#2 The Journey Of A Story

In my first post yesterday I mentioned that I had a novel that I felt had the potential to be published traditionally. I thought that I would take a moment today to discuss its journey from idea to current draft.

My novel is called That’s Charming: Curse of the Beast (Originally just That’s Charming). I originally had the idea for this story in 2008 – it was the first thing that I scribbled in a new notebook that I had picked up for a pound. The idea then was ‘what if a fairy tale didn’t have the typical happy ending?’. I toyed around a bit with an opening and a name popped into my head – Charles Charming.

I sat on the idea for a few years, finally starting it in October of 2011. It was put on hold for NaNoWriMo of that year, and in the beginning of 2012 I found out about the Guardian/Hot Key Books Young Writers Prize – the top prize was publication with a £10,000 advance. My novel wasn’t finished, was still a rough draft, but I decided to enter it in anyway.

I threw together a synopsis and tidied up the early pages and hit send. Then I waited.

A couple of months later the deadline for the long list emails rolled around and I was on holiday when it did. A few days had passed by the time I got home and had a chance to check my email. There was one from Hot Key Books. It told me that my manuscript had unfortunately not been selected to be in the top 10 entries for the 9-12 category. I was disheartened, but it was expected – I hadn’t even finished the entire manuscript after all. Then I noticed that there was another email. This one told me that someone had dropped out and my manuscript had been the next choice. 11th wasn’t a bad place to be in the list, and to this day I am grateful to whoever dropped out for allowing me the chance to be on the long list. This, of course, meant that I had to scramble to get my manuscript completely finished and I only had from July until October to do it. It was a tight squeeze, but I managed it.

Now, the deadline for the short list was a few months after that. Having not been a first choice for getting on the long list, I wasn’t expecting to get on the short list. However, as you can see from this article – I was chosen to be on the short list! It was the biggest rush to receive that email.

When the final announcement was made to the entrants via email in March – I was disappointed when I didn’t win. I have since bought both the winning books and read them – they are fantastic and deserve to have won.

So, after a year of working on my novel for the competition, I was free to do as I wished with it again with no deadlines. I decided to revise it and send it out for critiques. After sending it a handful of people, and getting all the feedback from it – the majority of which was positive – I decided to do a little rewriting and editing to spruce it up a bit.

By the time I hit draft five, I decided it was time to call in some professionals. I hired the lovely folks at Cornerstones to do an In Depth Review on my manuscript. The feedback that I got from them was extremely helpful. I decided to start doing another rewrite – cutting the word count from 61k to between 45-50k – as well as changing a few plot points.

It was around this time that I ventured onto Twitter again and discovered PitchWars. I figured I would give it a shot and sent my manuscript off to four people out of the mentor list that I thought would enjoy the story. I received a request for the full manuscript from one mentor, but ultimately wasn’t chosen. The feedback that I received from three of the four mentors (one never got back to me) was all positive though.

So now I’m sitting with draft six, fixing up some issues from my last rewrite and wondering if I’ll have a finished manuscript to submit to the Chicken House/Times New Writers competition by the end of October.

Below is some information about the novel, for anyone that’s interested.

_____________________________

Blurb:

Take a trip to the magical world of Lilantium, where young people go to schools tailored to fit their adventuring needs. The Academy of Charms and Charmings, in the whimsical town of Old Darlingdeen, is home to many soon-to-be Prince Charmings and Fairy Godmothers.

Thirteen year old Charles Charming is a student at the prestigious Academy, desperate to go on his quest and prove that he is ready to graduate. Along with his Fairy Godmother-in-training best friend, Larissa Fair, and his newly hatched dragon, Kaida, Charles sets out to save the day when a fellow Charming, Clay, is kidnapped.

The world outside the Academy’s walls isn’t as friendly as it would seem, and Charles must decide what’s more important – saving Clay or finishing his quest.

That’s Charming: Curse of the Beast is a whimsical fantasy/adventure novel for a middle grade audience.

Extract:

The liquid shimmered in the light; it seemed innocent enough. There’s no choice in the matter really. Drink it, or carry on being ordinary.

“Bottom’s up.”

Charles removed the cork from the top of the vial and closed his eyes, tipping the contents down his throat. It tasted strange, like dirt mixed with butter. He gagged a little as the liquid worked its way into his system. Sticking his tongue out, his face contorted as the aftertaste hit him.

He waited. Nothing happened.

He was beginning to question whether the potion had worked when a strange pulsing sensation started in his abdomen… faintly at first, then growing steadily more powerful until it felt like a fist punching the inside of his stomach. Charles gingerly lifted his shirt to inspect the area causing the pain. His eyes widened as he saw an actual fist attempting to push its way out. It was small, but growing larger with each passing moment.

Charles wanted to scream, but only small choking noises, like a cat trying to cough up a fur ball, left him. All he could do was watch, wide eyed and open mouthed, as a third arm continued to grow. The pulsing sensation dulled as the arm grew fully, the fingers flexing and moving of their own accord. Charles felt light-headed as the arm waved at him. It was too much.

He fainted.

_____________________________

Hope everyone has a great day!

Heather

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