Thursday, May 31, 2007

Face-Lift 346

Guess the Plot

Murder Under the Mistletoe

1. Charlotte has a thing for holidays. She poisoned the marshmallow chicks in her first husband's Easter basket, strangled her second husband with the ribbon from the Valentine's Day chocolate box, and suffocated her third with the helium balloons at his own birthday party. Now, as Christmas approaches, hubby #4 wonders why that package under the tree is ticking.

2. Every year, Carrie's creepy boss has groped and French-kissed her at the office holiday party. With the antidote in her hip pocket, she waits near the mistletoe and keeps her tongue away from her poisoned lipstick. By this time next year, she'll be the VP doing the groping.

3. Christmas at the estate of Lord Ajax was supposed to be the climax of this year's social season-- and the moment Lord Ajax proposes to her. But Clarissa discovers she is not to be the recipient of a marriage proposal, when she discovers her Ajax under the mistletoe, locked in the embrace of . . . her brother.

4. It's Christmas, and Christine has no one to spend it with--until she gets drawn into an international drug conspiracy by hunky doctor David McLeod. Now that she's found true love, can she stay alive long enough to enjoy it? Also, Johnny Cash.
5. What started as an innocent kiss at the Devorson’s posh Christmas party turns into an obsession that leaves a trail of bodies from New York to Nevada. Beautiful detective Mary Sky must find the X-mas Killer, following the clues he leaves her, before Christmas rolls around again and his knife finds her under the Mistletoe.

6. Kelly Coosman volunteered to work the kissing booth for the parish Christmas Gala…it was the least she could do after Father McElroy rescued her from the streets of Chicago. But she’s been on her feet for fourteen hours straight, smooching hundreds of nicotine-fouled old men with rotten yellow teeth, and prostitution is sounding better than ever.

Original Version

Murder Under the Mistletoe is a 95K romantic suspense.

The end of the year is almost here, and it couldn’t come soon enough for Christine Abernathy. It had been the year from hell, but three weeks of mandatory vacation plays right into her plans this Christmas—sunny beaches, warm Caribbean waters, piƱa coladas, a pile of books, and the parental units paying her way. Life couldn’t get any better, until Grandma Marie has a stroke, dashing her plans and canceling the vacation.

With her parents flying to be with her grandmother and her fun in the sun poofed away, [Not clear why Christine isn't either flying to be with her grandmother or flying to the Caribbean. The flight and hotel would have been paid in advance, so if she's not visiting grandma anyway . . . ] [I'm guessing the parental units were going along on the vacation? Nothing like topping off the year from hell with the vacation from hell.] all Chris has to look forward to is taking home her accounting files from Leftschwich pharmaceuticals…until she gets clonked on the head by a thief in black. [I assume from your description of Christine's vacation as "mandatory" that she has to use it by the end of the year. Whether she's in the Caribbean or her apartment, she shouldn't be dealing with accounting files.] Chris wakes up with a jackhammer rat-a-tatting in her head and the Johnny Cash song, Man in Black, playing on the Musak station. She vows to bring the culprit down. [Coldcocking her was bad enough, but now she can't get that damn song out of her head.]

Contaminated chemotherapy, a psychic grandmother and a trail of murder leads right to her door when she unintentionally opens an international can of worms. To survive, she will need help from her man in black, but can she trust him with her life? [These are your main plot elements, and you gloss over them like you've got a plane to the Caribbean to catch.]

The full manuscript and synopsis are available at your request. Thank you for your time.



I didn't expect you to use verbatim the revised version I provided when this first appeared, as Face-Lift 130 (which is where the jokes are). I had to make up most of that. However, you might have used it as a guide. Most of this query is just setting up Christine's situation.

The new title makes it sound like a murder mystery in which someone gets murdered under some mistletoe. Who? Are there several suspects? A detective?

Your plot is something like this: People are dying from taking chemotherapy drugs produced at Leftschwich Pharmaceuticals. Dr. David McLeod, suspecting foul play, convinces Leftschwich employee Christine Abernathy to help him expose the scheme. But Christine and David (who quickly fall madly in love) have stumbled onto an international conspiracy whose chief players will do anything to silence them, including committing . . . Murder under the Mistletoe. Expand on that and you'll have something.

Why Christine is not in the Caribbean isn't nearly as important as the fact that she eventually gets there . . . with Doctor David.


Anonymous said...

Okay, I have to admit all the plots sound much better than mine. Can I steal them? I especially like #1.
Ya know, EE, I didn't realize I was channeling you when I revised this query, considering I haven't looked at your comments since you first posted them. I'm always amazed at what comes out of my brainbox, unintentionally stolen or my own. But I'm sure you are just as tired of beating this dead horse as I am, so I'm off to write a new query on my fantasy adventure.

On a side note: you're a good man, EE, I would have bid for your edit on Brenda Novak's site, except by the time I got to it, you had raised over 1K! Far too rich for my blood. Besides, I would have sent you this story, and I wouldn't want you to go screaming into the night rending hair from your scalp.

Thanks for your help.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Those are some notes, EE. 3rd para makes it clear that this is a interesting little story, if the author can manage to convey that in the query.

Pharmaceutical companies seem pretty evil to me lately, so there's an excellent antagonist.

