Thursday, May 14, 2020

Face-Lift 1400!

Guess the Plot

Don't Let Me Fall

1. Falling happens all the time in dreams. Except now people are dying from it. Can Steven figure out how to wake up in time?

2. "Don't let me fall," Ikenna prays after a lifetime (or more) fighting demons. But if he wants to escape this life, he must first escape the grasp of his self-righteous priest. Growing up in 1969 Brooklyn isn't exactly Easy Street.

3. An emotional look at what goes through the mind of a man who has worked hard and sacrificed love, happiness, and financial security to finally stand at the top of his chosen profession, on a quivering steel cable stretched between two skyscrapers.

4. Alicia books an adventure trip through the Himalayas to get over her ex. Unfortunately, her ex has the same idea. Since neither is willing to cancel, they're stuck working together, getting to see another side of one another, and once again falling in... Nope, not gonna happen.

5. It was a simple request, but the audience reaction as Luigi watched his brother Lorenzo plummet toward the big top sawdust told him that the Flying Credenzas had found the routine that would breathe new life into the family's circus act, though not, unfortunately, into Lorenzo. But just as thrill-hungry crowds peak, Lorenzo comes back... and he's hungry for brains.

6. When his best friend convinces Elgin, who suffers from vertigo, to go rock climbing, the results are predictably hilarious, except for the part where Elgin falls to his death. Actually, that part is pretty funny too.  

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Ikenna of Mantika knows slavery was a choice but fighting demons for the last 200 years wasn’t.

Forced to babysit the Ijinde family and protect it’s [its] members from their spiritual skeletons, Ikenna grows tired of having his freedom tied to someone else’s. When he [his] latest ward and friend is murdered as part of an overzealous High Priest’s plan for reparations, Ikenna decides enough is enough, he need [needs] a way out of this life. But when his search for an escape route leads him into the hands of the self-righteous Priest can Ikenna escape his grasp without endangering the Ijinde bloodline or will he risk everything to be free of his curse? [I have a lot of questions, and you have room to answer some of them in the query.

1. Did Ikenna choose to be a slave or choose not to? What was the other choice?

2. What are spiritual skeletons? Demons?

3. Whose freedom is Ikenna's freedom tied to? The Ijinde family's? If he's "forced" to protect the family, it sounds like he doesn't have freedom.

4. A High Priest has a plan for reparations . . . for descendants of slaves? How does murdering Ikenna's friend aid in this plan?

5. If Ikenna wants out of his role as protector of the Ijinde family, why does he still feel obligated to protect their bloodline? Why is endangering their bloodline a bad thing?

6. What are the terms of his curse?

7. He has the ability to fight demons for 200 years without getting killed, like an immortal superhero, but he can't rid himself of the Ijindes or some Priest?

8. You as if he will he risk everything. What everything? He's unhappy with his current situation, so what does he have that he risks losing?]

Don't Let Me Fall is a 95,000 word standalone adult urban fantasy with potential for expansion into a series. It is my first novel and the bulk of the story takes place in 1989 Brooklyn [Wait, what? This is set in Brooklyn? Maybe you could mention that in the plot summary. I felt like I was reading about the fictional kingdom of Mantika on the Gohr prison planet, Lycus IV.] and I drew heavily from my experience growing up there to come up with the world of this story.[Change that last sentence into two by eliminating one of the "ands". Or eliminate the part about it being your first novel. It's unlikely the reader will care how many unpublished novels you've written, and she knows if your number of published novels is greater than zero, you'd be trumpeting that fact in sentence 1.]

Thank you for your time and consideration.

*The title for this book comes from a prayer Ikenna says regularly in the book.


You don't need to answer all my questions, I'm just saying that the query needs a lot more clarity, and since no one will complain if you take eight or ten sentences to summarize your plot, you can spell out some of this stuff that seems obvious to you but not so much to those who haven't read the book.

Just because you mention the Brooklyn Bridge in the book doesn't mean you've drawn heavily from your experience--although I have no doubt there were plenty of overzealous priests in Brooklyn in 1969.

The most common summary format is three paragraphs:

1. Who's your main character, what's his situation, and what does he want?

2. What's his plan to get it, what are his obstacles, what goes wrong, what's his plan B?

3. What choice must he make that will determine if he succeeds or fails, and what's at stake, i.e. what will happen if he fails?

This format may not work with every book, but it's a good way to organize your thoughts.

Also, those three careless errors in paragraph 2 may convince the reader that the book is riddled with careless errors. 

Monday, May 04, 2020

Face-Lift 1399

Guess the Plot

A Fable of the Faceless

1. In a world where some people have noses but no mouths, ears, or eyes, while other people have only ears or only eyes or only mouths, people must work together to accomplish anything. Assuming they can find anyone else.

