Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Face-Lift 678


Guess the Plot

Dodging Bullets

1. Rock star Spike McGee takes his grandma to the Amazon jungle, only to be kidnapped by "Visionaries" who are high as kites. Meanwhile the authorities seem bewildered so Granny paddles upriver with her Smith & Wesson and Miguel, vowing to find those rat bastards or die trying.

2. Life as a vampire was never easy, but now that his arch-enemy has acquired an ample supply of silver bullets, Hugo Valle never gets a moment of rest. Which makes it ever so difficult to be as seductive and vain as the other vampires on Broadway. Still, he tries.

3. It is a dark day in Black Gulch when rival gangs of outlaws simultaneously hold up the stage coach from Tombstone. But thanks to handsome gambler Sam Birks and his man Jeeves, Miss Kitty and her Can-Can troupe escape the melee by fleeing into the wilderness.

4. Gay Republican Cody Carlisle lands a job--and a secret relationship--with White House adviser Kirk Rayne. Now Cody wants to break off the affair, but rumor has it Kirk murdered the last boyfriend who broke up with him. Can Cody get out without . . . Dodging Bullets?

5. When she married Bud, Maddy had no idea how caffeine affected him. Their safari honeymoon is ruined when she serves him Kenyan roast and he goes on a rampage with the elephant gun. Plus, a handsome rescue helicopter pilot.

6. Sarah Simpson is a plucky seamstress who is succeeding by selling her retro bullet-bras to Hollywood’s pointy-boobed elite. But she constantly unravels in front of Buck McClure, hunky action star. Will their love be a perfect fit? Or will they be seam-ripped apart?



Original Version

Dear Evil Editor:

Cody Carlisle is gay, Republican, and addicted to power. [What is it that would appeal to a gay guy about a political party that has gay guy death panels as part of its platform?] His friendship with his old mentor, now the President of the United States, has landed him a position on the staff of top White House adviser, Kirk Rayne.

The perfect job to support his habit, right? Nope. As the new guy, Cody's stuck reporting to Joey Ratansky--a man less ethical and more paranoid than Richard Nixon. [Cody and Joey sound more like the names of the Jonas Brothers than guys working in the White House.] So rather than scoring political victories and shrinking the government, Cody is busy foiling Ratansky's never-ending schemes to get him fired.

Cody has two choices: match Ratansky's deceit or lose his job. [What about telling his friend and mentor the president about Ratansky's dirty tricks?] When a hot tub incident exposes Kirk Rayne's attraction to him, [Another gay Republican? Is this science fiction?] [Where is this hot tub? Were they both in it when the "incident" occurred?]

[Hot Tub Incident:

Kirk: Mind if I join you in the hot tub?

Cody: You're naked.
Kirk: Yes, meet Captain Kirk.]


Cody ignores his inner ethicist and uses a secret affair with Rayne to supplant Ratansky.

[Rayne: Sorry Ratansky, I'm gonna have to let you go.
Ratansky: Why?
Rayne: You're not the type of guy I want handling my staff.]

Although the relationship helps Cody climb into the president's inner circle, [Can't you come up with a better nickname for it than "inner circle"? The Urban Dictionary suggests Rusty Sheriff's Badge.] dating an old man gets ... well, old, and Cody resolves to end it.

As he considers how to break up with Rayne and still maintain his influence, Cody learns that Rayne may have murdered an ex-boyfriend. On the day the ex dumped him. [I'd change the period after "boyfriend" to an ellipsis or dash.] Fearing that ending the affair could make him Rayne's next victim, Cody must solve the murder to escape the relationship.

I conceived of Dodging Bullets: The Perilous Journey of a White House Pol--complete at 70,000 words--while finishing my PhD in political science at Rutgers University. During my graduate studies, I also taught in the Rutgers writing program.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,


Notes

Cody's goal is to dump Kirk but continue working for him? I don't see Kirk going for that, whether he's a murderer or not, so why bother solving the murder?

And you'd better explain how Cody thinks he can solve a murder that no one else was able to solve.

