Taste & Timing

I think I’m finished, totally finished with my manuscript LIFE-LIKE. It’s in expert hands getting a grammatical once-over. Why can’t I take a deep breath and enjoy the small success? Neurotic Holly is taking full shape behind me. She’s typically spectral and whispers nonsense in my ears, encouraging me to doubt and second guess my choices.

But now that Halloween is fast approaching that bitch is getting stronger and is wearing a full on Elvira outfit. Sexy ain’t cute when it’s my own self doubt. You see, I made changes to the book, after I thought it was done, and now I’m not sure if I helped or hurt my story. I can’t see the words on the page, can’t feel the emotions behind the scenes I wrote. I’m too close. My tweakinghas gone on too long and now I’m officially done. If my friend doesn’t like the changes I made I’m going to revert to the older version and send it out. I know for sure it’s all a matter of taste.

I attended the SCBWI Carolina’s 20th Annual Fall conference. It was good. I got to meet new writers, talk to new acquaintances and have two critiques. The feedback in the critiques was fascinating, and also lead me to believe it’s time to set my book free and being querying.

You see, one note said it was offensive that my protagonist, Liv, looks at herself in the mirror and fixes her hair in a low ponytail so her Jewish nose wouldn’t look too big. The critique by, Anna Olswanger, agent at Liza Dawson Associates, said “I was risking making readers not like Liv, and the manuscript has too much potential to risk that.” Being a Jewish girl who has a Jewish nose, I didn’t agree and found it interesting how this agent latched onto that description. Ms. Olswanger also went on to say, “My book was marketable, and it was refreshing that my book shows a mother and daughter who love each other.” She was not a fan of the initial tone of my narrator but “the writing flows, and the dialogue is snappy. The high school setting is believable, as are the characters.”

Good stuff right? But it took my reading her critique five times to see the good points and not the stuff she didn’t like.

I also participated in First Pages. This is an event where Alan Gratz, reads the first 200 words of participants manuscripts aloud to two editors and one agent to get immediate feedback. I was scared and excited. I love how Alan reads. And when I heard him read mine, I was thrilled because he read the words as I imagined them while writing. He spoke Liv’s voice, and it was awesome! That being said, one editor and the agent didn’t dig it. The third editor, Susan Chang, Senior Editor Tor Books said, “I don’t like the use of the word ass, I think it’s meant to shock me, and I’m not sure about the starting on one direction and then shifting to another but, I would keep reading. And that my dears is all that matters!

At least that is what I keep telling myself. The other notes I received were all a matter of taste and timing. I have no control over those things. If an agent reads my query or work on a day they’re not in the mood for a story about death and limbo, or if they read enough characters named Liv, or they don’t get the spiritual element or they didn’t drink enough coffee, they’re tired and not in the mood to go through queries but are doing it anyway because maybe one thing will catch their attention, well i can’t do anything about that. I’ve done all I can to make LIFE-LIKE the best I can. So fingers crossed, it will strike a chord with an agent who will be able to sell it so in 2014 you can read it.

In the meantime, I’ve got to hog tie Elvira and get cracking on the next book. Because writers write, we can’t help ourselves. And I don’t’ quit.




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