Monday, August 31, 2009
This same thing happened to me when I was starting out. I sent a short piece to a magazine called Highlights. Then I saw a copy in my dentist's office and realized it was mainly for kids (although I did enjoy a feature called Goofus and Gallant). Anyway, I withdrew the piece and later sold it to Penthouse Forum.
Contrary to popular belief, there is no magazine editors' blacklist, nor will this affect your standing at NewYorkLitAgentsBlacklist.com. No harm will come from withdrawing the story from consideration, unless they decide to publish it just to embarrass you. Better give them a pen name.
D Jason Cooper, author of numerous openings, several of which have been made into Evil Editor Films, reports: Ruthless Peoples Magazine has published my flash fiction, "Zombie Consciousness". It's free to download.
I'm sure the muttonchopped editor whose brains get eaten isn't based on anyone in particular.
Bishop Lamberton grasped his squire by a shoulder, pushing him toward the open doors at the end of the long, high-arched hall. James twisted out of Lamberton's grasp and whirled to face him. A youth of sixteen, dark-eyed and slender as a knife, James flushed with anger.
“I won’t swear fealty to him."
Lamberton sighed. For an obedient lad, James was being amazingly difficult. "James, do you want your lands back? Your father's title?"
James drew himself up. "You know I do. I must have them.” He shoved shaking fingers through the black tumble of his hair. "My people need me, and it's where I belong. I've sworn to get back what was stolen from my father--a sacred oath."
"Then you must bend a knee to King Edward."
James reluctantly advanced. He knelt not on the crimson carpet directly in front of the King - as a mere squire he didn’t dare presume such an honor - but on the black stone floor slightly to the side. Even as his knee touched the cold granite, it occurred to him that from this position he could strike the King down with one thrust.
To the side of the hall stood silently Sir Crispin, an ally of James’s late father and like James, clad in the black livery of James’s house. If only James were already a knight like Sir Crispin, he would fight for his birthright rather than serving as a pawn in the struggles of the powerful.
The King rose from his throne, advanced to where James knelt, and raised his sword. But instead of accepting James’s oath, he lopped the young squire’s head off with a deft stroke. Sir Crispin, livid with outrage, moved two steps to the right and one ahead, his sword menacing the King and cutting off all escape.
Thus did Myron Finkbiner, for the third year in a row, retain his title as the Association of Historical Fiction Writers’ chess champion.
Opening: J.R. Tomlin.....Continuation: John
Sunday, August 30, 2009
“How the hell does this lie-detector-shitting-thing work, anyway?”
“Rhetorical question?” An eyebrow goes up, a friendly kind of a smirk appears, but she doesn’t see it.
“Yes…” She looks up, semi-distracted and annoyed with herself, annoyed with him. “Hell yes, rhetorical. You didn’t actually expect me to expect you to tell me how to get the machine to work that would help me find out what the hell’s really going on with you, right? I mean, come on, give me some credit, Sparky.”
He smiles again. This time it looks genuine. Maybe.
“I do give you…some credit, as you say. But I’ve also known you long enough to know you have to be walked through anything technology-based.” He pauses, waits for memories to start whirring. “Remember learning to italicize in the comments? That took quite a walk-through, did it not?”
“Yes…” She doesn’t want to say it, but there you go. It’s the truth.
“And who walked you through that one?”
“You know damn well, it was you.”
“But that’s just it.” She fiddles with the straps and the gears until a fuckit and a frown, coming both from her and to her, stop her cold. But he’s still smiling. Dammit. Yah. He’s all happy. So she says: “Who the hell are you? I wouldn’t haveta mess with all these wires and clip deals and buttons…and who knows, one of them could shock you or something, and we couldn’t be having any of that.” She turns the machine off. “So just say it.”
He’s still smiling.
“Look. I’ve had more substantive conversations with you then I ever had with The Sperm Depositor a/k/a my ex, but these knowledge epiphanous ‘talks’ are feeling pretty pretend now. So….who are you?”
“Do any of us really know who we are?”
“Don’t try that shit on with me, Sparky.” She smacks her hands together. “That’s it. No more Googling. No more lie-detector crap. I’m goin’ for the masculine jugular. I’m gonna get in your pants.”
That eyebrow of his really shoots up this time, and she sees it, and this time, she’s the one smiling.
“Your ID’s gotta be in your wallet…in your back pocket. Am I right?”
“Evil, how many toes do you have?”
“All of them,” said Evil Editor.
“He's still resisting,” said Evil Journalist. “Give him another ten milliliters of truth serum...and another boot to the ribs.”
“He's almost flat-lined,” said the med tech.
“He was before we started. Do it.”
The med tech injected more serum and gave Evil Editor an enthusiastic pounding to his left rib cage.
“I think you got his attention, and broke another rib,” said Evil Journalist. “Evil, how many toes do you have?”
“Still resisting. Break another rib and--”
“No, he does have eleven toes,” said the med tech, after taking off Evil's shoes, and recovering from a faint.
“Okay, I'll do a trial question. Evil, what is the most important publisher of fiction in the world?”
“IBM,” said Evil Editor.
“The computer manufacturer?”
“They publish fiction?” asked Evil Journalist.
“They are the only publisher of fiction on the planet. They have fourteen supercomputers wired to the brain of one man who pumps out a story every ten seconds.”
“What about all the other writers and publishers?”
“They're all pseudonyms for Asimov and the other publishers are shills that market IBM's books,” said Evil Editor. "All submissions from other writers are dumped into the world's largest slush pile...the Atlantic Ocean."
“Who is this man?”
“But he's dead,” said Evil Journalist.
“Yes, but he's getting better,” said Evil Editor.
“Give him another shot to the ribs,” said Evil Journalist.
He looked at the book in my hand and blanched—but his lips remained shut. I slowly opened the book to page one and brought it close to his face, so close I could see his eyes instinctively following the words across the page. It only took three pages of reading before he broke and started babbling. I scribbled it down in my notebook as he spoke.
“StopstopstopI’lltellyoueverything! You see, years ago an agent—I think she was Miss Snark—rigged it up so every thousandth query would get a partial, and then whoever sent the partial on the right weight of paper—”
He was lying. I reached for the second Twilight book and slowly opened it. He spilled everything.
And when he was done, he sat there, trembling. “What are you going to with what I said?”
I smiled a quirky, satisfied grin. “Publish it.”
I snorted. “No. Well….”
His eyes gleamed craftily. “You’ll need an editor.”
I gulped. “I’ve got a couple hundred dollars; I can print… ten books. My mom’ll love it.”
“Mm-hmm. Send me a partial.”
Coulda been the simple flick of a switch or the tic-tic of a mouse, but when you're gouging the truth out of a bastard, you need to deploy the Full Contraption.
The twin woks riveted to Evil's ears erect his muttonchops into a thousand volt frizzscape of submission.
'I'm yours,' he drawls, his involuntary slump uncoupling his pince-nez.
I snicker, and do that mortuary thing with his face: a smile, a frown, tongue out. And when he falls off his seat, I pump his limp body full of Antihokum Serum.
‘So tell me, what’s your biggest secret? Is it true you’re just some fat guy from a backstreet liquor store? Some loser hiding behind the anonymity of the internet pretending to be something he ain’t?’
Evil’s eyes roll in their sockets like strangely sentient oysters. ‘Actually,’ he slurs, ‘I’m Satan.’
I freeze. Sure, the guys I drug come round sometimes, but they never say weird stuff like that. I tip the rest of the bottle down his throat.
‘Satan’, he repeats again, ‘I’m satin’ my thirst with a Bud when this guy marches into my office demanding I look at his manuscript...’