If the main plot is Cody gets involved with his boss in order to advance his career and later wants out but fears for his life, I don't see the need for Ratansky to even be in the query. He's a subplot, and he's delaying your getting to the murder. By the time you get to the murder, I've settled into believing the book is about politics and scandal. Maybe you need to open with a statement like: Cody Carlisle never thought his dream job in the White House would land him in the middle of a murder investigation. A clue about where the story goes. Right now it feels like the murder comes up in the last chapter.

22 comments:

Eric P. said...

The sentence beginning "I conceived of" is trying to say too much. Make it at least two sentences. And don't say "conceived of" when you mean "came up with the idea for." Also, consider dropping the subtitle-- "Perilous Journey" is quite hackneyed, and sounds like a 1920s jungle adventure rather than a political thriller.

The murder mystery, not the affair or the political intrigue, is (I presume) the central excitement of the story-- revise the query accordingly.

I would think that being a personal friend and mentee of the sitting President would automatically give you clout in most any "inner circle" you'd care about. (Of course, I'm from Chicago, where politicians are always doing favors for their "personal friends"... Is it much different in DC?)

I can see the theoretical possibility of a gay Republican existing, but good luck getting anyone to vote for him.

Was I the only one who saw the title and thought of The Matrix?

Aimee States said...

[Another gay Republican? Is this science fiction?]

It only seems that way because he left out the part where Cody nearly gets caught tapping his foot under the neighboring bathroom stall.

So yeah, EE hit the nail - "By the time you get to the murder, I've settled into believing the book is about politics and scandal."

Everything before the murder should be condensed in a sentence or two, max.

_*Rachel*_ said...

If they're secretly gay, I can see this being plausible enough to get published. If they're open about it, this is getting pretty close to fantasy.

Steve Wright said...

Now, I'm British, and even I've heard of the Log Cabin Republicans. (Even if I do tend to think of them as living proof that turkeys really do vote for Christmas.)

In addition to putting the emphasis on the murder rather than the initial machinations, it might be worth while stressing Cody's sympathetic qualities (if any). At the moment, he looks pretty much power-mad and corrupt - just like his antagonists, in fact. If I'm reading about a conflict between three horrible people, why should I give a damn which one wins? (For that matter, if I want to read about closeted gay Republicans behaving unethically, I can always just buy a newspaper.)

Anonymous said...

I am trying to figure out what bugs me here, and it's not the gay Republican thing so much as it is the stereotype of the whore gay man ("ignoring his inner ethicist" I believe is how you put it) and the older gay man preying on younger gay subordinates stereotype. You are awash in stereotypes. I'm guessing your gay protag is not really such an ass, but this query makes me think he is, in tired, trite ways, and doesn't make me want to read what might otherwise be an interesting story.

Sarah from Hawthorne said...

Nice, EE. Very nice. Now I too have joined the tea/coffee-all-over-my-keyboard brigade.

I like having a Log Cabin Republican protagonist. Talk about your inherent conflict. In fact, I would probably pick this book up to learn more about the character.

But, yeah, what EE said about the murder coming too late and what Steve Wright said about Cody coming off as unlikable. From the query I'm not sure if this is a thriller, a satire, or a murder mystery. Also, IMHO the use of a subtitle only adds to the confusion by making this sound like a memoir.

Ulysses said...

"has landed him a position on the staff of top White House adviser,"

I couldn't keep a straight face (pun intended) when I read that.

Wes said...

"You're not the type of guy I want handling my staff"

Dang, EE, you're on top of your game today!

A story about conflict and love triangles among Log Cabin Republicans would interest me more than solving a murder.

Anonymous said...

The US prez is Cody's former mentor and current friend and wouldn't even get him a job in the White House? He handed Cody off to one of his advisors? That's cold.

Anonymous said...

Lots of stuff happens like that in DC, anon 3:49 pm. I've just seen a man about ruined - going from well-employed to unemployed to underemployed (finally, and happy to be there, for the insurance for his family) and the 'powers that be' - very high up powers, though not the prez - were no help at all. And this abuse was at the hands of good ole'liberal Dems - the people lovers. Kumbaya fans.

Anonymous said...

Hi EE and all,

Sincere thanks to EE and everyone for the honest feedback. You've given me a lot of great ideas for revising the query and tweaking the manuscript.

-B

PS. EE: I just bought vol. 1 of why you don't get published.

Evil Editor said...

I knew it was just a matter of time before someone did.

ril said...

