Saturday, August 16, 2014

When last we left our author . . .

She had just dusted off her old middle reader book manuscripts-

And was appalled to realize how badly they were written.  Passive in voice, boring verbs, and a severe lack of attention to detail. 

But the plot line was strong and the characters fairly well drawn.  There was some good stuff there, and the books were, I felt, worth saving.  Armed with my newfound knowledge in how to write decent prose, I immediately set about attempting to rewrite all three novels at once.

Right.  Well it seems like a good idea at the time,

continuity girl
 given that I was going to have to make changes in the first novel that would run through the other two.  And in theory it was a good idea.  It’s just impossible to rewrite three books at the same time and keep everything straight.  At least it was for me.  I either needed to go back to rewriting the novels one at a time, or hire a continuity girl.

There’s never a continuity girl around when you need one.

So I started with Coyote Summer, both because it was originally the first book in the series and because it felt the most complete. I’d played with switching the other two in the series around a bit, and even taken Hurricane Summer out of the series entirely and re-written it as a YA novel. They were going to need some major work.

I re-wrote Coyote Summer 
sentence by sentence. 

Literally.  I tightened and restructured, and moved my heroine's age up a year.  I’d read that kids liked to read books where the hero or heroine was at older than they were, and I intended this book for the 8-12 year old average age range. 

I then sent the book off to my editor for Cuttyhunk: Life On The Rock, and held my breath.

She liked it. Oh, she had many editorial suggestions, and I ended up paying her for a professional edit of the book.
I wanted Coyote Summer to be the strongest possible story when I sent it out this time around. I gave the professionally edited manuscript to  my partner Deborah, and waited rather breathlessly for her opinion. 

It had been quite a while since she’d seen the book.

Her comment? “The end is too rushed. You need two more chapters.”

Surprisingly, this proved to be very easy. I think I must have had the same thought brewing in the back of my mind for some time.

Finally, it was as done as it was going to be. I had researched publishers who would look at this sort of book without an agent, and made a small list. First on the list was a publisher whose work I’d seen at the VA Festival of the Book when I read there the previous year. I’d taken a copy of his catalog, and Coyote Summer seemed a good fit.

I composed an appropriate introductory letter and sent off the first three chapters.
to be continued . . .