Please forgive this indulgent post. It’s been a busy, emotional week and it’s not likely to end anytime soon, so if you want something more useful, you can read my review of Tessa Gratton’s Blood Magic over on www.NovelNovice.com. (And if you’re into YA at all, you should already be following Novel Novice anyway! Also, Blood Magic is freaktastically messed up. Loved it.)
Anyway, the blog has taken a back seat lately because I’ve been busy doing other writerly things. Last week was the 2011 WriteOnCon, a completely online conference geared mostly toward those who write children’s books, from picture books to YA and everything in between.
I was fortunate to have my 250-word pitch (which was a condensed version of my query letter) critiqued by Trident Media agent Alyssa Eisner Henkin. And here’s what she said:
#8 so far has blown me away. The author really gets the details right in terms
of setting. I definitely would want to see a full submission on this one if it’s
still available. I think authors can learn from this pitch because the details
from virtuoso to Mobile are so specific. Psychology and horror are also big
right now, so that’s good timing, too!
Can you say “muppet flail”?! (Here’s the pitch in case you want to read it.)
This brought on a flurry of author mania (you know what I’m talking about). My MS was with my friend and critique group member Joyce Scarbrough, who is in the middle of her own WIP. She selflessly put her own work on hold to tackle my MS so I can ship it ASAP. Then, she did the most amazing thing: She fixed all my plot problems. Poof! Just like that.
Four handwritten pages of suggestions and she untangled my mess of an ending. (Actually, I’ve written three endings.) I will now be writing a fourth ending, but this one will make sense and patch all the plot holes, and here’s the kicker: It’ll still be my voice. My story. I was afraid I’d have to shove the ending into a mold like play dough, but that’s not the case. And that’s the marker of a fantastic editor.
I’ve been busy revising ever since. The first night, I cracked myself up writing a new one-liner for a favorite character. Last night, I made my own stomach hurt by doing something horrible to him. And if Joyce’s feedback is honest–yeah, she read both revised chapters already, she’s fast–then it’s going well. 🙂
Joyce doesn’t know this (though she won’t be surprised–I kinda wear my heart on my sleeve), but after our meeting, and after I got home, processed everything and the kids went to bed, I burst into tears. (Not uncommon for me, but still.) We moved to Alabama two years ago from Ohio, and while it’s the best decision we ever made, it’s also been a bit of a lonely experience. I’m not used to having people so invested in my success. Don’t get me wrong, my friends and family have been very supportive and I’m so grateful to them, but there’s a difference between cheering me on and actually reading my entire manuscript, getting what I’m trying to say and giving me the tools to possibly make my one and only dream come true.
It’s very humbling and overwhelming. And I am so, so thankful.
So, the moral is, if you have an editor/critique group/partner/beta reader to whom you are forever indebted, tell them!
Sara | Novel Novice said:
This is SO awesome!!!
Joyce Scarbrough said:
Thank you, Stephanie, for letting me be true to the part of my writer’s soul that makes me need to share the passion I have for the craft. I’ve always wanted to show my gratitude to writers like Stephen King and Sol Stein for sharing their wisdom with me (especially about characterization) by paying it forward. When you told me it made your stomach hurt to write an emotional scene because you felt what your character was feeling, I knew I’d done my job. When you’re published with a huge following of adoring fans, I’ll still be cheering you on!
The 2 AM Writer said:
“The first night, I cracked myself up writing a new one-liner for a favorite character. Last night, I made my own stomach hurt by doing something horrible to him.”
Oh no. You just killed me.