Sunday, March 22, 2015

Become an Agent 2015 Post #2

Title: Fugitive Motel
Genre: YA
Word Count: 142,000


Sixteen-year-old Iris has to choose between running her family business, an Inn for supernatural Others, or having the life of a normal Kansas teenager.

Iris Vox shouldn’t be running the Fordham Motel. It’s her father’s business, not hers, but it’s always been her home and she can’t just stop serving the guests who come through the doors any more than she can stop loving her deeply secretive single father or her sarcastic younger brother. Iris needs help, but you can’t hire just anyone when you’re seeing to the needs of the juicers, shifters, ghosts, and witches eking out a “human” existence. Nor can Iris tell anyone at school about her secret life or how much she works. Iris wouldn’t even be Innkeeping if her father wasn’t suddenly more often liquid than solid. She wouldn’t be so angry about it if he would just start telling her the truth about why he’s changing, or about anything else. Maybe it would be easier to go normal, but its hard to stop keeping secrets when it’s all you’ve ever done and most of those secrets are not your own. Sometimes you just love your family more than you hate your circumstances.

Fugitive Motel is the story of Iris moving out from her father’s shadow to claim her birthright and become the next Innkeeper. It is the beginning of a four book series, but could also stand on it’s own. If 50 Shades of Gray started as Twilight fan fiction and Outlander started as Dr. Who fan fiction, then Fugitive Motel started as Veronica Mars fan fiction. I wanted more of a smart, angry girl with a tough single Dad and a family business, so I started to write one.

First 250: 

At 5:45 a.m. a man staggers in through the automatic, smoked-glass doors. I slide my magazine under the counter and take a better look at my customer as he comes toward the desk. He’s sort of wrinkled. Not old-wrinkled more re-used-paperbag wrinkled. Otherwise he’s well groomed: a gray suit with a dull blue tie, the kind of outfit a regional salesman would wear. Seriously, you would not pick this guy out in a crowd. You’d just guess he’d been driving all night from one sales meeting to the next.

But the stagger…it’s not quite right. Drunks usually weave. This guy is lurching forward like he’s got an absolute goal. Our desk. Me.

Yep. Pale, sullen, haggard with a side of desperate determination? Definitely looks like one of ours.

“Can I help you, sir?”

“Have you got a room, mish?” the man slurs and puts his hands on the rim of the counter to steady himself. His very neat, clean fingernails point towards me as he grips. With a great effort he lifts his left hand and slaps it on the counter twice. That’s good. It’s part of the sign. Still, he’s not finished performing, so I have to give him the once over. Random drunks can be a problem for us; they don’t always see our usual discouragements.

“What are you looking for exactly, sir?” I prompt.

You have to say it or you can’t come in!

Title: Fugitive Motel
Genre: YA Paranormal Bildungsroman
Word Count: 120,000


Kansas teenager Iris learns to forgive her father’s weaknesses and accepts her birthright to become the next Innkeeper of a roadside hotel for monsters.

Iris Vox is exhausted. During the day she goes to school, working hard to seem normal. At night Iris plays the grown-up behind the check in desk of her father’s hotel, covering for her father who’s more and more often a tub of human sludge. Checking supernatural Others in and out, seeing to their out-of-the-ordinary needs, and dealing with their dangers is the life Iris has always known. It was just easier when her Dad was more normal and less Juicer.

Just as sleep is a luxury to Iris, so is the truth. What will it take for her Dad to finally start telling her the truth about his condition? About the shifting nature of magic in the world they protect? Or about his complicated relationship with the Sheriff’s wife? Will Iris herself ever be able to speak honestly with someone about her world? Forced to take on more and more responsibility, Iris finds herself questioning her role. Even if she has her father’s gift for bearing the burdens of the secret world, is it her job to take up that burden? As her father spirals closer to his own end, Iris moves deeper into the world of Others, making friends and mistakes along the way, until she finally comes to see all the sides of herself as a whole.

Fugitive Motel is Veronica Mars meets Supernatural. It tells the story of Iris gaining maturity through a series of episodes dealing with elements in her world, and set against a background of growing threat. It can stand alone, but is also the beginning of a four book series.

About me. I am a US expatriate living in the Netherlands. I am the author of one middle grade children’s book, De knikkelares. De knikkelares has been nominated for the 2015 Hotze de Roos prize for debut novels in Dutch children’s literature.

