Wednesday, August 3, 2011

If you love animals and want to write about them...

When you group up reading all the classical animal books - Black Beauty, Where the Red Fern Grows, Bambi - and you live in a big city without much access to real life animal adventures, two things are likely to result:

First you start writing your own animal adventures.

Then when you are old enough, you start living the dream... we currently have one dog, three cats, six horses and twenty cows. Trust me, adventures abound. Disasters, too.

And in some cases, you still love the outrageous adventures you wrote about as a kid, and you wonder. You dig out the old notebooks, laugh at your childish writing, take a stab a re-writing, fall in love with it all over again.

You take your new manuscript to a writer's conference to get it critiqued and find out about publishing.

Painful revelations are in store. Like, "why did you submit this in the young adult division? Any story focusing on animals is middle grade. And this is much too long."

This happened to me 9 years ago. (Before there were writing blogs to help me figure this stuff out. Bummer. The good writing books I'd picked up - Bird by Bird, the Marshall Plan for Novel Writing - didn't cover these facts, and I'd been oblivious to which section of the library/bookstore I was picking my books out of).

I re-wrote my epic animal adventure (Refuge: about a hidden refuge for unicorns; unicorns being an extension of my horse adventures) to middle grade specifications, but last year I put it away in a drawer. For a while. I needed to stretch out and write some new stories. Get past that "first book fixation". Was drawn back to writing for the young adult level, where animals are almost non-existent, except (cough) in the paranomal genre. Werewolves, anyone? Draki? other shapeshifters? Apparently they are okay for YA. (How about... human by day, unicorn at night... too far-fetched?)

The great blog Adventures in Children's Publishing always highlights new releases for children and young adult books, and last month they had a little blurb about The A Circuit - a young adult book. About the horse show circuit. Lots of horses in it. There are at least a hundred such books in the middle grade realm, but this was the first one I'd ever seen marketed for YA.

Marketing for MG horse books is along the lines of "girl rescues horse" or "horse rescues girl" or "girl and horse overcome odds to win big horse show".

Marketing for a YA book? Pitched completely differently:

"Readers who enjoy peeking into the elite world of Gossip Girl or The A-List will feel right at home in this new series with its friendships, drama, and privilege set against the backdrop of competitive horseback riding."

Apparently, even the title, The A Circuit, is a play on another popular title, "The A-List."  It also helps that the book was written by socialite Georgina Bloomberg, and the book purportedly dishes some hints of life of the fabulously rich Bloombergs, most famous of whom is her father, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The lengths one most go to get animals out of the middle grade genre! (grin)

Just for fun, because I'm still crazy about horses and also a proud mama, here's some pics of my girls and our horses.(Also, my daughters will be randomly picking winners of my seven-new-releases-giveaway from horseback. Still time to enter - ends at midnight August 4).

What's your favorite fictional animal/story?

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