10 May 2014

Guest post by Worth the Weight author Eileen Palma

You Can Never Be Too Rich or Too Thin Unless You’re a Female Protagonist
I recently reconnected with a high school classmate of mine on Facebook. We had been friendly in high school, but hadn’t really hung out with the same crowd. We have much more in common as adults and mothers than we did back then. We met for lunch and had a great time catching up on the past twenty years. Then, my new old friend told me about a group of girls from our school dance company who hated me back in high school. She said I was too thin, too popular and too pretty. Too perfect. The impetus for the hate was that no one wanted to dance next to me on stage in a leotard.
On my drive back home from lunch, I thought about my main character Kate who had pretty much the same problem in the first draft of Worth the Weight. All my early readers loved Jack, the super-sized stroller creating male protagonist. But, no one seemed to like Jack’s love interest Kate, a famous kids’ fitness guru with her own hit television show. This surprised me. Jack was the one profiting off childhood obesity and he spends half the book lying about his identity. I thought for sure he would be the one the readers wouldn’t like.
The general consensus had been that Kate was too perfect. She was thin, pretty, rich and famous. Whenever you hear a common thread of criticism about your manuscript, you know you have to listen. Obviously I needed to make changes to Kate because who’s going to root for a main character they don’t like? But, I couldn’t help wondering if people would feel the same way if my male character had all those qualities. I thought of Luke Brandon from the Shopaholic series, Sam from Sleepless in Seattle, and Edward from the Twilight series (not counting his vampire status). Everyone loves those guys. But for some reason when a woman has everything going for her, other women have a hard time liking her.
I think the problem is a cultural one. It’s been ingrained in women to compete with each other to be the prettier one, the better mother, the more successful business woman and the list goes on and on. I Googled why females hate other females and over 13 million articles appeared on this topic. We measure our worth against each other and it makes women dislike each other when they see someone who they think is better than them in some way. I gave Kate some flaws and people started to like her more. I made her apartment disgustingly messy. She became a little curvier, which made for a funny start to a sex scene when her skinny jeans get stuck on her thighs. I gave her a father with a gambling addiction. She remained rich and successful but the reader finds out that she had to fight tooth and nail to get everything.
Women are trained to automatically dislike other women who make them doubt their own self worth. We see this time and time again on reality competition shows when the women’s teams tear each other apart, have bitch fests about each other and engage in catfights; all of which are notorious for their downfall. While most of the time, the men’s teams can be seen throwing a football around with each other or playing light hearted pranks in between tasks.
I hope in the future to create a female protagonist who is close to perfect who readers will fall in love with anyway. One day I will write a character who people won’t hate because they don’t want to dance next to her in a leotard.

How much weight is too much for one romance to bear?
When Kate Richards, the effervescent host of television's KidFit and the author of kid-friendly diet cookbooks, runs into Jack Moskowitz at a dog park, sparks fly. He's attractive, charming, and single. She has no idea that he's also the one man who could cost Kate her career--the CEO of Considerable Carriages, a company that profits from childhood obesity.
Jack knows exactly who Kate is, though. She tore his company apart on television only the day before! Seeing an opportunity, Jack starts digging up dirt on his nemesis, to put her crusade on ice once and for all. But the more time the two spend together, the more his lie—and his feelings for Kate—spiral out of control.
When Jack and Kate try to tip the scales of romance it brings chaos, heartbreak and hilarity and more than a few laps around love’s track.

Eileen Palma has an English degree from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and has studied Advanced Novel Writing at Sarah Lawrence College’s The Writing Institute. Her writing has appeared in The Momoir Project, Macaroni Kid Bronxville, Patricia Dunn's author blog, Blogging in the Big Apple, PTO Today and on the front page of Our Town.
Eileen lives in a New York city suburb with her husband, daughter and a scrappy Wire Haired Fox Terrier.

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