I had given up on Parched when I signed up at Gotham Writers Workshop.
After publishing a breezy, contemporary coming-of-age YA novel, She’s With The Band, I naively believed publishers would bare-knuckle box each other for whatever I finished next. They did not; an unsold middle grade novel burnt a hole in my bottom drawer.
My next project, Parched, was an unwieldy sci-fi/romance about a girl who joins a rebel group in a world without water. It was my first attempt at full-blown world-building and a high-stakes action/adventure. After receiving some less than encouraging feedback on the first draft, I’d left the ms in that dreaded bottom drawer for six months.
I signed up for a 10-week Children’s Writing course with children’s book author Michelle Knudsen, and reluctantly turned in the first section of Parched for my first critique session. I was expecting the same lackluster response. I was wrong. Michelle was enthusiastic and supportive, offering pages of thoughtful critiques and suggestions. My classmates were equally eager and insightful. My faith in the project was renewed.
Each class was more helpful than the last, and I signed up to take the course with Michelle again. At the completion of both courses, I had thoroughly workshopped about 30,000 words, which was more than enough to get me through to a solid second draft. After the course ended, I met with fellow students socially and for continual feedback on the final draft.
My agent, Chelsea Lindman, and I sold Parched to Holiday House in 2013. It’ll be out in March 2014. Have a read and let me know what you think. I am now working on my first adult fiction for women: a funny contemporary about beauty.
I extend my thanks to Gotham, Michelle, and my fellow students for your heartfelt encouragement and invaluable feedback.
My advice? Keep going. Persistence is rewarded.