Suddenly I’m all ears (though not literally, of course). ‘Go on.’
‘He looks cute, kinda debonair, and I can’t resist him. And his words, so poignant, so perfect. We agree a deal there and then. For books, for movies, and those classy cook-in sauces Paul Newman had.’
‘So who’s the guy?’
Evil stares goggle-eyed at the empty serum bottle. For a second, I think maybe he’ll spill the beans but his face goes floppy as a bloodhound’s ears and he passes out on me.
So I pound the streets wondering.
Gaiman? Pynchon? Asimov? King?
I tellya, it grips like a...
"Evil Editor," said the man strapped to the lie detector. The solitary bulb flashed. "Couldn't you afford a detector with one of those little needles? They're much more entertaining to watch."
"When the W.I.P makes millions, I'll get a nice one. Now, where were you on the night of the twenty-third?"
"Faceless, the Zack Martinez exercise was last week." E.E. squirmed in his seat.
I could tell I was getting somewhere. "Just answer the question."
"If you must know, I was having dinner with Angelina Jolie. She's writing another memoir." The bulb on the lie detector remained dark.
I shoved a paper across the desk at him. "So you claim to know nothing about this?"
"Dracula's napkin?" E.E. leaned forward to get a better look.
"It's a query."
"The evil psychiatrist exercise was three weeks ago."
"Answer the question!"
"You do realize I haven't even glanced at my slush pile this year?"
I suspected as much. "For the record then, you've never seen this before?"
"No. Can I go now? Annie Wilkes is expecting me."
I glared at the dark bulb willing it to flash. It refused.
Evil paused by the door. "Faceless, you might want to pay more attention to details. Your query contains two misused homonyms and a missing comma. Also, your lie detector is unplugged." He dodged out the door.
I looked down. There was a scuff mark on the carpet across the power cord.
A moment later shots rang out and the hounds started baying. E.E. would get away, like usual, but that's what the blackmail photos were for.
Deb rented a fountain pen costume and stood at the bar. Sixty seconds later, EE hit on her. Pervert. Once she lured him home, he swigged the spiked Mai Tai and went down like an over-microwaved marshmallow. Strapping him into the chair in our cellar was exhausting, but the indignation on his face when he came round was worth it. He threatened to call our agents, our mothers, our high school English teachers.
We let him bluster until he noticed the machine. We could have filled him in then (literally) but we waited- till he noticed his pants were missing. Then I held up the probe. “See this?”
He nodded. His eyes followed the wires, one red, one black, that connected them to the machine.
“This,” I indicated the machine, “is a lie detector. This,” I put the probe under his nose, “is your incentive to tell the truth.” He squirmed and bitched and moaned, but Debbie snapped on rubber gloves and we got to work.
“Is it true the only reason you accept unsolicited manuscripts is to use them to heat your 12 room chalet in Zermatt?” I asked him.
EE looked stunned. Debbie and I had a good laugh at his big eyes and slack jaw. But then his mouth curled up at the corners. This made us nervous.
“What?” I said.
“Nothing,” he said. “Next question?”
“Uh, yeah. Is it true that you steal authors' ideas and f-”
EE smiled, his eyes half closed.
I asked Deb, “Did you put that probe-”
“Yes, as far in as it would go!”
“And the power?”
“My mother was a possum!” yelled EE.
“He he he he!” He was beginning to drool. “Stephanie Meyer is a literary genius!”
“Wah ha ha ha!”
Every light on the machine was flashing and the thing was starting to smoke.
“That's enough,” I yelled. “Pull the plug!”
“I lust after John Grish- ohhhhhhhhhh, please! Turn it back on, please! I'll tell you anything!”
Now it was our turn to smile.
“Tell us exactly what we need to write to get published.”
“That's it? That's easy...”
Debbie took notes.
Subject: Evil Editor interrogation.
ME: Are you Evil Editor?
ME: Are you a legitimate editor?
EE: What do you mean by legitimate?
EE: You’re new at this, aren’t you?
ME: What? Well, yes, I am. How did you know?
EE: You’re horrible. Quite dull and uninspiring. Of course, that doesn’t automatically make you new. I have other ways of knowing.
ME: You do? Okay. Let’s go with that then. Are you truly evil?
ME: Is your sole purpose in life to make authors/writers feel miserable about themselves?
ME: Can you really destroy things with x-ray vision?
ME: Why, this is incredible! According to the polygraph, everything you’re saying is true.
EE: Of course it’s true. Now, I’ll tell you something else that’s true.
EE: You’ll never get this published. I’ll see to that. No, I won’t have to. You don’t have the talent to write anything anyone would publish anyway. Check your polygraph now.
ME: My God! It says you’re speaking the truth.
EE: Of course it does. Now, I’m going to tell you something else. Unhook this contraption so I can be on my way.
ME: What? Oh, yes. Of course. Sorry. I mean, really, though. Do you think I ever have any chance of being published?
ME: According to the polygraph you’re still telling the truth.
EE: Of course I am. I always tell the truth. That’s what makes me so evil.
ME: There! You’re free. Can you give me any words of hope at all?
EE: Well, it goes against my nature, but how’s this: you hooked the machine up wrong. Good day to you.
Findings: What a fucking waste of time and piece of shit.
I held the key. The key to something sacred, something guarded. Alas, even the key had a lock. But the lock could be picked…
Evil Editor was strapped to a chair. I hooked him up to the polygraph machine and rubbed my hands together in anticipation, trying to suppress a maniacal laugh but failing outright.
“You are a freak,” Evil Editor said to me. I had no reason to argue.
I flipped the lie detector on.
“Now you will talk, and you will speak only the truth,” I told him. “You will spill all the dirty secrets of the publishing world. Like the time when the editor dipped his stylus in the agent’s ink well.”
“Bullshit,” Evil Editor said.
“You heard me. Listen, minion, just because you have me hooked up to a machine that will tell you if I lie, doesn’t mean you can get me to talk in the first place.”
The lie detector agreed.
“Well then will you look at my manuscript?” I asked.
“Sure. Email it to me, I’ll read it first thing in the morning.”
The lie detector exploded.
"Yes," said the man strapped to the couch.
"Good. You rejected my manuscript out of spite and jealousy, didn't you?"
There was a short silence. The writer looked at the buzzer.
"OK. Did you even read it? Any of it?"
"All of it?"
"I thought so. 275,000 words is the right length for a middle grade novel, though, isn't it?"
The writer picked up the buzzer and looked at it closely.
"All right. So it's not spite, it can't be length ... You only publish stuff by celebrities or people who offer you sexual favours, right?"
The writer frowned at the silent buzzer. He checked the connections carefully. He made sure the lie detector was plugged in.
"A rude person on my critique group said, and I quote, 'your protagonist is flat and static, your dialogue is stiff, and your plot, such as it is, moves at a pace that makes continental drift look reckless'. Would you agree with that biased and unfair assessment?"
The writer checked the plug socket again. "You didn't take my novel because you don't want it showing up the weaker books on your list, right?"
The writer shook the buzzer. "Is this damn thing even on?"
"How can I help you?" the sales clerk asked.
"It's this lie detector. I bought it here two days ago. I want to return it."
"Is there a problem?"
"I'll say there's a problem. It's broken, that's the problem. Completely useless. Doesn't work at all."
EE was tied and gagged when I began by explaining that this was not my idea and the only reason I was there was to make sure he didn’t get hurt. I could tell he did not believe me, so I expounded by explaining my views on torture – I’m against it. This took about three hours. I knew I had earned his trust when the fear in his eyes was replaced with a familiar glassy-eyed look.
