Yesterday I was feeling that panicky feeling of “Oh, God, I’ll never get another job, I’m going to lose my house,” followed by “Oh, crap, if I get a job too soon, I won’t get a chance to do all those annoying things I never have time to do. Like blog. Or write. Or trim the bushes out front. I’d better get busy!”
Which led to a frenzy of cleaning, including attacking the bushes in the front yard with a trimmer, which basically looks like a large, orange electric knife. I saw a movie once about this guy who goes back in the past and has a chain-saw for an arm, and I was kind of having fun, pretending to be him. The trimmer was a little heavy to do one-handed, but I was swooping and slicing pretty good. The greenery was flying.
So later I drove up to my house and my jaw dropped. In this frenzy, I had cut all of the bushes into little cube shapes. Little green lopsided cubes. I don’t know what the hell I was thinking. I guess that’s what happens when you pretend to be a guy with a chain-saw arm. Or when you trim bushes in a frenzied state.
I was talking to my mom yesterday, and she told me the most interesting thing: She doesn’t think my book is a middle-grade. She thinks it’s young adult. All of the sudden, a bunch of stuff clicked into place. It’s kind of dark for 10 to 12 year olds — a bunch of werewolves voting on whether to kill a teenager from their pack might be a bit much. I was looking through middle-grade blog sites yesterday, and my book just didn’t seem to fit. There were a lot of cute titles and cartoon covers; not that there’s anything wrong with that, but mine just would look weird on a shelf with them. Mom suggested I age the kids up and add some romance. I had already given the main character a girlfriend, and they do make out, so parents of middle-graders might have disliked that anyway.
When my book was out on submissions, some of the publishers seemed to have a problem with the age of the kids. One said she had a problem with the amount of nudity in the book, that she would make the kids younger and remove all mention of being naked. I really would have had a problem with that, because that’s a lot of the comedy in the book — where do your clothes go when you shape-shift? And how do you get back into them when you shift back? What if someone has removed them in the meantime? What if a group of hot girls are now sitting in the general area wherein your clothes were left? In the Twilight series, Stephanie Meyer had the werewolves tie their shorts to their legs, I think, which I thought was really clumsy. (No offense intended to the master of all YA books, of course.) In the Immortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare, she had the clothes just disappear and reappear, which is certainly easier, but I’m so literal-minded, I kept worrying about that — where do the clothes go? I really didn’t want the kids to be young, anyway — they borrow a car in one scene and drive, and having seventh graders do that was pushing it as it was. So maybe making them older is the key.
Lord Allmighty, another rewrite.