Guess the Plot
Hound in Blood and Black
1. When 5th grader Sindy Snowden arrives for her second day at school everything is really freaky. She soon realizes that's because her teacher opened a portal to a cartoon world and was replaced by Huckleberry Hound.
2. Louie is the last werehound in Nashville. He spends most of his time listening to old Elvis tunes, drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes, brooding over the past. Except, of course, when the moon shines and he goes crazy chasing cats and rabbits. Which is exactly how he meets Elvira, Queen of the Night, a washed-up harlot with a kind heart, who thinks he has a future in show business.
3. Thirteen year old Gwendar has made a terrible mistake; he has insulted the dreaded High King Dreadmost. Dreadmost casts Gwendar into the royal kennel for punishment. There, Gwendar must fight amongst the hounds for his very survival. But Gwendar does more than survive, he rises to become leader of the pack.
4. Her nickname: Hound. Her occupation: zombie poacher. But on this futuristic Earth, zombies aren't killed; they're captured and pitted against each other in gladiatorial combat. When Hound gets bitten by a zombie, will she lose her humanity and be forced to fight other zombies for the entertainment of the rabble?
5. The Hound of the Baskervilles is not dead, merely in hiding. It's going to take all the wits of Dr. Watson's ten-year old descendant, Emma, to deal with this one - and where's Holmes when you really need him? Reincarnated as a rabbit! How is he going to survive this time?
6. When reporter Vali Thorres finds artist Luke Klaus's most vocal critic with his throat ripped out, he follows the blood to one of Klaus's paintings. Before he can call the police, both trail and body vanish. Thorres must find a way to restore Klaus's soul before the creatures he bargained with are unleashed.
Kumari is a wrangler; a poacher [a puppet, a pirate, a poet,] and a gambler who catches zombies and fights them against one another as gladiators. All she wanted to do was live and die without becoming a monster. [As the rest of the query is in present tense, that sentence may as well be, too.] In a broken Earth populated by undead, slavers, drought and greed, this isn’t as easy as it sounds.
Kumari’s simple life changes from one of survival to something much more complicated [Can a life centered around capturing zombies and pitting them against other zombies in the arena really be called "simple"?] when she wins a girl in a risky gamble – a child-slave desperate to find something to live for in the world Kumari has forsaken – [What is the world Kumari has forsaken?] and is forced to kill her closet friend when he is bitten by an undead. [This wouldn't have happened if her friend had come out of the closet.] When running to a new city in hopes of escaping her pain causes more problems than it solves, Kumari faces the loss of the only thing worth living for when she is infected by a zombie bite: her humanity.
HOUND IN BLOOD AND BLACK, complete at approximately 100,000 words, is science fiction/horror. Kumari’s story explores a new kind of future where existing isn’t just about running from and killing zombies [like it is in most other books about the future], but fighting them against each other in gladiatorial combat – the only way left for mankind to prove to themselves that they aren’t the real monsters.
In January 2009, my short story Savage was published in Monstrous: 20 Tales of Giant Creature Terror by Permuted Press. Recently, Savage was republished in the April 2009 issue of the Apex online magazine. [Now I've expanded it into this novel in hopes of milking it for yet another paycheck.]
Thank you for your consideration,
Author's note (not part of query): The title comes from the following: Kumari's nickname is Hound, black marks are the highest ranking matches for a wrangler to participate in, and the blood refers to how the zombies are prepped for combat (coated in human blood to make them fight each other). [Coated in whose human blood?] When Kumari becomes a gladiator herself, and fights the zombies in the pit, she's no exception. So Hound in Blood and Black refers to Kumari when she fights under black marks, painted in blood.
There's too much about the world and not enough about the story. No need to tell us it's a world in which zombies fight as gladiators in both the first and third paragraphs. Instead, give us more about the child-slave, who I assume is a major player.
When it takes almost as many words to explain your title as it does to summarize your plot, it's time to find a simpler title.
If the hound in the title is your main character, you might want to refer to her as "Hound" at least once in the query. Of course this action won't be necessary when you change the title to Zombie Gladiators of Lorkha Tau.
On the other hand, you will have to change your setting to Lorkha Tau.
Everyone knows vampire bites turn you into a vampire and zombies eat your brains. This is like writing a book in which sharks solve crimes and detectives eat surfers.
Do zombie fights take place in a coliseum, with wranglers just providing the zombies, or is it more like cockfighting, where the wrangler brings her zombie to some pit in the boondocks where people gamble on fights?
Do zombie gladiators need swords? Can't they just plod around waiting for their opponents' limbs to fall off?