Saturday, December 25, 2021
Tuesday, November 23, 2021
The author of the query featured just below this posting would like feedback on the following version:
Twelve-year-old Declan isn’t expecting any thrills on this field trip. A national forest with lots of boring moose hardly screams “awesome.” His dreary day gets a jolt when he glimpses a monstrous figure stalking through the wilderness. Seven-feet-tall and falcon-headed, the creature slips away before anybody else spots it. [I need to clean my glasses, I first thought that said "monstrous figure skater."] [Now that I think about it, would you consider changing your book so it is a monstrous figure skater? It's sure to be better than a seven-foot-tall guy with a bird head.]
Declan: Look, at 7-foot-tall monster with a falcon head!!!!
Teachers & the other 25 kids on the field trip with him: Where? Where?
Declan: Too late, it slipped away. But I saw it, I tell you.
Teachers: You know the rule, Dec. If you bring LSD, bring enough to share.]
With his two best friends, Declan follows the clues [feathers, talon prints, and massive bird droppings.] and finds the ruins of a long-dead civilization beneath the forest. They learn this advanced race once created human-animal hybrids. Led by the falcon-headed Ra, the rebellious hybrids seized control of ancient Egypt, claiming to be gods. After their creators banished them to the distant forest, the hybrids faced imprisonment in cold storage. Finally freed by a malfunction, Ra intends to salvage the technology and produce countless hybrid warriors, enough to enslave humanity. [I know you say "countless," but realistically, how many human-animal hybrids do they think it will take to enslave humanity? Humans with falcon heads aren't that scary. Falcons with human heads, on the other hand, can at least fly, so they might be able to enslave a few easily impressed humans. I'm not even sure human/lion hybrids or human/bear hybrids could enslave us all. Your best bet is to leave out the human part, and go with cheetah/shark hybrids.]
Stranded, Declan and his friends dodge swarms of mythical Egyptian beasts, from a rampaging Sphinx to the jackal-like Anubis. When his friends fall into Ra’s clutches, Declan embarks on a daring gambit. To rescue them and stop Ra’s murderous crusade, he must reach a failsafe device that can destroy the hybrids in one fell swoop. But first, he’ll need to brave explosive geysers, dizzying mountain heights, and crossbow-armed monsters. All of a sudden, those boring moose don’t sound half-bad. [Also all of a sudden, Declan realizes he can always find new friends.]
MONSTER GODS is a middle grade adventure, complete at 49,000 words. It blends the mythological focus of the Rick Riordan Presents series with the action of Laura Martin’s Edge of Extinction. I have my Honors degree in English Language and Literature. [Unfortunately, that will not influence the reader of your query any more than it will influence anyone you contact in your future job search.] Thank you for your time and consideration.
This is an improvement. Most of my comments focus on whether the reader will buy into the plot.
Wouldn't it have been easier for the hybrids' creators to use the failsafe device to destroy the hybrids in one fell swoop, than to banish them to a place no one knew existed?
Adding the friends helps, but only until they get captured and Declan now has to save them along with stopping Ra’s murderous crusade. Maybe leave out their capture and tell us how they aid the mission.
Apparently Ra is unaware of how much the population and weaponry have advanced while he was in cold storage. Otherwise he'd probably shoot a bit lower than enslavement of humanity. Like, enslavement of Delaware.
Sunday, November 07, 2021
Guess the Plot
1. Declan Vokes must endure explosive geysers, frenzied rapids, dizzying heights, and crossbow-armed beasts to save modern-day humanity from being enslaved by ancient Egyptian gods. Preferably before his 13th birthday.
2. When a warp in the fabric of time sends Conover Lutz back to ancient Greece, he discovers that not only were the Greek gods real, but they were narcissistic, sadistic monsters. And they don't appreciate the new guy's 21st-century wardrobe.
3. Meli is scheduled to be sacrificed to the monstrous gods her people worship, so she appeals to a higher authority--the gods of the gods, so to speak. Unfortunately, those gods are also of a monstrous sort. The gods of those gods, on the other hand, might be ok, or maybe their gods.....
4. A brief look at the myths and legends surrounding the more unusual deities humanity has worshiped. Includes maps, ancient art, the most up-to-date archeological findings, and a brochure for exploratory expeditions in some very unusual destinations . . . including hell.
5. We tend to think of "gods" as benevolent caretakers of humanity, but if you've ever read mythology or the Old Testament, you know that Zeus, Allah, God, Odin, etc, were pretty much all bastards. This book blows the lid off the whole worshiping scam.
6. Just as humans have worshiped gods through the centuries, so do werewolves, vampires, Krakens, Godzilla, and other monsters have their own deity. They call him Jymm, and trust me, you don't mess around with Jymm.
