A few weeks ago I posted my You're Almost in Labor! blog. I shared that the next step in my publishing journey was engaging Deborah Halverson to help get my "baby" ready to send to agents and/or publishers.
As I waited for her feedback and editorial letter, I got nervous. What if she didn't like HALF-TRUTHS? Or worse, what if she liked the concept but suggested a major overhaul? I've been there a few times and didn't want to go back.
When I told Deborah how I felt, she tried to reassure me. "Don’t feel worried. It’s a great story. My job is to help it to its best incarnation, so readers can get the most enjoyment from it. This is about moving it forward!"
My good friend Linda Phillips tried to reason with me. "You want Deborah to be tough; that’s what you paid her for, and it will only make it better. And since this is a one-time deal, you want her to give you as many suggestions as possible and then you can spend the time making the corrections."
I knew Linda was right and I reread Deborah's email a few times. But still, "what if's" plagued me the whole night before I anticipated receiving Deborah's letter. I literally tossed and turned that night in bed.
But guess what? The next day, when I received Deborah's editorial letter, I teared up. Deborah not only deeply understood what I was trying to accomplish, but she also called my characters sweet and said it was easy to root for their dreams and for their friendship!
As I read through her letter I knew that every single one of her points were what she had promised--editorial suggestions that would move Half-Truths forward.
That night I couldn't sleep because I was so excited that her suggestions were ones I could implement!!
Some of you are readers and curious about the steps involved in writing and publishing a book. Others of you are also writers. For both groups of blog readers, I thought I'd share some of Deborah's points that resonated with me.
- This story is Katie’s first-person POV narration. The narrative sensibility absolutely feels like a thirteen-year-old. That is, her level of wisdom, her manner of viewing the world, the things she cares about, and the way she evaluates others’ needs and motives all feel right for someone her age. My concern is that sometimes the language and phrasing feel a bit too sophisticated, sounding “adulty.”
I was happy to hear that the way Kate sees the world was consistent for a thirteen-year-old. But when I started looking through the manuscript, I was surprised at the many examples of "adulty" language that Deborah found! Descriptions like "grim eyes" or "his furrowed brow" or an action like, "I inhale a whiff of lavender" all take readers out of a young teen's POV. It'll be fun to track down these words and translate them into more teen-like vocabulary.
One of the things I'd included in the manuscript were Kate's poems. For me, they were exercises in getting more in touch with Kate's thoughts and emotions. They had been my side writing technique, as Mary Jane Nirdlinger wrote about in a recent Carolinas-SCBWI blog. But as Deborah observed,
- Katie doesn’t read poetry. She doesn’t talk about poetry. She doesn’t talk about the world like a poet, and doesn’t talk about becoming a professional poet. She talks about the world like a reporter, and wants to become a professional reporter. She reads newspapers. The books she does read are novels, not poetry collections. In my estimation, the poetry and journalism elements don’t sync. Simply put, I don’t see the point for the poetry.