9.09.2006

3rd SR Crapometer #99 plus 3

September 1, 2006

Dear Miss Snark:

Having read and enjoyed your client George Clooney's novel, The Facts of Life, I think we might have similar sensibilities. I would appreciate your assessment of my mainstream novel [name of novel] (80,000 words) to see if my hunch holds true. You're asking me to assess your novel? Does it have gold filagree? What you want is to have me read it. Just say so.

When you are involved in a relationship -- be it romantic, platonic, or familial -- in which your
partner can't or won't reciprocate, how long can you sustain that relationship before something snaps? In [name of novel], three women wrestle with this issue during the summer of 1992. Jane Stanton (14) dreads spending the coming summer in Daedalus Falls -- a
small, tourist-laden town in Ohio -- at least, until she is offered a job watching a young boy with autism. Her mother Bonnie (34) isn't thrilled either, since all she has to look forward to are visits with her cantankerous mother Elizabeth (72), stricken with Alzheimer's disease. Only Meg Newman (24), Jane's newly engaged cousin, views the season with any enthusiasm. But after her fiance is brutally mugged, will she want to marry a man who won’t leave the apartment to go to the altar?

oh dear dog, I feel morose just reading this.

Told in alternating points of view, the women's voices chronicle how anyone, no matter the age, can discover her own strength through loving another in spite of that person's weakness. It's a coming-of-age story for all three heroines.

oh double dog, yuck.

I was a finalist in the 2006 PNWA literary contest and placed second in the 2003 Best of Ohio Writers literary contest. I have worked as a freelance writer for several years, during which time I juggle my other duties as a pediatric speech-language pathologist and general toddler-wrangler.

and yet...here's hope. THIS is why you enter those competitions and send your work out to magazines. I was ready to write this off as a morose coming of age story, but here you tell me that someone else read it and liked it. And "toddler-wrangler" makes me think you might have some comic sensibilities.



Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely yours,

----

Call me Eeyore, Jane thought as she trudged down the sidewalk on her way home, her mood as grey as the day was bright. Nice day, if you liked that sunshine sort of thing. The last day of school always made her feel hopeless. Not that she liked school all that much, but
at least it was something to do in this town where the year’s highlight was the Pink-and-Green Parade, with the villagers all dressing in their Izod polos and sauntering down Main Street for the tourists. Summer's perky sunshininess annoyed her; it was just a cover-up for sweat and discomfort. With no job and no access to air conditioning or a pool, Jane looked forward to the
next three months with all the enthusiasm of a dog being taken to the vet.

Jane's hair fell into her face as she kicked at the pebbles on the concrete. She watched them skitter down the long hill. A group of boys from the middle school was twenty paces ahead. Random syllables floating back in her direction suggested that they were not exactly
debating quantum physics. Concentrating all her powers of wallflower-enhanced invisibility, Jane watched as they hooted and high-fived one another. One of them had probably farted.

The boys stopped in front of a small bungalow where a child about five or six years old was playing on the porch. Jane knelt down and pretended to tie her shoe so that she did not have to overtake them. Her t-shirt, two sizes too big, grazed the sidewalk. She didn’t know why the boys had stopped, but she knew this house. This kid was always on the porch, oblivious to the rest of the world, lining stuff up in perfectly straight lines. Some days, it was cars. Some days, it was blocks. Today, it was cars. The boy sat cross-legged on the floorboards, bangs in his eyes. There was something not right about him, doughy, like
a loaf of bread not completely baked through.

"Hey, kid," one of the boys yelled. The child continued to move his cars back and forth, back and forth. He did not look up.

(here's your starting point)
"Yo, retard! I'm talking to you!"

Still the boy ignored them. No, he wasn't ignoring them: it was as if they did not really exist for him, so there was nothing to ignore.

Jane, still kneeling, picked at a scab on her ankle. Just leave him alone. She contemplated turning back and walking the long way home, but figured she'd draw more attention that way than if she simply stayed put. And attention was the last thing she wanted from these
morons.


This has promise. I'd read on. I think the challenge of three points of view is huge so I'd be watching that closely. I actually think this might have more potential as a YA novel right now but that's probably because I haven't seen the other, adult, POVs.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

"...they were not exactly debating quantum physics."

Not exactly? But perhaps approximately?

The uncertainty principle in action.

(Cheap snarking aside, I thought this was good. I would read more.)

amicietta said...

Double yuck? Double yay! I hate morose books, but the thought of this book existing makes me happy! My oldest son is autistic, and I can tell you, there's a lot of humor in our lives because of it.

And I like that the author has described it as a coming of age book for all three of them. I think that if more people learned how to love people who couldn't love them back, (or at least not in the way that they want to be loved,) the world would be a much happier place.

I'd buy the book on its premise alone, and HOPE that it is fun and upbeat, more "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime" than anything written by Faulkner and Co. I hate depressing books.

wonderer said...

I like the premise, and as for the writing, you've started with conflict that gets the plot moving. Well done! Drop the first paragraph and condense the second and third so we get into the action faster, and you'll have me hooked.

Anonymous said...

The premise sounded dreary and depressing, but the writing was good and I liked it. I'd read more for sure.

Sherry Decker said...

As much as I weary of touchy-feely emotional stories, I'd probably keep reading this - until it alienated me by having a character do something stupid or cliched. I'm an impatient reader, so something needs to happen fairly soon. However, once something cruel happens to a child or to an animal, I toss the story and never pick it up again. So far, so good.

Anonymous said...

I like this from beginning to end. I know Miss Snark wants the story to start in the action, but I thought your backstory was really good. This one worked for me. Please think twice about changing it because I would hate to see you lose your voice, and the beginning of this one was all about your voice.

McKoala said...

The tone is nice and I would keep reading - but if I'd seen the query letter I wouldn't have. It has none of the liveliness of the tone of the first pages (other than toddler-wrangler!)

Virginia Miss said...

After reading the query, I didn't expect to like this at all, but the writing is good and I wanted to keep reading.

However, I almost stopped reading in the middle of the first paragraph -- I urge you to cut this bit:

"The last day of school always made her feel hopeless. Not that she liked school all that much, but
at least it was something to do in this town where the year’s highlight was the Pink-and-Green Parade, with the villagers all dressing in their Izod polos and sauntering down Main Street for the tourists."

then it would flow right from one comment about the sunshine to another.

Good luck, author

Camilla said...

I liked this one. I'd definitely read further.

Summer's perky sunshininess annoyed her; it was just a cover-up for sweat and discomfort.

and

No, he wasn't ignoring them: it was as if they did not really exist for him, so there was nothing to ignore.

both caught my attention. You have an interesting turn of phrase.

Good luck!

Stephen D. Rogers said...

Miss Snark,

In the case of multiple POVs, should the author lead with the one that offers the best hook (keep reading!) or the one that is most likely to match the reader (don't go away!)?

For example, with this book, an adult might turn away, expecting the book to be YA.

Stephen