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SC Write--Writing, Publishing, and Harry Potter


Why Indians Worship Cows

  Posted by SC_Author , 01 August 2014 · 11 views

(Rabbit rabbit rabbit!!)

My sister watched The Fluffy Movie (about Gabriel Iglesias and his comedy) a few days ago and she was telling me about one part in the movie that rattled her up. We both love Gabriel, think he's hilarious, one of our favorite comedians. Apparently, in the movie, Gabriel was talking about how he asked someone why Indians worship cows and that the answer in return involved something about karma and how the 'good' people are reincarnated into cows in their next lives; to kill them is to kill the soul, etc.

That's pretty much wrong. And it's being shown all over the world.

So, although I love Gabriel (I do!) I thought it's a great time for a pop Hindu culture lesson!

Now, I can't say that Gabriel is wrong; one of the tenets of Hinduism is that the approach to God centers on the self. An individual approach, if you will. Basically, whatever makes you one with God is fine as long as it doesn't harm others. There is no absolute right, there is no absolute wrong (look up the Mahabharata and the Gita for that). So while there's no proof behind Gabriel's ideas, if the person who told Gabriel this explanation believes it, well, it's true for him.

But, in the majority, Hindus don't 'worship' cows! Cows are sacred and revered. Yes, sometimes they're 'worshiped' in the same manner as idols are. This is so hard to explain....Hindus believe the world itself is sacred. The world is made up of God; God exists in every speck, everything and every nothing. God is all-encompassing, after all: of form and yet without form. So while cows are revered, so are trees, animals, nature, the sky, every human, every thing.

Yet it's a good question, because there's no doubt that cows are revered more than other creations. The reason for this is that in India, cows became the staple for living. The cow gives milk, labor, even fuel and pavement from their dung, all in exchange for very little maintenance: grass and water. For me, cows are revered because I drink their milk. The only other person I've ever taken milk from was my mother, and because the cow gives milk and much more while asking basically nothing in return (like a mother), the cow is seen as a mother figure.

Now, in Hinduism, mothers and fathers are akin to God. Let me make this very, very clear that they are not God unless you mean to say God exists within them, like God does in all things. Depending on whom you ask, Hinduism is either a polytheistic or monotheistic religion. Strictly speaking, it is monotheistic (surprise!) and the gods are simply byproducts of humans trying to categorize or humanize the infinite characteristics of the all-encompassing God (or Brahman). So our parents aren't God but are revered because of their selflessness, compassion, loving, and sacrifice. It's the reason it is said, 'Think of your mother and father like God.' Not because they are God, but they should be respected like God is. Matricide and patricide are huge crimes in Hinduism. Don't do it. Ever. It's almost the ultimate sin to kill a person who raised you and nurtured you. Even insulting your parents is bad. It's a huge disrespect.

This reverence for the parents carries over into the cow: the cow gives milk, the mother gives milk. The child drinks both milks, and thus, both are revered. To kill or even insult a cow is to kill and insult a mother, and you simply don't do that.

Now, you may say that since God exists in all matter and creatures, why is the cow the only one that is revered and not eaten? That's a good question, and it's the reason why many Hindus and I are vegetarians. The explanation lies not in the all-encompassing aspect of God but in the intent of the human. To kill a living being with a soul (aatman) is to kill the God in those creatures. To cause as little pain as possible is the goal for many Hindus. While potatoes and vegetables and cheese do have God within them (since God is all-encompassing), these things cannot feel pain. In eating meat, the intent (however indirect) is to kill the animal, become a source of suffering for another living creature. Nature itself is revered in Hinduism: the tree that gives shade, fruit and wood, for absolutely nothing in return, the innocent birds, the wind and mountains. Everything. The cow can be seen as a symbol for it all, the maternal character of nature.

So there you have it. A very brief (I know!) and summarized (yes, summarized, it could have gone deeper!) explanation as to why Indians worship revere cows. Hopefully I cleared some misunderstandings. And of course, be warned: Hinduism is a large religion. Someone might preach something different to the above...and, due to the beauty of Hinduism, they don't have to be wrong.

