Monday, February 4, 2013

Bouncer Post #119

Genre: YA Contemporary
Word Count: 65,000


16-year-old Dorothy Weil knows there’s something worse than being seen as a loser: not being seen at all. Her social anxiety disorder makes it nearly impossible to make friends, and her parents don’t even bother to ask her opinion when her dad decides to take a six-month sabbatical in London. But when Dorothy’s therapist suggests that she use the opportunity to reinvent herself, something inside of Dorothy clicks.

In London, Dorothy introduces herself as Kenzie, the name of the most popular girl in school back home. And somehow, pretending to be Kenzie allows Dorothy to become the person she’s always wanted to be: popular, funny, outgoing. Then Dorothy’s father decides to tutor a freshman at the university, Jonathon North, and it’s as if he can see right through Kenzie’s shiny exterior to the dull girl underneath. Even worse, Dorothy finds herself caring what Jonathon thinks of her.

When Dorothy is caught in the middle of a violent protest, her father sends Jonathon to rescue her. But when the tables turn and Dorothy ends up saving Jonathon, she unintentionally exposes her true self in the process. Now she must choose between the good opinion of everyone she’s worked so hard to fool and the one opinion that really matters: her own.

REINVENTING DOROTHY WEIL is a 65,000-word contemporary YA novel. I have personally battled social anxiety disorder, the most common anxiety disorder among teens and adults, and I believe many teens will relate to Dorothy’s struggle. In addition to my work at the consulate general in Yekaterinburg, Russia, I volunteer for a book club for Russian high school students. I have written and edited professionally for several newspapers, magazines and websites (most recently at the Marine Corps magazine Leatherneck), and I have a Master’s degree from the University of London.

First 250:

Dorothy stared at the essay question in front of her and laughed.
Q: If you could have any of the following super powers, which would it be and why?
A) Invisibility
B) Telepathy
C) The ability to fly
D) Time travel

The question was supposed to be fun. It was the freebie at the end of every English test, ten points that guaranteed even the biggest slacker wouldn’t get a zero. She should just pick one, write a quick essay, and turn it in. But for someone who overanalyzed everything, nothing was ever that simple.
Invisibility. Dorothy didn’t need a super power for that; she’d spent most of her life perfecting the art of invisibility. The only benefit to it—aside from avoiding unwanted attention (and for Dorothy, all attention was unwanted)—was that you got to eavesdrop on other people’s conversations, which brought her to telepathy. You didn’t need to eavesdrop if you could read minds, and you didn’t need to read minds if you were invisible. People seemed to forget that Dorothy was present most of the time, which meant she overheard more conversations than she wanted to.
She knew the approximate bra size of every girl in the junior class, thanks to her seat next to two football players in History. She knew who’d lost their virginity at Homecoming, who was doing drugs, whose parents were going through a messy divorce, and who had a you-know-what the size of a cocktail weenie.


  1. I really like the idea of reinventing yourself and then being caught between the old and new personalities. And I like your query - no suggestions there :-)

    The only comment I have on your first 250 is that it seems Dorothy is having a difficult time with the question because she over-analyzes it - but when she sees it, she laughs. Maybe you could write something to show it isn't a joyful reaction so it fits with the rest?

    Best of luck!

    1. Thanks Laura. There was another line in there about laughing because it was ironic that got lost during "Pitch Wars." I may have to add that back in now. I appreciate the feedback!

  2. Great query and premise! :)

    I think the first 250 might be a little telling. I get what you're going for, and the test question is a good reason for her to think about her issues. But I think it would be stronger and suck the reader in more if you could show her in an actual situation, trying to be invisible--maybe with something or someone making that difficult--or overhearing personal information, etc. Does that make sense?

    Overall, it sounds like a fun story. Based on the query, I'd read a bit further to see if things pick up.

    Good luck to you! :)


  3. Great premise. I like the idea of exploring a character stuck between two identities.

    The opening felt a little labored to me. Maybe show her in one of those situations rather than telling us about them. I think that would make the point come across in a more organic way.

  4. I really love this premise. Your query hooked me and I couldn't wait to read the first 250. Since this is Contemp, I don't mind where you started. When you add in the anxiety disorder, I completely love the glimpse into her overanalytical mind. So. Get. It. You're right - this is very, very relatable for many people (teens and adults alike). Well written and I was really sad that it had to end! I would LOVE to read more of this. Excellent job!!

    Best of luck!!

    1. Thank you Jennie! That was such a nice comment! Made my day :)

  5. I find the concept of your story interesting and your query is fairly straightforward, but I do have one question. When Dorothy introduces herself to people in London as Kenzie, is her father aware that she's doing this? The reason I ask is because her father is mentioned in relation to Jonathon a couple times and whether or not her father knows she's misrepresenting herself seems like it could be important to the dynamics of the Jonathon situation. It's not a big thing, and maybe not important enough to address in your query, but seeing as I wondered, I thought I'd pass that question along. Sounds like a great story, and I'd definitely be interested in reading more! Good luck in the contest! :)

  6. I *love* your query -- I'd really like to read more. What a fantastic set up.

  7. Great premise, query. I am among those who would like it to open with more action.