3rd SR Crapometer #46

When Thelonius Harper takes pity on a teenage stray and offers her a job, he has no idea what a devious, manipulative mind lurks behind her innocent kitten eyes. Until, that is, she flexes her manicured claws.

All About Alice weighs in at 90,000 words of commercial fiction and charts the disruptive adventures of eighteen year old Alice Moffat as she wreaks havoc with the lives of Thelonius Harper, his girlfriend and business partner Bella King and their client, Japanese Pop Icon, Suzuki Takawashi. Drawn to money like a bee to sticky jam, Alice graduates from homeless waif to teenage temptress and ultimately live-in lover of business mogul, would-be politician and arch enemy of Harper, Christian Farmer. Soon pregnant by her wealthy new sugardaddy and appointed to front his fraudulent record company, she is undone when her secret is accidentally revealed - she is, in fact, Molly Potter, the fifteen year-old sister of the real Alice Moffat. The repercussions are chaotic, not least for Christian Farmer who finds his ambitions wrecked by the ensuing scandal.

To date I haven't promoted All About Alice to any literary agents, but the Isle Of Snark seems as good a place as any to start. By the way, my two moggies, Vermin and Sneaky, reckon Killer Yap is a pussycat in mutt's clothing, and that his bark is worse than his bite. They claim he wouldn't last a nanosecond on a hot tin roof. But then, as Alice would say - they're like that. Always so bleeding superior. Cats, that is, not hot tin roofs. Or literary agents, come to that. But then again…

Yea, insult the dog, there's a good strategy in a query letter.
And just to make sure I really think you're funny, add the part about literary agents.

Alice arrived without warning, like a tickle in the night.
At first he ignored the doorbell, assuming it was a mistake. Either that or kids bobbyknocking. He glanced at his watch and scowled. Midnight. Whoever it was would go away if he pretended to be out, but no – the doorbell rang again. And then again. And again.
He braved the gloomy stairwell to see who it was - thirty-nine dark steps and just as many back.
He opened the front door and winced as a blast of cold air ripped his flesh.
‘Yes?’ He asked curtly. ‘What do you want?’
‘Oh.’ She huddled on the doorstep, drowning in a lumpy overcoat and a shapeless woollen headscarf. ‘Is Sally James in?’
‘Oh.’ The disappointment in her voice was tangible. He could have held it in his hands or bottled it or hung it on the wall. ‘Can I wait?’ …an awkward pause… ‘Till she comes back?’ She stood on tiptoe and glanced over his shoulder. ‘I don’t mind. Really. I’ll wait here if you like.’
‘Sally isn’t coming back. She moved out eighteen months ago. For good.’
‘Oh.’ She looked anxious. ‘But she said I could stay if I needed somewhere.’
‘Sorry. I’ve no idea where she’s living these days. We’re not in touch any more.’ He was impatient and it showed. He missed his cosy fire, his friendly space, his easy book. He should be upstairs, where he belonged.
She didn’t take the hint. ‘But Sally said...’ She fidgeted uneasily and gathered in her coat. The midnight chill was unforgiving. ‘What am I going to do?’
He craned his neck and scanned the road. Apart from next door’s cat, it was deserted and dark - very, very dark. ‘How did you get here? Car? Bus?’
‘I walked. Sally always said I’d be welcome. I didn’t know she’d moved.’ Her voice tailed off. ‘She didn’t say.’ She took half a step back and looked over her shoulder, shuddering as another icy gust swept down the street. ‘What am I going to do?’
‘Are you all right?’ Instinctively he caught her arm as she stumbled, unsteady on her feet.
‘Tired.’ She attempted a smile. ‘And cold. I haven’t eaten. I don’t have no money.’
‘Look…’ He took a deep breath. ‘Let me give you a lift.’ He nodded towards his BMW but had second thoughts. It was late - it was late and it was freezing and he was settled for the night. ‘Or I’ll pay for a cab. Where do you live, miss…?’
‘Alice.’ She shuffled awkwardly and stared at her feet. ‘I can’t go back,’ she mumbled. ‘I can’t.’ As a passing headlight lit her face, he caught the outline of a bruise beneath her eye.
‘You’d better come in.’ He stood aside to let her by. ‘I’ll stick the kettle on. You look as though you could do with something to eat.’
‘Yes.’ She attempted a feeble smile. ‘Thanks. I’d like that.’

This is good writing.
The query letter isn't quite as funny as you think it is, but I can probably get over that.
The problem is I don't much like the book you've desribed. Scandal, schmandel, who hasn't had a page six headline or ten in their career. This is probably a pass with a nice note that says "keep me in mind for other work".


Anonymous said...

Excellent writing - I'd defiitely read on.

Peter L. Winkler said...

I liked the query much better than the sample.

Anonymous said...

A grown man lets a strange teenage girl into his house in the middle of the night?

I don't buy it in this day and age when molestation charges are thrown about so easily.

BuffySquirrel said...

I confess I've never seen a bee take an interest in jam. Wasps, yes. You can't keep wasps away from the stuff.

It seems from the query as if the story shifts from being about what Alice/Molly does to Harper to being about what happens to Farmer. Who's the protagonist?

Virginia Miss said...

I really liked this. Good job, author!

Sarah said...

"weighs in at 90,000 words" I really wouldn't say this, it's a bit yukky. Just state the number of words.

Termagant 2 said...

Crikey, Miss S, you're really havin' a rotten day. Most of us DO NOT get 1 line on page 16 of any paper, anytime, anywhere, in our brief lives. Unless you count a birth announcement, a wedding day photo, and a short obit. You're so JADED...


Anonymous said...

The writing is wonderful, but it almost seems like the start of a romance novel. Maybe writer could find her calling in another genre??

palestrina said...

Obviously these characters are not up on their current literature. If this guy had read The Accidental he'd be much more suspicious of the bedraggled young person who turns up at the door at night.

Anonymous said...

Pick a POV and stick with it.

McKoala said...

'a tickle in the night'? An itch maybe?

Teenage girl and man with BMW gives me an uncomfortable feeling.

thraesja said...

She attempts a smile twice in rapid succession. And who's POV is it? If he knows she's attempted a smile, then she's probably succeeded. Make it a feeble smile, or what might have been a smile, and make it just once.