Jumbled Up

-Some days I wonder how life can be so full of waiting and so full of activity at the same time. You might think that the activity cancels out, or at least muffles, the waiting, but by some miracle I can keep them separate and intact.

-I’m going to take a couple classes in the spring. I know I am a complete and total nerd, but I miss school, and more than that I miss the structure school brings. I need that kind of structure in my life right now. I’ll probably take an English course and a French one, if I can.

-Working on edits. Or rather, pre-edits. Don’t ask :p But feel free to send baked goods, because I promise pre-edits will kill me before edits will.

-This is a busy time here at home. On the heels of Thanksgiving we’re participating in a Christmas tour this upcoming weekend, which means that the whole house has to be decorated by then.

-Nano…Nano…yeah…that was not so successful.

-On to Part Two of my little series.

Part Two.

So, as I was saying, one of my children’s poems became an integral part of my first story, THE SHADOW MILE. Here’s the original poem (it got shortened considerably in the book):

"A Mile Outside"

I know of a place a mile outside
Where things are only as real
As the raindrops are wide
And the sun doesn’t always
stay up in the sky
It drifts in the breeze,
And goes out with the tide

A place where nothing lasts
But everything stays
And a minute’s as long
As a handle of days
Where nothing breaks
And everything bends
With a thousand beginnings
But no concrete ends.

Where stones are made
out of butterfly wings
And marbles dangle from clouds
On long silver strings.
Where stars wander down
like snowflakes at night
And rest in cupped hands
Before again they take flight.

Where words wind like fog
around valleys and hills
And light is like water,
it sloshes and spills
And nothing changes
but nothing sits still.

This is a place beyond
borders and doors
A world without rules,
without ceilings or floors
Where we’re only as old
As we let ourselves be
A place where our minds
Are entirely free
It is here, in this world
That our hearts go to hide
Deep in our thoughts
And a mile outside.

The Shadow Mile began as a very surreal, nonsensical Alice in Wonderland-esque story about a girl who finds a door without a room behind.

I later learned that nonsense and pretty imagery do not a story make. I finished the first ever version of TSM, let it never see light, in May of 2007, and shot off a few queries. One amazing agent was super nice, and asked for the full, and had some wonderful things to say, but it was obvious I didn’t know what I was doing (I can safely say that at this point, it was 50% nonsense, 30% existentialism and 20% of the trippy metaphorical fantasy I mentioned in PART ONE. Not a recipe for success. So, I did what I needed to do. I shelved it.

Six months later, I stumbled across a dialogue contest on a literary agent’s blog, dug out TSM and entered on a whim. I also began to revise (I’d been PONDERING revising for some time).* TSM ended up getting third in the contest, which earned me a partial request from the agent. I also did a TON of research, and started querying other agents, too. I got an offer of rep from one of the agents I queried, and signed with Agent Awesome.

After a short revision, TSM went out into the world. And out. And out. It kept garnering praise, but no sale. I think there were FIVE or SIX really close calls (ed board – acq. board) and it still kills me to think about it. This project had become so special to me, and to my agent, and everyone seemed to believe in it, but it wasn’t commercial, and it wasn’t clear-cut, and it kind of had one leg in MG and one in YA, and for whatever reason it wasn’t selling.

About six months into it NOT selling, I decided to stop obsessing about my baby, and write a new one. I had this idea in the back of my head, just wandering around. I wanted to be proactive. I didn’t GIVE UP on TSM. And my agent didn’t either. But there was no way I was going to let one book’s difficulty stop me. I was terrified of writing a second one, because I wasn’t sure I COULD. But I’d always dreamed of a career, and I knew I’d have to write another book eventually. Why not now?

Up next, PART THREE: The Near Witch.

*A note on pondering: I’ve since learned that pondering is a valuable tool. I often think up a project, and then shove it into a recess of my mind to ponder now and again, and somehow the deeper corners of my brain pick at it when I’m not looking.

