© Kasey Mackenzie.
I have to admit that I actually kinda enjoy writing query letters (yeah, that makes me a glutton, I guess 😉 ), but synopses…I hate those about as much as any other typical writer. Still, it’s another skill aspiring writers have to hone if they want to make it in publishing, so I’m going to share a few of my synopses. Note that I have no way of telling if these are as successful as my queries have been, since most of the time the agents who requested material from me didn’t ask for a synopsis. The ones who did ask for synopses never said they sucked, so…use these as an example at your own risk. 😉
Please note that I’m not going to put my synopsis for Red Hot Fury up here until after the book has been released.
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Where Angels Fear to Tread
When a sexy man exuding the devil’s own charm shows up on Storm O’Malley’s doorstep, she mistakes him for her best friend’s obligatory birthday prank and orders him to get busy–stripping. Only problem is, he’s no stripper. He’s an angel.
Storm really should have seen that coming. After all, she’s supposed to be psychic.
Then again, she’s not a very reliable psychic, which is at least half the problem; her bad attitude the other. Storm, traumatized from years of abuse at the hands of her maternal grandmother, has finally managed to scare the Pathlighters enough that none of them is willing to finish her training. Except for the one angel who has nothing else to lose, and Paradise to regain. The angel-who’s-not-a-stripper, Damien.
Damien’s no ordinary angel. He’s the Fallen, the first angel in a century to serve the shady syndicate known as the Diablerie. And if he fails to walk the path all angels now fear to tread–if he fails to successfully train Storm to control the “psychic storms” that nearly killed one immortal being–then he loses all chance at redemption and she will be completely wiped from existence.
Damien proves to be more than a match for both Storm’s moody personality and unpredictable powers as they investigate the murder of psychically-gifted children. The clues they uncover, including the emblem of a butterfly with the body of a snake, lead them to a realty company called New Eden Enterprises, which in turn leads to the Church of Eden’s Blessed. They become convinced that the church is actually a cult of fundamentalist doomsayers.
Digging deeper into New Eden Enterprises and the Church of Eden’s Blessed, they come across pictures of Eden’s mysterious matriarch, Mother Eve. Suddenly, Storm’s world is once again turned upside down. Eve is a dead ringer for her grandmother, Lilith–who supposedly died several months earlier. Not only that, but she also looks younger than the world’s best plastic surgery could ever explain away.
Storm must soon face the terrifying truth. This young woman in the prime of life is indeed her grandmother, whose abuse years earlier caused the emotional trauma making her psychic gifts so dangerous.
Only when it is too late do Storm and Damien realize that they have been drawn straight into a trap. Eve and Eden’s Blessed have been murdering future Pathfinders in St. Louis as bait to draw Storm right where they want her. They kidnap her half-brother and sister and hold them hostage, knowing that Storm will stop at nothing to save them.
Storm slips away from her allies and finds her way to Lilith’s stronghold, coming face-to-face with her grandmother. Lilith has made a pact with the Diablerie for eternal youth, dependent upon her murdering and draining the lifeforces of potential Pathfinders. The Diablerie has convinced her they serve the forces of good. She’s always believed psychic powers to be seeds of evil and is now determined to “save” her granddaughter’s soul before it’s too late.
Lilith taunts Storm, revealing that her siblings have been trapped in a maze and are being hunted by deadly hounds. Storm throws herself straight into the maze, which is exactly what her grandmother has planned.
Storm fights to the center of the maze, battling against her own terror and self-doubt as much as the monsters she faces along the way. Using both her limited fighting prowess and ability to harness the metaphysical energy around her as a weapon, she makes it past each of the roadblocks set in her path. Just when it seems she will succeed in freeing her siblings, Lilith appears and triggers a psychic storm greater than any that has come before.
Damien arrives in time to shelter Storm’s siblings from the Hellhounds closing in. He senses the coming storm, but she screams at him to protect her brother and sister. Damien is torn between keeping his promise to her and saving the woman he is coming to care for. Not wanting to forswear himself again, he keeps his word–but not before slipping inside Storm’s psychic maelstrom long enough to show her exactly how he feels for her. How much he admires, envies, respects–and loves her.
Finally, Storm feels strong enough to face her fears. Damien rushes her siblings to safety, leaving her to battle with her grandmother–and the demon that has been controlling Lilith without her knowledge.
Lilith and the demon do their best to intimidate Storm, but quickly realize she no longer fears them or the visions they send against her. Storm summons every ounce of mystical power generated from the psychic maelstrom assaulting her, funneling it into a bolt of energy hovering in the air above her. She then hurls it straight towards her grandmother.
The demon is blasted back to Hell, leaving Lilith behind to suffer the physical damage of Storm’s onslaught. She falls to the ground, mortally wounded.
Rather than being relieved, Storm finds herself horrified and guilt-stricken. She kneels and takes her grandmother into her arms. Storm cries out to the Host, not wanting to see her grandmother suffering the ultimate price for her sins. Lilith asks for forgiveness, and as much for Storm’s sake as her own, it is granted. She dies with a smile on her face, telling Storm something that she has longed to hear her entire life. That Lilith loves her and is proud of her.
Storm, still distraught over what she has done, notices a glowing orb around her grandmother’s neck. Upon closer inspection she realizes that it bears the shape of a butterfly with the body of a snake. At last she knows where the murdered Pathfinders’ souls have been imprisoned.
Once again reaching deep inside herself, Storm uses her psychic powers to free the captive souls. Before they move on to their new lives, the children help Storm finally forgive herself for her past failures. She realizes that, for better or worse, nobody else expects her to be perfect. And neither should she.
