Query and first 250 words of novel by Mary Lannon

I’m thrilled to be part of this contest! Thanks to Krista Van Dolzer, Brenda Drake, Mónica Bustamante Wagner, and Elizabeth Briggs for hosting it, and all the coaches and agents for participating!

Dear Writer’s Voice Team:

I am seeking representation for my 84,639-word novel.  The book is tentatively titled An Explanation of the Fundamentals of the Derivation of Dilapidated Brown Station Wagon Theory aka How I Became a Scientist and Discovered the Truth About Getting Stuck in the Wrong Universe by Miranda J. McCleod. 

My young adult novel tells the coming-of-age story of an unconventional girl trying to fit into 1980s, small town Pennsylvania. My main character, Miranda, wants to understand herself and find a boyfriend, but unbeknownst to her, her true nature is that of a mad scientist, complicating her quest. She begins by trying to be a girly girl.  When that doesn’t win her admirers, she joins the Society for Creative Anachronism as a girl knight because she believes boys want a girl who can compete on their turf.  Finally, she realizes her affinity for science and believes that she has found a boy who sees her for who she truly is.  But when her scientific ideas are rejected as too out there and the boy falls for someone else, she’s forced to recognize her mad scientist ways and the need to leave her conventional world in search of others of similar ilk.  Like many of us, I believe, she finds that only mad science can truly make sense of this universe.

Recently, two novelists (Connie May Fowler and Eleanor Henderson) read my novel and advised me that it was ready to send to agents. In her comments to me, Fowler said, “I think that, beyond the wonderful character you have created, what I love most is that the whole parallel universe theme really is a symbol for teenage angst.” My book is similar to other recently published works, sharing the whimsy and humor of Leslye Walton’s The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender with the angst and scientific geekiness of Shannon Lee Alexander’s Love and Other Unknown Variables.

I am currently an assistant professor of English at Nassau Community College.   As part of my duties, I have the opportunity to read my work at Long Island high schools.  I have work published at The Irish Echo, Story (http://tinyurl.com/mzxjmys) and forthcoming at literarymothers.tumblr.com. Please find the first 250 words of the novel pasted below.  Thank you for your consideration.


Mary Lannon

1.  Background On and Exact Sequence of Events that Sent Subject (me, Miranda J. McCleod) Hurtling into a Parallel Universe (Or A brief explanation of the origins of Dilapidated Brown Station Wagon Theory)

Though I didn’t know it then, everything began to go wrong, starting with that air-conditioner on that hot April moving night when I was just fourteen.

But on that night and for the longest time afterwards, I thought of the night’s car ride as pretty routine. Of course, I knew we were moving from Doylestown, a suburb of Philadelphia–the only home I’d ever known–to Linwood. And at least for a moment, the faulty air-conditioner, which now, of course, I wish I had paid more attention to, did give me pause, but on the whole, the car trip of April 5, 1981 seemed like any other family car trip.

We sat in our regular seats, me Miranda J., behind my 40-year-old father, Marv J., and beside my nine-year-old sister, Bertie D., who occupied the seat in back of my mother, 38-year old Peggy J. As usual, we left at 11 p.m.: Marv’s way of beating the traffic but not, as you will see, a surefire way of promoting family unity.

Peggy clutched three decorative plates, among her most prized possessions. Our body positions dictated by the fact that we sat encased by food and possessions: behind my head was a bundt cake tin, next to Bertie’s hip, a bag of Doritos, to Marv’s left, a pillow.




  1. Good luck in the competition! (Is there any way you can enable a subscription to this post, btw? And are you on Twitter?)

  2. The idea is amazing! The title alone is so cool I want it on my Goodreads shelves! Good Luck!

  3. Interested in seeing what happens next! Very unique premise! Best of luck!

  4. I’m rooting for Miranda! Good luck in The Writer’s Voice.

    (Thanks for commenting on my entry, The Friday Night Fright Club.)

  5. I’m a big fan of coming of age stories! Good luck to you!

  6. This is quite unique, Mary. Good luck with your work :)

  7. Connie MacElroy

    Nice detail and humor here. It’s quirky in a way that appeals to me, and the beginning, hemmed in by stuff in a station wagon, is all too familiar. 😉
    Good luck!

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