Thursday, February 29, 2024

Face-Lift 1452

Guess the Plot

A Graveyard of Scarecrows

1. A sacred order of warriors must rise up against the Crow King in order to thwart his campaign to collect and hoard all the shiny things.

2. Set in a cornfield, this YA dystopian narrative pits the adolescent scions of two farming communities against each other. Slowly, their hatred increases until the Porker family and the Beefy family start sending out spies to take out each others mascots... the titular scarecrows.

3. There is a graveyard where even a murder of crows will not go. It's spookier than any other graveyard. It's the graveyard where all the actors who've ever played Scarecrow in The Wiz are buried.

4. Everything has a place to go when it dies, even things which weren't originally alive. As far as Bubba was concerned, the remains of scarecrows weren't near as creepy as the remains of mannequins. But that was before they rose up seeking Brraaaiiiinnnnnssssss.

5. Edgar puts scarecrows in the graveyard where he's caretaker to keep ravens from carrying the souls of the dead to hell. Betsy Lou doesn't mind being dead, but it's crowded here now that the ravens aren't coming. Crowded with souls of the Wicked Ones.

6. There have been 457 sequels of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, but never a prequel. Until now.

7. When Billy hears about that little town in America where scarecrows come alive at night, he takes a road trip to spy on them and elevate his TikTok game. However, the travel brochure from the truck stop didn’t mention their taste for human flesh.

8. A horrible storm has wiped out half of Aaron's crops and killed most of his family. But when the weather clears, he turns tragedy into triumph by stuffing straw into what few scraps of his family's clothing he can find and starting an internet scarecrow store.

9. When a controversial statue disappears from a college campus, the city is thrown into chaos. Possibly because there aren't enough funds available to replace the statue. They could afford to replace it with a scarecrow, but no one has the guts to bring that idea up.

Original Version

Dear X,

Hope you’re well! 

I thought you might enjoy A Graveyard of Scarecrows. Sitting at 81,000 words, it's [is] a work of magic realist literary fiction set in an uncanny, postcolonial Devonshire, complete with more than a dash of statue politics. [Why does every query letter lately sound like someone's trying to punk me?] 

When senior lecturer Dr. Kunju Kuriakose travels to the UK and enrols [enrolls] as an undergraduate at The Decolonised University of England (DUE), she has an excuse [explanation] for the academic regression: she's going 'undercover'. 

KK plans to use the time as a literary retreat to finally write her Great Postcolonial Campus Novel, but her five carefully curated animals non-native to Devonshire spark a series of surreal eventsStarting with [including] the disappearance of a controversial imperialist statue, to [and several] Grade II buildings crumbling into dust, the [. The] small campus city is thrown into chaos. KK however, is not - sentient statues and self-renaming roads are after all, common in the Global South. 

The DUE do three things: first, take credit for the statue's disappearance as part of an upcoming decolonising project, Taming the Past. Second, launch a six-figure grant bid for said project. Third, find a scapegoat, [At first I thought that said "find a scarecrow." For some reason I thought sooner or later I'd come upon a scarecrow. Or a graveyard.] threaten her with deportation for falsifying her student status and hiding her credentials, [If she didn't tell DUE the truth about her status and credentials, who was she providing an excuse (explanation) to?] then offer her a deal. KK can write her Great Postcolonial Campus Novel and get paid a salary to boot, if she agrees to be the principal investigator named on the grant bid. Simultaneously native informant and revolutionary symbol, she becomes the face of the movement...

...and the dealer-with [recipient?] of death threats, when the magical events in Devonshire prompts a national broadsheet headline "DECOTERRORISTS STRIKE DEVON".  ["Decoterrorists" sound like people who go into the art deco section of museums and spray  graffiti on the paintings.]

A Graveyard of Scarecrows will appeal to readers of Mithu Sanyal’s campus tragicomedy IDENTITTl, Amitav Ghosh’s GUN ISLAND for its environmental microcosms and postcolonial intertexuality, [Once this book is published, anyone who finishes Gun Island and goes looking for another book featuring environmental microcosms and postcolonial intertexuality will buy it.] as well as Tan Twan Eng’s THE HOUSE OF DOORS for its magical resurrection of buried histories. 

