I want to show you guys the book that FAILED. I loved this book with everything I had, but in the end, this book just wasn’t publishable. It did get some attention,including requests for fulls, two requests for revisions and even a couple editors suggesting other places to send it.
This is from the unpublished book THE LEGEND OF WITCH ISLAND by Jennifer Apodaca. Copyrighted, etc.
Feel free to critique and bash, I wrote this a very long time ago. Or if you want to see more, then I’ll give you more. Speak up!
It is written that there once was an uncharted island ruled by the Witches of the Light. But Evil wanted the island for its own dark purposes. And so the timeless battle ebbed and flowed between good and evil as the years passed. The battle took their beloved king from the witches, and sent his queen wife and prince son fleeing to England. The Witches of the Light persevered, however, waiting. For in their dying king’s last words was recorded the Legend. A Legend that promised their triumph over Evil when the baby prince became a full grown, powerful witch and returned to their island a king. . . .
Princess Sabrina felt a gentle hand on her shoulder as she knelt before the altar. Rising from her prayers, she turned to face the priest.
“You look tired this morning, my lady,” Father Bradford said, his gray eyes wrinkling in concern.
Willing back the memory of her nightmares, she said, “I did not sleep well last night.”
“They are calling you?”
“Their power grows, Father,” she stated flatly. “Time runs short.”
He smiled, making his round face endearingly craggy. “Time is the Lord’s tool, my lady.”
“The king must arrive soon, Father,” Sabrina insisted, then added softly, “if he is to arrive at all.”
Father’s sharp eyes searched her face. “Do you doubt the Legend? Are not the calls of Evil disturbing your sleep, as the Legend foretold?”
“Aye,” Sabrina answered, reaching for an explanation, “but I am just holding on, waiting for a king that I do not even know. Our people deserve better than that. More from me.” Fatigue made her eyes feel gritty. Her patience was thinning with each sleepless night.
His gray eyes took on blue fire. “For eight long years you have ruled well and held this kingdom bound together in the Light. But the true king will return. Our people will not accept him, my lady, if you do not.”
Her patience frayed dangerously. “He is not here now! I will not sit idly by, while the king bides his time before returning to his duty. Witches could die while he waits.”
A brilliant flash burst through the chapel. Lightening streaked in from a window, touching down between the two front pews. The residual aura of white heat rapidly diminished.
Sabrina and Father waited. Lillith, the seer of the kingdom, materialized in the aisle. Her long, light brown hair flowed around her shoulders and brushed the floor where she knelt.
Sabrina’s mouth went dry. Steeling herself, she said, “Rise, Lady Seer, and tell us your tidings.”
Rising with spectral grace, Lillith settled her unnerving gaze on Sabrina. One long arm slid out from the wide cut sleeves of her sky blue gown stamped with icy stars. A rolled scroll appeared in her fist.
Sabrina’s stomach clenched as the seer unrolled the cream colored paper.
“My Lady Princess, the chain of our witches’ history must be broken in order to defeat this Evil we fight. Our returning king cannot die in the coming fight with Evil, as his father did before him.”
Sabrina’s fatigue vanished. Her heart thudded heavily. Duty, she reminded herself. “What prophesy have you?” The demand came out more harshly than she had intended.
A fleeting regret passed over the fine skin of the Lillith’s face just before she dropped her gaze to the scroll. “A death in place of the king’s. That of a powerful witch that holds the heart of a princess.”
“Sweet Merlin.” The shock almost made her forget herself with the need to sit down. Forcing her legs to hold her, she took a death tainted breath. “You are saying that I am to die?”
April 16th, 2009 at 9:40 am · Link
*passes cookies…and chocolate* You are a brave lady! However, I like the premise of this story. Have you ever considered reworking it and trying again? — Maybe an English branch of the Wingslayers?
I’m not about to critique it, lol. I have my own skeletons hiding on the hard drive, thank you very much! Yeah, there’s a few little things I might change (gray eyes…) but I am soooo stealing “Sweet Merlin!”
Appletinis for lunch!
April 16th, 2009 at 10:34 am · Link
**accepting cookies and chocolates** I like the premise too. I’d definately read more, but there is no way I’d critique it.
I agree with Silver about reworking it, I think it’s a good idea.
April 16th, 2009 at 10:59 am · Link
Silver, I won’t say never, but I learned that sometimes, it’s best to let go and move on. But you can see the difference in the writing and set up. I wrote that 10 years ago, I think. I wrote four completes and a few partials before I published with the fifth completed book.
I want chocolate and cookies!
April 16th, 2009 at 11:01 am · Link
Erika, thanks. I suspect if I ever went back to this, I’d rip it apart and pretty much start over. I’ve learned a lot over the years.
You guys are afraid of hurting my feelings, right? I’m the first to admit this was weak! But it was part of my learning process.
April 16th, 2009 at 11:30 am · Link
Okay, Silver and Erika are nice, but I’m not. *grins evilly*
If I got this as a contest entry to judge (and I judge a lot of contests) I’d complain about all the backstory and wonder when the story was going to start. This is great for world-building, but this isn’t the story.
You have grown so much as a writer since writing this story that I don’t think you can go back. Now, that’s not saying you can’t take the premise and rework it or steal parts of it for your Wing Slayers.
Of course, this is JMHO, and you DID ask.
April 16th, 2009 at 11:49 am · Link
Margaret, you’re not hurting my feelings! I think you made very valid points. Good job!
