Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Face-Lift 956


Guess the Plot

Beauty and the Bouncer

1. HE'S a high-class fashion model. SHE'S a pogo-stick champion. Will she ever stay still long enough for him to win her heart?

2. The depressing tale of why you're not cool enough to get into the trendiest club in town, even if you slip the bouncer a twenty, while that harlot in the miniskirt doesn't even have to wait in line.

3. Bree Taylor loses everything in a bad investment except the one asset she doesn't want: a biker bar in the hinterlands of Northern California. She takes it over reluctantly, realizes she can't handle the customers herself, and hires a bouncer. Happily ever after?

4. A lovely and brilliant cat named Beauty shares her house with a slave human named Melissa, who exists solely to bring Beauty's food, keep her litter box fresh, and provide something warm for the feline to lounge upon. Life is good until Melissa brings home an idiot dog: a distracting pestilence known as "The Bouncer," who intends to stay, but must be eliminated at any cost. War ensues.

5. She's a type A med student with an adorable drinking problem! He's a tough guy from the wrong side of the tracks trying to put his past behind him! Can they look past their differences and find love? It's a romance novel, so, yeah, probably.

6. When Elissa's friends set her up with the rough, hunky Jake, she knows he's bad news. Until the day he flattens some bikers trying to get too friendly. Now she can't get enough of him. But can she at least housebreak him before she takes him home to meet her mother?

7. Norman is the lanky dork who gets hired as a bouncer at Jezebel's Bar. Lucy is the slutty shot girl who already works there. Their boss has a strict no-dating rule, especially between bouncers and slutty shot girls. So you just know they're gonna hit the sheets posthaste.



Original Version

Dear Benevolent Editor,

I am seeking a publisher for “Beauty and the Bouncer,” a contemporary romance, complete at X,000 words, [Never combine Arabic numbers with Roman numerals; use one or the other. And try to expand this to at least LX,000 words.] that should appeal to fans of the wry humor and playful sexiness in the works of Jennifer Crusie, Victoria Dahl, and Rachel Gibson.

Lucy York is an aspiring mechanical engineer moonlighting as a slutty shot girl at Jezebel’s Bar & Lounge to pay her bills. [Is that the actual job description? Was she looking through the help wanted ads and answered one for a slutty shot girl? If a bar owner advertised for a slutty shot girl I would expect women to be boycotting and picketing the place.] [If the reader is familiar with the term "shot girl," I don't see the need to add "slutty" to the description. And if she's not familiar with the term, she'll probably think bartender.] All she has to do is keep the job—and keep herself from smashing a keg over some stupid frat boy’s head—until her student loans come through and she can flee north to live her dream of attending UC Berkeley. [My brief research suggests she could pay her tuition with what she'd make as a shot girl in about eight weeks. If she admits on her loan application that she makes $800 a night, those loans may not be forthcoming.]

Then her boss hires a new bouncer, Norm, a lanky literature dork who seems like everything a bouncer shouldn’t be: tall, gangly, [You already called him lanky. Tall and gangly isn't adding much.] sweet (and, you know, named Norman). But, as she gets to know the new guy, ol’ Norm turns out to be everything Lucy never knew she wanted: funny, passionate, smart, kind, and the best friend she’s ever had.

One problem for their happily ever after: the big boss man [owner] has a strict no-dating rule for employees. Especially between bouncers and slutty shot girls. [Is that how the rule is worded? No dating shot girls, especially not the slutty ones?] If anyone at Jezebel’s finds out she’s dating a bouncer, [We didn't even find out she's dating him. Is she?] [He takes a job as a bouncer, agreeing to the no-dating-slutty-shot-girls rule, and immediately starts dating a slutty shot girl? He didn't seem like the type. Can't he wait a while and follow her to Berkeley?] Lucy will lose her job as well as her best chance of getting out of the dump and away to Berkeley. [I thought she was getting away as soon as her loans came through. Do the loans depend on having a job as a slutty shot girl?] [Why doesn't Norm quit and get a job as a bouncer at the library?]

But, if she loses Norm trying to protect her job, is she losing her best chance at really ending up happy for forever after [happiness]?

