Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Code name: PYRG

I spent about an hour on the phone today with Editor X, from PYRG (Penguin Young Readers Group). I asked Editor X if he (or she) would be OK with me sharing her (or his) name on this blog. He (or she) politely suggested I refer to Penguin's family of youth-y imprints. So that's what I'd now doing. Editor X is officially a part of PYRG, so that is how I will refer to her (or him).

We had a great conversation, tho. He (or she) made some wicked smart suggestions, such as working to make the manuscript more of a teen novel, instead of just a novel with a teen main character. So I'll be reworking some of the other key characters, some of the settings, and some of the secondary characters as well.

Editor X told me to take my time, so I agreed to give it a couple of solid months. Editor X also discovered, just on this phone call, that I'd written another book, The Tilting House. He was quite pleased with the reviews that book has received and said that will help with the pitch to the publisher.

So now the work begins. August is almost over. My goal is to have these changes made, reviewed, reviewed again (and again), resulting in a finely honed version back to Editor X by the end of October.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Let the edits commence.

I've decided to begin working with the unnamed editor at Penguin on A Matter of Life and Seth. The editor, who I hope to name once I get his or her permission, sent me a lengthy set of suggestions today. It looks like a few months of solid work to get through it all. Yeesh. But you know, these folks don't get these editor positions without being good at their jobs. And I can say that his (or her) suggestions all feel right to me. They draw out some of the concerns I've been subconsciously ignoring since I wrote this manuscript.

So nice work, Ms or Mr. Unnamed Editor.

And now, just because they pleased me so, I will share a few of her (or his) more lovely words--the words he (or she) shared BEFORE the pages and pages of suggestions:

First, he or she said:

"Let me start off by saying how much I enjoyed A Matter of Life and Seth. I’ve been working on kids’ books for a little over six years, and I’ve learned that there are three types of manuscripts (at least as far as I’m concerned): manuscripts I wouldn’t bring to my publisher in a million years, manuscripts that I don’t necessarily love but know readers probably will, and then those books that I just have to work on. Of the latter, I’ve come across only about five. Seth is now on that list."

Then he or she said:

"When I got through maybe ten pages, I thought, Holy crap, this is Raymond Chandler. And Seth is Philip Marlowe in a sixteen-year-old’s body."

Then, when I stopped sobbing and kept reading, I realized that he or she said:
"What you’ve done with this novel is truly remarkable. You’ve written a detective story for teens that doesn’t dumb it down. This is the type of book that will hopefully make them want more detective stories, and turn to Chandler or Hammett or any of the other greats. And you’re using all of the classic elements of a detective story, but it feels fresh and relevant to the story."

Then he or she said a few other nice things which sound slightly more legal-ish to my ears, so I won't share them here. And then followed three single-spaced pages of detailed suggestions.

I'm going to talk to my agent, the esteemed Abigail Samoun, tomorrow, to come up with a game plan. Then I'll do my finger stretches and get to work.

I don't really do finger stretches.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The March of the Penguin

Dear Reader, I'm looking for advice.

Here's the latest email from my elusive prey, the editor at Penguin:

So I’m not quite done with SETH, but I did show some pages to a colleague of mine who’s really good at her job and whose opinion I value. She raised some interesting questions and concerns that she feels should be addressed before I bring SETH to acquisitions. Thinking about it, I can see her point.
Do you think Tom would be willing to work on the book with me so we can get it in the best shape possible before I show it to my publisher? I can’t guarantee a contract, but worst case scenario we get it to a place where another editor might take it.
What do you think? I really like this book and want to see it published. But I think my friend is right; it’s not close enough yet for me to get a “yes.”
Let me know what Tom thinks, and I’ll start working on some notes for him.

What should I do, Dear Reader?Should I walk away and hope for a better offer somewhere else? Or should I jump at this chance? 

All he is saying, is give Penguin a chance.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Still waiting to hear from a certain penguin about Seth

 So the unnamed (but most assuredly brilliant) editor at Penguin who is reading my manuscript for A Matter of Life and Seth is still working and commenting. And to show just how connected we all are these days, check out his blog-referencing comment below, via another email to my agent:

Just a quick update: I got a bit sidetracked this week, so I haven’t quite finished SETH. I’m about a third of the way through, so will likely have feedback for you by the middle of next week. (I didn’t want you sitting around waiting for a response that wasn’t coming just yet.)
Regardless, I’m still really enjoying it. You can tell Tom (who I just discovered has been blogging about me reviewing the book. Haha.) that the voice is just right, not too stylized as you might expect from a Chandler-esque novel. 

Then, in a P.S., he states:

P.S. I can’t help but picture Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Seth. Have you seen Brick? 

Have I seen Brick? I suppose it would be overly forward of me to point this most assuredly brilliant reader toward the following blog post from August of 2011:

By the way, here is Levitt in Brick, which really is one of my favorite noir films:

I could live with Gordon-Levitt as my title character in the film adaption, but I wouldn't want to be responsible for his type-casting.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Check out Rotator on Felt and Wire

Felt and Wire, one of the nation's leading design blogs, has done a lovely feature on Rotator Magazine. It's a long, lovely piece that does a great job capturing both the purpose and the process of this beast. And it's jammed with some great photos.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

An encouraging word from Penguin Books!

After an incredibly long dry spell of no feedback from publishers, my agent, the esteemed Abigail Samoun, just forwarded me the following email today, from an editor at Penguin:

Hi Abi,
I just wanted to give you the heads up that I’m reading LIFE AND SETH and am planning to have some feedback for you next week. You weren’t kidding about the voice. It’s awesome.
I hope you’re enjoying your summer.

I'm not gonna mention the editor's name just yet. Maybe in a week. Don't want to unintentionally piss anyone off. But dang, I have to say this email took my breath away. And frankly, I could seriously use some encouragement in the form of an offer. 

So come on, unnamed editor from Penguin, come through for me. 

In the meantime, here are some logo usage guidelines for Penguin, which really does have a beautiful logo: