Friday, September 01, 2006

Face-Lift 174


Guess the Plot

Special Delivery

1. Kurt Bloogle, ruined-financier-turned-pizza-delivery-guy, receives an order from his ex-wife and her boyfriend. This is one six topping deluxe they'll never forget.

2. Natasha Lansky, owner of a mail-order bride business called Special Delivery, is found murdered. The suspects: jilted husbands, disgruntled wives, and just about everyone in the human trafficking business.

3. The world's first half-human, half-alien baby is about to born to Holly Cohen and her husband Sgrbt'fth. Can they get to the hospital on Betelgeuse IV in time? And who's going to handle the bris?

4. Sister Mary Woeful is a bride of Christ. But her midnight dalliance with a devil in blue jeans has left her in a pickle. When her holy water breaks at St. Viburnum's Maternity Hospital, it's time for a very special delivery.

5. Laila, anticipating her boyfriend's return from college, wraps herself in nothing but coconut oil and a hot-pink bow. Randy Moser rings the doorbell to deliver a package and gets a surprise in this romantic comedy.

6. A luxury obstetrics ward opens, offering five-star meals and fashion-forward nurses for the heiress with everything. But not even they are prepared for the absurdity that ensues when a prima-donna pop star and her flaky husband check in.


Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

I am seeking representation for Special Delivery, a 65,000 word humorous mystery set in the Washington, D.C. suburbs.

Special Delivery introduces readers to thirty-year-old Samara Rosen, a Harvard-educated lawyer struggling to have it all [Has anyone else noticed how many of these queries involve someone struggling? I doubt there are five in the whole 174 that don't use the word "struggle."] ["Against a backdrop of" is popular too.] -- happy kid, healthy marriage, [or vice versa.] prestigious career at a law firm, and a few minutes to spare for a manicure. When Samara volunteers to drive three-year-old Jake Lansky home from daycare after a harried Monday at the office, she finds single mom Natasha Lansky in a lingerie-clad heap on the floor of her well-appointed Bethesda foyer. The even better news? As the person who discovered the body, she's a prime suspect. [Is it really so common for murderers to call the police, that the police automatically consider the person who calls them a prime suspect? If I murdered someone, I would either be cutting the body into pieces small enough to fit in garbage bags or heading for the airport and a flight to Argentina. Not telling the cops I'd found a dead body. But that's just me.]

In an effort to clear her name and assuage the guilt heaped on her by daycare center director Bertie Siegelman (who happens to be Samara's mother), Samara launches an investigation to find Natasha's killer. [Her own mother is making her feel guilty? About what?] Thanks to Natasha's international mail order bride business (Special Delivery), Samara's got plenty of suspects -- jilted husbands, disgruntled wives, and some less-than-savory colleagues in the human trafficking business. Even scarier, Samara squares off against the mothers in Natasha's militant neighborhood playgroup. [Is it the playgroup that's militant, or the mothers?] In between surveillance and interviews, Samara works to bolster her billable hours -- and chances of partnership -- at the firm by reading millions of financial documents related to a securities fraud lawsuit. [My calculations indicate that if she read a document every minute for twelve hours a day, it would take more than seven years to read two million of them.] Now she's got two jobs -- law firm associate by day, amateur detective by night -- and suddenly, her husband Marty thinks she should quit both to stay home full-time with their daughter, Mia. Despite Marty’s obvious break with reality (hello, mortgage!), Samara desperately wants another baby, but after six months of trying, it looks like Mia will be an only child. [Please don't tell us she moves into a trailer and starts munching Valium like Cracker Jack.]

Like Samara, I graduated from Harvard Law School [and enjoy the occasional manicure,] and spent several years slogging away at a large Washington law firm. In 2004, I left private practice for government work so that I could devote more time to my family. I am also personally familiar with the difficulty many women face in becoming pregnant.

The age-old debate about whether -- and to what extent -- women can balance motherhood and career has received significant attention lately, thanks to contributions from Leslie Morgan Steiner, Judith Warner, and Linda Hirshman. Against this backdrop, [And I thought we were going to escape that one for once.] [Actually, I'm not sure that counts as a backdrop.] I believe that readers will identify with Samara's desire to satisfy her family, her boss, and herself, all while tracking a killer. [Hey, who can't identify with what it's like to try to run your life while also tracking a killer?] If only she could bill for it!

If you would like see more of Special Delivery, please let me know. Thank you for your time.