We then talked about the publishing business. In about an hour or two, I explained what I knew about it, which is nothing, but that I had perused, (love that word), hundreds of editors and agents’ blogs which all said the same thing - the chances of a new writer getting published was about zero, unless they were lucky. At this point I told EE all about me, emphasizing; I was one of the luckiest people in the world. I gave examples. EE fell asleep. I woke him up to explain why people fell asleep when stressed.
Afterwards I got to my only question: Were those employed in the publishing industry really martyrs who spent 15 hours a day, seven days a week barreling through slush to find one gem in a pile of worthless trash or were they exaggerating to justify their paychecks and to increase their feelings of self-worth?
Bugged-eyed, EE nodded. I left and the next minion came in. After the gag was removed, the poor man sputtered through tears, “I’ll tell you anything, just please just don’t send her back in.”
The minion smiled, “We love our Infodump girl.”
I have no idea what that means, but I think. . . . ;)
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Book Chat 18: C.T. Adams & Cathy Clamp/Cold Moon Rising
Evil Editor said...Not having read the first Tony book, I have a couple questions. Could he turn into a wolf back when he was a mob hitman? As I understand it, in book one Sue hired Tony to kill her. Why?
fairyhedgehog said...The one thing I found tough about reading this was wishing I'd started on an earlier book. My guess is that he was a hitman long before he was turned into a Sazi.
BuffySquirrel said...I think he was a hitman then he got turned, EE.
CatAdams said...Morning all! Internet's a little flaky this morning, so I may pop in and out. :) In answer to the question, Tony was a wolf in the first book, but was in "denial" about it. He knew nothing about the Sazi reality, and the first book was sort of a coming of age for him in terms of his abilities. Tony was a hitman before the werewolf attack occurred. In fact, it was during a "hit" that he was attacked. He was left for dead, and should have died. As he phrases it, "I guess I was too stubborn to die."
Ruth said...So Tony turns in the first book? That would be a really interesting book to read, methinks! :) Especially if that's the one where he and Sue meet up and get "mated" etc.... And thanks heaps for my copy Cat - I really appreciated it! :)
CatAdams said...Ruth, no--Tony doesn't change for the FIRST time in the book, but it feels like it. In the reality of the world, a "three-day" shifter is one that changes, but doesn't remember the event. They do things that they discover the next morning, and Tony solves it by renting a high-end motel room for a week each month, with strict instructions not to be disturbed--FOR ANYTHING. (Excess amounts of money is nice that way... ;) ) It's only AFTER he meets Sue that he starts to be aware as a wolf. It's a very weird experience for him, and yes--it's very fun to read.
fairyhedgehog said...I think I have to read that first book!
Robin S. said...Hi Cat, Why did Sue hire Tony to kill her? That surprised me when I resd it. They seem so close.
CatAdams said...Because she wanted to commit suicide and kept failing. See, Sue, as a character, is a trainwreck. Readers with strong personalities want to grab her by the throat and shake her in the first book, because she's SUCH a wuss. She's sort of like that woman down the block who keeps returning to the man who beats the crap out of her. You want to scream, "Just LEAVE! Or at least kick his ass!" But they don't, and you shake your head and move on. Yet, a lot of readers who live a life similar to Sue--who are used and abused, have made her a hero. Yes, she was weak, but she winds up getting stronger by the end of the book. And she winds up with the tough guy. Lots of women like the "bad boy" idea. :)
Dave F. said...Sue being the "bad boy magnet" and then really accepting and then suffering doubt... That works.
Robin S. said...Thanks, Cat. That background helped on Sue.
Evil Editor said...I did speak to someone who read Hunter's Moon and said Sue was too meek for her tastes. I'm sure she'd be happy to know about New Sue.
Ruth said...I wondered about some of the history as well. Having said that, while I had some questions about the backstory, I think all the necessary backstory was covered... I guess it's always the case that if you want to find out more about Sue and Tony, etc, you're gonna have to go back and read the earlier ones.... But I found it explained enough backstory to make it work for me.
Dave F. said...I liked Tony at the beginning of the novel but as it progressed, he lost some of his likeableness. Perhaps it's because I'm not as internally focused as he is. This is, after all, first person narrative and constantly being in his mind with all that analysis is nearly anathema to me. I learned long ago that to be the pickiest person, to be the ultimate "Consumer Reports" follower only resulted in people who don't enjoy their choices. And that's a psychologically proven point. The more you research details of a decision, the less you like the decision. Impulse buyers might have "buyers remorse" if they buy junk, but when the purchase works out, impulse buyers are more satisfied than critical buyers who have all the details of why the "best" choice wasn't the "best" choice.
BuffySquirrel said...Sometimes Tony's inner thoughts felt like they slowed the story down, especially when he was explaining why he did or didn't make a particular decision.
CatAdams said...It is actually tricky being an internally focused person, Dave F. Many readers like it because they're right there in the thick of things--making the decisions as they occur, rather than just acknowledging the events after they happen and have been decided. For a writer, it's really a trick to create a reality like that, because it requires a nearly microscopic knowledge of WHY people make decisions.
Dave F. said...Oh Cat, Oh Cat. I'd just about kill if you did that in my presence. Those people are like chalk squeaking to me. It does work in the book and you do it very well.
CatAdams said...If I did WHAT in your presence?? Which people?
Dave F. said...Stood there talking through a decision in detail in my presence. I'm a scientist and planning with all those feelings kinda sets me into a hissy fit. That's why I said that all that internal dialog does naughty things to my mind. I'm way too logical and scientific to feel my way through a decision.
CatAdams said...Ah! Well, fortunately, it happens very quickly in real life, so you wouldn't probably notice. :D But stream of consciousness is even tougher to write. I'm not good at it.
Evil Editor said...My favorite parts were the parts featuring Elizabeth. The ability to see through illusions was cooler than the ability to become a wolf. Maybe she'll star in a YA book.
BuffySquirrel said...Considering how useful Liz was with that ability, I'm surprised they didn't hold onto her for a bit.
Evil Editor said...Yes, Buf, she was there when the guy was using illusion at the airport, but they didn't know there wouldn't be illusionists at the casino.
CatAdams said... True enough. But like a new recruit in the Army, she also couldn't really be trusted without a little experience in the field. Illusion is something they've gotten used to . . . Liz being the only one to be able to see through it, so Sazi tend to take things as they come. The nice thing with illusion magic is it's an expending of energy. That can be "felt" like getting nearer to a forest fire. You might not be able to see the flames, but you know they're out there somewhere.
Dave F. said...Elizabeth quickly accepted her "change" and also seemed to react to it better.
CatAdams said...Not as much as you might think, Dave F. Tony clocked it right--she's a bit in classic shock. People tend to react to the weird in different ways. She'll have a breakdown soon enough and have to come out of it.
Ruth said...Ooh, breakdowns. Fun! (To write/read, that is.) The first time Tony went into Ahmad's mind, I was so confused that after a few pages I had to go back and re-read it all to try and figure out what was actually happening. That could have just been cos I wasn't familiar with the world and its rules, of course. I found the later transitions between Tony/Ahmad a lot smoother.
BuffySquirrel said...I would have liked to meet the grumpy old English badger guy.
fairyhedgehog said...I'd like to see more of the badger guy too. Maybe in later books?
Ruth said...Buffy: Me too! Badger guy sounded really interesting :D
CatAdams said...Actually, BuffySquirrel, readers WILL later meet Liz and Nigel in more depth. She was primarily introduced in this book to launch her own series at a future point. The first book will focus on her introduction into the Sazi at her grandfather's estate. :)
BuffySquirrel said...Oh, that's excellent news! Badger guy and Liz could really knock sparks off each other.