I have two full-length novels out now as ebooks under my pen name E.D. Walker. My paranormal romance "The Beauty's Beast" was released by Noble Romance Publishing last year and my YA fantasy novel, “Heir to the Underworld,” was released by Sapphire Blue Publishing a few months later. My novel “The Beauty’s Beast” was a finalist in the First Book category of Romance Writer’s Ink “More Than Magic” contest.

Thank you for taking the time to consider my work.

Sincerely,


Notes

If Lucy were to lose her job, couldn't she just move to the Berkeley area and get a job as a shot girl there? I don't think you've shown her situation to be a desperate predicament. Should I risk losing this job I'm planning to quit soon anyway just to live happily ever after? Duh.

Has Norm agreed to move north when Lucy does? As far as we know, Norm is the guy who just started working at Jezebel's, and Lucy is planning to move to another city. We need to know that this is true love and that losing her job would ruin everything.

You might want to change the opening to:

Lucy York is an aspiring mechanical engineer moonlighting as a shot girl to pay her bills. All she has to do is keep the job—serving watered-down drinks to drunken frat boy’s at Jezebel’s Lounge—until her student loans come through and she can flee north to live her dream of attending UC Berkeley.

This explains the term "shot girl" to those agents who aren't into the big-city nightlife scene without calling them sluts. The shot girls, not the agents.

I believe the term "moonlighting" means working at a second job after getting off your main job. If shot girl is Lucy's only job, she's working, not moonlighting.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

If the reader is familiar with the term "shot girl," I don't see the need to add "slutty" to the description.

Because they're all slutty?

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

It seems to me the great "if" in a dream of attending UC Berkeley would not be so much student loans (if she's making pots of money as EE suggests) but actually being admitted to UC Berkeley. That's an easy change to make. If she's just waiting on the loans you'd think she'd be in Berkeley.

Though I have it on good authority that an even greater threat to one's ability to attend Berkeley is finding a @#$%ing room to rent.

Agree there needs to be more of a threat to her budding romance than the possiblity of losing a job she doesn't much want. What if she's already in Berkeley, and the job includes a room and is also the way she's paying her tuition? Then she'd be risking her dream by boinking the bouncer.

Khazar-khum said...

Where is she in California? There are UCs up & down the state, and most are not in the hellhole that is Berkeley.

Where is Norman going to school? Is there a reason they aren't going to the same college?

Evil Editor said...

Because they're all slutty?

Presumably none of them is slutty. The job description requires all of them to be highly flirtatious to complete strangers. It's an acting job. Adding "slutty" to the description is insulting. Also an agent will be turned off by a main character described as slutty.

arhooley said...

Add my voice to those who aren't buying Lucy's predicament. What exactly is going on with UC Berkeley? Has she already been admitted, but asked for a deferral while she gets some money together? Did she make the weird mistake of not applying for financial aid at the time she applied for admission (not very smart about achieving her dream)? Anyway, money should be the easy part; a UC education is quite cheap for California residents, but getting into Berkeley is incredibly tough.

And the questions keep comin'. If Lucy is willing to work as a slutty shot girl in San Diego or L.A. then money should be no object; she could do the same in Oakland. Why is she hanging around in "the dump"? And for that matter why doesn't she get a job at Applebee's? And really, how dreadful is life somewhere south of Berkeley?

If she's "moonlighting" as a shot girl, what's her primary job?

I don't want to see the answers in a post here. I just want to point out that you're outlining a predicament that I find contrived and unconvincing.

sarahhawthorne said...

It seems to me that if Lucy's life dream is to study engineering at Berkeley, then that's what needs to be at stake here. Maybe Norman buys her shot girl persona and she's afraid to reveal her inner nerd. Maybe Norman is somehow connected to the admissions office at UC Berkeley and she's terrified that dating him will reveal her double life and hurt her scholarship prospects.

Also I'm also a bit puzzled why a bar would hire a skinny literature student as a bouncer, unless he's a black belt in karate or something.

But it sounds like fun - I'm all for mechanical engineering students as main characters!

BuffySquirrel said...

EE, dear, you should know better. It's frat boys, not frat boy's, unless that 'at' belongs to one of them.

Also an agent will be turned off by a main character described as slutty.

