Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Guess the Plot
Bread in the Bone
1. A mixup of hospital and bakery deliveries leads to John Dough receiving a baking powder transplant. Dough subsequently develops bread in the bone, but learns to overcome his disability despite the constant threat of yeast infections.
2. Charlie gets his chance to compete on the popular reality show Cooking With Bone Marrow. Trouble is, Charlie recently took a vow to go vegetarian. Can he win the episode using only . . . bread in the bone?
3. Maura has cared for her mother for years. Now mum is dead, but DNA tests prove Maura wasn't really mum's daughter, so Maura doesn't inherit, so her husband Trevor's bakery won't get the cash infusion it needs to compete with the new Dunkin Donuts.
4. The day Janet opens her bakery bistro is the happiest day of her life. The next morning she finds the back door jimmied, a threatening note and two corpses in the freezer. Janet and her chef, Phyllis, a former trick-shot artist, are caught in an international smuggling war – one they know nothing about.
5. Reporter Ross McDowell's hot tip lands him in deep. Doo, that is. If the multinational corporate pirates who shanghai'd American Rawhide have gone vegan, why are they buying all those cows? Animal rights activist Alexis Garrity agrees; something doesn't smell right.
6. A geneticist takes up baking as a hobby, and one night combines it with his research into bone marrow, leading to the discovery of a way to bake bread inside bones. He must now use this knowledge to create a race of Pillsbury Doughboys in time for the upcoming Genetics Fair.
Dear Evil Editor,
I’m seeking representation for BREAD IN THE BONE, a 95,000-word work of women’s interest commercial fiction. [You can just say women's fiction. It's considered commercial, at least among women, who are the only people who buy books.] It’s the story of a woman who’s lost her mum to dementia, then loses her again—and again.
Maura Purkins looked after her confused, cantankerous mother round the clock for eight years. Now, on the day of her funeral, no less, she finds out they weren’t even related. Bit of a shock, that. But DNA doesn’t lie. Did mum? [We are gathered today to pay our respects to the departed. But first, here are the results of the DNA tests.] [You can do without "round the clock" and "no less."]
Husband Trevor goes apoplectic: seems he’s been counting on their half of the estate to salvage his flagging bakery. [If mum is dead and Maura's in the will, what's the problem?] [Money can help a business get off the ground, but if Trevor stubbornly insists on putting raisins in the cheese danish, his customers aren't coming back.] But nothing can stop our brave heroine. Brushing aside his panicked objections, Maura presses on to solve the mystery of her origins. Through pure pluck and a smidgen of luck, she uncovers the dodgy deeds that transpired when she was just a baby. She even tracks down her birth family—though it’s something of a letdown when she perishes in an icy motorway pileup on the way home. (Remember, it was just a smidgen of luck.) Do you really think women want to invest themselves in a main character only to have you kill her off in chapter five? Maura's ghost had better appear in the next paragraph.]
But all’s not lost. Poor, grieving Trevor promptly marries Maura’s younger sister—thus acquiring both shares of the inheritance—and lives happily ever after.
What? Did you think life was supposed to be fair?[No, but that's why we watch movies and read novels: to escape into a fantasy world where good things actually do occasionally happen to good (though fictional) people.]
Some personal background: my career’s been in life sciences and for the past ten years I’ve been a technical writer. What I produce in my day job isn’t exactly great literature, but it has taught me a writer’s discipline: working to deadlines, revising, accepting editorial direction. BREAD IN THE BONE is my first complete novel.
I’ve enjoyed reading authors you’ve worked with, particularly Author A and Author B; I hope I can interest you in [declaring me Author H and publishing] my book as well. Thank you for your time and consideration.
You seem to suggest that mum left half her estate to Maura, on condition that Maura prove with DNA that she is mum's blood relation. Is there some law against leaving something to the person you want to have it?
Why do you consider a book in which the heroine dies and a man ends up the big winner to be "women's interest" fiction?
The tone of the query is somewhat light for a book in which the MC spends eight years caring for a dementia-stricken parent and then dies in a car wreck. Is that the tone of the book itself? If the book isn't funny, you're giving the wrong impression. If the plot is amusing, you might toss in a couple examples, rather than just getting this across through tone.