Friday, November 28, 2014

(34) YA Contemporary: THE FAN GENE

TITLE: The Fan Gene
GENRE: YA Contemporary

What happens when a 16-year-old superfan and the actor she’s obsessed with meet in New York City psychiatrist’s office? He's there as a patient. She's the afternoon receptionist…a job she has because her mother is the psychiatrist.

It was 3:15 and the 3:00 still hadn’t showed - a woman in her thirties who’s been Mom’s patient for over a year to deal with her chronic lateness. Personally, I think she should get her money back.

I looked at the white door just past my desk with the large DR. FOX: NOT IN SESSION sign. Those words mean that Mom can wander out at any moment, looking to chat or spy. I’d already collated a stack of insurance forms, put a new toner cartridge in the printer, rinsed out all the coffee mugs, and thrown away the four Snickers wrappers that the daytime receptionist, Ann Marie, had somehow managed to wedge between the cabinet and the trash can. Guess she’s cheating on her diet again. Nothing Mom-approved left to do.

I missed the old days, the pre-Leia-watches-too-much-TV-and-spends-too-much-time-chatting-online days. As soon as Mom got it in her head that I needed to be more productive, I was drafted into service. It isn’t the worst job in the world – she pays well and it can be fun to try to figure out what’s going on in her sessions, to make up stories behind the red eyes and nervous fidgets.

But there is also a severe lack of privacy. I never know when Mom is going to suddenly be standing over my shoulder. Luckily, I’m smart enough to keep my real online life secret, only bringing it out when she’s safely in session. So, all she ever sees is whatever I need to Google for homework. Whenever that happens, she gets this proud, kind of smug smile, like she’s saved me from myself.

49 comments:

  1. I really like this opening. The first paragraph has some humor and gives us a hint of personality about the MC as well as her relationship with her mom. The ending is good, too. I'm definitely interested in finding out what she's doing online that she doesn't want her mom to see.

    My only nitpick is with the logline, and bear in mind I'm not great at these myself. But many of the tips I've read, by other writers and agents, warn against starting with a question. What happens when they meet? I'd rather you tell us something concrete that does happen, a hint of the conflict. Will there be sparks? Do they hate each other? Does she become a stalker and he swears out a restraining order? The question leaves it too wide open, in my opinion, and I think it would be more compelling with some specifics.

    Good luck in the auction!

    ReplyDelete
  2. The first page is humorous and you set up the character and her relationship with her mother. In the first paragraph, you might consider adding appointment after 3:00. I agree about changing the logline and eliminating the question. If Lela is an obsessed fan, you might suggest this in the beginning. Also, if the actor will show up for an appointment in the first chapter, wouldn't Lela have access to the appointment book or somehow know there will be a new patient and wonder about him.
    I'd read on to see what happens.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I like the voice in this, and I LOVE the great hook at the end of the page--a secret online life! I'd definitely read more. :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. This was fun. I liked the humor, and i particularly liked the image of the snickers wrappers trapped by the cabinet.

    Some of the tense shifts pulled me out, especially at the end:

    It isn’t the worst job in the world – she pays well and it can be fun to try to figure out what’s going on in her sessions, to make up stories behind the red eyes and nervous fidgets.


    But there is also a severe lack of privacy. I never know when Mom is going to suddenly be standing over my shoulder.

    I don't really know why these and other sentences are in present tense when the rest is in past tense. There's kind of a generality, but so is "I missed the old days" and that's in past tense.

    I would maybe consider keeping everything in past, so you don't lose some of your readers.

    Good luck in the auction

    ReplyDelete
  5. Oh, forgot i wanted to add that i LOVE the title. It made me smile even before i read the logline

    ReplyDelete
  6. I LOVE this!!! Such a fun and intriguing premise. It made me laugh and left me wanting to know more. I am especially interested in learning more about this secret online life. Love the title by the way. Great job!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I really enjoyed reading this! Great voice! But like someone else mentioned, if she has access to the appointment book, she'd know that her celebrity crush was scheduled to see her mom, and that would create really great tension in the opening scene. I would move that part to the opening.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Funny and revealing opening paragraph! Disaster looms. Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Nice opening - I immediately get a vivid picture of the MC and her relationship with her mother. I was stopped by the "severe lack of privacy" sentence, because I assumed she was talking about the privacy of the patients, which seemed like a big deal in a psychiatrist's office. When it turned out she was referring to her own privacy, I thought why would a receptionist expect privacy at her job? I'd suggest cutting the sentence and starting with "But I never know when Mom . . . "
    Good voice, interesting premise!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hi there!

    I love the premise of this--very fun, shenanigans bound to ensue, etc--and cracked up at the line about lateness.

    That said, there is some toeing of the tense line I'd be very careful with. I don't know if you're technically breaking rules by writing in past and thinking in present, but I personally found it off-putting--it dragged me out of the writing, which is otherwise so strong. I would recommend, given the subject matter and the tone, that you consider shifting into first person present. You seem really comfortable there, and I found the voice much stronger in those sections!

    Also, I'd love to get at least one hint of her uber-fandom in this opening page. A surreptitious check of a certain website on her phone, something, anything to hint at her status, because that feels like a real missed opportunity.

    Otherwise, I think it's clever and want to know what happens when their paths cross.

