3rd SR Crapometer #28--partial on this one for sure

Dear Miss Snark:

Below please find my query and the first page of my cozy KILLER SWING (65,000 words).

Out of work for the first time, disheartened executive Liz Grant seizes the opportunity to act as manager of her vacationing brother's golf course. Believing his dream business is a success, she realizes too late that her brother took the course's funds and left her to save his motley staff's jobs. Finding a murdered woman on the tenth hole only adds to the challenge. When Daniel Ames, the head golf pro who captures her heart, is arrested, Liz steps forward to accept custody of his six-year-old daughter and scrambles to prove his innocence, redeem the course's reputation, and catch a killer. (yea!!! a plot!!)

KILLER SWING is written in the humorous first person of a task-oriented, never-give-up career woman just discovering her maternal instincts. (well, she'll be sorry soon enough about that but ok)

I have a bachelors degree in English and a M.B.A. in Marketing. My previous publications include employee manuals and marketing materials, written while I worked in human resources and marketing management - two great fields to meet interesting characters. I am a member of Sisters in Crime.

The polished manuscript is available upon request. Thank you for your consideration.

"In golf as in life, no matter how badly the game is played, it can always get worse."

At this point, I have put down the gin, shoved the DVD remote into KY's sticky paw to keep him occupado, and I'm reading.


When my first practice shot flew eighty yards on the driving range, sliced over the top of the containment net, and dropped inches from the groundskeeper's head as he raked a sand trap, I knew I had made a mistake. Not only in my shot which could have killed or injured him, but in becoming Acting Manager of Heron Vale Golf Course while my brother and his wife cruised the Mediterranean.

"Just come for one month. All you have to do is approve checks and keep an eye on things. Kathy and I haven't had a vacation in ten years. We need to get away," Jeff, the course's owner and manager, had pleaded.

"I've never managed a golf club. And I'm a lousy golfer."

But I had always wanted to be a good one, envious of Jeff's skill and drive, not to mention his snappy clothes. Golf is an individual achievement sport, right up my alley, requiring the ability to hit a stationary target, a relatively simple task in the realm of sports. And no catching, which has always been my downfall.

"Liz, you're the most capable person I know. You stink at golf because you refuse to practice. This month will give you the opportunity. It'll be fun."

It was reaffirming to hear that someone still believed in me, even if it was my brother. I had just lost my job and yet another boyfriend, a cause-and-effect situation come to find out. As Vice President of Human Resources for Hire Me, an Internet job search company, I was responsible for naming the next Sales Manager, and my boyfriend Ron had wanted the job. When the company downsized and set me out on the sidewalk, Ron lost interest in me.

I hadn't planned on spending my life with either one of them, but it was rejection overload. Without a job for the first time in my adult life, I felt empty and betrayed. Wanting to feel productive and valuable, and certainly in need of a change, golf took on a whole new appeal for me. So I seized the opportunity to help my baby brother, who I could never resist, and better myself at the same time.

First I went to the nearest pro shop and bought all new golf clothes, because sometimes looking the part is half the battle. Then I packed my new clothes and drove to scenic Chelseaport, New York. Jeff and Kathy hopped the next plane to Europe.

Now it was day one of my adventure, and I had almost killed the one person Jeff said to count on for support.

"Ms. Grant, you need to yell 'Fore' if you think your ball is heading towards someone." Ed Huber, the groundskeeper, strolled over to me and took off his Heron Vale cap, releasing a shock of white hair. He rubbed the sheen of perspiration off his forehead with his sleeve and replaced the hat. The smile beneath his thick handlebar mustache was gentle.

"Sorry, Ed. And please, call me Liz."

"Right. Liz." Ed gave his mustache a nervous twirl, reminding me of a cartoon character who tied damsels in long skirts and ruffled petticoats to train tracks.

I'd read on for sure. I'd be watching for good character development and the feeling that I'm right there on the green. There's a wonderful series of golf mysteries by Roberta Isleib that I'm very fond of. I'd be starting to think about pitching this as appealing to people who read and enjoy her work.


Anonymous said...

Just a thought: ""Ms. Grant, you need to yell 'Fore' if you think your ball is heading towards someone."

Someone with a Ph.D in English told me recently, "If you write 'toward' you'll never be wrong."

Anonymous said...

Is this the first entry today to actually have a plot, or did I miss one somewhere?

Yay for plots!

Anonymous said...

There was a lot of backstory slammed in there right at the beginning. This didn't grab me as much as it did Miss Snark, mostly for that reason. When does the story start?

Still, there's good writing here and some evidence that the characters will be fun and interesting. I'd like you to slash the backstory and introduce us to those characters a little faster, is all.

jill mansell said...

The best one yet. I love this first page. This is so great - I'm starting to feel like a literary agent! Has the ms been submitted to agencies yet?

Anonymous said...

Is Miss Snark actually requesting a partial or does this mean that she would if this was actually in her slush pile?

