Thursday, August 31, 2006

Face-Lift 173


Guess the Plot

Witches, Wings, and Other Things

1. The 1500th Annual Ogre’s Scavenger Hunt is under way. However, the list this year is a little vague.

2. Lucia is never going to get her cookbook entry completed in time - without a chrono-spell. Is a Betty Crocker Bake-Off Award worth destroying the fabric of time?

3. What starts as an itchy back turns into two wings, and Rose Nesbit's dream of becoming a witch disappears. Instead of casting the spells, she's running - or rather flying – away from them.

4. Black-hatted, wart-chinned Esmeralda Grue was shunned by everybody...until her recipe for Buffalo Wings appeared in Gourmet magazine. Now everyone's angling for an invitation to her Super Bowl party, but Esmeralda's out for revenge.

5. Thanks to a centuries-old curse, if literature teacher Fortessa Stein doesn't find a husband within six weeks, she'll have to marry a man chosen by a guy named Milt.

6. When pilot Andy Martin, guest speaker at the annual witches convention, suggests that wings are more efficient than broomsticks, he soon finds himself tossed into a cauldron of boiling brew.


Original Version

Dear [agent]:

I am seeking representation for Witches, Wings and Other Things, a 65,000-word paranormal romantic comedy set in Buffalo, New York and featuring Fortessa Stein.

Fortessa is a sexy, young (okay, 199-year-old) witch with the power to have everything she wants at the snap of her magic fingers – except a husband. Thanks to a centuries-old curse imposed upon the Stein family by Milt Blyweiss (the wizard spurned by Fortessa’s great-great-great-great-great-great Grandma Sophie), the Stein women are doomed to the same dating purgatory as mere mortals. Even worse, if Fortessa doesn’t find a mate before she turns 200 (i.e. six weeks from now), [At the rate we're going, two thirds of this query will be in parentheses.] she’ll be forced to marry a man selected by 380-year-old Milt. And, as usual, Fortessa’s beloved Bills are two and eight for the season, and they haven’t even played the Dolphins in Miami yet. [I'd drop that sentence. It would be amusing as part of a list of what's going wrong for Fortessa, but you're merely stating the terms of the curse, and this feels off-topic.] [One of the hilarious moments in TV drama history came on The X-Files when the Cigarette-Smoking Man was listing the conspiracies he'd masterminded--Kennedy assassination, Area 51, etc--and finished his list by taking responsibility for the Buffalo Bills never winning the Super Bowl.] [Why doesn't Fortessa arrange for the Bills to intercept a few key passes?]

As the final six weeks before her 200th birthday play out, [You can drop the parenthetical statement in the previous paragraph that says it's six weeks till her birthday, as you have the same info here.] Fortessa tries to focus on her job as a literature teacher at Tonowanda School for Mystics. The principal’s up in arms about her “creative” reading list (“Who the hell is Jennifer Cruisie?”), [The agent will know the answer to that question, so I suggest you spell Ms. Crusie's last name correctly.] and there seems to be a conspiracy keeping her best and brightest students from getting into Harvard. Is this Ivy League admissions office immune to her spells?

But, as Fortessa’s ever-helpful mother, Saran, [Saran? She sounds like a somewhat plastic character.] [Although Fortessa probably found her clingy.] [Aren't you Glad you have EE to crack these rather transparent jokes?] [If Fortessa's mother put out a hip-hop album, they should call it Saran Rap.] [Okay, I'm done.] reminds her on a nearly hourly basis, she’s not getting any younger, and so the search for a suitable mate goes Code Red. Through speed dating, set-ups, and more “advice” from friends and family than she ever could have hoped for, Fortessa races to the alter [I'll save the eager minions the trouble of pointing out that you need to alter that spelling.] as Milt Blyweiss attempts to frustrate her progress at every turn.

Like scads of other aspiring writers, I am an attorney. [That sentence can go; it has nothing to do with the rest of this paragraph, which will be excellent without it.] My husband spent the first ten years of his life living in Buffalo, and [the past] last twenty-five years talking about it. Having no other outlet for the useless information he has imparted about his hometown, I have written Witches, Wings, and Other Things in his honor (and, hopefully, to shut him up).

If you would like to see more of Witches, Wings, and Other Things, please let me know. [More? I haven't seen any of it yet. Have you enclosed a sample?] Thank you for your consideration.


Revised Version

I am seeking representation for Witches, Wings and Other Things, a 65,000-word paranormal romantic comedy set in Buffalo, New York.

