Thursday, April 05, 2018

Face-Lift 1370

Guess the Plot

Pond and Skye

1. Mr. Pond and Miss Skye are typical neighbors during the week. However, every weekend they team up as a top spy team. When software known by the acronym T.E.R.R.A. threatens the world's supply of data, can this amazing duo save us all

2. In a world shared by two intelligent races, Humans and Celestians, Lucrezia Skye is set on wiping out the Celestians, while Ilana Pond wants to protect them. Not only do these young women hold the planet's future in their hands, but since they're sisters, those family dinners can get awkward.

3. Geoff Pond is involved in the archaeological dig in a medieval ruins in Scotland when his daughter Skye says her brother and Geoff's son have been in a terrible accident. Rob 'Frog' Pond, comatose, starts giving clues to priceless relics in Geoff's dreams, but is Rob leading Geoff astray?

4. Pond, a Poodle puppy, and Skye, a Siamese kitten, must join forces to find their way home after being inadvertently left at a Minnesota truck stop. Will they make it home in time for little Lindsey's birthday?

5. Pond and Skye are fated to be mortal enemies, like Romeo and Juliet if Romeo were an albino plant monster named Skye that came from the sky, and Juliet were the creature from the black lagoon, except Pond is more of a mutant triffid from a toxic dumping ground puddle. Also, a wallaby poacher. 

6. In this inspirational picture book, faeries Pond and Skye teach small children important lessons about the dangers of untied shoelaces, failing to hold the hand-rail when going up or down stairs, riding on the side of the kart in the supermarket and spiking the day care staffs’ coffee with rat poison.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Novel Title: Pond and Skye

When Ilana and Lucrezia were allowed to choose new last names, Lucrezia chose Skye - vast and powerful, like herself. “Can I be the Sea?” Ilana asked. “No,” Lucrezia explained, “you’re more of a pond.” [You said they were allowed to choose their last names, but the book's title suggests Ilana got stuck with Pond instead of Sea. Did she?]

Years later, Ilana has yet to escape her foster sister’s shadow. Pond and Skye live in a world shared by two races: Humans, and Celestians - intelligent beings whose bodies are made of earth, air, water, and fire. Fierce and loyal, Ilana fights alongside a wisecracking gryphon [Are gryphons Humans or Celestians or neither? If neither, isn't the world shared by three races?] to protect the world’s balance, while Lucrezia, vindictive and cunning, seeks to tear it apart. If Lucrezia gets her way Celestians will be wiped out, leaving the world to be ruled by Humans [and gryphons].

Ilana knows what needs to be done. [Meaning Lucrezia must be killed? I find it hard to believe all the Humans on Lucrezia's side will abandon their cause because their leader has been eliminated. More likely the rift between the sides will be widened.] The war on Celestians begins and ends with Lucrezia. But Ilana is small as a pond, and Lucrezia is the only family she’s ever known. An entire race hangs in the balance...does Ilana have what it takes to save it? [Seems highly unlikely.]

Pond and Skye is a New Adult Fantasy story of loyalty, family, and discrimination. It features LGBTQ+ characters and a protagonist of color in a world where skin color isn’t what sparks hatred - either you’re human, or you aren’t. [Is Ilana a Human?] It is complete at 70,000 words and will appeal to the same people who devoured The Hunger Games and His Dark Materials.



Why does the war on Celestians begin and end with Lucrezia? Why is either of these women so important? Do they have super powers? Is Lucrezia the queen of the world? Is the planet's population less than 50? I think you need to tell us who's in charge on this world. If it's Pond and Skye, you wouldn't think they'd need someone's permission to choose their last names. If it's someone else, why are these two the focus of the book? Who are they?


Anonymous said...

Hunger Games and His Dark Materials are both listed as YA books (both at the lower end). The way the query voice reads, I would have guessed the book was middle grade/younger YA, but then you list it as New Adult which is for ages 18-25 with a different set of themes expected....