I know I hinted at a lot of things that might not make sense, so please, ask questions in the comments below! Anything you want clarified? What do you think?



Laura H - Query Kombat 2013 SUCCESS STORY!!!

  Posted by SC_Author , 28 July 2014 · 9 views

What's that? ANOTHER SUCCESS STORY? YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Take it away, Laura!

You hear that finding an agent takes forever. And you hear those awesome stories about people getting offers overnight. For me, it was both very quick and very slow (and completely awesome).

I’ve always loved writing. I have random first pages of unfinished novels saved all over my computer. But I never really got the push I needed to finish a novel - life always got in the way. Then, in 2013, when I was on my honeymoon, an idea gripped me that wouldn’t let go. I raced to put it on the page when I got home. Soon, the words just poured out of me.

The first draft took about six weeks. Then I walked away, researching publishing for a few weeks before editing. I sent it to a friend for fact-checking while I revised. Then I edited it again. But my next step was what many new writers do: I queried too soon. Those two revisions weren’t enough. It took weeks of rejection to figure out what was wrong with the manuscript. Finally, I stumbled across the idea of getting a creative partner (how did I not know about this earlier?). After a couple of false starts, I found an awesome CP, and we went through the manuscript, chapter by chapter. Finally, after two more full rewrites, it was ready to go out again—about four months after I finished the first draft.

Starting in March, I sent groups of query letters. I entered contests, and as my manuscript slowly improved, so did my contest luck: I was runner up in Sun vs. Snow (between rewrites), featured in NestPitch (with no requests), and made it to the agent round in Query Kombat (with two requests). Each time, feedback helped me make my query and opening pages stronger.

I knew not to expect The Call within a couple of days after querying: everyone knows those stories are the exception. Still, every time I sent a query, part of me hoped, this time, I’d be the overnight success story. I even walked around Target for an hour once, constantly refreshing an agent’s Twitter feed because she said she liked a MS she’d just gotten. (The fact that cell phones barely work in my local Target did nothing to diminish my excitement.) It wasn’t mine. But I kept querying, incorporating feedback as necessary, and I started to get a lot of full requests.

July 7 was a crazy day. Around 9:30 a.m., I got a rejection from a partial I’d sent months earlier. At 9:45 a.m, I sent a query letter to an agent I’d heard good things about. At 10:30 a.m., she sent me a full request. (Yes, that’s right. 45 minutes later.) This was the fastest request I’d ever gotten. Still, I’d gotten requests in a couple of hours that didn’t pan out, so I knew not to get too excited. About 10 minutes later, I received a rejection from another agent, helping me keep my feet nailed firmly to the floor. If usual querying is a roller coaster, that hour was like being inside a martini shaker. I wondered if I was going to make it.

Tuesday, I happened to pull up my email while at the gym. (I swear it was an accident—usually, I go to the gym to unplug and de-stress, not think about queries.) The agent I’d queried on Monday wanted to know if I had time to chat about my manuscript.

Of course I did! I raced out of the gym to charge my dying phone (didn’t even finish my workout). We scheduled a call later that night. I asked a friend if they ever called to personally reject you. Then, I calmed down enough to speak coherently, the phone rang, and less than 36 hours after I sent that query, I had an offer from an excellent agent. It really can happen that fast.

I danced. Cheered. Screamed. I remembered that I had other full manuscripts out (plus some regular queries). So, the next step was to sit down and let the other agents know that I had an offer. To agents that had the manuscript more than a month or so, I offered a slightly revised version. Some replied right away to let me know they’d read it next. Some bowed out politely. Some didn’t reply at all. One emailed back to request the most updated version.

The next morning, I found a message from one of my friends. “Did you leave [often misused word] in your manuscript? I think this agent is reading it now.” The same agent I’d once tracked walking around Target. My heart plummeted. I’d forgotten to cut that problem word before sending. I clicked on the agent’s Twitter feed nervously. But she liked it! She tweeted about how much she loved the manuscript she was reading. My hopes soared. It had to be mine, right? It was. I opened my email and found a message asking if I was free to talk about the manuscript.

We arranged for a time the following afternoon. Then we talked, and I absolutely agreed with everything she had to say about the manuscript—including removing things I’d added because I thought the reader would like them. (Note: Don’t try to write for other people.) Before we even got off the phone, I knew I’d found my agent. The first agent I spoke with was great, but the second really got me and my work. I still had some full manuscripts out there, and I waited for responses before signing, but there was never really a question in my mind who I would pick after that conversation.

The day I’d promised to give my decision, I woke at 5:00 a.m. My phone was in hand before I decided that my new agent probably wouldn’t appreciate hearing from me in the middle of the night (especially since she’s not on the East Coast). I couldn’t contain my excitement, though, so I scanned the contracts and sent her an email at around 5:30 a.m. Then I sent another email to the first agent, who was very gracious and sincere in responding with her congratulations. I know that I would’ve been in good hands with either of them, but my gut told me to pick Jen Karsbaek, and I couldn’t be more excited about it.

Laura writes women’s fiction, represented by Jen Karsbaek at Foreword Literary. She wrote her first "short story" when she was five years old, detailing a family's Saturday morning on their Commodore 64 (it may have somewhat auto-biographical). She’s been writing ever since. In her spare time, she loves playing board games, baking, and binge watching anything by Joss Whedon. She also really likes parenthetical phrases (but not in fiction) and the Oxford comma.

Follow her on Twitter.

CONGRATS LAURA!!! You're an awesome presence on Twitter during our contests even when you already have an agent. It means a lot to us, truly! Congrats again and good luck with everything!!!!!



6 Things I Learned From Hosting Contests

  Posted by SC_Author , 24 July 2014 · 25 views

I'm a guest over at the awesome Operation Awesome! Head over to their blog to read my complete post.

First up, my credentials, so you know I'm not just pulling this out of thin air. I've co-hosted "Query Kombat" twice and "Nightmare on Query Street," hosted "The Writer's Tank" and twice hosted "Become an Agent," and I was a slush reader in "In With the New." So, yes, I've went through...dang, nearing a thousand queries and first 250 words.

When going through the slush to pick entries for the contest, we usually have a hashtag that we slush-readers use on Twitter. On this hashtag (different for each contest) we tweet our thoughts as we go through the slush, but I've never done a blog post on the subject.

1. It is SO, SO, SO subjective.

Maybe you need to be a slush-reader to truly understand this, but picking entries (and, to an extent, requesting material) is so subjective. We're not trying to make you feel better by saying this, we're not babying you: IT IS THE TRUTH. Very rarely do I ever feel 'satisfied' when I make my final picks. Most of the time I'm torn apart because there were so many others I wanted to pick but because of the limit on entries, I couldn't.

The same is true for agents. They can, technically, request a ton of material, but that means they'll fall behind on their own clients' work. No human can read five manuscripts a day. Agents must be picky for their clients' sake and their own sake.

2. In picking entries, it came down to "I MUST MUST MUST have this entry on my team."

This is related to point #1. Ultimately, especially with "In With the New" where I could pick only 4 entries from a slush of 191, I picked the entries that I just had to have on my team. Subjectivity played a huge deal.

This must be true for agents as well, and I've seen many echo the same sentiment: they must be dying to request. You've got to force them to request. Otherwise, if they find any reason to pass, they will. Of course, different agents act differently, but I've heard this sentiment many times and as a contest host, I do the same thing.

3. Follow submission guidelines. Please.

I automatically passed on an entry that forgot its header of Title, Word Count, Genre. I didn't even read the entry. I passed on one that had 200 sample words instead of the required 250.

Do yourself a favor and follow agent guidelines. They're there for a reason, and it's annoying and frustrating when submissions don't follow guidelines. It doesn't help you, either; it's an automatic pass.

