turn this into a powerful logline and win my eternal love + gratitude ( + a hundred bucks)

 

 

Dear You with the Wondrous Taste to be Reading this Blog:

Below is my working synopsis for the novel I’m working on called THE DECADENTS.

I would like to call upon the wisdom of the tribe to help me develop a punchy one- or two-sentence description that I can use at cocktail parties when people ask me what this damn book is about.

So give it a shot.

Enter a logline in the comment section below.

If I choose yours, I will give you a $100 Amazon gift certificate and name a character in the novel after you.

Contest ends whenever someone delivers up the perfect logline — or I come up with one on my own, or give up on the whole exercise, in which case I will give a $50 Amazon gift certificate to the entry that amuses (or bemuses) me the most.

Here is the working draft of the synopsis (and feel free to comment on it, what you like or don’t like about it, if you would actually read this book or hurl it at the neighbor’s dog that barks too much):

Gabe Maddox is a famous artist in Los Angeles fighting off drugs and a hedonistic nightlife when a mysterious younger woman confronts him with his past.

She is Cat Rusakova, a dancer plagued by nightmares and periods of ‘lost time’. She demonstrates an uncanny knowledge of Gabe’s high school love, Angelina, who disappeared over twenty years ago.

Gabe remains close to Angelina’s powerful family, especially her brother, Mason Lowell, a brilliant and enigmatic CEO. When a secret triangle of obsession and desire develops among Gabe, Cat, and Mason, the present begins to echo the past and forces Gabe to investigate Angelina’s last days and his own involvement with her. As the connection between Cat and Angelina reveals itself and Cat’s sanity begins to unravel, Gabe must overcome the deepest betrayal of his life — or a woman he loves will die. Again.

(edited to add the following, which was actually a comment responding to another comment in the section below, and which might cast some light on things:

the book is about repetition compulsion, the return of the repressed — how we recreate situations and relationships from the past in order to resolve them — reincarnation is a metaphor for that. the girl, Cat, is traumatized by memories of her past life/assault/murder and suffering from dissociation (she basically has an ‘alternate’ personality that has split off all the memories she can’t handle and their accompanying emotions). so she recreates this triangle — albeit not completely with the same people — which is driving toward the same tragic conclusion (her death) unless there’s resolution, restoration, healing. i want it to be a compelling cover-to-cover kind of read, elegantly written, but I’m really interested in the psychology, the relationships, the revelations of character, which I guess makes it a psychological thriller? psychosexual thriller? (a naked woman reclining and drinking champagne…actually *is* in the novel…)

bestest

Justine
xoxo

and don’t forget to follow me on twitter

Aug 14, 2011
By
   

105 comments · Add Yours

Sounds compelling. I don’t know if you’re trying to depict realistic human relationships, but I doubt that under the circumstance of Angelina’s death, Gabe and Mason would “remain close friends.” Having known some “bad boy artists” myself, when I read that phrase I immediately thought “man-child.” If Gabe was a real person he would probably maintain a very weak connection with Mason or even a painful one. I suppose it’s possible to be close to someone under an unhealthy premise. But if he hasn’t forgiven himself I don’t think he could forgive Mason enough to stay close to him.

That said, there’s a lot I don’t know about the inner lives of these characters, so I trust that it can make perfect sense in the context of the story. But I thought you might find it useful to hear an initial reaction to the plot summary.

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Here’s my shot at this:
Angelina, Gabe, Cat, Mason a love square turned love triangle, or will the triangle become a flat line?
:)
cheers
from a fellow writer

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‘A big-city, bad-boy artist gets a chance to right a wrong–one he committed–if he has the courage to see what’s true and what’s not and what’s real and what’s not.’

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A troubled artist must sacrifice everything to keep history from repeating itself when he finds his current love has more than just a mysterious connection to his high school love: she might end up dead just like her.

I found this hard to make a logline, as I don’t know enough about the stakes (i.e. what Gabe is putting on the line). I also don’t see enough about his character arc in the summary. How is he going to be changed by all this? Your synopsis starts out focussing on Gabe, but then it loses focus on him as it brings in these other characters.

If this was on the shelf in a bookstore, I would open it up to try it out. Sounds interesting.

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@Kiriko Context is everything. The writer’s job is to take *any* situation or relationship and render it believable. (In this case, almost twenty years has passed since Angelina’s disappearance, and her family is the only sense of family Gabe has. At least in this draft.)

@Nikola @Alyson thank you much!

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“A bad-boy artist free-falls into the mystery of his first love’s disappearance after becoming entangled with a woman possessing uncanny knowledge of her life.”

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Haunted by past loss, caught up in a tangle with a powerful family, his oldest friend, and a girl that knows things that she shouldn’t, Gabe Maddox should have remembered a very old piece of wisdom.
Never date a dancer.

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Gabe Maddox lost his high school love, Angelina, without ever getting answers about her mysterious disappearance. Now, as Gabe is losing his carrer as an artist, he manages to find love again with dancer Cat Rusakova, but if he can’t explain her mysterious connection to his lost love Angelina, he might lose the only thing he has left, his life.

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First, I will definitely be reading. Second, my shot:) :
An usual love triangle between Gabe Maddox, the brother of his deceased high school love, Angelina, and a young dancer causes Gabe to question his prior knowledge of Angelina’s family and the connection that she has with his current lover. As present echoes past, he is forced to unlock the truth or a young woman is going to die at his hands. Again.