First 250: 

5:45 a.m. and a man staggers in through the automatic, smoked-glass doors. Glad for some action after hours of exhausted nothing, I look up from my magazine to take a better look at my customer. Nothing special about him, just a salesman coming in after driving all night from one sales meeting to the next. An older man with skin like a re-used paper bag.

But the stagger…it’s not quite right. Drunks usually weave. This guy is lurching forward like he’s got an absolute goal. Our desk. Me.

Yep. Pale, sullen, haggard with a side of desperate determination? Definitely looks like one of ours.

“Can I help you, sir?”

“Have you got a room, mish?” the man slurs and puts his hands on the rim of the counter to steady himself. His very neat, clean fingernails point towards me as he grips. With a great effort he lifts his left hand and slaps it on the counter twice. That’s good. It’s part of the sign. Still, he’s not finished performing.

“What are you looking for exactly, sir?” I prompt.

You have to say it or you can’t come in!

There’s a long anxious pause as he tries to remember what to do next. He’s now gripping the countertop so tightly that his nail beds are turning whitish gray where the pink flesh should show through.

“Rest and feed,” the man answers, trawling the words out of some hard-to-access place in his brain, laying them heavily out on the counter.


  1. This is a minor issue, but in the query letter, there's no need to put the main character's name in bold. The title should be in all caps, though. The major issue is that, at 142,000 words, this is two novels, not one. It's just way too long for a debut, even for fantasy.

    I love the idea, and you've done a great job injecting voice into the first paragraph of the query. The last paragraph is largely unnecessary, though. Cut all mentions of blockbusters and fan fiction, because it comes dangerously close to saying "This book is going to sell 50 million copies," and you can't say that. Instead, try something like "It's Veronica Mars meets Supernatural" (Or some sci-fy book that really captures the essence of the book.) Also, take out the sentence that says "This book is about." The query isn't for telling me what the book is about - if the letter's done it's job, you'll have shown me in the parts above. I don't get a sense of the conflict and the stakes - only Iris. Reduce the last paragraph to one sentence about the comps, add a paragraph laying out a little more of the plot, and you're on the right track.

    The first page of your story is prime real estate, so I'm not sure you want to spend most of it describing one character. I think you could cut a lot of that to get to the story faster - especially when you've got a story that's running long. Every single word has to count.

    I'm afraid I'd have to say no to this one. Try giving the first page another polish, cut unnecessary words, and give us a bit more about the story in the plot, and it'll really stand out.

  2. Hi,
    Post #9 here.
    Query - I liked the 1st sentence. It gives me information on the MC and the world she's in. But, unfortunately, you lost me after that. I'd suggest tightening the sentences after.
    One suggestion might be - When Iris Vox finds herself in charge of her father's business, the Fordham Motel, she realizes she needs help.
    Also, some of the sentences confused me, like this one -her father wasn’t suddenly more often liquid than solid.
    I like the MC here, so nice job on the characterization.
    As for the 250, I love the writing, but, again, I'd suggest tightening and trimming. There's a lot of description about that one customer.
    I have to say no to this because of the reasons mentioned.

  3. No.

    I agree with Laura regarding your comp. You list your genre as YA, but YA is an age group not a genre. Be sure to list one. I found the sentences in your query to be too long and hard to follow. Also your word count is too high by about 40k. Debuts over 100k are harder to procure - more words equals more ink and paper, more ink and paper equals more money. Just something to consider.

  4. Hi! I actually loved your 250. You've got a voice and it made me laugh. However, I sadly have to agree with the others. The word count is too long. Sorry, but this one is a no :(


  5. No.

    Lots of interesting stuff here (I'm very curious about what a "juicer" is :). But when I read over the query I'm not sure what the hook is. It seems that Iris's dad can no longer run the inn, so Iris has to. So my question is: what's the problem?

    It says she can't tell the kids at school, but nowhere is it stated that the kids at school are any kind of obstacle to her running the inn, so I'm not sure why it matters. It also says she needs help, but doesn't really elaborate on where that help could potentially come from (leaving the reader with the feeling that perhaps there is no help to be had, in which case, again, what's the story). It also talks about her "going normal" but doesn't explain what that means. Does it mean abandoning her father and the inn? But what would the consequences of that be (it's never stated)? And it sets up this "choice" in the opening line (that is, run the inn or be a normal teenager) but by the sounds of it she already seems to be doing both. There's no hint of what running the inn is costing her (other than that she works a lot, but what does that imply? is she missing out on time with her friends, failing classes, etc.? we need to know the details or it has no pull).

