Saturday, December 4, 2010

#10 Historical Cozy Mystery: Windy City Blues (BAKER'S DOZEN AGENT AUCTION)

TITLE: Windy City Blues
GENRE: Historical Cozy Mystery

In 1928, Kitty Carmichael arrives in Chicago determined to reinvent herself--and to mooch off her rich uncle as long as possible. Instead she discovers that her uncle has been murdered, his fortune is missing, and his half-Japanese daughter, Koko, has been left in her care. It's a responsibility she shoulders less than gracefully. But as she works alongside handsome detective Tom Gallo to solve the mystery of her uncle's murder--and get her hands on the cash--Kitty discovers that one little girl can mean more to her than the life she's always wanted.

The first car on the train was for the wealthier travelers, but the porter made an exception. Not so much for me, but for my big green eyes, which I gave him just one glimpse of before lowering shyly. That was a little number I had perfected in math class, and it still works. To this day, I have no idea what to make of an isosceles triangle.

I settled down onto the plush velvet seat and did what I could to look like I belonged there. I crossed my legs. I tucked my threadbare carpet bag far back under my seat. I looked casually out the window.

The train pulled away from the station and quickly picked up speed. Each new mile that was revealed to me quickened my heartbeat, made me almost stupid with joy. It was really happening. I was leaving, at last.

Surely you won't remember me. My uncle's words played over and over in my head as hills of fragrant black Iowa earth rolled past my window. A group of boys broke away from their chores and ran along the side of the train, shouting and waving. I waved back at them. Surely you won't remember me.

How could he think I'd forget?

For my first eight years, my Uncle Owen's visits had been the highlight of my life. He came rarely and irregularly, usually with no notice at all.


  1. The log line read more like a query letter to me. It sounds like an interesting read, but I felt like it was too long for a log line.

  2. The first paragraph makes me dislike Kitty, and is also a bit confusing. "Not so much for me, but for my big green eyes" is a pretty fine distinction. Practically speaking, I didn't see how that would have helped her in math class, unless she was batting her eyelashes at her teacher.

    I'd start with how much she cares about her uncle, and then ease into Kitty flirting to get what she wants - same character traits, but the reader will forgive the less appealing ones if Kitty has a good reason for them.

  3. I agree about the logline being more of a query letter, but at least it was interesting. I laughed out loud about the part about math, isosceles triangles and green eyes! Ask my little sister about cleavage and male math teachers and you will get the same answer. Some of us had to actually learn our math(stupid female teachers)!

    I like the intro and Kitty, who is very upfront about her desires. In 1928 a poor woman didn't have many opportunities for life unless she wanted to prostitute herself out, either by actually doing so or marrying some old dude for money. Kitty is tired of her hard life. She's smart and knows she's pretty, so she's using what she's got. You go, Miss Kitty- I want to read more!

  4. The logline is a tad long but I like it otherwise.

    The tense in the first paragraph seems to switch to present which is odd. You need to keep it all in past.

    I didn't understand who the "you" was in the fourth paragraph until I read this several times. You might want to put this in italics so we realize she is quoting his words to herself.

  5. Though the logline is on the longer side, it worked very well for me. (Perhaps because it's query-like and I like queries?)

    The writing is quite nice. The tense issue Holly mentioned -- I've noticed a lot of writers want to say something happened and remained the same even until the time the character is narrating the story. While it's a valid style, I find it usually ends up more confusing for the reader than it's worth. The tense switches; you can easily convey the same thing by putting it in past tense: "I never did learn what to make of an isosceles triangle."

  6. I really liked the log line. From that alone I would pick up this book.

    Your writing style is very nice and easy to read. I found myself smiling and enjoying her obvious delight in her journey.

    Putting the story and the log line together, I see that she grows away from the manipulation of those big green eyes to something much deeper and more meaningful in life. I like that!

  7. Logline:
    Excellent--this is more of a query paragraph than a logline, but it's well written.

    Line comments:
    -From the first sentence it reads like a fun noir; great voice.
    -I assume that the "Surely you won't remember me" should have been italicized?

    Fantastic voice and interesting opening--I'd read on!

  8. Love the logline, the book sounds great fun. When I read 'wealthier' I'm waiting for you to compare them to something, so maybe 'wealthiest' or 'first class' would be better. I think you need to say 'lowering them shyly' otherwise it sounds like her that's lowering. I laughed at the bit about the triangle, and on the whole I really like it.

  9. I like this. Kitty has 'tude. Why do all women have to be sicklingly sweet for us to like them?

    Yes, the logline was a query, but a good query.

  10. I keep trying to figure out what I want to say about this one. I think I'll just break it down:

    - Love the logline-that-is-a-query.

    - The writing in the excerpt is good, but doesn't quite grab me. I can't pinpoint what's bothering me exactly about it, and I'm not even sure there's anything specific that's bothering me... but it doesn't grab me.

    - But, I'd read on regardless due to premise alone.

  11. Based on the excerpt alone readers won't get that it's 1928 but a quick description of the train (coal-powered?) would place us in the right time period. Also, if she crossed her ankles instead of her legs, readers would get we were talking about an earlier time. Or, show us what she's wearing. Any clues to time period would strengthen excerpt. Logline is great. I'd read more.

  12. I loved the logline and what it promised. It made me want to read the excerpt.

    Excerpt - I would have liked a bit more scene setting. Since this takes place in a different time, you might want to make that time period evident. Durango made some nice suggestions. Little touches here and there will make this stronger.

    You might, perhaps, start off with her actually batting her eyes at the porter, so we see her flirting to get what she wants, rather than having her tell us after the fact. Starting with action will also help make this stronger.

    And if all she's going to do on this train ride is think (impart info to the reader) you might consider starting this when she gets off the train.

  13. Logline - This definitely reads more like a part of your query letter than a short logline. But, for a query paragraph, I quite liked it. You'd attract my attention with it.

    Excerpt - I like your main character right from the start. The bit about the isosceles triangle made me laugh. You show us a Georgian lady with some real spunk and intelligence in managing her world.

    The opening section really sets the scene as the beginning of an adventure and the opening up of a whole new world for Kitty. That catches the reader's attention; at this point in the story, it seems like she is at a major turning point in her life and it can only get better. We know from the book description that disaster is about the strike but that only makes me want to see more to see how she handles the situation. I'd definitely like to see more.

    Good luck!

  14. I bid to read the first 25 pages.
    Kate McKean
    Howard Morhaim Literary Agency

  15. I'll bid 52.
    Danielle Chiotti, Upstart Crow Lit

  16. This comment has been removed by the author.

  17. 80 (you're going to need to take it all!)

  18. I'll keep bidding as long as you will...
    83 pages!

  19. OH, OK...100 (as the author gets happier and happier :))


  21. Oh Man, nice work Danielle! Under the wire at 6:54 PM (I had a good excuse for not coming back atcha--eating latkes with inlaws!)Good luck!


  22. I thought you were going to try to nail her at the last minute. ;)

    Good round, guys!

  23. I'm hooked. The voice is strong and we move through the first scene at a steady pace, introducing the character through her actions and her intentions/destination through just enough detail to make the reader want to know more. You raise questions (in a good way) in the reader's mind that entices the turning of the page. The synopsis/logline/whatever it's called doesn't matter to me as far as whether it's 1 sentence or 3, as long as it gives me a sense of what the story is about and what makes it unique, which you've done well.