12.18.2006

HH Com 151

During the early, heady days of lesbian-feminism, Ivy is running a woman's bookstore
with her ex-lover. Despite an outward facade of competence, her life is a claustrophobic mix of bitter altercations and unwelcome physical changes – the effects of post-polio syndrome have pushed her into a wheelchair. To her surprise, using the wheelchair permits her to make a life-changing choice. She abandons the store, her angry ex, and the iron chill of the urban sky for an extended road trip throughout Florida.

Fighting anxiety attacks, mosquitoes, and narrow bathroom stalls, she travels deep into the state and into herself. Immersed in the turquoise water of limestone springs, kayaking among flocks of pink and orange birds, stuck in the mud of an ancient swamp, Ivy learns to accept the assistance of friends and strangers and the comfort of wild places. Along
the way she dances in a Miami bar, recovers her sense of humor, has exuberant sex with a wild boar hunter, and, finally, gains compassion for the new rhythms of her body.

The Adventures of Ivy is a road trip novel that takes a less traveled path. There are no motorcycles, bar fights, long sea voyages, or fiery crashes – just a woman, a lesbian, a disabled person taking her unique route to finding home.

As a hook, this is a rat's nest, for all the reasons you've seen me list below. (no dilemma, no conflict yadda yadda yadda).

However.

THIS is why I insist in shrill tones that when you query me, you send pages. I want to read this. I think it sounds interesting. I love the idea of a woman finding the natural rythms of her body when her mobility changes. I think there's a LOT of room in the marketplace for this kind of story.

Not very often, but sometimes all you need is a good idea.

A word of caution though; I'd be reading those enclosed pages with a very very fierce critical eye. If the hook had been better I'd be more confident all the right ingredients for a good novel were in place (conflict, dilemmas, the usual suspects)

If anyone is keeping track, I'm asking for pages on this.
(And if anyone is curious, the only way you know for sure I'm asking you for pages is if I email you--don't send pages unless you get an email asking for them).

47 comments:

shannon said...

I wasn't particularly interested in this story, but I felt like giggling at the line: "she travels deep into the state and into herself." oooh yuck yuck yuck.

Anonymous said...

and for the insanely curious, have you asked for pages from all the ones you will already, or are you asking for them as you work through the list daily?

December Quinn said...

Wow! Sex with a wild boar hunter!

That got me interested.

Anonymous said...

I'd read this too, in fact it probably interests me the most of any of the hooks up to this point. Of course, I can be seduced by anything that promises a road trip.

#199

Anonymous said...

Glad Miss Snark is asking for pages with this...I can't help but wonder how many excellent books might be rejected because someone didn't get the hook concept.

I've learned a lot from this crapometer, from the good and the not so good, and EVERYONE who submitted deserves a huge thank you.

As for some of the heady commentors...a small (but vocal) group of you truly need to go back and re-think your self-indulgent blog pages before commenting on anything, or, underestimating the people who submitted. You might be surprised.

Anonymous said...

Congrats. Sounds compelling.

HawkOwl said...

Not me. It sounds too feel-good for me and the character didn't intrigue me.

Anonymous said...

I can't really say why this has grabbed my interest, but it has. Maybe it's the description of FL water and birds? Dunno. But the ingredients of one of the Great Conflicts (Man against Himself) is here, with a few other obstacles along for the ride. I think many people, female or not, disabled or not, would find this struggle engaging - if tempered with some quirks and oddities, that is.
You could start with that title. I'd make it a LOT quirkier - and reel in the right readers that way.

Bonnie Shimko said...

I wouldn't know a good hook if it walked up and introduced itself. But if the writing's strong, I'd be interested in this book. I'd spruce up the title, though. As is, it sounds a tiny bit like a dated young adult. Nice!

ORION said...

Kudos to the author-
In my doctoral studies I focus on disability and diversity issues. Having these types of books are important -however- it may be helpful for the author to search out the organizations which advocate "people first" language. It is not just PC it is a different way of looking at things. Example...
Woman who is disabled or Woman who uses a wheelchair - not disabled woman or wheel chair bound or confined to a wheel chair...
My novel also deals with social perceptions with respect to disability.
I definitely would read this book.

WickedSmaht said...

Carl Hiaasen presents How Stella Got Her Groove Back?

I probably wouldn't read this one, but I'm probably not the target audience. It has some interesting elements, though, and I'm intrigued by the idea of disability as possibility without a politically correct "handicapable" angle. I like the character already. She hates what her body is doing to her, but she does something about it and has an adventure in the process. Good for her.

And good for Number 151: you rose above the muddle.

Anonymous said...

wait, i dont get it. is she a lesbian or not ?

if not , then why mention it in the first sentence?

jfm said...

I was never crazy about Henry Miller's books, but I once heard him being interviewed on a French radio program (a repeat) and he had this to say about all good novels: "ils ont quelquechose de vécu" (they have a 'lived' quality.)