(PERSONALISATION)  A Graveyard of Scarecrows was initially conceived of as a memoir, and retains some autofictional elements. The work was funded by a £XXXXX grant from the XXXXXX. [So you got a grant to write a novel, and are using it to write a novel about someone who gets a grant which she uses to write a novel. That's brilliant.]


Why does KK have to be an undercover undergraduate? Is she taking undergraduate classes? Can't she attend graduate school without needing an excuse? 

What's the deal with her five animals? Are they responsible for the chaos, and is that why she brought them? 

Statue theft and changed street signs can be attributed to vandalism. Buildings becoming dust, not so much. Were there people in the buildings that crumbled into dust? Is that what they're seeking a scapegoat for? Are the people of England aware that magic exists?

If she just wants to write a novel set at this university, can't she just show up in town, hang out on campus, audit a few classes? Obviously she must have ulterior motives including being a native informant and/or causing chaos, but to what end? To use as plot points in her fantastical novel? As revenge for colonization? In other words, we don't want her "excuse" for enrolling, we want her real reason. Her goal, her plan to achieve it . . . 

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Face-Lift 1451

Guess the Plot

1. An historical look at Japanese female shamanism from ancient times to the present.

2. The Sisters of the Unwavering Faith has been around as long as Kannagi can remember. Always the same look and behavior. When she is invited to join the group, she finds things that can chill the soul. Can she escape?

3. After Kannagi finally leaves her unemployed, philandering, loser of a husband, he is executed by the government. So she performs her wifely duty and burns down the entire city.

4. The kids from Jumanji stumble upon another game, a computer game called Kannagi, which they can play on their computers from their homes with no human contact. They become addicted and never leave their parents' basements until, many decades later, they are carried out in caskets.

5. When a dog named Kannagi crosses the border from South Korea to North Korea, and finds its way to Kim Jong Un, the Supreme Leader is so taken with the mutt that he abandons his nuclear arsenal and proclaims his nation a democracy.

6. The Hindu god Kannagi, the Peacemaker, takes on Shiva, the Destroyer, in an epic battle. At stake: the number of arms each will have and who gets to ride the sacred elephant. 

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor

Kannagi is an #ownvoices feminist retelling of Tamil Nadu’s most famous epic, the Silappadhikaaram. [The title alone is epic.] Complete at 75000 words, it will appeal to readers of Madeline Miller’s Circe and Vaishnavi Patel’s Kaikeyi. [If this query is being sent somewhere other than India, the reader is likely to think Tamil Nadu is the author. Not that that will matter, I guess.]

Sometime in the 14th century, Kannagi starts a fire that ends up razing the city of Madurai to the ground. Religion calls it an act of God and her, a goddess. [Here in the 21st century we call it an act of arson, and her, a terrorist.] 

Myth attributes it to wifely duty and celebrates her as a beacon of chastity. [Burning a whole city to the ground is wifely duty?] [There's already a myth about this? It just happened two sentences ago.]

Every version of this story ends the same way: Kannagi burns Madurai down to avenge her husband’s death. [Okay, this clears up one point. She didn't accidentally burn down the city when she tossed a cigarette butt out the window of her horse cart. She intentionally burned the city down because someone in the city is responsible for her husband's death.] But in a society where a woman’s standing is determined by her husband’s and where widowhood leaves you a pariah, Kannagi’s motives cannot be limited to grief or wifely duty. [I moved some of that to the next paragraph. Here's the problem. You start with the plot, (sort of) as expected, but then you interrupt it by bringing in the myth, and "every version of this story," which could be worked in before or after the plot summary. For instance, sentence 1: Kannagi is a 75,000-word feminist retelling of Ilango Adigal’s epic, Silappadhikaaram, in which a woman burns the city of Madurai to the ground to avenge her husband's death.]

A merchant’s daughter in Puhar, Kannagi is raised with one goal and one goal only: marriage. But when [her husband,] Kovalan leaves her for another, she has to learn an entirely new way of life with her lady-in-waiting and confidant, Veni. [A merchant's daughter has a lady-in-waiting?] Kovalan eventually comes back, begging for another chance. He is penniless thanks to his philandering, but in Puhar, [where a woman’s standing is determined by her husband’s,] a penniless husband is better than none at all. [Not this husband.]

