Can this book be saved?

I wrote a book in 2004 that I never submitted. Okay, I sent it to one contest, and that was it. Why? I got the mad hare (hair?) to start Surface, and didn't want to take time to revise, esp since Surface was more in line with Hot Shot than Vanished, which is RS.

But now I have three action books ready (well, 2 waiting on my agent to read), so I've pulled out Vanished to work on. But I'm wondering if it can be saved. I like the book, I think it has good bones, but I don't LOVE it.

Gabrielle Blanchard’s best friend Tess McCartney and her young son, Noah, have been missing for months. The police have moved the case to the back burner. Her family is defeated – if the police don’t hold out hope, how can they? Only Gabrielle and Tess’s twin brother Daniel Kemp, Gabrielle’s childhood nemesis, believe Tess is alive.

Gabrielle believes only she and Daniel can find Tess and her son, since they know her best. They come to this decision after the memorial service. Although it’s her idea, Daniel steers the investigation. Gabrielle can’t stand take-charge guys; she’s seen what her father’s controlling attitude has made her mother. She fights him every step of the way to keep the upper hand. He, on the other hand, is used to being the guy that gets results. He's CEO of a company that writes software for surveillence. (I need to play this bit up.)

Tess’s husband Curt asks them to stop looking. They agree that in order to protect Curt’s feelings, they won’t tell Curt their moves.

After a series of dead ends, they find a psychic who reveals Daniel’s years-long attraction to Gabrielle, who is stunned. He’d never let on. She’s not willing to admit the attraction has been mutual. She confronts him, and to her shock, arrogant Daniel is embarrassed. She delights in playing up the incident, just to see him flustered.

With the help of the psychic and the PI Daniel hired, they locate Tess’s car in a used car lot. The sheriff’s department organizes a search and they find Tess’s clothes in an abandoned house. Daniel is grief-stricken, but Gabrielle assures him Tess is alive. This house had belonged to Gabrielle’s grandparents. Tess left her family on her own. This is stunning to them, the first time it occurred to them.

They learn Curt abused her. They never realized her marriage was a danger. How could they not have seen? Why didn’t Tess turn to either of them for help? After a fight where they blame each other for not seeing her pain, they come together. But when they think of Tess, they wonder how well one can know someone.

Things start happening once Daniel and Gabrielle learn that Tess is alive. Several events seem to keep them from finding Tess.

They realize Tess must have a new identity, and speculate how she may have gotten it. Daniel wants to question the local women’s shelter to see if Tess had gone there, perhaps found help, but Gabrielle knows he won’t get results with his attitude, so she goes to the shelter instead.

Once there, she realizes she won’t get answers from direct questions, so she leads the volunteer to believe she needs help. As she takes the role, she realizes she’s using her mother’s experience with her father, and it’s disturbing. She also realizes her relationship with Daniel parallels her parents’ relationship in some ways. She can’t allow that.

She tells Daniel she doesn’t like who she is with him; she feels like she’s a different person, one who makes too many accommodations for his happiness. She tells him she can only help him find Tess, nothing more. He’s already in love with her, with her strength, her loyalty, her determination. He’ll give her space now, but won’t let her get too far away.
After several visits to the shelter, she’s able to learn the name of someone who will help her disappear. She goes to him, cases the place and reports to Daniel, who is antsy at letting Gabrielle take on all the responsibility. He breaks into the forger’s office, and is furious when Gabrielle shows up. She ignores him and together they come up with some records, which they copy.

The excitement of the evening has them rushing back to Daniel’s apartment. Despite Gabrielle’s reservations about their relationship, she’s happy with him. She’s just not willing to admit it yet. With the help of the PI, they use the information they’ve found to narrow down Tess’s location, stake out schools with new students. When they discover her, she’s pregnant with Curt’s child.

Then Curt shows up.

Tess is betrayed. She thinks her brother and best friend have led her enemy to her home, one she sacrificed so much for.

