“In short [a novel is] only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour are conveyed to the world in the best chosen language.”
~Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey
Although I started plenty of novels from fifth grade to twelfth, the first novel I actually saw through from beginning to end was the one I wrote in grad school as my thesis. Having it bound like a real book is pretty darn cool, even if it’s still double-spaced and on 8.5×11″ pages like a manuscript (all part of the thesis guidelines). I called it Revealing Cupid at the time, and its current working title is And Gazes on the Stars. I sent the revised (post-graduation) version to a few agents, got some helpful feedback, but put it on the shelf until I figure out how to fix a very major plot problem. (Okay, several plot problems. And a few character issues.)
My second novel’s working title is Wendy and the Lost Boys. This photo, back in August 2009, shows the second draft full of post-it notes and revision ideas. At the time, it was 75,000 words; by the end of the fifth draft (April 2012) it hit 115,000. I’m working to chop it down to a reasonable size before it goes off to solicit agents in May 2012.
Wendy and the Lost Boys
Life always ushers in the least likely. How else could the universe amuse itself?
Seventeen and staring down the last summer before graduation, Wendy and the four guys she’s grown up with are making a break from gray-skied Portland—trying to run away from looming adulthood by driving south on a whim and a blog (the ad revenue–generating kind). They’ve got an SUV on loan, Costco-sized granola bars, plenty of techno-gadgets for world-wide webbing, and no idea about the fairy that’s tailing them.
I’m currently working on my query letter for this novel and will post more details here once I decide exactly how to word them.
And Gazes on the Stars
“Prometheus took some of this earth, and kneading it up with water, made man in the image of the gods. He gave him an upright stature, so that while all other animals turn their faces downward, and look to the earth, he raises his to heaven, and gazes on the stars.”
~from Thomas Bulfinch’s The Age of Fable, 1855
Sixteen-year-old Corrine lives an entirely different life inside her head than outside of it. On the outside, she’s got her summer job at the bagel shop, her self-employed (read: very busy) parents, her younger brothers to watch out for, and her ten-months-younger sister Hallie to worry about. On the inside, she’s got Cupid. Not the chubby toddler with the darts. The teenaged one who comes to Psyche in the dark. Corrine knows the myth by heart and escapes into it whenever life gets tedious. What she doesn’t expect is for her life to start mirroring the myth in unexpected—and frightening—ways.
There’s the myserious guy she knows is following her, the monster-sized dog she gets trapped with, the electricity blackout, and so many more coincidences. But what shakes Corrine the most is realizing that the real danger of the story is for Hallie: it’s the sisters in the myth who don’t live to see the end. Quiet, introverted Corrine has to figure out how to change the story enough to save Hallie without damaging her own chances with the guy who might be more real than her imagination can believe.
That’s the gist for this one. If you noticed a gaping hole called Why Is She Worried About Hallie?, that’s because there is a gaping hole called exactly that. I tried one version in my thesis that worked okay but didn’t quite ring true for me, so I’m waiting to think of something better. Sometimes with characters all you get is the vibe, and I knew from the first glimpses of this idea that Corrine was very worried about Hallie, but I have yet to pinpoint a cause that satisfies me as a storyteller. I’ve also had trouble nailing down Corrine’s character, which I think is always harder with an introvert.
So it’s on the shelf, but I still love the idea enough that I want to resurrect it someday and make it a million times better.