Excuse me, your black hole is showing

August 11, 2010 at 10:19 am (Writing Ranting)

Today I wrote (again) to publisher B. Here’s what I wrote, for better or worse (you may observe that names have been changed):

Hi Bobette,

Another three months have passed, so it’s time for another email checking “Stormhunter” and “The Monster Apprentice” haven’t fallen into a slushpile void.
I enjoyed listening to and meeting [Bobette’s boss] at the “Reaching the World” con on July 3 in Sydney.
Since I’ll be attending the “CYA Later Alligator” con in September, I decided to pitch “The Monster Apprentice” to one of the publishers there. I’ve let her know about you guys, of course.
That gave me an excuse to edit the book (always exciting, since my writing ability has improved since I sent it). 
Other than improving the synopsis and fixing minor flaws, I gave Dance a twin sister. The sister died some years ago, when Dance’s dad was angry with her and the empathic heest monsters rose up through the ice in concern. The ice melted and the girl drowned. She and Dance are identical twins – except for Dance’s lazy eye.
This piece of background gives Dance a phobia to overcome as well as a reason for her rebelliousness (because she thinks she can never match up to her sister – something everyone with a sibling can relate to). It also motivates her dad’s pacifism, and makes the danger of the monsters clear from the start. The shame of failing her Aging ceremony is much more painful, too.
Dance faces her own nightmares when she first approaches the heest. She and her dad finally understand one another after they face the pirates together at the end.
I don’t expect you to re-read “The Monster Apprentice” from the beginning all over again (although do let me know if a better synopsis is useful), but here’s the first two hundred words so you can see what I’m talking about if you want to.

I awoke from a dead sleep – for once, a sleep without nightmares. My bedroom was pitch black and silent, but my heart was racing. Then the sound came again – a man shouting at the top of his voice. He pounded at my front door. 

“Elder!” The man’s voice was sharp with terror. “Elder! Wake up!”

The night air was hot and still. My sheets lay in a crumpled heap on the floor. At the open window my curtains hung in unmoving black lines. No wind slid through to ease the stifling heat. My mane of black hair felt heavy around my head. I didn’t dare move.

Dad would check on me before he went to answer the yelling. Ever since my sister died, he was that type of dad. Whenever he felt worried about something I was told to go to my room – to sleep, if it was night time. No matter how many nightmares I had.

He was forever telling me to be careful – but I was definitely not going to miss out on the fun this time. So I remained curled on my side as if I hadn’t heard a thing. If he didn’t tell me to go back to sleep, sneaking out wasn’t disobeying him. Not exactly.


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