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If this is for cocktail party conversation, as opposed to a formal pitch, then I’d keep it casual and 20,000 foot-level — something like:

It’s about an artist who has been scarred for 20 years by the disappearance of his first love, and is now being pulled back into solving that mystery. It’s about guilt and the power of dreams and a love triangle between art, power and magic.

Since I don’t know the book, I’m inferring the “power of dreams” from Cat’s nightmares and “magic” from the idea of lost time and strange connection. If those aren’t right, then substitute something similarly evocative. The goal is the “list of three cool emotional descriptions” that is reinforced by the ending image of the love triangle.

People will ask more about the plot if they want the details. But what people in these kinds of conversations are really interested in (IMO) is a description they can respond to emotionally.

It would certainly work for me (grin). Will look forward to someday reading the book!

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A troubled artist falls for a psychologically unstable dancer who has ties to his old high-school sweetheart, long deceased. When his dead sweetheart’s surviving brother gets involved in the relationship, the present echoes the past and truths come out that could tear all their lives apart.

That seems a bit long for a log line, but without reading the novel first, it’s hard to distill it. It’s hard to know which elements are most vital and most interesting. Anyway, hope that helps, though it’s mostly your own words compressed and rephrased. Good luck!

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@Terra LeMay thanks. part of this experiment is to see what elements of the story leap out to readers. (the story itself is still evolving).

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I do like your write up. I don’t feel I know enough about the story to do it justice. Here’s a shortening:

Gabe Maddox is a self-destructive LA artist who lost his high school sweetheart Angelina to a serial killer over twenty years ago. When Gabe falls in love with Cat Rusakova, he learns a connection between Cat and Angelina’s powerful family. As Cat’s sanity begins to deteriorate, Gabe must confront the truth about the deepest betrayal of his life — or lose the woman he loves. Again.

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Here’s two:

The fancy version:

When badass artist Gabe Maddox meets a nightmare-plagued dancer with eerie insights into his lost lover’s life and death, he begins to search the shadows of his former lover’s powerful family for clues about who she really was. Gabe must find the truth in the lies, or he could end up losing the woman he loves. Again.

The simplified version:

After meeting a nightmare-plagued dancer who holds an alarming amount of knowledge about his lost lover, bad-boy artist Gabe Maddox must investigate his lost lover’s powerful family to figure out who she really was, and what really happened to her, before history repeats itself.

It’s hard to write a logline when I’m not sure exactly what the throughline of the story is — though I presume it’s Gabe’s investigation into his lost lover’s family. At least, that’s the part that appeals to me most — not the relationships that the character is involved in, not the thematic qualities of the story, but what the character is physically doing.

The physical task is what gets me to read a book, the relationships are what get me emotionally involved and make me want to read it again. However, I don’t know if you can sell a relationship — there’s too many moving parts, too many complexities to boil a relationship down into a logline. Sell the simple, let the reader find the depth and complexities for themselves. I read “The Road” because I liked the world and the concept of trying to get somewhere in a post-apocalyptic world was interesting, but I loved “The Road” because of the relationship between father and son.

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I’ll be reading. Also, a couple phrases are a tad “soundbyte-y” for me and I’d prefer something concrete. ;)

“veering toward self-destruction” “turns his life upside down.” “question everything he thought he knew about the people he cares about the most.” – what do these look like?

As to the logline, I prefer to use your own words.

Cat Rusakova turns Gabe Maddox’s world upside down when she demonstrates an uncanny knowledge of Gabe’s high school love, Angelina, who disappeared twenty years ago. As the connection between Cat and Angelina reveals itself, Gabe must confront the truth about Angelina while overcoming the deepest betrayal of his life — or a woman he loves will die. Again.

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An obsessive triangle forms between an artist, a CEO, and a dancer who seems to know a bit too much about a woman presumed to be a victim of a serial killer twenty years ago.

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@Jess Corra True. It’s good to get specific. Will work on that, thanks.

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When Gabe Maddux meets Cat Rusakova, his already self-destructive lifestyle hits a hard spiral. As Cat fights to regain lost bits of time, she takes on the aspect of Gabe’s lost love, Angelina, drawing both Gabe and Angelina’s brother Mason into a triangle of intrigue where past and present interwine, and time stands still.

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;)

Streamlining…

Gabe must confront the truth about his high school love who disappeared twenty years ago when a dancer with uncanny knowledge of her turns his life upside down — or a woman he loves will die. Again.

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Gabe is still struggling to escape his haunted history when Cat dances into his life. Will her eerie connections to his past destroy everything he holds true and her sanity in the process, or has he finally found the answers that will make him whole?

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Gabe Maddox is thrown for a loop when Cat Rusakova, demonstrates an uncanny knowledge of his high school love, Angelina, the presumed victim of a serial killer, which leave him questioning everything he thought he knew. As the connection between Cat and Angelina reveals itself and Cat’s sanity begins to unravel, Gabe must uncover the truth about Angelina while overcoming the deepest betrayal of his life — or a woman he loves will die. Again.

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I love the title and I was looking for a tie-in in the synopsis. It made me a little distracted, but it certainly draws you in.
It is definitely a book I’d read.

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It’s all about what happens when you can’t forget the past.