When Kannagi finally decides to leave Kovalan, [See? She agreed with me.] they have moved to Madurai -the capital city of a rival kingdom- for a fresh start. Married in name only, the two form a fragile alliance to regain wealth so they can move back home. Meanwhile, Kannagi finds community in a group of women all spurned by society, where she learns the strange ways in which women find agency under oppression. 

Kovalan’s attempts at business keep failing, so Kannagi gives him her last piece of jewellery to pawn for capital. [What is her last piece, the Hope Diamond? Her wedding ring isn't gonna bring in enough to start a business that brings them wealth.] Her one shot at going back home and regaining her social status is lost forever when Kovalan is executed, following a court scandal. [How does this loser get within five miles of the court?]

Through all of this, the indignation that simmers just beneath the surface, informing her every decision is what gives away Kannagi’s motive: Rage. [Rage that results in a last-episode-of- Game-of-Thrones-Daenerys moment, as Kannagi razes the city of Madurai to the ground.]

With themes of sisterhood, feminine rage and sapphic pining, Kannagi is an exploration of, and a rebellion against the censorship of women, their feelings and motivations, under the veils of chastity.

I work in computer science, writing code when I'm not writing fiction. Kannagi is my first novel, although I have experience in technical documentation and social media copywritingComplete at 75,000 words, it will appeal to readers of Madeline Miller’s Circe and Vaishnavi Patel’s Kaikeyi.


"Every version of this story ends the same way: Kannagi burns Madurai down to avenge her husband’s death." So there are several retellings of this story? No need to tell us how your story is the same as every version; how is it different? Is it because it's feminist? Seems like every version would be somewhat feminist if they all involve oppressed women and revenge.

I've attempted to reorganize your information (red words moved elsewhere or eliminated), to get the story, which begins: A merchant’s daughter in Puhar . . .  up front. If you take it apart and put it back together, feel free to resubmit.

Normally when I think of retellings, I think of moving a story set in olden times to the present day. It seems you've moved the original from the 5th century to the 14th. How many
get-rich-quick schemes were available to Kovalan in the 14th century?

Not that I'm saying you should do something so radical as set it in present day, but women are still oppressed today, and, in some places, dependent on their husband's social status. All you'd have to do is change Kannagi's lady-in-waiting to her BFF. 

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Face-Lift 1450, take 2

Now, after reconsidering my earlier stance, I've made some comments, and done a bit of housekeeping.

Guess the Plot

The Plan of the Silence


2. Ssshhhhhhhhhh! We're planning here. Quiet!

3. They say two can keep a secret if one of them is dead. Except the local necromancer didn't get the message, and she has been raising the dead without permission and all sorts of dirty secrets are coming to light.

4. The Silence has a plan. It can't tell anyone because, well, it is The Silence. An introduction to outside-the-box thinking for young children.

5. When Bob loses his hearing, he loses his religion. No point in attending church services if you can't hear. But then he discovers that the words of the prophets are written on the subway walls. And tenement halls. 

6. Abby arrives on her first day as a professional babysitter with a bag full of props and a plan. Breakfast, then story time, then arts and crafts, lunch and then a nap. Simple. Hours of screaming, crying and bickering later, she goes home defeated. But she is a fast learner: on her second day she has a whole new plan, and the only prop she needs is a roll of duct tape.

7. When God informs televangelist Oral Ditterbund the end of the world is nigh, Oral prepares for a live broadcast. But his plan to save humanity is thwarted when a robed man breaks into his mansion wielding a knife. Can Oral still get the word out with no tongue?

8. A sentient patch of fog with the ability to block all sound decides to drive humanity insane and take over the world by forcing people to endure…The Silence. However, modern attention spans being what they are, this takes about ten seconds and now the fog has a whole afternoon to kill.

9. Step 1: Be quiet. Step 2: 

10. Manhattan is transported to another world where animals can talk. They can, but they don't. Otherwise the title wouldn't make sense. Also, a guy named Ronald Thrump.

