Sunday, January 08, 2012


Guess the Plot

40 Weeks

1. 40 chapters, each covering a week in the pregnancy of a woman who'd rather not be pregnant, except that it gives her an excuse to get away from her husband to see the hunky obstetrician she has a crush on.

2. A Boots and Babies romance meets Alien when pregnant Kaylee Ann discovers the truth about her beau Cody: he's from LA.

3. Hounded by the IRS, her abandoned husband, and the Guinness Book of World Records, former cokehead and nymphomaniac Carla West struggles with her worst addiction yet: she just can't get enough rehab.

4. After a supernatural force possesses Sarah on her wedding night, compelling her to slaughter a conference room full of show chickens, her groom uses a mystical amulet to travel 40 weeks into the past and try to prevent the tragedy--while also saving his marriage.

5. Marian's baby is overdue and she's tired of being pregnant. She creates a blog that she writes on a laptop from her bed, airing her soon-to-be ex's dirty laundry. When she's satisfied that all has been said, Marian falls asleep. But then Baby slips out, takes over the laptop and blogs some surprising tales about Marian.

6. Crystal Devereaux, a wealthy heiress, becomes pregnant and her dad must wait forty weeks to find out if the father of the child is Duke Herald, a Vegas Casino owner, or Paco Grande, a wandering gypsy she met in Vegas. If the father is Duke, there will a wedding at Shotgun Pete's. If it's Paco . . . the shotgun will still come into play.

Original Version

Dear Ms. xx,

It’s a simple fact. Whether or not they want one, all women think about babies and procreating. [I think you mean all men . . . Oh, wait, "procreating." I thought you said "procrastinating."] Some women can’t wait to become mothers. Some women plan every single detail on how and when they will become pregnant, timing it out perfectly so they are back in their swimsuits for summer. And some women let the idea slip into their minds, but then throw that biological clock all the way across the bedroom so it won’t buzz in their ear anymore.

But what if the husband’s biological clock is ticking? What if he’s ready to procreate but his wife isn’t? [Isn't that always the case? . . . Oh, wait, "procreate." I thought you said "fornicate."] What if his wife is focusing on her marriage, her recent promotion, her infertile sister, Thursday Happy Hour, and an anniversary trip to Jamaica? [Too bad the sister is infertile, or Evil Editor would have the obvious solution.] What if the wife is so preoccupied with all these things, she forgets to take her pill and begins the 40-week process of procreating [Can't we occasionally use a less clinical word than "procreating"? For instance, in paragraph 1: . . . all women think about babies and pregnancy. From Paragraph 2: What if he’s ready to screw all night and the consequences be damned but his wife isn’t? And: . . . she forgets to take her pill and begins the 40-week process of offspring manufacture.] even though she’s so far from ready, nothing will prepare her for this!

Meet Ellen McMillan, Visual Display Creative Director, Wife, and now, Pregnant Woman. My 110,000-word novel, 40 Weeks, spans the 40 weeks of Ellen McMillan's pregnancy, each chapter being a week in her journey to motherhood and everything that collides in her life during that time. The story is told in first-person, present-tense,
[Chapter 36

The baby kicks me. It hurts. He kicks me again. The little bastard. Adam walks into the room, Adam and his fucking biological clock. I pull the Glock from beneath my pillow and gleefully unload it into his chest. The baby kicks me again. Somehow this time it doesn't hurt nearly as much.
Or is it told from the kid's point of view?

Chapter 29

"Hey," I scream, "it's been 29 weeks, would somebody turn on a goddamn light?!" Nothing.

Christ, it's boring as hell in here.

I politely ask, "Could you play something besides the soundtrack from Les Miz out there?! If I hear 'Master of the House' one more time, I'm gonna puke." The music continues. I kick the bitch in the stomach.]

and is unique in that it is quite possibly a genre not yet defined--a suspenseful yet comedic, not-quite chick-lit, on-the-verge-of-mom-lit, emotionally charged novel. [Not to rain on your parade, but "Suspenseful yet comedic, not-quite chick-lit, on-the-verge-of-mom-lit, emotionally charged novel" is one of the categories in the RWA's annual Hearts and Heroes contest--and has been for twenty years.]

Here's a brief summary: [Finally we get to the important part, the part where you repeat everything you've already said, plugging in the characters' names.]

