Random Insights: Well, so much for “edgy.” The National Book Award for Young People’s Literature went to Jeanne Birdsall’s The Penderwicks, her first published book, and a decidedly tame tale of sisters befriending bunnies and a lonely boy. Okay, it’s not truly YA — it could more be said to be a middle-grade novel, maybe one can’t argue the ‘edgy’ thing here successfully, but why am I unsurprised that so sweet a book is a winner? Edgy isn’t dead, but I’m glad there seems to be room at last for something else.
As for my own brush with glory, it’s decidedly less glorious than I had hoped. I do have an agent. I do have a manuscript being shopped. I have had rejections. No more than the usual, but having them come through the filter of someone so sympathetic is almost — seems — no, is worse. Having someone tell me that ‘this is the way the business goes’ isn’t helpful — I want to hear where next we’re sending it!
Some of the reasons for not liking my last piece were that:
a.) it featured far too much about a secondary character,
b.) we’re asked to believe too much about the secondary character without being shown: why aren’t we spending time in his home, with he and his parents?
c.) the main character is much too strong to need the secondary character. Why isn’t something else going on in her life to engage her readers?
d.) the storyline line is going in too many different directions for us to engage with the character.
Sigh. I do wish the editors would pick a gripe and stick with it. One manuscript can’t be all of these things!
I wish you a happy Harvest holiday. Usually at this time of year, it’s time to settle in with mugs of something lovely and mulled, pajamas and good books. Well, the weather is simply relentlessly bright, so while I’m thankfully not bummed out on rain and struggling to be peppy, I am having trouble staying indoors, but rest assured I will be reading through a couple of “vacation days” I give myself, and will be able to post new book reviews on our sister site. Then, the last few days of the month, I send off another piece to my bemused agent, and begin the round of critiquing and revisions — a.k.a. “the trial by acid” once again.
Good luck to all of you as you strive to keep your butts in your chairs and write through the holidays!