Queries sent: 107 (2 to editors)
Rejections: 66 (1 editor)
Partials requested: 9
Partials rejected: 9
Almost six months since I started submitting Lucky to agents/publishers. It’s so hard to keep positive. Especially when you get two nice rejections in a row that say you have great elements…but just not enough. Two agents read partials and wrote back that they weren’t drawn into the story. I wish I knew how…or why they felt that way, because to me, it doesn’t make any sense. Yes, yes, I know the business is subjective, but I worked VERY hard to make the first several chapters interesting and intriguing.
What do you think?
Here are the opening scenes (forgive the bad formatting):
August 14, 2005
The clock in the assassin’s head ticked a silent countdown toward death. Looking two hundred yards through the rifle’s scope made the mark seem an arms length away. Each second that passed was a moment closer to the kill.
This time, what happened in Vegas wouldn’t stay in Vegas.
Keeping Conrad Andersen in the crosshairs through a small crack between the motel’s grimy plaid curtains tested the assassin’s patience. Only a portion of the bed was in view, limiting the probability of a clean shot via the window. However, the opportune condition would present itself and make the job easier with the chaos left behind.
It was reason enough to wait.
Andersen pulled a hooker over his lap and playfully spanked her ass. The middle-aged woman shook her highlighted dirty blonde head, laughed, and kicked her legs in false protest. When her skin turned pink, Andersen kissed the tramp-stamp tattooed on small of her back and fell to the bed. She slithered against him, gave him an exaggerated kiss, and then vanished.
After he wiped his mouth, traces of the hooker’s lipstick smeared across his face. He frowned and got up moving out of view.
The assassin used the free moment to ease the tension built up after two hours on a stakeout. First a stretch and twist sideways, popping a few vertebrae. Flexing both hands and rotating both ankles brought the circulation back. Then Lucky wondered if the military did similar exercises when they’d been watching a target.
Doubt any of them had to watch an extensive Viagra-induced sexcapade.
Lucky eased back into position as Andersen appeared in the scope again. He was dressed in his best Sunday suit, blue pinstriped with a white shirt. A decent looking older man, but knowing what he’d done made him ugly enough to eliminate.
The hooker reappeared and shared a tender kiss with the john before gathering her belongings off the nightstand. When the lights in the room dimmed, Lucky began slow deep breaths and eased into a final position.
Directing the scope three feet to the right and targeting ten inches below the top of the doorframe was the perfect height for the target. The shot window was approximately five seconds; the wind factor, distance, and bullet drop already part of the equation. As the door opened, Lucky let out one last breath and started counting.
One: the hooker emerged first, laughing and turned her head back nodding.
Two: Andersen appeared and threw his arm around the woman’s shoulder.
Three: she glanced up at him as Lucky eased the reticle of the scope to Andersen’s head.
Four: he leaned down and kissed her.
Five: the mark lifted his head searching the parking lot.
In the sixth second, the bullet penetrated his skull. The man’s eyes popped upon exit. Pink bits of his brain splattered back on the door.
The hooker screamed.
Andersen’s body slumped against the frame. Other rooms instantly sprang to life with activity. A dog barked in the distance.
What was left of his face stared back into the scope. Kill confirmed.
Burn in hell, bastard.
With the casing secure in the brass catcher, Lucky removed the silencer then quickly popped off the shoulder stock. Then she packed up the Heckler and Koch MSG90 rifle in the trombone shaped case.
She rolled up the blanket, surveyed the roof for noticeable evidence then slipped down the side of the house. The occupants and their neighbors could be home any moment and she had to move.
Weaving her way through the backyard, she hopped over the fence of the adjoining property and emerged on Margo Drive. She walked the length of the street listening for any sign of the police behind her.
Two minutes after the kill, she found her rental car around the corner on Pacyna. The smell of Vegas: sex, booze, and money lingered in the air. Streetlights sparkled, waiting for the last of the sunlight to vanish from the horizon. She’d get back in time for the free hotel happy hour.
Lucky opened the trunk, secured the case, and slipped into the car. Then she sighed. Her boss was forcing her to get rid of the sniper rifle despite pleas to keep the weapon for sentimental value. She knew he was right, still, it was a great gun—one she had for years—and she hated to melt it down.
As she drove to S. Nellis Blvd, sirens wailed in the distance. She traveled south toward E. Tropicana Ave, and picked up her cell phone when she turned onto Paradise Road.
“It’s done,” she said while checking the rearview mirror. “Our boy had a thing for hookers, apparently.”
“Leave the package where I told you, he’ll take care of it for us. I’ll see you when you land, okay?” the man on the other end replied.
“Sure, Phen. Tell Bet she owes me dinner.”
“She does? Why?” He huffed. “Don’t tell me you two are wagering over your jobs.”
“No, she owes me because I told her you’d make me get rid of Heckle today.”
“Don’t be sore, you still have the other.”
“Yeah, yeah. Talk to ya.” Lucky clicked off the phone and went to drop off her weapon to the butcher’s lock box.
From here I go into a little history and the “change” that starts the whole story, chapter 3 is another hit…and so on.
At this point, I’m so far into Lucky’s story as a whole, I’m not sure how else I can change it to make the first half of the book better, more alluring, if you will. Giving too much away in the beginning ruins the plot. Telling more of Lucky’s past would make her less interesting. I’ve got two death scenes in the first three chapters, how else can I draw someone in? I haven’t a clue, but that doesn’t mean I won’t try and rework some things here and there.
It’s both constructive and aggravating getting rejection letters with editorial tips. Good because it means someone is really reading my stuff, yay! Bad because, well, the tips are generalized and don’t help me in figuring out what is “gripping” to agents.
I’m heading to Staples today to buy more toner. I have four publishing houses I’m going to submit to this week and want to get everything printed and ready for Tuesday’s mail.
If this round of submissions doesn’t work, I may try some of the smaller presses. I know of a few that I like, and know other people have submitted to. Some smaller and epubs aren’t my cup of tea. Just like agent acceptance is subjective, Jenn’s submissions are subjective.
Positive thoughts…there is a good match out there for Jenn. I just haven’t found it yet.