Category Archives: Writing Nightmares

The Truth About Signing Books

I have been signing books for a month now and want to go on record to say that signing books is not as easy as it looks.  Several times I messed up and had to start over with a clean book.  Sometimes I get carried away and gush.  (New nightmare:  reading old inscriptions in resale copies at Half-Priced Books).  But my all-time worst fear is that a friend will present a book for signing and I won’t recall their name.  Even if we rode to the event in the same car, book signing dynamics cause names to disappear faster than a teenager with a driver’s license.  This is why sticky notes and pens and lines were invented.      

Discussion Question:  Should a person who can spend an hour revising a brief email be inscribing books?  If words came quickly and easily, I’d be a speaker.  Instead I’m the Tiger Mother of Manuscript Revisions.  Me to manuscript:  I don’t care if it takes all day!  Every word in this sentence will demonstrate a brilliant reason for its continued presence or see a blue haze and hear the right click of my mouse!  I will cut, paste, and revise until I get it right.          

And ideally, every book I sign would get a custom-nuanced dedication, drawing on past shared experience (if applicable), hope for present or future enterprises, a hearty affirmation of Jane Austen, a declaration of the appropriate degree of affection and gratitude, all topped with just the right personal motif.  After all, this is my tender newborn I’m putting in readers’ hands.  Husband would prefer that I harness my powerful overthinking skills in favor of something productive, like say, my novel-in-progress.    

He may be right.  Not everybody wants a War and Peace Inscription and it is hard to go deep with people I don’t even know.  Some people anticipate and say, just your name, please.        

My son saw this picture of me signing books at the Texas Library Association Conference and snickered.  Why would anyone want his mother’s autograph?  Pigs fly.

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Filed under Cindy Jones, My Jane Austen Summer, The business of writing..., Writing Nightmares

Inside Story: The Title Diet

 

Teenager Not Playing Video Games

 

My Writing Teacher warned us not to waste calories worrying about titles for our books.  Editors replace working titles–in a heartbeat–at the appropriate time.  Nonetheless, I secretly wasted calories worrying about titles.  I burned calories I could have used writing a sequel.  

FYI:  Title Worry consumes the same number of calories as enforcing time limits on Xbox players.          

I descended into title madness between 3 and 4 am on select nights, generating a vast graveyard of titles too embarrassing to exhume.  Example:  DITCHED BY JANE AUSTEN which I submitted to Editor before First Reader was awake one morning.  Sadly, some of my working titles came within a mere word of the winning title but I couldn’t close the gap, as if my synapses weren’t quite up to the challenge.  Was this a symptom of a deeper affliction?  An inability to grasp the meaning of the 90,000 words I’d spent five years writing?    

Both Agent and Editor referred to my book by randomly choosing a word from the working title collection and writing it in ALL CAPS.  Sometimes Agent called it MANSFIELD PARK.  Sometimes Editor simply called it JANE.  And then one day Editor said, “I keep thinking of this book as THE SUMMER OF MY JANE AUSTEN.”  Taught by my Writing Teacher to eliminate excess articles and needless words, I regrouped and said, “What about MY JANE AUSTEN SUMMER?”  High concept with a hint of irony.   

I burned exactly .0395 calories fueling the two heartbeats that helped nail the title.  About the same caloric demand of shooting one video game zombie.  But the calories I wasted on Title Worry would feed an Xbox party of four for the rest of the summer.  I guess I shouldn’t worry about it.  

NEXT BLOG:  My Novel Picks Up a Subtitle

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Filed under Agent, aging synapses, Editor, First Reader (aka Husband), My Jane Austen Summer, My Writing Teacher said..., teenagers, Writing Nightmares