Name my book!

Hey everyone – here’s an opportunity you don’t get every day. I’m going to spend a week or two asking people what I should call the final volume of the Embodied trilogy. Books 1 and 2 are titled Silent Symmetry and Starley’s Rust, and I’m polling friends and fans to choose one of three options for book 3:

Diamond Spheres

Diamond Splinters

Diamond Scars

If you haven’t read any of the other books in the trilogy, no problem! I need a title that will appeal to casual browsers in the Amazon store. Yes, I have a personal fave, but I thought it would be fun to collect some other opinions. And as we all know in this social media age, everyone has an opinion.

So either write your choice of title in the comments below or click on this link to use the online poll I just set up (it’s one click, takes about 5 seconds).

I really appreciate your help with this. By all means share this post or the link to the poll.

John

PS – The book is in the editing process right now and should be out by spring, followed by a compendium version of all three books!

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Books 1 and 2 in the Embodied trilogy.

An agent query letter that brought home the six-figure bacon!

Kristin Nelson at Nelson Literary Agency has kindly shared the query letter by author Scott Reintgen that convinced her to sign him. I’m guessing Scott was already pretty happy about that. But when Kristin brokered a mid-six-figure deal with Crown Books for Young Readers for Scott’s debut science fiction young adult trilogy, he must have been ecstatic.

Use the link above to read the full query letter that Scott sent Kristin and with one click on the Send button propelled his career into the stratosphere!

 

Proof it exists!

There’s a reason you can see me wearing a thick sweater in this photo. It’s because here in Montreal it’s -23C (that’s MINUS 9 DEGREES FAHRENHEIT!!) with the wind chill this morning. But am I cold? No, and it’s not because of the sweater. It’s because my heart has been warmed by the arrival of the paperback proof of my new novel. It’s basically like Christmas came early. And I can tell you, not only does Starley’s Rust look good, it feels good too!

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The first thing I did was take a photo of it. Does this count as a selfie? Have I become an Instagram junkie? Do I care? Heck, no! In fact, I then raised the stakes by taking a double selfie. For the first time, ladies and gentlemen (and young adults), here are the first two books in the Embodied trilogy, side by side. As you all know, I’m a big fan of ebooks. But the one thing they lack is being able to weigh them in your hand, then feel the glossy cover and the smooth white pages inside. And if it gets much colder, I can also use them to start a fire. (Current societal practices dictate that I insert “LOL” here.)

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Now I’m back sitting at my desk – which of course isn’t work – and I’m basking in the glow from Starley’s Rust. It’s a lovely day…

 

 

 

 

The Embodied on Instagram and Pinterest

Yesterday was a lovely, sunny day here in Montreal, and I walked down to the neighbourhood known as the Monkland Village with my kids to have a coffee and pick up some groceries. That was the outline of my story. But the story I told my kids was: “LET’S GO AND HAVE CUPCAKES! (And then I’ll go in the store.)” This story was a big hit, and two store-made cupcakes were subsequently demolished and consumed. I just wanted a nice cappuccino to sip while the cake destruction was taking place. However, at the counter I was tempted to eat something sweet. Not an entire cupcake, but something… And that’s when I saw an entire tray of these:

The Embodied trilogy, embodied as a chocolate!

The Embodied trilogy, embodied as a chocolate!

For any of you who have read book one of my Embodied trilogy of young adult novels, you’ll know that pyramids play a significant part. Guess what? In the soon-to-be-released book 2, they acquire an even deeper significance. So I had to buy one and eat it. It was good (thank you, Cho’cola!). Everyone was happy.

So what does all this have to do with Instagram, I hear you ask, as your mind wanders towards the candy jar? I had already made a decision to give the Embodied trilogy a presence on Instagram and Pinterest, and when the server handed me the stylish plate with a single chocolate pyramid on it, I knew exactly what image I would be posting first.

Here’s the link to the Instagram version. Pinterest coming soon!

It’s fun to expand beyond words sometimes. Maybe one day the Embodied trilogy will be a graphic novel. Or a cupcake. Now to find a pyramid-shaped baking tray… Oh, and learn how to bake.

A Symmetrical Strategy

Writing is a novel is super-duper easy. Oh wait, I got my words wrong. Writing a blog post is a breeze. No, that’s not even true. Okay, forget writing for a moment. The other night I was reading a bedtime story to my 5-year-old daughter when I was suddenly struck by the amount of cross-hatching in the illustrations. At first glance, the drawings of a little boy and his bear were fairly simple. I’d read the book several times to her and never paid much attention to the artwork, but for some reason that night I focused in on the cross-hatching, which is the technique for creating shaded areas in a drawing through the use of repeating lines. The length and spacing of the lines determine the amount of shade perceived by the eye at a distance. This drawing of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre is a straightforward example.

Shakespeare probably just winged it: no planning, no plotting, and no rewrites. Riiiight…

The little bear in the story got lost one night when he was picked up in a swooping owl’s claws. The drawings of the moon, the owl and the bear in the nighttime sky were filled with cross-hatching far finer and subtler than in the Globe illustration here. I stopped reading for a few seconds and marvelled at the amount of time it must have taken the artist to produce such an effect. I thought to myself, I could never, ever have the patience to sit there and draw line after line with no margin for error. Then my daughter elbowed me with an impatient “Daddy!” and I boomeranged back from my reverie, acutely aware that parents aren’t supposed to space out in the middle of a bedtime story.

What does all this have to do with writing a novel? It’s all about the work involved. I sometimes forget that stringing together a bunch of words, then painstakingly going back over them and replacing some of them or changing their order is just as daunting for non-writers as creating a complex illustration would be for me. It’s hard. It’s often kind of annoying. And sometimes you get stuck. (Quick joke: part of my next novel is set in Paris and I’m worried that I might suffer from writer’s bloc.)

What does all this have to do with me writing a novel? Well, I promised I would publish the sequel to Silent Symmetry in “late 2013”. Now I realize that my writing strategy was wrong and I’m going to have to break that promise. Fortunately for my reputation, authors are notorious for breaking promises; we literally make things up that aren’t true for a living.

I don’t mind allowing readers a peak behind the creative curtain, so here’s my new writing and publication strategy for books two and three of the Embodied trilogy. Instead of planning, writing and rewriting book two, Starley’s Rust, then spending the time and effort it takes to publish and market it properly before embarking on the creation of book three, I’m going to plan and write books two and three back-to-back, then rewrite, publish and market book two. Once that is on the Kindles and iPads of a bunch of readers, I’ll rewrite, publish and market book three. This will allow me to more effectively control both the overall flow of the story and each book’s release date. This doesn’t just help me, it will also, crucially, give my readers a more fulfilling experience because, a) the books should be better; and b) readers of book two won’t have to wait nearly as long to read the conclusion of the trilogy.

So what we’re really dealing with here is some delayed gratification. Fortunately, I’m not illustrating my books too, or the delay would be far, far longer than the gratification!

Photo credit: Futurilla / Foter / CC BY-NC