Today was fairly low-key. It was the 33rd anniversary of my daddy’s death. It was the final day of that three-day Walk for the Cure. Weather was fair with temps in the 70s. I got two more pumpkins to carve. Plucked the official rejection from the Hillerman contest people out of the mailbox–they mailed it on the 24th, which means that on the 21st, when I had that sinking feeling, they probably made their decision and told some flunky to stuff the reject-a-lopes. Found an agent who actually divides her time between NYC and Marfa, Texas, and am going to be allowed to send her a query. That is probably just the Devil yanking my chain again, but I’m a sucker and will fall for it. Also will package up the Marfa mystery and send it off to the other St. Martin’s/MWA contest.
And I decided, what the hell . . . I’ll do NaNoWriMo this year as a sort of last hurrah. (I said I wasn’t going to beat my head against the wall if I couldn’t get any action this year with my writing, and that makes even more sense than ever now.)
This idea sneaked up on me, totally unsal[e]able, but just my kind of crazy bullcorn idea, that I’m gonna use for it. Got the story partially outlined already. The characters were already formed by the time I was typing the outline, which is why I just can’t resist.
The story is about a pair of sisters . . . I think I need to make them 12 and 14 instead of my original idea of 9 and 11 to make the appeal broader and allow more “smarts” on each of their parts so they can more easily figure out what’s going on, while still not having quite the insight that an adult might have. Inciting incident that opens the story: their much-admired older cousin is wanted by the police, which they find out when the police show up asking if they’re hiding her or know where she is. Around 4 AM that night/morning (the day after the police show up to see if the cousin is hiding with their family), that cousin DOES show up in the middle of the night and leaves a package with the sisters before bailing again (after eating some toast and giving the older sister a ring made out of a spoon.) The older sister starts acting very erratically by morning, and the younger sister opens the “do not touch” package to find a magical book that “writes” to her or shows her pictures when she opens it, yet appears to others as a library book or some other thing of no interest (they can’t see the writing/pictures as my heroine does.) The pictures soon start showing the cousin being held captive by a wizard and the writing asks for help. Younger sister has to convince older sister to believe her and TRY to see the writing . . . but she’s moving into adolescence and away from “childish things” such as the games the two used to play, so it takes a bit of doing. (The parents always see the book as a different classic novel or math textbook–they can’t see the magic at all.) Once the older sister really TRIES, she realizes that the younger sister is right, and they plunge into a rescue mission for their crazy cousin that leads them into disaster. . . .
So that’s paranormal/witchcraft. But is the BOOK a paranormal if there’s nothing paranormal in the first few pages and no vampires/werewolves? Agents differ on this (which is why I won’t be able to sell it.) Editor Chris Keeslar advised (when he rejected _Little Rituals_) that for a book to be a paranormal, something impossible had to happen in the first ten pages–otherwise readers would lose interest. This book starts in the mundane world, and the paranormal bit doesn’t happen until the younger sister decides she IS going to find out what is in that package that they’re supposed to keep hidden for ol’ cuz.
I think that ages 12 and 14 would be best suited to appeal to the YA market. These two sisters are unusual because they have avoided the whole fashion/in-crowd stuff by being homeschooled, but the “I must be a fashion plate and be popular” thing that kicks in on the older sister is very sudden the morning after that cousin’s visit. It’s part of the paranormal stuff. So she’s old enough that she SHOULD already have been worrying about clothes and her weight, but she wasn’t. Is this believable in this day and age?
Whatever. I’m just going to have some fun with this one. Maybe it’ll be worthy of becoming a free download on my website when it’s done.
I don’t care what agents would say about this one. That’s why I’m going to steal from _The Egypt Game_ and call my younger sister April and have her older sister call her “Cruelest Month.” I’ve always gotten a kick out of that. The older sister’s name can be June, just for pun’s sake. (I told you I wasn’t going to try to vend this one.) I’m going to steal the idea of the magic book from various fairy tales . . . I know I originally read about that in one of the Fairy Books or in Grimm’s. (Blue Fairy Book . . . Fifty Famous Fairy Tales . . . somewhere like that. Or maybe in Lloyd Alexander’s _Book of Three_. Or maybe it was even in one of the Narnia books, though I don’t THINK so.) At any rate, it isn’t original with me, but then nothing really ever is. Don’t care. *pblttt* As long as it’s fun.
Anyone else doing NaNo? Want to be buddies?