I agree the new title is no improvement. Not for a first book anyway.

Was there an Opening that went with this?

Good Luck

Anonymous said...

I don't see any connections between the grandma, the vacation, the accounting files, the doctor, the drugs. What murder? The only mention of a murder was in the title.

If bad drugs are killing people, I believe she'd need the adverse affects reports and some medical records, not accounting files. And she'd get instantly fired if she removed them from the premises. My impression is you need to do a lot more research on the technical issues and/or give us a description of the plot which tells how it all went down.

And clear out some of those inane subplots. Maybe they work in the book but they just make your query sound like you've got one of those literary paranormal office romance family tragedy technothriller mysteries that have been so hard to sell lately.

Anonymous said...

Er, New Beginning?

Sylvia said...

Oooh, that would make a brilliant new feature!

"Your plot is..."

where confused authors post their hopeless ingredient lists and thier 100 word description fo the actions and EE (and the minions!) try to distill a one line plot summary out of it.

Stacia said...

The plot as EE described it isn't bad, but I agree the query isn't very to-the-point.

Also, unfortunately, that title has been used again and gain. Off the top of my head I can think of three different "Murder Under the Mistletoe"s published in the last ten years or so.

Robin S. said...

"Perhaps it's just my current mood, but I find that I don't seem to care what would happen if a low-level accountant accidentally became embroiled in . . . anything.] [I take that back. Try this: What would happen if a drop-dead gorgeous nymphomaniac low-level pharmaceutical accountant became embroiled in a torrid love affair with the buxom young head of the FDA just as the firm she worked for was about to introduce a scam drug they claimed was a true aphrodisiac?] "

EE, you were definitely on fire on the previous FaceLift for this novel.

I like the new title - it's better than the previous title, as long as there was murder under some mistletoe somewhere. Even metaphorically.

Author, I'm interested in why you chose not to use the revision from last summer as a template of sorts, to restructure your query.

Blogless Troll said...

All other intrigue and conspiracy unraveling aside, this sounds like it boils down to a drug company covering up a batch of tainted drugs. This may be the most suspenseful thriller ever written, but if I got to the end and that was it, I'd be throwing the book through something. Maybe there's more to it. But, with all the Big Pharm maleficence already in the news, it seems you could easily make your BP baddies do something bigger. Like, if they were using kidnapped teenage Korean sex slaves as guinea pigs. Or if their new FDA-approved miracle cancer cure turned out to be only slightly modified cherry Pez. I don't know. Maybe I'm way off on this. It's hard to tell from the query.

Robin S. said...

Just saw December's note that there are many other Murder...Mistletoe titles. Scratch my idea that this was a good title change, then.

And I agree with sylvia- great idea - "your plot is..."

Beth said...

Contaminated chemotherapy, a psychic grandmother and a trail of murder leads right to her door when she unintentionally opens an international can of worms. To survive, she will need help from her man in black, but can she trust him with her life?

Treat this like the main course, not the dessert.

Beth said...

Brilliant idea, Sylvia. Can we do it, EE?

Evil Editor said...

Not every query writer has trouble conveying the plot, but I'll try to remember to do this when appropriate. And you guys are welcome to do it anytime.

writtenwyrdd said...

You know Author, when I read EE's version, I was forcefully reminded of the news story wherein a doctor or pharmacist (I for get which) was diluting cancer drugs and administering them to patients. Also, it's a Law & Order episode. Despite that, I think it sounds more plausible for the story.

To echo the others, the query doesn't give us the plot. I like EE's version better, as usual.

It sounds like it could be good, though.

And, just so enquiring minds are satisfied, there are some romance novels out there starring a forensic accountant. 3-book series by Stephanie Feagan, "Show Her the Money" being the first. FWIW. The first two aren't bad. The third starts with a really stupid factual error on the first page so I threw it across the room and haven't read it.

Rei said...

I'm confused, EE. You're allowing fresh versions of queries to get a fresh review?

Evil Editor said...

Normally revisions go into the comments. However, I usually don't read the query till its turn comes up, and since this one had a new title, and GTP writers had already done their part (and since it was vastly different) I let it go (it's not the first time). I prefer not to do it because it's harder to be entertaining working with the same material. Some people do come here to be entertained, I think. Plus, there'd be too many queries in the queue if people could keep resubmitting.

Anonymous said...

And others just show up on the chance that mid-blog something will come spewing out of their nose! Or that is the entertainment part?

pacatrue said...

Nose spewing is the minion version of the secret handshake, which is why I don't show up to the meetings anymore.

Chris Eldin said...

Nobody's mentioned yet "The Constant Gardener," so I wanted to go ahead and do that. The author, John Le Carre, did quite a bit of research into pharmateucal companies, and it was a great read. It was made into a movie too (which didn't stray very much at all from the book).

Also, Johnny Cash wore black so he could identify with the poor and voiceless. Is that the kind of 'man in black' you were referring to in your story?

Which reminds me, I gotta add him to my profile (with my list of guitar-playing men!)


Anonymous said...

Gee, pacatrue, was it some one thing I said, or more a cumulative effect?

Or are blogs & blogging & websites going through a transition right now??

Life is Stark without the Snark.
The Snark is gone, snivel.