Naughty Gnomes - Romantic Comedy - Polished for Querying

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Sea
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Naughty Gnomes - Romantic Comedy - Polished for Querying

Post by Sea » July 9th, 2010, 1:05 am

Hi everyone. I am getting very close to sending off my novel to a few literary agents, so this is supposed to be a final, polished piece. Please critique accordingly. I'm interested in everything from proofing to general thoughts and specific issues. Thank you!

Just to clarify any confusion - this is the opening scene of the novel, but not the complete chapter (I didn't want to make it too long).

****

When a plate shatters, it makes a loud crashing noise, but when a heart breaks, there is only silence. Oh, and sometimes there’s piteous wailing, hysterical sobbing, and a series of increasingly embarrassing phone messages left on your ex’s answering machine, too. But when my heart broke (and I’m pretty sure I saw one fragment of it bounce across the floor and lodge itself beneath the fridge, so that bit’s gone forever), it was so silent you could hear the sound of my dog’s drool landing softly on the linoleum. All the noisy stuff - the piteous wailing and so on - came later. And as for the plate? I’d like to pretend I smashed it over the bastard’s head, but in truth I accidentally knocked it off the sink as I was making my grand exit.

An entire month after my fiancé, Carl, left me for another woman, his pretty, boyish face was still looming before me. The only difference being that, where I’d once found its golden tones and soft contours angelic, it now put me in mind of an evil pixie.

Well, that and this time my view of his face was speckled by leaves. Probably because I was hiding in a hedge that overlooked Café De Ramez, instead of sitting beside him, staring into his eyes like a love-struck moron.

Ants and twigs were brazenly exploring my body as no man ever had, but my attention was devoted entirely to glaring at Carl. He didn’t glare back. I made my own glare more intense. He still didn’t notice me. To be fair, I was mostly obscured from his sight by the hedge, which was all part of my clever plan, but I was starting to suspect I could have danced with a dead man on the nearest table and he still wouldn’t have looked. I had more access to dead men than any girl should too, but that wasn’t really part of my clever plan.

He was staring, captivated, at the creature in front of him. Said creature flicked her blonde hair daintily and picked at her salad. I fought a desire to see her choke on the leaves. It wasn’t her fault Carl had fallen for her and decided to cheat on me in the process. Well, so I was assuming, and that’s why I was here; she needed to know exactly how much of a slimeball Carl really was. I couldn’t let him just sweep the rest of my broken heart under the fridge and open the door to his next victim. No, I needed to grow a backbone and warn her, for the sake of women everywhere. Even if she was prettier than me.

I focused on my glare again. They made a stunning couple - blonde, blue-eyed, and beautiful. My eyes, meanwhile, matched the colour of the hedge I was hiding in, and by the feel of the branches tangled in my hair, the rest of my head did too. I watched them in all their Hollywood perfection until I couldn’t kid myself any longer; my backbone was not going to show up. I’d have to do it alone. Besides, I think the hedge was starting to give me a rash.

Disentangling myself as elegantly as I could manage, I gathered every inch of my 5’ 6” frame and walked over to their table to the soundtrack of my galloping heart. “I think you deserve to know,” I said cautiously, my back turned on Carl’s handsome face, “that he was engaged to me when he started dating you.”

The blonde beauty smiled. Her teeth, I noticed, were straight and white, good enough for a toothpaste commercial. “Oh, I knew all along,” she said in her silkily seductive voice. Just like that, she admitted it, as if we were discussing the unexpected sunshine. This goddess of a woman, who could have any man she wanted, had deliberately lured mine away from me.

“Well just be aware,” I spat, my aspirations rapidly changing from warning her about Carl to dyeing her immaculate eyebrows black, “statistics show that men who cheat once, are much more likely to do it again.” I had no idea what statistics I was referring to, but it sounded good. Besides, I had some experience. My father was a prime example.

Marsha’s smile didn’t waver. “Oh I know, but,” she flicked her hair dismissively, “circumstances are a little different this time. I mean, you can’t expect a man to stay with you if you won’t put out.”

