Thursday, February 24, 2011

Are You Hooked? #1

TITLE: Making Other Plans
GENRE: Women's Fiction

Grad student Jessica Van Horne temporarily returns home, where she attempts to win parental validation by fixing whatever is wrong with her little sister while her mother resists in a desperate effort to keep, well, everything under control. As the resultant conflict unfolds, they both discover the truth of the old saw that life is what happens while you're making other plans.

"It's nothing personal, Ms. Van Horne."

Jess looked up at her immediate supervisor, the ever-annoying Sour-Puss Pickler. "It... isn't?" The two words were all she could get out. Because her brain was running around screaming, 'Summer furlough? No pay for three months? What the flush--?!'

"Not at all," Pickler said. Was he smirking?

"Then why me?"

"Because--" Oh yeah, that was his smug tone. "--Dr. Baird's niece thinks she might enjoy being a receptionist."

Enjoy? OMG "B-but...
I've been here three years. My performance reviews are excellent. And I have bills to pay!" Oh, shut up, Van Horne. Don't beg--especially not Pickler.

"Don't we all." Sour-Puss made a dismissive hand gesture. "But Dr. Baird is a partner and his niece wants to work here this summer."

Oh. Well. When you put it that way...

"And besides, you've made it clear you'll be moving on soon."

"Huh?" Jess's conversational skill hit a new low as thoughts of showing up at Roxy's graduation without a job--and Mom's reaction to that--ricocheted around in her cranium along with the 'No money!' screams.

"You applied for an internship here, didn't you?"

The Nowlin Clinic was one of the country's top adolescent counseling centers so yes, Jess wanted to do her state-required internship here. Duh.

"But that's not until December," she protested. "January actually. That's... that's...
" Six damned months away!

Pickler again waved off her concerns.

"W-what about Records?" Jess suggested desperately.


  1. Hooked.

    Good voice. It definitely pulled me in and even made me go back and read from the beginning.

    The summary (pitch, whatever) made me sit up and take notice, especially the last line.

    I would read more for writing and voice alone and this is not my genre :)
    One note: I had to flip to the bottom of the entries to find something that really drew my eye first. This was it, number one.

  2. I like the voice as well, but some of the asides seem more suited for first person pov than third limited. The age of the main character is immediately apparent, which is great, and there is a good sense of place as well.

    Overall, I'm hooked! I'd read on.

  3. I agree with scriptoblam. There were parts of the POV that did not flow as smoothly as I would have hoped. I also didn't understand the "what the flush". Is this supposed to be a PC way to say WTF?

  4. I, too, enjoyed the conversational tone, however it did read a bit choppy to me. The interjection of the POV character's interpretations of what was happening had me rereading sections to understand what was going on. I think tightening the prose will likely fix most of this issue.

    I associate the word "furlough" with a military leave. I think using the more common "leave of absence" will make it easier to understand. But if it's a leave, it's just temporary, and this sounds like a permanent firing since the impression of her boss is that her working there was only temporary anyway. So i think terminology needs to be made more clear.

    The what the flush sentence had me scratching my head too.

  5. I don't like when a novel starts with dialogue. For me, there's no character reference points, I'm not vested in what anyone has to say, so this opening doesn't work for me. I see the potential in the story though, so I'd probably keep reading. Good luck!!!

  6. I liked the voice here, and I'd read on, but it does feel a little rough and choppy in places. I'm immediately sympathetic to the plight of the mc, though, and the blurb tells me that the rough times are only beginning.

    I don't mind opening with dialogue, but I did have to re-read the first few paragraphs to figure out what was going on.

  7. Just some minor pickies.

    I think the logline could be broken down to smaller sentences (for the first sentence), leaving each thought to one sentence for a better read.

    Saw = saying.

    I think you can drop the no money screams (it slows the narative (at that point) and it was asked and answered just a few lines above.

    I (thru writing books) have grown an aversion to exclam marks. Check this out. Agents don't like it. See Noah Lukeman's First Five Pages and others. Their point is the language should carry the emotion and your writing does, very much so!

  8. I thought the scene went on too long, at least her being dumbfounded about the whole thing. On the other hand,I did think it was an accurate portrayal of all the things that might be going on in her head, and I think that was the problem - there are just too many of them. We jump from here to there, so it all seems choppy with no continuity. Perhaps, limit her thoughts to the main story idea - that she'll have to go home to mom with no money and no job.

    On another note, would an employer ever tell an employee they were being fired because the boss wanted to hire a family member? That's a law suit waiting to happen. Perhaps he can give her other reasons, but she knows that's the real reason?

  9. I love the idea, going back home to sort things out and all. I think we all remember those moments of returning home and trying to fix the unfixable...not saying it can't be fixed of course. In saying that, I didn't like beginning with dialogue. I wanted to feel her a bit more before that began.
    I also didn't get the 'flush' thing.

  10. Hi,

    I like the premise of the story, but this didn't flow as well as I would have liked. For me, it boiled down to the MC's age. Certain expressions, such as the "well" in the logline, feel more YA. Being concerned with what her mom will think also feels a little more YA because at the college age I would have worried about paying rent or personal bills more than what my mom would have to say.

    Other than that, I did get the instant feeling your MC doesn't like the Sour-Puss, so good job with that. Hope this helps.