Anonymous said...

I don't like golf, so much so that anything about golf turns me off. So I doubt I'd read this one off a shelf, but it's definitely well written, and if it continues in that vein, I hope the author gets published.

Anonymous said...

This made my eyes glaze over. But then golf makes my eyes glaze over. This is because golf is a boring game played by boring over-the-hill men with large behinds who talk about bonds. (Yeah, yeah, Tiger Woods. He'd be sexy if he didn't play golf.) Anyway, a book about a boring game is going to be a boring book. Period.

Anonymous said...

A bit of grammatical advice:

"Wanting to feel productive and valuable, and certainly in need of a change, golf took on a whole new appeal for me."

This is a dangling modifier. "Wanting to feel..." modifies "I," so "I" must be the subject of the main clause, not "golf."

srchamberlain said...

I agree about the backstory, but this is the only Crapometer entry I've actually been able to bear finishing today. Good job, whoever you are.

Anonymous said...

It's not even my type and I like it.

wonderer said...

I agree, too much backstory - you can let that out more slowly. Still, your sentences are well-constructed, and the query itself really zinged - way to go! I'm not a golf person either, but if I read that as a back-cover blurb, I'd flip to the first page and start reading.

Good luck!

lassus said...

Both the query letter and the sample suggest that the author knows what is required. The package achieves competence. Nothing about its story or its language seems special, there are little grammar errors and other clumsinesses (as has been noted), and I doubt I'd read it myself, but it will be no worse than some published mysteries I have read, if the plot plays out with efficiency.

Elektra said...

Only one nitpick: The first sentence feels too long to be inverted.

Simon Haynes said...

Is Miss Snark actually requesting a partial or does this mean that she would if this was actually in her slush pile?

If Miss Snark requested a partial she'd give herself away.

Evil minion said...

I don't get it. MS has castigated every other beginning for lack of action - including some I thought did have something going on - and then gushes over this one, which is entirely backstory, and not particularly interesting backstory. It's well-written, and it might very well be the best first page so far, but it doesn't look any more active to me than several others.

Sarah said...

I thought the query letter was good but the writing left me cold. Horses for courses I guess. Golf just doesn't do it for me and I found the dialogue flat. But enough other people liked it that the author should be pleased with themselves, I guess.

Sam said...

Oh what fun! I really liked this and thought the premise was terrific. I'd be hoping to really connect with the character next - that's an important point for me. But for now I like the idea a lot!

Anonymous said...

The thing about this is that it's written from the protag's POV, internal thoughts in the person's head.

The error anon #1 pointed out is fine, s/he's right, except for the fact that it's dialogue, and thus, the character can get away with "towards". I've heard more people SAY towards than toward.

Same thing with the dangling modifier. Yes, "I" should be modified, not "golf", but people don't always talk perfectly, nor think perfectly. The protag is understood, however, by the reader. So it's possible to let those kinds of things slide.

What it comes down to in the end is what kind of a book does the reader prefer to read? One with gramatical errors s/he can forgive because they're actual thoughts by the character? One that sounds natural, though is actually wrong? How much of it needs be correct? That, I suspect, is for each person--editor, author, agent, reader--to decide on his or her own.

Wabi Sabi said...

Liz has potential as a character. If you work on Liz as your protagonist I would say you have a sympathetic character with wide appeal. I have a hunch from reading the blog comments here and own golf experiences that golf stirs up a certain antipathy, snobbery, boredom. So. If I were writing it, I'd make it more Lizish and less golfish.

Anonymous said...

"Below please find my query and the first page of my cozy KILLER SWING (65,000 words)."
Technically speaking this line is already part of your query and I doubt Miss Snark would have trouble finding it since the paper is right in front of her. In this case I think a standard sentence without any funny constructions or words would do just fine. ("I would like to offer my 65,000 word cozy mystery "Killer Swing" for your consideration.")

Also, I'm sure it's not neccesary for mystery publishers, but if you query more widely, you may mention it's a cozy msytery.

Anyway, apart from that I would certainly read on.

McKoala said...

She likes it!

I thought that the query was great, but I wasn't keen on so much back story on the first page.

But that's all irrelevant 'cos I don't matter...she likes it! Congrats author, I think you're the first!

Susan said...

I liked this, despite the backstory overload. However, I suggest you start at:

Great. My first day on the job, and I had almost killed the one person Jeff said to count on for support.

Go from there, and feed the backstory in later, more sparingly.

Nice job said...

After reading through all of the submissions in one go, this is one of the few that stayed with me and I don't even like golf. Good job author.

Frainstorm said...

I'm looking forward to meeting all these characters along with your protag, which is a fun thing to look foward to. Don't like golf; love the story opening and the query.

The backstory up front didn't bother me because there's as much foreshadowing as there is backstory, although maybe I'm saying that because of the query. Regardless, I was hooked knowing there some cool stuff around the corner. Great start.