    I suspect all of this stuff is probably present in the story, but right now it's not coming across in the actual query IMO.

    Side note: at the very least I would suggest that this line, "Iris wouldn’t even be Innkeeping if her father wasn’t suddenly more often liquid than solid" needs to come much earlier as an explanation for why Iris is running the inn, otherwise we're left wondering why she feels she has this obligation.

    Hope that helps!

  6. No.

    Bystander here. I went through all 20 entries, made my yes, no, and maybe pile. This started out in the maybe pile. Because I had only two spots left for maybe's, I had to do some cutting, and this one didn't make it.

    The premise is interesting. I like the idea of an inn for supernatural creatures, but I didn't get a sense of who these "Others" were. Are they just ghosts and vampires, the usual? Or are they a cool, unique creature you've created? Not that I would say no if it's the first, but if it is the second, you might want to bring that out.

    Overall, the query and 250 were ok, but they felt a bit of a mess. I was rereading bits and scratching my head over some things here and there. I'd be worried that the rest was like that and I in my role as agent would need to do a lot of editing before we could send it off on submission.

  7. Sorry but this would be a no.

    While I think the concept here is interesting, there are many red flags on this for me. For the query, a word count that high is almost always an automatic pass for an agent. There's a reason agents won't take novels over 100k from debut authors, it's usually a signal that the story is full of backstory, overt descriptions, and/or improper plot pacing. The genre is absent; I have no idea if this is a romance, fantasy, mystery, horror. With a word count that high, this is important to state the genre. I wasn't able to decipher the exact plot from your query letter. Plot= When these events happen, the MC is faced with such-and-such crisis, leading to this suspenseful climax. I would suggest checking out they have a some good info on query crafting, also see (Twitter) @atrueblood5 blog for successful query letters and great tips, and @Michelle4Laughs blog for agent interviews.

    The 250 is very good. I think the voice fits great with YA and I like your writing style. After reading the sample, I really wanted to say yes but the word count is just too staggering. You must have close to 400 pages, this adult novel next to me only has 376. I would suggest combing through the script, and killing some darlings. Anything not related to furthering the plot, strike it. Condense as much as possible, and tidy up that query letter. With such a unique idea, I think that if you followed the preferred guidelines that agents are seeking you'd garner requests.

    Critiqued by #7

  8. No.

    There were two red flags for me before I even got to the query. For genre you only listed YA, which is a an age category, not genre. Your word count is also very high. Even if it's Fantasy/Paranormal, for a debut author you're around 40k too high for what an agent will likely want to take on. This is a super interesting premise, give me a reason to say yes!

    I have to second what Wade said--what's the problem? What does Iris have to lose? Right now it seems like she's working for the inn and going to school, but you say that she needs to choose between the two. My guess is that with her dad turning liquid, things are becoming harder from her. Does Iris end up hiring someone to help? If so, I'd suggest adding that. Give us some specific stakes and I think you've really got something here. I'd recommending reworking the last paragraph, in particular. Rather than mentioning Twilight and 50 Shades, say something like, Veronica Mars meets X (there's a movie that's coming to mind, but for the life of me I can't remember the name).

    As for the 250, I actually really liked it. But since this is your opening page and it's prime real estate, I'd trim down some of the description and really get to the point.

    Try giving the story another round of edits and really focus on what's necessary to progress the story. I think with some polishing and tightening this could really be something great.

  9. No. Mainly/only because of the query.

    The MS is too long and there isn't a need for the bolded name in the query. Also, the query needs to follow a better structure. Hopefully, seeing the queries around here will help :D As this is a big overhaul, I won't critique much else about the query because a lot will probably be fixed in revisions. But I actually really love this concept.

    The 250 - I liked it a lot. Really captivating and I would have kept reading - which is the main thing. Your writing style really just started off strong and carried my fast for the ride, which is great! I almost forgot I was reading (you know how that happens)?