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Overall, I like the synopsis, and, contrary to what is discussed above, I personally think it is bordering on being a bit too specific, a bit too informative. The only thing you might want to consider adding is some of your response to Kiriko about context (that is a good response). How about: “Gabriel remains close to Angelina’s powerful family, the only sense of family he ever really had, and he especially remains close with her brother Mason…” And I do wonder how this current triangle of obsession and desire echos the past. Does that mean the past triangle of obsession and desire includes both a brother and sister? Hmm…not my thing, but I guess it might inspire some people to want to read the book. But just because it may or may not be alluding to a subject that is not everyone’s thing doesn’t mean its a bad synopsis, it means, instead, its doing its job by creating a sense of wonder. Good stuff. I could do without the word “uncanny.” Where that word is found seems to be a very important segment of the synopsis, and what you are trying to convey by using it seems to be a very important element of both Cat’s intrigue and the book’s hook. To me, “uncanny” fails in this important role. With that said, I am unable to come up with a word worthy of the effort at this time.

As for a logline, those are tough. I’d rather be tasked to write 1000 lines to describe something versus just one or two. Though I do recommend keeping it in the spirit of your twitter bio. I like that style…and the spirit.

Good luck Justine. I’m not sure if I would read your book, but, as a first-time visitor to your site, I like what you have going on here and I am sure I will visit from time to time.

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A foolhardy artist chases a shadow of his lost love- will he get lost in the dark?

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A psychological thriller: he’s a hedonist, she loses time, and murder is reverberating…

As Kelly Eskridge said, if this is for cocktail party fodder I would say

“It’s a thriller about a bad boy artist, a hyper-knowing woman who loses time, and the murder binding them.”

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Justine. As someone who continues to struggle to come up with a sentence or two to explain what it is that I do as ‘The Samurai Guy’ I understand a little of the space you are in. My immediate response to this post was “OMG she doesn’t know what her own book is about … that is not good.” I went through a similar process asking people who had experienced what I offer what they thought I should say – the problem was that each of them took something different away and so their response was different. I suspect that will be the same with your readers.

What I found was that I just had to have a lot of awkward conversations where I tried out different variations of what I wanted to try and convey. Over 2 years down the track and I have settled on something that points towards what I am about but also elicits a “Scooby Doo” response from the person I am talking to (imagine Scooby Doo saying “huuhhhh?”). That is their invitation to give a paragraph or two that provides some more information – which is what you already have.

Ultimately I think this is something you have to do on your own. Say it out aloud to as many people who will listen to it (not just read it) and you will find something acceptable. I say that because in my experience it still doesn’t feel quite right to say:

“I give people the opportunity to practice dying for what they believe in.”

What it does do is almost make them insistent that I explain further. That is what I think you need to aim for and I don’t think you can do that until you understand what your story is really about. Enjoy the journey.

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@Paul Marshall Thanks, Paul. I do know what the story is about. This is an experiment in ‘baked-in marketing’ and design thinking — it’s about testing the synopsis and the story itself. Creation is fluid, it adapts and evolves according to what works and what doesn’t, and a constructive feedback loop is an absolutely crucial part of that process. The idea that the story in your head should be this fixed and permanent thing, and that creativity happens in isolation, is erroneous. While you certainly need healthy boundaries — to protect the essence or purpose of your vision, to properly sift through ideas and criticism to keep what feeds it and reject what does not — you also need to expose yourself to the rich cross-fertilization of different minds, ideas, perspectives, opinions, and you need to separate your ego from your work (I cannot stress that enough). I want to shape this story for maximum impact in a way that conveys what I want it to convey, both in what the story actually is and how I can present it to others. Besides, tweaking and re/envisoning, leaning into its strengths, building on them, is hugely enjoyable (my favorite part of the process).

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The past is a bitch, especially because it knows everything about you. But you didn’t expect it to visit you disguised as a dancer bitch, did you? Watch out for pointy heels. They look great on strippers, but will trample your feet. Stings like betrayal.

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In addition to all that, Justine, I think what you’re doing with the contest is a great way to generate a little chatter about the book and develop some hardcore fans. Besides, this is no longer the era where the ascetic writer sits n some lonely room working in isolation for five years (though, of course, many writers still do); this is the era of The Cloud, and, especially the younger folks expect and demand to be engaged in the development of all things instead of just accepting what is given. I like. And, I apologize. I know I’m taking away from the true intention of this post, and that is to get you a logline! But, the conversation is very compelling. :)

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It might need some work, but here goes:

“Imagine. You’re grappling with the temptations of success, when someone confronts you with a disturbing disappearance deep in your troubled past. The memories of a love long lost flood back and it’s up to you and you alone to stop it from happening all over again…”

(Just read it aloud to myself in a deep booming movie trailer voice ;-))

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@Walter Dinjos I know, I know, when I put ‘dancer’ and ‘Los Angeles’ together in the same sentence, people think I mean ‘stripper’. I don’t. She’s a dancer/choreographer, aspires to her own dance company.

@Kurt Brindley Thanks for your comments. The fascinating thing about the Internet is that it does introduce new ideas about what it ‘means’ to ‘be a writer’ — or for that matter, to connect with those people formerly known as your audience. There’s this life-force energy to creativity, it moves and flows in a kind of sacred circuit. I am much richer when I open myself up to it.

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OK, this is what I think your synopsis says: “An artist dangling between success and self-destruction must relive and resolve the death of an old girlfriend before current events play out and he, his new love and best friend repeat past sins.”