The night Carl and I had lovingly made our pact to wait until marriage played out in my head. We had been alone in the house, lying on the living room floor, after watching a movie and eating ice-cream. My mum had always instilled in me the importance of waiting. She was convinced that doing so fostered deep mutual respect and reverence in a relationship. And after her own divorce, she desperately wanted to protect me from repeating her mistakes.

Following a vigorous kissing session, I had pulled away from Carl, and for the first time in my life, talked about the emotional trauma I experienced when my dad left. I was seven years old at the time. I’d been his princess; he’d been my world. I had heard my parents arguing and then my dad came into my room. “I have to go sweetheart,” he’d said.

“When will you be back?” I’d asked, completely naive.

“I can’t come back princess. Your mummy and I are breaking up, but I promise I’ll write to you.”

He started to leave, but I flung myself at him and wrapped my entire body around his leg. “No daddy!” I begged, “Don’t go!” He tried to prise me away gently but I refused to relinquish my grip. I don’t remember what he was saying; I was too busy begging him to stay with every fibre of my being to pay attention. All I remember is my shock when he gave up reasoning with me and forcibly wrenched me off of him. It hurt. But not as much as it did emotionally. He never wrote, and years later, I found out he left our family to live with another woman.

Carl had listened to my tale intently and even wiped my tears away. Afterwards, he’d wrapped me in his arms and whispered in my ear that I was worth waiting for. In return, I had promised never to paint his toenails.

I focused back on Marsha, who was staring at me expectantly with a smirk on her face. She lifted a dainty hand and made a show of yawning. “What? Run out of words already?” She shot a glance at Carl. “Whatever did you two get up to if her social skills are as lacking as her bedroom expertise?”

I decided that after dyeing her eyebrows black, I might rip them off and relocate them just above her upper lip. In reality though, I just stood there, frozen, as I racked my brain for a suitably acerbic remark. Unfortunately, my wit seemed to be keeping company with my MIA backbone. I stared at her a moment longer, fighting to keep my tears in check, just in case a miracle occurred and I managed to redeem myself. It didn’t. The waiter approached, and trying to retain the little dignity I had left, I turned to go. I couldn’t bear to face Carl.

Unfortunately my foot hooked around a stray table leg, almost tripping me over. I heard Marsha shriek and turned around, certain it wasn’t out of concern for me. I was right. My little accident had bumped the table sufficiently to splash her just-delivered minestrone soup all over her dress. She glared at me in utter fury as the waiter made his apologies and ran to get a wet cloth. For a moment, I smiled into her murderous gaze, allowing her to assume that I’d done it deliberately. Then I hurried away before she could scratch my eyes out.
Last edited by Sea on July 9th, 2010, 10:02 am, edited 2 times in total.

Deja
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Re: Naughty Gnomes - Romantic Comedy - Polished for Querying

Post by Deja » July 9th, 2010, 9:07 am

First of all, I love your voice throughout and your pace kept up well. I really enjoyed the story. I am not sure just how the Gnomes fit in, but you mentioned it was a novel so I may see them later. I am not quite sure if this is a first chapter or a short story. I do like it through. There are some parts that I really fell in love with as well. Her need to slip in humor to compensate for her emotional baggage is intriguing. You do well with descriptions so I have a good since of what they look like and their personality (at least Marsha's) through your descriptions.

I did notice that it seemed a little pointed. I found the reactions rather life like rather than something a story should be. It felt like I was reading a journal entry of this poor girl who had her heart broken. Not that that is a bad thing if that's what you are going for, but that is the feel I took from it.



Ants and twigs were brazenly exploring my body as no man ever had, but my attention was devoted entirely to glaring at Carl. He didn’t glare back. I made my own glare more intense. He still didn’t notice me. To be fair, I was mostly obscured from his sight by the hedge, which was all part of my clever plan, but I was starting to suspect I could have danced with a dead man on the nearest table and he still wouldn’t have looked. I had more access to dead men than any girl should too, (You don't really explain this yet, not sure if it would come later, but we miss out on her unique character point here.)but that wasn’t really part of my clever plan(Just what was the clever plan? To tell her? Is that clever then to hide in the tree to do it? I love hedge part, your ants make me squirm with the intimacy on her body, but it doesn't seem too clever of a plan).