    Post #8

  10. # 3 Commenting…

    Early flags.
    1. YA is a category, but you need a genre within this category. Paranormal Thriller? Fantasy? I can't exactly tell.
    2. And… word count. The consensus seems to be 1st time authors don't get the luxury of this kind of word count in their first publication. I mostly hear 50-75k for YA but a little more for fantasy is okay maybe up to 100/110. I don't know if this should be split into two books or trimmed down to at least 125… But, probably one or the other.
    3. You use the word "just" four times in the 1st p of your query which makes me worry you have don't any screening for filler words. If your query is this bloated, I'm already worried that your ms won't be tight and, after seeing your word count…

    As for your second paragraph… Title should be in all caps, and everything after your first line is.. meh. Maybe instead… Inspired by Veronica Mars, FUGITIVE MOTEL… (cut the 50 Shades and Twilight mentions/not at all needed)

    I'd trim the 1st p but overall I really like your 250. I want to know why this guy is lurching toward her so intently, and I want to know the password. BUT… I can't get over my query flags. So for me is still a no.

  11. No. The 250's okay, but it does give a good hint as to why your ms is 142,000, which is way too long for this genre and age-range. For first paragraph, "as he comes toward desk" is not needed because right below that you have him lurching toward the desk.Same thing with the last paragraph. He has his hands on the counter to steady himself, and then right after that he's gripping the counter. Repetitive. I would carefully read through your manuscript and look for places where you're being repetitive and cut, cut, cut! At 142,000, you're starting at a disadvantage so I'd do everything possible to get this into a good word count range.

    For the query, I think there's a lot of telling and things you can cut. "Sarcastic" brother, "secretive" father. Also, you need to be more specific as to the conflict here and what Iris needs to do, what stands in her way, and what happens if she fails. Does the inn close? Is it her or nothing? Why can't she continue to straddle both worlds? I'm not really sure what the problem is, which should be clear from the query. Good luck!

  12. No.

    I'm drawn to the concept and the world, but not the character, which is so important for YA. In the query I get a lot of Iris' circumstances, but her personality only comes through in the comp.

    The 250's false beginning doesn't help that. She runs a hotel full of odd creatures, she's not scared or confused, but you're trying to make us scared. That puts a distance between me and Iris which is the opposite of what I need at the beginning of YA. I want to be drawn into her view of the world, not set at odds to it.

    I second the commentary above of cutting the false comps. It would help to focus in on your character and what's special about her and less on how it's like stuff that came before. What I don't have is why I should read your book and not just turn on VM to stare at Logan. Example: Veronica wanted to know who killed Lily so she became a PI, what does Iris want?

  13. I'm #6.

    This is a reluctant no for me because if I was an agent and got an MS with that word count in my inbox I would pass. But, I love the concept of a hotel for supernatural creatures, and I really loved Veronica Mars so mashing the two together sounds fantastic. As it is now though, the query doesn't do a great job of showing why we should care about the story.

    I'd rethink the first line, the choice between being 'a normal girl' and doing something extraordinary doesn't feel special to me. Refocus on Iris, why should we care about her beyond the idea that she wants to be like everyone else. What sets her apart, what makes her cool? Also I read the query and I'm not sure what the big big big overarching stakes are yet. That Iris wants to take care of her family? What do they really have to lose?

    I would also really re-think your comps. Try and find something published in YA now that's comparable to your book.

    Best of luck with this, it really seems intriguing.

  14. #5 here - YES, I would request to see pages. I really love this premise. Yes, the query needs work but it has outstanding voice, and your 250 is great writing. It really won me over.

    You definitely sell your protag as loyal but with a chip on her shoulder whose life is reaching a crossroads. Like many have mentioned, work on clarifying your stakes for Iris and the consequences of her choices, for herself and for her family. Would like more high level plot as well (what's the inciting incident of this novel, for instance?). Also, if she decides to stay and become the Innkeeper, don't tell us that in the query! The point of us reading the novel is to find out what Iris chooses. And, you'll have to get more opinions on this, but for me, I vote no on saying this started as fan fiction, even if it is Veronica Mars.

    But, man, do I love the line, "Sometimes you just love your family more than you hate your circumstances." Seriously considering using that in my own query. (j/k... ). And it's even written in second person... love.

    And your 250, I just love. I just noticed the second person in there as well. You know, maybe some people will have a problem with it, but it works for me. I've been thinking a lot about second person lately, and although it's virtually absent in literature (people usually can only name one book that uses it), it's quite prevalent in spoken conversation. When you use second person in this context, it lends itself to an intimacy between the narrator and the reader that I really like. It blends nicely with the first person. I'd be interested to know if anyone has mentioned this to you before, and their thought, positive or negative.

