This weekend I attended the SCBWI Houston Conference. It was so fabulous! The volunteers that run the conference outdid themselves. I learned so much and got some great feedback from my critiques.
After I had my first critique, I handed my friend Iona McAvoy my feedback letter. It was full of praise for my writing and voice and gave only minimal notes for improving my first 10 pages. Yes, I was beaming! After she finished, she said something along the lines of "now will you freaking send it out?!" Of course that could be what I heard, not what she actually said! ;-)
Accordingly, Iona gave me an ultimatum: send out queries soon or she will add transforming robots to my manuscript. Yes, transforming ones. And she has a whole slew of them in mind already (she's been trying to get me to add them for a year or so). She texted me about a German Shepherd one this morning. I have a feeling this will happen daily until the queries go out and she has proof.
I convinced her that I should be allowed to have a few more passes through the manuscript to make it perfect. She also will allow my beta readers and critique partners to take one last pass. This gives me a drop-dead, queries-in-the-"sent mail"-deadline of May 31. At 8 am on June 1st, Iona will begin putting transforming robots in my manuscript (aka "MW"). MW is part sci-fi, but it's not THAT kind of sci-fi! Apparently my genre is actually "sci-fi grounded heavily in realism with elements of light urban fantasy". Whew! No room for robots though.
My plan is pretty simple- I mapped everything out last night. If I do a close read of 50 pages each week, I will finish in 5 weeks. I will send the first half to readers when it's done, then the second half will follow after at the end of the 5 weeks. I'll take the last four weeks to do "nit-picky" stuff, read it aloud again for any spots that don't flow well, and make sure I've addressed any nagging concerns the readers have. One evening during each of the nine weeks is devoted to tightening my query letter and synopsis and updating all the agent research I've done. I even have a color-coded agent spreadsheet that I've been using to track preferences for a while. What can I say, I really like the highlighting function in Word. :-)
I will need help to stay motivated, encouraged, and on track! Please tweet, Facebook message, email, or text with gentle nudges and reminders. If you are willing to read for me, let me know that too. I know at least one of my readers isn't available right now, and I'd like a fresh pair of eyes or two to read the full. It's young adult, so if you don't regularly read young adult, I won't be able to use you. If you have a teenager who would be willing to read it, that would be fantastic!
Those of you who follow me on Twitter may see me tweet with the hashtag #norobots from time to time over the next two months. When I do, you'll know I'm talking about this challenge.
Wish me luck and remember... #norobots allowed.