Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Knights of Avalon Evil Overlord List

1. If the reincarnation of Lancelot du Lac demands that I give him a sword, I will say 'no.'
a) Even if he challenges me to one-on-one combat.
b) Even if he says I have no honor.
c) Even if he calls me a coward.

(See #40 of the Evil Overlord List: "I will be neither chivalrous nor sporting. If I have an unstoppable superweapon, I will use it as early and as often as possible instead of keeping it in reserve" and #44: "I will only employ bounty hunters who work for money. Those who work for the pleasure of the hunt tend to do dumb things like even the odds to give the other guy a sporting chance")

Interestingly enough, though not evil, Percival seems to be following Evil Overlord Rule #4: "Shooting is not too good for my enemies."


Now that I've had some time to think on it, Morgan le Fay is the one who seems to be really paying attention to the Evil Overlord List. For example:

1. Shooting is not too good for my enemies.
2. I will not gloat over my enemies' predicament before killing them.
3. I will be secure in my superiority. Therefore, I will feel no need to prove it by leaving clues in the form of riddles or leaving my weaker enemies alive to show they pose no threat.
4. I will be neither chivalrous nor sporting. If I have an unstoppable superweapon, I will use it as early and as often as possible instead of keeping it in reserve.
5. If I learn that a callow youth has begun a quest to destroy me, I will slay him while he is still a callow youth instead of waiting for him to mature.
6. I will instruct my Legions of Terror to attack the hero en masse, instead of standing around waiting while members break off and attack one or two at a time.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

It's #Querypalooza!

In honor of #Queryfail, #QueryDay, #Querypalooza, I was seriously tempted to write up some appallingly atrocious queries and send them to agents for a good giggle. Then I realized that I'd really like to be working with these people one day, and that perhaps it might not be a good idea to find creative ways to annoy them, so instead, I shall post my appallingly atrocious queries on my blog!

Fake Query Ahead. Keep out of reach of agents, LOLcats, and small children. Do not attempt at home. No literary classics were harmed in the making of this query. OK, maybe one, but Jane Austen's ghost must be used to it by now.

Dear Nathan,

I'm your biggest fan. But not like that Kathy Bates chick from Misery. No, if you ever crashed on an isolated country road in the middle of winter and broke your leg, I totally would not kidnap you and force you to read my submissions. I'd be a much more considerate client than that.

As your biggest fan (but not like Kathy Bates!), I am submitting to you my Historical Romantic Thriller Epic Pride and Prejudice and Ninjas. It's about Pride and Prejudice, and ninjas. As it combines two subjects extremely popular in the market at this time, Jane Austen, and ninjas, I feel assured that it will be a Number One New York Times Bestseller within a week of you taking me on as your client. In addition, if you take me on as a client, my book will be so amazingly awesome that all the other agents will be jealous of you and Michael Chabon AND Cormac McCarthy will want you to be their agent. It's true.
As mentioned before, my book is about Pride and Prejudice, and ninjas. As sisters Elizabeth and Jane Bennet prepare with eager anticipation for their wedding day, Jane is kidnapped by strange, shadowy figures dressed most scandalously in black pyjamas. Darcy and Elizabeth, with the help of Sherlock Holmes, must investigate her disappearance, but to their surprise, find Bingley strangely reticent to aid them in their search.

The black pyjamaed-figures then return, attempting to assassinate Mr. Bingley with poisoned shuriken, but Elizabeth Bennet's flying fists of fury save the day and Bingley's most shocking secret is finally revealed: He is indeed a businessman, but he doesn't exactly get his 4,000 pounds of yearly income from selling tea and crumpets. As a member of a shadowy organization devoted to world domination run by Napoleon himself, Bingley partners with the Dutch to smuggle black market weapons to the Nagasaki yakuza. When a giant squid sinks one of the smuggling ships, the partnership goes sour and the Ninja are sent to eliminate Bingley once and for all.

It's as this point that Darcy reveals himself to be a member of the League of Extraordinarily Hot Gentlemen, an even secreter, more super organization devoted to battling Napoleon's evil designs. Darcy's assignment all along has been to watch Mr. Bingley and infiltrate the
organization. Putting aside their differences to rescue Jane, Bingley and Darcy, along with Elizabeth, storm the ninjas' secret lair in the heart of Cheapside, only to find that the ninjas have put Jane on a ship bound for Japan.

It's Adventure on the High Seas as Darcy borrows a navy vessel from Admiral Horatio Nelson and takes off in hot pursuit. But just as he and Bingley and Elizabeth draw near, they're attacked by a pirate ship captained by none other than the villainous Mr. Wickham, who has already been bankrupted by Lydia despite his officer's commission in the North.

Having recently participated in your Agent for a Day contest, I feel that I am now well-qualified to declare that my novel is the best ever and will be more popular than Twilight, Harry Potter, and Jesus combined. I'll be waiting by the phone for your offer of representation.


Your Biggest Fan (but not like Kathy Bates!)

PS-I've interspersed my query with photos of bacon and kittens, because bacon makes everything better and kittens make my query memorable.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

LOLcat can haz agent?

In honor of the impending Queryfail 2: Bigger, Better, Angstier, I've put together a LOLcat query letter. I think if cats could type, this is what they'd say. That and 'feed me.'

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Save Guinevere, Save the World

So I was working on the first draft of my query letter, which I'll post below, and I realized that it sure sounds like Heroes - Season 1's "Save the cheerleader, save the world," which caused me to giggle for a good couple of minutes.

Anyways, I decided not to submit the query to Nathan Bransford's Agent for a Day contest, as I'm still working on it and it looks like he already received plenty of submissions, but I will continue to post the query as it evolves.

