Monday, December 11, 2006

Face-Lift 242

Guess the Plot

Jumping the Stream

1. After a crackdown on cockfighting, a new gambling craze sweeps the country, one that involves trained crickets, drunks, and urinals. But it isn't long before PETI gets wind of what's going on.

2. Inspired by the great Evel Knievel, hunky Bobby Ray is determined to jump the Snake River. When he falls in love with hot rocket tech Sandra, he must decide whether to go ahead with the pay-per-view event or scrap the jump for a week with her and her bisexual girlfriends camping in the wilderness. Also, a werewolf.

3. A team of daredevils is auditioning new recruits. Mae Wong can't wait to defy her parents and race her motorbike down the riverside runway and off the launch ramp. Will that begin an exciting new career? Or just another unpleasant swim?

4. After her boyfriend cheats on her, 35-year-old Katie takes her great aunt's advice and "jumps the stream," becoming a lesbian.

5. Enchanted trout live in the waters of Inqwinq, near the tower where Princess Punzellini awaits her prince. But when the handsome one arrives, will he rush to kiss her? Or will he be unable to resist . . . the call of the trout?

6. A heartwarming coming-of-age story of two boys in the Blue Ridge Mountains who challenge each other to jump across the narrow but deep gorge cut by Cooker's Creek. Also, dueling banjos.

Original Version

Dear Mr. Editor:

In Jumping The Stream, Katie Grant loses her best friend, her boyfriend, and her job, but she gains a house, a heritage, and a new perspective. After unexpectedly inheriting a Connecticut colonial from a great-aunt she barely remembers, Katie catches her boyfriend, Todd, in bed with her best friend, Lauren. Eager to get away from her mediocre, stagnant life, thirty-five year old Katie quits her beat reporter job, leaves her cruddy apartment, and moves across the county [Does quitting your job and moving across the country count as losing your job?] to the old house, expecting nothing more than a fresh start. [Wimp. Any other woman would have sold the house and used the money to hire a hit man to take out Todd and Lauren.]

She finds the house steeped in history. When she discovers the private journals of her great-great-something grandmother, revolutionary war widow Libby Hutchins, Katie dives in. [Hoping the journals haven't been ruined by being stored at the bottom of the swimming pool.] But the journals only point out how inadequate Katie is compared to Libby, a courageous, vibrant woman who faced war, rape, and even murder. [I think we can safely assume Libby would have had the guts to murder Todd and Lauren.] Katie feels the long line of ancestors who lived in the house evaluating her, and the verdict isn't good. [New paragraph.] As Christmas approaches, Katie’s loneliness and dejection deepen until she finds herself walking into Christmas Eve service for the first time in nearly two decades. Her salvation doesn't come from the minister, though; it sits down next to her in the form of the minister’s sister, Jean Walsh. As Jean pulls Katie out of the emotional whirlwind that’s been beating her down, Katie comes to realize that Jean has become much more than a friend, and that all her life Katie has been looking for love the wrong way. [Way to go, Katie. Even Libby wouldn't have had the cojones for this.] [The minister's sister? That's like the time Evil Editor was feeling depressed and troubled, so I went to a psychiatrist, and before I even talked to him, his male receptionist tried to convince me I was gay. I think that's what he was doing, anyway; why else would he tell me he liked my shirt?]

I've enclosed the complete synopsis and first three chapters of Jumping The Stream* according to the guidelines on your web site; [Change to: In accordance with your submission guidelines, I've enclosed etc.] I hope you enjoy them, and I would be glad to send you the complete manuscript (79,000 words) at your request.

My fiction has appeared or been accepted for publication in The First Line, Thereby Hangs A Tale, and THEMA; my nonfiction has appeared in EE Times [EE Times? How many books, magazines, and blogs am I going to let use my name to trick people into buying stuff I have nothing to do with before I start suing people right and left?] and on

I look forward to your reply. Thank you for your time and consideration.


[*The dead great-aunt leaves Katie a letter with the advice that she must "have the courage to cross the stream to know what's on the other side." Thus the title.]


In the event EE has misinterpreted the Katie/Jean relationship, he won't be the only one, so you may want to make it clear.

Not that your book isn't brilliant, but as Libby's "vibrant, courageous" life puts Katie's "mediocre, stagnant" life to shame, have you considered that Libby's private journals would make a far more fascinating book?


Anonymous said...

The ONE GTP I hoped it wasn't . . . -JTC

HawkOwl said...

JTC - Me too. I was hoping for #5 or #6.

Based on the query, this book sounds tolerably well put together. It also sounds totally corny. I wouldn't ask for more.

Good luck with it.

Anonymous said...

Episode of major depression with minor paranoid features [interpreting everything she sees as a message about herself is paranoia] cured by love. Maybe, but you couldn't get me to sit through a few hundred pages of someone moping around like that. Lame boyfriends are a dime a dozen, are they not? We all just laugh and move on. Protagonist has no problem that's not in her head.

Anonymous said...

I think it might be okay. I'm not sure what it's about, honestly. Digging up a journal from the Civil War era, if written by somebody like "The Fruitcake Lady" could be fun.

Are Katie and Jean lesbians? Not that there's anything wrong with that, LOL

Dave Fragments said...

This is a novel of self-discovery after she finds her dead grandmother's journals. She changes her mundane life, as her grandmother advises, by Jumping the Stream, taking a new lover and a new job and a new way of life...

Aside from the same-sex aspect, this is a novel of self discovery and that should be emphasized. I think a little more on the grandmother would help and a little less on the move across country. It's not the move that changes her, it's the inheritance, her past history, and her grandmother's journals.

She decides to change from being the Queen of mediocrities (thanks Salieri) to being her own person.

