Exact quotes from my St. Martin’s Press reviewer of 20 pages submitted for Manuscript Mart: “The writing in your submission is excellent. Your copy needed the least editing of anything I have seen today. And, you have a really cool hook.” A few updates needed on the query letter, but soon I will be sending out my manuscript for agent reviews.
In September of 2016, I traveled to Elkins, West Virginia with a half-finished novel. It had no ending and no real sense of place, so I knew a visit was in order. With the help of Russ Collett, then-principal of Elkins High School, I gained a sense not just of the school and the students, but also of the town and people.
A tour of Davis & Elkins College furthered my understanding of my main character’s father, a theater professor at that college. It’s a magical place with mansions of the namesakes, donated to the college decades ago, adding to the grandeur of the academic setting students occupy.
Driving around the airport, which has a high school, technical school, and elementary school nestled in the criss-cross of the runways, I also found a quaint cemetery overlooking one of those runways with a church telling me stories of a fire from its condition.
Above are photos I took of the natural beauty of Elkins. Below are photos I took of some important locations key to my book.
Young Mister Tim: Past Imperfect, my YA novel about a high school senior who inadvertently slips into an alternate version of his past–and it’s done again!
This morning at 1 a.m., just past the witching hour on Halloween, I finished my major revision of the book. It is 15% leaner and what is left is, I think, much improved. No work of art is ever perfect in the eyes of its creator, but I do like it. The story, the characters, and the sci-fi element all make me happy.
Could it be better? I’m sure my critique partner and any future editors and publishers will suggest improvements. That sounds fun, though, since working on this novel has started journey I hope I never have to stop. And my most consistent critique partner–Dr. Amy Sayle of star party and storytelling fame–supports thoroughly yet doesn’t spare ego. I confess I am ready, however, to get onto the next book in the series (with three sequels planned).
I understand awards programs where winners cite family. I don’t expect awards or even nominations, but I think any artist whose family sticks around is an ego-maniac if he or she doesn’t recognize they had familial support.
My family made this book possible. With their blessing, I shut myself in an office to write, met with critique partners to gain insight, and talked about characters and plot points incessantly. A child running into my office for something they felt important was never turned away. My wife asking for help wasn’t either. During the last two years, though, they accommodated my writing bursts during evenings, weekends, holidays, and vacations. I owe this success to them.
This weekend, I cross my fingers and bring copies of the manuscript to a writers’ conference. I’ll let you know if anything interesting happens. Whether it does or not, there is surely plenty more for me to work on.
Happy Halloween, everyone!
(Image of Young Mister Tim making a wish, Copyright 2017)