January 28, 10 @ 1:14 pm
Okay, long time no post. Me sorry. But if you don’t already know, I’ve been cheating on my blog a lot with twitter. Visit me there if you want frequent updates on my oh-so-exciting life. For example, last night I tweeted about eating yogurt. It’s a glamorous life.
On Monday I finished the short story I had to write for KISS ME DEADLY, the YA anthology from the publisher of the Mammoth anthologies. I’m happy with how my story, FAMILIAR, turned out. It’s about a witch’s familiar and I’m quite fond of it.
Writing it got me thinking about titling (although this one basically titled itself) and when I saw someone else post about their titles that have changed from working to final, I thought I’d share some of mine over the years.
BITTEN & SMITTEN was originally titled DEARLY DEPARTED
In fact, being the newbie that I was, I fought very hard to keep this title. I lost, of course. And I’m glad that I did. While Bitten & Smitten felt way too cutesy to me (and if there’s one thing I reject about my own work is the idea that it’s “cutesy,” I feel more people were attracted to the title off the bat. It works. And after four years the book is still in print and doing well, so I can’t exactly complain, can I?
ANGEL WITH ATTITUDE was originally titled TROUBLE IN PARADISE
Actually, this book started off as a gritty private detective novel called PARADISE, believe it or not. I wrote 50K for Nanowrimo 2004. Then I realized it had to be light and fun to match Bitten & Smitten since it would be the second book in my contract with Warner. So I changed absolutely everything about it. In fact, in the original version, she hooks up with the character who would eventually be the old dude Barlow while Nathaniel was a (conflicted) bad guy. Don’t ask. It was kind of a mess.
TALL, DARK & FANGSOME was originally titled DEVILS & DIAMONDS
I worked hard on the new titles when I was asked for a new one (since neither devils nor diamonds sound particularly vampiric). I think my list included about 200 potential titles. When my editor picked TD&F I was like, “really?” It seemed kind of silly to me and more of one I tacked on at the end for a joke. But now I know that it’s perfect and I wuv it. I look forward to seeing how it’s translated into German.
THE DEMON IN ME was originally titled LIVING IN EDEN
The original title is now the series title. I like the new title. It was changed to fit the cover direction — slightly darker and hero-oriented. If it had been a cartoonish girly cover (which I did not want) it could have had the original title. As it sits, it had to be a little more blatent about what the book was about, with a bit of a humorous twist. I think it’s very effective — and best of all? I didn’t even have to come up with it. My editor did. I am allowed to keep my second title, SOMETHING WICKED, so that’s cool.
DEMON PRINCESS: REIGN OR SHINE was originally titled NIKKI DONOVAN: DEMON PRINCESS and even before that NIKKI DONOVAN: DEMON SPAWN
This was also a very long process of title changing. My list is long. We had to figure out a title hook and the play on “reign” seems to work okay, I think, although I’m hoping the titles don’t become confusing for readers to differentiate between.
COUNTDOWN was originally THE CHALLENGE
I changed it because there was another book titled the same thing at the time. And the new title (as well as the name of the “game” they’re playing) works better this way and gives more of a thriller feel.
HOT SPELL was originally FEELS LIKE MAGIC
Had to change it because it wasn’t sexy enough for a Blaze. S’okay. I like the new title just fine.
DEVIL’S APPLE was originally NIGHTFALL
This is the book I’m working on right now — the second in my Nightshade urban fantasy duology. I was asked to change NIGHTFALL to something else because there are five million other books with that title. No idea if the new title will stick. Probably not. But for now I like it just fine.
So I guess my point is, most titles end up changing. If you’re really tied to your original title, you might be setting yourself up for disappointment. However, getting a title hook going for a series takes a lot of the guesswork out of things and helps the marketing department.
January 10, 10 @ 12:31 pm
I remember hearing about Avatar for the first time when I went trolling for info about Sam Worthington after falling for him in Terminator: Salvation and was happy to see he was going to star in a James Cameron flick. I’ve rarely met (on-screen) an Aussie actor I didn’t like. What is it about Australia that produces these hotties?
Anyway, I finally saw Avatar last week. In 3-D no less. I think I want to see it again. It was a stunning film on many levels and has stuck in my mind, but I only gave it a 9/10 on imdb.com.
I couldn’t figure out what it was lacking for me until I read a bit more on it. And yes, I suppose the story was a bit simplistic. However, I don’t fault it for this at all (if perhaps keeping it from being a 10/10 for me). The movie works. But the villains were 2-dimensional and the plot twists were rather predictable. The surprise and awe was in the visuals not in the storyline. As a writer, I expect just a smidge more.
However, what Avatar got right in my books and that 2012 — the other big budget movie I’ve seen lately that did not work for me as Avatar did — THE EMOTION. I was sucked in. I cared about these characters and what happened to them. So that was a big WIN in my books. That it wasn’t quite perfect as far as script? I’m okay with that. Because if it had been it might just have totally blown my mind like The Matrix did back in ’98 or whenever it came out.
I saw someone write that Sam’s character was completely TSTL. totally I agree. At least, at the beginning he was. His character arc involved him starting in that place and evolving to what he was meant to be — from unenlightened to enlightened. And I’m sorry, but he was still kinda hot as a blue dude.
So…. slightly lacking script + deep emotion involvement + awesome visuals = 9/10
I’ve heard it’s the first in a trilogy. I hope that’s true.
Today I’m starting on my second urban fantasy in my duology (my fifteenth contracted book! Holy cows!) which has the working title of DEVIL’S APPLE, hereby referred to on the blog as DA. I’m excited about this book because…oh because of many reasons. Not the least of which is that Sam Worthington is the embodiment in the theater of my mind of my character Declan, a dhampyr with major issues (this pic is a good look for him).
I probably won’t write any pages today, but just mentally ease back into the world. I don’t have a long time to write this one — my deadline’s April 1st — so I’m going to be living and breathing this book for the next little while. Which, since I approach my writing like an actor approaches a part, I’m going to be immersed in death, violence, blood and vampires.
Writing darker and more thrilling stresses me out, but it’s worth it in the end. But I can’t write a totally dark book. I need to inject some comic relief in there somewhere via my designated comic relief “side kick” character. In this case, his name is Noah. Thank you Noah. I hope I won’t have to kill you.
January 02, 10 @ 6:00 am
***Thanks to everyone for commenting. The winner of Liza’s book is Comment #14 – StephTheBookworm and she’s been contacted by email!***
Welcome to my first RowenChat with the fabulous Liza Palmer. Liza’s third book, A FIELD GUIDE TO BURYING YOUR PARENTS, was just released from 5-Spot. Liza is one of the funniest people I’ve ever met and she always keeps me laughing. Being that she’s on the other side of the continent, I only get to see her at RWA conferences. Worth my membership right there!
Liza has generously offered up a free, signed copy of her new release. To enter, please comment to this post and give Liza some New Year’s love! I will randomly pick a winner Wednesday, January 6th at 9:00 EST.
A FIELD GUIDE TO BURYING YOUR PARENTS
by Liza Palmer
Grace Hawkes has not spoken to her previously tight-knit family since her mother’s sudden death five years ago. Well, most of the family was tight-knit– her father walked out on them when she was 13 and she and her two brothers and sister bonded together even closer with their mother as a result.
She’s been doing her best to live her new life apart from them, but when their estranged father has a stroke and summons them, Grace suddenly realizes she’s done the same thing he had done…abandoned those who need her most.
And need her they do, for inside the hospital walls, a strange war is unfolding between the pseudo-kindly woman who is their father’s second wife and the rest of the original Hawkes clan. Upon reconnecting with her brother and sisters, Grace will find a part of herself she thought was lost forever. As they unravel the manipulative deception of the second Mrs. Hawkes, Grace will finally be able to stand up for her family– and to remember what a family is, even after all these years.
Michelle: So here we are.
Liza: I’m all hopped up on cough syrup and Imodium so bring it on.
Michelle: You in Pasadena. And me in Southern Ontario.
Liza: Me in 70 degrees and you in…
Michelle: Uh… zero degrees. On the dot.
Liza: Jesus. That’s just not even fair.
Michelle: It’s 70 degrees in my living room.
Liza: Saw Sherlock Holmes. Loved it! Jude Law. Hot.
Michelle: Jude Law is unquestionably hot, but for some reason I side with Downey Jr.
Liza: Oh, absolutely. But, it was Jude Law that was shocking to me being hot. He’s usually a question.
Michelle: What did you think of the movie?
Liza: I loved it. Loved it. I want to see it again. You weren’t the only one to be tepid with it — why didn’t you like it?
Michelle: I thought the performances and casting were great, but the plot was too hard to follow and Guy Ritchie’s direction was a bit extreme. I did enjoy the homoerotic subtext.
Liza: Oh, it was totally a romance.
Michelle: Big time. I just wanted them to start making out. I would have been fine with that.
Michelle: Hey…I started reading A Field Guide to Burying Your Parents but haven’t gotten too far into it yet.
Liza: This interview is over.
Michelle: Your voice is unmistakable though. I could tell it was you writing it even if it didn’t have your name on the cover.
Liza: Are you going to ask me what the book is about? I hate that question.
Michelle: I loved via email last week when you were talking about being more plot oriented and then described the book as being about grief, and family, etc. Described via themes rather than plot. So awesome.
