Thursday, May 22, 2008


Dear Ms. Reid,

Set in the year 1996 and complete at 80,000 words, OVER EXPOSED is an erotic suspense centering on the risks a woman takes to have her sexual needs fulfilled and the extent women will go to get revenge when they have been wronged.

When Jewell Layne’s twenty-year marriage ended, she vowed she would never be beholden to another man. Five years after her divorce, the brash, forty-four-year-old, six foot blond is living in the lap of luxury—and she is still being expected to provide sexual favors to the judge who handed her a biased property settlement after conveniently arranging for some incriminating photographs to be lost on the day of her divorce proceeding.

Incriminating photos of whom? It may be obvious to you as the writer, but it's not to me as the reader. Also, if she's so brash and determined, why hasn't she marched down to the local Bar Association and filed a complaint? In 1996 people don't get mad, they get lawyers.

This difficult relationship provides the backdrop for a series of transgressions in which envy, jealousy, greed, and Jewell’s prurient urges puts her in harm’s way, tests the boundaries of her relationship with her best friend, and subjects her to the judge’s wrath.

Series of transgressions? Against what?
Prurient urges? Prurient implies deviant.
Judge's wrath? I thought he was the bad guy?

I'm sorry, I find every single one of these characters repellent. I don't want to read about them, I want to Purell my computer screen.

You can write about this topic all you want, but one character has to be compelling and interesting, and likable.

After persuading her new neighbor, who is a professional photographer and a member of the Fort Worth Black Chamber of Commerce, to photograph her in her townhouse while his wife is out of town, the consequences of Jewell’s earlier follies will pale in comparison to the price she, her neighbor, the race-baiting judge, and a third man will have to pay when Jewell becomes emotionally involved with her neighbor and her explicit photographs are discovered by her neighbor’s wife.

What does his membership in the Chamber of Commerce have to do with the plot? Whose wife is out of town?

May I send you a synopsis and sample chapters from my complete at 80,000 words manuscript? Thank you for your time. I look forward to your reply.

Automatic rejection on this one.


Lehcarjt said...

I am not an erotica reader, so take that into consideration.

You open the query with this really twisted relationship between the blond and the evil judge. Then you say: This difficult relationship provides the backdrop for a series of transgressions. This is the sex, right? (or the start of it. She must get involved with the chamber of commerce guy later on.) I'm wondering why this should appeal to me as Erotica.

I just can't see the women readers enjoying fantasizing about having sex with someone in this situation.

My other real problem is that being caught in a three-some by a wife, doesn't seem nearly as bad to me as being forced to have sex with your divorce judge. Seems kind of boring where I'd expect the secondary sex to be even more out-there than the first.

ChrisEldin said...

It feels sad, not erotic. Sorry.
(But I also don't read this genre, so take that with a grain of salt).

BuffySquirrel said...

See, what I often wonder is why people in these situations don't just sell up, pack their money into a few carpet bags, move to another state and change their names. It's very difficult to disappear where I live, but in the States it must be easy, especially if you have money.

What's holding her there?

Rodney said...

Ms. Query Shark,

Thank you for the critique. After four years of shopping this novel, your comments are very much in line with others I’ve received, all of which have brought me to the conclusion that this story sucks fifteen-inch “green ones.”

Before too many additional comments are posted here, I have deep sixed it and am working on another (non-erotic) novel in which the protagonist is a most likeable character.

Thanks again. Your blog and efforts to help aspiring authors are much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Chin up Rodney.
You've probably learned an incredible amount in the past four years which will make your next project that much better!
Best of luck!

John C. said...

I don't read this genre, but I can see some issues in the query that might make it more interesting once they're addressed.

First, I'd cut the entire first 'graf and start with the plot catalyst which would appear to be the conflict between the MC and the judge.

Also, I'd avoid the hyphenated adjectives, and many of the adjectives in general.

The other issue with the query would be the list in the 4th 'graf which doesn't really set the stage for what motivates her to overcome "The Big Problem" and win the day.

To sum up, boil it down to:

When the main plot catalyst happens to the Main Character because of the Antagonist, she has to do something to overcome the Antagonist's plans to solve the Big Problem.

I hope this makes sense. I see you're giving up on this book, but I find that when I'm coming up with book ideas, it helps to create a query-style blurb in advance. That way I can tell if the book is as interesting as it seems to be in my mind. If I can't come up with a blurb to describe it, then that usually means I haven't filled it out enough to start writing.

Rodney said...

Jeanoram, Thanks for the encouragement. It's good to see that we're reading the same blogs from professionals in the industry. You are 100% correct, I've learned more during the past five months than I thought I knew for the four years I've been writing.

I'm glad that Ms. Reid and a few others in the business are willing share their time and to give us the benefit of their experience and knowledge.

John C., I understand your comments, and I thank you for providing them.

Margaret Yang said...

Sorry the book is going under the bed. Every writer has books under the bed.

It took courage to send your query to the shark, and you took the shredding with grace. That counts for a lot.

Best of luck with your next novel!

Merc said...

Sorry, you lost me at "beholden". (but I don't read the genre)

Good luck with your new project, though. :)


Julia said...

Rodney, I think your "put it away" is probably a good strategy for now, especially if you have a new project you want to get on with.

But save a copy--you may, down the line, come up with an idea that makes the whole thing work.

Moth said...

For future reference on your next query I saw "six foot blond" and winced. In a query you have so little space, don't waste it on shallow, meaningless description like this. "Brash" is fine. Forty year old is all right. But we really don't need to know what she looks like, especially at the expense of showing us what kind of person she is.

Good luck with your next MS. :)


talpianna said...

Rodney, I think this might be salvageable if you rewrite it as a murder mystery, with everything here as backstory and Jewell killed off in chapter one! There would certainly be no dearth of suspects, and you could introduce a more sympathetic protagonist--the detective on the case, or give Jewell a daughter, perhaps determined to prove her father didn't do it. Better yet, do both, and give them a romance.