Saturday, January 19, 2013

Love In Reality Excerpt

Rand Jennings enjoyed killing his boss, Marcy Edelstein.

He enjoyed it so much, he sometimes killed her twice in a single meeting.

They weren’t hurried affairs, either. Sure, he once capped her twice in the back of the head, Mafia-execution-style, before walking away. Usually, though, he took his time, pairing up cinematic murders with Marcy’s too-thin, too-caffeinated, too-Botoxed body. In fact, he’d researched whether he could kill her with Botox. Unfortunately, as apt as that would be, it took too much of the toxin to be practical.

So Rand settled for the classics. He shot her and let her fall into a Hollywood Hills swimming pool (Sunset Boulevard). He stabbed her in the shower (Psycho)—an awkward, blindly-slashing affair as he really didn’t want to see her naked. He dipped her in gold paint so her skin smothered (Goldfinger). During one of Marcy’s particularly nasty harangues, Rand slipped up behind her and garroted her with her own Herm├Ęs scarf (The Godfather, modified).

“Jesus, people, wake up!” Marcy screeched. “I need better ideas. Opposites attract this year, so we have to cast interesting people—of course no fatties—who the audience will understand in a very specific way.”

Rand leaned sideways toward Debbie and whispered, “How about Narcissistic Actor as a type?”

“They’d all qualify,” she muttered.

Marcy glared at them. “You two are like third-graders passing notes. Grow up! The Fishbowl isn’t going to produce itself. I’ve come up with the grand theme. The least you can do is help me amplify my vision.”

“C’mon, Marcy, it’s reality TV,” Rand said. “Let’s not lose sight of the fundamentals. Good-looking people in bathing suits jump around during the day and backstab at night while trying to win a million dollars. It’s not hard to figure out the themes. Greed and competition. This isn’t Hamlet.”

Marcy’s head stilled, the conference room lights deepening the shadows of her angular features. “Hamlet,” she said slowly. “The Lost Boy? No. I don’t think so. Too depressing. Could we do other Shakespearean characters? Puck versus Lear? Romeo versus Juliet? Othello versus Iago?”

Debbie piped up, “How about Lady Macbeth? Instead of fishing out the competition, she could just stab them all in their sleep.”

For a moment, it looked like Marcy might go for the heightened drama and increased conflict. Then her face hardened into scorn. “That’s ridiculous. Legal would never allow us to cast a homicidal maniac.”

“I guess it would drive up our insurance premiums,” Rand said as he mentally duct-taped Marcy to her chair, poured honey over her thousand-dollar hair weave and put her in a box with fire ants.

* * *

Ah, those were the days, when this season of The Fishbowl was still limited to Marcy’s hen-scratching on a whiteboard. Now Rand was crisscrossing the country, looking for her elusive types among the young, sexy and bird-brained people who’d applied to be on the show.

His cab was speeding away from the Philadelphia airport when text messages from Marcy started to make Rand’s phone ping. One called him an “utter waste of time” and then claimed that his work was essential. The next berated him for his uselessness but commanded him to call her immediately and give her an update on his search.

One made Rand laugh.

Why do I even put up with this shit? You couldn’t cast this show, let alone produce it, if I didn’t hold your hand the entire time. Nepotism will only get you so far, dickwad, so don’t think you can trade on your father’s fame for the whole of your career. Now get me a Ditz. I want tape on my desk today!!

The cab pulled up to a South Philly bar and Rand got out. An icy wind helped him slam the cab’s door.

He turned, taking in the bar’s windows, bright with neon. Not the worst place to be on a chilly March night. Inside, The County Cork was warm and redolent of fresh beer over a clean scent. Standard layout—horseshoe bar in the center, tables and booths around the perimeter. The few patrons were clustered close to the bar as though huddled together for warmth and community. It looked like the type of local bar where they really did know your name.

Rand hung up his coat and leaned down to use an antique pub mirror to fix his windblown hair. He needed a haircut. Oh, well. Time to get to work. Five minutes—or less—would tell him if he’d found the Ditz Marcy wanted for the show this summer.

Rand scanned the room for his target, spotting the bartender pulling one of the fancy wood-handled beer taps. Long brown hair, cute figure in jeans and a close-fitting top, nice smile. She passed the bikini test at least. Rand settled on a seat at one end of the bar.

 “Hi. What can I get for you?” the bartender asked him. He looked up. She had beautiful eyes and an interesting nose. She’d look good on TV. But did she fit Marcy’s idea for the Ditz? Rand suspected he knew the answer. She’d think the bartender too cool and confident, and Rand would get another screaming text on the subject. Marcy was like that old TV ad: She hates everything.

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  1. Great excerpt! I love the opening line.

  2. Hi Magdalen:

    Your book has me fairly well flummoxed. When I saw the title I thought it was a philosophical metaromance like I write. That’s a romance where all the characters are aware that they are in a romance novel. (I know, it's kind of ‘80ish except Alice Munro is still apt to write metafiction. Metaromance really hasn’t had its day yet; however, if anyone is going to need an indie publisher, I’m high on the list.).