    Oh, and the word count. Yes, it seems really high.

    But keep going with this! Lots of luck to you!

  15. I'm saying NO, but I'm not happy about it.
    I like the idea, I even like the inspiration (although i agree with the others that the last paragraph in the query sends up about a dozen red flags.)
    The query had great voice, and that's hard to do, but a lot of the world building seems hard to slog through. I like the listing of super names, but honestly I would rather see them in the 250 with her trying to guess who the guy is.
    Eliminating the unnecessary repetition will help cut down on the wordiness, but i doubt it would cut enough off the total to bring it down to where it should be for YA. This story is simply too long. Something has to give, either tangential subplots, or eliminating/combining scenes. or just chopping it in half.

    I do really want to read this after a few rounds of truly brutal edits!

    Tobias Eaton (4)

  16. You have a ton of creativity with a premise like this.
    Your query: I need to know more of why she can't just quit serving the customers. Will something bad happen to the world if she does? Or does it ruin a family tradition and she would feel bad? The final paragraph needs to be down-sized. Way too much going on there.

    Your 250:
    I can tell you want your reader to really be able to see this character. But I think your description is a bit overdone. Try to condense it more to free up more room for action in the 250.

    This could be a very interesting read, but the query and 250 need a bit of polishing before I would ask to read more as an agent. Keep at it though because you obviously have poured your soul into writing this and a TON of time and I think you will get it to where you need it to go.

  17. Thanks to all of you for your time and effort! I knew the query was a hot mess. I'm new to writing them and I hate putting myself out there. Now at least I'm looking forward to incorporating all your advice. As to length - I was going on what I see on my bookshelves, which for my favorite books from when I was a teenager is around 350 pages. I wasn't aware that the industry standard in the US was that rigid. My limited publishing experience has been in the European market.

    #2 (Kate)

  18. Revision critique for #17 that you are published in the Netherlands! I would lose the "About Me" part of that last paragraph. Your query is a lot better now! I'm not sure about all of the questions in the third part of it though. I would stick with the main thing(s) she needs to know and highlight that. Is the Sheriff's wife really integral to the overall conflict of the story or a side item? Cut what is a sub-plot, but keep the major points.
    Second paragraph "check in" should be hyphenated I think!

    Your 250 is better too! MUCH more interesting! I like that you cut the description of the man down and instead showed more interaction between him and Iris early on.

    Just a bit more work on that query and you would get a yes from me.

  19. Revision crit from #16 :D

    This is SO much better!! Great job!! :D

    I'd still say no, though, but almost yes. Mostly because that word count is still a sore thumb. However, your query is awesome. Polished. Voice-y. Epic. Just... agents tend to roll their eyes at questions in queries, so try to avoid them.

    The 250 was perfect, too. So this is a very sad no :( But a very very close to being a yes no!!

  20. Revision Yes. Supernatural and Veronica Mars, yes! Good work on your logline. I think you're on the right track. Iris must learn to deal with these things or something probably bad will happen. Don't need the "exhausted" part. You mention the growing threat, but that needs to be shown in the query. You may be giving too much away with telling us that she becomes whole. Leave the reader guessing a bit more on the query overall. You're hitting more of the important plot points and the character arc in your second draft. Very intrigued by the premise. I haven't read anything like this for a while and not in the YA category. I love the Others and motel concept. It creates a certain atmosphere that would be a joy to read. You cleaned up the 250 nicely. It was great before, but now it accents her observation skills and voice even more. p.s. thank you for reading my first draft, your comments were very insightful and I appreciate the support. (#10)

  21. Hi, I read the first version, but don't see my critique. Oops. The revised query has a great hook and drew me right in, but I think the 2nd sentence of the 2nd paragraph needs a trim. Also, the repetition of 'truth' in the third paragraph fell a little flat -- is there another word choice you could use to keep the prose fresh?

    I loved the pacing and introduction to Iris' world in the opening 250. Such a vivid and fresh description:'...with skin like a re-used paper bag.' I don't think you need both 'mish' and 'slurs' -- one or the other will get the message across. I'm intrigued and like the writing, though the word count does give me pause. Still, if I were an agent, I'd request more pages. :D


  22. I love the concept of a motel for monsters in Kansas (I think I've stopped at a few of those in my life, to be honest!). I agree with others who have said the word count is too long, but I sure do love the voice.