And please don't explain jumping the stream by an asterik. Put that in the first paragraph. Katie Grant "jumps the Stream" and finds herself and her true sexual nature after she discovers her rich and illustrious past in her dead grandmother's journals -- a past filled with ...

Bernita said...

In spite of an anonymous complaint laid against me this morning that I was " critical of everything posted for feedback..." on this site, I have to say I found the title - bland.
A novel's title is your first hook, they claim.

Zany Mom said...

I'm no expert in human sexuality, but as I've understood from the gay people in my life, that they've known they were different from childhood. I'm not sure about the 'discovering she's a lesbian' at 35.

But like I said, I may be completely wrong in that.

Other than that minor quibble, I like the premise. I love character driven stories where there is self-discovery. I like the idea of the journals in the attic.

One other note: did you mean moves across the county (as written), or the country?

Anonymous said...

Come on, y'all... you can put more piss 'n' vinegar into it. Holiday spirit got you all in a generous mood? At first I was afraid I'd get ripped to shreds, but it appears I've bored the audience half to death. Oh, well. That, at least, is valuable feedback in itself. At least my current WIP has more action.

And oh, dear Lord, how could I let that county/country typo slip through?

Thanks, and I'll keep checking back to see if any of you return with your cudgels and pitchforks. I would not want EE's blog to get nice.

HawkOwl said...

Bernita - Let's form a club! LOL

Actually, Anonymous handed out a collective tongue-lashing here. Aaaah... That's some good motivational speaking! I feel my maturity level soaring already.

Rei said...

I'm no expert in human sexuality, but as I've understood from the gay people in my life, that they've known they were different from childhood. I'm not sure about the 'discovering she's a lesbian' at 35.

But like I said, I may be completely wrong in that.

"Denial" is not just a river in Egypt. :)

Human sexuality doesn't seem to like being pigeonholed into categories. Where would you classify LUGs ("Lesbian Until Graduation")? Or the "down low"? I could go on and on.

Some people have a very clear sexuality, polarized toward one gender, and you'd have better luck making pigs fly than "changing" them. Some are bisexual, and are attracted to both -- always have been, always will be. Some are in between straight/gay and bi, with a clear preference, but a definite attraction for the other category. Some begin as one sexuality, and shift toward another as the range of their experiences continues.

Probably the most dramatic example of this I can come up with is M2F transsexuals (M2F = Male to Female), who start out something like 50% attracted to women only, 30% bi, and 20% attracted to men only pre-transition, and then post-transition the ratios reverse. The effect is minimal in F2Ms, however -- F2Ms tend to start out almost 80% attracted to women, and the numbers stay mostly the same. I should dig up the study to get the exact numbers; it's been ages since I read it.

Anyways, this may have been TMI, but I just thought I'd add my input as a member of the GLBT community. :) Humans love to group things into nice, neat categories, but nature loves to fight us on such attempts.

Anonymous said...

Amazing! the GTP I submitted was the exact plot of the real query!

Stacia said...

Author, given the book's subject matter, I can think of worse misspellings of "country" you could have used...

I agree. Less "inherits a house", more "realizes she's gay and has the guts to come out thanks to Grandma's letters."

Rei said...


I didn't find the original study for the numbers that I cited before, but I found a more recent study (Lawrence, 2005) that reported the following numbers:

M2F Pre-transition attracted to:
Women only: 54%
Both: 37%
Men only: 9%

M2F Post-transition attracted to:
Women only: 25%
Both: 41%
Men only: 34%

So, yes, there are statistically meaningful shifts in sexuality, but in specific populations.

Zany Mom said...

Thanks, Rei, for the info.

pacatrue said...

To tackle the easy part, yes, women and men choosing/discovering/insert-proper-verb-here different sexualities at various times in their life is not uncommon. Here's a terrific book exactly on women in the 20s-50s choosing/discovering a lesbian life. Unexpected Pleasures: Leaving Heterosexuality for a Lesbian Life.

Now, the harder part about the query. I guess as I was reading it I kept thinking, "Why is it always the husband and the best friend in these books? Over and over and over..." There's some logic to it. The best friend is around, I guess. Hopefully, the two get along. But I think it's usually the best friend because it serves the plot. If you lose a lover, you can turn to your friends for comfort. However, if you lose your lover to your friend, then you can't and you are forced to start anew. But I was thinking as I read: why can't it be someone different? Not the best friend or the 24 year old blonde or the secretary. Why not a co-worker of his? A doctor? In other words, someone interesting which then makes the lame husband a more interesting character and not a cliche bad guy?

However, then we get to the MC's new relationship. And, now, the former best friend relationship might actually become important. Did our MC have even closer feelings for her old best friend than she realized which makes it a super double betrayal?

I of course don't know. However, I do agree with some commenters here that it seems your story is really about what happens after she gets to the house. What happens before has appeared in 200 romance novels already - and 2 or 3 EE queries, I believe. So my vote is to keep the husband and best friend bit only if it is absolutely critical to the story of our MC and her new love. The problem with it now is a) potentially cliche and b) implies/hints that being dumped, basically, is causing her to seek love away from a man, which is an annoying and long-lived belief; i.e., that men or women only choose same sex partners as a second choice, which I'd presume you aren't trying to say at all.

Instead, the novel focuses on a woman's growing confidence in herself and her potential and along with that this amazing new person in her life. If that is the story, then I say tell that story only and drop the early bit. If the novel works at all, it already must have its climax be that new relationship, which means that the new relationship stands alone already and doesn't need the bad guy at the beginning.

HawkOwl said...

Huhuh... Huhuhuh... You said "climax."

Beavis: Yeah, I heard it too!

Anonymous said...

I was just yankin' your chain, hawkowl. ;~)

Bernita said...

As EVIL Twins, Hawkowl?