Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Face-Lift 225


Guess the Plot

My Lady of Baseball

1. Martyred by a foul ball into the seats, Saint Sue Ann of Pittsurgh suddenly finds herself with a direct line to God. But when two dying children call on her to help their teams win the World Series, can she find a way to make both their wishes come true?

2. Johan dreams of becoming a major league catcher. One day when his teenage sister is filling in for a missing player on his team, a major league scout happens to attend the game. The scout likes what he sees--in Johan's sister. She goes on to be a major league pitcher. Johan becomes a depressed alcoholic.

3. When Spinster Amelia Pettipants finds a cheerleader crucified on the goal posts of the Saint Ignoris Boys High School football field, she knows she must act quckly. A second murder on the basketball court leads her to Father Frank, whose obsessions with the church, young girls and sports make him the likely suspect.

4. Father Fitzpatrick still hadn't gotten used to Vatican II or the AL designated hitter rule.This traditionalist becomes an unlikely antihero when the Cincinnati Archdiocese proposes the beatification of Marge Schott. Father Fitzpatrick is the swing vote and finds himself caught in a web of intrigue spun by his former mentor, Bishop Callahan, who turns out to be slipperier than Gaylord Perry's balls.

5. So I made a billion on my dot com and found I could, like, buy a Lordship in England and call my Dukedum or Countdom or whatever anything I wanted. So I'm Lord of Baseball! Sweet! Now I'm having a contest to find a new wife, and it's SOOO way better than The Bachelor. "A Boy Named Sue" meets Field of Dreams, with drag queens. And the pitcher's a eunuch.

6. When the Silver City Sluggers' batboy discovers the Virgin's face in the stitching of a baseball, he must choose between religion and the Sluggers' star pitcher.


Original Version

Dear Agent,

Milady has spent her childhood in a small New York City apartment with her mother, father and brother, Johan. After her parents divorce, her father receives a job offer from the largest university in the Dominican Republic and Milady and Johan return with him to their homeland. Milady’s teenage years are spent at the beach, strolling through the Colonial Zone with the most handsome guy in her school, and filling in as a substitute on Johan’s rag-tag baseball team. Johan uses the move to chase his dream of being a professional catcher while Milady begins to follow her father’s path into academia. A chance encounter with Don Ricardo, a baseball scout, changes everything and Milady is the one who is discovered as a phenomenal pitcher. [How can she be this good? The only baseball experience you've mentioned is playing as a substitute on a ragtag team.]

Milady’s father virtually disowns her for leaving her studies to go through the farm system in San Pedro de Macoris. [Then she tells him about her three million dollar signing bonus, and all is forgiven.] Johan refuses to even speak to her and is swallowed up by depression and alcohol. Milady has to contend with disreputable agents, hostile players[, showering with twenty-five guys,] and the constant and growing attention of the media—especially on her and the team captain[, who is the first ostrich to make the major leagues]—before making a dismal debut with the New York Bluebirds, one of the best Major League teams in the sport. [She was rattled by fans yelling, "You throw like a girl."] [Is she the first woman to make a major league roster? That would make her the Jackie Robinson of baseball . . . Wait a minute.] Can Milady mend the relationship with her family and gain the respect of her teammates? [Will she win the Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Awards, win three games in the World Series, and land a seven-figure shoe endorsement contract?] Can she regain her confidence and win her next start before the fans call for her head? [In New York? They were calling for her head after one inning.]

I am seeking representation for my novel, My Lady of Baseball, a story of loyalty, talent and baseball. I am a freelance writer for Dominican Times Magazine. My fiction has appeared in Whistling Shade.

The novel is complete at 90,000 words. I have enclosed the first chapter and a SASE for your response. The full manuscript is available upon request. Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,


Notes

Well done. A clear plot description. You might change "talent" to "family" in the next-to-last paragraph.

If there's a problem here, it's not the query so much as the premise. In kids' books, girls make boys teams all the time. If your audience is adult baseball fans, however, it may not be easy to get them to buy into Milady making the major leagues. Certainly I could see a minor league team putting her on the roster to boost attendance, and if she happens to strike out sixteen batters in her first game, who knows what happens next? Once in the majors she'd probably have to be a knuckleball pitcher, as she's unlikely to have the arm strength of her peers. In short, I don't know who the audience is, but if they're knowledgeable baseball fans, don't lose them by basing Milady's rise to the top on her 100 mph fastball.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

Speaking as someone whose junior high age daughter is on a select fastpitch team, I have to agree with Evil Editor. As presented, I don't buy into this premise at all. The pitcher is a high skill position. I'm assuming baseball is pretty much like fastpitch softball. No matter how much natural talent an athlete has, they don't become a major league caliber pitcher without total dedication to becoming a pitcher, practicing like crazy, and having a terrific pitching coach.

HawkOwl said...

I too thought the query was very well done, and oddly enough, considering I don't like baseball or "girl makes it in a man's world" stories, I actually want to read this book. Unless it's gonna be YA. Unlike EE, I think this would be interesting as an adult book (not that kind of adult). Though I have to agree it would probably go over better if you put her in a league where female players do happen once in a blue moon. That way she still has all the same problems, but we don't have as much suspension of disbelief to do. And of course, people who actually no something about baseball will be a lot harder to impress than me.

Daisy said...

I'm with EE here: I am all for gender equality, but let's face it, no matter how much natural talent she has, a woman simply isn't going to have the arm strength to compete as a big-league pitcher. Plus, she'd have to be playing in the AL, since she definitely isn't going to be able to hit (again, upper-body strength). Unless you're going for a magical-realism thing here, you've lost me.

Dave said...

First, I never want to read about Gaylord Perry's balls, or wonder ever again whether the eunuch pitcher keeps his on the mantle or in his pocket.
Second, I remember a movie that had a kid get an amazing fast ball after elbow surgery. I don't remember the name. and
Three, if she ever pitched at Shea stadium or Yankee Stadium in NYC, the kindest thing they would yell is "you throw like a girl" ...

I'm a sucker for baseball, love the game. I used to sit out in the cheap seats on late summer nights doing second order partial differential equations and watching the game at old Forbes Field. (nostalgia alert)

Mrs. Brain Bomb said...

I loved the other plots, by the way. Adults are the intended audience but I am taking your comments seriously, EE, and I understand your point completely. The book definitely shows her being put through her paces professionally.

I'm glad it appealed to hawk because it's also a story about growing up between cultures, sibling relationships, along with baseball.

As always, thank you, EE.

Mrs. Brain Bomb said...

I know all about the kindness of the fans in Yankee Stadium, Dave. I once yelled, "I slept with your mom last night!" to Manny Ramirez. It was a good idea at the time. I've cut back on the beers, since then.

Wonderwood said...

Dave, you did that, too? What are the odds? Though I was sitting in the cheap seats at Atlanta Fulton County Stadium, and I was doing first order full differential equations while simultaneously juggling a beer, a bag of peanuts, and box of Cracker Jacks. Man, those were the days, eh?

Anonymous said...

With the Fox radar gun I think I could throw a 100mph fastball.

As a baseball fan I don't buy the premise at all. Maybe if it was a woman's league like "A League of Their Own" or something.

Dave said...

Ah, Mrs Brain Bomb and Wonderwood, wonderful memories of balls and strikes and hits. Oh to be young again.

HawkOwl said...

Dave, Wonderwood, you guys give nerds a bad name. At least I did something X-rated along with my differential equations. Hehehe... Not at the ball park though. :)

Zombie Deathfish said...

Didn't this happen in Futurama once?

Anonymous said...

Baseball is 2nd only to soccer on the boring-to-watch scale ('06 World Series=lowest tv ratings ever), which makes it a zero chance that I would want to read about it.

". . . slipperier than Gaylord Perry's balls." That makes gtp #4 the winner. -JTC

writtenwyrdd said...

I know it would be trite, but you could make the impossiblilities into an asset. In a Disneyesque approach, you could have the girl be recruited as a publicity stunt, she finds out, her feelings are hurt, she and brother reunite/make up in order to get revenge (something silly), and happiness and peace are restored.

If you aren't going to jazz the plot up for a kid's story, I am not sure what to do with this.

I can't say I disliked, it, but I wasn't interested. But then, I absolutely hate watching sports and can't think of a more boring topic to read about.

~Nancy said...

I'm more of a football junkie (no football widow here), but I grew up as a fan of the Yankees (and that's because my mom was, and still is, a complete nut when it comes to the Yankees, as was her mom).

Meh, neither the Yankees or Mets made the World Series, so why would I want to watch it? ;-)

Anyway...I like the idea, but I agree with Daisy: A woman isn't going to have as much upper body strength as a guy, even if she works out like crazy. And because of that, she'd have to be in the American League (as Daisy points out) because they have the designated hitter rule.

So where to go with this? I'm not sure. Maybe have her be recruited into the minor leagues, as someone suggested.

Or, the independent leagues. Not sure of the names of such leagues, but there's a franchise not far from where I work (the Somerset Patriots), and a lot of people go to their games (it helps to have a train stop just a few feet from the stadium).

Just something to consider. Good luck with this!

~JerseyGirl

Rei said...

Call me a Grammar Nazi, but it really bothers me when there's an obvious grammar error as early as the second line of the first paragraph:

After her parents divorce, her father receives a job offer from the largest university in the Dominican Republic and Milady and Johan return with him to their homeland.

"Milady and Johan return with him to their homeland" is an independent clause. You need a comma after "Dominican Republic." If you don't want to use a period or a semicolon, independent clauses are joined as "IC, CC IC."

I'd expect to see query letters polished. If you don't polish a query letter, what does this say about how your pages are going to read?

shelby said...

Baseball is 2nd only to soccer on the boring-to-watch scale ('06 World Series=lowest tv ratings ever), which makes it a zero chance that I would want to read about it.

Really JTC? Because according to Wikipedia, ...the total attendance for major league games is roughly equal to that of all other American professional team sports combined.... And yes, I know it's Wikipedia, but still. I'm also trying to think of a sport with something akin to the scale of baseball's farm system. Mmmmm, nothing's coming to mind. It's too bad that you find it boring, but it definitely seems like you're in the minority on this one.

Personally I find Curling to be more snooze-inducing. Although I acknowledge that football (the American version) has the best commercials during the Superbowl.

But back to the issue at hand. I too would have a harder time believing the storyline as it's set out now. I think it would have to be really well done to get buy-in, particularly for hard-core fans. I can't make a judgement on that without seeing some of the novel itself, but I think the query is good and I hope that you get a lot of bites on this one (and knock 'em dead with your writing).

And yeah, if done correctly, I'd read it too.

GutterBall said...

I don't do baseball. Gimme professional football any day of the week. If I'm really tapped, I'll watch arena ball or even a college game, but my one true love is football.

I think the minor leagues suggestions have merit here, though. While Disney could probably get away with that kind of suspension of disbelief, I don't know that anyone would buy it in a book. But the minors? Oh, yeah. They're always looking for both talent and draw/appeal.

Simonbun said...

Whoa there Shelby, watch it with the disrespectful curling references! It's a terrific game I used to curl three nights a week before my kids were born. And I'm not even Canadian. The high price of babysitters put an end to that (Pardon the pun, those of you who know curling).

shelby said...

:D I'll admit, Simonbun, that I have never seen curling in person, which I imagine to be more exciting than the television version I once witnessed hosted by David Letterman's mother. I did use the word "more," indicating that it is not the bottom of the stack--that's saved for televised golf and the hours of my life I'll never get back from watching a back-to-back showing of Kevin Costner's The Postman and Waterworld ;).

Anonymous said...

I'd rather watch curling than baseball. -JTC

Mrs. Brain Bomb said...

I think baseball may be boring to watch or read about if it's technical and dry. If you read about the human stories behind the players then it's a fuller picture, no? Who could say that reading about the struggles of Negro League players or the first dark skinned players or Latino players is boring? They have such bittersweet themes: adversity, poverty, success, love, racism, pride.

magz said...

I'd read this! And I dont find it unbelievable in the least (the premise of a female competing at a male's level)
I cant throw a 100mph fastball, (tho I'm deadly accurate with a 1/4 # rock) yet I'm an apparently unusually strong female who's worked most of my life in typically male dominated fields.
Maybe not the generic Feminine Gal, but all female, and
at 50+ yrs old and 5'6"/140# I can still outlift and out armwrassle most of my 19 yr old son's friends.

I didnt see this opener as a problem atall genderwise, for there are strong bigger women just as there are smaller intuitive men.. let's try not to stereotype, eh? After all, who feeds the mighty African Lion but the Pride of Lionesses? Just sayin.. and exellent opener Author!
wd verf: gmrkbgm- the sound a Lady emits while armwrassling lefthanded