Dave F. said...I figured that. It would seem to me that you keep a central character through a series and move the supporting cast around him or her.
fairyhedgehog said...I liked being inside the narrator's head although I found it confusing at times. I get confused easily.
BuffySquirrel said...Fairy, did you find the shifts between Tony and Ahmad confusing? I did. But I expect Tony found them more so!
fairyhedgehog said...I did find the shifts between Tony and Ahmad confusing but also amusing and I enjoyed them.
Dave F. said...The transitions between Tony and Ahmed are so fast, so slick that I find myself rereading passages to find out what happened. The first time it happened, it took me way out of the book trying to figure out what went on. I'm not sure how you can fix my reading habits. In the cave, I took the "hindsight" as happening because the person touched Tony. Later, specifically when he or Ahmed is making love, it's disorienting if you are a sloppy reader (like me). And you do come back to link to the cave and not leave dangling threads. I appreciate that.
Evil Editor said...I found it took a few sentences to realize they had happened. I think I expected to be in Tony's POV in Ahmad's head, but was instead in Ahmad's POV.
Ruth said...Really? I thought - for the first time at least - it was more Tony's take on Ahmad's thoughts. Like, he could read/hear Ahmad's thoughts, but was still looking at it from his perspective. I noticed the language changed when he was in Ahmad's mind, though, so that made me a bit unsure - I couldn't quite figure whether Tony was passively in Ahmad's mind or was an observer making notes on the happenings in Ahmad's mind.
Robin S. said...The first shift between Tony and Ahmad's thoughts took me by surprise - I went back to check to see what I'd missed. After that, I got it.
Dave F. said...Chapter 14 has that transition when we enter Ahmad's head. I got confused but you made up for it with the knife. A black knife with still nasty powers and Marduc the winged dragon, Ooh-lala, as ze French zay, Not just another Le' French Fry... A Mayan Temple in New Jersey where they really do rip your heart out while it is still beating. Or should I say rip your wallet out while it still jingles. For some people hearts and wallets are the same thing. My fatal flaw is the dice table. Love those dice. Roll dem little red cuboids and make me a winner.
BuffySquirrel said...The Tony/Ahmad scene is a tricky one to pull off, for sure. I had to read back.
Dave F. said...Once I figured out what was going on, when it happened my reader's mind knew what to do. The first time was just a scream of WHAT!!!! and a whimpered help me, help me...
CatAdams said...BTW--the connection between Tony and Ahmad was something I'd been wanting to try for a long time. I tried it briefly in a couple of books, through Tony's hindsight ability. But the near-first of the POV sort of requires no prior warning--and I knew it was going to confuse readers in that first scene. But to HAVE warning would have take away some of the fun of the scene, I think. I did try it a couple of different ways before I settled on this.
Ruth said...So Cat, this whole series is just based in this world but about a whole lot of different characters, right? I noticed in the intro you mentioned characters like Bobby and Asri, etc... do most of the characters meet and interact in a lot of the books? But it's just told from different character's points of view?
CatAdams said... Correct. The trick with the Sazi world is that it really should have been shelved as Urban Fantasy--except that the first book was purchased for the romance line at Tor. The world was originally envisioned as Tony having one series . . . in first person, that was to be called "The Wolven Chronicles" with other characters having a second series that was more political and emotionally driven. Of course, it's very difficult to have two consecutive series in the same world, but on different shelves--as I'm sure EvilEditor will testify. So, we settled for the romances and told the politics by revolving all the people within the political scheme. It's sort of like having a series set in the legislature, and each senator having their own book. For a romance, it's VERY unusual to have a character have multiple books. Once the romance is told, it's TOLD. It's one of the requirements of the genre. But Tony has now had three books, setting it even deeper into the urban fantasy concept.
BuffySquirrel said...Ah! I wondered why it was Romance :).
Ruth said...Wow, it surprised me to hear this was classed as romance! That's not the genre I'd have picked for this book.... :) (I don't like straight romance either, although romance within a SF/F book works pretty well for me.) I do like Sue. She just seems... nice. Not too meek to me (and I'm definitely not the kind who'd go back to a guy who beat me, etc). But I guess that's all in the previous books. I like the Sue in this book. :)
fairyhedgehog said...That's fascinating about the romance etc. I'd have classed it as Urban Fantasy but with an enjoyable romantic element. I don't enjoy straight romance much but I do like sci fi or fantasy with romantic elements, although I usually prefer unresolved tension. I thought the romance part was unusually well done.
Evil Editor said...These days urban fantasies almost always have female main characters. Kick-ass babes with attitude. Future Liz?
Dave F. said...From my perspective (male) this is more sci fi or urban than romance. If Marduc had not raised his ugly head in Chapter 14 and provided action, I would have felt cheated.
BuffySquirrel said...HIS ugly head?
CatAdams said... Good point... Read the book in the spring and find out. LOL!
BuffySquirrel said...Wolf and snake seemed to think more similarly than I'd expect, which helped confuse the sqrl brain.
CatAdams said...It's not wolf and snake specifically, but Tony and Ahmad. It surprised them, too. It's unnerving to find out that a guy you LOATHE (which they do in Book 2, Moon's Web) thinks so similarly to you.
BuffySquirrel said...I can see how that would be unnerving, Cat.
Evil Editor said...My favorite parts were in Kansas and at the airport. Who wrote those? How does the collaboration work? Does each person write some or does one do the rough draft and the other the polishing?
BuffySquirrel said...i wanted to ask that too, EE. How does the collaboration work?
Robin S. said...I'm very interested in how you approach the novels as co-authors.
CatAdams said... Cie and I co-author similarly to how Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child do. We talk out the plot of the book before anything goes on paper, flip a coin about who writes the book (except that in the case of the Tony books, I'm the lead author on them all) and one person writes the entire book. The other author then comes in and RE-WRITES it. No track changes or notes. Just dive in and change what you like--from plot, to characters or narrative and dialogue. The first author gets it back, reads the changes, accepts some, rejects some, and off it goes to the editor.
Fortunately, we've worked together long enough now (about 15 years) that we pretty much accept anything the other person does, because we have different strengths as writers. :)
Evil Editor said...Do you co-authors argue over stuff, like whether Charles should be a gorilla or a gigantic polar bear?
CatAdams said... LOL! Every single day. :D Sometimes, we have to resort to flipping a coin. Thankfully, that's an actual accepted method of deciding in our Partnership Agreement. Sort of "binding arbitration by deity or fate." Heh..
Dave F. said...Flipping a casino chip, in this case.
BuffySquirrel said...Very cool. You make collaboration sound so easy! :)
David H. Burton said...I've always wondered how this kind of collaboration works. You're a great pair. Keep doing what you're doing because it works!
Ruth said...Oh, wow. I don't know if I'd have the courage to take that approach to co-authoring a book! No track changes or anything... you'd have to have so much faith in your co-author.
Evil Editor said...My problem would be when the royalties start coming in and my co-author expects half of them.
BuffySquirrel said...Lol, EE. As if we would.
Ruth said...(Typical man - it's always about the money :P )
CatAdams said... Yes...but. You're also writing twice as many books, so it evens out. Twice the money for half the work. :)
Evil Editor said...If writer A sends the manuscript to writer B and writer B says it's perfect, I wouldn't change a word, does writer B still get half the glory? Just asking.
Ruth said...Heh - I don't know any writer, ever, who would say that. Even my favourite books, there are some bits I would always change. Not necessarily big bits. But there's always something. You sound almost cynical, EE. No, that can't be right....
BuffySquirrel said...Even if the book were perfect, Writer B would still feel the need to change something.
