May 31, 2010

Query Me This...LIONS AND TIGERS AND BEARS

Click here for the discussion thread.  

Dear Agent,

Dan Weathers has a gambling problem, and he’s finally hit rock bottom.  He’s $10,000 in the hole, he doesn’t have a dime to pay toward his debt, and he’s got high school to deal with.  It’s going to be one hell of a senior year. 

The situation worsens when Dan finds a bet that can clear his debts, but to win it he has to throw the game against the Tigers, the worst football team in the league.  As quarterback of the top-ranked Lions, Dan is just the guy for the job.  But if he pulls it off, the Lions won’t have a chance at the title, and Dan will lose a bet he already made: that the Lions will match up against the undefeated Bears in the playoffs.  And then he’ll be right back where he started. 

Dan’s online sports bookie – screen name Odd$Ball – wants his money.  He sends Dan some signals: a flat tire here, a broken window there…but Odd$Ball himself remains hidden.  Which is good for him, because as the head coach for the Bears, Odd$Ball has been playing the odds himself, coaxing Dan into each wager and trying to ensure big payouts on his own bets on the Lions and Tigers and Bears.  Oh my.

LIONS AND TIGERS AND BEARS is a 65,000-word Young Adult novel.  I’ve been following your blog, and I chose to query you based on your success in selling YA books and your love of sports. 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Regards,
Rick Daley


Chapter 1

Dan closed and locked his bedroom door.  His Dad never come in without knocking, but his little brother Jeffrey wouldn’t think twice about it, and if Jeffrey saw Dan with his laptop, the little shit would tell their father in a heartbeat.

Dan pulled the laptop from his backpack and sat down at his desk.  He booted it up, but stopped it from connecting to the home wireless network.  His father had been monitoring all network traffic since he caught Dan betting big – and losing big – online.  Poker and football were the primary culprits, but an occasional round or six of blackjack snuck into Dan’s playing time.  But Dan was on a winning streak now. 

He scanned the available wireless networks.  There it was, his ticket online: linksys- Unsecure Wireless Network.  Luckily, the Millers next door weren’t as tech savvy as his Dad.  Dan caught a free ride on to the Internet and sat back in his chair as his gaming account stats filled his monitor.

Account Balance: $5,000.  More money than Dan ever had in his life.  Made the sweaty rolls of ones and fives he earned delivering pizza seem like chump-change, something you just throw in a jar and let accumulate for a couple years.  But this was real money.  Dan liked to stare at the figure on the screen and spend it in his head. 

Account Balance: $5,000.  He bought his girlfriend Tara a sweet leather jacket and earrings.  He took her out to dinner and gave them to her at the restaurant, that steakhouse downtown.  Then he took her to a hotel, and he gave her the black lace lingerie.  Tara was so thrilled with the jacket and earrings she modeled the lingerie for him, and afterward she finally granted him the access he’d been practically begging for since they started dating sophomore year.

Account Balance: $5,000.  Dan got ground effects and a spoiler for the back of his Mustang, then installed the fattest sound system available.  He tinted the windows and laid an inch of rubber halfway down the block, new tires squealing and bass thumping.

Account Balance: $5,000.  Dan knew what he would really do.  He would do the same thing he did when it was $50, and the same thing he did when it was $500.  He would find the right bet, and double-down. 

Then he would fantasize about spending $10,000.

Dan checked his inbox.  A reminder from his Dad to clean the gutters.  He started to reply, but deleted the draft email.  It was a set-up.  His Dad would know he had been online if he replied, and then Dan would lose the laptop forever.  That was worse than being banned form the Internet and having to hop a ride on the Miller’s wireless network.

His SPAM filter held 17 items.  Dan looked through them.  Nigerian bank accounts, dick pills, some religious inspirational bullshit from his Aunt Sarah, and finally the message he was looking for.  An email from Odd$Ball, his online bookie.

Odd$Ball was a Godsend.  Dan met him at an internet poker table and bumped into him at other tables in the virtual casino from time to time.  Dan started to hit real paydirt when Odd$Ball reached out to him about a bet on the Stanley Cup playoffs last year.  Even though Dan didn’t follow hockey and had no clue which team was really better, he followed Odd$Ball’s advice and won $1,000. 

