Wednesday, September 14, 2016

An Agent's Inbox #21

Dear Ms. Johnson-Blalock,

Your appreciation of female power-driven narrative attracts me to your representation. If you enjoy tales of growth, diversity, and the art world, my novel may interest you.

Down-and-out stripper Velvet spends her nights dancing at the Boom Boom Room, Tampa’s dirtiest nightclub, and dreading the club owner’s demands for sex. So when eccentric painter Byron Beauvoisin offers her a job as muse and nude model at his avant-garde art studio on the refined side of town, she goes for it. 

There she befriends his clan of devoted students and blossoms into a confident woman with creative potential. But the experimental practices of the art studio spark indignation in the community, followed by a protest and police questioning.

Then Byron is brutally murdered. Velvet is the sole witness, but who would believe the testimony of a barely conscious ex-stripper? Not the police and certainly not Byron’s neighbors. In fact, they may be hiding the killer. 

Velvet must choose whether to face or flee a community that would rather see her dead, all while balancing two potential lovers and a shot at fame.

PAINT THE RAIN is a contemporary women’s fiction novel of 87,000 words. I am an active member of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association and the Florida Writers Association. Below you will find the first 250 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration.



Byron Beauvoisin’s first visit to the Boom Boom Room didn’t affect me much, except for the fact that he turned down the private dance I offered. Or the fact that my boss Matty almost beat the crap out of him. Nothing unusual. That clammy Sunday night, after the dinner crowd petered out and left the place dead, a giant worry weighed me down--how to make the request that had burned in my brain for over two weeks. 

Sweat started under my arms at the thought of a confrontation with Matty. I’d almost asked twice but wimped. Tonight I’d walk straight up to him and say, Please, Matty, please let me quit hooking. 

I loitered at my station in the dressing room, brainstorming reasons he should help me clean up my life. My only family, Grammie, died four months after I turned eighteen. Since her loss, I vowed to purge the coke habit. And I did it, even though it took two energy-sucking stints of rehab. My dance style proved I’d transformed myself--I was Boom Boom’s best. Not that ‘best’ meant much in this sagging mildew shack on seedy Nebraska Ave. Point was, if he had been a caring, sensitive boss, Matty would have wanted to help me be my best self.

But caring, sensitive dudes didn’t manage strip joints in the nastiest neighborhood of Tampa, and Matty sure as h*** wasn’t a self-improvement kind of guy.


CFBDouglas said...

Good story line! Your QL begins very well in the way it personalizes how Ms. Johnson-Blalock may be interested. It got me--I am definitely intrigued with Velvet who takes the opportunity to go from dancer to nude model. I want to know what happens to her! In the first 250, I also like those 2 beginning lines. It sets the scene that this is a rather low-down, rough place if the boss's usual is to beat up a patron. Just a small, small detail: I got a little confused how "Tampa’s dirtiest nightclub" can have a dinner crowd that peters out. That could be b/c it's been a while since I've been in a strip club, or maybe the Boom Boom Room (fabulous name!!!) is more upscale. Also, I like the way you disclose Velvet's additional job as hooker as well as her desire to quit it.
Well done on how you've let us know that Byron may be an avant-garde artist with his own studio and students as well as a man who visits strip clubs! Interesting character who gets murdered. Lots of intrigue early on - you have my curiosity in that I'm asking those 3 important words: what happens next? :)

Jandi Crocker said...

Hi G.L

I found your premise very compelling. It sounds like you have a unique and thrilling story here. I love the fact that this story is written from the perspective of a stripper, and I am immediately interested to learn more about her life as it is a world I know very little about.

In you query letter you state that the experimental practices of the art studio spark indignation. I'd like to know more about what these experimental practices are, and why the community are against it.

I really liked your first line as we are drawn immediately into Velvet's worldview, and Byron is identified as a character of interest. I'm intrigued to find out why he turned down the private dance, why he was beaten up and how he will become important to the main character.
Good luck!

Jennifer Johnson-Blalock said...

Thanks for your entry, G.L.! Your first paragraph is so well personalized; I love that. And there are many things that intrigue me about your query, but my overarching concern is that it feels a little disjointed. Velvet's growth at the art studio feels like a book unto itself, but then there's a murder. Typically, a murder and the surrounding mystery would be enough for an entire book. But then more gets added--a community that would rather see her dead (what? why? because she was a stripper?), two potential lovers (huh? who?), and a shot at fame (for what? what about the murder??). I'm afraid I just don't get a good sense for what the story actually is.

Unknown said...

Thank you, Ms. Johnson-Blalock. Your words are helpful.
And thanks to Krista for this awesome learning opportunity. Awakening and inspiring.