He was staring, captivated, at the creature in front of him. Said creature flicked her blonde hair daintily and picked at her salad. I fought a desire to see her choke on the leaves. It wasn’t her fault Carl had fallen for her and decided to cheat on me in the process. Well, so I was assuming, and that’s why I was here; she needed to know exactly how much of a slimeball Carl really was. I couldn’t let him just sweep the rest of my broken heart under the fridge and open the door to his next victim. No, I needed to grow a backbone and warn her, for the sake of women everywhere.(Why tell her? What prompts it, her kind heart? Her jealousy? Does she really care for all women everywhere? Is he looking at Marsha the way he looked at the main character? Define.) Even if she was prettier than me.(Is the self pity important? I know we all do it, but does it have a place in your character for a reason? If so, embrace it and go deeper.)

I focused on my glare again. They made a stunning couple - blonde, blue-eyed, and beautiful. My eyes, meanwhile, matched the colour of the hedge I was hiding in, and by the feel of the branches tangled in my hair, the rest of my head did too. I watched them in all their Hollywood perfection until I couldn’t kid myself any longer; my backbone was not going to show up.(I love the MIA backbone!) I’d have to do it alone. Besides, I think the hedge was starting to give me a rash.

Disentangling myself as elegantly as I could manage, I gathered every inch of my 5’ 6” frame and walked over to their table to the soundtrack of my galloping heart. “I think you deserve to know,” I said cautiously, my back turned on Carl’s handsome face, “that he was engaged to me when he started dating you.”

The blonde beauty smiled. Her teeth, I noticed, were straight and white, good enough for a toothpaste commercial. “Oh, I knew all along,” she said in her silkily seductive voice. Just like that, she admitted it, as if we were discussing the unexpected sunshine. This goddess of a woman, who could have any man she wanted, had deliberately lured mine away from me. (she is rather typical, distinctly described but we have all seen her before, more character depth would be fun.)

“Well just be aware,” I spat, my aspirations rapidly changing from warning her about Carl to dyeing her immaculate eyebrows black, “statistics show that men who cheat once, are much more likely to do it again.” I had no idea what statistics I was referring to, but it sounded good. Besides, I had some experience. My father was a prime example.

Marsha’s smile didn’t waver. “Oh I know, but,” she flicked her hair dismissively, “circumstances are a little different this time. I mean, you can’t expect a man to stay with you if you won’t put out.”

(The flash back within the flashback transitions rather odd, try to stick to one important part and summarize the other, shifting into a full scene here without the proper transitions gets confusing. Only mention what is important to the story, which this could be if her dependancy on Carl stems from her father, but you could sum up that without dipping into another flashback.)The night Carl and I had lovingly made our pact to wait until marriage played out in my head. We had been alone in the house, lying on the living room floor, after watching a movie and eating ice-cream. My mum had always instilled in me the importance of waiting. She was convinced that doing so fostered deep mutual respect and reverence in a relationship. And after her own divorce, she desperately wanted to protect me from repeating her mistakes.

Following a vigorous kissing session, I had pulled away from Carl, and for the first time in my life, talked about the emotional trauma I experienced when my dad left. I was seven years old at the time. I’d been his princess; he’d been my world. I had heard my parents arguing and then my dad came into my room. “I have to go sweetheart,” he’d said.

“When will you be back?” I’d asked, completely naive.

“I can’t come back princess. Your mummy and I are breaking up, but I promise I’ll write to you.”

He started to leave, but I flung myself at him and wrapped my entire body around his leg. “No daddy!” I begged, “Don’t go!” He tried to prise me away gently but I refused to relinquish my grip. I don’t remember what he was saying; I was too busy begging him to stay with every fibre of my being to pay attention. All I remember is my shock when he gave up reasoning with me and forcibly wrenched me off of him. It hurt. But not as much as it did emotionally. He never wrote, and years later, I found out he left our family to live with another woman.