Ellen McMillan’s plan for the next forty weeks didn’t involve tip-toeing around her infertile sister, lusting after her hot OB, housebreaking a pet, and suffering through painful varicose veins. She didn’t plan on second-guessing everything her husband did and spilling tears like an annoying drippy faucet, but thanks to the Two Hearts pregnancy test, she’s doing all this and more! [Thanks to a pregnancy test she's housebreaking a pet?] [Has she asked her infertile sister if she'd like to adopt a kid?]

Ellen and her husband, Adam - married almost five years - are still living their lives as newlyweds and have planned a Caribbean vacation to celebrate their anniversary. Ellen’s just become Visual Display Creative Director for a national department store where she is finally running the show, and she’s thrilled with her up-and-coming career. She’s got a doting husband, an exciting marriage, a caring (yet slightly dysfunctional) family, great friends, and a cool social life. She’s having the time of her life, and she's not slowing down for anyone or anything! [Little of this is important enough to be in the query.]

When Ellen discovers she’s pregnant, she’s beyond shocked. It’s nothing she ever expected or wanted at this stage in her life. She realizes that Thursday-night Happy Hour at The Living Room bar has just come to a screeching and sober halt. [With all she's got going for her, you'd think giving up half-price pitchers on Thursday nights would be low on the list of sobering realizations.]

Is dealing with morning sickness, weight gain and varicose veins really that bad? Add to the angst of a first-time pregnancy: an OB who makes her insides flutter (and it’s not because the baby’s kicking!), a pregnant boss who thinks mothers can't also have careers, and a husband who is suddenly MIA, and things in Ellen's life really swirl out of control. [You like to make lists, don't you?] [You suggested in paragraph 2 that the husband's biological clock was ticking. He should be thrilled. Instead you say he's MIA?]

Along the way, an intriguing stranger, medical mishaps, and the discovery of a family secret forces [force] Ellen to step back and take a long, hard look at where she’s been, where she’s going, who she is, and who she wants to be.

You'd think forty weeks would give someone plenty of time to figure it all out, [I'm just wondering if I'll be done reading this query in 40 weeks.] but time's running out and Ellen's got to get it all together before the water breaks, she dilates to ten, and she becomes the most important person in the world: a Mother.

I have a journalism degree from Northern Illinois University and have been published in Parenting, Pregnancy, Parents Express, Curious Parents, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Bucks County Courier Times, and I've written for for three years and am an editor for their Web site's weekly e-newsletter. I have also been featured as Writer of the Month in Writers Success, an e-newsletter for writers. My personal blog has been recently nominated for a Best Of Blog award in the Mom Category. [Too many credits.]

It is my hope that the publication of 40 Weeks will bring joy and introspection to a rainbow of women – those who anxiously await motherhood, those who have already been through the experience, and like Ellen, even those women who aren't quite sure there are batteries in their biological clocks!

I do thank you for taking the time to consider my novel, and if you are interested, I would be happy to send you a detailed synopsis or the manuscript.


Revised Version

Dear Ms. xx,

Meet Ellen McMillan: career woman, wife, and now, mother-to-be. Ellen's plan for the next forty weeks didn’t involve morning sickness and varicose veins. With a doting husband and a career she loves, pregnancy is the last thing she wanted at this stage in her life.

Add to the angst of a first-time pregnancy an OB who makes her insides flutter (and not because the baby’s kicking!), and a husband who's suddenly MIA, and Ellen's life begins to swirl out of control. You'd think forty weeks would be plenty of time to figure out where she’s going, who she is, and who she wants to be, but time's running out.

My 110,000-word novel, 40 Weeks, spans Ellen's pregnancy, each chapter a week in her journey to motherhood. It is my hope that this comedic, emotionally charged book will bring joy and introspection to women who anxiously await motherhood and even those who aren't quite sure there are batteries in their biological clocks!

I have been published in Parenting, Pregnancy, Parents Express, and The Philadelphia Inquirer. I've also written for for three years. I thank you for taking the time to consider my novel, and would be happy to send a detailed synopsis or the manuscript.



It's not that the longer version is terrible, it's just that some editors and agents have short attention spans, and as you don't know . . . Sorry, what was I talking about?

Some readers find the present tense annoying. In this case a reader could infer that Ellen is writing the book during her pregnancy, and will wonder if she'd be more into motherhood if she were less focused on writing about it.

