SYNTHESIS Meets Its New Friend, Mr. Shelf

After much weeping and gnashing of teeth, plus an extremely overdue phone conversation with my lovely agent Alanna Ramirez, I/we have decided to shelve SYNTHESIS for the time being.

You may think that, given the amount of time and energy I’ve spent on that manuscript this year, I just might be on the verge of uncontrollable vomiting. And while it does make me a little sick to think that I worked that hard on something that ultimately might never end up in the hands of an editor, well… I’m mostly relieved.

You see, SYNTHESIS has been a struggle almost since its conception in the summer of 2010. While the idea was completely amazing, the execution of the idea was sort of like trying to hold a ferret: it kept wiggling and squirming and biting and trying to get away from me. And a couple of times, it did get away and I ended up running down the street in my bathrobe in the middle of the night, chasing it down and threatening to take away its cell phone.

Figuratively, of course.

Now that the pressure of submission is off, I can see that I never really got hold of who my characters were. I never really had a good handle on the bad guys’ motivations or where the whole thing was headed. I had a general idea, but general ideas aren’t enough. If a book is going to be traditionally published, it needs to have a clear plot, well-defined conflicts, and three-dimensional characters.

I’m not sure SYNTHESIS had any of those, to be honest. And I was pretty sure that once it went on submission, it would not be picked up.

How discouraging would that have been, to send it out thinking, “Eh, nobody’s going to like this.”

So it’s on the shelf, and I’m okay with it. I don’t count the time I spent on it as wasted, because writing takes practice, and trying to finagle my way through that novel was really really really good practice.

The good thing is that now, I can focus all my energy on my new, magical novel. The one I came up with accidentally and am having to restrain myself from pouring into a Word document because, shockingly enough, I want to outline this one first. I’m going to work on it this summer and then, hopefully, we will submit it in early fall.

I love these characters, I love this story, I love this book. And THIS is the one I want to be my debut.

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15 thoughts on “SYNTHESIS Meets Its New Friend, Mr. Shelf

  1. Heather McCorkle says:

    It’s an amazing feeling knowing you have written or are writing the novel you want to be your debut!!! I’m so sorry to hear about Synthesis but I have no doubt it wasn’t time wasted. And who knows, maybe you’ll go back to it someday.

    1. Anne Riley says:

      Yeah, we’re definitely keeping it as an open option. But I’m so excited about this new one that I don’t even mind if we never go back to Synthesis, you know? Definitely not crying over it, which means this was a good move.

  2. Kristy Colley says:

    Way to have a positive outlook on this, Anne. And I hope someday Synthesis comes together for you; it would be nice to see it on my shelf. But still, I love that you’re excited for a new story, and I’ll be excited to read that!

    1. Anne Riley says:

      Thanks Kristy! Yeah, it was sort of a hard decision, but then again it really wasn’t… which encourages me because it feels like it was the right choice.

  3. Melissa Garrett says:

    The first YA novel I wrote was liked by a few agents, but not enough for any to want to sign me. I can’t tell you how many times I reworked that MS before I even queried it, so their rejection stung a bit. I thought it was good!!(but not good enough) That was my “ferret” novel, and it’s been sitting on the shelf for awhile now. I’ve been thinking about it more and more lately – the characters have never left me – and I’m going to start work on it again this summer.

    I have no doubt you’ll return to Synthesis. Once the characters are stuck in your head, it’s difficult to get rid of them until their story has been told. Until then, enjoy this new book you’re working on and feel so passionate about. 😀

    1. Anne Riley says:

      So you know how I feel! Yeah, I do think Elliot and Veronica and the rest of the group will stay with me. Good luck on reworking your WIP! Let me know if I can read for you!

      1. Melissa Garrett says:

        I’ll definitely let you read! I’m going to have TURNING POINT for my betas in the next few weeks, though I’m giving everyone PLENTY of time to read, what with summer vacations coming up and all. 😀

  4. Katrina Lantz says:

    You have such an amazing perspective, Anne. This post scared me a little because you described how I feel about the book I’ve been working on, how the execution just keeps wiggling away from you. It’s something to think about. I admire your forward-thinking. You always look at what you have to do now, without dwelling on the past, and that’s awesome.

    1. Anne Riley says:

      Thanks Katrina. It’s not easy, but if you look at it as time spent perfecting your craft and NOT time wasted, then it’s much easier to stomach. Plus I’ve got a Beta reading it anyway – she is a great critical reader and will be able to help me improve my weak points. So all is not lost. Really. 🙂

    1. Anne Riley says:

      Nope, the dystopian YA is impossible. Literally. The whole premise of the book centered around a massive earthquake, but I found out – via seismologists from Berkley – that the premise wasn’t possible. Not that fiction has to be realistic, but… I don’t want to write about something that doesn’t have a chance of happening. Takes the fun out of it, somehow.

  5. Alexandra Shostak says:

    I’ve shelved novels before–all 3 of them, in fact (the 3 I’ve written so far). Good things happened after deciding, though. Two of them are still in existence, as it turns out. One of them, about a year later, I decided to totally rewrite, and the rewrite actually has hope. The other, I had a huge epiphany about a month later and realized that not only was it salvageable, but I could do some really cool stuff with it as soon as I stopped limiting myself!

    🙂 It’s good you and your agent were able to look at it objectively, and also that you love your new project so much! I can’t wait for hints as to what it’s about. 😀

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