Thursday, August 03, 2006

Face-Lift 143


Guess the Plot


Jacki Spain

1. "In that case, I recommend that Jack switch from Excedrin to Prozac," he said.
I looked at him, counted to 3 and repeated, "My name is Jacki Spain."
"Oh, I thought you said you were Jackie's pain."

2. Jacki thought a summer spent excavating a lost city in Peru would be educational and fun--until she ended up in a dilapidated pickup with a gold-toothed Maoist and an Incan mummy.

3. By day, a florist. By night, an exotic call girl. Until she meets plain-looking horticulturalist Bobby Mainly. Will falling for plain Mainly rein in Jacki Spain?

4. Cole Black is coming off a divorce, and so is Jacki. Two baby boomers deal with midlife problems as they try to find new romance.

5. Like Judy Chicago, Jacki Lippschitz changed her name for her art. Now can she find happiness with Joaquin Phoenix? Or is she doomed to date Marvin Gardens?

6. Her father's tiny sketch of Ibiza had haunted Jacki for years, and no mummified frog-prince was going to prevent her from unlocking its mysteries.


Original Version

Dear Agent:

Baby Boomers need romance too! Seventy Six million of us aren’t ready to give up on love, passion and the chance to remain vital and relevant. [As evidenced by the sales figures of Viagra.] We also buy a lot of books. [Baby boomers buy books, I've written a book about a baby boomer, thus you'd be nuts not to want to be my agent.]

JACKI SPAIN, a complete 70,000 word contemporary romance, tells the story of one boomer, Jacki Spain, a woman who experiences typical life changing events: Her children grow up and leave home, and her husband asks for a divorce on the day before she is to start a new career. With the help of her outspoken and funny friend, Annie Mott, Jacki struggles to regain her self-esteem and to establish an independent, happy life for herself

Jacki begins her job at Black Industries, a successful local company started by entrepreneur Cole Black. [Would you name your kid Cole if your last name were Black? It's like naming your kid Skye Blue. Or Snow White.] Cole’s single minded devotion to his company eventually cost him his marriage and now the current economy threatens the very existence of the enterprise he grew from scratch. Besides the economic downturn, Cole must deal with his business partner Jake Drum, who is demanding a buyout. Jake needs cash to pay off a gambling debt to some goons. [Goons? Goons should be up front. You could easily have lost an agent's attention by now, just because you failed to mention that there were goons.] Meanwhile, Jacki rejects her supervisor Jimmy Schmidt’s [Does anyone in this book have a last name with more than one syllable?] advances, and he tries to sabotage her career. Cole doesn’t want Jacki to leave the company so he digs into Jimmy’s past and finds a reason to fire him. [Turns out he's wanted for arson in six states.] Soon after, someone tries to burn BI to the ground. [Hmm. Wonder who.]

[Jacki: Jimmy tried to sabotage my career because I wouldn't put out in the storage room. Either he goes, or I go.
Cole: I'll fire him. But first I'll have to dig into his past and come up with a good reason.]

Throughout all this, Jacki’s growing feelings for Cole and Cole’s for her are at odds with her desire to maintain her independence and to prove she can become successful on her own. [She could never consider herself a success if she were married to Cole, but working in an entry-level position at his company is highly satisfying.] She turns down Cole’s offer of a live-in arrangement, [But agrees to put out in the storage room.] and later his offer of marriage. [What?! I thought this was a romance.] Jacki is okay with the way things are. At least for a while. [Until I get the sequel written. I call it Jacki Black.] [They do end up together, right? If you offer this as a romance, you may want to include that point.]

JACKI SPAIN is a novel that will appeal to a wide range of women who are dealing with the inevitable changes that mid-life brings. Readers will relate to the believable characters and appreciate the clear, often humorous voice with which I tell their story. [What is this, a book on tape?]

Thank you for your consideration.


Revised Version

Dear Agent:

When Jacki Spain's husband asks for a divorce on the day before she is to start a new career, she is devastated. But with the help of her outspoken and funny friend, Annie Mott, she struggles to regain her self-esteem and to establish an independent life for herself--all while contending with a goon.

Jacki begins her job at Black Industries, a local company started by entrepreneur Cole Black. Cole’s single-minded devotion to his company cost him his first marriage, and now an economic downturn threatens the very existence of the company. On top of that, Cole's business partner, Jake Drum, needs cash to pay off a gambling debt, and is demanding a buyout. Meanwhile, Jacki has a problem of her own: her supervisor, Jimmy Schmidt, makes unwanted advances, and after she rebuffs him, the despicable goon tries to sabotage her career.

