|Pitch from Baseball's Only World Series Perfect Game, Don Larsen, 1956|
This is my pitch for MOURNING DOVE, the novel I, Shawn Oueinsteen, wrote to help put mankind's climate-disaster mitigation on a war footing.
Logline for MOURNING DOVE
Climate disaster may have billions die, with babies stabbed to death in their mothers' arms; MOURNING DOVE was written to make sure that never happens.
Elevator Speech from Shawn Oueinsteen for MOURNING DOVE
There’s my mission and my character’s mission. Mine is to prevent the climate-caused deaths of billions of people. I’m inspired by Abraham Lincoln’s apocryphal quote to UNCLE TOM’S CABIN author Harriet Beecher Stowe, “So you’re the lady who started this great war.” Her novel, UNCLE TOM'S CABIN, helped end slavery. My character, Jen, accepts her mission on the day before her 16th birthday. Her mother plans to lead their family from a climate-saving rocket-launching station in Alaska to reach cousins rebuilding humanity in Antarctica so Jen and her siblings can for the first time be with people their own age. A climate catastrophe causes her mother’s death. As her mother’s body is being lowered into the ground, Jen commits to fulfilling her mother’s mission. But it means traveling past those made so desperate by the climate catastrophe that they survive the heat, thirst, and hunger by killing others to steal their possessions.
Jen's family is very isolated in Alaska, working to save life on Earth
from climate extinction. They barely notice the climate-caused collapse
of civilization that occurred nearly everywhere else. Jen's Mom hates
that her teenage children never met others their own age, and she has
talked for years of leading the family to Antarctica to join a colony
run by distant cousins trying to rebuild civilization. But before they
can leave, Mom dies as a result of a freak ice storm. Watching Mom's
body being lowered into the grave, Jen vows to fulfill her mother's
mission. Her beloved grandmother, a retired U.S. Army colonel, is Jen's
best buddy but is in failing health and insists she and Jen's
grandfather stay behind. In the toughest decision of her life, Jen walks
away from being a loving caretaker to lead the mission she promised to
her mother's soul.
Short Synopsis (aka Jacket-Flap Summary)
Hearing a story from her grandfather of a mourning dove truly mourning its mate, Jen envisions the souls of the doves flying side-by-side in love for all eternity. Jen uses that story, pretending to be a mourning dove fledgling, to persuade her father to be part of her mission. In Chicago, their journey's first stop to fuel up their plane, Jen reads poems written every day by Max Nytlee. He and his wife, Roch, were close friends of Jen's grandparents.
"Beauty on the curb, lying by the road, face on hot cement, dying crying there." This is a line from one of the poems. It describes how, as a young man during the climate apocalypse, Max saved the beauty's life and married her. Another of his poems includes the line, "With guns on hips, for meds my wife, searched the city, to save my life." Roch died of natural causes as an old woman. Max died three weeks later because he wanted nothing more than to keep writing her poems. As Jen shovels dirt to help cover Max's coffin, she changes her mission to include "romance." She wants someone to love her as much as Max had loved Roch.
Jen's Dad and her younger brother Ttuuee have a terrible relationship. As part of her mission, Jen works at helping them get along better. Their plane crash-lands in Brazil, where they are attacked by evil, desperate climate apocalypse "have-nots." Jen dies in the fighting. With the emotional trauma of her death, Dad and Ttuuee have major disputes, but Ttuuee realizes he has to grow up, emotionally, and take charge. He wins out over Dad and becomes the driving force of their mission, which he views as giving meaning to his sister's life. Dad gets very ill but they are helped by others who can't read or even count past ten, as there is no longer a need. One of those who helps is a young woman named Gerta who wears camouflage body paint. Ttuuee thinks of her as a painted witch. The painter is an old man who raised Gerta. He and Ttuuee become friends. In terrible pain from a lung disease, the painter commits suicide after persuading Ttuuee to adopt Gerta as a sister. They continue their journey by boat, but they have to fight off pirates near the South Orkney Islands. When they finally reach Antarctica, they find the leader of their cousins has made herself queen, an evil queen. She has them arrested and tries to steal what they have.
On his brains alone, Ttuuee succeeds against everything thrown at him. More than a year after Jen's death, he sits on the soft grass. It is a beautiful day in East Antarctica. He recalls in his mind how Snana, his Rembrandt girl, his full-blooded Lakota girl, danced with him, bandaged his bleeding leg with her white scarf, and kissed his cheek. And when another girl had asked, "Ttuuee is your boyfriend?" Snana immediately responded, "Damn right he is!" Ttuuee smiles with the memory. Then he throws his head back and shouts to the sky, "Thank you, Jen, wherever you are." From a very far distance he hears a reply. It is a mourning dove, and it says, "Koo kurikoo koo koo." The voice of the dove is Jen's.
Short Author Autobiography of Shawn Oueinsteen
I suffer when I see that my hometown, Miami, today experiences sunny day floods, with breaking septic tanks releasing human excrement into the water in the streets, schoolyards, and playgrounds. The ground under Miami is porous limestone and the city cannot be saved. It will become another Atlantis. I moved to Albany, NY, when I was six. I built and played in snow forts that lasted from September to March. Now snow melts in a day.
To research MOURNING DOVE, my climate novel, I connected on social media with 36,000 climate scientists, activists, and other climate professionals, and I communicate with many of them. I also have read more than 100 climate-change books, mostly about climate science. For marketing MOURNING DOVE, I’ve been on 5 podcasts, I will appear in a Netflix documentary, I have a blog with 10,000 hits, an author webpage with 100,000 hits, and 66,000 total social media connections/friends.
I studied writing under University of Maryland writer-in-residence J.R. Salamanca as I worked for a Masters in creative writing. I participated in The Vicious Circle, a brutal writer’s workshop, for many years. At the age of 22, I had a short novel of mine published by Ballantine Books, a subsidiary of Random House. For my day job, I write proposals to convince the US Government that the contracting company I work for is better than all other contracting companies. My day-job Facebook page says, “I write proposals and I write fiction, but that’s redundant.”
A pitch for a novel also usually includes a long author biography and a long synopsis. The long biography can be found on this blog here. The long synopsis can be found on this blog but it includes spoilers so I do not link to it here. If you really want to read it, ask me to send you the link, or you can search for it. MOURNING DOVE'S draft agent query letter also is on this blog.
I am very confident that a top literary agent will represent me and will sell MOURNING DOVE to a great publishing company. To follow the progress of MOURNING DOVE, and see whether my confidence is justified, please friend me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, and connect with me on LinkedIn. Thanks.