28 March 2006

Intro redux!

Okay, I told you I'd give you more of an intro last night, so here goes.

As is so painfully apparent, I write novels and short stories for for mid-grade readers and young adults. Mid-grade readers tend to run from fifth grade up to high school, and then young adults run from high school to college, though I write some stories that are set at college, too.

I seem to be getting along on the writing front: I've had my YA novel, The Symphonians, requested at FSG -- that's Farrar, Straus and Giroux, for those of you playing at home. When Symphonians was requested, I sent it on up to the editor, *then* I got to looking at it and realizing that the novel sucked, so I requested that she send the damn thing back and to sit tight, but not too tight. That was last March. I revised the absolute heck out of it, sent it to everybody in sight for critiques, and tore out the novel-within-a-novel and completely redid that. Finally in December I couldn't stand working on it anymore and sent it back to FSG.

The Symphonians is about Kathy Bachmann, this really shy high school girl who falls in love with Noel, the boy with all the verbs, but runs screaming away from it. She's writing a novel about the Symphonians, the wonderfullest musicians you'll ever meet, and they're trying to save one of their own from her abusive husband. Kathy finds that there's been abuse in her past, too. But when she gets into an abusive relationship of her own with Carter (he threatens to kill himself if she leaves him), she finally escapes through the help of her Symphonians and Noel, the true love she finally gets the courage to speak up about. whew!

While I was whaling away on Symphonians, I got another request for a MS, this time from Henry Holt for my short-story collection Angel in the Silence. This is a collection of short stories for YA and college readers about loneliness and abuse. One of the stories, "Angel in the Whirlwind," won second place in the Smartwriters.com contest. All kinds of good stuff.

So I'm keeping my fingers crossed on those.

Then I have two midgrade novels, one of which I'm working on now. They're about raccoons.

That cleared the room in a hurry!

They're both high fantasy novels about a raccoon tribe that lives in a Missouri forest. The kicker is, I had Leavetaking, the first novel, finished. So I wrote the second novel, Silverlady Descends, and ran all of it through my critique group. They gave tons of suggestions that I waded through, and it came out looking nice. And I thought, okay, now they're ready to go!

But then I looked at Leavetaking, the first novel, and I thought, OMG, this story sucks. I mean, I think that a lot, but it turns out to be true. So now I'm going back and totally revising the first one. I did this totally bas-ackwards.

I kept going over and over the first couple of chapters in the book, because they just were not working. I'd write one version, it would suck, I would write another version, it would suck but not as bad, etc. But finally I think I have what I'm looking for. Did the same for the second chapter -- it's at the stage where it's still sucky but it's getting better.

I don't usually devote so much time for the early chapters, but this time I'm trying to set up the trajectory of the characters for the rest of the novel. That way I have a good idea of where they're going and where they're going to end up. And also, I've had Leavetaking since 1995, so a lot of it is also busting it out of the "already written" mold and re-seeing it. It's like those raccoons and their situations were frozen in concrete. So that made me a little crazy but now I'm getting better.

See, what did I tell you about those mile-long posts?


reprehn said...

Hey, Melinda, your blog is very entertaining :) I want to friend you, but I'm blogger-challenged and don't know how to do that when you're at blogger and I'm at livejournal -- if I add your livejournal address, does that mean it'll come up to this link? See, I'm oblivious...but nice to read you!


Melinda said...

Hey Robin --

If you friend me on LiveJournal, it will probably show up on the LJ blog but not on this one. But I could probably post a link from the Blogger blog to your LJ blog. I think.

I hope it gets more entertaining. I think it would be most entertaining with a fifth of bourbon. (Of course, a glass of wine is enough to get me soused.)