Guess the Plot
1. Perhaps walking into a police station dressed as an escaped convict with a replica AK-47 was a mistake, but Penistiple Wimplecrap will never know unless St. Peter explains the dozen or so holes in his body.
2. Richard Peters owes $200,000 and his soul to Hades, the Greek God of the Underworld. He signs on as the Solar Orange Juice mascot, knowing the orange sun costume will allow him to walk around without being recognized. What he doesn't count on is the unbearable heat that builds up inside a costume that radiates actual sunlight.
3. When a gypsy fortuneteller faints dead away at the sight of Stacy's cooing baby, the horrified mother is left to wonder if her adorable child is really human, or a were-demon in a . . . Brilliant Disguise.
4. Brainiac Stacy Bodinksy's plan to win the tight end's heart by playing dumb was working perfectly until her arch rival hacked into the school computer and exposed Stacy's 4.0 GPA. Stacy isn't going to let some bubbly cheerleader steal her man. She didn't memorize Machiavelli's The Prince for nothing.
5. A budding, can't-miss author gathers ideas for his next thriller while posing as a pasta-eating, penniless, arrogant, thesaurus-abusing short-fused bicycle-riding Colorodan with a saintly wife.
6. High school student Kate meets her kindred spirit, Clay, online, but alas, he lives across the country. Will a trip to Arizona get her out of her funk? More importantly, is Clay the person he claims to be, or is his screen name just a . . . Brilliant Disguise?
Kate’s above-average existence as a Baltimore prep-schooler hits a wall a month before graduation: [Her existence hits a wall? I assume she still exists, so her existence drops below average?] her city, her school, and her friends are like a too-tight sweater, [It's a versatile simile that can be applied equally well to a city, a school and friends. As it happens, I don't feel this simile works that well with any of them. Possibly it's because my sweaters are all loose. A tight sweater is . . . itchy? Stretched out? Sexy? If I were sure what is meant by the wall metaphor I could extrapolate the meaning of the sweater simile. Possibly metaphors and similes should be left for the book.] and her anticipated September escape is complicated by an unexpected slew of woefully slim rejection letters. [Not clear why she would care whether her rejection letters are woefully slim or pleasingly plump. There's only so much you an put in a rejection letter. And I should know.] Daily life has become surreal, and it’s in a virtual reality, via the not-yet-ubiquitous internet of the late nineties, [So long ago they weren't even capitalizing it.] where she’s found a kindred spirit in Clay. Kate is aware of the problematic nature of becoming enamored with a stranger from Arizona, but she’s unaware that her pre-teen crush Mitch, an older, magnetic athlete, will soon be crushing on her. [You have to choose your sport carefully when you're a magnetic athlete. It's embarrassing when you dunk a basketball and get stuck to the rim. Or when you reach into your bag for your 5-iron and out come all of your clubs. And the shot put is not going to be your event.]
My 85,000-word literary fiction novel, BRILLIANT DISGUISE, charts Kate’s navigation of an unconventional love triangle, a reluctant cross-country move, [She couldn't wait to get out of town in the last paragraph. Now she doesn't want to go?] and the enduring challenge of gauging the genuine nature of people—from Mitch and Clay to her evangelical roommate and a Texas socialite living down the hall. While Kate’s coming-of-age story is earnest enough to be captivating to young adults, her savvy intelligence (though she doesn’t always do the right thing) and her perceptive wittiness (though she can’t always find the right words) infuse her story with a mature and nuanced perspective about seizing opportunities and forming connections in a complicated and disguise-filled world.
My own coming-of-age story began in Baltimore and led me to _________, where I studied creative writing with ____________
I discovered your blog a few months ago, and I’ve greatly appreciated your candor and advice to those preparing to venture into the publishing arena. It’s my hope that you’ll consider looking at my full manuscript: BRILLIANT DISGUISE is complete and ready for submission upon request. Thank you for your time and thought—I look forward to hearing from you!
[Title explanation: "Brilliant Disguise" plays on the theme of disguise that runs through the story--Kate draws the interest of Mitch after she meets him at a costume party, her college roomie mistakes her for a devoted Christian, and she recognizes that a screen name can provide a pretty convincing disguise. Additionally, Clay is originally from Jersey and is a big Springsteen fan.]
Your credits aren't so impressive that I wouldn't rather know more about the story. I assume Kate gets a fat acceptance letter? Where does she move? Why reluctantly? Does Mitch move there as well? Does Clay? What opportunity does Kate seize?
I'm more interested in what happens than in whether Kate's story is infused with a mature and nuanced perspective about seizing opportunities and forming connections in a complicated and disguise-filled world. I recommend cutting back on the ornate language in the letter, if not the book (Those preparing to venture into the publishing arena = aspiring authors). Rewrite it as if you're talking to your students at lunch, rather than while preparing them for their vocabulary test.
For those who didn't get what Clay's musical taste has to do with the title: