MK Pagano

And no, I’m not talking about organizing by color …

I’m talking about all the books I wrote before I wrote and sold my debut.

I wrote five whole manuscripts over the course of twelve years before starting GIRLS WHO BURN.

They are, as follows:

Book 1:

The Remains, a YA Gothic mystery with speculative elements, in which an orphan girl and boy are shipped off to a chateau in the French countryside where they have to learn some dark family secrets before said secrets come back to murder them.

Also known as the book I rewrote over and over again for five years, the one that taught me how to write by doing it all wrong. Will I revive this hot mess? Never say never, but it would take a lot of work.

Book 2:

Where the Water Meets the Sky, a YA contemporary with thriller elements, in which a girl returns to her beach hometown after several years and must confront her old friendship group and figure out if her best friend really drowned the way everyone said she did.

Also known as the book that got me into AMM, got me my first agent, and subsequently died on sub. I still have hopes for this one. Maybe.

Book 3:

Crew, a YA contemporary in which a girl loses all her friends, joins her high school stage crew, and finds the found family she’s wanted all along.

Also known as the book that’s probably too quiet, but I would love to publish someday regardless because it’s just so dang cute.

Book 4:

We Could Be Heroes, a YA fantasy with no magic, in which a girl, angry at being denied her future because she was deemed not pretty enough, joins a resistance to overthrow the monarchy from the inside.

Also known as the book no one has ever read, not a single CP, because I can’t decide if it’s utter genius or utter crap.

Book 5:

Dear Jude, a YA epistolary contemporary in which a girl comes to terms with her brother’s death through writing him letters.

Also known as the book that is so quiet I am shocked it didn’t put me to sleep as I wrote it. I’m currently dissecting it for parts and turning it into a thriller. (Maybe.)

… and these are only the manuscripts I completed. This does not include all the partials, of which there are literal dozens.

The lesson? I thought every single one of these books was going to be the one. (Well, maybe not the no-magic fantasy. That was a wild experiment that was done mostly for fun. I have no regrets.) And while I still hold onto the philosophy of never say never, there’s a real possibility none of these books will ever see the light of day that is traditional publishing.

But I don’t regret the time I spent writing a single one. Because they each had things to teach me. Because they got me to where I am now. And most of all, because I love the process. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t.

Photo by Alfons Morales on Unsplash

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