Storm stumbles outside and comes across Damien mobilizing her friends to rescue her. Everyone is relieved to see her safe and sound. Her friends are tactful enough to give her and Damien a moment of privacy. Suddenly awkward with each other, they find themselves unable to say out loud what they confessed psychically. She is still nowhere near completely trained, and he has not yet found full redemption. For now, they will continue to walk where angels fear to tread and face the psychic storms confronting them. Together.
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Phoenix in Flames
When masked gunmen burst into Cassidy Grant’s paranormal investigation, she knows she’s in serious trouble. Their leader accuses her of having supernatural powers and orders her burned alive. Fortunately for Cass, death is a beginning rather than an end.
Reborn in the ashes of her death, Cass becomes a human phoenix. She wakes up in the midst of flame after being murdered: naked, disoriented, and completely unharmed. A stranger rescues Cass before her murderers can return. His touch ignites her as surely as fire’s caress, but he forces her to face facts she would rather deny. She is no longer quite human, and a group of fanatics will stop at nothing to kill her a second time. Permanently.
Jake, the man who rescues her, possesses the same affinity with earth that she does with fire. And though as indestructible as the dragons his kind are named for, he is vulnerable to the magic drawing him to Cass. A magic that will drive him crazy–literally–if he can’t make her his. Now his sanity depends upon convincing the woman he rescued that she should bind herself to him for the rest of their not-so-natural lives.
Earning her trust proves more difficult than he anticipated. When she overhears Jake’s sister suggest killing Cass again to prove she is, in fact, a Phoenix, she steals the sister’s wheels and hot-tails it out of there. Striking out on her own backfires, however. She loses her best friend to the magical seduction of another Elemental, earns her second excruciating death in as many days, and burns all her earthly possessions to a crisp in the process of defending herself. Fortunately for them both, Jake tracks her down just in time to pull her ass from the fire. Again.
Cass finally places her trust in the man who has saved her not once, but twice. The stubborn Phoenix dedicates herself to learning how to use her newfound powers–determined she won’t have to depend on “her” Dragon a third time.
But it’s Cass who saves Jake after the Stalkers ambush them at the B & B run by the couple who rescued her from her mother’s funeral pyre. When the bullets and flames stop flying, Cass is the only one left standing. Unable to keep Jake from dying, she does the only thing she can think of. Buries him in a newly-dug grave and hopes for the best.
While waiting for his hopeful regeneration, she sifts through her mother’s belongings, recovered from the murdered couple. Cass is horrified to read in her mother’s journal that Stalkers captured her and forced her to have sex with one of their number until she became pregnant. Frightened for her child, Cass’s mother managed to escape and stay hidden until she gave birth.
Jake soon slips from the earth’s embrace, fully healed. After a much-needed shower, he tries to get her to open up about what happened. Horrified by the grisly firestorm she caused, Cass hides behind emotional aloofness. Jake won’t take no for an answer and presses her further. Finally, she kisses him to shut him up. But her ploy backfires. Desire rages between them, a desire that won’t be denied. At first Cass fears that she will lose control again, but soon realizes that Jake is her perfect match. Only then does she completely surrender.
In the morning Cass shares the revelations gained from her mother’s journal. This news shocks Jake. The Stalkers are dedicated to eradicating all Elementals–not using them to gain power. There must be some way for them to control Elementals. Cass and Jake vow to discover this method before it can be turned against them–and their loved ones.
But before they can, Jake’s sister, Rhianne, is captured by the Stalkers. They give Cass an ultimatum. Trade herself for Rhianne or the girl will be killed. Permanently.
Jake goes to rally nearby allies while Cass returns to the warehouse where she was murdered to stall for time. Once there she confronts Garrett, the man who captured Rhianne–and also ordered Cass’s death weeks earlier. He makes an earth-shattering statement: he is the Stalker who impregnated her mother.
Garrett tries to convince her to join him. He claims that, together, they can control both Stalkers and Elementals, gaining wealth, power, and saving the world from magical chaos. Cass refuses and his charming veneer fades. Gifted with telepathic powers of his own, he launches a mental attack against her mind, seeking to gain control over her.
A battle of wills ensues. He throws all her fears and shortcomings in her face, battering her self-worth to pieces. Cass manages to fight off his mental assault by focusing on her love for Jake and their families. Just when it seems she will win free, he turns his power on the more vulnerable Rhianne. Garrett forces the young Elemental to attack Cass magically while he bombards her mentally. Cass struggles to defend herself on both fronts without hurting Rhianne, but soon begins to lose ground. She nearly gives up when Jake appears and throws her a magical lifeline: the threads of magic that will bind the two together, body and soul.
Cass, now sure of her feelings for Jake and his for her, embraces the bond wholeheartedly. She uses the added power granted by the bond to stop Rhianne’s magical onslaught. Once she gets the girl back under control, she turns to deal with her father–only to find he has disappeared. They defeat the remaining members of the secret faction, including the former lover who betrayed both Cass and her mother. Unable to make the death more permanent, Cass coerces him into returning to the other Stalkers with the news of the faction’s betrayal of the Stalkers. Garrett may have escaped, but without the Stalkers’ support and his own circle of followers, he has been thwarted in his plans for domination.
Cass and Jake return Rhianne to her grateful family and steal a moment for themselves. Their Elemental bond is only half formed without Water and Air to complete the circle, but their love for each other will keep them sane in the meantime. They hope.
That’s a lot to pitch to agents. 😀