    ReplyDelete
  11. My comment is more about the whole premise than anything constructive about the writing. I don't like the set up that she's a teenage receptionist at a psychiatrist's office. Not that I know a million of them, but psychiatrists often don't have receptionists because of privacy issues. So right there, I don't buy the story. You write well, and it was easy to read, but it made me uncomfortable.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I agree with the issue that having a teenage receptionist could present a privacy issue for the patients. How does she know what the missing patient's issue is? Her mother shouldn't reveal it.

    Would her mother realize that a celebrity like an actor would be recognizable to her daughter? Perhaps the mother is oblivious to celebrities or it's a first visit or he used a fake name?

    Not sure that you need the third paragraph. The point about her watchful mom is made in the previous paragraph. Do you need the line about the other secretary's diet? Unless she pops up later . . .

    Agree about 'severe lack of privacy' line. Also, don't need 'luckily,' since she is careful on purpose.

    Overall, I like the MC so far but you need to find a a way around the privacy issues. If Leia is snooping, readers may not be sympathetic.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I'd like a little more in your logline. There's so much potential in the scenario, but I'd like at least a hint of where it's going to go.

    I second the tense comments above.

    Wouldn't her mother be aware of her obsession with the actor?

    There's good voice here - humor and self-awareness and just enough haughty judging to be funny without being mean.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Amazing premise!! What could be more foreboding than meeting the actor you're obsessed with while you're acting as the receptionist for your mother, the psychiatrist?! The teenager within me cringed and immediately wanted to know more.

    I love the relationship you set up between the main character and the mother. The sense that the daughter didn't want her mother watching over her was incredibly relatable. Looking forward to seeing how this relationship unfolds, as well.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I loved the premise! There is so much you can do with this.

    The first page, though, could be stronger. You've created a nice voice, and injected some humor, but nothing happened.

    Perhaps show us her secret on- line life, then have Mom come out of the room and she shuts everything down quick and pulls up a page connected to homework. In other words, have her actually do what she tells us she does. As is, it's all set up.

    ReplyDelete
  16. This is a great premise and the voice of the protagonist drew me in right away. She's funny, self-aware and quirky. I'm eager to find out about her secret online life and see what happens when she meets her idol...:)
    Great job and good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  17. I love the premise. I was immediately pulled in by the voice and humor. The opening joke is perfect.

    I was able to picture these characters based on this short section. Great job!

    ReplyDelete
  18. This sounds so fun, and I think teen readers in particular will gravitate toward (and relate to) a story about a super-fan! It feels very relevant to today's pop culture.

    Like some of the others, I found the tense switching here distracting - I had to re-read to make sure I understood what was going on. I would suggest standardizing the tense to either past or present throughout, whichever feels more comfortable to you.

    I wanted just a tad more personality and voice in this opening page. There's a lot of detail about the office and Leia's job, but I wanted to be a little more submersed in her head and her reactions. She sounds like a passionate person from the logline, and I wanted to feel that emotion right up front.

    I'm intrigued to know what happens when the celebrity shows up... Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  19. As a lucky crit partner, I've read the entire manuscript, and I can tell you that the whole thing AWESOME! The writer follows through on the terrific premise. I fell in love with Leia and her celebrity crush (he's a great character). Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  20. 110 pages please

    ReplyDelete
  21. Bid has to reach 150 before you can bid the full.

    Bid stands at 110 pages.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Bids have to go up in increments of 20 pages. Lots of invalid bidding

    ReplyDelete
  23. Dang, MIchelle -- you're better at this than I am! This is why I beg y'all to read the rules a hundred times.

    ReplyDelete
  24. CLOSED! Full goes to Sally Apokedak.

    ReplyDelete
  25. And again, these are not following the rules...
    Supposed to be minimum increments of 20 pages. At least 5 bids. At least 150 pages before full.
    25
    50
    93
    (110 is not 20 pages more and fulls don't count)

    Mine is the last bid at 93 technically. Your call Authoress.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Tricia Lawrence, EMLADecember 2, 2014 at 11:36 AM

    ARGH!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  27. Damn! Lost out on this because of my own bidding blunder! Don't you KNOW I meant to type 150 pages before?! I thought I had this one and moved on...

    ReplyDelete
  28. oh man...going back and counting bids---it looks like this one should still be open

    25
    50
    93
    150

    there should have been one more bid before I got in with full, I think. Do there need to be five legal bids before a full?

    Oh, man. I don't want to lose this one. But in fairness to the others... I wouldn't be opposed to sharing it--giving the author the best chance to get offers from other interested parties....as much as it kills me to offer that...

    ReplyDelete
  29. I counted 110 as a good bid because you said it stood at 110, Authoress, but actually that bid should have been 113 to qualify.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Okay, I'm going to reopen the bidding on this one. Look for a tweet to this effect.

    ReplyDelete
  31. OHHHHH this is what I get for being a nice guy!!! I'm appalled. Appalled, I tell you.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Well, that happened fast.

    ReplyDelete
  33. So not the time for my internet connection to become crap!

    ReplyDelete
  34. shouldn't we start all over again at zero???

    whine, whine, whine

    ReplyDelete
  35. No, we had 4 valid bids, as you pointed out (so graciously -- this probably makes you the only nice participant ;) ).

    CLOSED AGAIN. Full goes to Michele Wolfson.

    ReplyDelete