I believe he was right.

And this book has that quality.

BuffySquirrel said...

wait, i dont get it. is she a lesbian or not ?

if not , then why mention it in the first sentence?


What the...

Oh, I get it. You think a wild boar hunter has to be a MAN. That's not something wrong with the hook...

HawkOwl said...

JFM: good quote.

Jodi Meadows said...

I like the idea of disabled characters. I keep a few running around my head because they're interesting. Narrow bathroom stalls!

I'm afraid the rest sounds a little too slice-of-life to me. I'm not getting a sense of the stakes, I guess.

Virginia Miss said...

I had a mixed reaction to this. I loved some of the phrasing and sentences, some turned me off.

If you rewrite this, try "During the early, heady days of lesbian-feminism, the effects of post-polio syndrome push Ivy into a wheelchair. She abandons the store, her angry ex, and the iron chill of the urban sky for an extended road trip throughout Florida. Fighting anxiety attacks, mosquitoes, and narrow bathroom stalls, she travels deep into the state." (Cut the "and into herself" please!)
I don't like "learns to accept the assistance of friends and strangers and the comfort of wild places."

Then of course you must mention the conflict.

At the end you can condense some more by calling it "a disabled lesbian's road trip."

Anonymous said...

I'm not totally sure what her conflict is, but this does grab my interest. I like the main character already, & I'm a sucker for road trips!

Sandymount Songs said...

I am not initially interested in the rhythms of her body aspect, but I think it may interest many female readers. Nor am I interested in the whole sexual orientation topic – but the human spirit of the story as outlined – the wish to escape from a rut and become adventurous –does excite interest. I find this creative restlesness American in the best sense.
I was delighted to find that Miss Snark also saw qualities in it.

inherwritemind1 said...

jfm said...
"I was never crazy about Henry Miller's books, but I once heard him being interviewed on a French radio program (a repeat) and he had this to say about all good novels: "ils ont quelquechose de vécu" (they have a 'lived' quality.)

I believe he was right.

And this book has that quality."

Great quote. I agree with you, jfm.

Anonymous said...

Sounds really depressing.

CM said...

It's pretty clear she's a lesbian. Why would you think there's any doubt? Are you assuming that the wild boar hunter must be male?

BernardL said...

Wow, this lady's life can't do anything but get better. After the polio, wheelchair, and disgruntled lesbian lover, I kept waiting for the final straw: a contaminated AIDS blood transfusion. There are a couple too many handicaps for me, but congratulations anyway. :)

Anonymous said...

Regarding some of the "heady commentors--the small (but vocal) group" comment. I'm in total agreement. It can get pretty nasty--and who has time to comment on almost every entry. Curious...

Anonymous said...

I agree totally with the comment re: "the heady commentors--the small but vocal group." It can get pretty nasty. It's amazing that people have enough time to actually comment on almost every entry...and blog constantly. Curious...

Anonymous said...

"It's amazing that people have enough time to actually comment on almost every entry...and blog constantly. Curious..."

I tend to comment when I like something, so I doubt I fall into the disgruntled group. But as for how people have the time, I've wondered that myself. I'm sure my reason puts me in a minority. The HHCOM gives me something to do other than count down the days, seconds, heartbeats until I go into labor. I'm guessing the men on this board, can't beat that. ~grin.

RT

Anonymous said...

why... YES i AM assuming the wild boar hunter was a man.
how silly of me.

i also assume all pro football players are men too. im such a stereotyping misogynist.

i will seek counselling.

e

thanks all for helping me with my problem.

Anonymous said...

Oh come on! Most of you would never have given this query a second look or thought the topic was interesting unless Miss Snark pointed it out.

Anonymous said...

and if this wild boar hunter WAS a lesbian. as a lesbian i would be offended.

why not just make her a big fat truckdriver while your at it.

Brady Westwater said...

First - blogspot alert. I have been unable to post comments since I switched to beta blogspot since I ignored the beta sign-in linkon the coments page, not realizing I had to change that account also to be able to post. So if anyone else has this prolbem - click on the beta link on the comments section.

Second - I am far from the target audience for this book, but this non-hook sure hooked me.

Anonymous said...

"Heady days of lesbianism"

She said "heady" heh heh heh.

I can see the validity in the heady days of homosexuality, the bath houses and discos of the 70's - but for lesbians? Was there really a "time" for them? Seems to me like that's NOW - as starlets and undergrads try on lesbianism like this weeks pair of Uggs. Uggs, as in UGH.

Doesn't work for me. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

While I doubt this is my typical read, the description sounds interesting enough that I'd probably page through the book a bit if I found it on the shelves.

Kim Stagliano said...

I hope Miss Snark tells us whether the pages she is requesting make the cut. Good luck, writer!

KS

chimeralife said...

She had a few forced lines. But she had a few that really sang. I would pick it up and peruse, at least.

