Guess the Plot
Eyes of the Starry Jewel
1. A rock band solves their slight audience-petrification problem with a sunglass advertisement contract. But when the high notes hit shattering frequency, gorgon slayers become the least of their problems. Also rabbits.
2. The Starry Jewel is the most beautiful life-like doll the Emperor commissioned. The only thing the artisan is missing is the perfect eyes. Beatrice happens to have the perfect pair, her own. Can she escape before becoming a work of art?
3. Nahim and Shamika Mahmoud are a brother-sister archaeology duo sent to the planet Coiter by the Inter-Dimensional Global Acquisitions Federation (IDGAF) to find the hidden tomb of Queen Pen-in-senas. The tomb is believed to contain jewels which could restore power to the planet, and allow for the construction of a new space port.
4. Once again the fate of mankind rests with one human, but this time it's a monk who lives in a monastery called Eyes of the Starry Jewel. He believes all he has to do to end the apocalypse is decipher the secret clues he's sure are hidden in a book that he's not allowed to read.
5. To the naked eye it's just a big sapphire. But magnified, it's a 3-D map of the galaxy and NASA, the Vatican, and the military all want it. Jody, who found it on his farm, is willing to sell it. Bidding starts at seventeen million.
6. The government calls it the Starry Jewel, a giant telescope launched into space to seek out life in distant solar systems. But conspiracy theorist Donald knows the truth: the telescope is trained on Earth, and is capable of zooming in on individual people. Can he convince the media to take him seriously? I mean besides FOX news.
7. When you're a witch and a spy, you obviously need to run a high-price jewelry store to get your bespelled gems into clandestine government meetings so you can take a peek at who's planning what. Most days, though, it's just more soap-opera reality tv.
8. It has eyes. It follows you home. Now it has your eyes. And you will be its in finding more eyes. More and more and more and more and more eyes.
Dear Evil Editor,
Centuries after a cataclysm, only the monastery known as the Eyes of the Starry Jewel offers protection from the pox, and the mindless creatures it afflicts. Inside, an historian monk risks expulsion and exile when he succumbs to an irresistible compulsion to study a banned book of stories hidden deep in the archives. [Are there women in this monastery? Making babies? That would seem to be the highest priority in the only place protected from the pox.]
The stories within tell of people long ago whose fates were tied to an evil empire [Like the stories of Anton Chekhov, which tell of people long ago whose fates were tied to Russia.] thought to have caused the pox. A vigilante held captive by a tyrannical fairy struggles through torture and isolation to protect his comrades. A wounded soldier ekes out his days in poverty and humiliation until he's offered one last chance to serve his country - as the assassin of a foreign leader. A young giantess and a scientist from opposing sides of a great war team up to protect magical butterflies from a power hungry priest. A woman striving to find a place amidst the unforgiving expectations of nobility is instead lost in a hidden world of espionage and prophecy. A philosopher, grieving the tragic loss of his family, seeks purpose on an empire’s colonizing mission to a mysterious island where a god dwells. [I should have just used this list as my fake plots.] [These plots all sound better than your plot.]
As the monk reads the tales, he becomes convinced that together, they hold hidden secrets that may be key to ending the world's nightmare. But he will need to convince his brothers who see his work as heresy, while defending the monastery from the monsters he one day hopes to save. Yet the book is more than he knows, and as events unfold, he finds that written in its ancient ink may be the story of his own destiny.
Eyes of the Starry Jewel is a 129,000 word piece of adult fantasy comprising seven stories that take place over several hundred years. [ Those must be some pretty long short stories if they add up to 129,000 words.] While this is my first novel, I have had four short stories published in independent anthologies. Two such stories, “The Aurelians’ Chronicle” and “The Godmother” appear in Eyes as tales that the monk encounters in the forbidden book.
Thank you for your consideration.
A well-written query. And timely, what with its theme that banning books will lead to the end of civilization.
Let me see if I've got this straight. Long ago the pox almost wiped out humanity, but a few geniuses found a way to beat the pox and decided they should record how they did it so that if the pox ever returned it could be stopped from devastating the world. But they decided that instead of just publishing their findings in a medical journal, they would sprinkle enigmatic clues to their pox-beating method into a book of short stories (not unlike how da Vinci hid clues about Jesus's marriage in The Last Supper). But they didn't stop there, no, just in case someone was smart enough to decipher the clues in the book, they banned anyone from even reading the book. To read it was heresy, punishable by exile and certain death. So now the pox is back, it's wiping us out again, and only one brave monk can save us all--if he's able to find and solve a bunch of mind-boggling puzzles hidden in the banned book before his brothers throw him to the mindless monsters.
I was being facetious, but now that I think about it, my summary of your plot isn't half bad. Your list of short story log-lines featuring torture, isolation, poverty, assassination, war, and tragic loss is kinda depressing. You do have magical butterflies, which are cool, but then you add a power-hungry priest who, I assume, kills them all or uses them as weapons of mass destruction.
One could get the impression you realized you weren't gonna find a publisher for a short story collection, but if you disguised your stories as a novel by having a character from one of the stories, as part of the plot, read all the other stories out loud . . .
This might work best if all the stories were tied together by something stronger than they all take place over a period of several hundred years in an empire "thought to have caused the pox." Like, if they all took place during the original pox outbreak in the empire that definitely caused the pox (China) and you worked the pox, at least tangentially, into each story. Wait, is the monastery in every story? If so, mention that. If not, maybe make the title of the banned book, instead of the name of the monastery, be the title of your book. Assuming you can come up with a cool title for the banned book.
I think you'd have a better query if you eliminate paragraph 2, and expand a bit on the last sentence of paragraph 3 while making it less vague. What is the book, really? What is the most important event that unfolds, leading to the monk's eureka realization that it's all about him?
Are all seven stories necessary? Actually, I don't know if the stories are all pretty short and only 5% of the book, or really long, and 90% of the book. But this is awfully long for a first novel.
Does the monk have a name, or is he just referred to as "the monk" throughout the book?