New Novel: Stupid Questions

I decided it’s time to take my novella Stupid Questions and redevelop it into a novel.

There were some issues with my protagonist’s past and environment not really seeming fleshed out enough, and since it was a romance but I was trying to keep it short it seemed like everything in the whole story was just about a guy and a girl trying to get together. They didn’t think about or talk about much else.  So I’m going to fix that in the novel version and try to give it more complexity.

No rush on this because I’m also editing and fiddling with so many other things.

This is a story about a guy named Nick who tries to develop a romance with a girl named Summer who has superpowers.  Naturally.

Results of Querying: Finding Mulligan 2010

Finding Mulligan didn’t do any better in 2010.  I’ll be entering Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award competition with it in January, though.

Agents queried: 15.

  • Non-responses: 8
  • Query rejections: 7

One of the rejections said this:

I’m afraid it’s not striking a chord with me– dreams/dream worlds aren’t really something I’m drawn to. Further, your protag is a bit old for YA– college is a hard sell to publishers for a YA novel.

Yeah, I’ve heard that before.  Hm, maybe this will be a thing someday, though?  Who knows.

I also had a phone chat with an agent who seemed kind of interested in my other project, Bad Fairy, but not as much in this book.  We ended up talking on the phone kind of as a fluke.  One of my editing clients asked if I wanted to talk to his agent, and he had the guy call me.  It was a good chat and he said a lot of supportive (and reality-check-oriented) things, but I told him I haven’t started developing Bad Fairy into a trilogy yet, and he never responded to my partial manuscript for this book.  Oh well.

I’m going to leave off querying for this thing until I have some better ideas of what to do, but I’m going to try contests.

Finding Mulligan: Murder Your Darlings

I EDITED AND THE BOOK GOT SHORTER.

This is unprecedented! Hahaha.

Written in my journal December 30, 2007:

“I’m thinking a bunch of it might be cut later. This is a special case and all, but I’m not sure how many people want to watch my character go to the hair salon.”

Verdict from others:

Mom: The hair salon part is BORING. You need two paragraphs about that, tops.
Rob: There was one part I thought was really slow and unnecessary. It’s this part where she goes to the hair salon?

Uh . . . surprise. There are also two other scenes just like this (though neither of them are a whole chapter long, so this was public enemy #1), where I went on for a long time just dilly-dallying over a concept.

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Results of Querying: Finding Mulligan 2009

Really struck out on Finding Mulligan queries in 2009.

Agents queried: 24.

  • Non-responses: 9
  • Form rejections: 13
  • Partial requests: 1

. . . Most of the form rejections contained the phrase “publishing is a subjective business.”  Well, I hope so!

One of the rejections said this:

If I may offer a tip, you may want to consider your word count as this genre is usually more like 70,000 words.

::shrug::

The guy who rejected my three-chapter partial had this to say:

While I thought the premise to be unique, I just did not get enough sense of the paranormal.  Along the same lines, I simply did not find myself drawn to the characters as much as I had hoped to.  It seemed as if the story was lacking a depth that I wanted to see in the early pages.

Hmm, boo.  Though I will say I’m surprised to see disappointment over lack of “the paranormal” because my book isn’t paranormal.  I’m still using this advice to try to make my stuff better.  I’m continuing to tweak and edit here and there.

 

Bad Fairy: More Writing Woes

Oh my dear lord. I just did a word count on what I’ve got so far of the first Bad Fairy book.

It’s like 115,000 words already. PART ONE IS 115,000 WORDS. And there is still a lot to do before I can close the stupid thing. Delia! You’re only ten years old right now! How the hell do you have this much to say about your life??

I think she’s taunting me. What do you think?

Bad Fairy: Thoughts on redevelopment as a trilogy

So I’m rewriting Bad Fairy as a trilogy. The book does not naturally divide into three parts, unfortunately. Its original version was in five parts of unequal length. The new version, Book 1, is protagonist Delia’s childhood and education.

