Fight Like a Girl

I was “doing research” for my novel and somehow found myself on a Facebook group called The Geek Strikes Back (don’t laugh!), and I found this:


“Yes!” I yelled. “That’s exactly what I’m talking about!” In the world of Young Adult literature, with rare exceptions, it doesn’t seem to matter how well the teen girl main character can kick butt, she still spends way too much time wondering if the hot boy likes her. I raised three daughters, one of whom is nationally-ranked in TaeKwonDo, but despite what my wife and I tried to teach at home, my daughters soaked up popular culture that taught them that “all girls” should spend way too much time obsessing about the hot boy (who, often, isn’t worth being the object of anyone’s obsession).

I would have liked to show my girls a book with a teen girl main character who is fascinating in her own right, who is trying to figure out her place in the world but is not desperately looking for a boy, and over time she becomes friends with a young man based on mutual interests and based on him being nice and respectful to her. And then, when we get to the part of the novel where the poop hits the fan, he steps up and chooses to put his life and future on the line for her. I’d never seen a book like this back in October 2016 when I decided to write the novel I’d always wanted my girls to read.

As writers know, one very important part of the query letter you send to agents is the “readers who like this novel will like mine” part. I recently found a novel that, in my opinion, gets this relationship between “strong teen girl” and “boy who is respectful and loyal no matter what the risks” exactly right. The book is You Don’t Know My Name by Kristen Orlando. I found it an exciting and enjoyable read that I couldn’t put down. Reagan and Luke have the relationship I described above, despite both of them having the ability to kick most anyone’s ass. There was action, spycraft, dangerous bad guys, quirky and loyal friends, dysfunctional family, romance: everything that makes life fun. I was thrilled when the next book in the series, You Won’t Know I’m Gone, came out a week or so ago. I loved it too! I plan to preorder Kristen Orlando’s next book as soon as it’s available.

I hope my novel is this good! Kristen raised the bar pretty high!

What To Do While I Wait

The editor has had my first manuscript for about a month and a half. I’m not expecting a finished product until early February. What to do while I wait?

I’ve been amusing myself two ways: reading and writing. I read copiously, in and out of my genre. I read novels published through the traditional pathway, and I read self-published novels. I’ve also been doing a little beta reading, though that requires a lot of time to do right. But you have to give some to get some.

Reading is what keeps me excited about writing. I see things that work and, maybe more important, I see things that don’t work. A few weeks ago I read a novel that had been self-published on Amazon. The second chapter was a presentation of a long list of secondary characters and their back stories. I had no idea at that point which of those characters was important to the story. Later in the story, when the author would refer to one or another of them by name, I had to go back and remind myself which character that was. I also noticed a paragraph that appeared, word for word, twice in the same chapter. This experience reinforced to me the importance of hiring an experienced editor, whether the intent is to publish traditionally or self-publish.

I’m trying to control the only two things I can: my actions and my attitude. As of today, I’m a bit over 12,000 words into my next novel, yet unnamed, which is a continuation of the story from my first novel Beautiful (or whatever I end up calling it). Also, I’ve written down some thoughts for a short story or novella that is unrelated to my current project. Regarding my attitude…well, like many writers, I oscillate between excitement and despair. Some days I see myself so clearly as a financially-successful writer, other days I think my work is average at best. I’ve read that the best thing for a writer to do is to write something every day; I’ve been pretty good about that. Writing every day seems, for me at least, to modulate the low days. The more you practice something, the better you feel about it.