Revised Version

Dear Evil Editor,

I am seeking representation for Special Delivery, a 65,000-word humorous mystery set in the Washington, D.C. suburbs.

Samara Rosen, a Harvard-educated lawyer, is struggling to have it all--healthy kid, happy marriage, prestigious career at a law firm, and a few minutes to spare for a manicure. She volunteers to drive three-year-old Jake Lansky home from daycare after a harried Monday at the office, and finds Jake's mother, Natasha, in a lingerie-clad heap on the floor of her Bethesda foyer. Not only that, as the person who discovered the body, Samara's on the list of suspects.

In an effort to clear her name, Samara launches her own investigation into the murder. Thanks to Natasha's international mail order bride business (Special Delivery), there are plenty of suspects--jilted husbands, disgruntled wives, and some less-than-savory players in the human trafficking business. But can Samara satisfy her family, her boss, and herself, all while tracking a killer? And if so, is there any way she can bill for it?

I believe that Samara's attitude will be an inspiration to women trying to balance motherhood and career, an issue that has received significant attention lately, thanks to contributions from Leslie Morgan Steiner, Judith Warner, and Linda Hirshman. If you would like to read Special Delivery, please let me know. Thank you for your time.


Notes

Although it's described as a humorous mystery, and there are some amusing touches in the letter, it does seem as if bringing home a three-year-old to find his mother dead, and dealing with the human trafficking business would be difficult to handle in an amusing way.

Also, it's not clear why she should have any more luck solving the murder than the police. She starts an investigation because her mother makes her feel guilty? She wants another kid, she feels guilty . . . she should take in Jake, and let the cops track the killer.

I took out the infertility part. It's only been six months, and I feel certain she'll get pregnant as soon as the killer is caught. Mark my word.

11 comments:

kis said...

Okay, anyone here realize that Samara is the name of the creepy little scraggly-haired girl in The Ring?

pjd said...

I didn't really think it was #3, but Sgrbt'fth is yet another name that would be better spelled backwards.

Anonymous said...

Yay! I guessed the correct plot.

And as another lawyer reading the blog [one who presently has 14 trafficking victims as clients], I agree with EE. It seems like a subject that doesn't lend itself to humor.

But then, I didn't attend Harvard.

(now going back to my query and checking for "struggle" and "backdrop"!)

Good luck.

xiqay said...

Dear EE,

Oh my. I've got "background" and "struggle" in my opening paragraph. And when you revised, you kept them.

Now seeing how common (trite?) they are, I'm wondering if I should ditch them.

Do these words bother you, now that you've been reading our slush?

Do you recommend finding some other way of pitching our stories?

Bernita said...

I don't understand this speed-dial pregnancy theme ...6 months and they think it's no go?
My impression was one does not begin to worry unless it's been 2 years.

Anonymous said...

My first thought was, Where's the humor? Have to agree with EE.

Also, in today's world, they're not going to release a child to someone who just vounteers. Don't see where there's a relationship that the mother would have her listed to pick up her child. Just my $.02.

Dave said...

I think the character sounds a little like Job. There is an awuful lot of bad, dreary, and depressing going on here.

BuffySquirrel said...

There seem to me to be a lot of plot threads here for the length. Something probably suffers. The last 65k novel I read was Jane Austen Book Club. I thought that thin, to say the least--and it didn't have nearly as many threads as this apparently does. What is the novel's main focus? The murder? The protagonist's career? Infertility? At 65k I think one of those could be done reasonably, but I'd be very impressed by a 65k novel that managed to do all three to a reasonable depth.

And yes, whoever finds a body will be automatically made a suspect, although probably not the prime suspect. I think for her to be the prime suspect there would need to be some, yanno, evidence against her.

whoever said...

Once again EE, your comments are just hilarious. I like to start the morning with a smile upon my face.

Loved the trailer/valium reference the most. LOL.

I think this story idea sounds interesting, but what the others have said makes sense about making the subject matter humourous, unless you are going all out for black comedy, but it doesn't seem like it.

Bernita said...

She's been at her office, She picks up a child at a day-care and rushes him home, finds a body, and she's the prime suspect?
Only if the woman has been offed within a very short time frame.
Your girl may be suspected , depending on TOD and failure to account for her whereabouts during whatever time period it occurred, but not just because she discovered the body, I wouldn't think.

Anonymous said...

...and I feel certain she'll get pregnant as soon as the killer is caught.

My guess is she'll find out she's carrying the killer's baby.

Two book deal, anyone?