I’m still alive!

Hello friends.

It has been a VERY long time since I posted here and many things have happened. Some good, some great, some heartbreaking.

So let’s start with Italy! We spent two weeks and saw Rome, Livorno, Bologna (where I ate the best tortellini of my life) and Venice.


We picked Livorno because it was the home of Modigliani. They have a museum in his childhood home but sadly we planned poorly and while we were there it was closed.


Livorno itself was very pretty and we ate at a fascinating restaurant where the waiter was literally the menu based upon what he bought at the market that morning and at the end we paid for a our wine based on how empty the bottle was. They weighed it.


Bologna as you can see was also gorgeous and I wish I had more time there. Best tortellini. It was so good I would go back just for that.



And then there was Venice. Beautiful, lovely, Venice. That, as my friend Dan calls it, “sinking jewel box of a city”


We stayed in Dosoduro and we saw so much art. Titans, Tintorettos all of it breathtaking.  The Peggy Guggenheim is not to be missed should you find yourself wondering the canals.


It was truly one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen. My friend Dan, who has spent a lot of time there suggested that I do a number of things one of which was to buy a blank notebook on the Rialto Bridge, so I did.



And when I returned I used it to plot out my next book. Which is what I was supposed to be writing this summer. I was supposed to be writing my kick ass #MeToo inspired book about an all girl gang of pickpockets in space.

Instead, I am revising Palimpsest.

Yes, again.

So let’s get into that shall we? As of this past June I had been on submission for 8 months. We had gotten a number of good rejections. Yes this is a thing. There are good rejection in publishing. It meant that editors were seeing the potential even if they weren’t going to take the book on. Within a few months there was a theme in these rejections. Many editors started saying they really liked the book but that they didn’t think it was young adult.

They thought it was middle grade.

Readership for young adult is typically 13 and up. Middle grade is 8-12 years old. So for instance the first two Harry Potters are middle grade while the rest are young adult.

So my wonderful agent said, “What do you think?” and I scoffed. It wasn’t middle grade, I thought. So I opted to wait.

Then my book went to acquisitions. This is a big deal. A book going to acquisitions means an editor read it, loved it and was not going to talk to her fellow editors and marketing and they were all going to agree that it was going to make a million dollars and they would publish it. This is the final stage. This is the last hurdle.

This is also where it got rejected again and I ugly cried on the subway home, frantically DMing fellow writer friends so they could tell me stories about how these terrible things happened to them and they survived it.

They came through:

So the rejections kept coming in. More said it was middle grade. So last month after a long talk with my agent, I decided to revise this book to make it upper middle grade.

And friend, let me tell you, this is a HUGE undertaking. The beginning of the book still worked and many of the chess games still worked but everything else needed to change. This was more than just cutting out the sexy bits, lowering my MC’s age, and cutting 25K words. Middle grade also has a very distinct narrative voice to it. I needed to find that. I buried myself in middle grade, picking up old favorites like Wrinkle in Time and new books like Ben Gutterson’s charming WinterHouse and the breathtakingly beautiful Counting By 7s. I also cracked open Harry Potter because, to my never ending delight, my eight year old niece just started reading them. It is NO EXAGGERATION to say that I have been waiting since the day she was born for this to happen. It was a long eight years to wait.

(Side story – I was visiting her the other week and we were talking all things Potter and I asked her which house she would be sorted into and she paused, thought about it and said Gryffindor and I smiled because I thought to myself, oh no, honey you are the most Hufflepuff that ever huffled. Needless to say, she was sorted on Pottermore and yes she is a Hufflepuff god bless her heart. And if anyone is interested, yes I have always been and will always be Ravenclaw.)

And so this is where we are at with book news. My pickpocket book is tabled for now and I’m working through this revision. I have to say, even though it’s hard (and believe me, it is HARD) it feels right.

After all, the very first book I ever wrote was middle grade. It’s the books that mattered the most to me growing up. It’s the books that made me fall in love with storytelling. It’s the books that made me want to be a writer.

And my last bit of news is that my yearly MRI came back just fine. This girl is all good to go for another six months.

We celebrated like we always do – with root beer floats


There’s probably more but I’m not remembering right now. Anyway keep me in your prayers for this revision. So help me god, I’m going to fix this book.

Peace, love and starbursts,


By Ally Malinenko

I live in Brooklyn which is good except when it’s not which is horrid. I’ve been writing for awhile, and have some stuff published and some stuff not. I don’t like when people refer to pets as their children and I can’t resist a handful of cheez-its when offered. I have a burning desire to go to Antarctica, specifically to the South Pole so I can see where Robert Falcon Scott died. I like to read books. I like to write stories and poems. I even wrote some novels. You can read them.


  1. love love love this. I have so much I want to say but not enough time. I think middle grade is still one of my favorites too. I don’t ever remember not reading, if there were words in front of me I really them.

  2. Revised (got distracted)
    love love love this. I have so much I want to say but not enough time. I think middle grade is still one of my favorites too. I don’t ever remember not reading, if there were words in front of me I read them.

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