Want to see the last three? Head over to Operation Awesome's blog to read the full article!



My Picks and Maybe's for "In With the New" Contest

  Posted by SC_Author , 23 July 2014 · 17 views

Here were my picks for Michelle's "In With the New" contest going on right now!!!

Before you read, know this:

I read almost all of the 191 entries, but not all. There is a chance I might not have read yours! But don't worry, one of the other five slush readers did.

Also, this was INCREDIBLY subjective and hard to decide (if you follow me on Twitter, you know). More about this in tomorrow's post.

My Yes's:

In Between Them 
Ratman’s Revenge       

My Maybe's:

Supernatural Freak
His Game, Her Rules
Barnswallow Summer
Life As I Knew It
Deadly Triggers
Dead Man’s Watch
Life Set Sail
The GAP Project
Summer Confessions
The Black Dragon’s Mate
The Truth About Two Shoes
Perfect Together
The Front Range
Land of the Free

Some of my Maybe's were picked as Yes's by other slush readers! Just shows how subjective it all is.

Good luck in the contest!!! Hope you get awesome requests.



The Best Mentality to Write With

  Posted by SC_Author , 21 July 2014 · 30 views

I rarely ever say something is the 'best' way to do something. Quite simply, there are many ways to do anything and one way could work best for one person and another way for another. But what if I told you what I believe to be the best way to write?

It all started when I read the article, "The Secret of Effective Motivation". Read it quickly then come back, to this page.

Basically, the article summarizes a research project studying motivation. The researchers surveyed about 11,000 cadets at West Point, asking them to rank their motives to attend the academy. The motives were split into internal motives like being trained to be an officer (basically, goals that are inherently related to the journey itself) and instrumental motives like finding a job later on (goals that aren't inherently related to the journey).

The researchers expected that the cadets who would become officers, got early promotions, and stayed in the military longer would obviously have strong internal motives but also strong instrumental motives. The most surprising thing was this: the cadets that had strong internal and strong instrumental motives "performed worse on every measure than did those with strong internal motives but weak instrumental ones."

What does this mean for your writing journey?

Obviously, we probably all want to be published, become NYT bestsellers, etc. The idea of winning prizes, holding a physical copy of our books in our hands, etc. drives us to write. We love to write, sure, but we'd love recognition. In fact, what might be best to getting that recognition is not running after it at all.

It's a hard mentality to switch to, but I think it's necessary. Could JK Rowling really have spent nine years simply in planning the Harry Potter series and writing the first book if all she desired was publication? Nine years is a long time to wait for something. What must have driven her was the journey itself; the intrinsic goals of writing the book, being with the characters, discovering her world, and crafting prose.

The funny thing is that there really shouldn't be a balance between intrinsic and instrumental motivations. To be successful, as the study shows, your intrinsic motivations must outweigh your instrumental ones by a lot. Don't try going for the best of both worlds; pick the better world and your world will become better as a result. Don't go for a 50-50 balance unless you're absolutely certain it works for you (I'd be skeptical, because the study proves that weak instrumental motivations and strong intrinsic ones win out every day).

This also helps a lot in keeping your chin up through the rejection-heavy process of writing. If you don't long for winning contests, prizes, even being published, rejections won't hurt nearly as bad. It might be scary to think, I don't need to be published, but think of it as: I need to create the best book possible for myself, as a writer, and publication will come as a side effect.

If you are intrinsically motivated to create the best book possible, publication itself shouldn't be the goal (just think how many bad books are published). If you want publication alone, you might just do the bare minimum to get a book deal instead of pushing your writing the furthest it could go. I highly doubt that writers like Hemingway, Angelou, Hugo, Salinger, Rowling, Tartt, and more just wanted to be published. They pushed writing to a new height, and it couldn't have happened unless they were intrinsically motivated to be the absolute best they could be, instead of just publishable.