When his class visits a national forest, twelve-year-old Declan Vokes expects to see a bunch of dumb, boring moose. But this forest has a secret link to ancient Egypt -- a link that puts Declan in the path of mythology’s most sinister monsters. Forget the yawns. Cue the screams.
An attack launched by Ra, the falcon-headed god, sends Declan escaping into the wilderness. [How does he know it's Ra? It could be Horus, who is also an Egyptian falcon-headed god. As I understand it, the only difference between them is that the "eye of Ra" is his right eye, while the "eye of Horus" is his left eye. But I doubt Declan would have known this.] [BTW, at times the two deities were merged as Ra-Horakhty. Just as the Romans combined Horus and Uranus into Horse's- Anus.] Stranded, he finds himself dodging swarms of mythical Egyptian beasts, from a deadly Sphinx to the jackal-like Anubis. [A list made from the members of "swarms" should have more than two items. I recommend adding Heset, the goddess depicted as a cow with a tray of food on her horns, and Sepa, who appeared as a centipede with the head of a donkey.] While struggling to survive, Declan uncovers the truth behind the myths. These so-called “gods” are actually freaks of nature. They’ve spent the passing centuries hidden beneath the forest, suspended in hibernation. [A 12-year old kid, while dodging swarms of mythical beasts in a forest, finds time to uncover all this information that no one else has ever been able to uncover? Did he go through a time portal to the Great Library of Alexandria?] But the time to reclaim the world has come. With Ra leading them, the monster-gods set out to reach the largest mountain in the forest, a mountain that houses ancient technology. There, they’ll have the means to enslave humanity once again. [When I think of ancient technology, I think of the compass, the magnifying glass, the catapult, the crossbow. If these monster gods plan to enslave us with those, I'm shaking in my boots.]
Declan must reach the mountain before the creatures. Only then can he use that same technology to destroy them. [Wait, it's up to Declan to save us all? This technology isn't just sitting there on the mountain, it must be inside an impenetrable fortress invisible to humans. Declan has no chance of finding it. He needs to use his cell phone to contact his mom and tell her he's lost and to send the US military to rescue him.] But first, he’ll need to brave explosive geysers, frenzied rapids, dizzying heights, and crossbow-armed beasts. All of a sudden, those dumb, boring moose don’t sound half-bad. [Obviously this kid's never heard of Bullwinkle if he thinks moose are boring.]
MONSTER-GODS is a Middle Grade adventure, complete at 50,000 words. It blends the mythological focus of the Rick Riordan Presents series with the action of Laura Martin’s Edge of Extinction. I have my Honors Degree in English Language and Literature. Thank you for your time and consideration.
There's a reason Frodo recruited Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli and Gandalf for his quest. He was a Hobbit. Pretty much worthless in a fight. The leader on Mission Impossible would choose a team of people, each with their own skill. Even Dorothy had an armored man and a lion backing her up. If Declan has skills we don't know about, tell us. If he has a crew of experts following his lead, say so. So we'll think he has at least a one in a million chance of succeeding.
Did it ever occur to these freaks of nature that enslaving a world of seven billion people who have bombs and aircraft would be more difficult than enslaving a few thousand people who are still fighting with sticks and stones?
Also, why did these Egyptians do their hibernating in North America? Mount Kilimanjaro would've made more sense. And why didn't they hibernate in the same place where they stored their ancient technology, so they'd have it when they woke up, and wouldn't have to race some sixth-grade kid to get to it?
I'm sure my comments are addressed in the book, but try to at least convince us in the query that one child with ancient technology can defeat monster gods capable of enslaving the planet.
Friday, July 30, 2021
Taking the quick route through the cafeteria, Amelia picked up a couple of slices of pizza. A thank you gift in return couldn't hurt, and Tad never turned down a slice, though maybe it wouldn't hurt him to miss a meal...
Tad's office was clean and tidy. No books or boxes on the floor, no papers strewn around. Just today's newspaper in the center of the desk. As she surveyed the privileges of being in charge, a noise in the doorway caused her to turn around.
"Oh," Amelia said. It was Tad's secretary. "I was looking for..."
"Sorry," the woman replied. "You just missed him. He's out until next Thursday."
As the secretary bustled away, Amelia took another look around and shrugged. Oh, well -- a gift is a gift. She wrapped the pizza slices in a sheet from the newspaper and left in on his chair.
Wednesday, July 28, 2021
Guess the Plot
1. When adventurer Amelia dies near the summit of Mount Everest, she finds herself in her own personal hell: holding down a tedious office job on the production staff of the afterlife's most popular reality show, Romance Live Stream.
2. After foxy Wendy Fitz says she'll never date Bill "One-Up" Stetson, he tells her she'll never forget him. The fates conspire against them both with experimental magic, mad science, and multiverse time travel to prove them wrong. And right.