Carl had listened to my tale intently and even wiped my tears away. Afterwards, he’d wrapped me in his arms and whispered in my ear that I was worth waiting for. In return, I had promised never to paint his toenails.

I focused back on Marsha, who was staring at me expectantly with a smirk on her face. She lifted a dainty hand and made a show of yawning. “What? Run out of words already?” She shot a glance at Carl. “Whatever did you two get up to if her social skills are as lacking as her bedroom expertise?”

I decided that after dyeing her eyebrows black, I might rip them off and relocate them just above her upper lip. In reality though, I just stood there, frozen, as I racked my brain for a suitably acerbic remark. Unfortunately, my wit seemed to be keeping company with my MIA backbone. I stared at her a moment longer, fighting to keep my tears in check, just in case a miracle occurred and I managed to redeem myself. It didn’t. The waiter approached, and trying to retain the little dignity I had left, I turned to go. I couldn’t bear to face Carl.

Unfortunately my foot hooked around a stray table leg, almost tripping me over. I heard Marsha shriek and turned around, certain it wasn’t out of concern for me. I was right. My little accident had bumped the table sufficiently to splash her just-delivered minestrone soup all over her dress. She glared at me in utter fury as the waiter made his apologies and ran to get a wet cloth. For a moment, I smiled into her murderous gaze, allowing her to assume that I’d done it deliberately. Then I hurried away before she could scratch my eyes out.

On the whole great job, I know it is hard, I wish I could write more right now, but I am about to be late for work. I will try to come back if you would like the rest of what I noticed. Best of luck and great job!

Deja

Sea
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Re: Naughty Gnomes - Romantic Comedy - Polished for Querying

Post by Sea » July 9th, 2010, 9:58 am

Hi Deja

Thanks for the feedback. I would most definitely love to hear the rest of your thoughts as well if you can spare the time!

I have edited my post to explain that this is the beginning of the novel, but still only about a third into the first chapter (if you want to read more, just say the word :) ). Sorry about the confusion there.

Because it is such a small snippet of such a large piece, I've included my "blurb" for your interest. Personally I always read the blurb of a novel so I have some grasp on what's going on.
  • Josie Stephenson is not just accident prone - she is stalked by disaster. Which is why she works in a mortuary, where she can’t really hurt anyone. Yet her misfortune doesn’t end there. Her fiance has just left her for another woman, she owes her godmother eleven new gnomes, and every Tuesday she is forced through the hideous ordeal of playing senior hockey, despite being forty years younger than the rest of the team. All she really wants to do is survive her heartbreak - and maybe get a new job, a new place to stay, and a dinosaur bone for her dog. Instead she finds herself falling for (in front of, on top of, and over) the mysterious and gorgeous new guy, who is way out of her league. But is he going to be the best thing she’s stumbled upon since shin pads? Or will he convince her that the only safe men are dead ones?
I can see what you mean about Marsha being a 'been there, read that' character, and while there is a little more depth revealed later, at this point in time, Josie's perceptions are fairly cut and dry because she's so emotional. I shall continue mulling on that one.

As for the double flashback, it is tricky. I feel both are important to the story - one to explain why she 'never put out' and one to explain why she is so fearful of laying her heart at the feet of a man who might leave her anyway... I will try rewriting it as if she's telling it to Carl, so it is only one time-frame... or something :)

Anyway, thanks again for reading and taking the time to comment, and I look forward to hearing the rest of your thoughts!

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Re: Naughty Gnomes - Romantic Comedy - Polished for Querying

Post by J. T. SHEA » July 9th, 2010, 1:30 pm

Great opening, Sea. Humor, betrayal, desperation, jealousy, hate, all the good stuff! The double flashback worked surprisingly well for me, though it is unusual.

The blurb is a good idea. Otherwise these first page excerpts tend to provoke guessing games which do not happen with a query or a partial or a published novel.

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Re: Naughty Gnomes - Romantic Comedy - Polished for Querying

Post by wilderness » July 9th, 2010, 1:54 pm

I think you have a strong voice, and lot's of great turns of phrase. I especially enjoyed "Ants and twigs were brazenly exploring my body as no man ever had" and "MIA backbone". Seriously, LOL.

