He was driving way too fast.
That was the opening line in my novel Crash and Burn. A contemporary ghost story that has evolved from the first novel I ever wrote, The Recalling. It started out as an adult book (sexual content). First, the word count was too low. So I stretched it. Then other projects came up: never to be published picture books, magazine articles that did get pubbed, and then my middle grade novel, Evolution Revolution: Simple Machines (not pubbed). Then came Sirenz, Sirenz Back In Fashion (Flux), and now, Blonde Ops (Thomas Dunne, 2014).
I'm always working on several projects because now that the older kids can drive themselves and I have just the youngest, I have more time. True, I'm out of the house going places six, sometimes seven days a week with fencing, math tutoring, bell practice, and tournaments,and let's not forget family visits and holidays that keep me busy, but I do find I have more time. So I work.
Having completed yet another revision, I sent Crash off to my beta readers. They suggested some changes. Good, because I knew there were holes and fresh eyes always help. I revised and sent it to my agent, Natalie Lakosil. She loved it BUT it was still rough, which I knew, and she listed some changes. No prob. I made the changes, sent it back. It came back with major change suggestions. I incorporated all but one which would in no way work. Sent it back. It was returned with a 'meh.'
Of course I fumed. I made all the changes! I revised, edited, reread, had others do the same. The novel was much better than when I first sent it. Why the 'meh' now?
The answer I got was that editors are 'tired' of paranormal and want contemporary stories.
They said that about vampires years ago, and yet I still see them being published. And they're not all fabulous. Then the editors were tired of werewolves. Yep, they're still coming out. I don't see paranormal going away any time too soon because it's just too popular. And by the time I get a contemporary novel written, polished, and submitted, I'll hear that they're tired of contemps. You can't win playing the 'what's hot now in the market' game because you'll always be behind.
So what do I do if my agent doesn't want it? Throw all that work away? I've actually heard some agents say that if they don't like it, that's the end of the road for that novel.
I think not.
I'll keep working on it. My critique group just read it and I know they'll have great suggestions. When I go to an SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) conference, I'll get a critique by at least two editors. And it they don't like it? I'll put it away for a bit while I work on more promising novels.
If I'm lucky, I'll have an editor say, "I've read your books. Send your manuscript to me." Or my agent will say it's time to bring it out again.Or, I can always self pub down the line.
One thing is for sure; to quote Mr. J.R.R. Tolkien, "The road goes ever on."