Instead of re-writing the opening to Liz A. Stratton Closes the Store, I'm going to include a prologue.
Specifically, a chunk of action from the middle of the book to give the readers a taste of what's coming.
So, I've decided to post the two possible prologues here and let you all vote for your favorite. Which of these would draw you, readers, into the story the most effectively?
Please comment below, message me on twitter @marenster, email me at email@example.com or comment/vote on my facebook page.
Here is the second option. Thanks for participating!
"Ms. Stratton, please," The debate moderator was standing, pleading with his eyebrows. The television cameras glinted in the back of the room, broadcasting to the whole country, live.
"Robert, I'm sorry, but these two patronizing assholes-I mean Candidates-have no business running for President. They are up to their armpits in dirty money, direct profiteering from this sticky, smelly mess of a war. They have no intention of ending it because they are making too much money and they have no moral fiber at all." The Green Party candidate started clapping, but Liz shot him a withering look that made him stop.
"Well, what do you propose?" sneered Senator Ostrem. "Negotiating with the terrorists? That'll work."
Liz glared at him, but he did not cow like McNerny. "Fine," she said. "You want a stronger tactic? You want a tactic that will work? You want a strategy that will guarantee an end to the war, no matter which of us takes office in January?"
"I'd love to hear it," said Ostrem.
"I spoke to a barracks full of women near an army base who said that they'd sacrifice anything to end the war. Absolutely anything. At the time, I couldn't think of anything they could give up that would change things, nothing that would convince the powers that be that the population was serious about ending the war. But I now know what needs to be sacrificed to end the war."
"What's that?" asked Senator Beckinger smugly. "Television? Eating out? Driving to work?"
"Sex," said Liz.
The room was suddenly quiet. Then someone tittered. Then the whole room roared in laughter. Liz waited until they quieted down, working out in her head how this spur of the moment plan would work. Finally, Robert McNally, wiping a mirthful tear from his eye said, "Ms. Stratton, would you mind explaining how giving up sex will end the war in Mesopotamianstan?"
"I'd be delighted, Robert," Liz said sweetly. "Firstly, let's review something. What do men love? Fighting and sex and maybe a sport or two, in that order, I believe. If you take one of those things away, the man becomes unbalanced. I think that given a choice between sex and fighting, men will choose sex. It's that simple."
Robert McNally blinked at her. "You're serious," he said. "You're seriously suggesting that women start a sex strike to blackmail men into ending this war."
"Blackmail is such an ugly word, Robert," Liz said.
Senator Beckinger was chuckling. "Well, it wouldn't work, you know," he said. "I mean, my wife likes our, um, recreation. Certainly too much to give it up for the war."
"Oh? You're willing to bet on that?" asked Liz. "She's never 'closed the store,' so to speak, to get something she wants?"
The Senator looked uncomfortable. "That's a little personal, don't you think?"
"Ha-ha! That's your answer!" laughed Governor Ostrem. "You pussy-whipped bastard!"
"Oh, Governor. It's not like you've ever passed legislation to help out one of your mistresses,
especially the one who dabbles in speculative real estate?" Liz had to remember to send her research department to Hawaii as a thank-you present.
"Robert," she said, turning back to the moderator. "I am saying that if each woman in this country got a headache every night, if she were on the rag for weeks on end, if she suddenly needed to see her sick mother for a month, if she closed the store to her husband, those men would very much want to know how to open it again. And if the same thing happened in Mesopotamianstan, this war would be over in the matter of weeks-if not in A week."
The cheering that rose from the crowd had a perceptively higher pitch than earlier in the evening as only the women were applauding. The men in the room and in the television audience had a moment of dread as, just for an instant, they considered what it would be like if, indeed, every woman in America decided to ignore them. Then they tried to laugh it off, but checked their stashes of porn once they got home, just in case.