The weakest part, IMO, was that the villainess seemed too normal, not unique enough. Maybe if you could just give her a tiny bit of humanity, or at least make her evil in a more unique way. I know you said you reveal more later, but it is *so* important to provide the unexpected in your first few pages, because an agent may not read more that.

Also, “Whatever did you two get up to if her social skills are as lacking as her bedroom expertise?” is stilted dialogue.

Some more minor points:
1. I don't get the part where she glares at her ex, and says he doesn't notice even though she's hiding. Even if you're trying to be funny, the way it's written doesn't have much punch for me. "To be fair, I was mostly obscured from his sight by the hedge, which was all part of my clever plan, but I was starting to suspect I could have danced with a dead man on the nearest table and he still wouldn’t have looked." Weak logic. See how part 2 is no way implied by part 1?
2. When you describe her ex as "evil pixie" that seems kind of effeminate. Just sayin'.

I liked your blurb--the bits about the gnomes and mortuary did make it clearer, and made your novel sound more unique. I personally thought the flashbacks flowed just fine.

Overall, though, I like your writing. Very funny.

Sea
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Re: Naughty Gnomes - Romantic Comedy - Polished for Querying

Post by Sea » July 9th, 2010, 11:09 pm

Thanks J.T. Shea and Wilderness for taking the time and effort to read and write it. It is just so nice to have some feedback from people who write and read on a regular basis :)

It's interesting how everyone reads each sentence differently, like the double flashback. I've been reluctant to put it in the same time-frame because I fear it would lose it's potency and directness - but then I wonder if that is just lack of skill on my part and I'm only making excuses!

I'm going to have a serious brainstorm on Marsha. In one of my many, many drafts of this section, Josie did notice a few things that seemed out of sorts with her character, but I ended up removing them obviously. Thanks again for the feedback. It is so valuable, especially when I've read and written this section so many times that I've lost all objectivity on it!

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Re: Naughty Gnomes - Romantic Comedy - Polished for Querying

Post by Deja » July 10th, 2010, 9:50 am

Sea,

I absolutely love where this is going now that I know a little bit more! So unique and I hesitate to say it, adorable. The idea of the character who works in the mortuary in order to avoid her little mishaps is delightful, especially because she doesn't even realize the phycological ramifications it has on her (keeping her out of touch with humanity which she actually craves since her father left her...I know, we all have Daddy Issues.) Which is a nice way to give the reader, rather SHOW the reader the depth of her character without wiggling it in our faces (i.e.telling us, she is so psychologically scarred by her father that she has to...blah blah blah.) I love it! You've taken something everyday and gave it character.

As for the flashback bit, to be fair, I did not have the time to go into more depth with what I meant, I like the information, it "flows" (I hate that word...lacks so much) well enough. What I find about the double flashback or rather the flashback within a flashback is that it takes the reader into a a deeper level that can be confusing. You can summarize the important parts without going into dialogue with both Carl and the father, you don't even have to talk to Carl about it. You can give the same information by just telling the reader that he had agreed to the promise, even use his words, and then transition into the part about the dad. Though I would like to see more emphasis on if there was more to the father leaving, it is rather everyday to see a father cheat, what else was special about it that made her so fragile? That's just me though.

I do agree that Marsha is a bit common, but you have already heard that, oh and that the pixie thing threw just for a second because with the connection to the gnomes that I did not understand at the moment, and I wanted to think he might actually be that, a pixie, but it didn't stick out horribly.

I would love to see some of Carl's reaction to the whole thing, to me Marsha seems to take over leaving Carl an immobile hostage to her wiles, does he have a backbone? More from him would be cool.

As for the tripping part, I do understand she is prone to accidents (a feature we love to use as writers because it adds vulnerability) but IMO, I would be careful of the detached foot, yes, we all know it is attached to her, but it seems to have a will of its own as it hooks around things, by making it hers "I hadn't noticed that unfortunately I had hooked my foot..." (sorry not trying to co-opt, just an example) it gives her foot back to her. But that is up to you, some people like the detached body parts (i.e. my eyes wondered, a hand lifted etc.) and some don't, I am in the middle, I like to use what works for me, but it is just some feedback that I have gotten in the past, it may or may not work for you.

