Friday, November 30, 2012

(25) Commercial Fiction: Cover Cracked

TITLE: Cover Cracked
GENRE: Commercial Fiction

Information scientist (aka Librarian) Elle’s double life is in order: family and friends think she’s a bookworm and CIA colleagues think she’s a bookworm, until she has a fling with a Navy SEAL who wants to know her better and whom she’s forced to work with on a classified assignment.

The cell phone vibrated in Elle’s pocket. Dammit. She’d forgotten to turn it off. Elle checked the text.

Whatever’s in the stacks 2night will still b there 2morrow. Come have dinner w/me

Wasn’t gonna happen: Elle was 700 miles from Norfolk. She’d tell Michael she missed his message because of poor reception in the library stacks. Elle powered her phone off as the elevator dinged.

The doors slid open, and Elle pushed the heavy cleaning cart out. Guests barely stepped back, forced to accommodate the cart. They looked right through Elle. Elle focused her eyes on the cart, mindful of Mason’s reminder: “The help doesn’t look guests in the eye.”

Being a housekeeper truly was the ideal cover. Elle tried not to twitch. The starched uniform was itchy. Surely the resort could afford fabric softener? Not for the staff, apparently. Elle tightened her grip on the cart to keep from scratching.

Fourteen-oh-one to the right.

Fourteen-oh-two to the left.

“Suite fourteen fourteen will be on your left, Bookworm. Stay focused.”

Mason’s voice made Elle jump, but she kept pushing the cart forward. Like he needed to rupture her eardrum with that intel. The plush carpet swallowed up Elle’s footsteps. She came to a silent stop at fourteen fourteen. Elle remembered not to touch the door as she slid the keycard into the door slot. The light on the door flashed green. Elle pressed the door lever down with her forearm and used the cart to push the door open.


  1. I definitely want to read on. I love the secret lifestyle and the intrigue, and really like the idea that she has the fling w the SEAL. I also like your clean writing, a lot. My only question was in the logline. It slowed me down when I read that Elle's double life was in order, then both parts of her life thought she was a librarian... I had to read it a couple times to make sure I really understood.

  2. I think it's a strong opening. If anything, you might use 'Elle' too many times - 'she' would flow better in places. Anyway, I like the beginning with the text coming in and she's 700 miles away!

  3. Very cool concept! Minor nitpick: The opening line seems like it's 3rd-person but the "Dammit" made me think it was 1st-person. Is that an internal thought of hers?
    Lots of tension building at the end of the first page, which totally makes me want to read on!

  4. The logline did want me to read on, but I think you could add some more conflict to it. Working with a Navy SEAL who wants to know her better doesn't seem to contrast too much from people thinking she's a bookworm. Maybe something like 'Navy SEAL who wants to tear her away from her books...' or something with an even stronger conflict and with much higher stakes than a SEAL wanting to get to know her. Maybe highlight the thrill of the classified assignment they need to work on?

    I liked the opening. You have a very strong voice, and it's intriguing to follow Elle's life as an undercover agent. I can't wait to read the part where she meets the SEAL!

    I'd read on.

    If you have time to return a critique, my post is #19 The Everett Quartet.

    Good luck!

  5. I like the undercover action here, and Elle's internal monologue is fun to read.

    I do think the writing in the logline could be cleaned up and the use of "Elle" instead of "She" in the excerpt was a little distracting, but those are quick fixes.

    I'd keep reading--I want to know what she's up to!

  6. Calling this “commercial fiction” doesn’t let me know what to expect, especially with that logline. Is it romance? Thriller? Romantic suspense? Be more specific because it actually sounds like it could be fun.

    The writing, however, leaves me a bit frustrated. All of the uses of Elle’s name are really distracting. She’s the only woman in the scene, so you can use “she.” There are also a lot of short, choppy sentences, and the simple structure gets repetitive and less engaging very quickly. You could easily combine sentences to make them flow together better. But there’s potential in the story, and starting it off on a mission is a good opening. Also, if she has a maid's cart, she could open the door with a towel or gloves rather than her arm, which seems clunky.

  7. I agree with previous posters about using her name too many times. I also got confused in the logline with both sides thinking she was a librarin. My confusion continued into the opening page, because I thought she was a librarian working at the library, and was confused when she started referring to herself as the help. You might clarify earlier that she's an undercover agent. The idea sounds intriguing though - good luck!

  8. I love this premise, and this is a great scene to start with, but the above crits are spot on. The prose could be smoother. Even for a tense scene this reads a little too choppy, and the repeated "Elle"'s definitely don't help.

  9. I had to read the logline a few times to get it; when I read double life, I didn't expect friends & fam to think the same thing as her CIA colleagues--where is the dual life? I would think the CIA folk would think something different than the family. BTW, secret CIA librarian with a Navy SEAL crush IS intriguing, so the premise is good, I just think you need to show clearer what the stakes are for your character in the logline.

    Moving on: I liked this opening. One suggestion is to shorten the text message, esp given the word "stacks" is sued twice so close together (again in the next paragraph). Something like: "Whatever's left will be there 2morrow. Come have dinner." Then her use the stacks sounds more like librarian-talk when she mentions it in the next section. I think it would also help to note she is 700 miles from Norfolk AND the library--she is out on a mission but can't say, right? The jump from thinking she's in the library stacks to her actually being somewhere else may need to be shown a little more clearly.

    Having said that, I think this is a cool set-up for a contemporary romance.