Wednesday, September 14, 2016

An Agent's Inbox #17

Dear Jennifer, 

If you are looking for an MC you could bond with over drinks, Alexis Gold would be more than happy to regale you with stories about her re-entry to the single life and her foodie tendencies.

Advertising copywriter Alexis Gold, 33, has just been dumped by her boyfriend of seven years. Firmly planted in the denial stage, she throws herself into a new business pitch at the Atlanta ad agency where she works. Once the pitch is over, Alexis has nothing left to distract her--so she does what she always does when things get tough: she runs.

At first, Destin, Florida provides Alexis with a welcome escape. It’s been twenty years since she visited the sleepy beach town where she spent summers growing up, and after one breath of the salty air, she can’t remember why she stayed away so long. 

As Alexis reconnects with her old beach friends, forgotten memories of the last summer she spent in Destin resurface. Most of the memories make her smile, but others leave her feeling unsettled, and it isn’t until a friend’s husband kisses her that she understands why. The kiss triggers a suppressed memory that brings with it feelings of hurt, betrayal and mistrust that make Alexis question her past and current relationships. Now she must decide whether to run again, or for the first time in her life, stop and face the music. 

FACE THE MUSIC is upmarket women’s fiction, complete at 117,000 words. It not only tells the self-discovery story of Alexis Gold, but it also gives readers a realistic look inside the advertising industry and how much things may or may not have changed since the days of Mad Men. 

Like Alexis, I am a writer / creative director at an ad agency. While I have written hundreds of TV and radio commercials, billboards, print ads and online banners, this is my first novel. I am also an active member of WFWA. 

Per the “An Agents Inbox” guidelines, I’m including the first 250 words below. Thank you so much for your time and consideration. 



I have many talents, one of which is avoidance--I can avoid something or someone like it’s nobody’s business. I also have a special knack for finding free food. The second isn’t really a talent, it’s more like a perk of working in advertising. And the first, well, that explains why I’m pulling into the parking garage of my office on a Sunday night. 

Mine isn’t the only car here, which practically doubles my chances of finding free food. A good thing, since my stomach has been growling for hours, and my refrigerator is empty in silent protest. Grocery shopping used to be his job. 

At least the odds are pretty good I’ll find leftovers from one of the junior creative teams taking advantage of overtime meals. Or there’s always the secret stash of granola bars that my art director partner, Becky, hides under the Tampax box in her bottom drawer. It’s a brilliant hiding spot for snacks when you work in an office like ours that has more in common with a frat house than corporate America. 

As the elevator doors open on the 19th floor, I’m greeted with the aroma of melted mozzarella, pepperoni and green peppers. Following the trail like a bloodhound, I cross the dark grey cement floor of the reception area where faux graffiti lets clients and job applicants know they are in the presence of Creativity. 

My key card lets me in behind the magic curtain where there isn’t a wizard, just rows of cubicles.


c said...

I love how the author's humor eeks its way into both her query letter and the first page of her manuscript.
Although I find the first mini paragraph of her query witty, I almost wish she omitted it and began with "Advertising copywriter Alexis Gold..."
The query was excellent, and I have an idea of the protagonist's "voice." The writer gave us a plethora of information by using clever hints, not information dumps.
I wish there was a little more hint of conflict, but I feel invested in the hero and would like to read more.
I also loved this line in the first page of the writer's story: "Grocery shopping used to be his job."
That line spoke volumes and created sympathy for the protagonist.
I would definitely read more.
Good luck!

megster said...

This has got zing, pizz-zazz, sass, whatever you want to call what it is that makes you grab onto a book and rush it to the sales counter! Both query and excerpt resonate with wit and energy. I wouldn't change a thing. Best of luck!

Krista Van Dolzer said...

LOVED the voice in this one. You gave yourself an exceptionally high bar to clear by referring to several of Ms. Johnson-Blalock's #MSWL tweets, but the voice in the first page more than delivers.

A few notes on the query: In your third paragraph, I'm pretty sure "Destin, Florida" should be followed by a comma. Also, while I felt like your first three paragraphs were wonderfully specific, the fourth paragraph felt a little vague to me. I get that you don't want to give too much away, but lines like "feelings of hurt, betrayal and mistrust" and "stop and face the music" seemed too cliche to be helpful. Does music factor into the plot? If not, it seems like an odd saying to use as a title. (And if she really is a foodie, I wanted to get a sense of that in the summary itself, perhaps in a food-related simile.)

On the whole, though, I really liked this one. Good luck to you and FACE THE MUSIC!

Unknown said...

Hi, A.H! We can all identify with a hungry woman, right? Great way to pull on our genuine sympathy from the start.

Your personal experience in your protagonist's career buys major credibility. I would think that an agent would appreciate your "inside knowledge" on the subject. And for those of us who have worked in any kind of office, the description of this one is refreshing. I identified with it a lot.

Also because I live in Florida. :) Great start!

Unknown said...

In there query you don't need to include that it is your first novel. 117,000 is also on the longer side.

I like the personification of the refrigerator - so cute! Plus your connection to the career you are writing about adds credibility. Good luck!

Jennifer Johnson-Blalock said...

Thanks for your entry, A.H.! This is probably the best opening to a query I've read yet--perfectly targeted while still telling me a bit about your book. Well done! Your letter flows very naturally from there, but I think you're focusing too much on the backstory and not enough on the central conflict. The dumping and escape to Destin just sets up the story, but I'm not sure what the story is exactly... I need more information abut what Alexis has to face and what the consequences will be if she fails. Also, I believe you have a bit more revision to do on the novel itself--the word count is definitely too high for a first novel in this genre; it should absolutely be under 100, and in the 80s would be ideal. I really like the sound of Alexis, though!