As for the rest of the story, I would love to read it, I am curious to see how things go with our heartbroken heroine.

I have to go once more, my dog is poking her nose at her tigger hoping it will magically have a squeaker toy with more nudging. Have the best of days!

Deja

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Re: Naughty Gnomes - Romantic Comedy - Polished for Querying

Post by NickB » July 12th, 2010, 11:37 pm

Hey Sea, I smiled all the way through this. I read and write in the genre (unpub'd...but I've not yet tried) and thought I could offer some useful thoughts. Would love your feedback on something of mine, but have not yet posted...there don't seem to be that many of us in the forums here who are writing romantic (or any other kind of) comedy...but now YOU'RE here...:) Anyhow, please put up more of the story. Oh, and your blurb is terrific...I would buy that book (and I'm a library junkie.) Nick

P.S. I'm new to offering my two-cents on the forums here. Please let me know if my comments were unuseful or offensive. I really enjoyed this excerpt and re: some other comments I read: I got the hedge thing; thought the pixie reference was effeminate, but that that was a deliberate dig; figure that in keeping with the genre, the "prettier than me" sentiment will be redeemed/retracted later on through some gain in self-respect--I liked that bit of honesty in the character--not a pretty side of ourselves, but we too often think it; and I was fine with the flashback within a flashback...you made it understandable to me. Thanks for posting. Great voice. Funny.


When a plate shatters, it makes a loud crashing noise, but when a heart breaks, there is only silence. Oh, and sometimes there’s piteous wailing, hysterical sobbing, and a series of increasingly embarrassing phone messages left on your ex’s answering machine, too. But when my heart broke (and I’m pretty sure I saw one fragment of it bounce across the floor and lodge itself beneath the fridge, so that bit’s gone forever), it was so silent you could hear the sound of my dog’s drool landing softly on the linoleum. All the noisy stuff - the piteous wailing and so on - came later. And as for the plate? I’d like to pretend I smashed it over the bastard’s head, but in truth I accidentally knocked it off the sink as I was making my grand exit.

An entire month after my fiancé, Carl, left me for another woman, his pretty, boyish face was still looming before me. The only difference being that, where I’d once found its golden tones and soft contours angelic, it now put me in mind of an evil pixie.

Well, that and this time my view of his face was speckled by leaves. Probably because I was hiding in a hedge that overlooked Café De Ramez, instead of sitting beside him, staring into his eyes like a love-struck moron.

Ants and twigs were brazenly exploring my body as no man ever had, but my attention was devoted entirely to glaring at Carl. He didn’t glare back. I made my own glare more intense. He still didn’t notice me. To be fair, I was mostly obscured from his sight by the hedge, which was all part of my clever plan, [I might go with: plan. Still or Even so, I was...] but I was starting to suspect I could have danced with a dead man on the nearest table and he still wouldn’t have looked. I had more access to dead men than any girl should too, but that wasn’t really part of my clever plan.

He was staring, captivated, at the creature in front of him. Said creature flicked her blonde hair daintily and picked at her salad. I fought a desire to see her choke on the leaves. It wasn’t her fault Carl had fallen for her and decided to cheat on me in the process. Well, so I was assuming, [. And] and that’s why I was here; she needed to know exactly how much of a slimeball Carl really was. I couldn’t let him just sweep the rest of my broken heart under the fridge and open the door to his next victim. No, I needed to grow a backbone and warn her, for the sake of women everywhere. Even if she was prettier than me.

I focused on my glare again. They made a stunning couple - blonde, blue-eyed, and beautiful. My eyes, meanwhile, matched the colour of the hedge I was hiding in, and by the feel of the branches tangled in my hair, the rest of my head did too. I watched them in all their Hollywood perfection until I couldn’t kid myself any longer; my backbone was not going to show up. I’d have to do it alone. Besides, I think the hedge was starting to give me a rash.

