Whoa—Need to Pay Better Attention

Last year I sent my manuscript to Kore Press.They had some deal going where if you submitted, the press would provide limited critique of the submission—yes, precious critique of the first fifty pages of your novel. I sent them The Bone Trench in which a controversial private prison in modern-day Memphis brings Mother Mary and her son Jesus back to earth. Mother Mary tries—this time—to protect her son from harm, while Jesus goes about doing what he always does: causing trouble.

My Mother Mary float
My Mother Mary float

I did not get accepted for publication; I did get a lovely email. The editors really enjoyed the manuscript, though it wasn’t right for Kore Press. I also got a quite upbeat critique.
In the critique I learned the term “Urban Fantasy,” which is a subset of the fantasy genre where the action is set on earth in a real place (yes, Memphis is a real place). The email began with the standard caution—don’t wig out, this is the subjective view of only one reader—then said nothing remotely negative.
The tone of the novel is “humorous” and “bold” with “quick, funny dialogue.” She found that the “unique character choices” worked, even with “the juxtaposition of holy figures, natural images, and well, spit.” But, more seriously, the novel gave “an intrinsic sense of the culture of Memphis, the importance of recognizing the history of this place, the relationship of people with one another and with their past.”
A scene from Graceland, the setting for the short story that birthed the Mother Mary character
A scene from Graceland, the setting for the short story that birthed the Mother Mary character

I reveled in the review and forgot it, because I didn’t get accepted for publication, and there was nothing negative for me to work on in making revisions.
Today, I picked the review back up because I am, once again, revising the manuscript. I wanted to share the review with y’all. I re-read the first line, something about not being able to help but compare it to a novel by a writer I didn’t know, Neil Gaiman.
Neil Gaiman, Neil Gaiman.
Hadn’t that been the dude staring back at me from the front of the Poets and Writers Magazine I had been meaning to read for months?
Yep.
Neil Gaiman, the author of the Hugo and Nebula-award winning novel, American Gods.
I’d already put American Gods on my list to read—I wasn’t going to ignore the reviewer’s identification of a book similar to this odd book I wrote—but for some reason I read her description to mean “cult classic.” As in, an odd book like your odd book beloved by odd people. Not a book that actually gained a wide appreciation.
I don’t know why this gives me hope but it does.
Hope I need as I begin, again, to revise a novel without any guarantee anyone will want to read it.
Cheers!

The Once and Future Booksigning
The Once and Future Booksigning

here’s to creative synthesis . . .

American Gods, critique, Jesus, Kore press, Memphis, mother mary, Neil Gaiman, submission, The Bone Trench, urban fantasy

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