Amanda’s Randoms: First Books that Refuse to Sit in the Drawer

My friend, Nina Nelson’s first book, Bringing the Boy Home, hit the shelves July 1st. I remember reading the opening page for critique group and being blown away. I knew from that first page that the book would be published, and after just two drafts, it won the Harper Collins Ursula Nordstrom contest. I was envious that Nina could produce such an amazing novel—on her first try—while my first novel was in an endless loop of revisions and ten years later I’m still working on it.

1) I’ve sold three books, but my first novel is near and dear to my heart and I’ve refused to let it languish in the proverbial drawer that first novels are supposed to be hidden away and forgotten in.

2) Revision, revision, revision: I’ve lost track of how many revisions the story has gone through. The first chapter has changed countless times—something that never happens when I write now. It’s been in third person, first person—present and past tense—you name it; I tried it. Each revision made the story richer and filled in details that were absent in the first draft, but it still wasn’t up to par with the novels I was writing now.

3) Editor interest: I’d get editor interest now and again, and that kept me thinking that one of these days I’d get it right. I even did a full rewrite for one publisher, only I found myself incapable of making the story less creepy as suggested—if anything, the story got creepier during the revision.

4) Agent interest: When I was looking for a new agent to negotiate the offer on my second book, I nervously mentioned I had a middle grade novel I wanted them to look at, too. I knew the story still needed work, but I wanted to see if there was any interest. One agent loved it, and my hope was renewed.

5) Revision again: In between writing Revealers and the partial for Devoured, I revised the book two more times before I gave it back to my new agent, and it finally went out two weeks ago. I’m now revising it again for an editor, and I’m hoping my first novel might finally find a home.

~A.M.

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