11. Hello darkness, my old stalker
We need to have a little talk, er...
I have seen you softly creeping
In my room. I wasn't sleeping.
You put a thought inside my brain
It still remains
Within: the plan of the silence

Original Version 

We would like to submit our satire science fiction novel, THE PLAN OF THE SILENCE, a standalone witih [Typo in sentence 1. Not a good sign.] series potential, complete at 128,000 words for your consideration. THE PLAN is Dan Brown's absurd Illuminati who live in the world of Qixin's THREE BODY PROBLEM and fight aliens with Berg’s GRM. BRAINFUCK methods, who [and] find themselves in a grim multiverse version of the DISCWORLD. [In my opinion, it's a rare reader who'll be familiar with all of those references. Also, Qixin's world plus discworld = I couldn't decide which world to say it's set in.]

(Sentence on why did we choose this specific agent).

The story follows Freya Axelsen, an Instagram business coach, who has to use her skills in productivity and positive thinking to save the world from alien invaders, the AI and the Deep State.

Freya's life spirals out of control when a private video of her goes viral. But before it jeopardizes her reputation and career, Manhattan is transported to another world. Suddenly, animals can speak, [You'd be surprised how many agents put talking animals near the top of their lists of dealbreakers.] [Also, transporting one person to the planet below failed so often on Star Trek, it's hard to buy transporting a place with a million people and a couple hundred skyscrapers anywhere.] the grid is down, and the city island is surrounded by the endless sea. Trying to escape her home, [Escape to where? Her home? Does she have transportation?] Freya is met by the Deep State agents, who treat her as Roman the Pruner, the State’s ruler. They follow their protocol and sure that Freya is Roman despite the obvious gender mismatch—and Freya ventures to steal the show. [What is entailed in stealing the show? That's too vague.]

Choosing to assume Roman’s role, Freya has an eventful night: she commands the Delta-Null order of Deep State’s assassins, harnesses the State’s AI Prophet, and fends off an attack by Gathers—looters of dead worlds, who have arrived at Manhattan to nibble. However, as the first rays of dawn appear, the Deep State uncovers Freya's deception. To survive, Freya chooses to join the Illuminati, [Your 2nd sentence says your book is Dan Brown's absurd Illuminati, but you've taken a long time to get to them.] the State’s servants. [Is the State also the Deep State? Or are they two different things?]

She meets other Illuminati: Mister K, [who calls himself that because nobody can pronounce Krzyzewski] the leader of the Deep State, and Dr. Ferdrehels, who researches the new world and its dwellers. [I can't tell if Ferdrehels is a Manhattanite researching the world he just landed in, or someone from that world researching Manhattan. Luckily, I don't care.] She learns that such Merges with other worlds constantly occur, and the Deep State exists to conceal this Truth. In her new role, Freya intends to rescue the people of Manhattan, but instead, she finds herself protecting the secrets of the State—and she has good reason to.

If the Truth about the State spills, all the Manhattan will be swiftly annihilated by the AI Prophet. Furthermore, there is strife within the Deep State itself. Most of the Illuminati have been wiped out, and the Illuminate-defector Ronald Thrump, [Seriously? The guy's equally likely to sue you for that fake name, so you may as well just use his actual one . . . Ronald McDonald.] who escaped to his Tower, is playing his own game. Freya appears to be a black swan, the only Illuminate out of the stalemate—[Whaaaaat?] so everyone has a plan for her.

When the fate of New York suddenly falls on her shoulders, Freya has nothing to wield against the collapsing world but her business coaching skills and productivity tips. [In other words, New York is doomed.] Will they be enough to defeat the ancient AI and the Gather Corporation? Or, she would [would she] be better off switching sides for Gathers, as the aliens are hardly scarier than the own State? [her own State? the Deep State?]

[Bio info]

Thank you for your time and consideration, 


After spending my usual 4 hours on my critique, and realizing I was only 2/5 of the way through the query, I told myself, Screw this, the novel probably doesn't even exist. But then I thought, It might exist, and I'm legally required to give it my best.

This is twice as long as a query should be, and shouldn't be difficult to cut it in half, as much of it is unnecessary detail. Get rid of some of the characters, there are too many Just focus on Freya. Who is she, what does she want, what's her plan, what stands in her way? And make it clear why this Instagram business coach, among the million people (police, military veterans, professional wrestlers) who have been transported with her, is the only one who can save everyone. It's gotta be a better reason than her business coaching skills and productivity tips.

