Wednesday, September 5, 2012

CAGI Entry #22

Genre: Women's fiction with romance
Word Count: 90,000


Locked away in a self-imposed dungeon slogging through life in her coffee shop, twenty-five-year-old Nora Roseberry has written off the probability Prince Charming will come rescue her. But fate is about to throw a heaping pile of “what now?” that she won't be able to ignore. This damsel in distress may just have to redefine happily ever after.

When roguish Aidan O'Neill comes-a-courtin' in response to a “last stab at romance” ad Nora places in the newspaper, she's shocked (but a teensy bit flattered). Aidan isn't the kind of prince who needs relationship help -- evidenced by the sheer volume of maidens that cross his threshold. Besides, he doesn't go for women like her. He dates knockouts. As suspected, Aidan reveals he answered the ad for his equally handsome brother Finn. Uncomfortable with his flirting and confused by her own foolish desire, Nora agrees impulsively to a date with the unknown Finn.  She quickly finds out Finn is everything fairy tales promised and more. Romantic, sincere, and ready to commit, he soon proposes -- just when Aidan seems to have decided to change his ways and pursue Nora himself. But it's too late. Nora's the blissful princess being carried away by her handsome hero. Upon introducing Finn to her fairy godmother, a.k.a. grandma with grit, Granny uncovers what Nora works hard to deny -- she's in love with someone, but it's not Finn. With a wedding looming, a caustic-mother-to-be waiting to rip her to shreds, and a night with Aidan sprinkled with moonlight and magic, there's only one decision she can make. And it will risk everything she's worked so hard to make fairy tale perfect.

First 250:

I wish I had the guts to tell my best friend I'd rather gouge out my eyes with a cocktail weenie than be at her wedding. Weddings, by nature, raise numerous questions if you’re single. People you don’t even know approach you as if it’s open season on any insensitive question they can muster. Are you involved? Did you just break up with someone? Are you a lesbian?

My answer to all of these is an emphatic "no". But explaining my feelings to Jillian, well, that just makes her try to hook me up with someone even more. Which is why I'm sitting here in dressing room I-lost-count, watching her zip up a beautiful Marchesa bridal gown, dreading this whole experience. I know exactly how today will end. 

"Ohmigod, Nora. Look at me."  

"You look…" I nodded, "breathtaking. Really." 

"I do, don’t I?" she tittered.

"You do," I repeated. 

She twisted her body, arching her back, and straining her neck to peek at every possible angle reflected in the mirror, patting her body down as she did so. "It really sucks in my fat."

"You don’t have any fat. You’re like a size two."

"Whatever. I think this is the one." Her eyes became teary, her lips puckered. She looked at me attempting a smile.

"Are you sure? How do you know it’s the one?" I asked. "You've tried on a gazillion dresses and I'm pretty sure I heard you swear on your unborn child that you've found 'the one' at least eight times."


  1. I definitely like the premise of your story. Love the voice, too. I smiled the whole way through reading it.

    Nora sounds like an interesting character and I'm also intrigued by Aidan. Love men with flaws--so the MC can try to 'fix' them.

    I think this story sounds like a fun read. Good luck!

  2. Hey nice voice! Nora's definitely an intriguing character. This isn't the sort of story I usually enjoy, but I enjoyed this, especially your opening line.

  3. Thanks to both of you. Aidan really is dreamy! And saying your don't normally read this genre then saying you like it, is really a HUGE compliment. Thanks to both of you!

  4. I absolutely LOVED the voice. Nora just sounds like someone I'd have a blast hanging with. I thought the whole opening paragraph was great. I do read romances once in a while, but I can usually tell by the end of page one if it's going to be one of the cheesy sorts that will make me want to hurl just by the way it's written. That is most definitely not the case with yours. I'd read it (And have fun reading it!) I'm just not convinced I'm as utterly in love with the title as I am the rest of it...but that could obviously change once I'd read it all! =) Super job!

  5. Jodie, Thanks for the feedback. That's something (title) I have considered. At first it was just A Modern Fairy Tale. I also have The Princess Pattern, The Fairy Tale Formula, Falling for Ever you can see, I have thought a lot about it.

    One possible log line I had for this that went with this title is: A fairy tale that isn't a fairy tale, but still is.

    It follows the story line of all fairy tales (in general). Albeit updated. :)

    Thanks for the love!

  6. My *personal* pick out of those (again...for what it's worth...and I'm sure everyone has a different know the I really like "Falling for Ever After". And I like the log line you have to go with it!

  7. I love the voice in this too. I think it's great. My only suggestion would be to shorten the query a bit. :)
    Good luck, Carey!!!

  8. Carey, I just love it! I love the way you write, I read the query and the first 250 expecting to read more and was disappointed when the beautiful flow of words stopped.
    I really hope you get a contract soon because I want to read your book.
    Good luck!

  9. Hmm, somehow my comments above disappeared?!? I love this premise and it is definitely a book I'd pick up and read (or buy). The voice here is very sassy - the kind of gal that does what she wants - love it! My only concern is that the query seems to give too much away -- focus on the hurdles and the stakes and it will be great!!

