building a better book


Yay! — my revision letter* for my book UNINVITED (MTV Books/Sept 2007) came this morning. What I’ve realized is how much I love this whole process — love might be the wrong word, ‘addicted’ might be better — not just the writing, which of course is the given that fuels it all, but submitting and selling and discussing and revising and seeing the manuscript slowly transform into an actual book on an actual shelf not your own. So I feel like I’m back in the pipeline again. There were no surprises in the letter — my editor ended up confirming what I had developed the sense and distance enough to suspect were the weaknesses in the novel…except she pinpointed them better. Which is good: it makes me feel like I can trust both my editor and my instincts.


The whole ERAGON thing — the hubbub over the book when it first came out, and now the movie — reminds me very strongly of a trilogy I read and absolutely adored when I was a kid — Jane Yolen’s PIT DRAGON CHRONICLES, particularly Book 1: DRAGON’S BLOOD** which first came out in 1982. I Amazon-ordered all three books — they were reprinted in 1996, it appears, by a different publisher, and although I must question the covers (a swooning damsel, an adolescent Fabio, backdropped by somewhat generic and uninspiring dragons) I am pleased to be in possession of these books once again, and they’re so new and sleek and shiny to boot. As soon as my sons are remotely old enough, these are some of the books I’ll be persuading/tempting/bribing them to read.

There’s nothing like the love for books you had when you were a kid — you continue to love them just as deeply and passionately into adulthood, of course, but it’s those early books that made you fall in love with reading in the first place, first triggered the compulsion to write. That’s one hell of a soul-imprint.

* A revision letter or editorial letter happens after you sell/submit your manuscript to your publisher. Months later, when it’s time for your editor to work on your book instead of the many, many others also under her care and feeding (and scheduled for publication before yours), you receive a friendly and diplomatic description of the stuff that still needs fixing. And thus the revision process begins.

** Summary of DRAGON’S BLOOD: Jakkin, a bond boy who works as a Keeper in a dragon nursery on the planet Austar IV, secretly trains a fighting pit dragon of his own in hopes of winning his freedom.


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