Get rid of Ronald. It's not especially funny. Besides, if Freya was still Freya after Manhattan was transported, why would Donald suddenly be Ronald? That may be explained in the book, but you don't have room to explain it in the query, so don't bring it up.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Face-Lift 1449

Guess the Plot

A Lie of Omission

1. When Jennifer starts dating Kelley, she fails to say anything about her current engagement status (to 3 men & 1 woman), her current marital status (qualifies as bigamy in most states), and her current number of dependents (6 if you count granny). On the other hand, Kelley fails to tell her he flunked out of college, he's unemployed, and he's not even human.

2. "I had a vasectomy a long time ago." That was all Rob had to say, but he didn't, so Lydia wondered why she wasn't getting pregnant. Was it her fault? Not according to her doctor, and Rob won't get tested. He does, however, try to comfort Lydia by taking her shopping at a big box store. 

3. For some time, Sondra has known the date her husband would die, but has never told him. The guilt over that lie of omission has been eating away at her, as she considers herself intensely honest. Would it help or hurt their marriage, she wonders, to tell him the date? And to tell him about the alibi she has carefully planned for that date? And about the gun she has purchased? It's the lying that's tearing her apart.

4. When Pinocchio says his nose will grow, he’s telling the truth. But he’s omitting the part about it growing only when he lies. So does his lie of omission then cause his nose to grow, but in the process thereby turning it into the truth? This and other fairy tale paradoxes guaranteed to make your children's brains ache.

5. Elizabeth has been acting as Queen Regent for 16 years. Now rumors are swirling about the next king to be. As the rumors go wildly out of control, how can she explain to her subjects that there isn't, and never was, an heir?

6. John got laid off from his job two years ago, but has failed to inform his wife, Annie, of this. He's more than replaced his lost income by selling opiates and heroin on street corners. Now that the economy has picked up, John's former boss wants him back. Should John take the offer, even though he's now making twenty times his original salary?

7. Omission realizes she’ll never get published after a literary agent throws a sheaf of papers that is her manuscript in her face and screams "fool!" But when she meets a magical little man who lives under a rainbow, she’ll do anything he says to make her dream come true.

8. Your field guide to dishonesty.

Original Version

When Rob Brown's first wife asks him to get a vasectomy at 21, he goes along. He knows an unwanted baby could ruin a life. He had been that baby for his mother. The vasectomy works, but the marriage doesn't, and he's looking for love again in his 30s. He finds it in Lydia Eisenberg, a Korean Studies professor he meets in the personals in Denver. [Didn't personals go the way of the rotary phone when it turned out they were being used by human traffickers? Or was it Tinder that killed them?] Love isn't complicated for them. They can have fun at a big box store together and that's enough. Really, that's a lot. [Once they even went to Costco and Home Depot on the same day.]

Their relationship of small joys quickly leads to bigger commitments. Unlike his childhood and his first marriage, Lydia is stable and kind. [Unlike his mother and his first wife would be better; you're comparing apples to dead apple trees and aphid-infested orchards.] Rob should tell her about his vasectomy, but he 
doesn't. He's afraid he'll lose her.

His vasectomy doesn't have to be a big deal, especially because Lydia would adopt before getting science involved. [Sounds like they've had a discussion about children, which apparently went like this:

Lydia: Before we talk about marriage, we should discuss the number of children we want.
Rob: I'm leaning toward zero.
Lydia: I'm thinking six. We'll compromise and go with five.
Rob: . . . . . . . . . . . Okay?]    

And now that Rob's older and has a good-enough career in marketing, he would have kids with Lydia. But the longer Rob goes without telling her, the harder admitting the truth becomes. [Then, suddenly, Lydia is sixty-five years old.] Instead of being honest with Lydia about why her period keeps coming, Rob has a secret vasectomy reversal.

