Karolyn Sherwood, Author

Attitude, Girl

As I trudge tiptoe through the query process for my bright and shiny novel, A Reasonable Price, I am also barreling my way through the first draft of a new novel. I don’t want to let the energetic cat out of the bag, so I can’t give you many details about it, but even at this early stage, I’ve run into a dilemma.

First, a bit of background: So far eight ten literary agents have asked to read the MS for A Reasonable Price. (Launch fireworks now!) Though a few have passed for various reasons, they have all said my writing was strong and polished; the story just wasn’t “right” for them at this time. I understand that. That’s essentially what I said to random artists who came to my gallery to ask for representation back in my days as an art dealer.

Yes, it’s true: Karma’s a bitch.

I will find the agent who loves it as much as I do—maybe even one of the brilliant agents who is currently reading it. It’s only a matter of time. Based on everyone of my early readers’ responses, one day the agents who passed will be crying over their cocktails at the corner bar.

My new novel, however, is written as the “memoir” of a twenty-four-year-old girl with a bit of an attitude. Let’s call it Attitude Girl, for now. Attitude Girl is angry. She’s smart and vindictive. She’s rebellious. She’s sassy. She has no time for rules or ridiculousness. She has one goal in life, and no one better get in her way or they will be sliced in two like a snake crossing a railroad track.

So far, so good. Yes?

It’s a blast to write about really messed up people (like Dr. Frankie Lowell in A Reasonable Price—she’s a true sociopath). But herein lies my problem. How do I pull off Attitude Girl’s sarcastic, unpolished voice without having readers think that I am simply a bad writer? Attitude Girl, talks like a 24yo. (Natch! How else would she talk?)  Attitude Girl is telling her story as a cautionary tale to the a$$holes out there who’d better learn to lay off little girls. AG doesn’t give a blanking blank what you think about her or her bad English. The message of her memoir is what can happen to men who are total jerks. (And don’t get her started on her miserable mother! She’s a drunk who doesn’t deserve an Advil.)  AG adores alliteration and clichés cuz her her bible (not The Bible) taught her everything she knows. Like how to write a memoir.

So how do I pull this off?

Sounds like I’m going to have to re-read The Catcher In The Rye, Lolita, and Swamplandia! I may have to add Room to my TBR list, although that stack is already about to tumble. I think the only way do write this successfully is to read the great authors who did it successfully before me.

Can you, brilliant friends of mine, think of any other books I should read that have a great “voice”? Or other comments on how to

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