Friday, November 28, 2014

(2) Science Fiction: MRS. PETERMAN'S BENTLEY

TITLE: Mrs. Peterman's Bentley
GENRE: Science Fiction

When a traveling alien accidentally drops a broken transporter into 81-year-old Mona Peterman's prize-winning tomato garden, Mona plays with the device and a 1925 Bentley materializes. The half-buried quarter-million dollar car is stuck and the device won’t make it disappear. Now Mona’s an internet sensation as well as the target of a nosy reporter and a garden rival. She must get rid of the car to get her quiet life back in MRS. PETERMAN'S BENTLEY.

It seemed hard to believe, but there it was. Rising out of the earth between the six-foot-tall tomato plants were the smooth, rounded ends of two fenders, twin headlights and tires. The paint job on the Bentley (for Mona Peterman was certain it was a Bentley) was a deep maroon that sparkled faintly where the light hit it in and out of the tomato plant shadows. Where the vines weren’t folding over it, they were wrapped around the car like a lattice, as if protecting it.

“Goodness.” Mona walked around her large, thick garden, peering in between the vines without actually stepping inside. “Goodness me.”

The car had only been in Mona’s garden since late last night, and now, by the light of day, she could get a good look at all the damage it had done to her bed. It was buried at an angle, and the front poked out of the ground as if it were a plane on takeoff. The car ended and the dirt began at the bottom of the front wheels.

Mona took off her gloves and flung them in irritation. They ricocheted off the car’s shiny paint job and slid to the earth, getting lodged between two thick beefsteak tomatoes. Mona sighed as she began picking through fallen pieces of fruit and stacking them on a windowsill.

This was going to set her back considerably in the upcoming Field of Greens tomato competition.


  1. My god, this *has* to be the one that had Authoress and Jodi cackling over. What a hilarious logline and beginning! I love it.

  2. Loved this – the title, the idea and the writing! Would snap up this book in the store.

  3. I really enjoyed reading this entry. I think you do a great job of setting out her initial stakes for the upcoming Field of Greens competition while having her completely gloss over the fact that there is a Bentley in her garden.

    Great description. I'm trying to find something to suggest for improvement, but frankly, I was engaged from the beginning.

    Good luck!

  4. "...and a garden rival." Those four words made me laugh out loud and had me hooked. There's a quarter million dollar alien-produced Bentley in my garden, but Mrs. Smith's prize-winning tomatoes are what have me really worried. Ha. Brilliant. And I love to read of an 81-yo protagonist. Fun and funny. I've got no critique. Good luck!

  5. This is very cute! From the logline, however, I question if it's truly science fiction because it has fewer science fiction elements than general fiction only because the plot appears to be more about Mrs. Peterman's problem with the reporter and the tomato contest than with the alien. In any case, it's a delightful beginning to what promises to be a very funny book. Good luck!

  6. Loved the log line and loved the writing! It promises to be a very enjoyable read. Good luck!

  7. After reading the commenting guidelines, I realized that I critiqued the logline rather than the entry itself. The writing in the entry is more of the entertaining same, though, and I enjoyed it.

    A couple of minor editing quibbles: First, I'd hesitate to call a garden "thick." I'm not sure what that would mean, perhaps "dense" or "verdant" or "overgrown." Plus, the word is used again shortly thereafter to (aptly) describe two beefsteak tomatoes. Second, if Mona is picking through "fallen" pieces of fruit, I'm not sure she could stack them on "a windowsill." How many gardens have windowsills? ("Windshield" maybe, given the Bentley dilemma. ;-))

    These are tiny editing points, though. I love this premise, the protagonist, and her difficulty. I don't know much about genre, so perhaps it's misidentified as sci-fi, but picking a genre can be tricky, I find. Good luck to you!

  8. This had me smiling from the beginning. I loved Mona instantly. Like a few others, I'm not sure if sci-fi is the right genre, but maybe we just haven't seen enough to know.

    Regardless, this seems like an amusing, light-hearted novel, and one I would definitely read. Best of luck to you!

  9. No need for "in MRS. PETERMAN'S BENTLEY" at the end of the log line.

    I already like the humor of this in the beginning of the log line.

    Agree with the other comments, my only nit-pickty suggestion is to work on this sentence: "light hit it in and out of the tomato plant shadows. Where the vines weren’t folding over it, they were wrapped around the car like a lattice, as if protecting it."

    the "in and out" seemed not right to me, as light doesn't really do that. And the second sentence doesn't need to draw our attention to where the vines weren't, because it seems they're pretty much everywhere, so the idea of "where they weren't" didn't make sense to me.

    I'd do this instead: "light hit it [through] the tomato plant shadows. The vines were wrapped around the car like a lattice, as if protecting it.

    I also think this may not be sic-fi, as I was wondering if the alien is even a character in this? Promises to be great!

  10. I liked this. A few things pulled me out of the story--putting the tomatoes on the windowsill (was this garden close to a building?) and a pronoun preceding the noun to which it refers. Other wise, it was fun and Mona's voice came through as original and interesting.

  11. I love everything about this and can't wait to read the book. The pitch, premise, voice are all outstanding.
    Sorry that I don't have any constructive criticism.
    Good luck in the auction!

  12. This sounds like a lot of fun. The premise brings quite a picture to mind. I'd read more.

  13. Fabulous concept. I just love it. There's a faintly Marquez-esque tone to your writing (and to the central conceit of the story) that is very charming and well done without being forced. I don't know if that's what you were going for, or if it's just your style, but it really works.

    The one issue I will take with this piece is I found a few problems with word choice. In particular, I don't think you mean the car is "rising" out of the dirt--rising is an active verb that means it is ascending. I think you mean it's embedded, or something like that. Similarly, I don't know how something can "sparkle faintly." Sparkling strikes me as intrinsically bright and vivid.

    These are relatively small things, but in the first 250 words they stand out. I'm not overly fond of the word "poked" or "getting lodged," either, but as with anything my opinion is my opinion and may be personal to me. However it might be worth a quick polish--this is the fine-grit sandpaper stage, picking out those individual words or phrases that just don't quite fit and smoothing them out, so to speak.

    I adore the last line, and the second paragraph, that repetition of "Goodness." My only question there is whether you can sustain the slightly detached POV on Mrs. Peterman. If you can, this book must be terrific.

    Congrats and good luck!

  14. 25 pages

  15. 70 pages

  16. CLOSED! Full goes to Stefanie Lieberman.

  17. sigh. I loved this one. but didn't want to commit to reading too many fulls this week. shucks.

    congrats to the winner, though!

  18. If I did not see this as being categorized as science fiction, I would think this was women's fiction and the tone reminds me of a cozy mystery.

    My focus is on sci-fi, fantasy, and horror, so I'd probably not be interested in this for Evil Girlfriend. However, the character seems fun, the writing pulls me in, and it is a cool and different concept!

    I see that it won a bid. Congratulations and good luck!