Let’s talk about… teenage assassin nuns?

Publisher’s Weekly recently posted an article about how the trends in YA lit are not just love stories or fantasies or paranormal circumstances… but all of the above, mashed into one book.

Example, mentioned in the article, from the agent who pitched Robin LaFevers’ “Grave Mercy”: “medieval historical thriller featuring teenage assassin nuns.”

She DOES look like a badass, doesn’t she?

The problem with reading articles like this (even though I find them interesting and it’s good to know what’s on trend) is that my inner monster immediately starts roaring.

“ROAR! Your plot isn’t that complicated!”

“ROAR! Your characters aren’t that dynamic!”

“ROAR! Your story isn’t a mash-up of really big ideas so you’re never going to get an agent or book deal!”

“ROAR!”

Now, I’m beyond actually listening to the monster to the point of giving up, so that’s not a major issue. I know there are readers of all kinds of books out there, and some will find the books mentioned in this article too far-out for them. (Some readers left comments on the article saying as much, which was a nice little confirmation.)

The issue, mainly, is that these lit trends come and go and there are probably a lot of writers who submit the wrong things at the wrong times and get dismissed. It’s just like everything else, really — you get lucky, or you don’t. What a bummer.

OR, what a challenge!

I’ve also read articles in which agents and publishers say that all the bells and whistles, all the social media marketing on the author’s part, all the trendiness of the subject matter in the submission… none of that matters if the writing sucks and the story falls flat. It has to be GOOD before it can be anything else. [Insert your own metaphor about foundation/substance/order of events here.]

I’m not saying the book about teenage assassin nuns isn’t good. It got published, right? All I’m saying is, I’m taking my time making my not-that-mashed-up story as good as I can. Then, hopefully, I’ll get lucky.

Let’s talk about the weather

My favorite weather day of the year is coming. You all know the one. It’s the day when the sun shines brightly without giving off oppressive heat, and instead of the thick atmosphere of summer, the air is cool and zesty against your skin. It’s the day we know that fall is near.

For most people, that day happens in the next couple of weeks. In Texas, we’re lucky if it’s before Halloween.

Either way, it’s coming.

A beautiful thing happens on that day: People are happy. It’s because they didn’t break into a sweat between their car and the office door. They can open the windows at home and let fresh air in.

For me, happiness is also because I know spiced beverages will soon be served in coffee houses, and I can dig my cute boots out from under my pile of sandals. I’ll let myself think ahead to weekend mornings curled up with a book and mug of hot tea. My favorite pair of fuzzy socks will move to the front of my drawer; my leather jackets to the front of my closet. I’ll start thinking of things to bake so that my apartment always smells like cinnamon.

It’s a wonderful day. By the end of summer, everyone is ready for it.

Including literary agents.

I follow a bunch of agents, editors and publishers on Twitter, and more than once in the past few weeks I’ve seen many a gripe about summer. They’re ready for it to be over. One said she’s in such a foul mood about summer that she feels herself being impatient and quick to dismiss submissions.

I totally understand. And if this is true for most agents, I have excellent timing.

“There With You” is headed into final edits (on my part). By the time I’ve finished that, researched proper agents and drafted query letters, it’ll be late October, at the earliest. In fact, I’m giving myself a Halloween deadline to do all of those things. It’s perfect — I’ll be in a great mood because the Texas fall will be looming; they’ll be in great moods and want to cozy up to a new author’s manuscript.

Fall has always been my favorite season. I think this one is going to be the best yet. 🙂