Bad Fairy is a Sleeping Beauty retelling from the bad fairy’s point of view, but the princess isn’t even born yet in the first book.  Book 1 is entirely about her fairy school years.  Is Delia’s magickal education interesting enough to carry a story? I don’t think it was originally, though I did receive the following ego boost from my friend Jeremy while he was reading the bit about her elemental studies:

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New Novel: Bad Fairy Trilogy, Book 1

Bad Fairy is gonna get revamped as a trilogy now.  It’s about time.

The original version, telling the full life story of Delia Morningstar (Sleeping Beauty’s “bad fairy”), was 255,000 words and nobody would want to take that on.  But there were a lot of problems with the idea of revamping the book into three parts, and the most important problem is that there’s nowhere that it divided naturally.  I’m actually going to have to rewrite it completely so each volume is a complete story with a beginning, middle, and end, and a conflict and resolution.

I already know the shape of the first book; it’d basically be the main character’s life up until she graduates from circle (which is the fairy version of school in my book, for those who haven’t read it). I plan to invent more conflict within the circle setting, more competition among the girls I guess, and of course my little Delia will really enjoy that. (I can’t say the same for her circlemates. Haha.) If I can invent enough of a conflict and resolution in the first book—ending with my main character having come out on top only to have it mean nothing in the scheme of things—I think it could be a satisfying book one of a trilogy.

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“Stupid Questions”: Story Fallout

Yep, I’m gonna turn this one into a book.

Last week I finished my last short story and overall I think the biggest complaint from my readers who have finished it is that there is a certain flatness to the characters. Obviously because I know the “whole” characters they don’t seem flat to me, but it absolutely indisputable that they are WRITTEN in a flat way. I know exactly why this is, too.

In novels, I am used to having a whole book’s worth of space to do my usual navel-gazing. I was under the impression that people were getting sick of my navel-gazing and characters doing their internal sulking, pondering, and fantasizing. It goes double that you can’t do this too much in a short story. As a result, I just kinda didn’t give any undercurrent to these characters’ mental lives, leaving them represented largely by their actions in the name of having a low word count.

Having “flat” characters is a bit of a surprise, ’cause after all, I’m supposed to be Ms. Kickass Characters. But maybe if I were to take this and let my story spread out and relax, I’ll get more well-rounded characters.

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Ready to Query: Finding Mulligan

Okay, enough editing.  Thank you to the following people who helped me in the test audience:

These people read the whole thing and gave comments: Mommy, Fred, Ronni, Mike Lee, Reeny, Jessie, Laura, Victor, Cara, Meggie, Alicorn, Amanda, Rob, Patricia, Jeaux, Daddy, Stacy, Kim, Jeremy, Kalinda, Corinne, and Jay.  These people read part of it and gave comments: Jack, Deborah, Mikey, and Jessika.

My basic query letter (with personalized agent stuff at the beginning, and modified if needed):

Nobody understands the meaning of “a double life” better than Cassandra Howard.  A smart, sarcastic student by day, she becomes a different person at night; Dia, her charismatic second self, is the darling of a fantastical dreamland where she can do anything.  And while Cassie and Dia share their memories, they prefer to keep their lives separate.  That changes when they fall in love.

Mulligan, dreamland’s delicious drummer boy, sets his eyes on Dia.  But Cassie is pretty sick of her other self getting everything good about their life, and she talks Dia into helping her find the waking-world version of her boyfriend.  A mysterious portrait of Mulligan leads Cassie to two candidates: is it Terrell, the model who posed for the painting?  Or is it Jamie, the artist who painted it?  Maddening maybes play tug-of-war in her mind until she finds herself attracted to both guys, and she fears betraying her dream love if she picks the wrong one.

To test her contenders, Cassie begins to impersonate Dia in the waking world, but gets the shock of her life when her counterpart’s magical charisma and talent actually work in her favor.  When lines of identity start blurring beyond their comfort, they’ll have to uncover the nature of dreamland and deal with the repercussions of this love triangle.  (Or . . . love pentagon.  Whatever.)  And one thing’s for sure: dreams of happily ever after do sometimes turn out to be nightmares.