Selected Comments

Anonymous said...Forgot to take her birth control? If I fail to take my vitamin the result will not dramatically change my life in a million ways I don't want and I NEVER forget to take it. How could you forget to take the pill? She didn't forget to have sex, did she?

Lea said...As a woman with very sluggish batteries in my biological clock, this query is a major turn off, and doesn't suggest that the book would stir much personal introspection for me. As the author's list of credits seem to show that she is not only a mother, but an expert mother, does she really know what it would be like to be a woman who is not only surprised but absolutely blind-sided by a pregnancy? And is this character able to figure everything out in those 40 weeks, or does she just lay the foundation that will help her along the way? Does she make this miraculous tranformation from Anti-Pregnancy to Greatest Mom in the World, or does she just adjust her attitude from Anti-Pregnancy to "I'm going to give this my best shot, and probably mess up a lot a long the way?"

And I have to say that the one line that REALLY turned me off was "and she becomes the most important person in the world: a Mother." Mom's are important, sure, but the way that's phrased seems to devalue every man and every woman who isn't a mother. As a woman who isn't a mother, I read that line and suddenly felt insulted, as if my importance in the world is only calculated by the fact that I do or don't have children. Maybe instead of "becoming the most important person in the world", the protagonist could "take on the most important job in the world: Mother." That keeps all people at equal value, but places the importance on the job the mother does, not the mother herself.

Anonymous said..."and she becomes the most important person in the world: a Mother." Ugh, I hate it when women are labeled according to whether they're mothers or not. I'm just as worthy and important as a single than as a mother of five kids. Womanhood doesn't equal motherhood or even "wifehood". Sorry, had to get that outta my chest;-)

tlh said...thanks to the Two Hearts pregnancy test. Oh, is THAT how that works. Better avoid that aisle of the drugstore from now on, just in case.

Anonymous said...I forget my pill all the time. Must be why I have 17 rugrats running around.

Anonymous said...I'm glad EE pulled your orginal first paragraph. Making broad swipes about what huge segments of the population want or consider is just not impressive.
-A, who doesn't actually ever think about babies

Anonymous said...Whether or not they want one, all women think about babies and procreating. Horse hockey! This sentence really turned me off because it's not true. I'm no lesser a person because I chose not to have children.

Evil Editor said...While the incensed reactions to the claim that a mom is the most important person in the world are legitimate, one imagines that the manuscript will be sent to a variety of publishers, many of them publishers of parenting books. In that case, this highly misguided statement may not be seen as repellent.

kis said...Forgetting to take your pill sucks. What sucks even more is getting knocked up without forgetting to take your pill (one of my sisters), or while using condoms AND a diaphragm (my other sister), or while tripling your methods out of the blind, wailing terror of one more squawling brat (guess who that was). Superfecundity ought to be a registered medical condition that comes with a disability pension. Curse my mother's genes!!! But hey, I'm not bitter...

I do love being a mother, and wouldn't trade little Oops for anything in the world. I'm just saying, if you trust the pill, you're crazy. Know what 99% effective means? It means after one year, out of 100 women using the pill PROPERLY, only one of them will be pregnant. Women everywhere are gambling on the odds that they, by some miracle, won't be that one woman. Now that I've had my say, I'm off to get my tubes tied. :)

December Quinn said...Thank goodness you took out all those "procreating"s. It started to feel like an ad for a nature program. :-) Depending on how this is handled, I'd be interested, but it's definitely NOT a new genre or idea. I can come up with quite a large list of women-on-the-verge-of-pregnancy/do-they-want-babies kinds of books, some of which I read when I was a young teen, some of which were published before I was born.

Gina said...Geez... and I thought Miss Snark was mean... wow. I hope that everyone who felt it necessary to be so absolutely negative at least had the balls to post their query too... but probably not since most of you hide behind the anonymous log in...

Daisy said...Point taken, EE, that some editors won't be icked out by the assertion that all women are always thinking about procreating (and the ones who don't want to procreate only don't want to do so because they are in denial--trying to escape from the noise of "the buzz" of the clock, which seems to be inevitable).

But the assertion really is off-putting. It's offensive to be told what I MUST be thinking about. That - coupled with the smugness of the suggestion that while mothers are important people, childless womens' top priority is happy hour - will surely be as distasteful to all the women agents and editors out there as it is to me.

And who has an "exciting marriage"? I've got a terrific marriage, but exciting?