[Lydia: It's the right time of the month to make a baby. Let's hit the sheets.
Rob: Sorry, I'll be out of commission for the next week.
Lydia: Whattaya mean?
Rob: It's a secret surprise . . . Look just trust me, and . . . Hey, let's go to IKEA!]
It fails, but an adoption from South Korea goes through. [Did the doctor declare that the operation failed, or does Rob think it failed because Lydia didn't get pregnant immediately? I ask because my research shows it can take a year for sperm count to get back to normal after a successful reversal.] Rob easily surrenders to the demands of parenting, but as his daughter's sense of displacement as a transracial adoptee grows, his guilt compounds. Even if it's too late for the truth, Rob can't live with his lie. [I hope you mean he kills himself; otherwise it goes:

Rob: You know how you didn't get pregnant for a decade and you went to your doctor for dozens of invasive tests and she eventually said there was no physical explanation, it must be your husband, and I refused to have my doctor test my sperm count because it was too embarrassing and then you brought me this thing 

so I could test it in our home, and I told you I used it and my sperm count was normal?
Lydia: Yeah, what about it?
Rob: I  lied. My count was zero, because I had a vasectomy when I was 21. Funny, huh?
Lydia (plunging ice pick she bought at Walmart Superstore into Rob's eye): Hilarious.]
A LIE OF OMISSION explores how cowardice and shame can shape a marriage and a family over two decades. A wry take on the compromises of partnership and parenting, A LIE OF OMISSION will appeal to fans of Taffy Brodesser-Akner's Fleishman Is in Trouble. Exploring transnational adoption and what goes unsaid in a seemingly strong marriage, A LIE OF OMISSION brings together elements of The Fourth Child by Jessica Winter and the film May December.

A bit about me: I live in Denver, Colorado with my husband and young children. My short stories have been featured in the Columbia Review, Fiction Southeast, and the Changing Denver Podcast. I am also an active member of Lighthouse Writers Workshop, a writing non-profit in Denver, where I held an artist salon for many years.


It seems unfathomable that Rob would keep his secret while Lydia is hopeful every month of finding she's pregnant, especially if Rob knows she's ok with adoption. Or that she would not ask her doctor why she isn't becoming pregnant, or, if she did ask, why her doctor wouldn't suggest fertility tests for both her and Rob. Or that Rob's first wife wouldn't go with a different form of birth control, considering their young ages. Some doctors won't perform vasectomies on young guys. 

Possibly all of this is explained to our satisfaction in the book? If so, I suggest leaving most of it out of the query.

Here's a way you might go:

When Rob Brown and Lydia Eisenberg start talking about marriage, and Lydia says she'd like a big family, Rob is afraid to mention the vasectomy he had ten years ago. So he doesn't. Instead, he secretly schedules a reversal of the vasectomy. But Lydia fails to get pregnant in the next year, and takes a home fertility test that shows she's not the problem. Looks like Rob will have to come clean . . . but an adoption from South Korea goes through. Rob feels like he's gotten a reprieve. 

None of that puts Rob in a better light, but it may make the query sound less outlandish. And if the agent wants to know why the query left out a few salient points, tell her you sprinkled in a few lies of omission. 

Friday, February 09, 2024

Face-Lift 1448

Guess the Plot

Tied Fates

1. Just for the record, Abernathy would like it known that he never wanted a serial killer as a soul mate. 

2. The three Fates, Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos, are captured by Arachne, and woven into an intricate web. Arachne takes over the job of weaving mortals, but she's only interested in creating humans who are evil. Can Aesop write a myth in which the Fates are rescued before the world is overrun with demons and ogres?

3. There was an, uh, accident with a basket of kittens while Clotho was spinning out the lives of mortals. Rather than letting Atropos cut it all to pieces, thereby killing them all, Lachesis comes up with a plan of cat's-cradle destinies involving people living out parts of their lives as each other. It makes sense in the book.

4.  Clotho has always spun the thread, Lachesis measured it, and Atropos snipped it. Always. For millennia. One day, out of boredom (and after more than a few drinks) they decide to switch jobs. Before long the entire universe is in disarray as the sisters of Fate end up bickering and tied in knots of indiscriminate length, and if they don't get things back under control soon, someone is getting a scissor in the eye.

5. Tommy's only hope of happiness is to find his mother. Cecile's only hope of bringing peace to her homeland is to obliterate the place where Tommy's mother is living. It's like that story where the guy sells his watch to buy his wife a hair comb only to find out she's sold her hair to buy him a watch chain. Except in my book there's also a dragon.

