Lost Among 600 pages, 500,000 Words – Help!


I have been working on a fiction novel for 4 years. I think the topic is timely, my characters are well developed, and since there are no other fiction books on shelves anywhere with this plot, I believe it would sell well. For YA. But the thing is, having published before, I’ve always taken the writing path that’s less traveled.

New Young Adult is a new popular genre, but the most pushed outlet of publication is self publication. And, as an unknown, that spells certain death. Yes, I could write numerous killer query letters, sell myself in 9 different, creative ways, but having already tried it 5 times, I’ve gotten nowhere. I’ve entered 4 years of contests with chapters turned in to stand alones. No bites. I did win a flash fiction contest using a paragraph from a chapter, but a little bite at selling was more frustrating than not winning anything. My professor friend has been short listed, done copywriting, and won for nonfiction in a local mag. He also is at work on a novel. His writing is ethereally beautiful. So who the hell do I think I am?

Originally, I wrote every single day for 1-4 hours while holding a full-time job. I had taken a fiction class at Loyola University Maryland and when we got to the lesson about plots, I got up the courage to ask how many were allowed in a novel. At the time, my book had 10. So the professor drew a diagram of how plots have evolved from a single pyramid to one with multiple angular levels. And then he took me under his wing, privately, and helped me write some more.

Since, I’ve stopped writing. In May, I decided that the 10 plots were too many. All the characters were narrators,  and I worried that that would be too confusing for my audience. I killed off some darlings and created a new narrator, and moved chapters around for the beginning of the book. I’m excited that I’ve done this but it’s been 3 months and I’ve not returned to writing my book. Instead, on my weekly blog, I’ve taken up memoir writing. Not that I had an eccentric childhood, born to royalty, raised in Africa by two mothers, one black, one white, one straight, one gay…no. I had a normal childhood, born in CT, raised in NY state and Baltimore, MD. I was neither sexually abused, beaten, raped, or left by the side of a road. My parents were straight, didn’t use drugs or alcohol as a recreational outlet. They’d survived the Great Depression and taught my sister and I about saving money and creating credit.

I was not poor and not wealthy, not spoiled or brilliant. Instead, I was normal. The kids in my book are normal, except for one. But it’s my fear of being normal and selling normal that stays my hand from penning the ending. Normal does not sell anymore. You have to be secretly hiding a skeleton or two, fly at midnight, or be so deprived or depraved that you eat cats for lunch.


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