I love kids, but I really never think about procreating until someone mentions to me that I'm knocking on forty's door and don't have any of my own. I work 80 hours a week--I don't have time to think about having kids, let alone actually have them.

I do, however, make time to slack off in the middle of the day and read blogs. Priorities.

Evil Editor said...Point taken, EE, that some editors won't be icked out by the assertion that all women are always thinking about procreating. Actually, I removed that statement from the revised version.

Rei said...Yeaouch! A thirteen paragraph query? With a run-on in paragraph two? I mean, I was thinking mine was overly long, but if agents and editors are getting queries like this, perhaps I shouldn't worry.

[quote]Know what 99% effective means? It means after one year, out of 100 women using the pill PROPERLY, only one of them will be pregnant.[/quote]

Of course, if the person is like my older sister, who reports that all three of her children were "accidental" while on the pill, you start to wonder. I am curious as to whether she actually consumes them daily, or whether she just keeps them at her beside as a ward or charm against pregnancy.

Daisy said...Moms ARE important. Moms and dads should get tons of support from their employers, from the government, etc. Caring for another human being is an awesome and lifechanging responsibility.

But are the choices between parenthood and martini-soaked preoccupation with career, excitement, and "coolness"? Probably not.

To be fair, of course, having a character who has these choices doesn't mean that the author or the book is suggesting that these are the only two choices, but the tone of the query seemed a little dismissive of childless people. Well, not PEOPLE so much as women.

And there are plenty of shallow women who have children and become shallow women with children.

The author has certainly struck a chord--this is a good thing, maybe. Folks certainly feel strongly about this issue.

Chumplet said...It seems that every mother-to-be is hard wired to assume that they are the centre of the universe during their pregnancy. I never thought I'd feel that way, but, boy, was I surprised. Now that I'm pushing fifty and my kids are well on their way to independence, I still have (disturbing?) dreams of being pregnant. What's up with that?

Writerious said...While a novel about a woman in mid-career having to break stride because she's unexpectedly pregnant might be interesting, the "how wonderful to be a mommy!" overtones are a bit offputting. The book as originally described I'd never pick up off the shelf. In fact, I'd probably ward it off with a crucifix and Holy water. EE's revamp makes it at least more palatable.

I'd still be a trifle cautious about labeling "Mom" as the most important job in the world IF this is a hint that the best choice the MC can make is to give up a career she loves to mommyhood (being there for your kids is crucial, but sacrificing your own sense of self is not, and sets a bad example). It's nice if you have the support and the mindset, but women who have no choice about single-momhood-and-career because death, divorce, or other circumstances (::raising hand::), and women who choose to continue their careers because they would go stark raving mad if they quit and stayed home, may not have much patience with such a judgement. They're still good moms, love their kids, and are as "expert" about momhood as anyone can be.

And Gina -- yes, I posted my query, too for the EE rip 'n tear and lived to tell about it. How 'bout you?

Brenda Bradshaw said...Well, I guess the dad has super-sperm. Whereas you can get pregnant while on the pill (meet my almost-16-year-old daughter), MOST times you can skip a day and be fine catching up the next day. The idea that she got pregnant BECAUSE of missing one time caused a red flag for me. And if she's that anal, she wouldn't have "forgotten". I think the story would be stronger if she got pregnant while religiously taking her pills.

Anonymous said...i think the "happily childfree" is a self-segregating segment of society and we would naturally steer clear of this book in droves, so the revulsion to the ridiculous "everyone wants one" (a cocktail or a baby) message is understandably enough of a warning to readers.

there's an audience for this book: "The Smug Marrieds" (a la Bridget Jones) and "The Smug Mommies."

kis said...Rei, I'm on the pill at the moment, and I take it religiously. But it's a STRONG pill--the maxi as opposed to mini. When I was on the mini-pill, it didn't even regulate my cycle. Hell, if it can't regulate my period, why would I think it's stopping ovulation.

Some women have systems that just like to be at their default settings. That's what feedback loops are all about--hormone regulation. Introduce a new mix, and in time a woman's body may find a way to work around it.

And let's not forget that being on the pill for 6 months or more can PERMANENTLY damage a woman's sex drive. (Not as much as a screaming baby does, though.)

Now my birth control regimen involves the pill, barrier, foam, and incantations in the nude under a full moon. And I don't make eye contact with my husband for seven out of twenty-eight days.

