Monday, January 28, 2013

Bouncer Post #96

Genre: contemporary upmarket adult
Word Count: 110,000


Leaving Las Vegas meets An Affair to Remember in Confession of a Heartless Bastard

George Rossi says, “Even when you tear out a broken heart, and it finally stops beating, it still hurts like a Goddamn bitch. No one ever tells you that because the only people who know it are heartless bastards.”

Ten years after a divorce from which tabloid legends are made, forty-five year-old Las Vegas hotel mogul George is everything you’d expect—a shallow, womanizing spendthrift with a minimal conscience and a one-track mind—or is there more to the story? Anchored only by his friendship with family man and bartender Ian Rourke, George spends his life adrift in a boozy sea of vice and iniquity.

When Charlie Van Gray’s roommate drags her to Vegas and then falls in love with the guest of honor at a bachelor party, all hell breaks loose. Not wanting to be the ruination of some other woman’s life, roommate Kristina flees leaving Charlie behind to see what develops. If the groom blows up his life without Kristina waiting in the wings, Charlie is supposed to tell him how to reach her, but if not, well, what happens in Vegas…

On the first night of her mission, Charlie ends up in a stunning confrontation with George that rekindles in him an unexpected flicker of conscience and in her an attraction she never thought she’d feel again. Drawn to each other as much by their love of old movies and talent for quick comebacks as they are by their self-destructive tendencies and exquisitely painful pasts, Charlie and George embark on an affair that takes them from the bright lights of Vegas to the gray shadows of Manhattan, but their demons follow. Will their love inspire them to face the evils they’ve been running from all their lives or will what happens in New York stay in New York?

I have always worn a lot of different hats— beauty queen, funny girl in the back of the class, dog trainer, vintage t-shirt collector, old movie buff, hopeless gardener, inconsistent cook, but all along the twists and turns of my windswept path, the literary muse was ever lurking in my periphery and the writer’s hat always a perfect fit. I have a B.A. in English from Rutgers College where I worked as a tutor in the Writing Center. I was a magazine editor at Reed Business Information prior to the birth of my daughter. 

First 250:

I hate sushi. The old restaurant served an Italian menu with a deep and varied wine list. I could still taste the Veal Parm, hammered paper-thin on the bone and paired with a good, dusty old bottle of red. Now that was a meal to savor, when you can cut it with just your fork and it melts a little on your tongue so you don’t have to chew it, but you want to, just to prolong the experience-- not like this contrived crap we serve now. I get that it’s cruel to eat veal-- a calf kept in a box, overfed and then slaughtered never having seen the sun or tasted life, but I’m not sure how sculpting dead fish into pretty pictures on a platter is any more dignified. Either way I was ruined. The veal had become as hard to eat as the sushi. It was only my memory of it that both tortured and sustained me.

For weeks after I got back, I’d walk into the restaurant and see her out of the corner of my eye, sitting at my best table in her baseball hat and ponytail, pouring over her notebook. Then I’d turn to look at her, the smile already spreading across my face, and she’d be gone like a cold apparition in the scorching desert sun.

Eventually, I began to avoid the restaurant. It was excruciating to see what had come to be her table empty or worse, usurped by some loud, drunken cliché we called a guest. I took up the habit of either ignoring the place completely or delegating its innumerable responsibilities to the nearest warm body. But without someone to fear and dread, the staff following its true nature, or perhaps following mine, became mindless and indifferent. I ignored that too. Screw-it was my preferred attitude until the bean counters informed me that the place was losing money and had been written up in more than a few magazines as being a dingy shadow of what it used to be. Well, who wasn’t?


  1. You have a racy and fun premise here - I'd really like to see where you go with this.

    I suggest you delete the first query paragraph. I don't know George, so am only confused by what he is saying. I'd need to understand where he is coming from for this to make sense. The next paragraph is a much stronger opening. I do think you could drop the rhetorical questions - the reader of course does not know the answer. Generally, as a reader, I am more drawn in by the specific than the general (stunning confrontations, painful pasts, etc.) Show what is unique about your story.

    Many sentences can be simplified, for instance: Not wanting to be the ruination of some other woman’s life, roommate Kristina flees leaving Charlie behind to see what develops... could be: Not wanting to ruin her roommate's life, Kristina leaves Charlie behind.

    I suggest you don't give quite so much personal information in your bio. Best to stick with what is pertinent to an agent - her job is to sell your story.

    Insofar as your 250, I think you can lose the first paragraph (note it is pore as opposed to pour). It does not set your story in motion. The second paragraph does that quite well. Also, don't be so quick to add in large chunks of backstory (3rd paragraph) - all that can be trickled in slowly without bringing the narrative to a halt.

    Good luck!

    1. Hi Heather,
      Thanks so much I completely agree with the query stuff. It's a debacle of epic proportion and actually the product of a workshop. It never sat well with me and I think my loyalty was more about my checkbook than my belief that it did its job.It doesn't set up my story accurately at all.
      Consider it gone...

      As for the 250, I hear your points, and will consider.

      Wish I could dump that query from and put up the one I wanted to write/send.
      Oh well...
      Another day. Another contest.
      Again thank you. Your comments told me exactly what I needed to hear!
      Good luck to you as well.

    2. That makes sense - the query lost your voice in committee. I'm not entering this contest myself, but in others. I've kicked myself around the block for things that were obvious in retrospect. If you do make it in on this round, you'll have a chance to revise before the agent round. If not, I saw in Cupid's twitter stream she might allow mulligans in the last window.

  2. I love the 25O of this novel and starting off with a quote is a great way to draw an intelligent reader into the story. I'd never encourage you to drop that it's such a draw makes a reader want more. Speaking of more the pace of this piece is fantastic. I would love to read more. Ms. Hawk is certainly correct on one point and that's that it's a racy premise and one I want to read about.
    Nice work Ms. Fisher.

    1. Thanks Anonymous! It's a doozy of a story. And the sushi thing is at the heart of it, pun intended so I really can't drop it. Glad you're intrigued!