3rd SR Crapometer #42

Dear Ms. Snark, (snarl)

Mella Corcoran has just graduated summa cum laude from the University of Chicago. Her life was supposed to be full of new expectations and ambitions. But instead everything was maddeningly the same: she was obsessed with Sam Hardigan, the boy who dumped her over a year ago.

Even though Sam cared less about Mella than the newest episode of South Park, he ruled her existence. Day after day she went through the motions of a real life: going to her temp job (the only work she could find), coming home (to her under-employed room-mates) and watching bad reality TV (because her own reality was too painful). And all the while Sam dominated Mella’s thoughts like a snippet of bad music (i.e. the latest Kelly Clarkson single) that her brain couldn’t shake.

So Mella took a stand against unrequited, unrelenting love and went live at her cousins’ house in Dublin, Ireland.

Little did she realize how completely she failed to escape the memory of Sam. In fact, she was bringing him with her--or at least a small part of him-- a wee bit of genetic material nestled in her right ovary.

Now Mella must deal with a different kind of adventure than she anticipated--. in a country that banned abortion, with no money, scrambling for jobs like bar-wench, vanity photographer and dotcom tech-goddess. In the midst of all this she has a breast cancer scare, a short episode of homelessness, a cousin having a psychotic breakdown, and also several dates with Eurotrash suitors. On top of all this she must decide between abortion, adoption and single motherhood. All of this upheaval fortunately does come to a happy conclusion where Mella ends up with the man of her dreams and a true understanding of what it means to get a life.

The above is the premise for my 65,000 word novel, Title, a poignant yet humorous story of a woman seeing her life veer into a zigzag detour before even knowing which direction to go in. I hope you will consider taking a look at it.

My writing experience is mostly non-fiction: I’ve published a book (info redacted-nf/reputable publisher)


funny huh. humorous?
like Steven Wright is funny I guess.

For starters, your heroine sounds like an idiot.
Do you like her?
Do you think I will/should? Tell me one thing that's likeable about her. Now, convey that to me in the query letter.

I'm reading your pages in a VERY skeptical frame of mind. That is not good. You want me chomping at the bit to find out what happens, not thinking "yikes, is that a train wreck I see".

It all started at the University of Chicago, where I had met Sam during my sophomore year. I fell in love-- complete, utter, toe-curling, heart-fluttering love. I was happier than I’d ever been. Until Sam broke up with me two years later.

When Sam broke up with me it was not, I’ll admit, the worst day of my life. But that was simply because I refused to believe it happened.

Don’t get me wrong. I was quite aware our relationship wasn’t perfect. He played a lot of Grand Theft Auto and liked to watch back-to-back episodes of South Park while stoned. But who doesn’t have vices? (Mine involved reality shows and Ben and Jerry’s) What I did count on was that he wouldn’t ever give up on me, because he was the only person I had ever been able to say anything to, who “got it”. We all know what that means, right? When someone “gets it”? It’s such a relief when you find someone like that. You’ve got your partner-in-crime, your second psyche. So how can your second psyche dump you? That’s like dumping yourself! Which, I suppose, is possible since there’s always suicide but--but let’s not even go there.
Instead, let’s go to Sam’s break-up speech.

It was a beautiful August morning, a few weeks before the start of my senior year at U of C. I was walking to my work at the campus biology building when I saw Sam coming towards me across the quad. At first I felt a thrill of excitement at seeing him so unexpectedly, but then I glimpsed his expression and I knew something terrible had happened. Only I didn’t realize it had happened to us.

He didn’t bother to say hello or even smile. “Mella, I think we should stop.”

He looked at me, unblinking, making sure I realized the seriousness of the situation.

My heart began to flop about unsteadily.(there's an image) “Stop what?”

“Last night, when I heard your message, it made me realize that—we need to break this off.”
Suddenly the campus quadrangle-- the sunlit trees and freshly cut grass-- lost all its color. The other people walking by us became fake cardboard figures moving across painted scenery as in a play. Sam’s voice was frighteningly crisp as I took in his explanation of why we could no longer be together. And I felt my life falling further and further apart with every sentence he uttered.

You're opening with backstory of course.
You're telling not showing.
And where is the humorous part?

