Yup. Apparently even 'pitch-perfect' manuscripts aren't selling in this tough market, and I still have some work to do to make it there anyhow.
Bad thing is, it's a biggie: voice. The most elusive to identify, most difficult things to nail, and one of the hardest things to learn.
SO! Here's what I've done... I've got collages of my main characters - big posters which surround me as I write - with all the things that make them 'them' along with images of people I think sort of 'look like' them. I've got photo collages of kids that age (one is even flipping me a bird - how appropriate!). I've got another of these collages as my desktop wallpaper - the kids are literally staring at me as I write.
I've also changed the voice I use when I read out loud (which I do ALL the time). But, I no longer read in my voice - I read in the voice of a younger me - a pre-teen me.
And believe it or not - as silly as all this may sound, I think it's helping.
I have been going through making more changes than I ever thought possible. I'm getting rid of high vocabulary (without dumbing it down). I'm clarifying ideas and cutting out a whole lot of narration (while finding more creative ways to get needed information into my story).
It sounds a little crazy - but its all about getting into the mindset and VOICE of my main character (who has progressively gotten younger as this novel has gone through iterations).
So, I'm going through again. Yes, I'm frustrated, but I rarely complain about revisions as that's actually my favorite part of the writing process. This is when you polish the heck out of the rocks. Let's see if we can shine 'em up like diamonds...