2. Paglio was the star of clown school until someone stole his face paint. Now he's down among the faceless, juggling bowling pins, knives, and thoughts of homicide.

3. Anna's BFF convinced her not to eat anything with a face, but now she's seeing faces on mollusks, plants, and even Twinkies. Is someone trying to kill her? Also a nutritional spiritualist.

4. There's a fox who can't reach the potatoes on a high branch, and a crow who's on the branch. But neither of them has a face, so they don't even know there are potatoes. They can't even see each other. Moral: Worry about big problems, not the ones that are small potatoes.

5. Convinced she and her gorgeous family have got what it takes to become social media influencers, Billie enlists a bit of demonic assistance. She sells her soul to get millions of Facebook followers. Sadly, her hard-of-hearing helper gives her millions of faceless followers instead. Hilarity ensues when she discovers her fans have a taste for braaaains!

6. For Guido, life as a faceless minion means avoiding the heroes who come to fight the evil overlord, feeding the slime colony without being eaten, and making sure the red dye in his uniform doesn't bleed into his linens, because no one takes a minion with pink undies seriously.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

I'm writing you today with my pitch for my offbeat fantasy novel, "A Fable of the Faceless."

Imagine, if you will, a very different world in which the senses we take for granted – sight, smell, taste, and sound – are not the domain of all mankind [Not sure "domain" is the right word. Maybe they're not all innate in mankind?] but instead divided across four races, each as distinct in culture as they are in appearance.

Kah is a sighted strider, born with a pair of deep blue eyes but no ears, no nose, and no mouth. [Just because you can't smell, taste, or hear shouldn't mean you don't have a nose, mouth or ears. Don't striders have to breathe, eat, and attach their earrings to something?] [People with mouths are the only ones who can taste, but are they also the only ones who eat?] [If a woman with a mouth needs a root canal, does she look for a dentist among her own mouthed people or among the sighted? I'm not sure I'd be comfortable with a blind dentist.] [Actually, the sighted would have all the best jobs: dentist, surgeon, cab driver, house painter . . . Meanwhile, tho only job you could get if all you had was a nose would be smoke detector.] Together with her fellows, she has lived a nomadic life, travelling the world in search of new and novel sights. [Other people travel the world in search of novel sounds or smells.] One day, just outside a vast and inhospitable desert, she spots a young boy babbling to himself and wandering aimlessly. Without a set of eyes or ears or even a nose to guide him, he is surely doomed to die. [Actually, he's the only one who's not doomed to die, as he can both eat and breathe.] [Maybe instead of babbling, the boy should be yelling, "Hey is there someone with ears around who can hear me and help me find someone with eyes to take me home?"] 

Against her better judgement and the direct orders of her captain, Kah leaves behind the only life she’s ever known to help him find his way home. Along the way they are joined by a vigilant listener whose people carry lyres and communicate through a language of pure music, [See, now if they had no tongues to taste with, but still had mouths for breathing, they could use harmonicas, which are easier to carry than lyres and when you want to communicate that you're feeling down, it's easier to play the blues on a harmonica than on a lyre.] and a mysterious benosed stranger with a brutal reputation and a mission of retribution. [He wants revenge on the guy who hung a durian around his neck.]

At first, just finding ways to communicate is their greatest challenge – after all, how do you speak with no mouth, or listen with no ears? But they will have to learn fast. Their world is not without its dangers. Enormous reptilian beasts stalk the wilderness, leaving carnage behind them in their wake. [What? You wait until the query is almost over before mentioning the only characters that have any chance of being alive when the book ends?] And behind the walls of civilization a cult of fire-worshiping earfolk expands its influence and grows deadly in its fanaticism. [Sorry, but I can't take seriously a ruthless fanatical cult whose members all carry lyres.]

At 85,000 words, “The peons of Peonia” will be my first published novel. [That sounds like the title of a different book. Maybe it's the title of your second published novel.] I would be delighted to send a detailed synopsis, sample chapters, or the entire manuscript. I appreciate your time and interest in my work and I look forward to hearing from you.



I Googled "Faceless person" and clicked on images. Pretty much all of the images had ears. So either ears aren't considered part of the face, or Google could only find images of earfolk.

Also, most of the images were creepy. It's hard to focus on the story when you have creepy images of faces that have only mouths or noses in your brain. Of course, in Peonia, only people with eyes are subjected to these images. People with normal faces whose senses don't work would make this concept easier to swallow. Of course, in Peonia, only people with mouths have to swallow it.

Assuming you've really managed 85,000 words in this world, you need a query that focuses on Kah's goal, her plan, her obstacles, and what's at stake if she fails. All we have is she wants to help a kid find his way home while avoiding reptilian monsters.