    Query: I think if you can come up with something more specific than "forgive her father's weaknesses," the first line of your query makes an awesome logline. That said, you don't need to start the query with a logline. Instead, start with your second paragraph. I love the voice in the query and think you've got the right blend of mystery and stakes to make us want to read more. Oh and I would leave out "About me." and just launch right into your bio line.

    First 250: I think the voice really shines in this first 250 and the mystery around what's wrong with this man/monster and what he needs to say to gain entrance into this unusual motel definitely makes me want to read more. Great job!

    Best of luck from entry #13.

  23. Yes. Yes. This is definitely a story for me. Roadside hotel for monsters? Give me! Veronica Mars meets Supernatural? Where have you been all my life?!

    I don’t want to beat a dead horse about the word count thing, so instead I’m going to offer some encouragement. My first MS was a YA contemporary fantasy that originally came in around 139k. Through painful cuts, darlings killed, scenes collapsed, and subplots slashed, I managed to whittle that all the way down to 90k. It can be done! I would hate to see such a fun concept auto-rejected because of word count. Another thing you can do is start small. Challenge yourself to cut 100 words from every chapter. Over the course of 20-40 chapters that adds up and it helps tighten your prose boot!

    I like the logline, though I would perhaps come up with something more specific that “her father’s weaknesses.”

    A few suggestions for the query:

    “Working hard to seem normal,” is a little cliche. I think you can combine the first two sentences for something with more of a punch. Like: “During the day, Iris Vox goes to school, at night she checks supernatural Others in and out of her father’s roadside hotel for monsters.”

    While the “tub of human sludge” is voicey, I didn’t read it as literal. I imagined Dad as some beer drinking loser who sits on the couch all day watching TV while his daughter works until the line about him being juicy. I wonder if there’s a more concrete way to convey what’s happening to him. It could also raise the stakes if we know he’s dying and Iris is powerless to stop it!

    Personally, I’m not a fan of hypothetical questions in a query. One, maybe you can get away with. But the entire second paragraph is framed around them, so I don’t get a clear picture of what’s really happening. What does Iris want? This is a case where I’d rather just be told. Remember: character, conflict, stakes. You’ve got character. Now what’s the central conflict—something to do with her dad, who’s the villain? Give me that, then end with the stakes. Iris’ goal needs to be crystal clear. Then the stakes are what happens if she fails.

    A few clerical things. FUGITIVE MOTEL should be capitalized in the third paragraph. The line about Iris gaining maturity you can cut. It doesn’t tell us anything. The last sentence I would phrase simply as a “stand-alone with series potential.” Agents sometimes get scared off when you try to sell them more than one book at a time.

    Love the first 250. It’s filled with action and tension and definitely makes me want to keep reading. The POV feels close and it seems like you begin in just the right place too. This is mostly a case of making sure the query matches up with power of the opening. Like I said, I love your concept so much, I want you to give agents a reason to say yes!

    Best of luck with this project. Definitely something I hope to see on the shelves soon :D


  24. Hi, #19 here. Thanks for your crit on my revision.

    First off, I have to say that I love, love, love your premise. I was late on the Veronica Mars boat, but MAN do I love that show now. So a hard-ass, too-smart-for-her-own-good main character is totally up my alley.

    Ugh, the dreaded word count. I feel you. I'm not done revising my MS yet, but, like #20, my first draft came in on the long side (135k). I'm working on getting the plot cut down to 100k. I hate that word count rejection is a thing, but agents look at so many queries that they are just looking for a reason to say no. Try to give yourself the best chance possible by cutting stuff. I would, if you don't have already, a couple good CP's to help you recognize areas that can be condensed.

    That being said, the second paragraph of the query lost me with all of the questions in the middle. This is an improvement over your first query, but it could use some more work. Something that I have been doing is trying to write a query for a well-known story (think, Sleeping Beauty or Snow White) and using a simpler framework in order to get the right amount of information and intrigue. You've received a lot of great advice above as well, so keep on polishing!

    I loved the 'Definitely one of ours' line. It shows us so much about what this hotel is all about, plus it gives us a lot of information about Iris as well. I felt a little of the VM inspiration here too, which was enough to make me want to read more. I think that this 250 is an improvement over your first try as well. It reads tighter and you've made some careful edits to get rid of the repetitiveness. Bring that same care to the rest of the MS and I bet you'll cut a good chunk out with that alone.

    Best of luck, #2. You're headed down the right path.