6. Thanks to a witch's spell, Evangeline is blind, and will remain so until she marries. Her only suitor is an ugly dwarf who loves Evangeline but knows she will never love him once she sees him. Will he help her regain her sight, knowing she'll leave him, or will he talk her into just being friends with benefits?

Original Version

In the far-flung mining town of Nyrmoon where magic is feared, Tommy can bring objects to life, bestowing free will upon toys, trees [Trees aren't exactly slaves being ordered around by birds and squirrels. For all we know, they choose to stand in one place, soaking up the sun's rays. I can think of worse ways to choose to live. A better example than trees would be mannequins, which, if they had free will, would wipe out humanity.] and beyond. When his powers grow out of control causing a living pickaxe to maim his father, he becomes convinced magic is evil. [Pickaxes don't maim people; mannequins with pickaxes maim people.] Tommy sets out on a journey through the Misfortunate Woods in search of the one person who could help him subdue his powers… his mother. [Do you expect us to believe a teenage kid who has magical powers isn't using those powers to get chicks?]

After Tommy narrowly escapes the jaws of a wyrm and befriends a winged horse, he reaches Capital, a city steeped in magic. However, a greater danger appears in the form of a kind-hearted girl, Cecile, the secret dragon-riding princess. [A dragon-riding princess needs a cooler name than Cecile. How about Daenerys?] [If you've got a flying horse, and your girlfriend's got a dragon, your best-case scenario is that the dragon only eats your horse.]

Cecile yearns for an age of peace, but her only path to attain it is to overthrow her evil mother and become ruler in her place. This requires her to lay siege to Capital and obliterate the magical barracks where Tommy’s mother lives. [Even better: obliterate the place where her own mother lives.] She may be able to extinguish her mother’s war but she might stain herself in blood and yet achieve nothing. [I spent 8 years watching Game of Thrones and you managed to condense the whole thing into one paragraph.] [Most wars end with at least one side stained in blood, having achieved nothing.]

Featuring two independent story threads which merge after the midpoint, TIED FATES (59,000 words) is an upper MG, Epic Fantasy, standalone with series potential. It's similar in tone with Skandar and the Unicorn Thief by A.F. Steadman,  [Anyone whose occupation is unicorn thief better have a side gig.] Frostheart by Jamie Littler, and Avatar: The Last Airbender, the Nickelodeon TV show. [Two comp book titles are plenty; no need to add a Nickelodeon TV show, even if you're as positive as I am that the agent's familiar with the TV show and never heard of the books.] 

I'm an Actor [No need to capitalize "actor" unless you've won an Academy Award.] with a passion for music and dance, working at a theater company specialized [ing] in productions for children. [For instance, Death of a Toy Salesman, and The Ice Cream Man Cometh.]

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Tommy is entering a city steeped in magic, a city apparently at war with whomever, a city surrounded by giant man-eating wyrms, yet a kind-hearted girl is a greater danger?

Even with free will, a pickaxe would have to grow legs or wings to be much danger.

Is Capital the capital city of some place? If so, whoever named it didn't have much imagination. If not, I bet the people in the actual capital city are pissed that this other city named itself Capital. So pissed that that's probably who Capital is at war with. I'm surprised Paris, France hasn't declared war on Paris, Texas.

Is Cecile's mother the ruler of just this one city?

What is this war that Cecile may be able to extinguish? The only war-like event mentioned was Cecile laying siege to Capital. Up till then, it was already an age of peace as far as I can see. Or is some other city also laying siege to Capital?

I'm more interested in what happens when the two threads merge than in Tommy's friendship with a flying horse. After introducing the two main characters, tell us what the dilemma is. Does Cecile need Tommy's magic to take down her mother? Does he refuse to use it for fear he'll maim Cecile with a cleaver? Is it impossible to get Tommy's mom out of the barracks before it's obliterated? Do Tommy and Cecile work as a team?

Bringing peace to the land seems like a higher priority than stopping Tommy from bringing toys to life. Unless . . . can he turn toy soldiers and weapons into real soldiers and weapons?