Fortessa Stein is a sexy, young (okay, 199-year-old) witch with the power to have anything she wants at the snap of her magic fingers – except a husband. Thanks to a centuries-old curse imposed upon the Stein family by Milt Blyweiss (a wizard spurned by Fortessa’s Grandma Sophie), the Stein women are doomed to the same dating purgatory as mere mortals. Making matters worse, if Fortessa doesn’t find a mate before she turns 200, she’ll be forced to marry a man selected by 380-year-old Milt.

As the final weeks before her 200th birthday play out, Fortessa’s search for a suitable mate goes Code Red. Through speed dating, set-ups, and more “advice” from friends and family than she wants, Fortessa races toward the altar, Milt tossing obstacles in her path at every turn.

My husband spent the first ten years of his life living in Buffalo, and the past twenty-five years talking about it. Having no other outlet for the useless information he has imparted about his hometown, I have written Witches, Wings, and Other Things in his honor (and in hopes of shutting him up).

Witches, Wings, and Other Things is available on request. I've enclosed a stamped envelope for your reply. Thank you for your consideration.

Notes

If witches are still young at the age of 199, then 380-year-old Milt would have known Fortessa's mother and possibly grandmother. Her great-great-great-great-great-great Grandma Sophie might have been well before Milt's time.

It seems to me a well-done query, with appropriate humorous touches. I didn't find the part about focusing on her job vital, and why bring up that she can't get her students into Harvard when you've already declared she can have anything she wants except a husband? In the book you have time to explain. Here it sounds like a contradiction. Good luck with it.

16 comments:

Gerb said...

I liked the idea and the voice in this query. The cleaned-up version is a winner. Good luck!

Kathleen said...

#1 is laugh out loud funny!
I totally guessed #5.

Is there a quick and easy way to say exactly why marrying a man chosen by Milt is so bad? I know that - in general - arranged marraiges aren't considered good, but is meeting a man and marrying him after you have known him 6 weeks or less much better? Just a thought.

acd said...

Here I was all ready to bet that she'd been telling people she was 199 for the past three decades.

I was skeptical of the curse-of-arranged-marriage plot because it's such a staple in Harry Potter fan fiction. It sounds like you've done a good job with it, and I was interested in Fortessa's life outside of the whole marriage plot. Good luck with this!

December Quinn said...

This sounds really original and fun!

Daisy said...

I think I'd read this. I don't get into a lot of fantasy or chick lit, but somehow the combination is appealling. I agree with gerb about both the voice and EE's version being better. Good luck!

kis said...

The original query felt like it was already 65 000 words long (granted, some of that was because of EE's comments), and the revised version is much tighter.

And I'm with Daisy. I don't mind a chicklit kind of voice, if there's witches or vampires or something fantastical in there other than $750 shoes.

Cathy said...

I think this is cute and original.

Good luck.

Felix said...

This sounds as if it could be a fun read. Coming from me, that's saying a lot -- the mere mention of witches and wizards is usually enough to make my eyes glaze over.

writtenwyrdd said...

I like this and would likely buy it. However, one suggestion: Make her afraid that Milt will nominate himself for husband. Ew!

Poohba said...

It sounds like fun. I want to read the book after this query - especially after EE's edits.

Word Verification: trywonfg

I'm not sure what that is, but it sounds dirty.

Ashni said...

Ooh, chick-witch-lit. I'd pick it up.

Anonymous said...

I soooo want to read this book!

BuffySquirrel said...

As the final weeks before her 200th birthday play out, Fortessa’s ever-helpful mother, Saran, reminds her almost hourly that she’s not getting any younger, and the search for a suitable mate goes Code Red.

Umm, EE, that reads to me as if it's Saran's birthday that's approaching, not Fortessa's. Okay, I'm picky. Okay, very picky. Okay, I'll leave now.

Lyvvie said...

There's not a mention of the hero - I'd like to know if I'm investing my time in a romance that will actually have some fun-loving in it. He should get a small mention at least...if it is a he *shrug* I don't know, what if Fortessa is being forced to marry a man when she doesn't lean in that direction.

But yeah, I'd be interested in reading this - sounds fun!

Evil Editor said...

I can see that. I could change it to passive, but why do we even need Saran? The problem isn't that she isn't getting any younger, which a mother would say whether there was a deadline or not; it's that time is running out. I've removed Saran; does it sound okay now, or is that paragraph too short?

BuffySquirrel said...

It does look a bit short now, but that may just be because I'm comparing it with the previous version. I'm thinking maybe that paragraph needs a bit more oomph generally. Maybe, as has been suggested, we do need to know who (or what!) Milt is going to choose for Fortessa to make the race against time that bit more exciting.

But what do I know; I'm a pedantic sqrl.