But hey, whatever works, right? ;)

Prestidigitator said...i think the "happily childfree" is a self-segregating segment of society and we would naturally steer clear of this book in droves, so the revulsion to the ridiculous "everyone wants one" (a cocktail or a baby) message is understandably enough of a warning to readers.

I agree. I'd never read this book, because I don't want children, can no longer have them (through my own choices), and can't even comprehend how anyone would. But there are plenty of people who don't understand how you could not want children who would probably relate to this book.

I don't know about the present tense, though. That's hard to read.

virginia said...Why didn't she have an abortion?

Anonymous said...Not meaning to piss on the book, but realistically, if *I* had a pregnancy I didn't want, I would just get an abortion. Not to mention talk to my SO about getting a vasectomy. Especially if I was greatly enjoying my life the way it was going, which seems to be how it is for the protagonist.

Maybe mom-types will enjoy perpetuating the illusion that every woman wants to be pregnant because it validates their own wants/needs/desires, and in that way, the book will find an audience.
Signed, an anonymous person you wouldn't know from Adam (Eve?) even if I posted my real name.

kis said...Maybe she's a closet pro-lifer? Maybe the idea of an abortion is ickier to her than the notion of natural childbirth. There are people out there--myself included--who are pro-choice, and still would not choose to have an abortion. Of course, ask me after my next Oops (and the nineteen linear feet of stretch marks that come with it) and I might think different. ;)

slamrxvq said...I'm amazed that so many commenters appear to have read the entire query. I saw how long it was, then saw that the novel was 110,000 words... since each chapter is a week of the pregnancy, is there an increase in swelling and bloating as the chapters wear on? Does the reader feel like the only thing they want to do is get rid of the damn book when chapter 36 finally drags its tired self into view? Dunno... judging from the query, there may be room for a little trim-down in the novel itself. One wonders.

a guy said...I just wandered in, took a look around, and now I'm wandering back out feeling ever so slightly uncomfortable. I don't belong here, and I know I just got one of those looks... I don't even like being there when my wife buys her underthings.

kis said...Hey, and actually, the 40 weeks of pregnancy refers to the time between the first day of your last period and the due date. Technically, for the first two weeks, the MC wouldn't even be pregnant! And for the two weeks following, she'd have no idea she was.

The book should be stretched out over 36 weeks. It would only be 40 if she was WAY overdue.

Of course, my last kid was a full 27 days late, and weighed in at 11 lbs, 3 1/2 oz, so hey, it's not impossible. And now you all know where my aversion to pregnancy began... :)

McKoala said...I don't think that the writer should be put off by the fact that not everybody likes the subject matter. That's true of a lot of novels. I think there's probably an audience for this - chick lit grads maybe.

The query was too long, but the writer's enthusiasm shone through. I liked EEs rewrite.

kis - ouch.

Anonymous said...I was gonna OUT myself here, but am kind of getting heart palpitations at the thought! You guys are scary! So, I'm just going to say thanks for the feedback, because I now do view my query differently, (and it had been revised prior to EE's post anyway).

Anon 11:37--When I wrote this:
Whether or not they want one, all women think about babies and procreating... it was absolutely true--you are a woman, and you obviously thought about babies and procreating because you chose NOT to have children. You thought about it. I didn't write: All women dream of the day they will have a child.

My point was if you are a woman, you have given some thought on whether or not motherhood is for you.

And I have never, not once, swear on my children's lives (yes, because, believe it or not, I do have one, or two... okay three) I've never seen a single episode of SITC or is it SATC?

And kis--the novel does start at Week 3, when that squirmy little sperm goes on the egg hunt.

Thanks everyone!

ohmmply said...I'm a mom. I read chick-lit sometimes and have subscribed to parent magazines. But I did not like this query. The story sounded boring to me.

Forgetting to take b/c pills sounded lame. I remember those days in my life, and I remember forgetting to take the pill-a one time slip up, you just take the next day and keep up as usual. Nothing happens--unless you are super fecud woman (and yes, I too know of women who conceived despite zealous precautions). But if this mc is super fecund, she either knows already or is very young, neither of which sounds consistent with the rest of the plot. So this idea--getting pregnant by a one-time missed pill-- just sounded to me unbelievable, like a plot device to move the story forward and not real.

Like some others posting comments, I wondered if the mc thought about abortion or would that be too intense in a light comedy? If she didn't, though, seems like her aversion to being pregnant and becoming a mom aren't real.

