Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

I Didn’t Make The Cut

I’m bummed. This week 50 writers saw their manuscripts advance to the Semi-Final stage of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award – YA category. My humble offering – Wycaan Master – was not one of them. It reached the Quarter-Final, ahead of a few thousand others, but…

In an odd sense of timing, I will finish reading the 95,000 word epic fantasy story to my writer’s group. They stuck with me over the past 18 months though none (until the last couple of months) read or are interested in fantasy. Thank you – Berkeley Writers Group.

Either you think epic fantasy is alive and thriving (Tolkien, Terry Brooks, R.A. Salvatore etc.,) or you think the only fantasy that sells is high concept – Harry Potter, The Hunger Games…

It is hard writing in two genres – social justice-themed novels reflect my lifestyle and values. Young-adult fantasy was inspired by a writing project with my preteen son and has been a lot of fun. But they serve two separate target audiences and I maintain a seperate blog and twitter account (both under the elfwriter name).

I have to admit, I’ve arrived at a junction. I have not only sweated over a first YA fantasy manuscript, but completed a second, and am 30,000 words into a third. It is  a series and I must admit: I’m kind of hooked on it.

I want to see how my young heroes (and villains – who I am also quite attached to) grow. Will the races of Odessiya unite? What is the Emperor’s secret power that enables him to keep winning? Will shy Seanchai and his guide, Ilana, ever hook up?

As a reader becomes hooked on a series and feels compelled to read through to the end, I have discovered that so can an author become ensnared. It might well be an issue of not writing an outline and having faith in the story evolving, but I need to discover what happens in the world I’ve created.

Even if I didn’t make the cut.


Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/ and on Twitter (@alonshalevsf).

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7 thoughts on “I Didn’t Make The Cut

  1. Another juncture is the question of which is more important. Making the cut or seeing how your fantasy heroes fare? I’ve decided that making the cut is just another way of keeping score and soon passes as quickly as bedpost spearmint. A few hundred satisfying words lasts like a sweet bed buddy.

  2. Sorry they don’t appreciate your skills. You always make my cut!

  3. Just because you didn’t make the cut for AmazonEncore doesn’t mean 1) your book is not worthy of being published, 2) isn’t worth writing, or 3) it won’t get published by a different publisher. Think of all the great (and even not so great) writers who were turned down umpteen times but got that contract on the 36th try (Madeleine L’Engle, for instance, for A Wrinkle in Time) or even the 50th. You don’t have to get published, but you also don’t have to give up trying. Congratulate yourself for finding two genres you have a passion for!

    • Thank you, Tanya. I appreciate the encouragement. I think it is also a question of bandwidth. This is a time-consuming passion that often conflicts with work, family, life – and when there are two genres it is twice the time. Having said that, I realize that I don’t want to drop either. Sleep on the other hand…overrated!
      Take care,

  4. Alon-
    It’s one of many “at bats”, soon you’ll hit it out of the ballpark! I didn’t win my first and only auto race until I had over 100 starts…that’s a lot of gas, tires and smashed up car parts!

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