Jul 12, 2010

Synopsis for Beauty For Ashes

Click here to read the most recent query.

word count: 1,160

Critique requested: Is it too dry? Does it use phrases that don't work? Does the end satisfy?  Enough/too much detal?  Does it do its job (making the reader want to request the manuscript)?

Critique tolerance is high.  Anything you have to say is appreciated!


JONATHAN DOUGLAS had a beautiful young wife, a job he loved, and a faith in God he thought couldn’t be shaken.  When a desperate phone call from his mother sends him racing home from work, he arrives to find the air filled with smoke and ash, while neighbors and firemen surround his smoldering house.  The news that his wife and infant daughter were killed in the fire ends life as he knows it.

Stripped of everything he loved, John rebels against the God who betrayed him.  He ignores the Voice of the Lord tickling his soul and continues a downward spiral into depression.  Haunted by vivid nightmares- images of his family in the flames- John turns to alcohol for escape. He eventually makes his way to the Las Vegas strip where he spends his time alternately giving himself over to his despair, and fighting off the pain with drink.

APRIL is a strong, independent woman.  She watched her mother jump from one abusive relationship to another and is determined not to be as weak as she was.  So when her own boyfriend turns violent- beating and raping her after a late night of drinking- April refuses to be a victim.  She sneaks out during the night and speeds away from everything she knows.  With nothing but a few bucks, she melts into the crowds of Vegas and fights to start over.  After living out of her car and serving drinks to sweaty, boorish men, April lands an apartment and roommate but struggles to come up with the rent each month.   Losing one job after another leaves her desperate to keep a roof over her head- so desperate that she is willing to do anything to keep off the streets.

John meanwhile, can no longer cope with his pain and decides to end his life. On what would have been his last night alive, he meets April in the hotel bar.   April reminds him so much of his deceased wife that when she propositions him and names her price he throws himself into the fantasy. He wakes up the next morning to a shattered illusion and profound shame. John is finally broken before the Almighty.  Falling to his knees on the dirty bathroom floor of a Vegas hotel room, he finds the Lord waiting with open arms.

In search of a new start, John plants himself in southern California and begins to put down roots there. He becomes involved at a local church where he meets JENNI.

Jenni’s life is decidedly centered on Christ.  In between college and her job at Just Juice, Jenni performs sign language with the Worship Team at church. She isn’t looking for romance when she meets John, but he captures her heart. Jenni hadn’t thought she’d fall in love with a man who had one marriage already under his belt, and she wrestles with their difference in life experience. But she and John are both flooded by the peace of God and are sure He has brought them together.

John is amazed by God’s grace and the blessing of a second chance at love.  But even though his relationship with the Lord has been restored, sin always has its consequences.  His days of hard living catch up with him when April appears on his doorstep, pregnant, and claims he is the father.

April had just lost yet another job when she discovered she was pregnant.  Abortion was her only option. There was no way she could support a child when she couldn’t even support herself.  But when she arrives at the clinic, she is struck by the images and words of a protestor’s sign.  The reality of the new life in her womb overwhelms her and she refuses to go through with the procedure.  With no medical insurance, severe morning sickness, and no support from friends on her decision to keep the baby, she decides to try and find John.

John knows that to follow Christ he cannot hide the truth of his past.  He must surrender his pride, endure the gossip at church, and risk his relationship with Jenni. When he breaks the news to her, he isn’t surprised that she needs time alone to process everything.

While John focuses on getting medical care for April and the unborn baby, Jenni wrestles with her roiling emotions over the devastating news.  She fights to hold onto her faith even under these unthinkable circumstances, and in one desperate moment is tempted by her own past of self-mutilation.  Instead, she looks to Christ to hold her together.  Though she doesn’t know how she will find the strength to do it, she knows the Lord is asking her to forgive and to show His love even to April.

April feels guilty that her arrival has upturned John’s life and damaged his relationship with his new fiancĂ©.  He has been more than kind in taking her to doctor appointments and giving her a place to stay.  He is a different man than the tortured soul she met at the bar, always talking about the love of God.  April had never spared a thought on God; she had done her best to rely only on herself.  So when her medical evaluations uncover that she has leukemia, she decides it must be divine punishment.  She feels it’s what she deserves, but agonizes over the risk to the baby.  However, when Jenni extends the hand of friendship, April begins to realize she is not as alone as she thought.