I, too, didn't like the "most important person" line. EE's viewpoint counts for more though, so who cares what I think on that point.

Also, I didn't get the reference to the pregnant boss who thinks you can't be a mom and have a career. What is that character planning on doing? Or is that the mc?

When you love your story, it's hard to hear from others who don't. But these comments are here to help us learn. I learn from thinking through other's plots and what doesn't work for me, so this exercise is helping me.

There may be those agents, publishers and readers who will love the premise and your writing. And those of us turned off by the query will be proven "wrong."

You've got to feel good that you have too many credits! Wow!

kis said...anon, for what it's worth, I didn't take that "whether they want one or not" line the wrong way like some reactionaries here did. And I don't think the premise is boring.

If so many people have issues with the whole forgot her pill thing, why don't you have her devious, wannabe-dad boyfriend switch them out with tic tacs or something? Or give her food poisoning--they don't work if you barf them up three days in a row. Or I've heard there are medications that interfere with the pill's effectiveness, and doctors often don't tell you until it's too late. "Oh, did I forget to mention you should use condoms while you take these antibiotics? Whoops, heh heh..."

Rei said...Whether or not they want one, all women think about babies and procreating... it was absolutely true--you are a woman, and you obviously thought about babies and procreating because you chose NOT to have children. You thought about it. I didn't write: All women dream of the day they will have a child.

You know, this reminds me a bit of a Dave Barry column:

Dear Mister Language Person: I am curious about the expression, "Part of
this complete breakfast". The way it comes up is, my 5-year-old will be
watching TV cartoon shows in the morning, and they'll show a commercial for
a children's compressed breakfast compound such as "Froot Loops" or "Lucky
Charms", and they always show it sitting on a table next to some actual food
such as eggs, and the announcer always says: "Part of this complete
breakfast". Don't that really mean, "Adjacent to this complete breakfast",
or "On the same table as this complete breakfast"? And couldn't they make
essentially the same claim if, instead of Froot Loops, they put a can of
shaving cream there, or a dead bat?

Answer: Yes.
-- Dave Barry, "Tips for Writer's"

Yes, essentially all women have thought about having children. Essentially all women have thought about the Nazis, too. If I wrote a book about the Third Reich, how do you think it would be taken if I started out with:

"Whether or not they want to be one, all women think about Hitler and other Nazis."

And then I defended it with:

"it was absolutely true--you are a woman, and you obviously thought about Hitler and the Nazis because you chose NOT to be a Nazi."

There's a big difference between thinking about something and being seriously concerned with the topic in one way or another. Despite what you may believe, not all women are seriously concerned with the subject of childbearing. Over the course of my life, I have probably given it less thought than I have the subject of C++ polymorphism.

kis said...Oh, c'mon rei, Nazis? The big diff is that you can avoid becoming a nazi without ever giving it any real consideration at all. But as a woman who occasionally has the energy for sex, I can't NOT have a kid unless I do something proactive. Something that DOES take some thought. Even if that just means as an afterthought.

(I've heard douching with diet coke is quite effective, actually, and in the words of Cecil Adams, "if you wake up hung-over next to the incredible hulk, well, any port in a storm.")

Sorry for the visual, guys. :)

Watercolorz said...I don’t know maybe I am just a freak, but there was a rash of top of the world career, oops we are pregnant instances amongst my peer group.

It went something like this…

You are working to get a head putting in crazy hours, sex, food, health club, even your beloved roots take a back seat to completing the proposal, brief, closing the deal.

You exist on caffeine and take out, you never see your man, and everything is haywire until you reach the finish line of your goal. You relax, shave your legs have a few cocktails, some celebratory sex…

And a few weeks later you are trying to remember your last period, you chalk it up to stress, and then you look for the answer in your birth control pill pack, if you can find it.

You try to remember when you took the last one, and why you didn’t get that refill, and the next thing you know you are peeing on a stick promising whatever dog governs such things a complete turn around of your life, if only the stick isn’t blue.

That’s how smart, career focused competent women end up crying when they hear Kenny Chesney’s THERE GOES MY LIFE. Why there are some among us who can’t even read the lyrics without choking up big time…

Because it does change you completely and forever ~W

(leaves before the loss of street cred because they think I’ve gone all soft)

Rei said...Kis: Then replace "Nazis" with "car accidents". Unless you don't want to drive, you have to be proactive to avoid car accidents. Probably about as few women in America don't drive as are celibate.