CatAdams said...Yep. But the reverse is true, too. ;) However, we're both Type-A personalities. We simply CAN'T say "it's perfect." LOL!
Evil Editor said...Is this the 2nd Sue/Tony book? Who were the main characters of the other Sazi books? Were they all mentioned in this book?
CatAdams said... This is the THIRD Sue/Tony book. They started in Hunter's Moon--the first of the world, and have a true sequel that ends just a month after the first book in Moon's Web. Many of the major characters are introduced in Moon's Web. Only Bobby and Lucas are actually introduced in the first book (along with some bad guys that die. Of course.) There simply wasn't room to put all the characters in this book. I did try and got slapped by my editor for "name dropping." LOL! But this is the seventh book and with a broad world arc, there are subplots in each book that don't necessarily get answered due to size constraints. The books started out about 100K words and have slowly crept upward, to the point we had to step outside the cover stock size limitations for the imprint. But there's just too much. We're hoping (if the series continues) to be able to address more of the events happening with other characters.
Robin S. said...I enjoyed the scent ideas. The smells of emotion.
BuffySquirrel said...Yes, I thought representing emotions as different smells worked well.
Robin S. said...And the snake sex. That was VERY well done.
Dave F. said...Some things don't make any sense to me. Like for example, when Tony leaves the meeting with Lucas and Charles and the hospital is dark and empty. The other HUH? was in the small midwest town suddenly goombas and women appear. I was , like sumthin' else is going on here and it ain't obvious just yet.
CatAdams said... But, you'll notice that they ALSO don't make sense to Tony. That's part of the fun of writing near-first person. The character is just as clueless as the reader, and sometimes (like the reader) just has to accept it and move on.
Evil Editor said...Do all Sazi have great sense of smell, or just the ones who can change into animals with great sense of smell? For instance, I assume wolves have better sense of smell than birds.
CatAdams said...Pretty much, this. Yes. You'll notice that Will has exceptional eyesight, instead of scent. The cats impart some interesting takes on their human sides. They have better night vision, for example, are very quick, and jump more often as a tool of protection and attack. The heroine of Captive Moon, for example is a tiger. But she has a secret fondness for sparrows and often stalks the bird feeder at her parent's home. It annoys her mom. ;)
Ruth said...Ooh, I would love to read one about a tiger. :)
BuffySquirrel said...Once, an unlucky sparrow got in through the half-open window to our bathroom. The cat still sits up there, hopeful that another will appear. Even when the window's closed.
Ruth said...Is this going to be a series that never ends? :)
CatAdams said... Well, it would at least be nice to wrap up the current subplots. We DO wrap up the Marduc world arc in the next book, FWIW.
Dave F. said...Do you mind if I trash one of your characters. Good, you don't mind.
And that brings me to Lucas. I'm trying to be nice here. I'm trying to be polite but I need at least one naughty word... Lucas is a prick. Sorry about being that blunt. I've had tough and strict bosses but Lucas treats Tony like poo-poo and never, ever stops
Perhaps it is me (the resident rock-throwing anarchist who gives bosses heartburn) but they all seem to hate Tony or at least consider him a second-class boob but they all know that he's going to save their lives.
Ruth said...I kind of liked Lucas. :) I guess I just figured it was sort of unconscious racism because they're not human and consider themselves "above" humans, let alone three-day wolves, which seem to be a step below humans on the respect chain.... Maybe like we'd think of an intelligent but occasionally rabid dog. We might be able to work with it some of the time, but if it was our choice we'd definitely have it put down.
(Do you get occasionally rabid animals? No? Oh well, you get my point.)
CatAdams said...This is pretty much the reason, and it gets addressed in the next book by a complete dressing down of Lucas, through events beyond his ability to fix. If you think about the concept of being damn close to immortal ("Sazi" coming from "Anasazi" the tribe of people who predate the Mayan empire) you start to think of yourself as "above" things.
Lucas is beyond frustrated with Tony, because he truly believes Tony should be been put down as a danger to their secret. Let's face it, he's a wanted felon! But he's important in the scheme of things, so the Sazi seers have instructed Lucas to keep him alive--at whatever cost, and insist that Tony be constantly be thrown into danger that REQUIRES saving him because one of the events is going to trigger the reason he's being kept alive.
Imagine having an employee who you know screws up, and you have to keep saving their butt, but you're not allowed to fire them. You can't really even discipline them. It makes for a very uneasy existence--even if some days you actually like them (and then wonder if, BY liking them, you're falling down a dark hole.)
BuffySquirrel said...I did think Lucas's threats got a little tiring, maybe because it was obvious he wasn't going to kill Tony after a while.
Robin S. said...Yeah, Ruth. I see what you mean. Some bosses are crap as people, and they scare the hell outta others, but they get the job done. Unfortunately, that's often the reality of life.
BuffySquirrel said...Allegedly, sociopaths make great corporate execs.
Evil Editor said...Isn't it about time there was a Sazi weredingo?
CatAdams said... Actually, the villain in the first book was a werehyena, so close. We actually did plan a book to be set in Australia, with an off-shoot of the wolves. Of course, dingos have now actually be officially re-classified from canis to canis lupus, so it's completely plausible. :)
Robin S. said...Yeah! A weredingo! I'm all for that.
BuffySquirrel said...What skills would a weredingo have? Hunting rabbits? Locating rock paintings?
Dave F. said...Any problems I had with the book disappeared with the ending. Very satisfying. Nicely done. I enjoyed the story. I'll be reading the thread for about 20 minutes more. Other obligations demand my presence. Nice chat. Thanks for coming.
Stephanie said...I have to admit Tony is my favorite person in the Sazi series. Will there be more books staring him in the future? And any hints on what the next book in the series is about?
CatAdams said...At the moment, Stephanie, there aren't. We're hopeful, of course, but it all depends on the realities of publishing. The next book will feature (for those who follow the series) the secondary character, Holly Sanchez (from Howling Moon) and a new character named Eric Thompson, from the Candadian wolf pack. The main focus will be on the snake plot and conclusion of the Marduc threat. :) Actually, we have either three or FOUR book contracts each year. We've published fourteen books in five years. :)
David H. Burton said...Wow! That's amazing. I need to get better organized! :)
Ruth said...Whoa. That's - a lot of pressure! Well done for keeping that pace up!
And I'm very sorry, but my eyes aren't focusing properly any more, so I'm going to go get some shuteye now. Will read the rest of the book chat in the (later) morning. :)
CatAdams said... Thanks for staying, Ruth! Especially considering the time there. Also thanks to those who have come and gone. I don't mind staying if there are more questions. Unless, of course, you'd rather discuss the book without me here... ;)
Evil Editor said... Cat shouldn't feel obligated to stay any longer than she cares to, as the chats usually run from 1 to 1.5 hours.
Robin S. said...How did you and your friend start writing your books together? Was it initially a lark, just totally for fun, or did you set out with a plan?
CatAdams said... Heh. We had no plan at ALL at first. We were just each other's beta readers. Then we started plotting together when we'd get stuck, so became critique partners. But then a strange thing happened. My first book got accepted for publication through a small press (historical fiction--about Colorado's railroad days) But one of the things the editor said he LOVED about the book was a particular subplot about an Irish "rusteater" who was working on the railroad to bring his bride to America. That was Cie's idea. Completely and totally.
But how do you reward the idea that probably got the book published? "Hey, thanks!" "Here, let me buy you lunch!" A cut of the royalties? You see the problem for a fair-minded person? (which I am)
And then, it occurred to me that if I was indeed going to be honest, what about the subplot I added to HER book? What if IT got published? Would I be satisfied with a thanks, or a lunch?