3. The latest rumor in Hell is that whoever climbs the highest mountain, Neverest, can escape to purgatory and finally find some rest. Is it true or simply the latest diabolical torture? Mountain climber Sid Shanks is about to find out.
4. Asked by his teacher for an example of an adjective along with its comparative and superlative forms, Joey replies, "never, neverer, neverest. She compliments his answer profusely, rather than risk he'll murder her after class. Just another day in the Newark school system.
5. It had always been Marion's dream to scale Everest, but when she gets halfway up and sees the mess of garbage and frozen corpses cluttering the once-pristine mountain, she turns back and starts a Go-Fund-Me project to raise money for trash bags, body bags, and a community cleanup project.
6. In a parallel universe, climbing Neverest is the goal of the most daring mountaineers, not because of its height so much as because it's crawling with abominable snowmen who will stop at nothing to protect their home from interloping humans.
NEVEREST is a gender bent reimagining of Dante’s Purgatorio, complete at 100,000 words. Like Olympus, Texas it is inspired by literature and weaves together a narrative through the eyes of multiple characters; like The Good Place, it explores a dysfunctional afterlife and uses satire to question the status quo. [Or, to put it more succinctly, Neverest is a combination of an 800-year old poem no one has read, a novel(la) no one's had time to read because it just came out in May, and a TV sitcom.]
Amelia Morgenthal had a distinguished life: daughter of a billionaire, an adventurer and mountaineer [Wait, she had three parents?]––until she died near the summit of Mount Everest. [I don't see "distinguished" as descriptive of the life of a mountaineer, adventurer, or billionaire's daughter. If we just go with adventurer and mountaineer, you could call her life rip-roaring or electrifying or stimulating. Having peeked ahead, and seen that her parents and her finances are never mentioned again, I think we can leave out the billionaire's daughter line. Which leaves us with: Adventurer and mountaineer Amelia Morgenthal led an electrifying life––until she died near the summit of Mount Everest.] In the afterlife, she’s a failure, stuck for decades as a caseworker in the Life Imbalance Modification and Betterment Office. [I deleted the failure part because I suspect she did a good job as a caseworker, despite finding the work tedious. ] [It might be better to say she's stuck for decades in LIMBO--the Life Imbalance etc....] Just when she thought nothing could get worse, a routine New Soul Intake goes awry. Rosealie Durante arrives screaming, and in a fit of frustration, Amelia erases the young woman’s memories of her last day, hoping to shut her up. [If you want us to sympathize with Amelia, "hoping to ease her transition (or her mind) would be better than hoping to shut her up.] The shortcut is a mistake; Amelia has unwittingly interfered with The Colloquium’s favorite cosmic reality show––Romance Live Stream #1. [It sounds like Rosealie is in the fit of frustration until I examine the punctuation carefully. To keep it clear, you could try: Rosealie Durante arrives screaming in terror (or anger or whatever). In a fit of frustration, Amelia erases the young woman’s memories of her last day, hoping to shut her up, but unwittingly interfering with The Colloquium’s favorite cosmic reality show––Romance Live Stream #1.] [Also, the TV show needs a catchier title. Love Eternal or Match Made in Heaven or Paradise by the Deathbed Light.]
The Colloquium, a mysterious collection of souls who influence life on Earth, demands that Amelia tend to Rosealie while waiting for the other half of her fated bond, Max Lieberman. There’s just one small problem: Amelia erased a long-awaited reconciliation between the two. So when Max arrives ready to resume his relationship with Rosealie, he is promptly rejected, and Amelia must get the two wayward lovers back together. [You know, if you spell her name Rosalie, Blogger's spell check won't keep underlining it in red.]
The more Amelia discovers about the couple and their past lives, the more she is convinced that they deserve to be free from The Colloquium’s voyeuristic gaze and each other. Rosealie becomes the one person who makes Amelia feel seen, and Amelia decides she cannot betray her new friend, [It would be a betrayal to get her back together with the man she just chose to get back together with? So the colloquium was behind their reconciliation?] even if it means giving up on freedom. [Not sure what that means. Is Amelia a prisoner? Or does she get to do things on the weekend and holidays, like watch Romance Live Stream #1 and go to harp concerts?] She confesses everything to Rosealie and the women form a plan to escape, [From where to where? Wait, do they climb through the seven levels of Colloquia?] but The Colloquium has a secret weapon––Max––and they are willing to do anything to keep their beloved show running. [The show got along fine before Rosealie died, why won't it get along without her now?] [Is Max a secret weapon because he's working with the Colloquium? Or are they just threatening him if Rosealie doesn't take him back?]
Despite all the blue words, it's not bad, in that it's organized and has some specificity. But it inspires a lot of questions about the plot, which should be avoided unless you want to answer them in the query.
Is it really a reality show if the Colloquium can demand that the plot progress exactly as they want it to? The Bachelor season doesn't end immediately if the bachelor doesn't give a rose to the woman the producers wanted him to end up with.
