Yesterday was a good day and not only because my yard saw the first snow of the season. Though, that's a big part of it. I love winter. I love snow. I love the short days and the grey clouds that hang over the trees like the stretched remains of slaughtered ghosts. I've always felt more creative in the winter.
Every novel I've ever written has been written during the winter months. The fallen leaves are like words scattered about for the choosing. I pick up the ones that fit, the ones with the right color, and place them where they need to go. So the wet snow that fell yesterday was a good omen as I begin the new novel in earnest.
But the other piece of good news yesterday came from a young fan. I had recently allowed a bright 11 year old girl read the manuscript for the middle grade book that I finished last spring. As it makes its way through the publisher rounds, I thought it couldn't hurt to get the opinion of someone from the intended audience. And no one will give you an honest opinion quite like a bright 11 year old girl.
I got her feedback yesterday. She said, "It is such a great amazing story and I so totally wasn't ready for the ending!" In short, she very much enjoyed it. She had to read a 300 page manuscript on the computer in a matter of days. I think that equals a Starred Review from any of the journals as far as I'm concerned.
Needless to say, the praise made me happy. I believed the story was good, but it ain't good until a kid says it's good . . because unlike novels where the process is really about a selfish sense of satisfaction, children's book writing is really about pleasing the audience. You tell a child a story not for the enjoyment of telling but for the enjoyment of the listener.