You see the problem with being a greedy egotist? (which I ALSO am. LOL!)
So, co-authoring was born. Equal credit on the cover, equal checks from the publisher, and a partnership was born. :D
Robin S. said... Cat, that's really interesting - about the beginnings being beta readers for each other.
CatAdams said... Thanks for coming, everyone! It was a fun time. I'll be on-line for a few more minutes, so feel free to ask more questions. I'll be happy to answer. I'd planned to stay for the full hour. :)
Evil Editor said... Yes, but you stayed almost two hours--above and beyond.
CatAdams said... Bye, all! Thanks again for reading the book, and glad you mostly enjoyed it. :)
Friday, August 28, 2009
In the year 2012, Satan rose from Hell to install his infernal kingdom on Earth, but mankind thwarted him with the help of Heaven't most powerful forces. Jesus Christ's second coming revealed the truth of Christianity, and a thousand years later there is no other religion on Earth. [Jesus is the Grover Cleveland of religious figures--he gets a second term years after his first term ended.] The world’s united government operates by means of two power-sharing entities: the Church, who rule the economy, [They volunteered.] and the Sword of God, the Earth’s holy army. [What does Earth's holy army do, now that there aren't any non-Christians to kill?]
In 2993, Earth is challenged by a hostile alien race called Perfirians. The Sword responds violently despite the Church's protestations. The resulting war sets the Church and the Sword irreperably at odds, and the Sword's conscription initiative causes a firestorm of discord between war supporters and peace advocates worldwide. [If the world has one united government and one religion, how big an army do they need? Aren't all wars caused by differences between governments and religions?]
Seraph begins by following a few conscription letters to their young addressees. Matthias, a poor boy in the slums of Lesser New York, vows to personally end the war so he can return to his ailing mother. Kenneth enlists to escape a criminal trial after killing a man in self-defense. [If anyone who is about to go on trial can get out of it by joining the holy army, the holy army must be full of serial killers and other sinners.] [Is killing in self-defense a crime in the future?] The scrappy urchin Sic [Anagram: Sin Church.] embraces the opportunity to flee poverty and boredom, and the once-celebrated pianist Kate reluctantly accepts her best career option in a world increasingly disenchanted with the arts. [Historically, Christianity has inspired great music and art almost as much as it's inspired war, murder and injustice, so I find it hard to believe the arts are out now that Christianity has no competition. Didn't Jesus, during his second term in office, say anything along the lines of, "Lay down your weapons and learn to play the organ."?] Clement, a brilliant scientist and Kate's fiancé, wants a first-hand look at the Perfirians, and Genny, a statuesque and haughty blueblood, foresees a glorious future in the military.
After their training, these six youths proceed to the space station Seraph and into frothing conflict, where they are joined by Tib, an enigmatic outsider with something to prove. Months of side-by-side danger and excitement draw Sic and Matthias closer together. [What is this frothing conflict? Battling the Perfirians? Their war ships haven't defeated our measly space station after months? Klingons they ain't.] Clement, far removed from the action on a Sword research station, [You said all six were on the Seraph station.] fears for Kate's life. He consequently makes feverish progress on a weapon powerful enough to conclude the war before it claims her. [Did Jesus sign off on the policy of making more powerful weapons? Why didn't he ordain that all disputes be settled with rock, paper, scissors? I guess he could have said, in 2012, keep that weapon research going, you're gonna need some big guns when the Perfirians show up in a thousand years.]
The seven soldiers meet the evil Perfirian generals, among them Diomedes, who seizes a Sword ship in an attempt to infiltrate Earth's atmosphere. [Infiltrate the atmosphere? If you're saying he needs a Sword ship so Earth will think he's one of them when he lands, I find it hard to believe that you can seize a ship without anyone on Earth knowing it. Even our primitive communications are good enough to prevent that deception.] Kenneth is captured in the ensuing battle. After neutralizing Diomedes on Earth, Tib is absorbed into the Sword’s excavation of a sacred relic, headed by Genny. There he learns that the Pope has organized his supporters into a rabid militia. [Is the Pope on the Sword side or the pacifist side?] It’s only a matter of time before the Church and the Sword descend into all-out war, but Genny obliviously digs on. [What should she be doing?] A supernatural force compels her to the prize buried beneath the site. [It's the ring of power.] [Too much going on in that paragraph. Change it to a paragraph about what Genny's doing, and mention no one else.]
Sic is killed rescuing Kenneth, and it takes the shock of her death for the devastated Matthias to realize how much he loved her. While undercover, Tib sees the Church supporters' mobilization firsthand, but his desperate calls to Genny go unanswered. He returns to the dig to find everything destroyed...and a terrifying demon flying off into the distance. Thinking Genny dead, he pursues the creature, which leads him across North America to the Gates of Hell. [California.]
In her tireless search for peace, Kate discovers a conspiracy: the Sword is actively perpetuating the war in order to preserve its livelihood [Did we learn nothing from Halliburton?] and curtail the Church's power. Kenneth is ordered to silence her, but he cannot countenance the heinous act, so he performs a mock assassination and sends her safely to Earth. Kate then meets up with Tib, and the two soldiers battle the demon to prevent the Gates' reopening. In vanquishing him, they learn the Perfirians' true purpose: infiltrate Hell to establish an unholy trinity with Satan, their god. With Earth on the brink of civil war, Kate and Tib must persuade the Pope that peace is not an option. [This is going on too long. It feels like a list of things that happen, with little focus on the thread that ties everything together. Maybe we need to know earlier what the enemy wants.] [The only thing shorter than an editor's attention span is an agent's, so cut, cut, cut.]
Unbeknownst to Tib, Genny returns to Seraph with a shard of the demon corrupting her soul. Clement has at last perfected a weapon capable of neutralizing the Perfirian fleet, but the demon (using Genny's body) attempts to murder him in order to subvert its activation. Clement destroys the demon, killing Genny in the process. With her dying breath, Genny thanks Clement for freeing her. Clement [, using the transporter,] then sends the vengeful Matthias into the Perfirian mothership bearing the weapon, and Matthias sacrifices himself to cripple the enemy. Sic is the last thing he sees before he dies. [Why didn't he transport out at the last second?] [Lemme guess . . . He tried, but the transporter malfunctioned again.]
With their generals killed and their mothership captured, the beleaguered alien army retreats. Kenneth and Clement cooperate to bring down the Sword's corrupt higher-ups. Kenneth then recovers Tib and leads a contingent to pursue the fleeing enemy, while Clement joins Kate on Earth in the arduous task of reuniting the human race. [This time they decide to try it with zero religions.] Seraph's epilogue summarizes their success, and the novel ends with their long-awaited wedding.
You'd think once there was concrete proof that heaven exists, sinning would be almost nonexistent, except for adultery. Yet Kenneth has to kill someone who's trying to murder him? How stupid do you have to be to attempt murder when you know there's a heaven?
On the other hand, since there are people who think the Holocaust never happened after only sixty years, how is it that everyone believes the second coming happened after a thousand years? I guarantee there'd be second coming deniers within a century.
If the militant Sword goes to war against the pacifist Church, isn't the war over in about ten minutes?
What did Jesus do after vanquishing Satan's demons? You'd think he would have stuck around a while and straightened people out. With the crime and weapons manufacture and slums and civil war, Earth doesn't seem any better. Guess we'll have to wait for the second coming of Buddha.
How do the aliens plan to infiltrate hell? Can you go there when you're alive now?
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Across the river from stately downtown Lafayette, Purdue University’s bell tower rang out alone: five o’clock.
The elevator in the Agricultural Administration Building carried a man and two women from the first floor to the third floor, sank to the second floor, and carried three men down to the first floor, where they clattered down a half-flight of steps and out the door.
