Tuesday, January 1, 2008


Yes, I am the sucker for New Year's Resolutions and fresh starts, all sort. Some of these have gotten me into trouble as I have a teeeny tiny tendency toward Excess.

Like the year I decided to Eat Right 4 My Blood Type. I emptied the house of normal food and stocked up on wheat and gluten free pasta, strange mushrooms, barley coffee and licorice tea. That stuff is expensive!

Especially if you never eat it and have to buy back all the stuff you threw away.

Or the time a friend invited me to a scrap book party. I was supposed to go to a C-R-A-F-T store and purchase foreign items like felt, stickers, glitter and glue.

I got so overwhelmed by Possibility, was in such foreign terrain, that I spent well over $100 on scrap book material. Which is really something, considering that:

  1. The matron never quite has enough money
  2. Participating in craft-like activity--of any kind--actually causes me unendurable physical and psychological pain, resulting in death if sustained
  3. I hauled my box to the craft party only to immediately experience symptoms in #2, resulting in a hasty departure and nary one single page scrapped.
Sorry, all you crafty sorts. I like to look, though. You have at it.

So I am taking my tendency toward Excess and aiming her in a positive direction!

My one and only New Year's Resolution for 2008 is to turn my (unpublished yet award winning and quite fine) novel into a Young Adult book.

And try, try, try again.

Three years ago, my very good literary agent sent me a thick envelope. It was full of all my rejection letters for a novel called At the End Of Magic. Eighteen of them. They were all very complimentary, except for Doubleday, whose editor implied I lacked significant brain wattage for her brand.


The same agent had also tried to sell my very first novel, Prairie Rat. Yes, friends! That old goat is still around! You are not hallucinating.

Anyway, the agent showed it to ten editors who all said it was lovely but too akin to a Young Adult novel to fly as literary fiction. When asked if I would retool as a YA novel, I recoiled in Artistic Huff.

That also coincided with a really busy parenting era. Merrick was a baby and I was staggering under all that domestic weight.

But now it's 2008. My oldest is reading YA books. And I am too. They are wonderful. Merrick is four years old and in preschool.

Mostly, I am through waiting for my time as a writer. I will take it anyway I can get it. Yes, that is the scent of Desperation and Marketplace Realities on a long slow simmer.

So: Prairie Rat, softened and burped and redressed, for the younger set. Look for progress reports (or kick me in the cyber butt and tell me to get going).

And here's how it starts:

Chapter One

Mama must’ve been expecting the police. When a half dozen doors slam in the driveway and men rustle toward the house, she doesn’t even get excited. We hear the shouts—go round the back, cover the driveway. Heavy feet slide through the bushes along the four corners of the neat white stucco we live in. Mama turns off the coffee and calmly points us toward the couch.

“You three sit here,” she orders.

We scramble on as the not-so-polite pounding begins. Open the door, and the police barely pause long enough to wave a handful of papers at Mama, who backs off and gets out of the way.

“Go ahead,” she sweeps her arm out, an invitation that tense uniformed men don’t need.

They barrel from one end of the house to another, bursting through doors and circling each room. A wiry, flushed man plants himself next to Mama. Her face is smooth and unreadable to strangers. If you know her the way we do, you can see the rage roll off her shoulders. She lights a cigarette just so she can do something that has nothing to do with him and studies the snakes of smoke. The wiry man monitors his men: they come out of each room, disappointed.

He tells Mama sternly, “I’d like to know where your husband is.”

“Me, too,” she says, voice steady as his.


Kanani said...

Found you through project rungay.

Hey, that book starts off fine.
Sorry about the 18 rejection letters coming to you all at once. Yeow! I'm so used to them parsed over a period of weeks.

Good luck this year! Get that book published!

Mrs. G. said...

You'll notice that one of my resolutions was to BUY handmade. Not make it. After similar buying frenzies at Michaels, I end up cussing and throwing glitter and then giving all the shit away to someone who actually has some talent.

Good luck on finishing your book. I can't think of a more exciting resolution.

If you haven't read Carolyn See's book Making a Literary Life, get it now!! She is incredibly inspiring and gives, I think, the best concrete advice on how to sit down and DO IT.

Karen said...

I adore YA books--just because it's considered genre, doesn't mean there isn't wonderful writing to be found! And I like the begining of your novel--I'd buy it!

Anonymous said...

Great opening to your book! Did NOT know you were an agented YA/Literary author. Here's hoping your book makes it into a binding and onto a shelf in a bookstore near me soon. I know I'd like to read it.

Anonymous said...

I'm Hooked! When do I get to read the rest of your book.

Minnesota Matron said...

Well, I may be an agented author but my novels (so far) haven't been published. Reading Bud, Not Buddy helped me decide to retool Prairie Rat into a YA form. The book was wonderful and I heard the author (whose name I shamefully can't remember) say that he wrote the book as a story and someone slated it as YA. I'm trying to think more along those lines.

Beth said...

I'm so with you on the crafts thing - maybe even further ahead. I would have known better than to buy all that scrapbook stuff.

Your book sounds/reads great. That is the best resolution I've heard yet.

Fairlie - www.feetonforeignlands.com said...

That's a great opening! I'm intrigued. Looking forward to tracking progress on this resolution.

Go you.

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