In which Horn Book disses commercial fiction and me by name

Okay, actually Horn Book only dissed the flap copy and premise of my book, which I don’t feel too badly about since Tim, the Bow-Tied One, came up with both. And I rewrote the flap copy for the book and was surprised that the older version was on the ARCs. (Note to self, make sure it’s not on the real books.)

But this is from the editor in chief at Horn Book’s blog:

Not as rhetorical a question as you might have wished

From the promo blurb for My Double Life, by Janette Rallison:

You know how they say everyone has a twin somewhere in the world, a person chance has formed to be their mirror image? Well, mine happens to be rock star Kari Kingsley. How crazy is that?

Not crazy at all, when you, like I, have just spent two days combing through dozens (and dozens) of new YA novels, every other one of which seeming to encapsulate a formula of romance novel plus high-concept commercial hook plus glamorama cover art. In my day we called these paperbacks.

One of the more interesting of post-Harry Potter developments has been the emergence of commercial fiction for young people; that is, books designed to be purchased by kids/teens themselves, written in an undemanding style and with an alluring, quickly graspable premise. Airport books. Except if they were airport books, I wouldn’t have to think twice about not reviewing them. And. There. Are. So. Many. And so many that seem to want desperately to be just like some other book that has already been a hit. Little Vampire Women, I’m looking at you.

Okay, now it’s Janette typing again.

My first reaction when I read this was to laugh and go write Little Vampire Women. (You know somebody is going to do it, and it will be a bestseller.) But it did get me thinking about the whole issue. Then today I went back to reread the blog and noticed that somebody had left a scathing anonymous comment so I figured I had better leave a comment because otherwise everyone would think I was the anonymous commenter. Here is my comment:

Hi Roger,
To tell you the truth, when my editor asked me to write this book, I had some similar thoughts to yours and joked with him more than once that we should call the book: Yes, Hannah Montana Fans, This Book is for You!

But really, there are no new plots, just new characters to live in them. I asked myself what elements I could add to this much used Prince and the Pauper plot to make it meaningful. Trust me, the issues in the book do run deeper than the flap copy suggests.

As far as the benefits of commercial fiction go, I’ll just say this: I’ve had teenagers tell me they didn’t like reading until they started reading my books. I had two reluctant reader sons who learned that reading could be fun by reading Captain Underpants. Whatever works! Now they’re reading the classics.

And thank you, Roger, for all you do to bring the wonderful world of reading to kids too!

Now I think I’ll sit down and start writing that Little Vampire Women book you mentioned. It’s going to be gold!

Round two of revisions for Faking It

I got my second revision letter and manuscript comments from the bow-tied one. I will share some of it with you and interpret it for you along the way. In his email to me, he said, “You’re doing great! We love it!”

Ohhoho. I know better than to believe those words. He is not taking me in with those pretty exclamation points. He always says those sorts of things right before he butchers my manuscript and sends me back the bleeding entrails.

I opened the revision letter and braced myself. I read a few lines and then he said, “We can discuss deadlines after you’ve had a chance to sit with all of this.”

Ahh, the truth first peeks out with its beady little eyes. The bow-tied one knows full well that when I read what follows I will be so torked out of shape I will not speak to him for a solid week. It is going to be bad my friends, very bad.

He then says, “You will be relieved to see that there are fewer comments on this pass (only 407 this time, down from 435), so clearly you are moving in the right direction!”


I would make some other sort of statement about his 407 comments, but I haven’t read them yet. I can’t. I’ve made a bargain with myself. I will only read his revisions notes until I get so upset that I want to scream, then I will walk away from the computer and do something else for the rest of the day. It is the only way I can get through this.

It will take me at least another day to finish his revision letter before I even open the manuscript.

I have finally figured out why he wears a bow-tie instead of a regular one. Bow-ties are harder to grab a hold of when you want to strangle people.

What would you call it? The working title

The bow-tied one has asked me on several occasions what I’m calling my new manuscript. (Which still isn’t done–but I have written 54,000 words. Of course of those 54,000 words, approximately 3 will remain standing by the time revisions are done, so I don’t even feel close to done at this point.)

Apparently editors like to know title information so they can put it in contracts and use it when talking to the other people at the publishing company. I usually have some sort of title. I mean, I’ve got to call the manuscript something so I can find it again on my computer after Vista tries to bury it in the bowels of some obscure file where I will never be able to retrieve it. Vista is just like that.

So the name I’m using on my computer is: New, new, new, novel for Tim. Really. It started out as novel for Tim but then got ‘new’s added every time I completely scrapped the thing and started over. Yeah, this hasn’t been my easiest novel to write.

Anyway, despite the fact that he should be honored that I put his name in the title, the bow-tied one has not taken to the title: New, New, New Novel for Tim. He wants me to come up with something else.

I am really drawing a blank. I thought maybe I could do a take off on The Prince and the Pauper, and call my book: The Prince and the Pop star, but I’m sort of afraid that no one would make the connection and they’d just think it was a book about royalty, which it’s not. (The prince would be referring to the hot guy lead who is also a rock star and is thus the Prince of Rock.)

It’s a book about a girl who, in her quest to meet her father, impersonates a famous teen rock star. And yes, she does fall in love with rock star guy who doesn’t know who she really is.

Since you guys did such a great job with producing song lyrics, I’m confident someone out there will come up with a brilliant title. Or at least a really bad title so I can laugh about it.

Suggestions anyone?

If you come up with the title that the all-powerful marketing department actually likes, I’ll send you a free copy of the book when it comes out.

My Wonderful editor

Okay, I have to give major kudos to the bow-tied one. In fact, I take back all of those things I’m going to say about him during my next book’s revisions. He asked me a long time ago who I wanted to blurb my book and the first name I said was Ellen Conford.

Right now Ellen Conford is best known for her Jenny Archer and Annabel the Actress series but back when I was growing up she not only wrote middle grade novels she also wrote some dang funny Young Adult books. She was hands down my favorite author. I loved reading about her quirky heroines because they always made me laugh. I pretty much wanted to be her when I grew up. In fact, after I’d written my first national market novel, Playing the Field, Tim mentioned that my main character didn’t have a last name and needed one. So I gave my character the last name of Conford in her honor.

Now the thing about Ellen Conford is that she is not easy to get a hold of. Go ahead and try to google her. She doesn’t have a website. I know it took Tim a long time to get a hold of her and even longer to get her to read my book and blurb it, but he did–and SHE DID!!!! (Those are exclamation points of a rabid fan. Imagine me waving my hands around and squealing.)

Here is what she said about my next book for Tim, Just One Wish.

Rallison’s manuscript was a pleasant surprise, humorous and unsentimental in spite of its serious underpinnings. I especially appreciated the scheming and machinations the girls devise to see Steve Raleigh. . . With sympathetic characters and a charming teen aged hunk I think that Janette Rallison’s book will appeal to many young teenagers.

I am so going to put this quote somewhere on my website. And there will probably be dancing cats or something surrounding it just to draw people’s attention to it. Because yeah–how cool am I–my idol liked my book. Wahoo!