View Full Version : Train Wreck Cleaner Upper

08-12-2011, 08:29 PM
Marketing was never my strong suit. I wrote a book that needs help. Fat Jimmy's Diner is women's fiction, 90,000 words, and the best tag line I can give you is that it's about figuring out who you are, and liking yourself anyway.

I've written a bunch of query letters but I've never been satisfied with any of them. The following one got me a full request, but honestly I think it was more because of the omitted personalization (the agent and I had something strange in common) than the actual story summary. It resulted in a no but an invitation to send future work.

FAT JIMMY’S DINER is a 90,000-word exploration of how change happens in bathrooms.

Heidi Brooks stands in a café bathroom and tells herself she has no business dating straight-arrow Sam. He comes from a perfect family, where even the golden retriever smiles in the reunion photos. Heidi’s dad ran away on the first Greyhound he could find, and that’s the closest she’s come to a family pet.

Bathroom two is in the apartment, and she’s drenched in blood. Heidi knows the baby might still be alive if she’d been sober. There’s no easy way to make this miscarriage right, and she must deal with the guilt before she loses Sam. And herself.

Bathroom three is a gas station rest stop. From the safety of the dirty restroom she hears robbers bust in and threaten a pregnant woman. It’s an opportunity for redemption. The thugs are armed with guns. Heidi has a plunger. The bastards don’t stand a chance.

Another full request was also a no, with the feedback as follows: There's some good, smooth prose in these pages - in fact, the quality of writing is far better than most of the material that crosses my desk. I also thought these page had a great narrative pace, and that there were some very touching moments. It's with real regret, then, that I must admit that I ultimately didn't fall in love with the manuscript as much as I had hoped. Perhaps part of the problem is that I had a hard time fully warming up to Heidi. I couldn't help but feel she lacked that extra spark, that extra development, that would help distinguish this book from the crowd.

I've put this manuscript in a cyber drawer while I work on another project. What I'm looking for are experienced betas to make broad-stroke suggestions. Ways to tighten and improve. Kill sections that don't move the story forward enough. I suspect a huge part of why I've struggled to come up with a good query letter is because the manuscript needs work.

I fear this is going to sound jerkish, but I only want people who have been around for a while on AW for this particular critique. The manuscript has some dark themes (child death), swearing, and sex, but it's not a depressing read. I don't mind blunt criticism, and I'm willing to repay in chocolate, booze, eternal gratitude, diamonds, or to beta your work in return. Thank you.