick should already have known they were under attack.] Is it too late? 

Eighteen-year-old Sabrina Lorcan is about to fight the battle of her life. Oblivious to a sinister plot brewing against her family, Sabrina agrees to relocate her tarot reading business and move back home to care for her younger siblings while her newly divorced mother is at school. Immediately, her world and family are torn away from her. [Are we in the same book?] 

In a race against time, Sabrina caves to the pressure of unfair advantages and illegal politics. A split-second decision could change her life forever. Who can she trust? Can she even trust herself? Or will she lose her family and her life? [This whole paragraph is vague.] [Also, what happened to Erick and The Knowing? Are they connected to Sabrina?] 

First Shadows is a YA Legal/Transgressive Thriller that is complete at 200,000 [85,000] words. It is a coming of age novel that is a delicious blend of Veronica Mars meets [and] Twilight with a dash of Charmed.

The foundation of this book is factual. First Shadows is Book One in the ShadowLight Alliance series. [It's long enough to be the entire series.]

Thank you for your time and consideration.

I look forward to hearing from you,


If you put the word count in the first sentence you'll save agents the trouble of reading the rest of the query.

You  need to focus on Erick or Sabrina. You can mention the other one if you show their connection, but don't abandon the one you choose to be the query's main character.

Half the plot paragraphs end with questions. We prefer answers over questions.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Face-Lift 1360

Guess the Plot

Killer in Heels

1. Desperate for queries, minions go on a rampage looking for writers. When they find a dive bar populated by the writerly blocked, there will be spilled ink, some of it red. Also, a dog named Killer.

2. When cross-dressing psychopath Bennie Furhlong gets out of prison, ace detective Zack Martinez knows two things: Diamonds aren't just a girl's best friend, and he's not going on any blind dates for a while.

3. The death blow was a puncture wound to the throat. Can Detective Carl Badsfield find the killer in six inch heels? Or will the killer get lost in the annual Fashion Week?

4. Mavis knows she looks good in a flirty pair of red stilettos. She didn't realize that meant a top shoe designer would fall dead at her feet. Accused of murder (and worse: being passé), Mavis is caught between what may be a cursed pair of red shoes and the fashion police. Also, donuts.

5. The world's deadliest assassin, Mina Harper, is used to working alone, but she's assigned by the Company to work with another assassin. Which wouldn't be so bad if her new partner weren't an insufferable know-it-all. Fortunately there are few problems that can't be solved by a loaded 
Springfield PC9111 Pro.

6. It’s Comic-Con for serial killers on at South Pacific Island Resort, with more than a score of them present, using false names. Sunday morning, Murderer-in-Flipflops is found hanging from a royal palm.  On Monday, Slasher-in-Wingtips is found drowned in the Jaccuzzi. Tuesday, Bludgeoner-in-Nikes is found dismembered on the Bar-B-Que grill. Killer-in-Heels must solve the mystery before she is a victim--unless she is the serial killer serial killer.

Original Version

Dear Mr. EE:

Mina Harper has worked alone for nine years. She isn't allowed to know exactly who she works for, but since the age of nineteen, Mina has been the world's deadliest assassin. She has killed over three hundred bad guys, but can't seem to find a [one] good guy to go out with. She fears she'll forever be alone, but solitude isn't so bad, especially [not] with a loaded Springfield PC9111 Pro, and a warm cup of chamomile-hibiscus tea to keep her company.

Her [Mina's] manager Darrington is her only link to company headquarters, and he's taught her almost every skill she knows. And when he tells her she'll have a male partner on the biggest assignment of her life, she isn't sure if her employer is doubting her abilities, or if her targets really are that lethal. Either way, she has to prove herself, or die trying.

Mina's targets, three men at the head of a billion-dollar child trafficking operation with drug dealings on the side, are well-armed, masterfully hidden, and guarded. Mina's partner Jasper, or the world's other [Second-] deadliest assassin, thinks he knows more than she does about everything. Proving her worth [with this albatross around her neck] is going to be a lot harder than she imagined.

KILLER IN HEELS is a 73,000-word novel of suspense sprinkled with a bit of dark humor and romantic comedy. I imagine Mina Harper as Jack Reacher's ultra-feminine, sophisticated counterpart (thus the title).

Thank you for your time and consideration.


I think I'd either refer to the bad guys as a crime syndicate rather than child traffickers, or leave out the humor/romantic comedy aspect. The reader of your query may not trust your ability to successfully combine child trafficking with romantic comedy. Of course it's too late to change the book and make the  bad guys jewel thieves, but once the agent starts reading the book and sees how brilliantly you've brought these seemingly incongruous species together, that will no longer matter.

That said, the idea of two incompatible loner assassins forced to work together has appeal. Maybe the query should focus a bit more on that.