Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Face-Lift 501

Guess the Plot

The Last Resort

1. The all-inclusive island vacation destination of La Boraca is normally a peaceful, family-friendly place. But now, people are dying. Can security chief Hector Vargos figure out the connection between the bodies and find the killer before this becomes his last resort?

2. Somebody with a grudge is blowing up all the resorts in Orlando. Damian and Marie McVellyan have their fingers crossed, hoping that these environmental terrorists will ignore the Motel 6 they manage, and it'll eventually be . . . The Last Resort.

3. Her post-divorce party is going to be huge, if Lola can find a Las Vegas hotel room during the hardware show. She settles for The Last Resort on the edge of town, but when her guests start disappearing, Lola must play detective. Is there a murderer on the loose, or is it just that Lola's parties are deadly boring?

4. They've been driving along the desert freeway for what seems like forever. Up ahead, they spot a glorious fantastical image: a huge castle complex. They're exhausted. But if they stop, will they ever be able to escape . . . the Last Resort?

5. CarePark Nursing Home is the "Last Resort" most of its residents will ever visit. But Goldie Goldberg, a quadriplegic former prostitute, isn't going gently into that good night. She gives her doctor, Julie Sternberg, an education in life--along with a few dating tips.

6. After a century of out-of-control Global Warming, four holy men each recieve a prophecy that leads them to the last remaining ski resort - on the top of Mt. Everest. There they find an unininvited guest - orphaned 14 yr. old Sean. Can he hitch a ride on their latter-day Noah's Ark?

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

I’m writing to you with regard to my recently completed novel, The Last Resort, a 67,000-word fictional memoir.

Dr. Julie Sternberg is excited to begin her helping career counseling the elderly and infirm of CarePark Nursing Home. [Three hours later she's seriously considering quitting and taking a job as a cafeteria server.] She quickly discovers that infirm hardly describes the strong-willed quadriplegic former prostitute she is charged with “fixing” by the hardnosed administrator. Goldie Goldberg, along with her young peers, challenges Dr. Sternberg’s blithe assumption of health and wellbeing and puts her dating problems into perspective. [Is Goldie the ex-prostitute or the administrator? I assume she's the ex-prostitute just from the name, but who, in a nursing home, is likely to have young peers? A patient or an administrator?] As CarePark’s elderly reminiscence about their regrets and successes, Dr. Sternberg receives an education in how to live that surpasses any knowledge she picked up in grad school. [I once stared at my hand for five minutes and gained knowledge that surpassed what I picked up in grad school.] Caught up in her patients’ dramas, she finds herself at odds with the powerful administrator and struggling with an ethical dilemma that threatens her job and her faith in the health care system.

The Last Resort reveals a surprisingly funny world [Call it what it is--a laugh-a-minute, side-splitting romp through the boffo world of eldercare.] based on my early experience as a psychologist in nursing homes. Now with over twelve years in long-term care, I contribute scholarly articles to trade publications, conduct workshops, and lecture in my field. [Anything to keep me out of the actual nursing homes.] I’m an active member of two writers groups and have been published in an on-line magazine.

I would be pleased to send you my manuscript at your request. Thank you for your time and consideration.



You need to spend more time on the main plot, which I assume is: she finds herself at odds with the powerful administrator and struggling with an ethical dilemma that threatens her job and her faith in the health care system. Her patients' dramas and her miserable love life can be mentioned, but there's more here than a series of vignettes, right? There's the conflict between the naive grad who discovers that old people are still alive, and the administrator who insists that they aren't. Focus the query on that.

Give us the name of the administrator. Unless it's Goldie Goldberg, in which case change the name of the administrator.


Nancy Beck said...

This sounds like it could be really, really fun - but, yeah, I agree with EE that this needs more plot.

I usually gripe about people putting down their work experience, but, obviously, this is a case where that works to the author's advantage.

BTW, I was hoping it was either this one with the quadriplegic hooker or the one with Lola (heh).

So add in a little more plot stuff, and I think you've got a winner.

Good luck with it! :-)

writtenwyrdd said...

I like EE's take on the real kernel of the story, but didn't get that at all in the query. Why is the protag in conflict? What has the administrator demanded that's apparetnly unethical, and what does Goldie have to do with it? Also, since you mention Goldie first, I assumed she's the protag, but that assumption appears to be incorrect. Maybe begin the letter with the main character.

Evil Editor said...

Doesn't she mention Julie first?

Bernita said...

Certainly has potential.
As long as Goldie does not turn out to be a whore with a heart of gold.

Anonymous said...

In which case, you can bet that her heart of gold needs a bypass and a new atrial valve.

writtenwyrdd said...

You're right EE and I'm apparently blind. Or senile. Or both. Goldie caught my attention, I guess.

EB said...

I read "begin her helping career counseling the elderly" as CAREER COUNSELING the elderly. As in preparing them for jobs post-retirement.

I think some confusion stems from the fact that the nursing/rehab center has both elderly residents and younger, injured patients. Clarifying this might help with the confusion around the line about the character's "younger peers."

I'll echo the other comments: what exactly is the conflict here? Goldie's agitating for trips on a fishing boat? The Big Chief won't talk in group therapy? Give us more details.

Ali said...

In light of recent events in the literary world, the term "fictional memoir" is an instant turn-off to me. If you called it fiction and then mentioned at the bottom of the query (as you do) that it's based on your own experiences, you'd be offering credibility without making me think, "Ah, yes, another person trying to make their own life sound interesting enough to sell. Next."

I think you need to give us more plot and a little more of Julie--I'm not that interested in reading "Tuesdays With a Bunch of Morries" but that doesn't mean I wouldn't like your book, right? How is it different?

Anonymous said...

I am writing a fictional memoir, the fictional part is the sprinkling of weredingoes and zombies throughout my life experiences.
Like alst night I went a saw a movie, pretty boring, except for the fact that damn zombie was chatting the entire movie and really just ruined the whole experience.

EB said...

Tuesdays with a bunch of Morries. That's funny.

I was acutally thinking more along the lines of Like Water for Elephants.

Wes said...

EE, I love your comment on grad school. That's where they teach you how not to write, such as stringing four or five nouns together. I always wondered which noun modified which.

Anonymous said...

"Call it what it is--a laugh-a-minute, side-splitting romp through the boffo world of eldercare."

EE, I'm still laughing!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all your comments. This has been very helpful and much less painful than I was expecting. My administrator's name right now is Dick Savage. Is that terrible?

The Last Resort Author

Wes said...

Dick Savage????? Why not go all the way and call him Buster Hymen?

Anonymous said...

Buster Hymen. Not a bad idea.

The Last Resort Author

Anonymous said...

I can't get past the term 'fictional memoir'. Is this really a recognized genre? I hope not. That shouldn't make any more sense than 'fictional autobiography'.

Anonymous said...

fictional memoir.

That staff meeting was really dull -- until a horde of vampires riding on crazed weredingoes crashed into the conference room and sacrificed the assistant manager to the nexus of time travel itself!

talpianna said...

Ali and Benwah: We're on the same page, except I was thinking FRIED GREEN TOMATOES Lite.

Matt Larkin said...

"Caught up in her patients’ dramas, she finds herself at odds with the powerful administrator and struggling with an ethical dilemma that threatens her job and her faith in the health care system."

I think this is what needs expanding. Your query tells me a bit about Goldie who sounds interesting, but I want to hear more about her story, not just her character and situation.

Good luck here.

Stacia said...

I agree it needs more plot, but I also love the idea of a salty old ex-hooker giving life advice. I totally wish I knew old people like that, instead of the ones who whine if their dinner is served more than five minutes past 5 pm.