And did I mention that I'm really really really over the unempowered girl motif. Give me some kick ass ninja girls any day of the week and leave that oh-we're-soulmate crap to the ..well, I dunno, does anyone publish that these days?? Even the crinoline skirt divisions of the Christian publishing houses don't have weak ass heroines. They may kick ass for Jesus, but they are kicking ass.


Anonymous said...

"They may kick ass for Jesus, but they are kicking ass."

That SOOOOOO needs to be on a t-shirt!

Elektra said...

erm--a fertilized egg should never, ever be in an ovary. It would be very unpleasant and very messy. Usually they hang out in the uterus.

Anonymous said...

Well, it can happen--it's called an ectopic pregnancy, though 95% of the time the fertilized egg ends up in the fallopian tube, not the ovary. But then she'd likely be rushing to the hospital, not having to decide between adoption and abortion....

Anonymous said...

And if it's been sitting there from over a year ago when Sam dumped her...


Miss Snark said...

well, there goes another keyboard Elektra. We need a beverage alert icon on this blog

Manic Mom said...

I guess I like hopeless main characters who strive above all else to come out ahead.

I loved this line/visual ... "a wee bit of genetic material nestled in her right ovary."

But then I read Elektra's comment. I'm like Duh, that would be an ectopic pregnancy. I've had three kids and this one slipped by me, kind of like an egg in an ovary should have slipped down the fallopian tube.

Miss Snark--is 65,000 words a little too short for a novel?

Kim said...

I'm a little confused - it's been over a year since Sam left and THEN Mella discovers she's pregnant? And an ectopic pregnancy, no less. Throw in an alien abduction (in Chapter 14), an evil twin, and you've got a Lifetime movie. Or did I miss something? I've been cleaning all morning and the Pledge fumes may have messed with my mind a little.

Not a bad premise though - it just needs a little less - ah - depression - between the cancer, homelessness, pyschotic cousin - why would Mella hang out here when it's just as bad as home?

Anonymous said...

I was majorly in love with a dude too, but when the break finally happened I was of a mind to feed him to a brush chipper and shoot the remains over a catfish pond.

Girl-in-denial stories are a turn off to this female. Gimme a heroine, not some moron mooning around cause she doesn't have her may-an.

W hat

W ould

X ena

D o?

December Quinn said...

Exactly how much time does this book cover? For how long is this girl pregnant? Her boyfriend dumped a year before the book starts, so how is she just pregnant when she goes to Ireland? I'd assume they had a fling before she left or something, but given that the author thinks babies grow on the ovaries I'm not so sure.

It just seems like an awful lot to have happen in a short time (and a short book), and the heroine is not likeable--I cannot respect anyone that obsessive, self-loathing, and weak.

Why doesn't she just go home if she wants an abortion, instead of fretting about the laws in Ireland?

Azucena said...

Yes, a fertilized egg in an ovary would be an ectopic pregnancy, which is a life-threatening condition.

I know of no country that would consider the necessary surgery "abortion," since the pregnancy isn't viable, anyway.

Anonymous said...

I'm a UChicago student myself, and I suspect the (apparently summa-quality) work during Mella's fourth year would have erased any thoughts of idiot boys. They don't call it the place where fun comes to die for nothing.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, what elektra said. I was also curius about the timeline. The guy dumped her over a year ago, right? And she still hasn't had the baby? (I mean, genetic material lodged in her ovary. GAK.)

Is this another one of those weird alien babies? Or did this writer not have basic health class and learn that a human pregnancy only lasts about 9 months?

amy said...

That's going to be my new sig line, "Kicking ass for Jesus."

Dave said...

a) never drink wine around your keyboard, try a maurgarita with extra tequila instead.

b) is she broke up wioth this guy a year ago, how is she pregnant with his child?

c) And if she is a US citizen, why doesn't she just fly back to the US to handle the abortion. Even if she came back to the US by boat...

d) In this day and age, I hope young women take my advice and treat those boys like kleenex and throw them away. Having a "MAN" is like having a (well, let's just leave that thought unsaid)

BuffySquirrel said...

True, you can't get abortions in Ireland easily, but the UK isn't all that far away.

Telling us in the query that Sam cares less about Mella than about South Park means nothing unless we know how much or how little he cares about South Park. Which we don't.

srchamberlain said...

*yawn* Why does this feel way too autobiographical?

Anonymous said...

