Titling Your Novel — February 22, 2011

Titling Your Novel

I face a dilemma, friends.  (Yes I’ve emerged from blogging hiatus.  Though for how long is yet to be determined.)

You see, Lodestar needs a new title.  This is because in the Google alerts I’ve been getting for that title, it shows up as a way of referring to a foreign political leader.  Not exactly the connotation I want to have associated with my book.

And I can’t come up with anything else on my own.

My options that I’ve brainstormed myself:

Polestar
Starfall

Thanks to a Saturday tweet, I’ve been graced with the following options:

Solar Redemption
Song of the Sun
And Then the Stars Fall
First Star Rising
Dawn at the Edge of Black

(Thanks go to Liana Brooks for these ones!)

I’ve fallen in love with one from that latter list.  (But I’m not going to say.)  But this is where my second dilemma comes in.

I know that more often than not, a book’s title gets changed during the publication process.  The title I’m in love with (aside from the first one I named it and have been referring to it by for the past year and some odd months) doesn’t perfectly fit the novel.  I’m tempted to tweak the novel to make the book fit the title.

But do I do that?  Or do I go with a blander title that I don’t love so I’m not devastated when a publisher wants to change it down the road?

What are your thoughts?  (And please vote in the poll on the sidebar for your favorite title from this post.)

Ages and Dilemmas — October 8, 2009

Ages and Dilemmas

*we will be channeling the rejectionist today, to a certain degree*

Dear people, we are in a dilemma.  A dilemma of ages.  We wish to write this paranormal idea that we came up with a month ago.  We wish to finish it so it can be sold and that it can be the fulfillment of a dream.  We came to realize however that this hope is a false one.  We face a dilemma.  We face a book without a genre.  It is a book without a home in a bookstore.  It is not YA.  It is not adult.  It will get lost in the depths of the fantasy section of the bookstore.  Or it will get lost in the slush pile never to emerge from the deep shadows of 100 buildings.  You see, our characters are all adults.  They are not teenagers.  They are adults who do not engage in the sorts of activities which would make the book saleable to an adult audience.  Our characters are also not saleable in a YA market because they are over the magic age of 20.  But we cannot make it work to transform our characters into teenagers.  We fear our work is doomed to failure before it even gets fully realized.

You see, our research shows a general consensus on the internet that YA books must have characters between the ages of 12 and 18.  There may not be adults, or if there are their presence must be limited.  Conversations must be kept to a minimum.

It has been suggested to us that we stretch boundaries and create secret societies within NASA to enable our characters to be younger than they currently are.  But we fear this will cause our book to stray too far into the realm of a certain movie which we have only seen snippets of and wish to stay away from.  Besides which, our research also shows that you must be able to strip away the paranormal to return to everyday earth in order for it to be considered a paranormal.

Sigh, double sigh, and le sigh.

Works Referenced

YA Lit
Wikipedia: Children’s Literature
Fiction Genre Definitions
List of Fiction Genres
Defining Genres: Where Does Your Book Fit? from Query Tracker
Wikipedia: Young Adult Fiction
From Picture books to YA: Information to Get You Started from Query Tracker
Michelle McClean on Genre Definitions from The Literary Lab
Tess Hilmo on Middle Grade Books from the Literary Lab

Now we see our dilemma and it is disheartening us.

That is all.

MS Hospital — July 27, 2009

MS Hospital

Ever wish there was a (an?) MS hospital? Elana J’s post this morning got me thinking. And I wanted to do something similar to what she did in her post.

Watch this first:

Now, don’t you feel sometimes that you’re doing nothing but asking stupid questions of your MS or characters and getting nothing but inane, “I dunno” type responses in return?

Ever wish there was a hospital you could send them to where they can be dignosed, treated, and released back to you healthy and robust with all the answers?

Guess what? There is.

It’s your brain.

Working on my characterizations over the last week, and soon moving into plot, has gotten me thinking. I think that I must only use one side of my brain or something when I write because the other side likes to come out and play when I’m doing the most random things. And that side of my brain has all the diagnostic answers. I just have to learn how to tap into it.

The first step is to get the patient delivered over there. And sometimes you really do have to look for somewhere to park before you can get it in through the door. Often that parking spot is a crit group or just that space dividing the hemispheres of the brain. Then the stupid questions start. But you have to start somewhere in order to work yourself up to ceding the dignostic control to the diagnostician. (Cue the theme music for “House.”) It starts with the standard questions: What’s wrong? What have you done to treat it? They take the vitals: viewpoint, length, depth of character, complexity of plot, etc. Then the MS goes into the waiting room.

This is the period of time where we’re supposed to be letting the MS sit and percolate in our sub-conscious while we write the next idea we have swimming in the brain. The wait period seems endless. But we have to go through it.

Then the nurse calls our manuscript back and we wait outside so as not to disrupt the doctors. (You’ve all seen that scene in any medical drama: distraught family member prevents doctors from doing their job so beloved on gurney crashes and is miraculously revived only after said loved one is escorted out.)

Finally, the diagnostician comes in and begins experimenting a la House. Tweak this, try this medication. That made it worse? OK, stop, reverse, try this.

It’s a process. And the stay at the MS hospital can be quite lengthy. But the questions are always asked and you’re always gonna have to figure out the scale and all that so that the doctors can get an idea of what sort of medicine to dose your MS with.

Then you get to go home and start lauding the advice, and telling others what to do whether they want to hear it or not.

And it starts again with the next revision!

OK, so this post was mostly just to put that video up there, but what they hey!

The Raging Debate: MFA: Yes or No? — July 21, 2009

The Raging Debate: MFA: Yes or No?

I posted before about my dilemma regarding the MFA. I’m going to revisit this debate today. As I said before, I was told once by someone who I had never met in person and who had only read a paragraph or two of my writing (Yes, I know agents read about the same amount before deciding.) that I needed to take classes on fiction writing. What I was showing that person was something that was not the finished product, that was an example of something I wanted to work on as part of my graduate school studies. Not something that would ever get published and see the light of day. Now, I know that there are perhaps some things that I could work on in my writing, but is it really fair to essentially imply to someone that the only way to ever be a really good writer worth their salt they have to dole out thousands of dollars to take officially sanctioned classes? Shouldn’t we be learning to write by example, by trial and error, by blood sweat, and tears? One of this year’s issues of Poets and Writers had a letter to the editor which said something along the lines of how nice it was to see an author getting recognition and publication who didn’t come from the “MFA machine.” That’s really stuck with me.

The recent issue of Writers’ Digest had an article about the debate between whether the MFA in creative writing or the PhD in creative writing is the terminal degree for poets and writers of any genre. That’s really prompting this post here. It’s always been something that’s bothered me. (By always, I mean in the last couple of years since I started actually thinking of myself as a writer and poet.)

So my dilemma has been and perhaps ever will be this: Do I try to get into an MFA program? Or do I simply work with the resources I have around me and work to improve my craft that way? I mean, I live in a totally non-artsy-fartsy region of the United States. It’s not really likely that there’s an MFA program here nearby. And it’s unlikely that I’ll be able to find other things that a writer would need, like writing conferences or critique groups, here in my area. But more on that next time.

I really want to prove this guy wrong so I can put a really snappy, biting dedication that only I’ll ever know who the target of it was. I’ve already got that dedication in mind and was planning on putting it on the project I was planning, but will likely never get off the ground, so I’ll put it on a different one. But is the MFA the better way to go?