Sunday, October 29, 2006

Face-Lift 223

Guess the Plot

Miss Pettybone's First Case

1. Miss Hayley Pettybone, law firm receptionist, is astounded to find that the partners really won't get out of bed for less than 110K, and is left to defend the (alleged) Whittlestone Ear Boxer on her own.

2. Miss Millicent Pettybone, self-styled animal psychic and Victorian designer sleuth, establishes her reputation when she reveals who let the dogs out, woof, woof, ruff, woof-woof.

3. Miss Amelia Pettybone, frat house maid, challenges the boys of Kappa Sigma Phi to a beer drinking contest -- with hilarious results.

4. Miss Emily Pettybone has long since purchased a new set of matching luggage and forgotten all about her disappointing weekend with Brash Hardy. But when Mildred Pongle buys a lovely used cosmetics case containing Hardy's head, all the old intrigue is brought to light.

5. Miss Loraine Pettibone, postal worker, learns that a mysterious man on her route has been murdered, and decides to escape her boring life by solving the crime--even if it means no one will get mail for three weeks.

6. Miss Portia Pettybone, owner of a finishing school for young ladies, uncovers a secret plot to polyurethane the students and sell them as fashion mannequins, and must use every ounce of her genteel decorating sense to foil the plan.

Original Version

If life is what you make it, then Miss Loraine Pettybone figured she took a wrong turn years ago. Her job as a postal worker, for the last twenty-seven years, is duller than her love life. [Which, lately, has consisted of nothing more exciting than licking Teddy Roosevelt stamps.] And as middle-age spreads its cloak around her, she realizes how boring and mundane her life has become. [Has become, or has always been?]

When a tall, dark, mysterious stranger rents out an isolated farmhouse on her route, she is intrigued but when he manages to get himself murdered, she is thrilled. [Hey, it's one less house to have to deliver crap to.] [Manages to get himself murdered?]

Jumping into the investigation with both size-nine sensible shoes, she is determined to investigate the murder and track down the killer. [Not clear how she would have any information or access or skills that would further the investigation. Wait, she opens his mail and finds a letter from the killer that says, If you aren't dead yet, you soon will be, for the cookies I sent you last week were laced with a slow-acting poison. If you are dead, then it must be the cops reading this. Sorry boys, you'll never find me, especially not if you look for me at the legendary antique home show. I wouldn't be caught dead there.]

Her first clue involves the legendary Antique Home Show, [What is an antique home, and how many of them are on display at this show?] which sends her and her best friend, Lynn Cooper, racing to New York City.

She quickly runs into a quandary, in the form of Sheriff Dwight Caruthers, an old childhood sweetheart who broke her heart her senior year of high school, Eli Rawls, a dashing entrepreneur who owns “The Roosters Club,” in Savannah, Georgia and two respected Antique Appraisers, all who may or may not be whom they portray themselves to be. [Unclear why this is a quandary or what any of these people has to do with the murder. Why not tell us?]

While she races after clues like her hair was on fire, [Just a wild guess, but if her hair were on fire, wouldn't she be racing after water?] she never slows down long enough to figure out what to do if she catches the murderer. A mistake with deadly consequences. [Deadly consequences? You mean like death? She dies? Miss Pettybone dies? What about the sequel? What about the lengthy series of Miss Pettybone mysteries your fans will clamor for? Have you no consideration for the millions of readers who've come to love Miss Pettybone, just from reading this query, despite her size-nine feet? Miss Pettybone's First Case turns out to be Miss Pettybone's Last Case? Let's just call it a mistake with frightening consequences.]

Thank you for your time, I hope to hear from you soon.



It's a bit brief, which means there's plenty of room to fill us in on what the clues are, who the suspects are, and why Miss Pettybone should be any more successful than the police. I'm sure the novel is cute, but we need more than Miss Pettybone is racing around trying to solve a murder. We need the facts, Ma'am.


Anonymous said...

You know, you might want to work in the title, the word count, and so forth. Agents and editors like that kind of stuff.

Also, saying she's thrilled someone got murdered doesn't sound very good. And as EE said, some real ideas about how she solves the case would help.

GutterBall said...

This has the potential to be really entertaining. Is it YA? It sounds a bit like something I would have loved at 15 and that would fill me with nostalgia if I read it now. Does that make sense?

But the query leaves a little too much to the imagination. Not saying you have to tell us everything (there's not enough room in a query to do that), but it would be nice to know what all of those people have to do with anything. Are they help or suspects? Both? Neither?

And I would like to know why she thinks she can solve a mystery. Sure, everyone wants to give it a try to spice up life a bit, but all most of us have is common sense. Some of us don't even have that.

Did she take criminology courses in college? Does she watch a lot of crime TV? Surely there's some reason she would want to investigate a murder other than just because it happened. All it takes is a quick drop-in in the query to settle that niggling question.

Again, I'd still love to read this. I think it has great potential. The tone is light and full of little you-isms that probably prevail in the book. Fun stuff, I'd think.

Anonymous said...

I didn't like the "thrilled" part either. Immediately makes me dislike your protag as a shallow, cold-hearted *&#%. Am I supposed to hate her?

Anonymous said...

EE- LOL at licking TR stamps. too perfect.


I like the title--it's no frills, yet Miss Pettybone's name gives us a handle on what's to come. Feels like a cozy mystery.

I like Millicent and Emily better as first names. They just sound better with Pettybone, imho. Loraine makes me wonder when Shirley will show up (sorry).

I didn't much like the query, after thinking I would from the title and the blurb. Solving murders as a way to relieve boredom-um, boring.

Hair on fire? Been visiting Miss Snark again, huh?

You use a lot of cliches-the bored spinster with size nine, sensible, shoes, the tall dark and handsome stranger, an old childhood sweetheart (is that redundant or is he both old-aged and from her childhood?). I'm probably not interested in another cliche mystery.

Oh, and throw in some sensory detail!

Good luck.

magz said...

It's my kind of writing. A Cozy Mystery.. with a lot of heart.
TY, and Kudos oh Author, Well done query!
I like what EE said.. that there's room to expand yer query without boring yer audience.. Good Job.
You write well, and I look forward to Reading this.

Dave Fragments said...

I shouldn't admit to this but I've take to reading the GUESS THE PLOTS on facelifts and seeing which one fills me with dread and that empty feeling you get when the floor falls out from under you. It's like which one makes me wanna panic and scream - that's usually the real plot.

Virginia Miss said...

I love the name Pettybone

Talia said...

Guess the Plot #6 was a movie LOL. Except I think the beautiful women were dipped in wax to make them into mannequins.

The plot was potentially interesting, some nice humour, and could be developed into a fun read sort of like Miss Marple meets Stephanie Plum!

Anonymous said...

gutterball makes a good point - maybe finding the killer needs to matter to your sleuth for some more compelling reason than giving her a temporary hobby. It may, of course, but I don't get a hint of that from the query. Even if she's just the town's biggest gossip and can't bear not knowing. Or is she a sociopath, being thrilled that someone is killed and driven to prove herself more intelligent than the killer? That could actually be kind of cool - sociopathic spinster as detective!