The elevator hefted itself up to the second floor to pick up a woman carrying her grandchild and took them to the third floor.
Two laughing young men jogged up the main stairway and disappeared behind a rarely-used door. Though nobody used the steps behind—they were 60 degrees from the horizontal—nobody had thought to turn the lock.
The air conditioning hummed and thrummed overhead as people locked their doors and walked past the unsightly demolition of St. Thomas Aquinas to the parking garage across the street.
The bell tower finished chiming its melodies and left the air silent and humid as before.
On the ground floor of the Ag Admin Building, Aliya pondered the coke machine. Coke, cherry coke, diet coke, coke zero. The only people she could hear left in the building were the janitors; she left the machine for the elevator.
The Coke machine shuddered and sighed. Sure, he could invite the chicks for a drink, but in the end, they always got high with, or went down on, the elevator. Lucky bastard.
Opening: _*Rachel*_.....Continuation: Anon.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Guess the Plot
1. The inner dichotomies of modern America and the intricate knotwork of complex exigencies at the heart of small-town life are explored in a story which begins in Tatum, New Mexico, with a fender-bender between two uninsured vehicles.
2. After a UFO crashes in Washington D.C., strange things start happening: one couple makes the inexplicable decision to move into a condominium. A young man finds himself unable to describe a door. Is the alien from the UFO responsible? Will things get worse before they get better?
3. John is a four year old trapped in the body of a man seven times his age. He's getting through the day all right, with help from his helicopter mother, but can he get through the big board meeting this afternoon without having . . . the accident?
4. Little Jimmy Hines is getting mighty tired of being called "the accident" by his mom and dad, so he convinces his seventeen older siblings that life would be much more fun without parents.
5. When David Butterfield learns, at the tender age of 11, that he, meaning his very corporeal existence on earth, was 'an accident', caused by some kind of mysterious botch-up by his wanker of a father on a day when his poor mother had drunk all the ale in the village, not only is his mood altered, but his entire outlook on life spins around, leading to unforeseeable circumstances of reckless activity, crime, drug addiction, and eventually a shocking revenge on evil Mrs. Piggott, the heartless gossip who spewed the 'truth'.
6. Erica hadn't meant to dribble meat juice all over her brother Joe's Levis. Or leave the door to the family pitbull's run open. Besides, it was Joey's own fault; he should have fed Fluffy last night. He forgot. Oh, no, hang on; it had been her turn. Oh well...
I am writing to introduce you to my science fiction/fantasy novel THE ACCIDENT, which has a plot twist that has never appeared in any other novel or movie. [Say no more. I'm putting a six-figure contract in the mail at this exact moment, and if anyone offers more, I'll double it. I must have this book.] [Just kidding. Actually, all plot twists can be traced to The Game, Ender's Game, House of Games, or The Crying Game. I guarantee you subconsciously stole your twist from one of those.] [The only reason an agent would read beyond that sentence is in hopes that the query is a hoax and will be full of laughs.] The novel is complete at 87,500 words.
Three couples cross paths with a mysterious UFO that crashes in Washington, D.C.'s Rock Creek Park: a student, falling in love with a friend, discovers the UFO with her, but when her brother gets trapped inside the saucer, no one believes them; [Is the UFO still there? Because if someone tells me her brother's trapped in a flying saucer, once she shows me the flying saucer I'm not going to be all that skeptical about the brother part.] a bickering married couple move into a condominium with a strange neighbor; [What does that have to do with the UFO?] and a man keeps seeing a door in the sky, but doesn't know how to explain his vision to his fiancee. [I can explain it. He's watching a Twilight Zone marathon.] [Also, what does that have to do with the UFO? You were supposed to be telling how the couples crossed paths with the UFO.] While the alien adapts to the city with frightening consequences, [Apparently an alien survived the crash. I hate it when aliens pop up in the last sentence of the plot summary.] [Yes, even when, as in this case, the plot summary has only two sentences] one person stumbles upon the UFO's unique purpose.
I have enclosed an endorsement from award-winning writer XX, who read the novel and called it "wonderful." [Have you ever noticed that the more awards an author wins, the less talkative he is when describing anyone else's writing?] As for myself, my background is in advertising. I was born in Washington, D.C. and lived in the area where the novel takes place while I worked for a newspaper. Right now I am writing a sequel.
This is a simultaneous submission to several agents, but I hope to hear from you first because of your excellent reputation. [My other queries went to agents who, frankly, are likely to defraud me.] You represent the authors of several fine science fiction and fantasy novels set in ordinary cities on Earth, [It's worth noting that of the cities on Earth, Washington D.C. is among the least ordinary.] such as YY's [book title in italics] and ZZ[Top]'s [book title in italics]. Please let me know if I may send a partial or full manuscript. Thank you for your time.
Seeking an agent who represents books with a similarity to yours makes sense, but can you come up with a similarity more specific than it's set on Earth? It's a rare agent who hasn't represented a few such books.
Not only is your plot summary a mere two sentences; it's mostly just a list of characters. What's the story?
How many aliens were on that ship? One?
If a UFO crashed in D.C., there would be far more interesting goings-on than the ones you describe. Why are you focusing on these three couples?
Unless you've read all books and seen all movies, I don't see how you can claim your plot twist has never appeared anywhere. Wouldn't it be better to describe the plot twist and let the agent think, Wow, that plot twist has never been used? I mean, if you've come up with something truly unique to all literature, is that not your main selling point? Is that not the one thing that should be in your query above all else?
Start over from scratch. Tell us what happens. Leave out everything else.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Mallory looked at the two men sitting across from him. They were dressed in dark suits and wore serious faces. He didn’t know why he’d been asked -- summoned, really -- to meet Seth Davies, Chairman of the Board of the Port Authority, and Bill Donovan, a fellow board member. Or why he’d been instructed to make sure he wasn’t followed to the rendezvous point.
“This conversation is to be kept in the strictest confidence, Mr. Mallory,” Davies said. “We must have your word on that.”
“Mr. Davies, anything you choose to tell me will be treated with the utmost discretion,” Mallory said. “But you already knew that, or you wouldn’t have contacted me.”
The man stiffened. "How did you know my name?"
"Everyone knows who you are, sir." Mallory leaned back, making himself comfortable. "Your name's all over the papers, what with the . . . unfortunate allegations."
"Yes, well," Donovan huffed, cutting to the point with an admirable lack of bull. "That's why we're all here. This is a photograph of the detective in charge of the investigation. We need it to look like an accident."
And here it came, the familiar manila envelope that everybody seemed to use for these things. Mallory upended it, tactfully setting aside the cash to count later in favor of studying the photograph. An unpleasant frisson went down his back when he saw the familiar face staring up at him. The woman next to him must be the fabled wife.
"Is there a problem, Mr. Mallory?" snapped Davies.
But as Chuck snapped the folder shut he knew two things: one, this was going to be the hardest hit of his career and two, ace homicide detective Zack Martinez's wife was actually pretty cute.
Opening: Wonderwood.....Continuation: Sarah from Hawthorne
Monday, August 24, 2009
Guess the Plot
1. Rafaeno is at last a seraph, a member of the highest caste of angels. But his skills grow rusty as he manages the cherubs, virtues, and principalities. When a chance comes, to be a guardian angel again, he takes it, if only to relieve the boredom. But can he handle a foul-mouthed ninja goth by the name of Trixie Morgan?
2. Thithariel, Angel of Lisps and Speech Impediments, is finding life hard as one of the Principalities, so he asks God for a transfer to another angelic order. Unfortunately, God's in a really pithy mood.