I know, it's easy to say 'forget about your dream goals'. I still long to be published, win prizes, etc. It's hard to get out of that mentality, but it might be necessary. Don't shut down or ignore your instrumental motivations, that's just dangerous. Just let it flow through your mind like water. Acknowledge them and move on. Obsess over your intrinsic motivations instead: creating the best prose possible, fleshing out your characters, tightening that plot. And, as a result, you'll be on your way to success.

I loved that article - it completely changed the way I think about motivation. What do you think about the study?



Christina K - Nightmare on Query Street SUCCESS STORY!!

  Posted by SC_Author , 19 July 2014 · 29 views


I'm very very happy about this one, too, because Christina was on my team (the Spooks) for Nightmare on Query Street!!!! I picked her entry based on my gut reaction to how much I loved her query and 250; and lo and behold, it worked. She got the MOST requests out of all the Spooks!


The second novel I completed, and the first I queried, was called EMMY & MARI. It was inspired by the friendship between two students at my school that I had observed for a couple years. It was dark and somewhat depressing - full of death and drugs and general unpleasantness - but I loved it. Nightmare On Query Street was the first contest besides #pitmad I'd ever entered and I was understandably terrified. I sent in my characters' fears, query and 1st 250 and watched the slush talk like a hawk. SC tweeted something about a YA contemp that had a pitiful fear answer but great writing and it turned out that was me! The fear answer was definitely sad, but I was tickled beyond belief that someone saw something in my words.

I was completely over the moon to find out SC had picked me for his team, the Spooks. I met so many wonderful writers through NOQS, learned a ton about what makes a good query and opening, and told myself that even if I got zero requests from the participating agents, I'd come out on top. Well, I didn't get zero. Over the course of the request period, and even a bit later on, I ended up with 8 requests. I was completely shocked and flattered and thought that maybe I wasn't fooling myself that I had a shot at this writing thing. Those requests ended in mostly passes, a couple of no responses (booo), and one R&R with an amazing agent who ultimately didn't offer but went to the top of my list for the next project.

So I wrote another book, and another one, and the 4th book, VALEDICTIONS, found its way into the hands of the agent who made my dream of representation come true - Kevan Lyon. Kevan is fantastic and I can't wait to start this journey with her!

I am more grateful than I can express to SC, Michelle and Mike for holding NOQS, and all their other contests, and spending time on fledgling writers. This experience was so very positive and gave me the confidence to keep going. I never expected to form so many connections with this generous and supportive writing community when I started, but I know I would not have gotten this far without them. Writing, for me, is not a solitary endeavor, and is made richer by the people who have influenced my words. So, thanks. :)

Christina writes YA contemporary fiction when she's not writing college recommendation letters. She loves to read, travel, and hopes to one day be bi-coastal - the east coast of the US and the east coast of Scotland.  She is represented by Kevan Lyon of Marsal Lyon Literary and tweets. MAKE SURE TO  CONGRATULATE HER!!

CONGRATS CHRISTINA!!!! Can't wait to see what the future holds for you. (GO SPOOKS!)



Lara Rectenwald - Query Kombat 2014 SUCCESS STORY!!

  Posted by SC_Author , 18 July 2014 · 32 views

ALREADY WE'VE GOT A SUCCESS STORY FROM THIS YEAR'S QUERY KOMBAT!!!! I'm so so happy. The entry was Lavender Marriage (go read the entry). It's truly an amazing story and ended up being the adult co-champion....with NO agent requests.

Yup. None.

And now, Lara is our first QK 2014 success story. Talk about subjective? Talk about never giving up? 

Here's the story from Lara's words!

By the time I finally decided to write this book, I had been thinking about the story for ten years. I had originally conceived of the idea as a piece of ballet choreography while in college. At the time, I didn't have the courage to execute the idea and so it followed me around, stuck in the back of brain. In September of 2013, I decided I needed to get this idea out of my head for good, so I sat down and started writing. It was the first thing I had ever written and I finished the first draft in four months.

