Wednesday, April 26, 2006

A Rose By Any Other Name

I really like cool titles. Some people say that a title should be simple, and some people say that they should be witty, and some people say that...well, you get the point. I never feel comfortable about a book until I have the perfect title (or, at least my idea of the perfect title) picked for it. My agent and I talked a little about the manuscript that she's shopping around, and we decided to go with my original title of the book. I actually submitted the manuscript to her with a different, darker title, but she liked the original one better (so did I). Of course, I'm not going to reveal the title (you know how authors are with their silly superstitions), but I will list a few contemporary YA novels that I think have great titles.

An Abundance of Katherines - Okay, so I don't even know what the book is about, but I love the title. That being said, I loved Looking for Alaska, and I have the feeling that I'll love anything that John Green writes, even if it's a grocery list. The title screams witty, funny, and charming. I really wish I was going to BEA in Washington so I could get my hands on a galley.

Stargirl - This is a perfect example of a simple title that works really well (I will admit that I think the cover had a lot to do with the charm of the book as well). Stargirl (aka Susan) is, well, a stargirl. I don't know if there's another title that would be better for the book.

Teach Me - The title really tells a lot about the book. The title implies that the book is a little dark, a little sounds forbidden.

Life is Funny - So, I don't know how much this title actually applies to the book, but I love the passage in which the title is quoted in the book. I guess if I were a scholar, I could say that the book teaches you that life doesn't always end up how you'd want or how you'd imagine it, sort of like "Life is Funny" as in "Life is Strange" or "Life is Unpredictable." But then again, the only English class I took in college was Technical Writing, so I'm no where close to being a scholar.

A Red Polka Dot In A World Full of Plaid - Hey, don't act surprised. A little shameless promotion never hurt anyone.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Problem with Problem Novels

For everyone that reads the blog, I'm sorry for the lapse. I've been struggling through the beginning of my current WIP, and I just couldn't bring myself to blog while I'm trying to clean up the mess that I have so conveniently created.

FYI - my WIP is still a mess, but I just can't look at it anymore tonight.

I have a big problem with, well, problems. My novels tend to start out very problem-heavy, and I slowly snip away at all of the extra, unneeded problems over the editing period. However, this can take quite a while (three years on my last novel), so I'm determined to try to nip this whole problem thing in the bud before I get too far.

Unfortunately, "nipping it in the bud" basically meant that I wrote the first few chapters of four different versions of the same novel. The characters and the theme are practically the same; I've just toyed around with the plot of the novel. And after all of my tinkering, I'm still not sure if I've got something that'll work. I was able to chisel down all of the problems to one major one and a few minor ones while still keeping the characters that I originally envisioned, but then again, my writing always looks good around 11:00 at night.

I'll sleep on it tonight, and take a look at it again tomorrow. If I still feel good about it, I'll write a few more chapters and send it to the critique group for their opinion. If they give it a thumbs up, I'll sent it to my agent to get her say.

And if there are any editors out there that are looking for a novel dealing with drug use, sex, prostitution, mental illness, and child abuse, let me know. I've got the perfect novel for you.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Escape to Barnes and Noble

For anyone in the Austin area that likes fantasy, children's books, or just plain-old good reading, come out tonight (April 5th) and support an Austin author. Jo Whittemore will be signing copies of her new book, Escape to Arylon, tonight at 7:30 at Barnes and Noble on Brodie Lane.

P.S. - I heard that there may be treats there. Come out and satisfy both your book craving and your sweet tooth.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

A Good Ending to a Very Good Month

Three things that Brian Yansky and I have in common:

1) We're both YA authors that live in Austin.
2) We're both married to wonderful women.
3) We're both represented by the same agent.

Yes, I'm happy to announce that as of last Friday, I am represented by Sara Crowe of the Harvey Klinger Literary Agency.

It's almost surreal how fast it happened. I sent an e-query, sent the requested manuscript, and received an offer for representation within the span of 5 days. I actually had to wait a few days after her offer before I could accept because I had another offer from a very good agent. In the end, I felt that Sara was the best fit for me, and I'm really looking forward to working with her.

I want to say thanks to Cynthia Leitich Smith and Brian Yansky for all the advice. A number of other writers were also very beneficial as I weighed my options (you know who you are). And thanks to all the authors on the Verla Kay message boards (if you haven't checked it out, you should; it's a wealth of knowledge).

All in all, March ended up being a pretty good month, especially when you count the Essence Best Seller Listing. The only bad thing that happened was that I didn't win the Delacorte Contest. But as my agent said, I really shouldn't have entered the contest in the first place. (I really did enter the contest on a technicality, and to be honest, I was felling a little guilty about it).

Thanks for all the support, guys. I'll be sure to keep you all up to date.