I boiled it down this way, because as I read the synopsis, Gabe is the main character and it’s his character arc. On the plus side, it’s one line, but I don’t think it emphasizes the triangle as much as you have in your posts about the book, and some people might take issue with the word “sins.” It’s been fun to see what everyone has taken from this.

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A famous artist’s latest obsession is revealed to be connected to his former love, who has been missing for twenty years, and reignites a investigation that leads to surprising and devastating results.

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How real was the dangerous obsession that threatened to turn Gabe Maddox’s life into a whirlpool? Once there’d been Angelina, now there was Cat. All Maddox knew was that he was in love and painting better than he’d ever painted before.

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Artist Gabe relives his past when Cat, a troubled young dancer, stirs up memories of his first love, Angelina (presumed murdered, but never found). With both his heart and his sanity at risk, Gabe struggles to discover the truth of Angelina’s death, before Cat falls prey to the same demons.

(…which is incomplete without a “Mwahaha!” at the end. I doubt that bodes well for my chances of winning. :) )

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“In a world…”

KIDDING!

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Hi Justine! This seems like a fun exercise. :)

I’m looking at your synopsis and I get a good sense of what Gabe is like (womanizing famous artist) and what the stakes are (losing the woman he loves). However, I don’t get a clear sense of what he wants. What’s his goal? What is he fighting for? What’s important to him? In one of your previous posts you mentioned that he’s looking for an authentic connection, so I’d guess that he’s seeking to connect to someone the way he once connected to Angelina (I assume).

Here’s my first shot at a logline:

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Oops, accidentally submitted before I had the logline. Ha.

Famous artist Gabe Maddox distracts himself from the pain of losing his high school love by diving into drugs and a hedonistic nightlife. When a young dancer with mysterious knowledge of his lost love confronts him about the past, he must unravel the connection between the two women before the past is replayed, or a woman he loves will die — again.

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Here’s another one, which includes the love triangle (I know that’s important to you :P):
Famous artist Gabe Maddox never expected to love again after the disappearance of his high school sweetheart, much less compete with her brother for the attentions of a young dancer with strange nightmares and uncanny knowledge of his lost love. As a secret triangle of obsession and desire develops among the three, the present begins to echo the past, and Gabe must unravel the connection between his new flame and his old before the woman he loves loses her mind — or worse, her life.
There isn’t a limit to entries, is there? I’m having a lot of fun with this! :)

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Twenty years after his high school love mysteriously vanishes a tortured artist encounters an equally tormented dancer who may possess the key to his girlfriend’s disappearance. To unlock the answers he must first navigate a Bermuda Triangle of obsession, betrayal and lost time before the dancer’s sanity unravels and a woman he loves dies – again.

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“A high-society Los Angeles love triangle haunted by past and future betrayal.”

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Gabe, a partying artist going sober, must solve the mysterious death of his past love Angelina or he risks losing Cat, his current love while navigating complicated relationships with Angelina’s family.

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This is what I would say to cocktail party guests:

“It’s about this drug-addled L.A. artist who falls in love with a dancer named Cat, and then has to figure out if she’s the reincarnation of his ex-love who died twenty years ago, or just a crazy stage-five clinger.” :P

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Can a hedonistic, drug addicted L.A. artist overcome the ultimate betrayal while trapped in a love triangle so complicated it may keep him from saving the life of his soul mate who vanished twenty years ago?

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Hard to know the genre from your post, but here’s what I see:

When a young dancer with an uncanny knowledge of his first and mysteriously lost love enters Gabe Maddox’s life, he must struggle to overcome the drug-fueled hedonistic world of the LA art scene and confront the truth of the past before he loses another woman he loves.

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Not wanting Cat, his new love to suffer the same fate as his beloved Angelina, Gabe must cut through a web of cunning and lies while revisiting the past.
As painful as it is, Gabe must return to Angelina’s final days to find out who he can trust, as Cat’s sanity and his friendship with Mason hang in the balance.

Justine if I win please donate the $100 to a charity of your choice.

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okay back for a more high-concept-y approach. or, at least, shorter. >.>

A self-destructing artist must unravel the connection between a haunted dancer and the lover who disappeared twenty years ago before the past repeats itself.

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In a past-present-future triangle — with love, friendship and loss at its core – Gabe Maddox, my cavalier protagonist, meets dancer-choreographer Cat, who exhibits an otherworldly connection to his long-dead lover, Angelina. Things get complicated when Gabe’s friend, Mason, enters the scene – more so since he’s Angelina’s brother. The story pushes against the boundaries of these relational states while simultaneously blurring the lines that separate them.

Thanks for the tasty amuse-bouche, Justine, and the fun challenge!

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I’m struck by how confused people are by what to emphasize in their summary: the mystery around the girl’s disappearance? The mystery of what’s up with the new girl? Whether the guy can trust his ex-girlfriend’s family? Whether the guy himself is a jerk or just a broken-hearted romantic? It’s unclear from your summary what the core conflict in the book is, and I have a hunch you’re confused about this too, hence the piling on of mystery upon mystery.

I’d pay attention to Paul Marshall’s comment. There’s a certain Google Ad Words quality to how you’re approaching this that strikes me as being backwards. There’s got to be a bedrock truth to the thematic structure that is fundamentally immune to market-testing, not subject to its vicissitudes. I would use market testing to decide whether the name “Mason Lowell” is the one you really want to go out with, not whether his implication in a fundamental narrative element is worthwhile or not.

