Monday, May 16, 2016

Are You Hooked? Adult Genre Fiction #15

TITLE: Never Retreat
GENRE: Adult - Romance

In wild Colorado mountains, a feisty single mom and a macho corporate star battle mental and physical challenges at a corporate retreat, trying to win a desperately coveted bonus. But when fickle weather  creates massive flash floods, they learn the meaning of true partnership to save themselves and their associates.

“I won!” Raye’s handful of lottery scratch tickets, fanned out on the staff room table in front of her, glowed in a multitude of bright colors. She plucked the one nearest to her. “Forty dollars!”

           Julia failed to respond. “He’s gorgeous. Just gorgeous.” Her unfocused eyes and neglect of the bear claw pastry in one limp hand showed just how absorbed she was in telling Raye Soto about the new man striding around corporate headquarters in Denver.

            “Didn’t you hear me? My winning ticket must be a sign I’ll get a big prize.”

            “Not necessarily. You’ll have better odds at happiness if you notice a male hunk in front of your face.”

            “A good looking guy’s the most dangerous type. Anyway, you’ve never won awards for your taste in men,” Raye teased back. “Wasn’t your last crush the barista over at Java Hut? The one who drew your initial with cream on the top of your cappuccino, then pocketed the change you were due? And the one before rode a motorcycle and crashed at least once a month?”

            “You’re one to talk!” Julia returned to consciousness. “Your ex-, who hardly qualifies as an ex since he was only around for a few months, partied so hard and so often, he forgot to come home at night.”

            “Let’s not get into odious comparisons.” Raye pushed back her chrome-wire chair, stood, and began wrapping the remains of her meal. “How old do you figure he is?”


  1. Not sure that I'm hooked. This first page feels like set-up, with backstory being delivered in the guise of dialogue. Because of that, I'm not connecting with Raye yet.

    I'm wondering if there's a place in the next page or so -- maybe when the hero and heroine first meet? -- that might be a better starting place. I'm looking for some hint of trouble on the first page, either based in the story conflict or in Raye's internal world. For example, the fact that Raye's ex didn't stick around COULD be good first page conflict, but because she doesn't seem bothered by it, neither am I as a reader.

    Good job with the logline -- it outlined the story well and promises a romp with lots of action.

    Thanks for offering up your work. Good luck!

  2. The logline sounds really interesting and fun. I like the title.

    The opening scene has a lot of dialogue without the balance of narration. I'm unable to picture the scene, as I have no clue where they are. A staff room where? Are there other people around? Maybe they're in a small town? How old are the characters?

    Without the narration we don't get a sense of who these characters are. The majority of books do not begin with dialogue so you may want to consider beginning with narration.

    I'd stop reading here, but that logline sure sounds like a great story. Consider beginning the story at the corporate retreat and weaving in the MC's backstory. I'd like to meet 'macho corporate star' right away. :)

  3. Your title and premise are terrific. The logline could be strengthened by adding conflict, specifics, and stakes. Give us voice/specifics for the goal (e.g., “ford a river and ascend the peak”) rather than generalities (“battle mental and physical challenges.”)

    From Holly Bodger, the logline queen: When [MC] [INCITING INCIDENT], s/he [CONFLICT]. And if s/he doesn’t [GOAL], he will [CONSEQUENCES.]

    What is the internal obstacle (conflict) for the MC or two MCs must overcome to achieve their goal? (E.g., “feisty single mom must learn to delegate” and “macho business guru must learn to listen.”) Focus on stakes, not the happy ending (“They learn the meaning of true partnership . . . associates” is didactic and gives away too much. Cut this in favor of showing the threat to all their lives in order to add suspense and tension and hook us with your logline.) Specific word choice adds voice and humor (corporate-speak and outdoorsy slang would work well for your story). E.g., “On a mountain-side corporate retreat, feisty single mom Julia must learn to delegate and macho business guru [First Name] must learn to listen, so they can ford a river and ascend the peak, or their chance at love—and their entire department—will be down-sized in the flood of the century.”

    Your excerpt is fantastic and I would definitely read on. The dialogue is authentic and the descriptions are vivid. It is dialogue-heavy for opening, however, and might be strengthened by developing the MC a bit more. Maybe it would be better if Julia and Raye weren’t at lunch so we got a sense of Julia’s role in the company. (And daydreaming about the new guy when she’s supposed to be working and could get in trouble/caught/caught out by him would add some wonderful tension). Watch out for “watch words” like “stood,” “just,” and “began” and telling, especially telling us what characters AREN’T doing (“Julia failed to respond.”) You also might finesse the setting a bit. Are they eating lunch at corporate HQ? If so, no need to say “in Denver.” But you could show us that they’re in Denver or Colorado from the view out the window, a remark about the Broncos, or something about the lottery tickets (maybe have Raye wave game tickets won from a corporate raffle instead of her playing the lotto and you could "kill two Seahawks with one score"—situating the scene in Denver and showing us something about Raye's play-to-win personality). Speaking of which, you don’t need luck, you’ve got the skills, and I already want to tackle the rest!

  4. I liked the logline. It promises lots of drama and tension along with romance.

    I think this excerpt feels more like its from a third of the way into the book or similar.
    I felt more engaged with Raye instead of Julia, as Julia seems too detached and self-centred to me here.

    I also think that the story is starting off on the wrong foot. I'd prefer knowing why Julia or Raye (I can't yet tell who's the protagonist) needs this bonus more than she needs a man (if she does) and why she's so competitive with the corporate star? Is she competitive with others too?

    I really liked the opening line.

    So the second paragraph seemed too explanatory to me.

    I'm not sure that I'm I'm hooked yet, but I would read further to see if it's for me.

  5. You do a great job of differentiating Raye's & Julia's voices! They are totally distinct from one another.

    I didn't feel particularly hooked because I'm not grounded in the scene and I don't know who the heroine is. If you added a brief paragraph to the start of the excerpt to set the scene and tell us something about the heroine's (Raye? Julia?) goals/stakes, that would pull me in more. You can do this using the details that exist in the scene already--for example, is the heroine hoping the scratch-off ticket is a winner because she could use the cash, etc.? And if she wins money on her lunch break, that'll double what she earns that day? Does she not care about the new hot guy at the office because she's worried about money and getting a promotion? *just* want to be able to take care of her child without worrying where school supply money is coming from?

    In the first 250 words, I always love knowing what the main character wants and why it's bad if she doesn't get it.