I finally heard back from Carina Press today about my submission of Lament of the Dove to them, and I gotta say, folks, this is hands down the best not-an-acceptance response I’ve had to a story to date.
One of Carina’s editors sent me a very long and detailed feedback letter not only calling out the various problems she had with the story but also the bits she very much liked. Just about everything she had to say I think can be chalked up to the fact that it took me so long to write and then edit this thing–long enough that I of course had my rounds with the breast cancer in between, and long enough that my writing style changed in the meantime. I’d already felt that the latter half of the story had better pacing and tighter prose, and from what this editor is saying, she seems to agree with that.
The biggest thing she’s calling out as a problem point has to do with the overall story structure. Lament is of course intended to be Book 1 of a three-part story, but the thing is, most people hear that and they think “trilogy”. The structure of The Dove, the Rook, and the Hawk is intended to be less “trilogy” and more “one big story in three parts”, similar to The Lord of the Rings. (That, along with how I also have elves in my story, being the only comparison I will ever make of my work to Tolkien!)
She’s also suggesting I yank 6-12K of words out of various places. My gut reaction to this: CAN DO SPORT. As y’all know I’ve already yoinked half a book’s worth of words out of this thing already, so I’m pretty sure this’ll be cake by comparison. 😉
Here are a couple of awesome money quotes, though:
“I love your writing, your vivid descriptions and your world-building. Your characters are well-drawn and larger-than-life, and the conflict is strong enough to sustain the story.”
“Julian is my favorite character, and his developing relationship with Faanshi is nicely drawn. Even your minor characters shine from the page. I particularly like Ulima.”
No offense to Faerie Blood, which is of course the Book of My Heart with all the things I love in it, but I’ve always felt that Lament of the Dove is a much more complex work. To get this kind of feedback on it gratifies me immensely.
This does of course mean a sudden huge shift in my writing priorities for the rest of the year. I’ll keep doing new words as I can, but the emphasis now is going to have to go on the new fifth draft of Lament! The editor was very, very clear that even if I do revise and resubmit, this won’t necessarily guarantee an offer from Carina–but that’s okay. The important thing here is to make my book MORE AWESOME. And this is the kind of feedback that’ll help me do it.
Okay, Julian, Faanshi, and Kes, you guys ready? Let’s get back to it.