Saturday, December 4, 2010

#15 Literary: Courting Greta (BAKER'S DOZEN AGENT AUCTION)

TITLE: Courting Greta
GENRE: Literary

Coping with his disability (spina bifida) is the least of Samuel's problems when he takes a job as a high school sub and falls for the man-hating girl's basketball coach. To win her heart, he'll battle student mockery, staff gossip, and Greta's painful past... until she unearths the secret he'd die to bury.

Samuel watched his brother's big hands walk over the steering wheel, taking the pickup around the corner into the campus parking lot. He should have driven himself. Nobody who saw Samuel's prematurely graying hair would mistake him for a teenager, even as small as he was, but being dropped off still felt juvenile. He shifted, adjusting his seatbelt, and double checked to make sure the bus schedule was in his pocket.

Chris glanced at him. "You okay?"

Sometimes it seemed like that was all anyone ever asked.

"I mean, no offense, but this doesn't seem like you. Moving, new job... any of it."

Could Chris actually not have the slightest inkling of what had happened on July Fourth? Or did he just not want to see? Maybe he was just that dumb. "I needed a change, that's all." Buying a house sight unseen, switching careers, and moving five hundred miles north couldn't possibly have anything to do with spending two hours huddled on the bathroom floor while--

No. Samuel wasn't going to go there. Not now, not ever again. He leaned forward, peering through the grimy windshield as the main building came into view. It was single-storey, branching off in several directions, barely salvaged from eyesore status by the redwoods towering around it. "I don't see anyone."

"Since when do you like change?"

Rather than elaborate on the lie, he ignored the question. The hallways seemed dark and empty from across the parking lot. "Seriously, where are the kids?"


  1. I love this and would definitely read on despite the fact that I rarely read literary and never contemporary.

  2. For the logline, you should just say "Coping with spina bifida...". I don't think you need to tell us this is a disability.

    The excerpt is good but the ending confused me. If he's in a car across the parking lot, how could he possibly tell that the inside hallways are empty? Most school doors are thick metal with maybe a small window on top (often with grates, wires or bars so students don't smash them in). This is not a big deal but it did pull me out of the story. Also, if you want this comment to be surprising, you need to tell us what time it is. If it's 7 am, it isn't a shock if the school is empty; if it's 9 am, it is.

  3. Logline:
    Agree with Holly on the disability/spina bifida line.

    Line comments:
    -"Sometimes it seemed like that was all anyone ever asked." <<--great line
    -Totally intriguing hints about the fourth of July...

    There's some strong writing here. The logline sounded a little dull--a challenging romance--but the hints about the fourth of July intrigued me.

  4. The end of the log line caught my attention and the references to 4th of July definitely peaked my interest.

  5. logline - It seemed the real story starts with the end of the log line, with the exposure of the secret. What comes before that seems like back story. (It may not be, but that's the way it came across to me) Seems you should focus more on that secret.

    Excerpt - hands walking pulled me right out. It was only another half a second to - over the steering wheel - but I never got there because the hands walking seemed so strange. Perhaps change 'walk?' You might also consider changing 'taking' the pickup to driving or steering, and the second Samuel to 'his.'

    Once past the first parg. you caught me. The dialogue and his thoughts help give a glimpse of his past. You've alluded nicely to that fourth of July incident that intrigues but doesn't give anything away, and you've set up a bit of mystery about the school. Where is everyone? Even if it comes to nothing (he's there too early) it pulls me on, from one parg. to the next.

    I even liked how his disability wasn't mentioned, how it's hinted at, with bits given away a little at a time. Without the log line, it makes the reader wonder why he isn't driving himself and why he'll take a bus later.

    Nicely done!

  6. Logline - I would straight out state that his disability is spina bifida rather than putting it in brackets. To me, the brackets seem out of place in something as short as a log line.

    Excerpt - I liked your opening. You give us glimpses into your main character and tease us with deeper issues (the 4th of July). It's enough to catch our attention, but doesn't sell the farm on the first page. You also give the sense of 'out of the frying pan, into the fire' in this opening section, which I like. This isn't going to be an easy transition and conflict and challenges are interesting.

    It's a strong opening section and I'd definitely read more. Good luck!

  7. I like the concept a lot, and I agree about the 4th of July being a great tease, making us wonder--well done. I also second removing the word disability and simply stating spina bifida.

    I'm not totally hooked by the opening. It has good elements, and I would probably read farther, but it's not a slam dunk.

    I'm also not convinced of the "literary" label. It doesn't read that way to me at all.

  8. I want to read more. I agree with the above comments about removing the word "disability" from the logline and just saying spina bifida, but the last sentence definitely intrigued me. I already care about Samuel and want to know what happened on July 4th.
    If I picked this up on a bookstore shelf, I would probably buy it.

  9. Agree with Barbara about "hands walking."

    There was a lot of interesting stuff pulling me along here, but the paragraph where he almost, but not quite, tells us what happened last July just throws me completely out. I'm always frustrated when a character keeps secret from me the important information he has. Telling us what happened would likely make us care more, not less.

  10. I'm sad you didn't get an offer to read pages. I thought the writing was really solid. But it doesn't read as Literary. It reads more like chick lit/romance, even though it's a male MC.

  11. Thank you everyone for your critiques. Much appreciated.

  12. This doesn't feel so much like literary as romance to me, but from a guy's perspective. Why didn't he drive himself? It does seem odd if he is old enough to drive and is starting a new life. Is he dealing w/ pain today or something? Hint at the reason so that we can start to get to know the character a little more deeply.

    I wasn't hooked by the way the brother treated him, either--felt condescending. If the brother is supposed to be a sympathetic character, we need to see that a little more. But I do like the conflict this introduces, so if that's what you're going for, great.

    I agree with other commenters that the time of day needs to be specified. It's confusing, and I'm expecting the next line after "seriously, where are the kids?" to be "You know what time it is" or some other as-you-know-Bob line. Just establish it in the narration.

    The log line is intriguing, though the "man-hating girls' basketball coach" sounds like a cliche (just make her a lesbian, and all the cliche points will be hit). Perhaps rephrase this.

    I'm afraid I'm not really hooked.