Liza: Well for me — this book is way more plot oriented. With Seeing Me Naked it really was about a particular character arc and the plot was just a gauntlet for her to run. With this one, it was about really putting the Hawkes family through their paces — and dealing with abandonment, trust, loss and grief. What’s also new is dealing with a unit of people (the Hawkes siblings) instead of one heroine. Definitely an evolution.
Michelle: There’s romance in it, though, right?
Liza: Oh yes. John is quite possibly the hottest hero I’ve written to date. And the older brother, Huston, is pretty hot, too. 6’4”, blonde, lawyer…my knight in shining armor.
Michelle: Do you say that name how it looks or like Houston? Huss-ton. Hyoo-ston
Liza: Like Houston. It’s Southern. I knew a Huston back in the day, always wanted to name someone after him. Hyooston. And John — whooee. He’s a bit dark. Which was really cool. Writing someone with huge trust issues being in love with someone with huge trust issues.
Michelle: Dark is good.
Liza: He has a tattoo on the back of his neck that reads, “Never Trust a Soul.” Hot.
Michelle: My books seem to all be about control and losing control at some level. Do you find the same themes are recurring in your books — like your core story? I never realized it quite so fully until this most recent book of mine. All about control issues. And that probably says a lot about me. Mine are also about fighting change instead of embracing that what makes us different before we have the chance to be happy.
Liza: Totally. It’s always so weird to learn about yourself from this aerial view. I think I’m always about chronicling that point in time when you really dig to find our who you are and then BE THAT. I love the Chris Rock quote where he says the funniest shit is the shit that’s not funny. That basically sums up my writing.
Michelle: I always think that the funniest people are the most messed up. So many stand up comics are manic-depressive.
Liza: Well, who wants to read about someone who’s robotic and bland? I mean, we hate it in our own lives, but we have to recognize that being a bit of a mess makes great fiction.
Michelle: That’s why models are so boring. They’ve always been gorgeous and had everything handed to them.
Liza: Right, but they rely on others for everything. It’s very adolescent. There’s nothing internal fueling them.
Michelle: Does the humor in your books — and in real life — come to you naturally, or do you have to work on it? I find the more I force it, the less funny I am.
Liza: It comes pretty naturally. The more you try to be funny the more tragic it gets.
Michelle: I like humor, but it can’t all be silly crap. That’s boring. I really like a mix of comedy and tragedy.
Liza: Comedy and tragedy is the only way to go. That’s what makes David Sedaris so good. And even the BBC Office? Oh my god…so good.
Michelle: Do you have a mentor? Someone to bounce ideas off? Or do you just go with what your gut tells you?
Liza: I bounce ideas off my Mom mostly. I mean, I have another writer friend, but we mostly talk script stuff. I mean, your stories are all about — like you said — control issues and really being comfortable with who you are. The vampire stuff is just a means of transportation for those themes.
Michelle: To some extent. But sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
Liza: YOU’RE QUOTING FREUD???? Right???
Liza: Like when you’re eating an artichoke? It’s not about the artichoke…it’s about the mayonnaise.
Michelle: Mmm. Mayonnaise.
Liza: I AM A GENIUS. BOW BEFORE ME AND MY ARTICHOKE METAPHORS!
Michelle: After I finish bowing, let’s talk NEW MOON.
Liza: OH MY GOD. Did you read that great article about why Edward Cullen is such cat nip? That he’s basically porn for women. The absolute end all be all of what women want.
Michelle: Definitely. Women, whether they’ll admit it or not, want to be loved unconditionally.
Liza: That men have these impossible women all around them all the time — beer ads featuring nakedish women with perfect bodies.
Michelle: People who don’t understand the draw of the Cullen just think he’s a creepy, obsessive stalker. Is there a fine line between a stalker and perfect man?
Liza: His only job is to love Bella. It’s fantasy. He’s the ultimate fantasy. In real life? Yeah, he’d be creepy.
Michelle: I’m constantly stunned by the amount of hate that people throw at this franchise.
Liza: It’s all about taking the big dog down.
Michelle: I wasn’t completely in love with New Moon. And I’m still not sure why. I thought Twilight had more soul for a movie even though the effects were crap.
Liza: Oh, yeah….I liked Twilight better. It was more intimate. The whole love triangle was in full effect in New Moon. But, Jacob? That’s bananas. I like that there’s some kid out there making men feel like shit about their bodies. Welcome to life as a female.
Michelle: What I didn’t like about Sherlock Holmes is the same with New Moon. And Pirates of the Caribbean (the second two) it was all sound and fury…signifying nothing.
Liza: Pirates of the Caribbean, yes. That was just a mess.
Michelle: First Pirates — brilliant. Just like the first Mummy movie. Then…not so much.
Liza: Sherlock Holmes was detailed and tight — but definitely worth seeing again. And New Moon…I don’t know. I liked it. Don’t know why. Just did.