By February of 2014, I decided that after one full draft revision it was ready to be queried - it wasn't. The first 40 queries were not productive. At the end of April, I stumbled on Pitch Slam and decided to enter. It was a great experience and I made several new writer friends. I made the cut and did reasonably well, receiving one partial request from an agent, but the critical feedback I received from the judges caused me to completely rethink the beginning of my book. I cut the prologue and rewrote my first two-fifty, which led into the fifth full revision of the manuscript. All the while, emails from agents politely declining my queries continued to trickle in.

After Pitch Slam, I saw that Michelle was running another contest called Query Kombat and I decided to enter that one too. Spurred on by this new contest, I started from scratch and wrote my third and final query. I loved it, but wasn't sure if anyone else would. Reception was mixed - I was picked for Mike's team and ended up the Adult Co-Champion, but I didn't get a single manuscript request. It was disheartening. I had a few fulls and partials outstanding with agents, but I was feeling burned out on querying and decided I'd send one more before taking a break. Lucky 82.

I queried Brianne on July 1 and she responded on July 2 asking for 50 pages. I sent the 50 pages, with no great expectations. At this point, no partial request had ever turned into a full. On the morning of July 4 I woke up to see that she had sent an email at midnight requesting the full manuscript. I sent it immediately and went about my Independence Day activities. All day I surreptitiously checked my phone, looking for a confirmation that she received the full manuscript. At 4:30, while helping my mom cut watermelon, I checked my phone and there was The Email. She loved my book and wanted to talk on Monday!

My pessimism had me convinced it would be at best a request for an R&R. But it wasn't - it was The Call. Brianne really “got” my story and her excitement was contagious. I loved her suggested edits and I accepted on the spot. I quickly let every other agent who had a full, partial or query know that I had accepted representation. I am relieved to be done querying and thrilled to move on to the next steps toward publication!

Lara Rectenwald writes historical fiction and is represented by Brianne Johnson of Writers House. She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and two cats and has degrees in History and Political Science. When not reading or writing, Lara enjoys fixing up her old house. Follow her on Twitter and CONGRATULATE her!

Congrats Lara! I'm so happy for your success - and more to come!!



"How to Date Dead Guys" Rafflecopter GIVEAWAY!!!

  Posted by SC_Author , 16 July 2014 · 42 views

Goodreads Book Giveaway

How To Date Dead Guys by Ann M. Noser

How To Date Dead Guys

by Ann M. Noser

Giveaway ends August 14, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

A book release from a Query Kombat 2013 (last year's!) Kombatant!!!! If the book appeals to you (just read the title!) enter the  Rafflecopter giveaway

Or, if you don't want to wait...

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/how-to-date-dead-guys-ann-m-noser/1119938862?ean=9781620075197

Congrats Ann!!!!



Vote for a London Bench to be Painted in Harry Potter Art!!!

  Posted by SC_Author , 14 July 2014 · 27 views

Look how awesome the benches look at this link or in the beautiful pictures below taken from that same link (I don't own the pictures!).

Dr. Seuss
Mrs. Dalloway
The Time Machine


There's a chance that we can! BUT WE HAVE TO VOTE BEFORE 6 PM EST.

Harry is lagging behind in second place by a few percentages; we need votes, a LOT of them. Please please please! "Harry Potter" does deserve a bench in London; the series is classic and has cemented King's Cross station and other London landmarks in the global mind.

If you believe as I do that "Harry Potter" deserves a spot, please vote for it in 

using your phone, laptop, desktop, everything and everything! And please please share this message on Twitter or anywhere else! We must vote before 6 pm EST TODAY (July 14th)!!!!

Vote to get a Harry Potter artistic bench in London! Voting ends 6 pm EST TODAY! http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/poll/2014/jul/09/poll-choose-literary-character-for-51st-london-book-bench [Tweet this!]"

Want to see a a Harry Potter artistic bench in London? VOTE!! Voting ends 6 pm EST TODAY! http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/poll/2014/jul/09/poll-choose-literary-character-for-51st-london-book-bench [Tweet this!]