3. edtrs always want u 2 use font with seraphs. I mene, com on, they keep rjectin my qury bc i use arial. dude, mby u can hlp/
4. 2998. Ever since the return of Jesus a thousand years ago, Earth has been completely at peace. But now the perfidious Perfirians threaten to eradicate mankind, and it's up to a handful of humans to turn back these space invaders. Can they do it? What about if a seraph helps them?
5. The angel font is a new free download from Kingdom Come ltd. What no one realizes is that when the counter hits 666,666,666 the font isn't the only thing that will be downloaded -- as hacker Nero Williams is about to find out.
6. Jack thought he'd found a stress-free calling as chapel caretaker, where his narcolepsy attacks would cause minimal damage. Then, the statues start rearranging themselves and the pews whisper at night. Can Jack stay awake long enough to solve the mystery of the shuffling . . . Seraph?
Dear Evil Editor,
Exterminating demons was hard enough back in 2012. In 2998, Earth has aliens to worry about. [I'm not sure this comparison is working for me. If it were the same people doing it, it would make sense, but with a thousand years between the demons and aliens, not so much. It's like a British soldier in 1944 saying, "Man it was hard enough fighting William the Conqueror back in 1066; now we have to take on Nazi Germany." I would probably begin: The year is 2998. After 1000 years of peaceful coexistence, mankind faces . . .] Now a septet of intrepid young recruits must risk their lives and souls to repel the extraterrestrial menace that threatens to eradicate the human race.
All Matthias wants is to end the war and return to his ailing family, and all Sic wants is Matthias. Kate and Clement must choose between their separate military careers and their future together. Tib, an outsider with something to prove, makes it his mission to stymie Genny, whose insatiable ambition sets her on a course to awaken a once-vanquished evil. The quintessential soldier Kenneth is Earth's best hope, but a loathsome conspiracy forces him to question his destiny. [Are you saying these seven people must defeat an alien invasion capable of eradicating the human race? If we're counting on seven people to save us, I propose that we dump everyone except Kenneth and start the recruitment process all over. This sounds like what would have happened if the Allies had relied on the cast of Big Brother to defeat the Axis powers.]
A thousand years ago, Jesus Christ joined forces with mankind to repel Satan and the legions of Hell. [If I were JC, I think I'd rather go it alone than join forces with mankind, who screw up everything they touch.] All of Earth is a bicameral Christian state. [All of Earth? As I find it hard to believe all Christians and Jews and atheists would become Muslims if Mohammed returned to Earth, I'm having trouble buying into everyone becoming Christian if Jesus returned.] The arrival of the rapacious Perfirians jeopardizes a millennium of world peace by spurring an ideological divide between the pacifist Church and the militant Sword of God. [Based on the adjectives "pacifist" and "militant," I would say there was an ideological divide before the Perfirians arrived.] For our heroes, the task at hand is not only to defeat the bad guys in space, but also to thwart the ones on Earth. [With Earth under attack by aliens, I can't tell whether the bad guys are the pacifists or the Sword.]
Seraph (160,000 words) merges Catholic dogma and deep space into a fast-paced and dynamic commercial fantasy. [Nothing that merges Catholic dogma with anything is fast-paced.] Game-changing revelations, stolen kisses, and jargon-laced one-liners abound. [That's too general to be helpful.] The full manuscript is available on request. I am seeking your representation because only the best editors are evil.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Even Christians would react poorly to a guy saying, "I'm Jesus, and I'm back. Yes the Jesus. What's so funny? Hey, where you taking me? Wait, watch, I'll turn water into wine." Cynical times. His best bet might be to become a stage magician.
Out of curiosity, how did Jesus dress when he returned? Flowing robes? Coat and tie? Jeans and T-shirt?
I'm not crazy about throwing away a whole paragraph to tell us the names and a tidbit about seven characters. If you have a main character or two, focus on them. Note the tagline from the movie Fellowship of the Ring and the summary of the book:
In a small village in the Shire a young Hobbit named Frodo has been entrusted with an ancient Ring. Now he must embark on an Epic quest to the Cracks of Doom in order to destroy it. (IMDB)
Frodo Baggins knew the Ringwraiths were searching for him—and the Ring of Power he bore that would enable Sauran to destroy all that was good in Middle-earth. Now it was up to Frodo and his faithful servant Sam to carry the Ring to where it could be destroyed—in the very center of Sauron's dark kingdom. (BN.com)
No mention of the other hobbits, Gandalf, Legolas, etc. Just the two main characters and the enemy. Maybe Kenneth, Earth's best hope, should be the query's focus, especially if he's the group's leader. You can get specific about the loathsome conspiracy he's dealing with.
Now, if no character has a bigger role than the others, just talk about them as a group. Here are the short and long descriptions of The Big Chill. (IMDB)
A group of seven former college friends gather for a weekend reunion at a posh South Carolina winter house after the funeral of one of their friends.
A seminal Thirty-Something movie in which a group of old college friends who are now all grown up and hardened by the big wide world come together for the funeral of Alex, a barely glimpsed corpse, who was at one time the brightest and the best of them, and yet who never managed to achieve half as much as any of the others. The friends use the occasion to reacquaint themselves with each other and to speculate as to what happened to their idealism which had been abundant when they were younger.
No names, nothing specific about any one of them. A film closer in theme to your book, The Seven Samurai, is similarly described. We don't get each Samurai's name and something about him.
Without wasting that paragraph you'll have room to tell us why the fate of the world has been placed in the hands of this particular group of people. How can they hope to defeat the aliens? Do they have the backing of a seraph?
Sunday, August 23, 2009
"Looks like homicide," the M.E. said. "Or a really determined suicide. Or the worst paper cut I've ever seen."
Zack sighed. He walked over to his partner, Monaghan Monroe. "We got an ID?"
"Annabelle Lee. Supermodel and socialite."
"Anybody in the frame?"
Monroe flipped through his notebook. "Four people knew her, and can't account for their movements at the time of death."
"Harcourt Wetherby IV. Billionaire playboy, victim's current boyfriend. They say his collection of Japanese swords is the finest in the world."
"Dr. Evan Williams. Also a boyfriend. Fastest man with a scalpel on the West Coast."
"Bryan 'Chunks' Boggleston. Former boyfriend. In town for the International Lumberjacking Championship."
"Amy Weinhauser. Wetherby's previous girlfriend. Spokesmodel for Chainsaws-R-Us."
Zack shook his head. He knew two things: the victim was dead, and if the M.E. came back and said she'd been strangled first, this case was going to be a bitch.
"Look at the blood splatter patterns," suggested the M.E. "Weird, huh?"
Martinez walked around the scene for a while. "By 'weird' you mean that there's more than one pattern, suggesting more than one weapon was used."
"Exactly," said the M.E. "What do you make of that?"
"It suggests that perhaps more than one of the suspects participated," said Martinez.
"Yeah...yeah, you're right. Why didn't I think of that?" said the M.E.
"By any chance were you the officer who called in the crime?" asked Martinez.
"Uh...yeah....So what? I happened to be passing by and--"
"Mind if I look in the trunk of your car?" said Martinez. "At your forensics kit?"
"Well, yeah, that would be insulting, if you did."
"It's a county car, so I don't really have to ask," said Martinez.
"How'd you know," said the M.E.
"The ants haven't even had time to find the victim and yet you have four suspects lined up."
"Idiot, idiot, idiot," said the M.E.
"Didn't like being the fifth wheel, huh?" Detective Martinez knew two things. One, he would get home in time for dinner, for once. And two, he was going to eat veggies tonight.
Opening: Steve.....Continuation: William Highsmith