Who ever accused people posting because they are sucking up to Miss S also needs to rethink his self. Many have posted on a few of her passes that they would at least thumb through them. You need a timeout. Just because you do not like something doesn't mean the rest of us can't. that is why there are so many genres to choose from.

Isn't it Dr Phil who says we accuse others of behavior we hate in ourselves?

Congrats 151!

HawkOwl said...

"why not just make her a big fat truckdriver while your at it."

We truck drivers are offended by your stereotyping.

LOL

Xiqay said...

[quote="anonymous"]I can see the validity in the heady days of homosexuality, the bath houses and discos of the 70's - but for lesbians? Was there really a "time" for them? [/quote]

Ah, yes, there was. I remember it well, oh so many years ago.

In my experience, in the 70's, feminism and lesbianism were conjoined-and then started fighting each other. There was a time when (all) women on college campuses were invited and expected to join the lesbian camp if they were feminist in any way. Regardless of their sexual orientation. Even those of us married to men.

There were demonstrations by feminist groups going shirtless, because if men could parade around without shirts, so could women and who were the sexist pigs to tell us to cover our bodies.

It was a "heady" time. Confusing as hell for some (and most of us who were there will remember one or more women who committed suicide in their confusion). Exciting, filled with possibilities about the world. And filled with hope.

I'm not sure today's scene comes anywhere near this (but then I'm not a young woman on campus now, so for those who are, perhaps it does).

As for this non-hook: I liked some of the writing. And I appreciate that someone is offering a more complex, quiet novel. Don't know whether I'd say yes or no, and I don't like the title, but this appeals to me on some level.

Kudos for getting a read of your pages from Miss Snark.

CM said...

"and if this wild boar hunter WAS a lesbian. as a lesbian i would be offended.

why not just make her a big fat truckdriver while your at it."

Like straight people, lesbians actually can be truck drivers. Boar hunters. Professional football players. Ballerinas. Rednecks. In other words, real people. I wasn't aware the lesbian career police had to vet occupations.

Real lesbians are a lot more interesting in fiction--and in person--than butch charicatures. Miss Snark's complained already that race is not a stand-in for personality. Neither is sexual orientation.

dannyboy said...

I thought at first it said "exuberant sex with a wild boar".

Anonymous said...

I just realized that by a strange set of alarming coincidences, my novel, which too is about a road trip, also features a wild boar hunt. And at least one of the hunters is, indeed, a woman.
In all other respects, my novel is utterly unlike this one but still, what are the odds that in one crapstravaganza, no matter how large, there would be two novels with wild boar hunts? Mine, alas, is not part of my hook. Clearly an error on my part.

#199

Virginia Miss said...

Oh come on! Most of you would never have given this query a second look or thought the topic was interesting unless Miss Snark pointed it out.

Why would anyone let an anonymous agent influence their taste? Besides, it's always more fun to disagree.

Anonymous said...

Hey Annon, I'm a lesbian too and I'm not offended. I'd love to do/be a wild boar hunter! That's why this hook got me...I'm just a cublicle jockey.

M. Takhallus. said...

No one has asked the vital questions: is she a hot lesbian? How about the boar hunter? And do either of them travel deep into the state and deep into themselves wearing, let's say, a leather corset and stilletto boots?

Come on pople, focus.

ya author said...

Questions:

1)When were those supposed early heady days of lesbian feminism? And how does this correlate to Ivy's post-polio syndrome? Polio was at its peak in the US during the 40s-50s. After that it became rare and very few cases were reported in the 70s and up. So if Ivy had polio in the 50s that would make her how old according to the author's time setting?

2)Were anxiety attacks recognized by the medical community at this time?

3)Ivy's wheelchair-bound and she's dancing in a bar? I'm not discounting anyone's ability to do things in wheelchairs, but I have a hard time picturing this.

4) "Gains compassion for the new rhythms of her body." What is this saying: she has sympathy for her body, feels sorry for it, what? How about accepting the changes in her body? Makes more sense to me.

I'm afraid I just don't see the promise in this. But then again, many others do, so I guess it's a matter of personal taste.

BuffySquirrel said...

I don't know about mysogonist, e, so I'll go with silly :). Now go google Women's Professional Football League.

HawkOwl said...

Dannyboy - I'm glad it wasn't just me. :)

tomdg said...

"narrow bathroom stalls." I love it. Those three words say to me that this story will be believable and interesting.

December Quinn said...

Oh come on! Most of you would never have given this query a second look or thought the topic was interesting unless Miss Snark pointed it out.


I'd read the responses to the Great Barrier Reef mystery thing Miss S liked and we didn't before you make comments like that.



and for the insanely curious, have you asked for pages from all the ones you will already, or are you asking for them as you work through the list daily?


Curious anon, I got my "send 750 words" email not long after my hook was posted. So unless I was an exception, it seems she's requesting as she goes along.