    Next I analyzed the cover and thought this ‘reality’ must be about reality tv shows. I won’t watch reality tv shows because they are fixed as much as the sixty quiz shows.

    But then I read your excerpt. At this point, I thought the author was a highly educated writer under thirty. There were more illusions present than I think I’ve ever encountered before within so few words. I knew all the illusion both literary and showbusiness and, being in marketing for thirty years, I thought I would know the advertising. Howerver, I thought it was Mikey who didn’t like anything. I don’t remember a woman who hated everything. I do remember a woman saying “I don’t hate me because I’m beautiful”. I’m sure that made everybody who saw it hate her!!!

    I then wondered if people who watch reality tv shows will actually read a book like this one. Besides you seem to be making fun of the whole category of reality shows and the people in them. Now I like that approach.

    Next I thought, who in the world would publish this? Your cover seems to have a propensity of attracting people who like reality shows and driving away people who don’t like reality shows. Yet, I have a feeling that the people who don’t like reality shows would be your best prospects to buy this book. A traditional publisher not only wants what is selling, it wants it in series and sequels!

    In any event, it just took a few moments after reading your excerpt to download the book for my Kindle. I even shared it on Facebook. I’m buying it for your voice. It’s fun to read. It makes me think of Stephanie Plum in Janet Evanovish’s books. (Do you have a daughter helping you write dialogue like Janet does?)

    I just have to know if you can keep up that irreverent humor for a whole book. I have to read this book!

    I’d love to know if you know who your best prospects for “Love in Reality” are. The cover is very attractive and to the point and as well drawn as any traditional publisher provides. I just wonder if it is attracting the right readers. I know this: if you want to sell that book, get people to read that excerpt. In marketing there is nothing more powerful than a free sample, if that free sample is great and what you wrote here is great!

    Good luck in your marketing. I’d like to see more Pagliaci’s from your pen.


  3. I love the opening lines. Your character's imaginary murders had me chuckling. Humor draws me into a book and you did that splendidly.

    Thanks for sharing!

  4. Speaking of chuckling, Vince, you had me rolling on the floor with your take on the excerpt.

    Ahhh, it's nice to know somethings never change : )

  5. @Tam Linsey -- Thanks! I'm so glad you enjoyed it. I suck at opening lines, so you'll understand if I tell you that the whole opening was the very last bit I wrote!

    @Vince -- No one, I predict, will ever analyze my writing with such care and thoughtfulness. I feel the way people must when they learn a doctoral dissertation has been written on their work!

    Let me answer your questions. No, I don't have a daughter of any sort. While you've correctly guessed that I'm nearly as uh, mature as Ms. Evanovich (actually, I looked it up and I'm 13 years younger), I don't have someone half my age helping with dialogue. Well, to be completely forthright, I did ask the hivemind on Twitter if young women Lissa's age would use the expression "the 'rents" to indicate their parents. I believe the consensus was no.

    Honestly? I think fans of reality TV shows will enjoy the book just as much as people who loathe reality TV shows might. That's because the people who watch reality TV are interested in watching humans behave in intimate situations: fighting, conniving, and, yes, kissing. Hey, that's what's in a romance novel!

    Speaking of marketing, Vince, where's the hyperlink to your books? I want to read a metaromance!

    @Audra -- Thanks. I like humor in books, too. But I have no idea how to write it. I'm continually surprised when my husband starts chuckling in the next room. I have to ask him what he's reading, just so I can know what I wrote that's so funny!

  6. Hi Magdalen:

    Being a philosopher, sounding like a dissertation is one of my charms.

    Since I have not yet read, “Love in Reality”, I have no knowledge of who the story would appeal to most. You know the story best and if it appeals to both reality show fans and non-fans alike, then you have one of the best book covers I’ve ever seen. I predict success for the series.

    I have five novels and three nonfiction books in various stages of competition. Three novels have been out in contests with interesting results that will require revisions. One was a finalist in my last contest so things are getting better. However, none are ready to purchase. I expect the nonfiction books will come out first: “RPP – Rewards Per Page – The Key to Writing Success”, “Keeping the Frogs Under Water: Understanding Deep POV”, “Reading Has Changed – But Writing Has Not”.

    I’d like to have all three nonfiction books out this year. “Love in Reality” is my next book to read.


  7. Vince -- I love the idea of "frogs under water" to illustrate deep POV! I look forward to your books.

  8. I know, don't you love his titles.

    Hurry Vince, I want to read these!!

  9. I know the word "intelligent" is supposed to turn off readers, but I'd use it for this book. It's an intelligent romance filled with wit and insight. I'm not a reality TV fan, but I loved this book and found the look into the business fascinating.
    If you haven't read Love in Reality, do!