    1. I am thinking I agree with you regarding the query. I may have to fix that! :) Thanks for the feedback!

  10. I loooooove women's fiction , and I love this ! I love her voice, Nora seems like a lot of women I know :) The stakes are awesome - I wish we could sneak a peak at the grandmother!

    For what it's favorite title is "Falling for Ever After"

    Good Luck!

    1. I see a title change in my near future. lol! Thanks! :)I would post some here, but me thinks it might be a teeny cheater-y. :) How about I get it published? ;)

  11. Wow, this totally out of the genre realm I read in, but I really liked this! You captured my attention with your query and sucked me into the story with your voice. The first line is excellent. I have nothing to critique! I like it a lot. Good luck!

  12. The sample pages are really great! I love the voice and Nora is fantastic! :) Great job.

    I don't love the query though. It did not suck me in nearly as much as the sample did. It feels too long..too much info. I think it needs to be trimmed and stick to just the first 1/3 of the book. The opening is great though. I played a bit trying to pare it down and stick to the important details in the beginning of the book. What do you think?

    Locked away in a self-imposed dungeon, slogging through life in her coffee shop, twenty-five-year-old Nora Roseberry has almost written off the probability Prince Charming will come rescue her. After placing a “last stab at romance” singles ad in the newspaper, fate throws her a heaping pile of “what now?” when the roguish Aiden O'Neill comes a-courtin. Searching for a mate for his brother and not him, a disappointed Nora agrees to a date with the mystery sibling, but can't suppress her attraction to Aiden. (Need something else here) This damsel in distress may just have to redefine happily ever after.

    This also feels a bit more contemporary romance than women's fiction. Does the plot revolve only around her finding her man, or is there more? You mention her being unhappy with her job. Does that come into play more in the story?

    :) Great job! Good luck!

    1. Maybe the last line in my reworked version needs to come out. It works as the end of paragraph 1, but not as an end to a shorter query. Hope this helps! Good luck!

  13. Stephanie, I may have to rework it indeed. :)

    As I understand it, women's fic is more about the woman's journey and her self realization rather than the romance, which is why I labeled it as such. Although it has strong romance elements and it drives much of the story, it is really about Nora's unrealistic expectations she's placed on herself and life as a result of fairy tales. Romance has strict guidelines that my MS doesn't follow, YKWIM? :)

  14. Yeah...that's how I understand the difference too...but from your query, my impression of the story was more romance. That could just be me. :) But you do say romance drives most of the maybe it is romance?? I'll be honest with ya...I had a real hard time calling my stories romance at first! LOL! I just didn't want that label...and the stigma that comes with it. But the more research I did on contemporary romance, the more I realized it really was where I belong and I love it :) Romance guidelines aren't quite that strict (unless you're referring to category romances like Harlequin, then yes, those guidelines are strict. But regular single title romance isn't strict.). Many plotlines, including my own, focus on more than just man and woman falling in love. The genre has changed over the years...and the love story alone isn't enough anymore. The genre lines are blurred and sometimes it's really hard to pick one since they overlap so often.

    Anyway, seems to me like your focus in the query is the romantic elements....regardless of what genre it belongs it just made me wonder why you labeled it as WF...there must be more in the story that is not in the query and I wanted to know what. I guess my question is what expectations does she have for her life? Does she want to do something else with her life beside work in a coffee shop?? Maybe think of adding that to the query somehow??

    Good luck!!

  15. Query:
    Love the voice in the opening lines, and how you immediately establish the tone of the story. “But fate…to ignore” confused me. I’m not sure what “what now” means, because we don’t know what has happened to make her ask that. You’re got Nora’s reaction without having the trigger event.
    The ad makes Nora seem…desperate and just a tad unlikable (at least to me). Especially at 25…it seems too young for a “last stab.” (Again, not having crossed 20, I’m not sure how this works.)
    The first half of the second paragraph can be pared a lot. You’ve got some good voice in there, but get to the point: Finn. Give him a little more screen time, since he does end up proposing.
    After “…by her handsome hero,” I got a little lost. Granny needs to be introduced a little earlier so she doesn’t seem to come out of nowhere at the end. Plus 4 characters is getting to be a lot, and I think she’s able to be cut. Also, the second half of the second paragraph should be its own paragraph.
    The second person is a little awkward, especially so early and so strongly. It’s easy to switch the you’s to I’s, which will even help with the self-pity. “They ask me if I’m involved, when my last relationship ended, even if I’m a lesbian.” See?
    Love “dressing room I-lost-count.” “I know exactly how today will end” makes it sound like today is the wedding. Can you establish the closeness of Nora and Jillian early on so we understand why Nora is putting herself through this?
    “She looked at me attempting a smile” is awkwardly worded…who’s attempting the smile?

  16. Thanks Taryn. Reflecting on your advice, I made some slight changes to the query. Changed last stab to looking for love, and reworded the what now. It now reads, fate steps in to offer her a chance at happily-ever-after.

    Then took out granny (too much info) and moved up the last line, plus made this into 3 paras. I'm hoping the tweaks may make the difference. :)