Monday, September 27, 2010

Query Revision 24

Face-Lift 782: Jesus, Mo and Cheesepuffs

Dear Evil Editor,

I'm a little over the suggested 250, but agree cutting out all the blah, blah, blah makes it read better. I hope you think so too.

Flo’s big lie is she tells herself her deformed eye doesn’t bother her a bit. Never mind she wears a brown patch, and darts away from mirrors and sparkling windows.

When she wins $40,000 from a scratch-off lottery ticket, her husband Mo decides it’s time for a road trip. The plan is they’ll drive from Indiana to California to one of those TV doctor’s do plastic surgery on her mangled eye. With this premise in mind, she and Mo pile in the car along with extra bags of cheese puffs.

Stops along the way occur in small towns like Liberal, Kansas and Hooker, Oklahoma. The senior citizens run into all sorts of people and situations that force them to question aspects of their nature and alter a few beliefs.

Things don’t go smoothly when they reach Pasadena. The doctor Flo had her appointment with had to leave the country. She’s offerd an appointment with a French Dr. who wants to rework her whole face.

They meet a homeless couple at the farmer market, Angel and Jostlin’ Jack. Flo is appalled at their hardscrabble life, but Angel assures Flo she’s happy. Angel teaches Flo about faith and emphasizes the need to “wear the world like a loose garment.” Flo runs into Angel again at a church, and starts to wonder if Angel might actually be a real angel.

The road trip changes Mo and Flo: Flo accepts her struggle with vanity, realizing the only limitations in life are the ones she puts on herself. Mo lets go of 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. I am a member of RWA and ACFW. A title similar to the length and tone of “Jesus, Mo and Cheese Puffs,” is “The Noticer” by Andy Andrews, published by Thomas Nelson.

I would appreciate your consideration for representation.



I think maybe you went a little far in cutting out the blah, blah, blah. Also, notice that you left in secondary details like the town names and Flo's original surgeon leaving the country, making them seem much more important than they are. But then you're vague with the "all sorts of people and situations that force them to question..." which is really the crux of your story. Flo and Mo grow through their encounters with these "all sorts," so including a couple of examples will help bring your query to life.

I think, too, we need to connect to Mo up front. Leaving his issues till the end where you tell us in the same sentence what they are and that they're dealt with, doesn't give the reader time to care about him.

Also, since yours is more a literary and motivational book, voice is paramount. Word choices that really give us a glimpse into some of the characters and situations are very important. You do yourself a disservice when you are too vague with your language.

My Revision

Flo's deformed eye doesn't bother her a bit. Nope. Never mind the eye patch or her aversion to mirrors. But when she wins $40,000 in the lottery, she decides to get one of those "TV doctors" to do plastic surgery. It's a long way from Indiana to California, so she and her husband, Mo, pack along some extra bags of cheese puffs for the trip.

Mo is still grieving over losing their teenage son, Jimmy, to Down Syndrome. It's been 10 years, but he hasn't let go his grudge against God, or his desire to cut himself off from the world. Get on the road, get 'er done, and get back -- that's his goal.

Funny thing about life, it doesn't always follow plan, and they seem to be sidetracked at every turn. For one, there's the Vietnamese family with the broken-down car in Liberal, Kansas, they stop to help. Turns out the young mother is Mo's granddaughter from a forgotten war. And in Hooker, Oklahoma, they're held up by a wake for the town hero -- High Henry, a Clydesdale horse, who shows them it's not the package but the heart inside that matters.

At a farmer's market in Pasadena, Jostlin' Jack and Angel -- a happy if homeless couple filled with faith -- counsel Flo to "wear the world like a loose garment." Angel's words come back to Flo when the plastic surgeon suggests reworking her whole face and making her into something she isn't. Realizing at last the only limitations in life are the ones she puts on herself, Flo takes off her eye patch in the same breath that Mo lets go his bitterness toward God.

Worked through with the same understanding about simple actions and simple people making a difference as Andy Andrews' The Noticer, JESUS, MO AND CHEESE PUFFS is complete at 52,000 words. I look forward to sending you the manuscript.


Member RWA and ACFW


vkw said...

This is a much better Query. I really liked the way Phoenix touched it up. Very good job.


Anonymous said...

I think this is perfect.