Though Jenni’s pain still threatens to tear her apart, her heart softens toward April, who she begins to see through the eyes of God.  Both Jenni and John continually share the message of God’s love and grace with April, and little by little she opens up to the possibility that He really does love her.  In the face of her declining health, April gives her heart and her life to Christ and experiences more joy and peace than she’s ever known.

April’s uncontrolled fever necessitates an early C-section, and it is a bittersweet time for Jenni.  When she sees John cradling baby DAVID, she feels both the familiar pang of insecurity as well as happiness for John at becoming a father again.  David is small but healthy, and he squirms his way into Jenni’s heart despite the thorny situation.

Grave circumstances mar the celebration over this new life.  April is dying.  In the days before her death she has found salvation and joy and is ready to let go.  She asks John to raise their son in the knowledge of God, and Jenni to be a mommy to him in her absence.  After April passes away, Jenni reflects on God’s amazing sovereignty in working all things together for the good of those who love Him.  She has a new son, the love of a man she adores, the knowledge that April is safely in the arms of God, and a much stronger faith in the Lord.


Query- Seaweeds (version 3)

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Click here to read the first revision.



On the shore, an unusual love triangle arises between a young man, a mermaid, and a siren in SEAWEEDS, a 65,000-word contemporary fantasy.

Sky Hunter’s twenty-third birthday brings him a boat party, strange presents, and a hook-up with sexy Melanie. An evening of pleasure turns into a night of survival when Sky falls off the boat and nearly drowns. He is rescued by a mermaid and winds up on the beach the next morning, disoriented and having no clue what saved him until he discovers a girl with violet eyes washed up nearby. She can’t talk and has trouble walking. Sky believes the girl is the mermaid. Why she is a human now bewilders him, but her charm and innocence draws him to help her. He names her Pearl and falls head over heels for her.

There’s just one problem. Melanie is livid about Sky’s new girlfriend and threatens to murder his family if he chooses to stay with Pearl. Sky refuses to give in to Melanie’s threats, certain that he can outsmart her. But when he discovers that Melanie is a siren who has to seduce a man before feeding him to the ocean, he must find a way to resist her magic long enough to save himself—and Pearl.

SEAWEEDS is The Little Mermaid meets Fatal Attraction. Thank you for your time and consideration.


N. Blank

A few sample pages:

I knew Ronnie was going to surprise me with a party. But I didn’t know there’d be beer. I’m old enough to drink, but I prefer not to. Alcohol doesn’t get along with my stomach. And I do stupid shit when I’m drunk, like fall off a boat.
Or on that particular evening, fall off a boat while having sex with a beautiful girl.
“All aboard!” Ronnie surveyed the ladies as they strolled up the ramp, giggling like Paris Hilton wannabes. He twisted the side of his mouth into a lopsided grin and winked at me. “I picked a fine bunch, didn’t I?”
I rolled my eyes and set the tray of dipping snacks I was carrying on top of a table. The April wind raged without remorse; it’d be smart to put the food inside so nothing would blow away, but Ronnie wanted food and drinks to be accessible everywhere on the 32-meter yacht. He even put water bottles next to the toilet in case someone, probably me, got sick.
Best friends since the sandbox days. Ronnie and I always got along, despite our differences. I was the introvert. He was the extrovert, loud and obnoxious, always trying to be the center of attention. I preferred the sideline.
I watched from a distance as the girls promenaded in heels high enough to make my 6-feet-tall self feel midgetified. There were four girls altogether. I knew three of them; the fourth was a mystery.
She tagged behind the others, carrying a basket of cookies. I tried not to ogle, but she was like a goddess. Her eyes were green and sharp. Lengthy eyelashes, decorated with thick coats of mascara. Jet black hair glided across her shoulders effortlessly, not a tangle or curl in sight. I raked my eyes up and down her body, taking in her runway model stature. She was naturally tan; her arms seemed to glow in the sunlight. Her green cotton dress was not blatant or revealing, but fit her figure so perfectly, it made her more desirable than the other girls who were scarcely dressed.
Maybe, if luck was on my side and I didn’t say or do anything embarrassing, this girl would end up my birthday present.
In your dreams, my conscious said.