Jacki’s growing feelings for Cole are at odds with her desire to maintain her independence and to prove she can become successful on her own. She turns down Cole’s offer of a live-in arrangement, and later his offer of marriage. But Cole is persistent, and Jacki is in love; in time, he wears down her resistance and they live romantically ever after.

JACKI SPAIN, a complete 70,000 word contemporary romance, will appeal to a wide range of women who are dealing with the inevitable changes that mid-life brings. Baby Boomers need romance too! We aren’t ready to give up on love, passion and the chance to remain vital and relevant.

Thank you for your consideration.


Notes

The plot doesn't sound as interesting as it probably is. There's the brief sentence about someone trying to burn the place down, but since they apparently failed, who cares? Maybe the place should burn down, and the insurance lapsed, and there's a big mystery: was it Jake, Cole, or Jimmy? Or Jacki? Then Jacki agrees to marry Cole because he's got nothing left, so she won't feel she's being supported etc.

Or maybe there's a big plot development you forgot to mention in the query.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

I guessed #4 until I hit the name Cole Black, which I thought had to be a joke. I'd love to read #1.

Anonymous said...

Oops. I meant I'd love to read #2--although #1 was kinda funny.

Bernita said...

Have wondered how wise it is to emphasize the target age group - especially to the detriment of any significant plot hooks that might set the story apart from other romantic suspense novels.

Anonymous said...

The problem with the names is too obvious to comment on -- and yet, I'll bite. Synopsis #1 nailed it. :-)

The whole bit about Jacki wanting to maintain her independence fails the believablity test for me. Most single women I know would like to find a nice guy, it's just that he has to fit into their lifestyles.

You know, when you have a (nice) house and a job & your own kids and he has a house and two kids, one of which is the sort that doesn't quite ever get his act together to leave home ... well, the guy may be cute, but is it really worth fighting for the remote to spend time with him? ;-) Perhaps looking for the next Mr. Maybe ok is a better option.

Malia said...

Jacki/Jimmy/Jake --- huge red flag there. Way too many "J's." It was confusing reading the query -- I can't imagine what it would be like reading the book.

Daisy said...

Why does the boss need to find a reason to fire Schmidt? Propositioning a direct report and retaliating when she turns you down is textbook sexual harassment; if he didn't get fired she could file a major lawsuit.

Inkmandoo said...

Thanks for the input.
The original query actually got about a 50% agent response for the first three chapters. Alas, no requests for the full.
Back to work.

Anonymous said...

Why is her best friend in the query? She doesn't do anything. In fact, you only mention her that one time.

Anonymous said...

"Mr. Maybe" sounds like a good title for a book. Hmm ...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the input.
The original query actually got about a 50% agent response for the first three chapters. Alas, no requests for the full.
Back to work.

Then I'd say your query isn't the problem.

Evil Editor said...

Why is her best friend in the query?

She's outspoken and funny. That makes her the most interesting character in the book.

Anonymous said...

In fact, I'd rather read the story of how funny Annie Mott saved tortured Jake Drum. At least Jake has some real problems -- gambling and goons. Cole and Jacki read like straw men to me.

Anonymous said...

The names bother me too. Not only do Jake, Jacki and Jimmy all start with J, but Annie, Jacki and Jimmy all end with a cutie-pants "ee" sound that no middle-aged adult should have to suffer. On top of that, everyone has the one-syllable last names, and "Jacki Spain" sounds like a superhero.

HawkOwl said...

Definitely needs a catchier title.

Inkmandoo said...

The original title was (and may still be) A Dream in Big Moon. Jacki Spain's origanal name was Marne Brint.
Some of the 'J's will go, but Cole stays. I was going to name him Dweezil or Moon Unit, but those were taken.
Marne and Cole get married on a Christmas day.

Anonymous said...

A good J-name that you should consider is "Jarvis".

Also, "Jerome".

Daisy said...

Really? You're absolutely wedded to the idea of a character named Cole Black? It couldn't even be Blake or something?

Inkmandoo said...

I googled Cole Black and at least one guy has that name.
Keep in mind someone named their child Paris Hilton.
If I ever get an agent and/or editor who requests a name change it'll happen.
His name provides a funny moment with a rookie reporter after the fire.

Anonymous said...

So you're keeping the name Cole Black so you can make a bad pun?

Rethink.

My word verification is Dljoe--there's a name for you.

Zombie Deathfish said...

I am severely put off by the names in this book. Cole Black is bad enough, but Jackie Spain, Annie Mott, Jimmy Schmidt and Jake Drum are the poison icing on the sickly cake.

Also, what's the point of Jake and Annie? They seem to vanish... Were they killed in the fire?

Also, don't tell me Annie is funny and outspoken. Let me decide for myself.