I totally agree with you on the backstory
April 16th, 2009 at 12:27 pm · Link
Is it any wonder that I manage to shed CP’s as often as I shed my lizard skin? If you ever want an honest, straight-from-the-hip crit/answer you know where to come. I’ve never learned gentle critting–must be due to being the youngest of nine–I’ve had to fight to survive.
April 16th, 2009 at 1:13 pm · Link
Margaret are you volunteering your critique services?
April 16th, 2009 at 1:20 pm · Link
Margaret, you weren’t harsh! Seriously! I would have added that the writing was stiff and the dialogue stilted.
Critique partners is a whole other blog! That requires a blending of personalities and goals.
The youngest of nine children? WOW!!! I bet you did have to fight to survive!
April 16th, 2009 at 1:20 pm · Link
Erika, way to go after an opportunity!
April 16th, 2009 at 2:35 pm · Link
Jen! Appletinis for all! My Walmart finally restocked BLOOD MAGIC. The clerk was putting out books as I cruised by to check. There was one copy so I snagged it for a picture. Another lady was curious so I explained. She snatched the book a dashed to the checkout with it. The clerk looked at me. “What is about that book? I can’t keep it stocked.” “Order more copies?” was my helpful reply. She laughed. “I’m so snatching the next one that comes in for me!” I don’t know how many they put up at a time, but they’re flying off the shelves here! Cheers!
April 16th, 2009 at 3:57 pm · Link
I’m not shy. Normally.
April 16th, 2009 at 4:03 pm · Link
I love critting! I usually stick to the overall picture of the story (pace, plot, dialogue, characterization, etc), and I don’t line edit unless I have to reread a sentence more than once to understand its meaning. Years ago, I was invited to join a small critting clique (yes, I used that word deliberately) through my local RWA chapter. The four other members line edited. I was nitpicked to death when I really needed to know WHY something wasn’t working, instead of rearranging my sentences. Of course, I was a newbie and didn’t know what type of crit I needed at the time!
Yep, I do have a tendency of scaring off crittees. Take that, Dr. Seuss! I can invent words, too!
I’ll crit almost anything, except category, but prefer paranormal or historical. I don’t read category, so I don’t really know what is expected.
If you need someone to look at your stuff, I’m game. I’m really frustrated with my picture book (not finished at 1500 words and I’ll need to cut that amount in half! No clue how I’m going to get there.)*headache starting* *Need appletini*
Hm, maybe you would do better with a non-frustrated critter with red ink at hand. . .
Jen, I’m so excited about Blood Magic. Now to keep the excitement going until Soul Magic comes out!
April 16th, 2009 at 5:50 pm · Link
Silver, I’m so happy dancing here! That is fantastic! I’m also really surprised…I had no idea. So cool! Thank you for taking the pic, I’ll post it whenever you have time to send it.
You are great at sales!
Obviously it’s Appletini time!
April 16th, 2009 at 5:51 pm · Link
Erika, shy is boring! I’m somewhat shy naturally (oh stop laughing) but decided a long time ago to get over it. We should go for what we want!
April 16th, 2009 at 5:55 pm · Link
Margaret, thanks so much! I have no idea how to keep the excitement going since I need to be writing…but I’ll try.
On line editing–I don’t do that until the end of my manuscripts. It’s too easy to get bogged down. When I critique for my partners, it depends at what stage of the book they are at. In the beginning stages, I just look at the story. I might highlight misspelled words but that’s it. But if they are polishing, then I line edit. They do the same for me.
I’m learning from you on picture books! I can’t imagine how you’ll cut that down. So what is the ideal word count–about 750 words? I know you’ll figure it out. In the meantime, drink Appletinis!
April 16th, 2009 at 8:40 pm · Link
Ah, picture books, ideally they should be around 500 words, but can be as long as 2000 words. I want to rein this faerie story to about 1000 words. The thing with PB’s is the illustrations should tell half the story, so you have to write without description, almost like screenplays. I have too much description during my rough draft, since I’m such a visual person, and have to cut it down AFTER I finish the story. Then again, my description might help the illustrator with my vision of the story.
I’ve sliced and diced a PB before(764 words down to <500 words) but it isn’t easy trying to decide what to cut and what to keep. I don’t want to cut something that might make an editor/agent sit up and take notice, but I also don’t want to look like I haven’t done my homework.
Basically, it’s a Catch-22–*just like every other genre out there*–story, timing, and luck.
April 17th, 2009 at 10:10 am · Link
Margaret, what’s really funny (or sad) is that the first few years I published, SOME people would say, “Oh do you write children’s books?” As if those books are so easy to write. It really annoyed me.
That catch-22 is alive and well in all of publishing. But I believe you are up to the challenge!
April 18th, 2009 at 4:04 pm · Link
I actually came to the sight to see if you had any new books coming out ’cause I loved the first one (also got at Walmart and was last one on shelf) and then I saw your post and stopped to read the story. I agree with Silver, i like the premise and would be interested in seeing how you would go from there.
But just some friendly advise, if your book is flying off the shelf as fast as it seems, you might want to post a comming soon link on your site for people logging on to see what works you have in progress and when they are to be released. Like I said that is why I’m here.
Best of luck and can’t wait to read the next one.
April 18th, 2009 at 8:45 pm · Link
Hi Melanie, thanks so much for the advice! When I have the site updated, I can put a “coming soon” link. That’s a great idea. I do have the info on the “About Jen” page, but people a “Coming Soon” link is even better.
The next book is SOUL MAGIC and will hit the shelves on November 24th 2009.
So cool that you got the book at Walmart!