On the way home from church and errands yesterday, amid family talk about trucks from China, plants vs. animals, and Santa's elves (we covered a lot), I made a random comment to my husband.
“I hope if Avalon doesn’t accept my book, they at least offer some constructive criticism.”
I hadn’t spoken with him about my manuscript in awhile...
Fast-forward to our road, when I said, “Let’s stop at the mailbox. I didn’t get yesterday’s mail.”
The second the flap came down, I gasped. One lonely letter lay inside, post-marked from New York. And I knew.
“It’s too thin to be good news.” I clutched it in my hands, not ready for its message.
“So open it,” my husband pressed.
The second of grasping hope, when I thought Maybe it's a letter asking me to call them, didn't last long.
It was short and to-the-point: Bliss Lake isn't right for them. They felt pacing was slow at times, and that the "religious undertones" weren't in line with their more secular preferences. (Terri, this answers a question you and I had once...) For anyone curious about what they consider religious, characters in Bliss Lake attend church a few times (with brushed-over details of a particular sermon's message), God is mentioned, and the main character prays in thought, though no overt Christianity is presented. I myself thought it was all indirect and minor to plot. So now we know.
The editors also had concerns over the presence of a stalker. While he created an ambience that didn't fit with their "family-friendly guidelines," his existence didn't present the right kind of tension between the hero and heroine, either.
So what does all this mean to me? I don't know yet.
I know I'm really disappointed. Really. I feel like my sails have lost their wind. Now - instead of a writer being considered - I'm just a writer. I feel less validated. I have to start all over again. And I have some decisions to make. Do I try to tweak pacing (if I end up agreeing) and find Christian markets, to see what they think of Bliss Lake? Or do I chalk the whole thing up to practice and experience? Many do that. It is my first novel, after all. And I tried the agent route, too. No takers.
I don't want to say I give up. Because I won't. Not on this dream of writing and being published at the novel level, anyway. The first thing I said to my husband was, "I'll keep trudgin'." So I'll strap on my boots and push myself onward.
Here I go.