Since the Delacorte contest rejection last month, I’ve read over Neutral Zone again. It was the first read since I put it in the mail on December 31. I remain pleased with the manuscript I delivered for judging. However, now that I am free of the length constraints imposed by the contest, I am restoring a couple of scenes that I cut and I’m also giving it another complete once-over.
In the months since I submitted, I’ve read three books that have influenced how I feel about the characters in the Neutral Zone. Out of the Pocket by Bill Konigsberg (read review), which I finished just last week. It featured a main character whose voice is so loud and clear that I’m re-looking at Simon to make sure he’s as strong.
Two other books that I’ve drawn inspiration from are Martin Wilson’s What They Always Tell Us (read review) and Power Play by J.M. Snyder (read review). Wilson’s book, among other things, featured a very strong, tight plot that I admired and as I’m re-editing I’d like to live up to his standards. Snyder’s book, though not classified as YA, does deal with young people. The emotional connection and passion between her main characters is also something I want to make sure comes through with Simon and Alex.
With all this swirling in my head, I’m working through the pages and making enhancements/edits. I also need to start researching agents who tend to work with YA/gay fiction and create the all important documents that I would send to them to entice them into looking at this work.
Meanwhile, in the midst of all this, I finished the first draft of a short story that is a sequel to Neutral Zone. It takes place two years after the events in the book. I realize it will be a while before that sees the light of day, but it was screaming to get on to the paper so I spent a few days to make that happen.
By the way, there was a winner in the Delacorte contest this year: Something Like Hope by Shawn Goodman. It’s good to see that someone wowed the judges this year after two years of no winners. I can’t find any information on what the novel is about, but congrats to Shawn anyway.
Thanks, Jeff. Novel’s about a teenage girls who is locked up in a large State run juvenile justice facility. Good luck with your book and your writing. For agents working with YA/gay fiction, have you read any of David Levithan’s stuff? There might be some clues in acknowledgments or in interviews.