Michelle: Oh, I liked it. But I didn’t love it. Have you seen Avatar yet?
Liza: I loathe James Cameron.
Michelle: Gasp! Cameron’s brilliant.
Michelle: Terminator 2? Titanic??
Liza: HATED TITANIC.
Michelle: SHUT YOUR MOUTH!
Liza: I. HATED. TITANIC.
Michelle: Take that back.
Liza: With a fiery passion. Every wet and waterworldly second of it.
Michelle: I can no longer be your friend.
Liza: You liked Titanic??? HOW???
Michelle: Because it was brilliant. And it made me cry like a bitch. I don’t cry at movies.
Liza: What made it brilliant?
Michelle: The plot sucked me in. The romance. The action. EVERYTHING. Even the crappy Celine Dion song.
Liza: I hear Avatar is amazing. I’m rolling my eyes, of course, as I type that.
Michelle: Worst movie of the year for me? Love Happens.
Liza: Oh really???
Liza: What…was that Jennifer Aniston?
Liza: I love her, why can’t she find a good movie?
Michelle: No idea.
Michelle: What are you working on now? The newly contracted book?
Liza: The new one is Book Four — and it’s awesome. I’m loving it.
Michelle: Does it have a title yet?
Liza: You like the title? BOOK FOUR?
Liza: We were playing with “White Picket Fences: And other crimes against humanity.” A bit long.
Liza: I’m kind of loving “When the Dust Settles.”
Michelle: That’s better.
Liza: It’s all about the choices women have. The Happy Homemaker vs. Rosie the Riveter. And how women are compelled to put forth this shiny happy life. Marriage is great, children are beautiful….and yet, we’re all kind of scared and lost. The Curse of Martha Stewart, I say.
Michelle: Does it have a release date?
Liza: Hopefully 2011.
Michelle: Are you doing a book a year? Or is it more than that now?
Liza: I want a book a year. That’s my goal. I’ve got an idea for Book Five, which is nice. And percolating is a necessary step that we all overlook and devalue. Because there’s really nothing concrete to show for it.
Michelle: You’re doing other stuff — screenwriting?
Liza: I’ve started doing some screenwriting — I wrote a TV pilot that’s getting some traction. A total departure.
Michelle: That sounds awesome. I’d love to do that too.
Liza: And I’ve started a feature script, which I’m loving. It’s a totally different muscle.
Michelle: How do you feel about reading your reviews? Bad reviews still take the wind out of my sails, even after doing this for over four years. Now I try to avoid them — GoodReads, Amazon, etc.
Liza: it’s such a siren’s song though, right???
Michelle: It is.
Liza: I never read reviews — or didn’t in the past. I’ve read my share for Field Guide.
Michelle: The more popular you are, the more haters there are.
Liza: Oh, totally.
Michelle: It’s a sign of success. I read other people’s bad reviews to make me feel better. And that’s what makes me remember it’s only one person’s opinion.
Liza: You’re evil. I never do that. Ever. Ahem.
Michelle: I can look at those bad reviews and take them with a grain of salt. But not my own.
Liza: I know…it’s not logical. It’s absolutely illogical. It doesn’t make it any less hurtful. We know that insults have more to do with the person saying them than with us, it doesn’t make it feel any better.
Michelle: God, I’m starving. I think I’m ordering in. The diet can restart in the new year.
Liza: I should probably eat something besides Robitussin today. What are you going to eat?
Michelle: Chicken wrap.
Liza: I believe In N Out Burger is calling. And I’m going to answer the shit out of that call.
Michelle: Answer that call.
Liza: Are you going to get fries?
Michelle: Maybe I am. I admit nothing. I worked out with my trainer this morning after tons of turkey and I thought I was going to die.
Liza: And look at you going to the gym. Coolio. I do yoga. And walk.
Michelle: Enjoy your 70 degree weather.
Liza: There’s the ending.
Liza Palmer is the internationally bestselling author of Conversations with the Fat Girl which Booklist says, “…manages to infuse a message of self–acceptance that isn’t heavy-handed or cloying. This quick-witted author is sure to develop a following.” Conversations with the Fat Girl became an international bestseller its first week in publication, being named a Target Breakout book, as well as hitting Number 1 on the Fiction Heatseekers List in the UK the week before the book debuted. Conversations with the Fat Girl has been optioned for series by HBO by the producers of Rome, Band of Brothers and Generation Kill. Palmer’s second novel is Seeing Me Naked, which Publisher’s Weekly says, “consider it haute chick lit; Palmer’s prose is sharp, her characters are solid and her narrative is laced with moments of graceful sentiment.” Palmer’s third novel, A Field Guide to Burying Your Parents will be published in January 2010. Palmer currently lives in Los Angeles and is hard at work on her next novel as well as several film and television projects.
For more info, visit Liza’s website at www.lizapalmer.com