I knew it was just a matter of time before someone did.

Well, I'd read it twice already and could let it go for a moderately reasonable price.

whoever said...

I am not quite understanding the idea that he is the President's personal friend and "mentee" and yet he needs to use this Kirk guy to get into the President's inner circle?

Plus, nobody sounds likeable in this. Can you show us something to like about Cody?

Robin S. said...

[Hot Tub Incident:

Kirk: Mind if I join you in the hot tub?
Cody: You're naked.
Kirk: Yes, meet Captain Kirk.]


Really enjoyed your query 'notes', Sparky. Oh, if only Captain Kirk could talk...

Anyway, this sounds like a good read to me, author.

Author said...

Revised Version:


Dear EE:

Secretly gay, openly Republican White House aide Cody Carlisle has to do just about everything imaginable to survive in politics. Foil his colleagues schemes to get him fired? In the job description. Manufacture a pretext for an unnecessary war? A performance review criterion. But solve a murder? That he hadn't signed up for.

Not directly anyway. But a magic moment late one night in the showers of the White House gym kindles an affair between Cody and the president's top adviser, Kirk Rayne. A year later, when Cody resolves to end the relationship, he learns that Rayne may have murdered his last boyfriend ... on the day his ex dumped him. Fearing that ending the affair could make him Rayne's next victim, Cody must solve the murder to avoid a really messy break-up.

Cody enlists his lifelong friend, Christine Meadows, to help investigate the unsolved murder and alleged cover-up. They learn that Rayne couldn't possibly have committed the crime, but the real killer catches wind of their investigation. When the killer tries to kill them, but succeeds in killing only Chris, he plants evidence that makes Cody the number one suspect. The police ignoring his protestations of innocence, Cody goes on the run and becomes the target of the police and the killer. Can Cody solve two murders before the cops lock him up or the killer bumps him off?

Dodging Bullets is a 70,000-word political thriller that caricatures Washington politics. It should appeal to political junkies who don't have life-size posters of Rush Limbaugh on their walls.

I conceived of Dodging Bullets while finishing my PhD in political science at Rutgers University. During my graduate studies, I also taught in the Rutgers writing program.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely yours,

Portuguese cunt said...

Sorry, the "Cody" name has GOT to change-- it's too "Full House".

The gay republican thing is over the top. Is this romance, intrigue, or what?

Nick B. said...

If I've learned anything from Congress it's that republicans are in fact, gay. They also like young male pages.

That is all.

Sarah from Hawthorne said...

I really, really like this.

There are a few grammatical issues in P3:

"When the killer tries to kill them, but succeeds in killing only Chris,"
- that's a lot of repetitions of the word "kill"

"The police ignoring his protestations of innocence, Cody goes on the run and becomes the target of the police and the killer."
- That first clause feels off to me. I would change it to "When the police ignore his protestations of innocence" or even "When no one believes his protestations of innocence". That would take care of the other repetition of "police".

And I do still feel like Cody could be a touch more sympathetic. Maybe he doesn't like playing the game, maybe he wants to be in a powerful position so he can help the gay rights movement, maybe he's breaking up with Kirk because he's embarrassed about how he got his job. Any little moral streak that will make us cheer for him.

Good luck!

Kings Falcon said...

It's getting there. But the story in the initial query sounds nothing like the story in the second one.

If I understand the situation: Cody wants to end an affair with his boss. Given that its a Washington DC affair he has the somewhat reasonable concern that the boss might off him rather than risk Cody going public with a gay affair. Cody's bright idea to get around the problem is to discover what happened to the boss's old lover. During the investigation Cody and a friend run into some bad guys who off the friend and frame Cody for the killing. Now Cody has to find the real killer before he gets convicted. Right?

If so, focus on those details. Let me know who the bad guy is and what his goals are.

dana p said...

I really like the revised version, & it would be even better with the tweaks Sarah recommended. Flashes of humor come through in the query and that bodes well for the manuscript. If it gets published I'd be interested in buying it. Good luck, author!

Anonymous said...

Hi, author here, thanks for the positive feedback. It's nice to see that others feel I'm moving in the right direction.

Sarah, you are very right about that third paragraph. It's a cornucopia of awkward sentences. Thanks for the suggested revisions.

-B