Thursday, April 23, 2009

Getting Things Up and Running

I'm here! I can't believe I've made it! So  many people are technologically savvy... but, alas, I am not one of them. I would be, but I simply don't have the time. Too many wonderful things to do, too little time for all of the magic to happen. 

Today is no exception. I am still coming off the high of having my novel make it to the quarterfinals of the Breakthrough Novel Contest, but the Publisher's Weekly Review I received for my efforts helped to bring me down pretty quickly yesterday. Here it is:

This novel hints at an interesting, fantastical, quasi-biblical, quasi-heretical premise — the construction of an ark in preparation for a modern day flood — but delivers a pedestrian story of familial discontent and a “murder mystery” that isn’t quite a murder. Mariah’s father has been working on a secret project in his barn since before he met her mother, and soon after the rains begin, he dismantles the barn to reveal a boat. Around this same time, Mariah meets a mysterious and compelling boy, who follows her home on the last day before the flood begins, and she pulls him inside, not sure why or even why she’s getting on the boat, just as her family is ready to seal it off. Over the course of the novel, Mariah discovers the boy, Ben, is deaf and guilty of a mysterious crime. Out of this premise is spun a story that then focuses almost entirely on Ben and Mariah with Mariah convincing her family that Ben is a good person, while Ben works to convince Mariah that he isn’t. When Ben’s crime is revealed, it feels overblown, and when Mariah reveals, toward the end, a special talent for communicating with strangers, it feels unjustified by the rest of the novel, which, in the end, fails to deliver on the promise of its premise.

I admit, I was hurt. But only for about five minutes (okay, maybe an hour). Fortunately, I had dishes to do, kids to get ready for school, etc., and that gave my brain time to wrap itself around the whole thing. 

And, you know, by the time I'd read it to my husband in the evening (about 9:30 p.m.), without any effort at all, I felt elated. Think about it. When in real life does a novel get an actual set of reasons listed to explain why it isn't taken up by a publisher. I've been sending out various items of my writing for YEARS, and my only response has been a kind, short, completely unspecific form letter telling me it didn't suit their needs at this time, but encouraging me to show the same work to other agents or publishers. No reasons were ever given for the rejection. 

Now I have something real to work with as I revise the novel. Now I can approach my readers--the kind people who have willingly spent time reading my novel, show them the review, and ask them what they noticed, too. They'll know I'm serious, and hopefully they won't be afraid to show me what bothered them. Once I have all that feedback, I can work on the novel some more... and make it better. 

I'm lucky. Very, very lucky. I feel like hugging Publishers Weekly for this.


  1. A VERY healthy attitude for a rather crushing review. I'm glad you're up and running.

    And how did you get Google adsense so quickly? I've had no luck getting through!

  2. I just clicked on the Adsense thingie (I know, really technical!), and followed the steps... easy as pie... otherwise it wouldn't be done.

    It was in my "customize section, I think... the last tab at the top had to do with the ad stuff.

  3. I had to look... it was under "Monetize."

  4. Perhaps a browser setting is working against me. OK, thanks.

  5. hey no fair! how come PW got to read the whole thing?

  6. You are now listed on exiles, FYI. You might add it to your bloglist.

  7. Let flit know if you want to contribute to the site.

  8. Well, flit, that's just how the contest goes. But they didn't like it, so you should consider yourself lucky. Perhaps once I've revised the novel...

    You'll be on the short list, along with Stephanie... I promise!

    I'll check out the exiles page, and figure out how to add it to my bloglist... still not sure how to do everything yet, you understand...

  9. For some reason, I can't go through the link... it seems to expect me to find the link within my own blogpage. Weird...

  10. Good luck getting everything set up!

    And ouch, about the review and everything else. I could barely handle it when my own novel's first page got critiqued (in public, but without my name, thank god) by an author and an agent a few months ago. You do need a thick skin, I guess. Which I'm having the darnedest time actually developing.

    But lots of stuff to work on, so at least you're not left wondering what the problem might have been.

  11. that's cuz Stephanie stuffed up the link :)

    this one will work I also added you to my fiction/nonfiction blogroll on Just Flitting

  12. I know, Phyl! Honestly, though, considering how hard it is to even GET criticism, I've found I long for it. I'd rather have one honest (if negative) piece of feedback than lots of kind, but dishonest compliments.

    I can't fix something if I don't know it's broken.

    Thanks for adding me to your blogroll, flit. I know you have several blogs. I have one linked, but are there others you'd like to see on my blogroll?

  13. flit's Canadian fiction is probably the most appropriate for your blog; thanks for asking :)

  14. No, it's okay! I just e-mailed a bunch of people my new blog address, only for its link to go to my old one. It seems like every step I take leads me closer to humility...