Guess the Plot
1. When Ron sees Denise being bullied, he comes to her rescue. Unfortunately, the bully turns out to be a delusional psychopath who will now stop at nothing to kill Denise and Ron.
2. Lonely interior decorator Matilda Barton believed the tarnished armor just needed a bit of polish. One good rub later, she'd conjured a handsome incubus.
3. When the new viceroy's cruelty and uncanny powers reveal him to be a disguised demon, Wykham realizes that only a vampire can stop the creature. Wykham must find a way to do battle - even under the fatal sun.
4. A breakthrough treatment that makes hot dogs glisten appetizingly on their turners means millions if it can be perfected. Can a gruff security chief defend the research lab against rival wiener companies?
5. Sir Richard always thought he impressed his lady love with knightly prowess, but Eleanor really liked him because he had the only armor shiny enough to see her reflection in.
6. A manservent who works at Castle A Long Time Ago, reflects on the work he has done over the years: shining the armor of knights, kings, king's cousins, children, and even once, a maiden warrior with Soulful Eyes.
[My name, address and phone contact info in letterhead format]
The [NAME] Agency Thriller/Romance—modern times
Address line 1 Pts.1&2--ca. 98,500 words
Address line 2 [With Pt. 3--ca. 132,000 words]
Attention: [NAME OF AGENT]
The arm shot around her like a python, strangling her already bruised and protesting ribs in its relentless grip. [Already I can tell that this is going to be hilarious. Now comes the hard part: deciding whether it's a joke, in which case it will be hilarious but annoying, or whether it's for real, in which case it will be hilarious but dispiriting.] The hand that followed closed powerfully across her mouth to prevent warning screams for the would-be rescuers that were drawing nigh. Denise felt her eyes were large as saucers as she swung the steel point swiftly and surely into the thigh she knew was behind her. Again and again she drove the screwdriver home until the hands that held her relinquished their grip and with a groan of agony, gave her the freedom she demanded. Denise screamed quickly and determinedly to let the others know where she was. There were only seconds to enjoy her sovereignty and she knew Ted stood between her and those who sought her, still too far away to help. He now bellowed like the beast he was and again prepared to charge. In bitter anguish, Denise turned away from her desired goal and fled deeper into the black, dense growth of the forest. --Excerpt from Shining Armor—Pt. 1, The Knight Appears
[NAME OF AGENT], In Shining Armor—The Knight Appears, Ronald Jameson is a man who has suffered the loss of his wife a year or so previously and has become a recluse, kept company in his solitude only by his pain.
While Ron sits peacefully at a diner one morning, [Okay, so he's not a strict recluse; he likes to get out for the occasional waffle.] a bully (Ted Randall) begins to openly terrorize and abuse a woman (Denise Payton) and her female friend. [Breakfast bullies are the worst kind.] Concerned for their safety, Ron tries to calmly and quietly defuse the situation, but instead sets into motion a chain of events that threatens him and Denise with the loss of their lives, for Ted Randall is a psychopathic madman, delusional to the point that he will stop at nothing in order to achieve what he wants or to have revenge on those who attempt to impede his will. [You've been a recluse for a year. You finally decide it's time to get out of the house for a while, so you drop in at a diner for breakfast, and the next thing you know, a psychopathic madman wants revenge on you. Nice.]
The settings for the story range from a modern city to the forested mountain range nearby. Not only must the hero and heroine evade dangers in their daily surroundings, but their inevitable flight leads them to a cabin retreat, which they hope will prove to be a refuge and safe haven. Instead, their enemy follows and attempts to murder them there. The hardships of the wilderness environment seem trivial when compared with the threat posed by this evil personified.
Shown already to appeal to both men and women, as well as to a wide base of reader interests, this should prove to be a profitable addition to your catalog. The market for suspense and thrillers is huge and romance readers are unquestionably among the largest group of consumers. I believe the current market demand for realism will be advantageous, as well. Based on reader responses and my own experience in writing the story, I am quite confident this will adapt excellently to film. [Dare I suggest that it's never too early to start stirring up Oscar buzz?]
Please note that, although part one of Shining Armor (The Knight Appears) is a strong stand-alone, parts 2 & 3 (The Evil Returns and The Rival), have reprise appearances, as well as introducing new and interesting characters as the adventure continues. These last two (novellas) would go well together under a single cover or packaged with the novel--Part One. Please notify me regarding format preference and whether you desire a few chapters or the complete manuscript.
RE: Preliminary Market Test
(NAME OF AGENT), upon completion of the manuscript, I felt a market test was in order and the best test would be with strangers who owed me nothing but the brutal truth, so I contacted reader groups, etc. The logical "experts" would be avid readers of the thriller, suspense and romance genre, as well as authors, if possible. Additionally, those not normally fans of these genre would be the ultimate test. [Fans of the genre and non-fans. In short, anybody.] Preliminary responses [In a preliminary market test, aren't all responses preliminary?] have been overwhelmingly positive (a few samples, excerpted for brevity, but written as received):
"I COULDN'T PUT IT DOWN. I love it...I want more…. You have a great way of capturing the reader very quickly. The characters seem so real…. The suspense had my heart racing as I was trying to read faster…" --Roxane Raley [I hate to break it to you, but this is what's known in the business as sarcasm.]
"Draws you right in. More like watching a movie than reading a book."--Mary Harrison [Is that a good thing or a bad thing?]
"I've been enjoying it, which really surprised me, being this particular genre." --Sarge McClintock [Sarge? How'd you talk Sarge into reading this?]
"I predict great things from you, Steve. From what I've seen thus far, you are a savvy, talented guy who's going right to the top. ...I really like your book!...you have a great voice and a great story. …a man can write romance with the best of them." --Kerry Lynn Blair--author of This Just In and 6 other novels [Did you actually see any of these people reading the book?]
"wow, Wow, WOW!!! I was hooked the moment I started reading ...yours seemed more real, totally believable...had more substance to it than most of the romance novels that I've read. The book flowed so well. I felt as though I was right there… Perhaps you will change my attitude toward romance novels."--Katrina Wildeboer [These are the people you went to for the brutal truth? Wait a minute, you're not six foot nine, 280 pounds, are you?]
Again, [NAME OF AGENT], thank you, in advance, for your consideration. I look forward to the possibility of a long and mutually beneficial relationship.
It's only because there's so much wrong here that Evil Editor considers it a possible hoax. What five strangers thought of your book, or said they thought of it, isn't relevant. Neither is your opinion of how well it will sell or whether it would make a good movie. A one-paragraph excerpt doesn't help your cause, and in this case hurts it. Much of this is covered in "What Not to Put in Your Query Letter" (April 25 in this blog). Had the author read that, and a selection of past critiques, it seems likely a better query would have been forthcoming. I have a hunch the book needs more than a better query, alas.