I’m also curious, as I think another commenter was, about what category you’re writing in. Is this book sold yet? Are you submitting to the editor who bought your earlier books? Is your agent planning to place this outside a category and in the mainstream list? Amidst all of this market-testing, who do you foresee the market for this book being? Your agent will submit with the following inevitable, depressing statement: “People who loved “x” will love this book.” How is she going to fill in the blank in that sentence? With all the plot vectors you’ve got, this reads much more like a movie treatment — is that in play here too?

Funnily enough, I’m re-reading one of the great novels about hedonism, The Great Gatsby. One of Fitzgerald’s many achievements is the way in which he maintains suspense throughout without there being any mystery to solve. I think your book may share some of Gatsby’s themes, in particular that it is at its core a love story, and the way self-loathing drives the key characters headlong through the story.

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When a ravishing, but enigmatic, dancer intervenes in the friendship between a dissolute artist and a corporate bigwig, she reminds the two men uncannily of a beloved, teenage girl from their childhood—a girl, whose unexplainable disappearance, long ago, has haunted them ever since; nevertheless, the lingering influence of such a lost soul now causes the two men to become embroiled in a perilous triangle of seductive decadence—one that threatens to unveil a buried secret, capable of destroying them all….

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Hum… I’m sorta confused. But, distilling it to it’s essence, how ’bout:
“Boy gets girl NOW, boy gets girl THEN, boy gets boy, girl gets girl (in a time warp) boy loses girl(s)…maybe.”
No?
Okay, I tried.

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Proposed logline:

One man’s history threatens to repeat itself, with a woman who’s lost her own history.

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A lot of assumptions there, Bob. There’s always the surface story and then the true, thematic story that reveals itself only by the end, which then illuminates everything that came before, gives the surface story fullness and meaning. Without that — without the thematic structure that you seem to think I am market-testing — the surface story comes off as so much melodrama, so many plot elements, which is why a synopsis is difficult. (I knew I was going to get in trouble with that ‘baked-in marketing’ comment.)

I do appreciate your interest + your comments,

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Christian, you are the man. thank you. i needed that.

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A white hot artist dancing on the edge of fame and fighting a losing battle with his love for the drug fueled LA nightlife, is confronted by a mysterious young woman who knows the deepest secrets of his dark past, but can’t remember her own.

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I knew I was going to get into trouble as soon as I used the word “theme.” From what I’m reading here, I think people are unclear about the central conflict in the book. In Christian’s summary, he places “a perilous triangle of seductive decadence—one that threatens to unveil a buried secret, capable of destroying them all” at the center: this is the core conflict. (By the way, that makes the book a mystery.) I think the melodramatic nature of the core conflict — “a buried secret capable of destroying them all” — is a giant potential problem, especially if the main character is someone who already spends his time in self-destructive ways: greater danger isn’t something important, it’s just something a little different. Category writing is tricky: is this going to end up in the “buried secret” pile, the “love triangle” pile, the “seductive decadence” pile, the “reincarnated lover” pile?

This logline exercise reminds me of another connection with Fitzgerald: Zelda Fitzgerald’s idea for the cover of The Beautiful and the Damned was of a naked girl reclining in a champagne glass. It was rejected, but she nonetheless grasped the power of branding. Is “buried secret” the market you’re working in, the market within which you’re attempting to creating a brand called “decadence?” If you’re in the marketing game, I think the first question you need to answer is “what is my market?” I wouldn’t go near a book about a buried secret that threatens to destroy them all, but then again I don’t think I’m your audience.

Speaking of branding, did you notice how a few of your contestants substituted the word “badass” to describe Gabe?

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Hey Justine!

I’m basically the go-to guy for back cover copy and synopses with my indie publisher, Consortium Books, so this got forwarded to me. This story sounds really intriguing but your synopsis has a lot of who but not a lot of why and what. So I tried to do something that’s, honestly, probably a bit much but is modular enough that you can trim it to emphasize the things that are really important to the plot. Normally, I’d do that myself but I haven’t read this and didn’t want to barrage you with questions for a straight forward contest. :D

Here’s my shot at it, though. I hope you like it.

The tragic past of Gabe, a decadent LA artist, crashes into his present when he meets Cat, a dancer with too much crazy and too many intimate details about his lost love. When Mason, CEO of a powerful company and brother to Gabe’s long dead love, becomes involved, its a love triangle that may unravel Gabe’s life, his love’s mysterious death, and Cat’s very sanity.

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Love all these angles. If i am the recipient of such a pitch i want it to quickly catch my attention or quicly be over. My own curiosity, after reading everything above, is why Cat knows so much about angelina and how it relates to her being here. So…

Cat shouldn’t know so much about his missing first love. She shouldn’t even be with him now. As Gabe reawakens after 20 years of trying to forget Angelina’s unexplained disappearance, he must piece together the past in order to save their future, and perhaps even tbeir lives.

