Thursday, October 28, 2010

YA or PR? Y ME?

I sent out my very first query in over 3 months last night, and there is something that just keeps nagging at me.  It's times like this when I wish this blog wasn't brand-spanking new and I actually had the courage to post the link on my Facebook page.  My question is this:

My protagonist is twenty-one, but she lives at home with her mother.  She goes to bars.  She goes on dates- to the bowling alley.  She works part time as a waitress at a country club.

Does that really sound like someone who has life figured out?  I am thirty years old, and to this day, I don't consider myself an adult.  Sure I'm married and domesticated, but I love Taylor Swift and Britney Spears and Glee.  I have cabbage patch dolls in my spare room - one of which was a gift for my 24th birthday.  Yes, I said 24th.  And my book shelf is so full of YA novels that I often say I never aged past seventeen - mentally, of course.  Physically, the years are starting to show.

So how does it make sense to call this girl of twenty-one (who thinks a lot like I do) an adult instead of a young adult?  And worse- what does that make me?  I did the right thing and called my novel a "contemporary paranormal romance" in my query, but I can't help feeling like the label doesn't fit.  I hear romance and I think graphic sex scenes and racy covers.  I think Fabio with fangs.  And that's not my book at all.  I believe college students and high school students AND adults (if I'm speaking as one) alike would enjoy it, and since there is no graphic content, I don't want the term "romance" to be misleading.

I guess I'll have to hope the query spoke for itself.  If anyone happens upon this post and has wisdom on the topic, please feel free to share.  I need to send a few more queries and I don't want to do anything to lessen my already slim chances!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

In the Beginning

For the longest time, I said I was going to write a book. But alas, college came and went, and after graduation I put my BA in English to good use as... a purchasing agent? Eight years later, I felt like the last of my creativity had drained out of my toes, and was pretty sure I would never see the day inspiration would strike again, let alone actually sit down and finish a novel.
Then, much like everyone else on the planet, I read and loved Twilight. For the first time in years, I felt the desire to create something again. I went online and read about how the idea came to Stephenie Meyer in the form of a dream. I admit, (hanging my head in shame) I was instantly jealous. I moaned to anyone who would listen that I had wanted to write a book my whole life, and here this woman was handed the mother of ideas on a platter as sparkly as Edward's skin. HMPH.
I should have kept my mouth shut. Earlier this year, I woke up from the strangest dream and knew it was going to be the subject of my story. I tossed ideas around in my head for two weeks before I ever put a word on paper. I had to figure out how to connect the characters, how to fill in their backstory, how to develop the plot based on the little snippet my subconscious had shown me. Once I had a clue, I started to write. And O.M.G. was I rusty. But just four months later, I had a completed draft of word vomit, and I was as excited as a pig in you-know-what.
I decided I was ready to query.
Don't misunderstand, I was not - AM not - under the impression that my story is the next Twilight. But Stephenie Meyer proclaimed her query "sucked", and still scored herself an agent. I was pretty sure my query sucked too, but I was hoping the whole book-based-on-a-dream scenario would work in my favor, too. Twenty rejections later, I realized just how badly my query sucked. Not one request for a partial, not one request for a full.
I knew I had to buckle down and do even more homework. I bought reference books and found new websites, opened every link pertaining to queries (including the ones that popped up when my search was "why does my query suck") and tore my letter apart time and time again.
In the process, I realized how much work my manuscript needed. I came across a website, I think Chuck Sambuchino's, where I read YA novels over 80K words reflect the author's inability to edit. My story was 95,000 words. I chewed my nails, agonizing over my word count. I was sure there was nothing I could eliminate without hurting the plot.
Wrong again.
Three months after my last rejection, my manuscript is down to a more polished 88,700 words. And you know what else? It's not YA, either. I was nervous that my twenty-one year old college student protagonist was too old, and I was right. My novel falls under the paranormal romance/urban fantasy umbrella. Good to know BEFORE you query, don't you think?
Finally, I think I've come up with a pretty snappy query. But we shall see. Because this isn't a success story yet. I'm getting back on the horse, and putting myself out there, because I have to. I've worked hard at this, and if there's an audience for my book, there will be an agent for it, too.
So stay tuned. Let's see if there's some creativity worth finding in me after all.