Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Guess the Plot
1. Come to where the boys are: Rose Lodge, the home of the anatomically correct mannequin maker, Rose Cowry. Also, haunted sewing machines and weeping bloody walls.
2. When Laurel buys a lodge in Oregon, she's not looking for romance, but it's not long before the carpenter she hires to restore the place falls for her. Then the carpenter gets murdered, and other attacks convince Laurel the lodge is haunted by the malignant spirits of a secret society. Will she survive living in . . . Rose Lodge?
3. All the kids in town are sure the ruined Rose Lodge is haunted by the ghost of a teenaged girl murdered by twin brothers in 1897. Twin brothers Dave and Darren decide to investigate. Will they find the truth . . . or only death?
4. Henry Dreadlock falls in love the moment he lays eyes on the woman of his dreams, Valerie. Except she resides at Rose Lodge, one of Rose City's oldest hotels and one rumored to be haunted. Soon Henry is wondering why Valerie is always dressed in medieval garb and will never let him spend the night.
5. It was supposed to be a happy weekend of singing and cookie-baking, but when Bootsie Campbell arrives at the family reunion, an eerie wail from the forest signals that they must, again, contend with the banshee.
6. Jenny and Rick are booked into Rose Lodge for their honeymoon, but the place is nothing like its brochure. Not only is it a dump; they have to share a bathroom with the adjoining room, which is occupied by an annoying couple who spend more time in the bathtub than in their room. Can Jenny's marriage survive the honeymoon from hell?
Dear Perceptive Agent:
Rose Lodge is a 100,000-word contemporary romantic suspense story.
Acquitted of the stabbing murders of her husband and his mistress, Laurel White flees notoriety and suspicion in Seattle and buys Rose Lodge, a derelict inn deep in the coastal mountains of Oregon. She's looking for community and trust, not romance, but soon two men vie for her attention. One is an engaging carpenter hired to restore the lodge, the other is her neighbor Davis Odenkirk, a widowed geologist who opposes her living in Rose Lodge, for reasons he will not name. [But which may have something to do with the effect on property values of having a serial killer living next door.]
When mysterious attacks against Laurel escalate, she has reason to suspect everyone close to her. [When you just moved deep into the mountains in a new state, it doesn't seem like you'd be that close to anyone.] Even the lodge itself seems to be trying to harm her. Then the carpenter is murdered, Laurel's handywoman is viciously assaulted, and Laurel's best friend vanishes. [Her best friend in the Oregon mountains, or her best friend forever?] The attacks cease and Laurel believes the perpetrator has been stopped--but by whom? [What do the police believe? I assume they're investigating the murder, if not the other attacks.]
Laurel finds a hidden cellar [Hidden in the attic, the last place anyone would look for a cellar.] containing a trunk holding clues to the inn's troubled past. The clues lead to a labyrinthine lava tube, which she learns was the "place of spirit" of a shamanist secret society. During the chaos of a hurricane-force windstorm Laurel is kidnapped by her best friend, who insists that Davis committed the Seattle murders and plans to kill Laurel by the same brutal method. [Let me get this straight. Her friend wants her to believe that the person who killed her husband in Seattle happens to be the same guy who lives next door to the lodge she bought deep in the Oregon mountains, bought after the murder of her husband? No one would expect someone to buy that. Have you held back some key information that makes this somehow reasonable?] Laurel escapes to the unexplored and unstable caves. Fighting for her life, she must decide whom to trust: her friend [from whom she escaped after being kidnapped,] or the man she loves [who tried to convince her not to live in Death Lodge]. [Tough decision.]
Davis uses science to uncover the secret of Rose Lodge's strange power while Laurel takes a spiritual approach and opens the caves to the shamans' descendants. Together they lay to rest the house's malignant influence. Laurel creates a place for herself in her new community, and she and Davis open themselves to love.
I have sold romance stories to True Story and True Romance. For many years, I lived on the Oregon coast, where I survived more than one hurricane-force windstorm.
Thank you very much for your time and consideration.
This has several similarities to The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer. In that book the house is called Rose Red, rather than Rose Lodge. The place is under construction, it's in Seattle, built on a native American burial ground, has a life of its own. The heroine has a cheating husband. Gruesome murders occur in the house. It might be worth having Laurel start in California instead of Seattle, and giving the lodge a different name to reduce the similarities.
As he gets murdered anyway, we don't need to know the carpenter has a romantic interest in Laurel. On the other hand, you might mention her attraction to Davis earlier, as this is a romance to some extent, and it's a little jolting to describe him near the end as the man she loves, when all we know about him up to then is that he didn't want her in his neighborhood, and he might be a murderer.
The plot portion could be made shorter by leaving out some of the information that inspires questions, questions that may not come up when reading the book:
Acquitted of the stabbing murders of her husband and his mistress, Laurel White flees notoriety and suspicion in San Francisco and buys Doom Lodge, a derelict inn deep in the coastal mountains of Oregon. She's looking for community and trust, not romance, but soon finds herself attracted to Davis Odenkirk, a widowed geologist who lives nearby.
When the carpenter restoring the lodge is murdered, Laurel's handywoman is viciously assaulted, and mysterious attacks against Laurel escalate, Laurel begins to think the lodge itself is trying to harm her. She finds an old trunk holding clues to the inn's troubled past, and learns that the lodge is built over a maze of caves that were once the "place of spirit" of a shamanist secret society. Suddenly the idea that the lodge is haunted doesn't seem far-fetched.
Davis uses science to uncover the secret of Doom Lodge's strange power while Laurel takes a spiritual approach and opens the caves to the shamans' descendants. Together they lay to rest the house's malignant influence. Laurel creates a place for herself in her new community, and she and Davis open themselves to love.