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@Bob Cricklear “…knew I was going to get into trouble as soon as I used the word “theme.”…that made me chuckle.

i am less + less sure i want to go the old-school route, which would take two years, give or take, and the landscape is shifting so quickly. i want the story to tell itself the best way it knows how, and I’m thinking of e-publishing it and giving it away free for a specified length of time. i’m not scrambling to make rent. i can afford to experiment. (I want to try podcasting some fiction as well).

and @Joshua Unruh

the book is about repetition compulsion, the return of the repressed — how we recreate situations and relationships from the past in order to resolve them — reincarnation is a metaphor for that. the girl, Cat, is traumatized by memories of her past life/assault/murder and suffering from dissociation (she basically has an ‘alternate’ personality that has split off all the memories she can’t handle and their accompanying emotions). so she recreates this triangle — albeit not completely with the same people — which is driving toward the same tragic conclusion (her death) unless there’s resolution, restoration, healing. i want it to be a compelling cover-to-cover kind of read, elegantly written, but I’m really interested in the psychology, the relationships, the revelations of character, which I guess makes it a psychological thriller? psychosexual thriller? (a naked woman reclining and drinking champagne…actually *is* in the novel…)

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Gabe Maddox meets the reincarnation of Angelina, his high school love, and finds himself recapitulating events from his past that had led to Angelina’s death. He must investigate Angelina’s last days, confront the deepest betrayal of his life and end a compulsive cycle of destruction, or the woman he loves will die–again.

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I like “elegantly written.” You have a light touch in the anecdotal writing you do in the blog, and a super-clear voice. I’d love to see you apply that to your fiction. Put a couple of scenes up here on the blog: let’s see what you’re up to.

This is a tricky plot. It’s complicated: a main character, an antagonist with a split personality — that’s two more characters — plus the various foils and mirrors like Mason and the dead girl. There’s the added problem of having a central character who’s crazy — it’s hard for readers to sympathize with people with mental disorders, which is why they’re usually antagonists. But an antagonist who is herself transforming, working through an issue and trying to resolve it … that’s complicated. Of course, I’m assuming that both Gabe is trying to resolve unresolved issues that he acts out on and that Cat is doing the same thing. Maybe that’s not what you’re doing. I like the idea of a character making a repetition disorder — usually something that works subconsciously, as with abused women who unconsciously marry abusers — manifest. It makes me think of J.G. Ballard’s “Crash.”

I’ll admit, the e-publishing thing took me by surprise. Sometimes I forget that you genuinely love the author platform ideas you write about here and that it’s not just a gimmick. I write this on the day news of Tim Ferris’s deal with Amazon was announced. Granted, it’s just a cookbook, but it’s a new world: a bestselling author whose book won’t be sold in an actual bookstore. I read his blog too and often I feel the same ambivalence: if the content’s so compelling, why hold a contest? But I’ve paid money to buy his books, and the online sampling of the content in his blog is what led me to do so.

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A white hot “shoe artist” to the beautiful people, and his drug fueled journey into LA’s pale, quivering, gelatinous underbelly. When the dangerous memories of a forgetful communist endanger this idyllic dystopia it smells like a setup, until another protagonist is heedlessly thrown onto the dog pile, and the action goes three-way!

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@Bob Cricklear Actually Cat is (to me) a great, spirited character — my favorite female I’ve ever written. But yeah, it’s this complicated story and I’m having some trouble with it. I keep thinking of the iPhone: Steve Jobs thinks things through until the complex suddenly becomes elegant and ‘simple’. It’s what I’m trying to do — take this complicated story and push through until I find that unifying insight to make it light and streamlined. I don’t feel like I’m all that far off from it, but I’m still some adjustments away.

It’s not a question of ‘loving’ the author platform ideas — I just happen to believe in them. I began this blog as a way to think them through and discuss them because at the time they were not being discussed in many places (at least for fiction writers) and I was frustrated with the lack of information about something I was beginning to believe in my gut would probably define my career (which already needed some redefining as it was). I just believe that this is the new reality — as William Gibson (I think) put it: “the future is already here, it’s just unevenly distributed.” I was clicking through Writer’s Digest and came to an advertisement for a tutorial on ‘author platform’, blogging, Twitter, etc., how to put it all together, and I couldn’t help thinking, yeah, this is what I was writing about a year and a half ago, so if I could trust what I saw back then, I can trust what I see right now. I’ve been through the old publishing school, I know how it works. When I took to my first Kindle — instantly, after months of hardcore resistance — I just *saw* how the big box chain bookstores would fall, and once they go down, how do books get distributed? When you sell your book, the publisher’s sales reps then have to turn it around and sell it to the buyers for Barnes + Noble and Borders, and the fate of the book is pretty much decided right then and there (except for the extreme few who knew how to work the ‘Net and change that fate, and none of them, so far as I know, were fiction writers but savvy entrepreneurial types like Ferriss and Jonathan Fields). Take away Borders, take away B + N — at least as a bookstore, since it’s redefining itself through stocking music and games and toys now — what do you have? Target? Wal-Mart? Airports? And what kind of books do *they* stock? No. I do believe in the power of platform — I just also believe that most writers still do platform *badly* because they don’t understand it and they’re not willing to bleed for it the way they do for their ‘real’ writing. Except turns out that it’s *all* real writing. And if my fiction can be, at least initially, the ‘free’ that helps develop my platform and gives me credibility to write (and sell) nonfiction, then that is freaking awesome, and it also means that my fiction can tell the stories that it wants.

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Here’s your logline:

“Renowned artist Gabe Maddox tries to overcome his past, but his lover and best friend threaten to thwart his redemption.”

You’re welcome.

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Loves past thru future, and the ‘mistakes’ that keep repeating.

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An artiste with a predilection for self-destruction must help a dancer find/save herself, who knows more than she thinks about the lost/murdered love of his life, all while not hurting the once could have been brother in law, that now finds himself romaticly entangled.