Disentangling myself as elegantly as I could manage, I gathered every inch of my 5’ 6” frame and walked over to their table to the soundtrack of my galloping heart. “I think you deserve to know,” I said cautiously, my back turned on Carl’s handsome face, “that he was engaged to me when he started dating you.”

The blonde beauty smiled. Her teeth, I noticed, were straight and white, good enough for a toothpaste commercial. “Oh, I knew all along,” she said in her silkily seductive voice. Just like that, she admitted it, as if we were discussing the unexpected sunshine. This goddess of a woman, who could have any man she wanted, had deliberately lured mine away from me.

“Well just be aware,” I spat, my aspirations rapidly changing from warning her about Carl to dyeing her immaculate eyebrows black, “statistics show that men who cheat once, are much more likely to do it again.” I had no idea what statistics I was referring to, but it sounded good. Besides, I had some experience. My father was a prime example.

Marsha’s smile didn’t waver. “Oh I know, but,” she flicked her hair dismissively, “circumstances are a little different this time. I mean, you can’t expect a man to stay with you if you won’t put out.” I dunno about Marsha's dialogue...is she self-consciously an arrogant ass? like a young jerk pretending to be a cultured whore or is she just a cultured whore? how old is she?

The night Carl and I had lovingly made our pact to wait until marriage played out in my head. We had been alone in the house, lying on the living room floor, after watching a movie and eating ice-cream. My mum unless she's British, I'd go with mom--personal preference, but now I'm wondering whether I should be reading her with the accent, y'know? had always instilled in me the importance of waiting. She was convinced that doing so fostered deep mutual respect and reverence in a relationship. And after her own divorce, she desperately wanted to protect me from repeating her mistakes.

Following a vigorous kissing session, I had pulled away from Carl, and for the first time in my life, talked about the emotional trauma I experienced when my dad left. I was seven years old at the time. I’d been his princess; he’d been my world. I had heard my parents arguing and then my dad came into my room. “I have to go sweetheart,” he’d said.

“When will you be back?” I’d asked, completely naive.

“I can’t come back princess. Your mummy and I are breaking up, but I promise I’ll write to you.”

He started to leave, but I flung myself at him and wrapped my entire body around his leg. “No daddy!” I begged, “Don’t go!” He tried to prise me away gently but I refused to relinquish my grip. I don’t remember what he was saying; I was too busy begging him to stay with every fibre of my being to pay attention. All I remember is my shock when he gave up reasoning with me and forcibly wrenched me off of him. It hurt. But not as much as it did emotionally. He never wrote, and years later, I found out he left our family to live with another woman.

Carl had listened to my tale intently and even wiped my tears away. Afterwards, he’d wrapped me in his arms and whispered in my ear that I was worth waiting for. In return, I had promised never to paint his toenails.

I focused back on Marsha, who was staring at me expectantly with a smirk on her face. She lifted a dainty hand and made a show of yawning. “What? Run out of words already?” She shot a glance at Carl. “Whatever did you two get up to if her social skills are as lacking as her bedroom expertise?” What if Marsha spoke nicely, but cruelly? Then again, straight-forward cruelty is a shocker. Still, something feels off...the stilted dialogue thing.

I decided that after dyeing her eyebrows black, I might rip them off and relocate them just above her upper lip. In reality though, I just stood there, frozen, as I racked my brain for a suitably acerbic remark. Unfortunately, my wit seemed to be keeping company with my MIA backbone. I stared at her a moment longer, fighting to keep my tears in check, just in case a miracle occurred and I managed to redeem myself. It I didn't? didn’t. The waiter approached, and trying to retain the little dignity I had left, I turned to go. I couldn’t bear to face Carl.

Unfortunately my foot hooked I agree with the phantom appendages comment..."I hooked my foot and nearly tripped"or somethingaround a stray table leg, almost tripping me over. I heard Marsha shriek and turned around, certain it wasn’t out of concern for me. I was right. My little accident had bumped the table sufficiently to splash her just-delivered minestrone soup all over her dress. She glared at me in utter fury as the waiter made his apologies and ran to get a wet cloth. For a moment, I smiled into her murderous gaze, allowing her to assume that I’d done it deliberately. Then I hurried away before she could scratch my eyes out.

