Friday, June 11, 2010
Guess the Plot
Jesus, Mo and Cheese Puffs
1. Jesus is a Puerto Rican immigrant living in New York. Mo is his neighbor and drinking buddy. Together they have a dream to transform the snack food industry.
2. Mo and his wife Flo pack the car with Cheese Puffs and head for sunny California so Flo can get plastic surgery from a TV doctor. Along the way they meet Angel, a homeless woman who tells them about Jesus. Will Angel renew their faith, or will they give her some Cheese Puffs and tell her to get lost?
3. Jesus and Mo are middle grade Vampyres without a care in the world . . . until their school cafeteria, trying to meet strict new healthy lunch regulations, adds garlic to the Cheese Puffs. Hilarity ensues.
4. Being Jesus means you can hate but you can't show it. Mo is God's relative but God smat him and threw him into the cheese puffs. Jesus goes back to woodworking, which he likes very much. The puffs, 12 of them, wander the desert until it rains. They melt, Jesus stays a carpenter and Mo becomes Moses.
5. Mo smokes one bowl too many, sending him on an epic crusade for Cheese Puffs. When he opens the bag of cheesy airy goodness and discovers a puff in the likeness of Christ the Savior, a moral dilemma ensues as he considers whether to sell it on eBay.
6. When Jesus Christ appears at Mo's door seeking a bed for the night, Mo is only too happy to oblige. If this doesn't get him into heaven, nothing will. But Mo regrets his hospitality the next morning when he wakes to find Jesus gone and the entire bag of Cheese Puffs eaten.
Dear Evil Editor,
When Flo Brown wins $40,000 from a scratch-off lottery ticket it’s vanity that propels her to agree to a cross country trip with her husband Mo. [If it's Mo's idea to take the trip, one wonders if it's Mo who's the vain one.] In no time at all, Flo packs, and is ready to go. She and Mo plan to drive from Indiana to California so she can have one of those “TV doctors" do plastic surgery on her mangled eye. It’s with this premise in mind that she and Mo pile in the car along with extra bags of cheese puffs. [Be specific: Is she looking to hire Dr. Taub on House, or the doctors on Nip & Tuck? Are they packing regular cheese puffs or the crunchy kind?]
From the get-go, their trip is anything but ordinary. Their first stop is at a bitty gas station where the clerk directs them to a favored diner. There they meet a young family with twin toddlers and a broken-down car. Mo, having been a mechanic in Vietnam offers to help. Flo goes with Kendy, the mother of the twins and her toddlers [The twins are the toddlers. Just say Flo goes with Kendy and her kids to the park. ] to the park. What Flo doesn’t know is Kendy is Mo’s granddaughter, but at this point, neither Flo nor Mo knows she exists. [So far you haven't backed up the claim that the trip is anything but ordinary. The granddaughter bit is unusual (in fact, it sounds like a one in a trillion chance), but no one knows it, and it's never mentioned again. Gas station, diner, park? Very ordinary.]
As they make their way across the highways and byways, they stumble upon a variety of situations and people that continue to stretch them in ways they couldn’t predict.
The novel weaves together both touching and funny moments. A young boy, Joey, lives with his grandparents. His mother still hasn’t come home, and it’s been six months. Joey is a Boy Scout, and when Flo and Mo hear about someone stealing their money from the plant sale, Mo agrees to help Joey’s grandpa build chicken and rabbit cages to sell instead. Joey is happy that Flo visited with his grandmother and made her smile. He tells Flo he was scared because his grandma seemed so sad lately and he feared she might want to leave too. [Touching and funny moments may work in the novel, but in the query they're boring. Normally I tell writers to be specific, but if your best specifics are diners and plant sales and chicken cages, I recommend being general until you get to the important stuff.]
In Hooker, Oklahoma, [the most popular truck stop on the Interstate,] they stumble into [Two stumbles are at least one to many.] a wake when all they wanted to do was stop at the store and buy needle and thread. The spirited shop owner, Lettie Jean, eventually lets on that the wake isn’t for a person but High Henry, a Clydesdale horse who held the honor of uniting a town.
They meet a homeless couple at the farmer market in Pasadena, Angel and Jostlin’ Jack. Flo is appalled at their hardscrabble life, but Angel assures Flo she’s happy. Angel teaches Flo about trust, faith and how to “wear the world like a loose garment.” Flo runs into Angel again at a church, and it’s after this meeting Flo wonders if Angel might actually be a real angel.
Mo and Flo discover that the trip has changed them in ways they never imagined. Flo accepts her struggle with vanity and realizes the only limitations she has are the ones she puts on herself. Mo lets go of his bitterness toward Flo's God and makes peace with losing their only son, Jimmy, who died at seventeen from complications of Down's Syndrome.
Complete at 52,000 words, the novel is available for immediate review. This is the fourth book I have written; the first three are full-length women's commercial fiction novels. I am an RN, but also have a BA in English with an emphasis in creative writing. I am a member of RWA and ACFW. I would appreciate your consideration for representation. [We don't need to know about books you've written that weren't published, or about your education.]
I can see vanity being behind getting a face lift or a nose job, but do you have to be vain to get surgery on a mangled eye?
There's too much detail for a query. It should fit on one page. It also feels like a list of things that happen. Start with something like:
When Flo Brown wins $40,000 from a scratch-off lottery ticket, it’s vanity that propels her on a cross country trip with her husband Mo. She and Mo plan to drive from Indiana to California so she can have one of those “TV doctors" do plastic surgery on her mangled eye. As they make their way across the west, they stop now and then to help strangers in need, never realizing what a positive impact they're having.
Then skip down to the homeless couple, which is where your real story begins.
Usually when people are traveling cross-country they zip off the highway, gas up, grab some food, and hit the road. It seems odd that Mo and Flo meet and interact with so many people. Also, is Pasadena their destination? I assumed LA/Hollywood, but if it's one of those, stopping off in Pasadena seems odd, when it's fifteen minutes from their final destination.
Mo: Finally, after three days, we're almost there. Ten more miles.
Flo: Pull over at the next exit. I wanna go to a farmers market and talk to some homeless people.
If it's intended for the Christian book market, say so.