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Okay, it seems upon more reading and hearing from you that your book isn’t as much about these characters (even though you love them), it’s about the themes. So it may be a book where the plot is a fairly bare thing whose job it is to showcase the themes. That’s fine, certainly, but not the tactic I took. For back cover copy, you have to basically weaponize the plot of your book into a couple paragraphs. For cocktail party or elevator explanations, I think you hit it best in response to me and without mentioning the characters at all. (see below with tweaks from me)

This is a book about repetition, compulsion, and the return of the repressed. The plot showcases how we recreate painful or emotionally fraught situations, and even relationships, from the past in order to resolve them. Reincarnation is a metaphor for that and we see that best in Cat, a dancer traumatized by memories of an assault or murder. She cannot stop herself from recreating the situation that led to these half remembered traumas. But, through that recreation, she’ll either find peace, healing, and restoration or she’ll the old tragedy made new.

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Cat on a hot tin love triangle
Cat – Taking 9 Lives

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Correction –

An artiste with a predilection for self-destruction must help a dancer find and save herself; who knows more than she thinks about the lost murdered love of his life; all, while not hurting the once could have been brother in law, now that the three find themselfs romaticly entangled.

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Ok I was thinking it was sort of that line that comes with every title (of a movie) eheh silly me.

A woman of breathtaking pulchritude is burdened by a secret so heavy might lose the man she loves.

A woman of immense pulchritude is burdened by a secret so heavy – might cost her the man
she loves

A woman with a myriad of secrets must let go of two things, her lover or her life

A woman with a myriad of secrets has to choose beteen two things, her lovers past or her present.

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A dancer burdened by secrets recreates her past, and stands to lose everything she ever wanted

*dancer themes are kinda popular, like vampires you know. cause of the black swan..really nice gothic-ish movie. who cares if its ballet or exotic dancing :)

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“When a chance encounter forces a fast-living artist to reexamine his past, he finds himself drawn into an eerily familiar chain of events–and must  overcome both past revelations and a deep betrayal to save the life of the woman he loves.”

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For twenty years, sex, drugs, and art kept Gabe from falling apart. In walks Cat, with an uncanny knowledge of his lost Angelina — whose disappearance bound Gabe and her brother, Mason, in an unspoken quest for answers. Will Cat lead them to Angelina, or down a psychotic path of no return?

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Mine’s stupid, but I’m going for it.

The Decadents is a story of hidden identities, and repressed memories slowly revealing themselves, adding to the trauma of past years and events.

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This is very boiled down:

Gabe Maddox, a successful artist fighting this own demons, meets a mysterious young dancer who is haunted by visions about a person she should know nothing about … the love of Gabe’s life who disappeared 20 years ago.

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@justine

I know we’ve agreed to disagree, Ms. M, but I feel I need to put my two cents worth in for independent bookstores. They will still be around. There are more people than I who refuse to read books on an electrical device.

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@Jeff P. We do not disagree at all, Mr P. Indie bookstores will rise again and their influence shall be (relatively) mighty. It’s not digital OR print, it’s digital AND print. But I think the new model developing is that the more you can prove yourself in the first, the better deal you can get in the second (without any leverage at all you get eaten alive).

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@justine Exactly so.

And, the (sometimes) exclusive focus on e-books by self-publishers seems to be an act of fear or greed, not business savvy or heartfelt desire. I tell fellow writers to focus on readers, not the book’s format. If you’re a writer, how you reach a reader should be secondary to what you’re offering them.

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The Decadents: Logline –

A lovely woman driven to succeed beyond imagination, exposed to life’s material wealth, its corrupting greed, finally succumbs to the essence of life, simplicity, awareness,and the love of a man who shares each moment as if it’s their last.

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“…without any leverage at all you get eaten alive.”

What bothers me more than anything about this is the loss of mid-list authors to print (which started before e-books came along). A lot of writers I enjoy reading will probably end up self-publishing in e-formats. Again, I just don’t want to read long fiction on a screen. I look at a computer all day long in both of my jobs.

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Lust, murder, reincarnation. A riveting tale of lost souls and the search for redemption.

(Replace “Lust” with “Love”?)

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Girl, I’m terrible, horrible at loglines, but I wanted to stop by and say this book sounds amazing. Publish soon.

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LOGLINE –
If you ignore the lessons you have incarnated to learn, don’t worry – life certainly will magnify the challenges for you! This is a story about….

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As with many of the later comments on this post, I agree the copy should emphasize the themes.
I am not your intended audience, but CEOs, artists, dancers, drugs, decadence — none of that interests me [a least as fiction topics]. They seem cliche, and actually put me off.
But this:
“The book is about repetition compulsion, the return of the repressed — how we recreate situations and relationships from the past in order to resolve them — reincarnation is a metaphor for that.”
THAT really interests me. Marketing copy that presented that story tome in a compelling way would get me to by the book.

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Logline: “Lost in time, a couple recreates their tendencies and mental anguish. A stiller, thriller”
Stiller Thriller= It makes you frozen with thought, and remembrances.

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Keep it simple.
If you’re telling a man, “There’s a lot of naked women in the book…”
If you’re telling a woman, “Fabio is naked in this book…” *LOL*

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A psychological thriller about a famous artist who finds himself in a love triangle similar with a traumatized woman recreating her past. Plenty of love, money, and naked women included.