What exactly do you mean by "protect the world's balance"? Is the world a large teetering rock on top of a pointy object? Is this more about pollution, global warming, or some incipient magical calamity? If you're talking simple genocide of celestians you should explicitly say so, but I am wondering what that has to do with the world's balance. Give specific details about what happens.

What you have here is setup. What we need is to know what problems the characters are attempting to overcome and why, what their plan is, why the plan will have issues, and some clue as to the resources they have available to help them overcome.

MC -> Ilana Pond?
wants -> to protect the world's balance (but I don't know what that means)
problems -> maybe Lucrezia in some non-specific way (we need specifics)
resources -> a wise-cracking gryphon? (does he/she/it tell jokes to defeat Lucrezia? If not, what does he/she/it do? What does Ilana do? What does anyone do?)

I've seen complaints by agents that using the Aristotelian four elements is unoriginal and way overdone. I wouldn't say it's a problem, but mentioning that's what you're using up front probably doesn't help your cause.

Also it's generally recommended you DON'T put quotes from your book in the query letter. What we need is more tell than show. What is the story?

khazarkhum said...

Are they goddesses? Because if the removal of Celestials begins and ends with Lucrezia, she must be extremely powerful.

khazarkhum said...

Also, I have to ask. Why is publishing split among age groups like this? I can understand doing it for little kids, but once I hit 13 I wanted all the adult books I could get. And if there were books geared to 'my age', they were these Godawful horrors called 'NOW Novels' that were supposed to address issues of our generation. They were so bad that I think I permanently lost parts of my brain from having to read them.

Iamanoldvampirechild said...

I think the query needs to be more specific about the stakes. 'The worlds balance' did nothing for me, don't know what it means etc and so many people use that trope thing. I'm not even sure I understand the plot here, and I'd change out the dialogue because apart from explaining how the sisters are related ( which didn't seem important enough to break the no excerpt rule ) the little snippet of book didn't entice me with prose or character, so feels redundant. I think you should just say: 'the two sisters have names because' etc
And to be honest the way the conversation was it felt more MG than YA, because the motivations of sibling rivalry felt overly simplistic.

I want to know more about who the MC is too, like, what kind of character is she. If you can get that across with voice perhaps. I've heard YA queries that have voice are favoured because the novel needs a strong YA voice. idea why the age divide because as a teen I was reading adult books and loved them and as an adult I read some YA and love it. It depends on story. I don't think the way age categories are divided up has much to do with who buys them, just makes publishers feel they are being effective marketers but really I wonder how they get statistics to back up and validate the ideas about which age group reads what. Because it doesn't apply to me or any of my friends in their 30's who read YA and read adult books when Teens. I remember having to read a YA coming of age book in High School in 90's. It bored me to tears.

Anonymous said...

As someone who grew up reading 90s YA, and writes YA now, I'd like to take a stab at the category question.

YA was incredibly different 20 years ago. We had R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike and Sweet Valley High--the latter of which was created by a book developing company, not an individual author. Book developers come up with ideas they *think* will appeal to a large number of teens, and then they hire authors to write the series to their specifications. So if it felt like certain 90s series were written for us... by people who didn't know anything about us, well... there's a reason for that.

But we're talking about the birth of YA. Twenty years later, YA is as vast and diverse as adult literature, branching out into many different genres (contemporary, fantasy, paranormal, sci-fi, mystery, thriller, magical realism, etc). Do teens still read adult books? Definitely. But many of them read YA because they specifically want books that speak to their experience. Honestly, I think a lot of people who read YA in the 90s started writing YA BECAUSE they felt the gap between books teens actually wanted to read and books that were being marketed to teens. They wrote the books they needed as teens, but couldn't find.

To the author of the query--His Dark Materials and The Hunger Games are very different comp titles. If you think your book is similar to both books, in different ways, you could say "His Dark Materials meets The Hunger Games." As it is now, I came away thinking about how different one series is from the other.

I'd also like to know more about Lucrezia's motivation. Is she just mean? Why does she want to eradicate the Celestians? And how is she going to do it (they seem very powerful). As much as I like the Pond/Skye conversation in the opening, I think you could use that space to add more grounding details to the query, and keep that conversation for the book itself.