Readers, too.

Jo-Ann said...

It sounds like a fun premise, so long as the reader isn't afraid to ask too many questions - the main one for me being why is Lucy loyal to that bar? Surely shot-girl jobs have a high turnover, and she should be able to find another easily if the no-staff-dating policy is a drag on her love-life. I second what Sarah says about having more mech eng students in fiction.

E.D. Walker said...

Author here.

Thank you for the help, EE. I'll work on a revision.

The "slutty" thing is actually a description of the uniforms and such the shot girls wear, not their sexual activity levels. Though I realize now my error in using it as a descriptor and will prune accordingly.

@Khazar-khum
"Where is she in California? There are UCs up & down the state, and most are not in the hellhole that is Berkeley."
But not every UC is the best public university in the country. (Sorry, former Cal Bear here. Gotta defend the ol'alma mater.)

Jo-Ann said...

And another thing...

Hi writer. I dont really want to come across like I'm deliberately trying to find fault with your query. The manuscript prob has a lot of merit. I guess you dont want to give an agent any excuses to say "pass" - so the other thing that stood out for me was having a geeky guy as a bouncer.

As much as I like the juxtaposition of a nerdy tough guy, this might be what gets your query tossed. Most bouncers are there to keep the peace, and do so by providing a menacing presence - that they would grind your skull to dust without so much as raising a sweat if you even think about drunken disorderly conduct. Your lanky hero might have black belts in 3 different martial arts, but if he looks like a pushover, no bar manager would give him the job.

Don't drop the charcter, but maybe write the query so it looks like a deliberate feature - just saying he's everything a bouncer shouldn't be isn't enough!

Anonymous said...

Presumably none of them is slutty.

Gotcha. Didn't hurt to hope, though...

Anonymous said...

What they said about the premise.

Re: your list of priors in the last paragraph. Starting with the statement you had E-pubs or E-books or whatever gave me the impression you put them out yourself. Then you mention publishers I never heard of put your work out. And I don't know, maybe I should have heard of them. Or maybe they're obscure little presses. No idea.

Anyway, this list is complicated to sort out and you don't want your would-be agent to suddenly stop thinking about your great novel to try to figure out WTF, how many publishers are there, are these vanity presses or what, and if not, why don't they want you back? Did the books not sell????!!

One hears it is EVEN more difficult to sell a second novel than a first, especially if the first one bombed. So this list looks like you've been published several times but nobody ever heard of the books. Maybe you don't need to mention them at this point. Or just mention something that would encourage an agent to think your books actually sell. Like say your last book was Whatever published by the Whatnot press and it has sold X copies in z time, and leave it at that until your would-be agent calls to chat you up.

If I was an agent another concern would be that you've already signed some idiot multiple book contract to sell all your work to a publisher for a pittance and there's nothing I can do for you.

E.D. Walker said...

Author again.

"If I was an agent another concern would be that you've already signed some idiot multiple book contract to sell all your work to a publisher for a pittance and there's nothing I can do for you."

Most epubs only contract for the book they want to buy, and most times it is with a clause that they don't even have exclusive rights to the characters or any sequels I might write. (This is the case in both the contracts I have signed). So no, I have not signed some idiot book contract with either of my publishers. I THINK agents would know this about epubs as it is a fairly boilerplate contract clause in my experience(could be wrong about that, tho).

EE, (or anyone) do you have any thoughts regarding whether to use my pub credits or not? Or how to structure them in the query?

batgirl said...

Just hopping in to say that I like the voice in this query a lot.
Also the GTPs are great!

Author, what I'd suggest for the publication credits is something simple like 'Under my pen name of E. D. Walker, I have two novels out from e-publishers. One was a finalist in a Romance Writer's Ink contest.'
That way the agent knows that they weren't self-published, and she can look them up under your pen-name if she wants.
Now, if the agent you're querying also handles YA fantasy, you might want to include the genres. Otherwise I wouldn't go into detail - that's my take anyways.

Evil Editor said...

Or you could go with: My paranormal romance ebook The Beauty's Beast was released by Noble Romance Publishing last year and my YA fantasy ebook, Heir to the Underworld, was released by Sapphire Blue Publishing a few months later.