Daniel is ready to take charge again, to find Curt, to make him pay for the pain he’s caused Tess, the rest of the family. Now that he’s found Tess, she can file charges. But she doesn’t want to. She tells Daniel that such efforts are fruitless, and she has to protect her children.

Gabrielle is torn. Tess doesn’t want this, and Tess is her best friend. Like they did as children, Tess and Gabrielle team up against Daniel, but Gabrielle does it with pleading in her eyes.

Daniel promises to keep Tess safe, begs her to come home to her family. He’ll protect her. Gabrielle confronts him with the fact that he’s taking control of his sister’s life now, even though she recognizes his pain. He doesn’t want his family to go on believing she and her son are dead.

He walks away but is unable to leave it. He confronts his brother in law, and through threats and bribery he is able to get Curt to leave the city, promise to leave Tess alone, so she and Noah can come home.

After Daniel deals with his brother in law, he tells Gabrielle he understands why she resists him taking control, and he’ll do better at it if she’ll stay with him forever. Blah blah blah.

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Stephanie said...

It definitely has potential! How much of it is written? Would it take much to get it ready? I think all those considerations are important. I've revamped old books, and it's a hit or miss thing, isn't it?

Good luck with whatever you decide!

Kelly (Lynn) Parra said...

Obviously, I haven't written a lot of books. *laughs* But my instinct is to push it aside unless you love something about this book. The characters? The story? In my experience, my best effort haven't come out unless I'm somehow in love with the story. =D

Toni Anderson said...

I'm rewriting/editing now. I think it's important to work out how to make it *more*
How to up the stakes, up the conflict/tension. Make it matter to the reader.
Sounds like a good premise, but nothing too special (if you don't mind me saying because I am sure it is beautifully written). Can you add some magic formular, up the ante? My instincts would be to put the children in danger...but then I'm a meany.

Stacy Dawn said...

I have a similar situation with a book. The difference being I love the book but I'm not sure if it's worth reworking or not.

Let us know what you've decided.

MJFredrick said...

Thanks, Bosey! The rough draft is complete, and I think I revised the first 100 pages or so (they're on pink paper and back then I printed different drafts on different color paper.)

Kelly, I'm still reading through it, so I'm looking for the spark. I think if I shrink down the first 50 pages, I might have more something going for it. The sad truth is, I'm not in love with it.

Toni, you're right that it's not all that different. I hate putting kids in danger, though. My initial thought was that these people are mourning this woman, they think something has happened to her, unaware that she was the one to make the choice. Kind of a story of the ones left behind when a woman has to take her life into her own hands. Hmmm....

I have three other books I can revise, but this one is the one closest to completion, I think. I'll give it some more time, till my agent gets back to me with the Don't Look Back revisions.

Anonymous said...

Mar, I remember this book. The few pages I read of it had a very good feel to them, a mysterious energy I liked. But why don't you love it? Maybe hone in on why you don't love it, and you'll know if it's worth spending more time on it.

Hey, write me back...okay?


Shesawriter said...


You have to find that spark inside you to make it shine. I'm going through the same thing. My first book. I've tried to rewrite it about three times and my facination for it has waned considerably. Until I find that fire again, I'll never be able to do it justice.


MJFredrick said...

Okay, I'm up to around page 80 and I'm liking the romance. I've got some good dialogue. I think if I trim the beginning and raise the stakes, as Toni said, it could be better. The problem is, while I have a ticking clock kind of thing, I don't have any imminent danger to my characters. So maybe that's something I can look at.

Anonymous said...

I'd say rewrite the proposal and send that off. If you get requests, fix the rest! ;) Easy solution.

MJFredrick said...


Michelle, you are absolutely right, and that was one of the main reasons I wanted an agent to begin with, so I could just send in partials and gauge interest.

Mary, with a DUH moment


M.J. Fredrick's books on Goodreads
Breaking DaylightBreaking Daylight
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Beneath the SurfaceBeneath the Surface
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Hot ShotHot Shot (Samhain)
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Where There's SmokeWhere There's Smoke
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