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I was writing a logline the other day and found this article http://www.twoadverbs.com/loglinearticle.htm which I thought was rather good, though it’s now quite old.

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The Decadents
Los Angeles artist Gabe Maddox hopes to finally overcome his own lingering trauma by helping a young dancer uncover her repressed memories. When a triangle of obsession develops between him, the dancer and the brother of Gabe’s murdered exgirlfriend, he must overcome the most painful betrayal of his life, or a woman he loves will die–again.

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Arttist Gabe Maddox tries to overcome the tragic disappearance of his high school love, Angelina, and fights againsr the downward spiral of the sex, drugs and rock-and-roll lifestyle…although the past continues to bind him to Angelinas brother, enigmatic powerbroker, Mason Lowell.

But Gabe’s complex past isn’t so easily drowned in decadence — proof positive, when dancer Cat Rusakova spins into his life, bringing with her a maelstrom of uncertainty, tension and unnerving memories of Gabe’s Angelina…and sparking a bizarre psychological menage a quatre involving Gabe, Cat, Mason and the mysterious, presumedly murdered Angelina.

How much does the past inform the present? What roles did Gabe and Mason play in this triangle of past and present love and betrayal?

Can Cat avoid being destroyed by the events of the past? And how far will two men go — how far CAN they go — to redress or repress the past by manipulating the present? Can Cat’s fracturing sanity — and perhaps her very life — be preserved? Can Gabe overcome the ties that bind him to the past to save the woman he’s come — maybe — to love?

___________

It’s a little long, but I was working with a short synopsis. Feel free to tweak it if you like it. I’ve really enjoyed your work, and will snag this one upon publication.

Best of luck

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Or more succinctly (I had to look up “logline) —

Artist Gabe Maddox’ past — the mysterious loss of his love, Angelina – has driven him to the edge of despair. Gabe, and Angelina’s brother Mason Lowell, are disturbed when dancer Cat Rusakova spins into their orbit, with her strange ,repressed memories of Angelina’s life.

What secrets do Cat’s tortured mind hold? Who would kill her to keep them hidden — should they remain hidden? Can Gabe defy the past and face the truth — or truths — in order to save Cat?

Who’s redemption is truly at stake here?

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A man must abandon his hedonistic lifestyle and confront the agonizing pain of having lost his first love two decades ago when he becomes involved in a love triangle with his first love’s enigmatic brother and a tortured woman with uncanny insight about the woman he gave his heart & soul to so many years ago…

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This book highlights how external relationships repeatedly kick you in the ass until the pain motivates you to explore why you continue to fuck yourself in areas of your own choosing.

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**A murder reverberates through time and space, threatening to perpetuate its violence by infecting the subconcious mind of a woman who begins to confuse her desire for solace with a desire for death. The man who tries to pluck her from this nightmarish reality must first awake from the seductive somnambulism of his own hedonistic life. While pleasure dreams, evil walks.** Thanks for the challenge!xoxo

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Dear Justine,
Sounds as if you haven’t ended your contest for one or two sentences description for a party. If not, I’d like to offer this for your consideration:

“It’s a story about how human relationships tend to repeat in patterns of the subconscious. It’s about this artist, Gabe, whose girlfriend Angelina disappeared in high school. Gone. Twenty years later, another woman shows up, a Russian dancer named Cat…and the relationship starts to repeat, between Gabe, Cat, and Angelina’s brother. Gabe has to go back, to figure out what happened to Angelina way back then, so he doesn’t lose Cat. So it’s a love story, but a love story about how the terrible forces of the subconscious drive us…and whether or not we can escape them.”

Thanks. I can’t imagine how such as talented writer as yourself could possibly need help, but who am I to balk at an opportunity to connect?! If I win, however, I’d rather have an introduction between my agent and your publisher than the Amazon certificate…I’m just sayin’. :-) Thank you for such great ideas in your blog!

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logline1- its a screenplay for an upcoming movie.
logline2- a dark psychological thriller with a surprise
logline3- I am writing a pseudo biography of my ex
logline4- erotic and educational novella

pick 1. pick me.

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Like ‘Memento’ only with reincarnation instead of brain damage.

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Me vs You & I.

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Inter deja vu mixed with addiction in its rawest form of the human psyche.
Hi Justin,
Not a follower of yours. Just a simple biasness gal doing her homework. You caught my attention and the above popped into my head. Hope it helps. Wish you the best love your spirit!
Beth

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You may want to substitute Gut Wrenching for Inter. So it reads “Gut wrenching deja vu mixed with addiction in its rawest form of the human psyche”. I know when my past colides with the present that my guts turn.

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A mixed web between 4 people both dead and alive unfolds when a new girlfriend has strange knowledge of the lead characters former lover that died over 20 years ago. Insight by the dead girls brother and the rich personalities of all the characters make this a compelling read.

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You might have already finished the book, but here is my proposal anyway:

“A charming end enigmatic dancer enters a passionate relationship with two men – an artist and a corporate bigwig. The artist finds out that the wealthy man had committed an unresolved crime and that her life is seriously threatened”

Now I can hardly wait to read the book !!!

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I can’t wait to read this. I truly believe that one’s past and present are intertwined and people do not come into your life by accident..
Cat reminds me of Blanche from “A Street Car Named Desire”.
The tragedy of being caught between two worlds…the past and the present.

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