Before I headed out to drive Preteen from one activity to the next yesterday afternoon, I e-mailed my editor at Peachtree to see if there was any news on the Monkey Man sequel yet. When I got home, there was a response from her. Apparently, she had just gotten out of THE meeting where they discussed it. She says, “we’re a go!” And she’ll be calling soon with contract info. Yes! I THOUGHT this was going to fly…we talked about doing this book a long time ago. But they needed a couple of chapters and a synopsis (which is certainly reasonable), so I did that last fall…and then four months went by! At first that was fine…I was busy with Truth About Truman anyway. But considering four months had passed, I was beginning to think they didn’t like my chapters or they didn’t like my synopsis or maybe they didn’t even like me, and that this wasn’t going to work out after all. But it sounds like it is!
So I know what my next two projects are going to be…first another Boxcar Children book, then the Monkey Man sequel. Which means the controversial YA novel will return to the back burner once again. It’s probably just as well…I’ve got another light middle grade that I want to write, a middle grade mystery, and I may propose a third Tank Talbott book (told from a female POV this time). And then there’s always I am Anna Winkler. Which brings me to the e-mails I exchanged with my agent…
I sent her two easy readers and a nonfiction proposal. She thought the easy readers were “funny and well written, but…” (there’s always a “but” isn’t there?) The early reader market is really tight and competitive. (I guess I knew that, so I’m not shocked she turned these two down.) She said, “A lot of publishers have told me they don’t want any more readers that have to do with friends at odds with each other and Libby’s Stand falls smack into that category.” (Yeah, it does…grumble, grumble.) And the other easy reader struck her more as a story that adults would find funny than kids. (Grumble, grumble again…that’s NOT a comment I’ve heard before…am I growing up??? (I hope not!) Am I…getting OLD????)
But then she said again she’d very much like to read I am Anna Winkler. (And I would very much like to have a draft of that I’m happy with rather than the draft I have!) Nobody has ever seen the whole thing…well, except for the 30 sixth graders (and their teacher) that I read it to as I wrote it last year. Every time I run into one of them in town, they ask whether it’s a real book yet, and I have to say, “No, I haven’t actually sent it in yet.” And my writer’s group keeps asking about it. They’ve seen the first half of it. I stopped bringing it when I decided it needed a complete overhaul. I knew I was just writing chapters to read to the kids…the chapters I was writing weren’t actually going to stand. So it didn’t make sense to bring those chapters to my writers group. But a couple of people have asked me, “why don’t you send it to your agent? Maybe she can help give you some direction?”
Well…I guess I thought you shouldn’t send something to your agent if you know it’s not ready. But some agents are more hands on than others. The one question I never asked this agent was “how hands on are you?” So I decided to ask her today (as I admitted I hadn’t done A THING with I am Anna Winkler since I sent her the partial a few months ago). I have to say, I really, really like this woman! She said, “I’m happy to read a work in progress and give my comments. It depends on the author. Some of my writers don’t like to show me anything until they’re completely happy with it. Others send me each draft. So by all means send the manuscript.”
Wow! It never occurred to me that how hands on my agent is could be up to ME!