Between "cunt of an orange" and a viable pregnancy in an ovary, we may need to staff a midwife or two.

marie-anne said...

you know, Armadillos can store fertilized eggs for over a year to wait for an optimum time to give birth. Maybe she's a shapeshifter and she shifted to Armadillo mode.

Anonymous said...

Glad to know there are many Snarklings who are more aware of basic human reproduction than the author of this piece. I stopped reading at the genetic material in her ovary...

Sounds like she needs a competent gyn and some methotrexate.

word veri: tfrbtlso (the last bit could stand for bilateral salpingooopherectomy)

December Quinn said...

Perhaps the book is set in the medieval 18th century, when less was known about the female reproductive system?

lizzie26 said...

Seems like this author just has to wash her man outta her hair. Yup, definitely autobiographical. And whiney. Ugh.

And if she can't even get how her ovaries and uterus, etc, work, I wonder what else in the book is incorrect.

And yeah, at 65,000 words, that'd be older YA.

Anonymous said...

i like the plot, maybe tone down the number of tragedies.

and if she gave this girl some oomf, couldn't it still work?

p.s. like the genetic material line, just change to uterus

and, he may have left her a year ago ... but maybe they, um, had a post-break-up fling? still needs to be clarified, though.

Lexie Ward said...

Okay. That kick ass for Jesus thing is about the funniest thing I've ever read. Thanks for the laugh! It made me pee my pants, but they'll wash...

Anonymous said...

I'm thinking my kiddos at church need "Kicking ass for Jesus" T-Shirts made up. But is it too violent for Pre-K?

Anonymous said...

Kick Ass for Jesus--now there's a title!

Anonymous said...

The place where fun comes to die--now there's another title (for the depressed set)

Britneyt26 said...

compared to the 'ninja action' of some other subs on this site, I really like the 'thinking' in this sub. It has a nice voice.

IMO it feels real. I also like the idea of a smart American girl coming to another culture and being 'clueless'

What I say to the author is -keep writing. If you get no attention in USA, sub it in the UK. We read this stuff. We call it chick-lit.

-EU girl

Catja (green_knight) said...

By the time you've put all these events into a 65K novel there's no space left for characterisation. Which is just as well, since this book appears to have only two characters - girlie and absent boyfriend.

johnmskf - oh, look, there's a guy hanging out in the verification string, so what about giving her a new relationship?

Wabi Sabi said...

Who is Steven Wright? Anybody? Anybody?

Does La Snarka mean Steve Wright the UK DJ? Or wot?

JJ said...

Steven Wright, American comedian, a la (paraphrasing), "If you put instant oatmeal in the microwave, will it go back in time?"

BJ Nemeth said...

Steven Wright is a well-known American comedian known for telling jokes in a monotone voice. Here's a link:


Anonymous said...

"When Sam broke up with me it was not, I’ll admit, the worst day of my life. But that was simply because I refused to believe it happened."

That was the paragraph that killed it for me.

ipgirl said...

Yurgh! This is my query and I know about biology! The wee iota was deposited by a post break-up fling. The ovary part isn't quite correct I know, I was taking poetic licence because I didn't think 'right side of uterus' sounded quite right...

I meant to have this query show how a weepy break-up girl can become tough and independent on her own but I guess it's back to the drawing board....

Wabi Sabi said...

Thanks for Steven Wright lowdown, JJ and BJ. The Wikipedia entry for him displays his mug shot with the most helpful caption: 'head and shoulders of Steven Wright.'

Elektra said...

I also wonder if you're not boxing yourself in here with the abortion thing. As a pro-lifer, I wouldn't (or wouldn't want to) relate to a woman who would go through with an abortion if she could. And a pro-choice person might get annoyed that she doesn't just get the abortion in another country if she wants it so badly. It feels like she's on the fence, and, with such a controversial topic, both sides would hate her for it.

Deirdre Saoirse Moen said...

Aside from the other comments left, here's another point: for comedy, end the paragraph with the punch line. If you don't, you're interrupting the chuckle.

I wasn't clear if the last line quoted below was Miss Snark's (it was originally in paragraphs), but it provided a good example:

> Don’t get me wrong. I was quite
> aware our relationship wasn’t
> perfect. He played a lot of
> Grand Theft Auto and liked to
> watch back-to-back episodes of
> South Park while stoned. But
> who doesn’t have vices? Mine
> involved reality shows and Ben
> and Jerry’s.

end para there.