The Secret to a Great Book Title

  Posted by SC_Author , 07 July 2014 · 35 views

I recently read If I Stay by Gayle Foreman. The main reason I bought it? I'm obsessed with the premise. The second biggest reason? The title.

As of yet, I don't think I've ever heard of a better title for a book (of course this is just my subjectivity speaking). Why do I think it's a good title? How about we ask the bigger question:

What makes a good title?

Basically, one thing: It makes you want to find out more about the book.

It makes you pick up the book from a bookshelf lined up with only the spines of the book facing you. It makes you ask, "What's it about?" genuinely when someone mentions the book's title in passing. It makes you stop in your tracks when you come across it at a bookstore and you think, "Hey, I heard about this book before."

It makes you want to read the blurb (and hopefully, the blurb and the first few pages will make you buy the book).

If I Stay as a title accomplished all that and more for me. I still can't stop thinking about the title and what it means. (Basically, the book is about a girl who gets in a car crash and is comatose. She has a big choice to make... and as the book's blurb doesn't tell you what the choice is, I won't either, but the title should make it pretty obvious. Don't worry, knowing what the choice is doesn't ruin the book at all; I bought the book because I wanted to know how she'd make the choice.) But anyway, back to the title!

If I stay. The main character is thinking, what will happen if she stays?

But notice there's no question mark at the end of "If I stay."

It's not framed as a question, it's framed as an option. "If," the most powerful word, maybe ever, in my opinion. "If I Stay."

And the thing is, it's not even "If I Go" which is the other option and, technically, just as viable of a title. But you see, I was thinking about this and wondering exactly why I like 'stay' better than 'go' and I think it's because 'go' is much more...stereotypical, for lack of a better word. One can always find reasons to go. But by having "If I Stay" be the title, it shows that the main character is thinking much more about that option - not because she wants to live or is just so happy, but because she's trying to find reasons to stay. To me, trying to find reasons to stay is much more heart-breaking and thought-provoking than finding reasons to go.

That's why I bought the book. A good title is everything, folks. A mediocre title is fine - just make it memorable. A bad title can kill your novel. But an incredible title - it can make it.

So what's the secret to a great book title?

Here's what everyone knows:

1. Unique (don't let it show up if you Google it or Amazon it)

2. Memorable (short and sweet, usually, unless it's "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" or something like that; case in point: I just tried looking up the title to another book that I thought was memorable. I kept Googling different versions of the book's title (it's something like "A Great Work of Epic Proportion" or something like that, I have no clue) and no books show up. Only links like 'great works of art' show up. I can't ever find the book now unless I try really hard (and I won't). There goes one potential buyer)

3. Related to the Book in Some Way The title can't be gimmicky; it has to be related to the book's overall purpose/main idea/plot/character/anything big about the book. It can't be called, "How to Cure Hangovers in Ten Minutes" and then be a MG Thriller.

But if everyone knows these three things, they're not a secret. Those three bullets are crucial, I would say, but the way to have a great book title...read on.

4. Thought-provoking. Just the right amount of confusion to get the reader to pick up the book, just the right amount of detail to give the reader some idea of what the book is about, and hinting at big questions or ideas. Notice how If I Stay is not forced. Thought-provoking also could be, for that novel, 'Live vs. Die' and that could be the title. But that freaking sucks. It's nasty. It's preachy and too themey. Which is why the next bullet-point (in conjunction with #4) is:

5. Natural to Your Book's VoiceIf I Stay was written in the first-person, and so is the title. You get a hint of the character's voice in the title and thus, the reader immediately connects with the main character (which is why great titles might be slightly more achievable for writers in the first-person). The title gels with the book; it's seamless. Make sure yours is too.

Now it's time for me to take my own advice with my mediocre, quick-and-easy title of 'Saving Penelope'. Sigh.

How about you? How do you come up with your titles? What title is your favorite? Do you have a favorite?

By the way, it's 7/7/14!!!! Two sevens and then a 14 (7 + 7!). LUCKY NUMBER WOO!!!! It'll be a good day :)


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