Sea
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Re: Naughty Gnomes - Romantic Comedy - Polished for Querying

Post by Sea » July 14th, 2010, 10:09 am

Hey thanks NickB - that was definitely helpful thank you. And welcome to offering your two-cents :)

Send me a direct message when you post something and I'll be sure to check it out. I know there aren't heaps of romance readers hanging out in these parts, probably because NB isn't really a romance literary agent :) Though I have to say, for a genre that is supposed to be so popular, I don't have many friends into it either. Hehe. Anyway, as a side note, the reason it says 'mum' is because I'm from Australia and that's what we say! I shall be interested to see how overseas agents react to my Aus spelling and terminology.

Anyway, I'm still a bit new to this forum, so I'm not quite sure how to put more up? Should I just add it to this comment stream? And how much extra were you hoping to read?

Thanks again for your feedback. You are one of the first romance fans that have actually read it so it's definitely nice to hear from someone in the genre :)

NickB
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Re: Naughty Gnomes - Romantic Comedy - Polished for Querying

Post by NickB » July 14th, 2010, 9:16 pm

Hey Sea,
I think you start a new thread, but that ultimately, it's up to you.

As for me, I'll read anything you put up. You're funny. And I'm used to and prefer the genre and so might be helpful. I don't know how much is "okay" to put up. I've seen multiple chapters put up, but not sure if it was in this forum. Doubt it. You can always send to me directly (though I'm just one person) and again, I'll read the whole book if you want.

I didn't mean anything by the mum thing...just that I had to go back and check to see if I had missed the clue-in to her not being American (never assume, eh?). Oh, and despite the eh, I'm not Canadian. So, I won't be breaking into rhapsodic verse on the joys of ice fishing and hockey. Hahahahahaha! Just Kidding! I'm American, so it's all gangland shootings and McDonald's fries. *snorting with laughter at my own tasteless jokes* Oh, and tasteless jokes.

It wasn't until "mum" that I was clued in that maybe I should be reading her with an accent. So, I mentioned it because I thought someone else would have that same reaction of stopping there, going back and scanning to see if they'd missed something in regards to place or speech that was important. It broke me out of the novel. If she were established right off with the accent, then I'd've expected it and read right through.

And I'm currently editing (eternal edit Agh!) a romantic comedy adventure novel, so I'll query Nathan, despite the lack of preference. It's something I think I'd like to see go mainstream. Despite the handicap I think that presents these days in terms of marketing...it could go Crime...it's in a still relatively new area. Like some Evanovich, Crusie, but with the multiple POV"s of Hiaasen (who is a master, I know.) And as per Nathan, he always says to send it on to see.

Hope to see more from you soon. Nick

Sea
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Re: Naughty Gnomes - Romantic Comedy - Polished for Querying

Post by Sea » July 23rd, 2010, 3:21 am

Hi Everyone. I decided to send the first three chapters directly instead of posting it all here, so if anyone else was hoping to read more, please let me know. Thanks

Emily J
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Re: Naughty Gnomes - Romantic Comedy - Polished for Querying

Post by Emily J » July 23rd, 2010, 12:28 pm

This is good. Really really good. And I don't particularly like your genre so that's saying something.

But please, take out the flashback to her father leaving. It brought the tempo to a grinding halt and also felt like something I've read before. And as others have pointed out, it's a flashback within a flashback. I think mentioning the father, without spelling it out quite so much leaves us interested in the character and could be info revealed at a later time. Aside from the father leaving part (and perhaps a bit of stilted dialogue with Marsha) though I found this thoroughly engaging and humorous. Excellent job.

NickB
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Re: Naughty Gnomes - Romantic Comedy - Polished for Querying

Post by NickB » August 24th, 2010, 11:37 pm

Hey, I sent you a PM because I couldn't get your .docx open, but I don't know that the message went through. (My forum navigational skills are lacking.) Please resend your first three chapters in a .doc. (I tried an XP patch, but no dice.) I'm still looking forward to reading your book! :) Thanks, Nick

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