Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Guess the Plot
1. Flatulence is no laughing matter. It strikes millions daily. In this memoir, Fredrick Cheese relates the difficulties of living with extreme flatulence on a daily basis. He has worked as an elevator operator, a shoe salesman, and a co-pilot, and has sued former employers for discrimination. But to no avail, since the courts refuse to recognize the rights of the gastronomically challenged.
2. Thin-lipped, pasty faced Rob Hoover faces humiliation at his inability to rip one at will, the way his friends can. With the help of a time portal he finally achieves gas-passing superstardom when Christopher Columbus teaches him the secret of the musical fruit.
3. Tracy was having a bad day, what with her dad's heart attack, losing her job, and her husband leaving her. But the worst part of all was "letting loose" when her attractive neighbor dropped by to "console" her.
4. Doing a little "duct work" for lonely housewives has become a lucrative sideline for HVAC expert Gus Furness. Until he gets caught, that is, by an irate husband who is about to show Gus what can be done with sheet metal and . . . Forced Air.
5. Pulled over at midnight on the 91 Freeway, passing the alcohol test is a breeze for Rhonda. But a freak windstorm intervenes, sending her, Officer Dyson, the squad car and her Ford Windstar into another dimension.
6. Wilbur goes through life unnoticed, until someone needs a topnotch heating and air conditioning man. That’s when they call Wilbur. His specialty—forced air systems. His hobby—installing sophisticated surveillance equipment in the duct vents and streaming the provocative footage to his pay-per-peek website.
Dear Mr. Editor:
In Forced Air, Tracy Winters thinks Friday morning is bad enough with her father in the hospital after a mild heart attack. In the afternoon, though, her company’s CFO is dragged away in handcuffs, and the company goes bankrupt. Then, when Tracy gets home, her husband and daughter walk out on her because they can’t take her ultra-controlling, type A lifestyle any more. [Goodness. I certainly hope nothing else traumatic happens to Tracy in the next few hours.] Tracy believes she could handle all of it—except for the rejection of her daughter, Amber. Tracy’s singular goal as an adult has been to be the perfect mom, unlike her own mother who downed a bottle of pills when Tracy was just a kid.
In a reactionary moment of “letting loose,” Tracy allows her friendly—and attractive—neighbor to drive her to Santa Cruz in time for the Saturday sunrise. By breakfast, though, Tracy finds herself running for her life without money, phone, or car, and the very person she turns to for help is the one who wants her dead. Through it all, Tracy’s only thought is to survive long enough to have a second chance with Amber. [She never once thinks, Why is someone trying to kill me?]
Survival requires putting her trust in several strangers including two old ladies, a homeless former bookkeeper, [She's doomed.] and the pretty ex-girlfriend of her would-be assassin. Survival also requires breaking into the boss’ email, shooting two men, and confronting her own gambling-addicted father—from whom she finally learns the truth about her mother’s “suicide” thirty years earlier.
[Rank the following in order of how much trouble you would have believing it:
1. Your father has a heart attack, and you go to work for the day and then go home.
2. Your father has a heart attack, and you don't tell your husband or daughter.
3. Your father has a heart attack, and you do tell your husband and daughter, and they choose that day to walk out on you.
4. Your father has a heart attack, your husband and daughter walk out on you, and you agree to go to Santa Cruz to watch the sunrise with your attractive neighbor.
5. Your father has a heart attack, your employer goes bankrupt and your husband and child walk out on you, all within a twelve-hour period.
6. You make an unscheduled trip to Santa Cruz in the middle of the night, and when you get there, someone's trying to kill you.
7. You're an assassin, hired to kill a woman who has no idea she's a target, and you screw it up.
8. You're running from an assassin who has trailed you to Santa Cruz, it's not even breakfast time, and you run into his ex-girlfriend.
9. You confront your gambling-addicted father, and he wants to talk about your long-dead mother instead of trying to borrow money.
10. You work for a company big enough to have a CFO, yet you leave your home without your cell phone. Or someone took your phone and money, but not your gun.]
11. Your father says, "I'm sick of this type-A lifestyle, let's ditch your mother," and you agree to leave your home, your friends, and your mall to live with him in Canada.
I’ve enclosed the complete synopsis and first three chapters of Forced Air, and I would be happy to provide the completed manuscript (62,000 words) at your request. My work has appeared in the literary journals The First Line, Thereby Hangs A Tale, and THEMA.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
The query is written okay, and every novel has some hard-to-accept stuff going on, and no doubt there's a logical explanation for everything I've brought up. But it might be a good idea to give the logical explanation for some of these items, because they all happen within about 24 hours. Jack Bauer would have been lucky to get through this day.
Is the friendly, attractive neighbor a man or woman? It seems unlikely you would bother to call a female neighbor attractive, but it seems more unlikely that she could be talked into "letting loose" with another man when her father's in the hospital and her daughter's suddenly gone.
Based on having to break into her boss's email, I assume the attempt to kill her has something to do with work. But no one from work would have known she was going to Santa Cruz. She didn't even know she was going. This leads me to believe the assassin was preparing to break into her house and kill her just as she left for Santa Cruz. And he followed her. Or the assassin is her neighbor--although it's unlikely she would have to break into her boss's email to survive being killed by her neighbor. Either way, it's hard to believe any semi-competent assassin managed to botch the job.