Wednesday, March 22, 2017

An Agent's Inbox #9

Dear Agent's Inbox,

Born with only three left fingers, Christine doubts any man will buy a diamond ring for her disfigured hand. She’s okay with that. She’s planning on finding a new job using her chemistry degree, buying a house, and adopting some kids. Then she meets Paul. Intelligent and gorgeous, he sees beyond her hand. She’s interested, but Paul comes across as a player, and she doesn't want to be just one of his many conquests. 

Paul’s job in national security puts him in danger; he’s used to taking chances, succeeding when the odds are stacked against him. He’s intrigued when he meets Christine. She’s funny, smart, and has the most beautiful eyes. She’s also stubborn and self-protective. After their first date, she says no to more. She's not interested in just being one of many women in his life. Paul puts his negotiation skills to work and persuades her to go out with him on five more dates before she gives up on love. 

As they take turns picking what they’ll do on their dates, they find themselves challenged to face their fears and learn to trust each other more with each encounter. When a beautiful woman attempts to seduce Paul, Paul tries to hide the incident from Christine. When she finds out, she walks out on him thinking he may be hiding other things from her. She accepts a job out of state and renews her plans for buying a house and adopting children on her own. When Paul learns Christine’s new job fell through, he takes a chance and buys her a ring.

Paul seeks to regain Christine’s trust, but she rebuffs all his efforts. When a drug cartel marks Paul for assassination, Christine realizes, perhaps too late, that she can't live without him.

LOVE INTERRUPTED, an #ownvoices, dual POV, adult contemporary romance, is 76,000 words in length. Christine’s feelings about her disfigurement are based on my own experience with a disfiguring disease. I’m a member of RWA. Thanks for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.



The ambrosia of warming fragrances wafting from the Comfy Couch Coffee Shop and Bakery revitalized me. It had been another demoralizing night at the lab. I needed caffeine and chocolate--now. 

Captain America was holding the door open for me. His brilliant smile against his dark complexion mended my mood. My best-friend Scarlet and I gave all the regulars at the coffee shop nicknames. Captain America was so named because he entered the coffee shop as if he considered everyone there under his protection. He scanned the room with apparently practiced vigilance. His soulful eyes lingered on anyone who wasn't a regular.

He let me ahead of him in line to order my coffee. His tailored suit accentuated his lean athletic build. His good-looks and self-assurance were daunting. Heat rose to my face as I mumbled my thanks. I sounded like I’d just come from the dentist with my lips and tongue numbed.

I gasped in panic when I didn’t find my credit card in its usual slot. Then, I remembered dropping it in my car as I pulled from the gas station. I rummaged through my purse hoping that somehow under all the receipt and gum wrapper debris several dollars’ worth of change would appear. I shot an apologetic smile at the cashier and a "sorry" over my shoulder to the scowling eye-rollers behind me.

Cap handed his credit card to the cashier. "Here, put hers on this along with mine."


Dustin A. said...

I think it's great you use your own experiences, your own voice, in telling a story.

- This reads more like a synopsis, rather than an exciting sell.
- I want to know how it feels to have this disfigurement, besides not feeling attractive to a man.
- Does Paul's work put Christine in danger?
- Intrigued is a vague word? Is he smitten maybe?

1st page
- I like the characterization of Cap. Maybe put him in a white t-shirt to complete the image.
- Suggest >> Cap handed his credit card to the cashier. "Here, I got it."
- What about his good looks and self-assurance was daunting? Is there a smell about him, something that arouses her? What does the smell remind her of?

Good luck!

Danielle M said...

Romance isn't usually my jam, but I like ladies in science so I'll bite on this one.

For the query, I agree with the other commenter that this feels like a synopsis. Try to focus on what drives the story forward. For example, in the second paragraph, I think you can trim some of the descriptors of why Paul likes her. You've already established he "sees beyond her hand," and that tells me he values her personality already. A lot of the second paragraph just rehashes the first, but from Paul's POV. I would see what you can do to streamline those two and maybe make them one paragraph.

The drug cartel feels like it comes out of nowhere. Use the space you get from cutting elsewhere to build the tension here. Is this related to Paul's job? Has this been simmering beneath their whole courtship? (I have this BEAUTIFUL image in my head of her rescuing him and I LOVE IT.)

In the 250 words, the biggest issue I see is that your sentence structure is largely the same. Of all the sentences here, only two or three really broke the repetitive rhythm of the "I [verbed] [object]" construction. I know you can vary it up - I can see it in your query! - so I would recommend reading this aloud if you haven't already and then see where you can combine sentences, add clauses, etc. to make this flow.

Best of luck - you've got a great premise!

The Agent said...

I like the beginning of this - I'm definitely intrigued and I think that this is a really nice premise. However, it struck me as odd that you say at the end of the paragraph "she doesn't want to be just one of his many conquests." - it seems to be that if this is someone who thinks that nobody would ever buy her a diamond ring that she'd be thrilled with his interest.

It feels to me like there needs to be a more solid reason why she doesn't want to be with him. How does she know that he has a lot of women in his life? Why is she deliberately trying to sabotage her chances? I feel like it might make more sense if she's worried about her own heart getting broken and she pushes him away to try and protect herself... though the concept of giving him 5 dates to win her heart is a fun one!

I liked most everything else about the query and the way it was written, but the only think that struck a bit of a discordant chord with me was the bit about the drug cartel - that felt to me like it came out of left field (yes you mention national security above, but I feel like a drug cartel is something totally different...)

I definitely like the idea that this is ownvoices though, and as always for me, I place a lot of weight on the actual writing and voice, so I would definitely read to see what the text is like.

The text:

I connect less to the word "ambrosia" because I don't really associate that with fragrance - though I can definitely relate to "needing caffeine and chocolate now!" (I might go get some for myself...)

There are some words here that feel cliched to me: brilliant smile, soulful eyes, "tailored suit accentuated his lean athletic build" - try to avoid these where possible.

But I do like the idea of his buying her coffee! I did wonder though if you might want to give us an awareness of her having a disability right away - that felt missing to me in a way that it didn't in your query. Either she's self-conscious about her hand, or she wonders if he saw her hand or she knows he say her hand, or she hides her hand in her purse....something? It wast just so up-front in your query that it feels missing here.

I would likely read on to see what happens next - but definitely watch those cliches, if I saw too many of them, that's the kind of thing that would make me stop reading.

BCW said...

Thank you all for your comments. So helpful. I love getting constructive feedback on my work. I'm looking at the weaknesses that have been pointed out and will work on them. Appreciate your insights!

Jennifer K. said...

I think this sounds like it would be a fun and unique read. How brave and amazing that you used your own experience as inspiration. I agree with the previous comments, the query needs more of the hook... I think it could be shortened/tightened to focus on the stakes for both of them. I enjoyed the opening and the description of Captain America. :) Good luck!