Saturday, February 1, 2014

SVS AGENT Round Entry 2: A TEMPORARY CONVENIENCE, Adult Romantic Mystery

Genre: Adult Romantic Mystery
Word Count: 89,000

My Main Character is most uncomfortable with:
Snow is demonstrably inferior to sun. Many civilizations have worshipped the sun – realizing that, without it, life would be impossible. No photosynthesis would mean no food, while no Vitamin D production from sunshine would remove the strength to go get food even if it existed. But you can live quite comfortably without snow. You can plan for sunny weather, too. However, snowfall is unpredictable, tricky, and sometimes unsafe. And did humans evolve in the Arctic? Of course not. Honestly, then, why would any rational person be at ease around frozen water unless it’s cooling a lovely single-malt Scotch?
The last time a Macdonald trusted a Campbell, the Glencoe Massacre followed. Although that happened centuries ago, it’s hard to forget the slaughter of defenseless innocents by their guests – especially if your name is Beth Macdonald and you have a Ph.D. in medieval and early modern Scottish history. Unfortunately, that degree hadn’t led to permanent employment. Then Dorie Campbell, star of DC society and overly generous art dealer, materializes and offers to rescue Beth from a life of temp work.
The job is too tempting to pass up, even if Beth doesn’t feel qualified for the work and can’t understand how Dorie had heard of her and decided to seek her out. An actual career is appealing, and so is the fact that now her parents appear proud of her at last. This dream position even puts Beth in exquisite proximity with Dorie’s rich, hunky tax accountant/personal banker Ted Bruce, who acts so smitten he even tracks down and reads her dissertation and listens attentively to her impassioned defense of good king Macbeth.
However, the business records Beth is ordered to organize are hinky, and Dorie and her husband keep lying about matters big and small. Beth discovers the IRS is asking questions and a member of the local Mob family has some, too. She doesn’t want to work for a crook (if that’s what Dorie is) and is alarmed when the Campbells reach out to her parents both socially and professionally. And she also doesn’t desire to end up like Dorie’s previous assistant, a convenient scapegoat for the messed-up business records – and nowhere to be found. Learning of her predecessor’s coolness to Ted Bruce’s ardent overtures and of his bad boy reputation makes Beth even more uneasy.
Feeling trapped, Beth realizes she needs to brush off the investigation skills she learned in grad school and research the possible misdeeds of some modern Campbells – and her stunning new admirer – before she and her parents take the fall for something illegal. Or worse.
Thank you for your time and consideration.

First 250 words:
I practiced a confident smile in the rearview mirror of my parked Prius, but didn’t quite manage the task – for I had no reason for confidence.
My mental rehearsal of answers to potential job interview questions hadn’t been any more successful. This was my first shot at a permanent position, and it had come with little time to prepare. How could I gloss over that massive gap in my resume? What about:
"Before working as an office temp, I obtained two post-graduate degrees. But my honest conclusions were not appreciated, so an academic career proved impossible. However, I've always longed for a permanent position where truth is valued."
No, Beth. I sighed. The longer I sat outside the imposing iron gates to the Campbell’s Potomac estate, the more idiotic my imagined answers became. I wanted to sound like a principled teller of truth, not a pain in the ass. Further, Miss Brooks, owner of Capitol Temporary Services, claimed I shouldn't mention my degrees. As my defense-attorney dad always said: don't volunteer unfortunate facts.
I suppose they were right. For instance, I’d told Miss Brooks she’d misnamed the firm. There was no capitol in Columbia, Maryland. Capital was more accurate and positive, associated with both useful resources and the locally popular hockey team. She hadn’t appreciated my knowledge base.

I’d impressed my boss this morning, though. Dorie Campbell, art dealer and luminary of DC society, had called Capitol to say I seemed a strong candidate to become her new personal assistant. Why was not explained and certainly wasn’t self-evident.

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