If you die, and find yourself in a job as a caseworker who investigates the past lives of new arrivals in the afterlife, and you believe nothing could get worse, I have no sympathy for you. That job sounds fascinating. I can think of lots of worse stuff, much of it described in detail in Dante's Purgatorio.
Speaking of which, I don't think calling your novel a reimagining of Dante’s Purgatorio in your first sentence is going to entice a lot of people to venture into your second sentence. If your book is light, like The Good Place, You don't want to compare it to something really heavy. And I'd put the first paragraph at the end of the plot summary.
Popular works (among hundreds) that mix afterlife with reality: Good Omens, American Gods, Heaven Can Wait, half the seasons of Supernatural. Your book may have a similar tone to one of these.
Because most of the plot takes place after the Everest tragedy, and in another world, the title comes across as an attempt to be clever or cute or funny. Doesn't work for me.
Friday, April 30, 2021
Alexis guided the cursor over her favorite words. After ten hours in her cubicle, the phrase “Sign Out” was better than any other two words in the English language including “free shipping” and “new episodes”. It was even better than her favorite three word phrase: “number two combo”.
Thursday, April 22, 2021
Guess the Plot
Monsters Like Us
Saturday, April 17, 2021
Evil Editor looked up from the manuscript, eyebrows raised. "Well, Miss Persimmon... You certainly know your target demographic: Wild free spirits, wanderlust, sudden rage; love of bright colors and shiny things; obsession with computer screens; noisy, wild sex and, ah, anus licking...
He adjusted his spectacles. "Anus licking." He paused for a moment. "Frankly, there's just one thing that will prevent this becoming a best seller. Cats can't read."
Miss Persimmon huffed, grabbed her papers and headed for the door.
"Anus licking." Evil Editor repeated quietly to himself, as he reached for the intercom button. "Mrs Varmighan? Would you step in here a moment? There's something I need you to do."
Friday, April 16, 2021
The author of the book featured in Face-Lift 1415 would like feedback on the following version:
Wednesday, April 07, 2021
Wednesday, March 31, 2021
Guess the Plot
The Counterfeit Girl
1. While building a wild-west theme park, Mindy Lou discovers her deceased grandfather's deed to an abandoned silver mine is an old forgery. She must outwit collectors, pawnbrokers, and museum curators to discover who bilked whom out of what so she can finally bring back the shoot-em-up days.
2. Sitting in a stifling room at the back of a fake shoe store shuffling rubles, dollars, riyals, euros, yen, and yuan is no way to live. Svetlana is bored out of her mind and stuck in a financial rut she'll never escape as the Black Market Currency Exchange Girl. She'd kill to be The Counterfeit Girl -- glamor, opportunity, and a clean restroom.
3. Mindy drew her first perfect fifty dollar bill when she was twelve. Six years later, on the lam from the mob, the FBI, and various world-wide spy agencies, can she fake it as a budding artist in a retro-hippie commune long enough to forge herself a new identity?
4. She was made of yarn and string, a hopeful thing. But at what point does she become real? Dolly sets out to become a real girl, and Pinocchio has nothing on this determined kid.
5. Anniziq was created by the Spanner Corporation to be the ultimate female companion. But what happens when serial number RML-10038291 begins to sense its soul is that of a man?
6. Lela was the cutest Pomeranian in the world until she got caught in the cross-fire between a witchy stepmother and a fairy godfather. Now she's a human girl trying to survive on the streets. Fortunately, she still has the amazing ability to smell like a dog. Unfortunately, she also still smells like a dog.
7. Mary Joan Oswald reinvents herself as Instagram starlet Marisa Oz, hiding her identity as a coding bootcamp student. Her developing feelings for classmate Noel leave her at a crossroads. Down one road is the unrequited true love of a dweeb, down the other a posh NYC dream.
8. After 18 years in Oregon, Trina discovers that her entire life has been spent in China, in a town constructed as a replica of an American town. It's either some kind of experiment or a Chinese plot to destroy the world. Does Trina have what it takes to save us all?
9. Sasha is the criminal underground’s premier go-to for counterfeit bills. These days, she’s printing a revenge plan against her ex-boyfriend, master thief and wanker Darby Kingsley for shafting her on his last score.
She badgers him for details but he’s killed before they can meet. [If I happen to mention a place my girlfriend never heard of and she starts badgering me, I start looking for a girlfriend who's less passionate about geography.] In her parents’ bedroom she discovers a stuffed animal with a tag labeled Made in China [tag]. Tucked inside is a photo bringing back dreams [memories?] of a twin sister no one else remembers. Convinced her sister is held outside town, she tries to escape only to find impregnable forest and maze-like trails. Every call outside Castor’s area code leads to a recorded message. And none of the kids who’ve left for college are ever heard from again.