Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A rose by any other name…

I’m trying to come up with a good name for my novel, and maybe you can help me. It’s a futile task as the editor/publisher will probably choose a different title in the end. However, agents always want to know the title when I make a submission, and since this is a subject which I avoided thinking about during the 4 ½ years I spent writing the book, I’m now stuck. 
Book titles are important. My middle son says that the all-time, best-ever title for a book is To Kill A Mockingbird.  And I have read very good books with bad titles, like I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith. This is a delightful book and yet I almost did not even pick it up based on its unfortunate name. And the opposite can also be true. Who hasn’t been lured into reading a book, based on its title, (or cover), and then regretted it?
So back to my book: as you’ve no doubt figured out from the other information on this blog, it is about the lives of the teachers and administrators in an American International School, set in Cantabria, Spain, concretely, Santander. As with any group of people, there is gossip, adventure, secrets and interesting food. Some become friends, others become sworn enemies. There are love intrigues and there are some trouble makers who can be rather nasty people. You’ll have to read it when it comes out, it’s really quite good. 
 At the moment I’m using Bueno, but I’m still not sure it’s right. Here are some other ideas (in no particular order):
1.       We’ll Fall Off That Bridge When We Get There  (on the plus side,  it’s original and it’s something a character says toward the end of the book, but on the negative side, it tells you nothing about the book.)
2.       Mr. Harvey Jones, Headmaster
3.       What We Didn’t Learn in Kindergarten
4.       A Tenure in Spain
5.       That’s Not How Things Are Done In Spain (this is something the main character runs into a lot in the story)
6.       Teaching in Spain
7.       There Are Brujas In This School (apt, but perhaps suggests fantasy and that is not what this book is about)
8.       After the Students Have Left (since the book has relatively little to do with the students, though it does involve them a little bit)
9.       The Cantabria American School (this is the name of my fictitious school. I had thought of naming it The American School of Santander, but the acronym wouldn’t work)
10.   Bueno (short and sweet and conveys the Spanish part. It’s actually an apt title, which you’ll see once you read the book, though it doesn’t give much away.)
So, what shall I call this little novel? I welcome your comments!


Friday, May 24, 2013

Big Dreams for this little novel

Every time I hear the e-mail chime I think “Oh that must be an agent, saying that she loves my manuscript and she’s interested in representing this book to an editorial company.” And then I look, and it isn’t, but I know that with each day that passes, I’m one step closer. The good news I’ve had so far: the Chairman of the Creative Writing Department at Miami University, my undergraduate alma mater, read the first 20 pages of my novel and said that the characters were “convincing and sympathetic.” He also said that I had employed a circular plot structure, which is difficult to pull off without a good hook, but that I had done it as I had a good one.

My friend, Angie, whose “whole life is about creative writing and literature” and is herself a former Creative Writing Professor at the University of Northern Kentucky, read the entire manuscript, bless her, and said, “you have a marvelous, truth-telling, and incredibly well-written novel.”  And my mother, who does love me, but was prepared to be completely underwhelmed when I asked her to read the manuscript said that it was a “page-turner” and that she was “surprised and very proud” because it was one of the best novels she’d read in a while and “I didn’t know you could write so well!”  This from a woman who drains the library shelves with her voracious appetite for reading!

And thus, my dreams for this little novel are that:

1)      I find an agent very soon.

2)      S/he finds a publisher soon after that.

3)      My friends and family all buy copies of the novel and love it too and write great comments about it, and then tell all their friends and family to buy it too, and so on, and so forth.

4)      It wins some sort of literary prize and that gives it even more popularity.

5)      It hits the New York Times Best Sellers List.

6)      A Hollywood producer buys the film rights and decides to create a major motion picture.

7)      The movie is a big hit too and more people go out and buy my book and love it.

One step at a time. Oh, there went the chime! I’d better check to see if it’s an agent!

Image credit: McLachlan, Sean. Santander, Spain. Nov. 30 2011 from his blog post: PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS IS NOT THE COVER OF MY NOVEL, MERELY A SUGGESTION. MY NOVEL HAS NOT YET BEEN PUBLISHED.