Tuesday, April 29, 2008

#16

Dear Ms. Reid:


Ben Keller is wasting his life. The once successful doctor now sells dildos and porn videos on Sunset Boulevard while pulling the occasional con. That is until he meets Geraldine, an ex-porn star with a hundred-a-dollar-a-day habit and a deceitful smile. Together they embark on a drug-fueled Hollywood con game to produce a straight to DVD flop, and pocket ten million in embezzled movie funds.

Right now I'm thinking this is a californification of The Producers. I'm always less then thrilled with any novel that features porn stars and dildos in the first two sentences cause it seems gimmicky.

But in Hollywood nobody is what they appear to be, least of all Ben, who must ask himself, “Am I the con or the mark?” before the final credits fade in my manuscript, BENT or Mother’s Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Gay Cowboys, winner of the 2008 Paul Gillette Award for mainstream fiction, complete at 81,000 words.

There's no hook here, there's only a description of the premise of the novel, and it's one I've seen a lot before.

I had to google the Paul Gillette Award to find out it's given at the Pike's Peak Writing Conference. Writing conference awards are nice, but when they are given only to unpublished writers, and only to people attending the conference, they don't carry as much weight as pub credits that draw from a wider audience (like what you list below).

I have five short stories, and a poem published in various literary magazines including Twenty3, The Heroin Times, Twisted Tongue, and Thug Works, with two stories forthcoming in The Savage Kick, and Big Pulp. I hold a Master of Arts degree in forensic psychology, and at one time, worked as a private investigator. Currently, I am employed at Naropa University’s Summer Writing Program.

Thank you for your consideration of this proposal. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely,



This isn't awful, but it's not compelling. If the first page knocked my socks off I'd read on. If pages aren't included, I'd send a form rejection cause there's nothing here yet that entices me to read on.

10 comments:

sex scenes at starbucks said...

Cool. This one's from my stomping grounds.

I wondered why the doctor is wasting his life and if that might motivate the story better.

Belvoir said...

The title "Bent"'s been done; the subtitle "Mothers Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Gay Cowboys" I find stupid and homophobic, and I'm NOT one to take offense easily.


"Bent is a 1979 play by Martin Sherman (which starred Ian McKellen in its original West-End production and Richard Gere in its original Broadway production) that was later adapted into a 1997 movie by director Sean Mathias. It revolves around the persecution of gay men in Third Reich Germany after the murder of Sturmabteilung leader Ernst Röhm."

beth said...

I thought the phrasing from the title to the conference award was clunky. I'm not a fan of subtitles in general, and agree with belvoir in its inappropriateness--actually, I'm not so much offended as I think it sounds as if it's trying too hard to be funny. I don't have a problem with the title being done before though--basically, I like BENT, but not the rest.

I like the premise of the mark or con idea, but I'm with Ms. Reid--it takes too long to get interesting.

jkazimer said...

I'd like to clarify the subtitle. The stories premise is based on making a prequel to Brokeback Mountain, hence the subtitle. In no ways is it meant to be homophobic, but I do appreciate the feedback that it reads as such.

Also, Ms. Reid, thank you for the comments. I will definately revise.

Captain said...

I work at a porn store and they give me a 401K, medical and dental, and they pay mileage if we have to drive to a meeting. I spend all day helping people have better sex lives. In many cases, I have the chance to help people with issues they can't talk about with their stuffy, conservative doctor. It's a fulfilling and interesting job.

Just sayin'.

Belvoir said...

Very good. But the characters in "Brokeback" were sheep herders, not cowboys. There's a difference.

Editorial Anonymous said...

Just a word from an editor:

the apostrophe in "Mother's" may seem like a small thing, but it says "slipshod" to me. Don't know the difference between a possessive and a plural? Figure it out.

talpianna said...

Nobody else seems to have mentioned this yet, so I will:

"Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys" is a country music song written by Ed Bruce and Patsy Bruce. It was made famous by Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson, whose version was first released on their 1978 album Waylon & Willie. The song's lyrics advise mothers to raise their children as doctors or lawyers rather than cowboys, who seem to be "always alone."

I guess that, once again, I'm older than everyone else here.

Beth said...

But in Hollywood nobody is what they appear to be, least of all Ben, who must ask himself, “Am I the con or the mark?” before the final credits fade in my manuscript, BENT or Mother’s Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Gay Cowboys, winner of the 2008 Paul Gillette Award for mainstream fiction, complete at 81,000 words

Any way you look at it, that sentence makes no sense. I think what you want is a period after "manuscript," and to insert "is the" before "winner."

elfarmy17 said...

"Californification" -great word!
Um, what's up with the subtitle?
The mentions of porn and dildos and porn stars make me adverse to reading, but I think that's just my tastes in literature. If it's that important to the story, keep it in, but if not, leave it out, since it turns some people (like me) off.