E.D. Walker said...

TAKE TWO:
Dear Benevolent Editor,

I am seeking a publisher for “Beauty and the Bouncer,” a contemporary romance, complete at 100,000 words, that should appeal to fans of the wry humor and playful sexiness in the works of Jennifer Crusie, Victoria Dahl, and Rachel Gibson.

Lucy York is an aspiring mechanical engineer working as a shot girl serving watered-down drinks to drunken frat boys at Jezebel’s Bar & Lounge. The job isn’t so bad—it pays her bills, and, after her father’s untimely death, she’s managed to make a surrogate family for herself at the bar. But now, at 24, after three years of grieving, she’s ready to spread her wings and fly north to attend UC Berkeley and, maybe, distance herself a little from the all-consuming bar life at Jezebel’s.

Then her boss hires a new bouncer, Norm, a literature dork who seems like everything a bouncer shouldn’t be: tall, gangly, sweet (and, you know, named Norman). But, as she gets to know him, ol’ Norm turns out to be everything Lucy never knew she wanted: funny, passionate, smart, kind, and the best friend she’s ever had. And he’s not a bad bouncer either.

One problem for their happily ever after: the owner has a strict no-dating rule for employees. Especially between bouncers and shot girls. If anyone at Jezebel’s finds out she’s dating a bouncer, Lucy will lose her job, her surrogate family, and the money she needs to go to Berkeley.

But, if she loses Norm, is she losing her best chance at happiness?

My paranormal romance ebook The Beauty's Beast was released by Noble Romance Publishing last year and my YA fantasy ebook, Heir to the Underworld, was released by Sapphire Blue Publishing a few months later. Heir to the Underworld recently finaled for Best YA Novel in the 2012 EPIC ebook awards. I am also a member of Romance Writers of America.

Thank you for taking the time to consider my work.

Sincerely,
An Author

Evil Editor said...

P1: Call it a 100,000-word contemporary romance that should appeal... thus saving a couple words and a comma. Not sure why you need to list three authors. If they're all known for wry humor and playful sexiness, choose one.

P2: The father isn't important in the query. You can drop "after her father’s untimely death," and "after three years of grieving."

P3: Two consecutive sentences full of adjectives describing Norm? I'd trim it to:

Then her boss hires a new bouncer, Norm, a literature dork who turns out to be everything Lucy never knew she wanted: funny, passionate, smart, kind, and the best friend she’s ever had. And he’s not a bad bouncer either.

Norm has all the features most women want in a man. Why did Lucy never know she wanted them?


P4: Change "problem for" to "obstacle to."

Not clear why you have to say "especially between bouncers and shot girls." If you call it a strict no-dating rule for employees, you can't then imply that it's not so strict unless you're a shot girl and bouncer.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Paranormal how?

Evil Editor said...

This isn't the paranormal book.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Oh. Okay.

Then I submit the phrase "My paranormal romance ebook" immediately after the plot synopsis is confusing.

dev_lena said...

The query is well written (as was the original version). The problem for me is the central conflict is pretty low-key and doesn't seem to be an either/or situation. Lucy feels she belongs at this particular bar; that's cool. But couldn't the sweet guy Norman find work elsewhere? Plus, how committed are they if she's going to Berkeley? Might be a fun read (your voice certainly suggests it), but personally I'd prefer to see more tension in a story.

150 said...

I do like the rewrite, but agree that the stakes are just very low. Losing her job doesn't mean her surrogate family will shun her, does it? I realize "just get another job" is silly advice in today's market, but if her problem could be solved that easily, maybe there should be a more pressing reason she can't do it. And she'll be gone next semester anyway, and it's not like the bar is going to take BACK the money she's already got saved.

I don't know anything about your genre, whether this is a typical level of conflict or what, so maybe you could find some queries for similarly low-key books and see what they did? RWA should be able to help. I see no reason to believe this isn't a well-written book.

E.D. Walker said...

Thank you everyone. Really. No where on the web is as helpful as the folks at EE.

So, generally, although it also needs work, we favor the second version of this query over the first?

Chelsea P. said...

Have I reached my limit on commenting? My comments are no longer coming through!

Help meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee