Thursday, April 12, 2007

Face-Lift 314

Guess the Plot

My Invented Life

1. I am twenty-five, gorgeous, highly-educated, and living rent-free in the trendiest part of Dublin. No, wait--London. Wait--Toyko! And I have red hair and a pet pony. A UNICORN. Okay, your turn.

2. Tommy Flanagan’s long-awaited…uh, extrordinary memoir, chronicling the ups and dow--ups of his life as President . . . uh, Emporer . . .Overlord! of the Universe, and his passionate courtship of his girlfri--his wife . . . Morgan Fairchild . . . yeah, that’s the ticket.

3. My sister's everything I want to be: petite, beautiful, a cheerleader. Maybe I'll slip bovine growth hormone into her Gatorade. No, wait, I'll pretend I'm a lesbian. Yeah, that'll show everyone.

4. #167 knows it's not easy being someone's science fair project, especially when your creator is a 15-year-old genius with personal hygiene issues. But life improves when #167 takes over his creator's social life for him and enthralls the entire girls' soccer team with his spare parts.

5. The memoir of a computer, revealing all about its construction, the great battles it fought with hackers, its traumatic upgrades, the challenges of virus and spyware afflictions, adventures in acquisition and subduement of peripherals, and in the end, for what? To face a hideously tattooed recycler wielding a sledghammer.

6. Shy, pimply, unemployed nerd Biff Wacker creates an internet persona: the debonair and rapier-witted Evil Editor. Thousands of would-be writers hang on his words, and it's all fun and games — until Biff falls in love with one of his cyber-fans.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Roz fantasizes about slipping bovine growth hormone into the pep squad’s Gatorade. [How times have changed. When I was in high school, I fantasized about slipping powdered rhinoceros horn into the pep squad's Gatorade.] Why? Because her sister, Eva, is two things Roz is not, a cheerleader and annoyingly petite. Eva used to be her best friend, her reason for living. Then Eva deleted Roz from her life. [Apparently Roz is unfamiliar with the "undo" command.] When Roz discovers that Eva secretly likes girls, she shears off her waist-length hair and “comes out” in her sister’s place. [Make it crystal clear what you mean by "in her sister's place."] [Also, not clear what she hopes to accomplish. Does she believe Eva will undo the deletion if she believes Roz is a lesbian? How old is Roz?] Masquerading as a lesbian changes a girl. [Though not as much as it changes a guy.] As Roz plays a man playing a woman in a high school production of Shakespeare’s As You Like It, [This part sounds like the plot of Shakespeare In Love. To make it seem less derivative, have her play a gay guy playing a woman playing a man playing a lesbian playing a trombone.] she begins to question her own sexuality.

My Invented Life is a 45,000 word contemporary YA novel set in rural California. My story addresses diverse sexualities with a straight/questioning main character. Many excellent teen books (e.g. Geography Club by Brent Hartinger and Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan) are written from the GLBT point of view. [If you're sending this to someone who handles books written from the GLBT point of view, they already know this. If you're sending it to someone else, they don't even know what GLBT means.] I believe there is a place in the teen market for an upbeat and funny gay novel from a different perspective.

Although I am not yet published, I have honed my writing skills through years of practice, workshops, and critique groups. I am a member of SCBWI.

Thank you for your time and consideration.



I tend to think that by the time a girl gains an understanding of what lesbianism is, she's already passed the age at which she's naive enough to convince herself cutting off her hair and masquerading as a lesbian is a useful course of action. But then, I grew up in a decade when there were no lesbians.

This sounds more like a big-city story than a rural one. But then I haven't been to a rural school lately.

The plot description is fairly brief. You can lengthen it by telling us what Roz thinks will happen when she cuts her hair, etc., and what actually happens.


BuffySquirrel said...

So, come on, which of his minions is Evil in love with?

I bet it's Paca.

Robin S. said...

My money's on ril.

Rei said...

Because her sister, Eva, is two things Roz is not, a cheerleader and annoyingly petite.

Colon after "not".

eunuch said...

"To make it seem less derivative, have her play a gay guy playing a woman playing a man playing a lesbian playing a trombone"


eunuch said...

I would DIE to meet #1.

Assuming she doesn't play with scizzors, knives, or other sharp instruments, of course.

the author said...

Is it unbelievable that a 16 year old girl would masquerade as a lesbian for a dare?

Evil Editor said...

I don't know, but it would have been easier to decide, if we'd known she was 16 and was doing it for a dare. It sounded like she was doing it to regain her sister's friendship, and she could have been 13 for all we knew. Those do seem like crucial pieces of information.

pacatrue said...

No, I don't think it's unreasonable at all, author, but EE is right that the dare info would help. It might also be really useful to know how things end, or at least progress. It's not clear to me if through this dare, the heroine explores her sexuality enough to determine that she is in fact lesbian or bisexual? Or does she simply allow herself to understand what it would be like to be lesbian, kind of, by playing the part, but she remains basically hetero? This also plays into what you describe as a GLBT point of view. Is it such a perspective because it deals with issues of sexual orientation, or because the narrator's point of view is somehow GLBT? I guess if I was taking on a book that deals with orientation as a fundamental theme, I would want to know how more clearly how that theme is realized. It's not clear if this is a coming out / self-realization book or not.

You might want to spill the beans more about the relationship between Eva and Roz. They are at one point sisters and best friends, and then Eva stops talking to her. Is it precisely because Eva is hiding her own interest in girls? It is just because Eva is older and like all siblings is embarassed by the little bro or sis hanging around? But if her sexuality is what Eva is hiding by not speaking to her sis anymore, why is she making out with Bryan in the opening? Ooh, is the idea that Eva is either bi or experimenting with being bi, and Roz thinks she'll finally one up her sis and go all the way to lesbian? Actually, I can't figure out if Roz is trying to help or hurt her sister by coming out "in her place." But wait, the dare is important.... I guess I'm just confused.

And, actually, buffysquirrel, EE and I broke up about 3 months ago. -sniff- I've moved on. -sniff- no I really have. -breaks down into a sobbing heap- At least, I have since the restraining order.

Anonymous said...

Relationships change as people grow up. To a teenager the nuclear family has less priority than dating and peers. That's a normal part of the maturation process. So it seems unbalanced for Roz to be so obsessed with her sister: resentful of Eva's independence and resentful of other people in Eva's life. She thinks they should always be the closest of best friends.

Maybe I'm just clueless but pretending to be a lesbian seems like a completely random and irrational response to this problem. Did you mean for Roz to be wacko? She's obsessive enough to be a stalker-in-the-making. Was that the plan?

I'm guessing not. I think you want to write a sort of "black like me" book re: the unanticipated lessons a teenager learns by "coming out" -- but this set-up is maybe too complicated and contrived. Or maybe your description in the query is just too sketchy to convey the sensibility.

Rei said...

But then, I grew up in a decade when there were no lesbians

Well, no lesbians who were both out and high profile at the same time. ;) Plenty who were out but kept things low key, and high profile lesbians/bisexuals who kept things quiet.

How about Eleanor Roosevelt as a starting point:

"My Pictures are nearly all up and I have you in my sitting room where I can look at you most of my waking hours! I can't kiss you [in person] so I kiss your picture good night and good morning...Most clearly I remember your eyes, with a kind of teasing smile in them, and the feeling of that soft spot just northeast of the corner of your mouth against my lips."

Even if she wasn't a lesbian (it's still controversial), she knew several lesbian couples and lived with one at one point.

Speaking of lesbians, Katherine Lee Bates, author of "America the Beautiful", was probably the closest thing her time would accept to a lesbian. She lived with her partner, Katharine Coman, in a "Boston Marriage"** that lasted 25 years. When Coman died, Bates pined away ("So much of me died with Katharine Coman that I'm sometimes not quite sure whether I'm alive or not.") and worked for seven years on "Yellow Clover, a Book of Remembrance" -- poetry about her.

So it began,
This vagabond, unvalued yellow clover,
To be our tenderest language. All the years
It lent a new zest to the summer hours,
As each of us went scheming to surprise
The other with our homely, laureate flowers,
Sonnets and odes,
Fringing our daily roads.
Can amaranth and asphodel
Bring merrier laughter to your eyes?

** The term "Boston Marriage" did not necessarily imply a sexual component, although modern scholarship tends to suggest that perhaps half of them did and half of them didn't. It was the closest thing a 19th century America would accept to a lesbian relationship. Bates and Coman publicly described their relationship as a "romantic friendship"

phoenix said...

I believe there is a place in the teen market for an upbeat and funny gay novel from a different perspective.

I would actually like to see a funny gay novel that doesn't fall back on stereotype, author.

Why does Roz cut her hair to make people think she's a lesbian? News flash -- plenty of lesbians have long hair. If she were pretending to be a Texan, would she suddenly start wearing a cowboy hat and spitting tobacco? (I'm a Texan, and I neither wear nor spit.)

Why is this important? If you're targeting a GLBT audience and want your perspective to be fresh and new, then you don't want the stereotype label attached. Now, if this is a misstep on Roz's part because that's the only way she knows to pretend to be a lesbian, then play that up in the query. Otherwise, anyone sensitive to GLBT issues is going to wonder if you really understand the issues enough to be writing about them.

Another potential red flag: Is Roz cast as a male in As You Like It because she's come out as a lesbian?

You can, of course, put the stereotypes to extremely good use and make it all funny in the process, but I think you must be very clear in your query these things are intentional and that you are well aware and in control of what you're writing.

Also, as others have noted, the query needs to address what Roz's intention is for coming out, her expectations, and the consequences. And ultimately, what this all has to do with Eva, or else just leave Eva out of the query completely.

foggidawn said...

Did you choose the name Roz because of As You Like It? As I recall, Rosalind is the main character in AYLI. At one point, that character is a woman playing a man playing a woman -- even funnier if you think that in Shakespeare's day, all actors were male, so it would have been a man playing a woman playing a man playing a woman. That wacky Shakespeare!

Seriously, though, I might find the name thing a bit heavy-handed if it was done intentionally -- hard to say, of course, having seen only the query.

And the GTPs were all masterfully done, particularly #1 and #6!