Tuesday, August 04, 2020

Face-Lift 1406

Guess the Plot

Two of Cups

The heartwarming dual memoir of a transgender single father and his recovering alcoholic teenage daughter, told in alternating points of view, centering on the day they finally come to understand one another's story during a long afternoon spent arguing, laughing, crying, and bra shopping.

2. Two of Cups, Three of Swords, Seven of Clubs. When Susan started tarot reading she thought it a fun way to pass the time. But her predictions always come true and her demise has been predicted by the Tower card.

3. When a witch at a Philadelphia occult co-op is killed, the other witches fear a serial killer whose signature is that they only kill witches at Philadelphia occult co-ops is on the loose. Can they expose him/her, and if not, which witch is next?

4. Lord Two of the island of Cups has problems. Lady Two hates him. Dog Two prefers getting petted by the butler. Son Two doesn’t look a thing like his supposed father, Lord Two. And the island of Cups is slowly sinking into the sea. Hilarity ensues. Also a weredingo.

5. Tarot cards are the order of the day at the Magicians annual poker tournament. This year, Vremes the Not-Quite-There-Yet casts a spell to ensure his victory and the admiration of Alealea, winner of Hottest Magician three years standing. But, when The Fool card comes to life and stacks the decks, The Tower becomes the venue; Death, the barkeep; and Vanna White summons up the Wheel Of Fortune. Hijinks ensue. 

6. Pessimist Yolanda keeps getting the two of cups at her Tarot reading. She refuses to accept that her relationship with Brad will be happy and fulfilling, and keeps paying for new readings, hoping to get the three of swords so she can back out of the wedding. She fails, but it's Brad who backs out when he discovers Yolanda has run up a $47,000 credit card bill on Tarot readings. 

7. Jack of Diamonds has always been the coolest card in the game. But now there's a weird new deck in town, and somebody's gonna pay.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

THEN: Sixteen-year-old Amelia knows that witchcraft is a crock of shit. [Okay, you're probably thinking I suggested deleting "of shit" because an agent might be turned off by encountering, in the first sentence she reads as she's enjoying her morning coffee, the image of an earthenware pot filled with shit. But no, it's because in Googling the word "crock" I found there are two definitions. 1. The previously mentioned earthenware container (which was often kept bedside in homes without indoor plumbing so people wouldn't have to trek to the outhouse in the dark of night, hence the term "crock of shit") and 2. Something considered to be complete nonsense. (informal; North American). The latter seems to be satisfactory in the context of your sentence, at least if you're in North America (which is a reasonable assumption, as otherwise you might have said "crock of shite.")] [Also, the crock pot full of chili I left simmering on my kitchen counter before leaving for work this morning is suddenly seeming less enticing.] [Also, the THEN/NOW format, which has been used for eternity on the TV show Supernatural, doesn't bother me, but I wonder whether it might be better to use past tense for the part of the plot summary that's been labeled "THEN."] Her best friend Cora isn't so sure.

When Cora asks for help with a spell, Amelia wants to say no. Devil worship isn’t the kind of thing her Jesus freak parents will let slide. [Everything I know about witchcraft I learned from watching Bewitched, but I don't remember an episode in which Samantha worshipped the devil.] But Amelia doesn’t know how else to help her desperate friend. Cora’s parents are dying, and she’s convinced a healing spell is the only way to save them.

Cora makes living in this podunk town bearable. Amelia can’t risk losing her.

NOW: Amelia is one of the top-rated psychics in Philadelphia. She’s also a total fraud. [Which means whoever is in charge of rating Philadelphia's psychics is also a total fraud.] She’s trying not to feel too bad about it. There are more scammers than sage [Sages? Seers?] at Newton Square, the occult coworking space where Amelia rents a room.

Only three legit witches [Did you mean "legit" or "LEGO"?] work there, including Cora and Nathalie. [If you change the word "including" to the name of the other legit witch, you won't have to refer to the other legit witch as "the other real witch" if she gets murdered later in the query.] Nathalie, the annoyingly beautiful newest tenant, disrupts everyone with her Latin chanting, stinks up the place with her potions, and scoffs at Amelia’s business.

But when the other real witch is carried out of Newton Square on a stretcher, Nathalie turns to Amelia for help. It should be simple for a clairvoyant to find out who’s behind the attack, and which witch is next. [In which case Nathalie and Cora are the ones who can find out. So why does Nathalie turn to Amelia, the fraud she scoffs at?] [Which Witch is a better title. Another book has that title, but you're allowed to use another book's title if your book is better.] [If it isn't better, how about The Next Witch to Die.]

Amelia may not have a sixth sense, but she’s pretty sure Nathalie knows more than she’s letting on. If she works with Nathalie, Amelia goes from under the radar to potential victim.  If they don't figure out who’s after Newton Square’s witches, Cora could be next in line for a body bag. [As could Nathalie. As could anybody if the killer can't tell which witches are real witches.] 

TWO OF CUPS is 70,000 words of fiction. [What?! This is fiction?] Chapters alternate between Amelia’s adult and teenage years. It is an #ownvoices narrative with several queer characters. I’m not a psychic (not even a fake one) but I do live in Philadelphia, and like Amelia [I can't wait to get out of this podunk town.] am too gay for my own good. [Not sure what that means, but "ownvoices" is probably enough.]

Thank you for your time and consideration,


I don't see the need for the "THEN" part of the query. The "NOW" part is the right length for a query, and "THEN" part doesn't tell us much other than Cora and Amelia were friends before NOW.

Why isn't Cora bothered by her friend, who isn't a legit witch, potentially stealing real witch business from her? It's like when Hannah Rogers set up her literary agency (see sidebar) and suddenly all these big-time agents like Donald Maass and Sterling Lord were threatening lawsuits because people were sending manuscripts to Hannah instead of to them. She won those suits, but it cost her time and money to defend her right to pretend to be an agent.

After one Newton Square witch is killed, the main suspects would be her romantic partners, her disgruntled clients, the warlock whose spell book she stole, etc. It takes two Newton Square witch murders to establish that someone's possibly after Newton Square witches. As proof, two great European chefs were murdered before anyone asked, "Who is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?"


Anonymous said...

A few thoughts reading this:

Is the real witch dead or just seriously injured? On a stretcher tends to mean the latter but body-bag means the former--does the witch later die of injuries?

It might help to know why anyone thinks there will be more victims, and what size is the victim pool. Three real witches and four non-real(?) occult types give pretty good odds for killing one of the real ones, as opposed to say a dozen non-real ones. (Assuming the murder isn't personal)

Why is a top rated psychic under the radar? How/why will working with Nathalie change that?

I assume Amelia has some decent people skills if she's managed to become rated as a top psychic without any psychic abilities. It might help to give a little more info on what those are.

If something that happened during the teenage years is the cause of/related to in some way what's happening now, it might help to make that clearer. As is, I'm not certain why the book has alternating chapters since the action all seems to be in the adult years.

Anonymous said...

[Which Witch is a better title. Another book has that title, but you're allowed to use another book's title if your book is better.]
Not possible, sorry... Yeah, okay, Which Witch? is one of my favourite books of all time :P