Here's my first attempt at it, pulling together all the 'ingredients' I listed in the post below.

Fifteen hundred years ago, Camelot fell, torn apart by adultery, bloodshed, and the treachery of Mordred. Now the Knights of the Round Table have returned, reincarnated as New Jersey teens, and if they don’t discover their pasts and join together, there’ll be no future, not for them, not for anyone.

Someone is kidnapping and murdering the best and the brightest teens from across New Jersey: Star athletes, honor students, local heroes. When Justine Kwiatkowski’s best friend Gwen goes missing in the town of Avalon, she fears the worst, that her friend and partner in crime, a straight ‘A’ student who dreams of being a cardiac surgeon one day, has become the latest victim.

Luckily for Gwen and unfortunately for the killer, Justine’s determined to rescue her before it’s too late. Stubborn, pushy, and fearless, Justine finds herself surrounded by would-be allies in her quest to find her friend. There’s Gwen’s boyfriend, the loner from the wrong side of the tracks who blames himself for bloodshed that happened over a thousand years before he was born, the self-professed drama nerd whose only fighting experience is in West Side Story but finds herself able to take down a champion blackbelt with ease, the troubled artist who obsessively paints images of a golden cup, and the star football tackle who only wants two things in life, a giant battle axe and to protect his family from his abusive father.

If Justine can find a way to bring these kids together and settle some very old scores, she’ll not just rescue Gwen, she just might save the world.

Knights of Avalon, a YA Urban Fantasy, is complete at _______ (still writing it, so I don't know yet!). If interested, the partial or full manuscript is available upon request. Thank you for your consideration!

I'll let the query sit for a while and then come back to look at it with fresh eyes. I think there's definitely more to be done to let the main character's personality shine through and some tightening of language I can do as well.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Starting a Query from Scratch

Lookee! Over there! It's yet another blog contest, this time to "Be an Agent for a Day," and as everyone probably knows by now, blog contests are my crack. Oh yes they are.

There are two components to this contest. The one that interests me the most is the part where people send in queries to be judged by Nathan Bransford's readers, as if they were actual agents. I know not all queries will be selected, but what the heck, let's give it a shot, so I'm going to send in a query for my unfinished YA Urban Fantasy, "Knights of Avalon."

Except here's the catch: I'm going to have to write the query first. From the ground up. My Surviving Matewan query I posted a while back? I had worked on and revised that for months before anyone ever got to see it. But I think it'll be an interesting exercise to show you my thought process as I put a new query together.

Before I start writing a query, the first question I ask myself is: What should I put in it? I love to bake and to me, this is like putting together a list of ingredients. And yes, it's very easy to forget ingredients, because as writers we're so close to our own work that we sometimes assume readers know something that they don't.

For Knights of Avalon , here's the basic premise: Knights of the Round Table reincarnated as New Jersey teens. To find out who is killing them one by one and save the future, they'll have to join together and discover their pasts.

Here are my basic ingredients for the query. I'll update this list if I think of anything else:

  • Story inspired by the legends of King Arthur and Camelot
  • The title (you think it's obvious but people apparently have forgotten)
  • Wordcount
  • Genre
  • No credentials will be included, because I really don't have any. Except that I love to write, my beagle thinks I'm brilliant and that I make the best pralines ever! But I don't think any of that's relevant here, so I'll leave it out. But seriously, my pralines are really yummy
  • Set in Avalon, New Jersey
  • In the plot summary, mention that Guinevere/Gwen has been kidnapped and it's this event that spurs her best friend Arthur/Justine to action and ultimately draws the knights together
  • Mention the murder of New Jersey teens, all of them brilliant and heroic in some way
  • Should I include quick one sentence descriptions of some of the individual knights? Will have to think on it. For example, for Dinadan, "a self-professed drama nerd whose only fighting experience is in West Side Story but finds herself able to take down a champion blackbelt with ease."
I'm clearly brainstorming here, but this is how I start a query. Just start tossing out ideas. I'll start a rough rough draft tomorrow and post it.

Friday, April 3, 2009

#Underfail: Rise of the Agents

For those of you who have been wasting your time with silly things like writing or, you know, spending time with your families and engaging in human interaction, you may not be aware that there is yet another controversy in the Writing/Publishing blogosphere. First, there was the great #Queryfail debate of March '09, now there is the even better and angstier #Agentfail debate of April '09. I don't know what we're doing for May, but I hope it involves Nerf weapons.

For those of you who have been out of the loop, here's a quick run down of what's been going on.

For over a thousand years, a great war has raged between two rival races:

The Agents, and...

The Writers.

Though the origins of this conflict are lost to the sands of time, for the past several decades, Agents and Writers had maintained an uneasy peace, until the great scourge that is known in the Dark Tongue as Twitter sowed discord throughout the land.

"OMG, here's another writer who didn't follow
the submission guidelines, didn't use spellcheck,
and swears their 250,000 word WWII historical
about a Ninja Assassin with a Heart of Gold will
sell more than Harry Potter!"

"We have been humiliated! Unprofessional!
Stop spending so much time on Twitter and
read our queries! And reply! None of this
'no response means no' crap! It's hard enough
being a writer as it is!"

"You guys are so harsh. Agents have feelings too!
You have no idea how busy we are representing
existing clients, drinking blood, fighting werewolves
while wearing tight leather outfits, and watching reality
TV shows."

Will this war between Writers and Agents ever end? Can they find a way to work together towards the same goal? Will Nathan Bransford ever get those Sacramento Kings tickets ? Will Colleen Lindsay ever get over her fear of Nanerpuss? Can this writer stop procrastinating and get back to work on her latest manuscript? Stay tuned.