What bothered me about the author's defense of the statement was that she treated the sentence as a vague truism that is only correct using the most encompassing definition of "thought". Yet, in the query, she made it sound like an obsession: "It's a simple fact. Whether or not they want one, all women think about babies and procreating." It would be like me saying "It's a simple fact. Irregardless of how hard they try to prevent them, all women think about driving and car accidents."

Her lip service to those who *don't* want children and hardly think about the subject of childbearing was "some women let the idea slip into their minds, but then throw that biological clock all the way across the bedroom so it won’t buzz in their ear anymore."

Perhaps there was some huge calling to breed for the author, a "simple fact" that there was a biological clock "buzzing" in her ear, but that's not the case for every woman. To start out the query with "It's a simple fact" and then declare things about "all women" that are only true in the most vague sense of the word "thought" feels insulting.

She can declare that sort of stuff in her book all she wants; after all, her target audience is mothers. They may well eat it up. In her pages, she could claim that all women want to be astronauts if her target audience was astronauts and those who want to be astronauts. However, the query letter goes to agents, not to the audience. If the agent is someone who never thinks about having children, this query will likely cause the same sort of harsh reaction that it did to so many readers here. You don't want to start off your first paragraph by inadvertently insulting your potential agent.

Do you agree?

kis said...Maybe it should be "It's a simple fact, whether they want one or not, all women have thought about babies and procreating. Still not a gem of a sentence, but better than before, no?

kis said...And definitely, you don't want to start off offending a potential agent. But I think the instant and scathing reaction of so many commentors shows a bit of a thin skin in that regard.

It comes down to whether someone offends out of ignorance or malice aforethought. I think in this case it was ignorance, and when the author gets her foot out of the upper end of her alimentary canal, she'll probably rethink the sentence--likely the entire letter.

(So what about all those people out there who were desperate to become mothers, and then after a long night of cleaning up kid-barf have second thoughts. You just can't put the little buggers back where they came from, more's the pity.)

Lea said...Kis, I disagree that it is ignorance that caused the author to offend so many readers, but more than likely a lack of thought on her part. I doubt that she was ignorant of the fact that there might be women out there who disagree with her ideas on childbearing, but rather I think she mistakenly tried to show how her book could appeal to every woman. She says:

"It is my hope that the publication of 40 Weeks will bring joy and introspection to a rainbow of women ... [including]women who aren't quite sure there are batteries in their biological clocks!"

It was neither ignorance, nor malice, but rather a mistaken hope that this story would touch women who have no wish for children, which is seems to be not so from the reactions above.

I take issue with your saying that some of the commentators have a thin skin with this issue though. It's not a thin skin as much as a straw that broke the camels' back. I'm sick and tired of most of society telling me that I'm not complete without children, everyone from my grandmother to commercial television to celeb magazines that show babies as the new must-have accessories in Hollywood. It's a daily thing, a constant thing, and this query seems to foster that idea. America is OBSESSED with motherhood, babies are miracles, mommies are the most important people in the world, family values for our precious children, blah blah blah... It gets old after a while. I think that most of the above comments on this topic are less about this particular query and more about fighting against society.


alaskaravenclaw said...

Wow, that was quite a @#%storm.

You know the real problem with the All women think about babies bit, though? (And it seems to me that by the author's definition of her terms, it would be fair to say that all men think about babies, too.)

It shows a limited vision. Everyone thinks a certain way or should. A novelist cannot succeed with tunnel vision. A novelist needs to be able to see everything from multiple points of view.

Dave said...

That was an adventure. A tour-de-force of strange pregnancy thoughts.

I like the "Master of the House" comment.

Trisha said...

Gosh I love the fake plots. They're just awesome.

a guy said...

Man, with all that oestrogen in the comments, it's a wonder I'm not pregnant.

Chelsea P. said...

Maybe I'm just numbed by the internet, but this didn't even seem that bad. I've seen much worse, anyway.

And Alaska, I totally agree: all *people* think about whether or not they want kids. But that doesn't make such a generalizing statement necessary. Why alienate readers from the get-go if the description of the book will show that it's about a reluctant pregnancy?

I think my favorite part was the commenter asking if the other commenters even had the balls to submit their own queries. BALLS? REALLY? Stick with the theme, Gina.