Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Will I Spring Forward in Fall?

Hmm. Well, there's not much going on in the agent hunt, so I can only hope for some good news this autumn. One agent does have a partial of Kings & Queens, so I could be much closer to getting a thumb's up. Who knows. But, I think maybe my query is just not getting it done. Or it could be my concept, I dunno.

I've submitted so many different versions to little response, my head is spinning now, and I can't even tell good from bad now.

It's hard to know what to include and what not to. My book has weirdness and conspiracy, but trying to succinctly mention those aspects is difficult and stirs up a whirlwind of questions. It makes me sound like a crackhead and that the book is a result of me being a crackhead. Yet when I boil it down to the central conflict, as query-writing-lovers love to suggest, a teen jumping into a massacre plot doesn't sound so special.

My novel centers around this massacre, but the tone and other aspects keep the story from being too heavy and depressing. It has bits of humor and tenderness and shock, and it also features baseball, romance, conspiracy, high school tension, family drama and a dash of sci-fi.

Do you think massacres are far too ugly for YA? I'd think not. I mean, the Hunger Games is popular, which I'm about to order, and that's about teens who kill. And Jodi Picoult's Nineteen Minutes centers around a teen shooting, and although it's shelved in adult, it crosses over into the teen market. But my YA novel, Kings & Queens, is not so much a topical one like Picoult's or a futuristic drama like HG. Mine's a whodunit with flair and depth. Beyond holding a core mystery, it delves into the psyches of those who've been manipulated and victimized and set-up.

But, man oh man, why didn't I think to include faerie wings or some sort of shape-shifting? How can I make a massacre sound more appealing? I do have some brainwashing going on and evil people can see through one teen's eye, so you'd think that'd be oo-factor enough. Nope. Not quite.

Maybe I should've made those evil people warlocks. Oh wait. Some of them ARE warlocks technically, but I forgot about that since it's not the commonality bringing the bloodthirsty blokes together. But I do have warlocks. And supersoaker wars with goat's blood. And some steamy kisses. And a ragdoll with a key that unlocks a box of new mysteries.

Um, did I mention my story was complex?

Maybe this sounds like a hot mess on the glowing paper you're now reading, like it's all too much content for one story, but it's not. Everything is intricately woven and fits together like a choreographed number with different types of performances.

Everything in this fictional world is affected when these characters are pushed to their limits, when they're forced to confront the malevolence not only in their world but also within themselves. And I like to show that struggle and revelation. I believe readers get more out of the story that way, when you give them both an intricate plot and deep, well-rounded characters.

I got two compliments recently that showed me the impact of my writing.

The first said, that even though it had been a while since she'd read Kings & Queens, the story has stayed with her all this time, and she thinks of my characters fondly. And the other reader said she didn't think it would be her kind of book, but it quickly sucked her in and she 's been having such a hard time putting it down. She absolutely loves it.

When you can provide an unforgettable journey with a pen and impact a few readers, it makes all the rejection worthwhile.

But, publication is the one industry where your dedication and skill do not really matter. It's more about hitting the right chord at the right time with the kind of story you wrote. It's about the perceived marketability of that book. Even if an agent and editor love it to pieces, the table full of suitcoats can still squash your dream.

I may have to enter the market with a different book first, one that's more strategic. Dropping Like Flies has a more gripping premise. And if I have to set K&Q aside for a time or come up with a new plan, like going with a smaller publisher myself, I'm cool with that. But Kings & Queens is too great a novel and too cool a reader experience to scrap. It would be a sad, sad thing to ever stick that in a drawer. So I won't.

~Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.