Dan opened the email:
Got a sure thing for you.  Fast action, have to act now.  5 grand gets you a 3:1 payout.  Go double you get 5:1.  Can’t beat those odds with a stick.  You game?
Holy shit.  If he went double, he’d be looking at a five-to-one payout on ten grand; $50,000 was much as his Dad made in a year.  Never mind the fact that he didn’t have the other $5,000 if he lost.  He didn’t need it to make the bet, and when Odd$Ball said sure thing, he always won.  Always.

Dan replied:
I’m in for the large haul.

Fifty grand.  This was going to be one hell of a senior year.

#

After school the next day, and stopped at Starbuck’s on the way home.  His Dad was a fool for trying to keep him offline.  The Internet was everywhere. 

Dan ordered an iced coffee and a slice of lemon cake and took a table in the corner.  He fired up his laptop and checked his email.  There it was, in the SPAM filter.  Message from Odd$Ball.  He opened it:
Sorry, man, this one was a bust.  Happens to us all from time to time.  Payment due ASAP.  Maybe next time.

“Fuck!” Dan yelled.  Everyone in Starbucks looked over at him.  His face was redder than the zit at the end of Artie Howard’s nose, and Dan was just as ready to pop.  He read the message again.  This has got to be a joke.  No way.  No FUCKING WAY!

Dan slammed his laptop closed so hard the lid cracked.  He didn’t care.  He shoved the laptop in his bag and walked out to his car as fast as he could, leaving his food and drink on the table, untouched.

He drove around to the loading docks behind the grocery store and parked.  He started at the ford emblem in the center of his steering wheel until it blurred and he saw double.  He owed Odd$Ball $10,000.  He had one choice: he would have this evening to parley his $5,000 into bigger, better winnings to cover his debt.  He could do it.  He just needed some time at the high-roller table.  Thursday was Dad’s date night so he wouldn’t be around.  As long as Dan could keep Jeffrey out of his hair he could pull it off.

Click here for the discussion thread.  

9 comments:

Piedmont Writer said...

As I read the query, I kept thinking, "Wow, this is good, I love this whole Lions and Tigers and Bears thing." And when I reached the end of the query I said, out loud to the dog, "Holy Crap Orla, this query is perfect!"

Then I looked at the signature. Wow, Rick, this is fantastic. Congratulations.

I love the pages too. Once typo in the second sentence 'come' instead of 'came' but that was great reading. Nice and tight.

Oh best of luck with this although I know you don't need it. I love the whole concept, the writing, the story.

Pen said...

Have to admit this isn't my kind of book, but in spite of that I can appreciate this looks great.
The query was good and the writing sample was nice and tight.
Good on you.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

This is a great query. I didn't read the sample pages because the story isn't my kind of thing, but I was impressed with the query. So, you want to write my next? ;)

Good luck with it!

Aleeza said...

This is AWESOME. And not just the query, the first five pages are absolutely enticing.

Suzan Harden said...

You are going to finish this, aren't you, Rick?

Rick Daley said...

Thanks everyone. This was fun to work on. The idea hit me while I was eating dinner, about a week after I announced this experiment. I was trying to think of a way to make it YA, and "turn governments into football teams" seemed a great way to do it.

I started with a one-sentence story description:

The quarterback of the Lions needs to throw the game against the Tigers to pay off a bet, but if he does the Lions will upset their winning streak and lose the season title to the undefeated Bears. But the quarterback was set up by his bookie, who is actually the Bears’ coach…

I added to it until I had a query of suitable length and a good opening hook.

I have added this novel to my list of works in progress, but I have 3-4 other novels in queue before I get to this one. There isn't anything to it other than what you see here.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Well, I already liked the query, but I think I like the pages even more. You have great voice, and the writing is fabulous and tight, just like YA should be! :)

Which was harder for you - query or pages?

Rick Daley said...

Susan- The query was harder. There was more to get across with fewer words. The plot prompt is complicated, so it's a challenge to get it all out without making it trip over itself.

The pages just flowed. The hardest part was figuring out what the opening scene should be. Once I decided on the bet that puts Dan in the hole, it just came naturally.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Rick - Same for me. I thought the query would be easier, but no, the pages flowed once I had the query down. :)