Saturday, January 28, 2012

Dangling the Carrot

If you read my last blog, you know that I was waiting to hear from a publisher about my book, David's Song. Yesterday, I received the much anticipated email. I'd like to share that email. Just a bit of explanation for those of you who are not of my faith and may not understand some of the jargon. LDS refers to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Think Mitt Romney. BYU is owned and operated by the Church and therefore I thought that using a publisher who catered to that market might be wise. (Since, as you know, the first part of the novel takes place at BYU). Secondly, Deseret Books and Seagull are bookstores located in the inter-mountain west that cater specifically to the LDS audience. With that explained, here's the email.


I really enjoyed reading David’s Song and thought it was well written, so I presented it to our editorial board. We would like to publish your book, but there are a couple of issues that need to be worked out.

First, the page count is more than what we typically publish for an LDS novel. In order to keep our prices at a competitive level, the word count should average around 80,000. If we feel a longer story is solid, we can consider publishing it in a mass market size to keep the price down. This might be an option for David’s Song, which brings me to the second issue. The second half of your story, that takes place in the present, isn’t quite as strong. I feel that Annie’s character and story line falls a little flat and probably wouldn’t be suitable for our LDS buyers. The fact that she is spending so much time with David, ignoring her commitment to Jeremy, and even kissing a married man while she is still married herself would be rejected by the Seagull and Deseret Book stores.

Therefore, I would like to suggest publishing a book that would consist solely of Annie’s story that takes place at BYU. It would need a new beginning, the airplane sections would need to be removed, and it would need to end with David leaving, but then Annie and Jeremy would need to be developed a little more. A possible scenario might be that Annie and Jeremy get together, but Annie drags her feet because she is both heartbroken over David and also not sure she can trust anyone again. (On page 272 of your current manuscript, Annie is speaking with David in the present and tells him it took her a long time before she would trust Jeremy not to leave her like he did.) This could be Annie’s and Jeremy’s final conflict before she realizes that she really does love Jeremy, trusts him, and wants to marry him.

Let me know your thoughts on this and what you’d like to do. I’m willing to hear any other suggestions you might have.

Thank you,

My first reaction was there is really something worse than a rejection. I had the distinct feeling that they were asking me to cut off my right arm. You might have to be a writer to understand that. In the 24 hours I've had to think about it, I have seen both the positive and negative of the email. First, they liked the story. They thought it well written. They would like to publish it. In other words, they wanted to work with me. I understand the business aspect of their requests for revisions. They are not a philanthropic enterprise, they are a publishing house. If they don't think that the story would be stocked in the bookstores, then the project is not viable. On the other hand, I have some concerns about how they want me to change the story.

This blog is to see what others think. I have some ideas, but I want to know what those who have read David's Song think about the requested changes. Please feel free to weigh in on the subject. I told the publisher that I would get back to them in a weeks time. Later today I am off for a little (Week long) escape with my husband. When we are not enjoying the warmth and sunshine of the Caribbean, I will be thinking of this. So please, let me know what you think, either by posting here, or on Facebook.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Waiting Game

When I was little, the most exciting part of my summer was the neighborhood Fourth of July parade. Kids in the neighborhood were all invited to enter. We could decorate out bicycles in red, white, and blue tissue paper, with balloons and flags added for good measure. Or, if you were industrious, you could make a float out of your red flyer wagon. For the Halloween lover's you could dress up as well. There would be kids dressed like firecrackers, Uncle Sam, Betsy Ross, flags, even picnic tables. The parade route was a two block area that went down one rather steep hill on one side, and then up another hill on the other. In the middle was a judges stand, manned by neighborhood parents. Two days before the parade, a man, dressed in the obligatory holiday colors, drove through the neighborhood in his corvette convertible with a bull horn announcing the parade. "Come to the big parade," he would say for all of us to hear. "Come one, come all! Bring your bikes. Bring your floats. Come to the big parade." The morning of the parade he would make his rounds again saying the same thing, only adding that "today was the day!"

That little parade was the highlight of my summer. I remember decorating my bike. I remember dressing in red, white, and blue and roller skating the parade route. In that day, one didn't wear the nice in-line skates they have today. My skates were the old silver ones that clamped on over your shoes, the kind that adjusted with a skate key. One year two of my little girl-friends and I dressed up as ballerinas and joined the walkers in the parade. Every entry was judged and winners were presented with ribbons at the end. All participants got a Popsicle. I never won a ribbon. Always enjoyed the Popsicle. And found my excitement for next year's parade returned with the leaves every spring.

The night before the parade, I never slept well--too much excitement. I would be up before sunrise, sitting on the windowsill watching and waiting for the man in the corvette to come driving by, calling me to the parade. My stomach was a roller coaster of emotion, excitement, nervousness, fear. (What if I fell riding my bike down the hill?) I waited all summer for that parade, and there was always a sense of sadness when it was over.

I have repeated this pattern all my life. As a teenager, I couldn't wait to go to an Osmond concert. As a young adult, I couldn't wait to go to college, fall in love, get married. As a young married I couldn't wait to start a family. Once the family was started then I couldn't wait for the baby to walk, talk, start school. With all of those experiences, there was the great anticipation of the wait, the same butterflies in the stomach, then the wistfulness as it was all realized. What would be the next great thing to wait for?

Life has a way of providing the next great thing. Now that my family is nearly grown, of course, there is retirement to wait for and anticipate. On a smaller scale, I am currently waiting to hear from a publisher about my book, David's Song. One day last week, I opened my email to find a request from the publisher for an electronic copy of my work. They wanted to send it out to other reviewers. Of course I happily complied, sending out the copy that day. Now, here I sit, waiting. And the funny thing is, every morning as I open my email, I feel that same roll of the stomach that I felt as a kid the morning of the Fourth of July parade. Will it be good news? Will they say, "Thanks, but no thanks."? Either way, experience has taught me that there will be the same sense of wistfulness at the end. But life has also taught me, there's something else coming around the bend. I can get excited wondering about what it will be? Certainly it will be worth waiting for.