-Last, a poll: How do you buy your books? Amazon? In store? Other?

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14 thoughts on “Jumbled Up

  1. soniag says:

    I know I am a complete and total nerd, but I miss school, and more than that I miss the structure school brings.
    I know EXACTLY what you mean! πŸ™‚

  2. noirbettie says:

    Amazon is my most frequent way to buy books, but I have also been known to shop at Borders and Barnes & Noble, and actual independent bookstores when I can find them.

  3. veschwab says:

    Oh I’m so glad I’m not alone in this. I just miss it. I miss having these boundaries and deadlines and reasons to get up by a certain time and I miss the layout of the classes, too. And I just miss learning. I like to research on my own, of course, but it’s different.

  4. veschwab says:

    Gotcha. It’s strange but I almost NEVER buy online if I can help it. For some reason I really like to be there in the store and be able to hold the books, skim through. I think it’s more dangerous though because I get to the checkout and I suddenly have 5 or 6 books! They’re seductive, with their shiny covers :p

  5. noirbettie says:

    I think that changed for me when I had a baby. Now it is so much easier to buy online!

  6. lazy_iris says:

    I buy my books primarily in the store–only go on Amazon if I can’t find it in the bookstore. I like looking at books before I buy them. But I usually read a lot of Goodreads reviews and see how the book does on Goodreads before I go to the store to look for it. Yeah, I’ve had to make this process complicated because I’m a compulsive book buyer.
    Also, I love hearing people’s “journey to publication” stories, so thanks for sharing this part of yours! (Stories like that are why I have several novels stocked up.) I’m excited for you to post part three!

  7. jessica_shea says:

    *hugs* and virtual cupcakes for the pre-edits. That sounds frustrating.
    Hooray for classes! I know what you mean about needing structure. I am a bit of a structure junkie.
    I love browsing, so I’d like to do some Christmas shopping at my local children’s indie bookstore. But they have a limited selection, so I’ll probably hit up Amazon too.

  8. veschwab says:

    I’m the same. I like to look at and fondle my books before purchasing ;p And I agree with having a game plan. If I go into a bookstore without a book in mind, I’m in TROUBLE.

  9. veschwab says:

    Thanks for the hugs and sugar bb :))
    I am one of those people who loves structure, but I’m not so great at imposing it on myself. I like it when someone else hands me a syllabus and a schedule. I will cheat if I’m the one in charge :p
    And I love browsing too. I just love being AROUND the books πŸ™‚

  10. sandy_shin says:

    Thank you for sharing the story of your publication journey with us!
    How do you buy your books? Amazon? In store? Other?
    I’d say it’s half and half for me: half in store, half Amazon, although I am leaning more towards Amazon recently. I love physically browsing books, and I used to do it all the time when I lived at home and could go to my local library. The problem is that I seldom enjoy books I chose from random browsing (only about 20% of the time).
    I don’t often go to bookstores with a specific book in mind (except for assigned readings), because bookstores often don’t have them unless a) they’re a bestseller or b) they just came out. And since the walk from my room to the nearest bookstore is 45 min – 1 hr, I am very much reluctant to order and come back to pick it up.
    As I’ve been getting most of my reading recs online, it is just easier now to buy books from Amazon or B&N-online, especially with the free shipping & steep discounts.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I love this story. πŸ™‚ I love knowing how it ends. I love that by the time you get to the end, it will only be the beginning.

  12. veschwab says:

    Happy to share!
    And I completely understand the difficulty of GETTING TO the store. I asked the question because it’s funny, but I almost never think of going online. I know it would be easy, and nine times out of ten more convenient, I just love the excuse to surround myself with books.
    And I actually run into a lot of books in person that I wouldn’t have gone searching for online but that I end up really enjoying.

  13. veschwab says:

    You know how it ends??? I sure don’t :p
    And that’s so true bb. It’s always a new beginning. Always.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Beautiful bb. Simply beautiful.
    Tye πŸ™‚
    PS your poll? All of the above for me!

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