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Last night I finished the totally hook-worthy I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You, by Ally Carter. Loved it! Can't wait to loan it to my 13yo neighbor. Speaking of hookish high-concept books (which we were on the Verla Kay boards), here's the plot: Fifteen-year-old Cammie is a student at a school for spies - both of her parents were spies, too. She can mix poisons, speak fourteen languages, and tail people without ever being seen. Her code name is Chameleon. But one day a normal boy notices her ... he sees her. Now she's unsure of what to say, what to wear, and how to talk to a boy who cannot find out who she really is. It's no surprise that this book has been optioned by Disney - and I can't wait to see the movie! But not only does the plot shout, "Hook!", the story is full of great lines like this: [Josh's mom says,] "Cammie, darling, give our number to your parents. Maybe they'd be interested in joining our bridge club." [Cammie thinks,] The last bridge my parents had anything to do with involved the Gansu Province, dynamite, and a really ticked-off yak."

I started lisayee's So Totally Emily Ebers last night, and I'm so totally excited! Emily, Emily, Emily Ebers, as Stanford would say. I've been wanting to hear what's on her mind.

One last bookish thought: over the weekend I read Storky, How I Lost My Nickname and Won the Girl, by dlgarfinkle. (I KNOW! Finally!) tamarak told me it was the funniest YA she read last year, and she was right. Mike's (Storky's) voice is completely engaging. He's starting high school with the usual fourteen-year-old concerns ... issues that do not shout, "Hook!" but that kept me turning the pages and laughing out loud. I wanted to know what was going to happen next.

Knowing a book like this exists in published form makes me happy, because my own YA boy book is similar. No huge hooks, but the kind of engaging voice that makes you want to find out what's going to happen next. (I hope.) Not long ago, I got a really nice rejection that told me I needed to emphasize what Blake (my MC) wants. To me, it's clear. He wants to be a good boyfriend and a good friend. But the two things cause conflict. They're not loud, hookish wants, like "Blake wants to go undercover in the world of meth addicts, break up an international drug ring, and save his friend's mother from drugs." No. Blake's not that high concept. He's a regular kid, and he's going to make mistakes. I think quiet boy books deserve to be on the shelves, too.

What about your book? Is it hookish and high concept? Or quiet and engaging?

Oy, time for me to get ready for work!

L8ter, friends!


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Mar. 27th, 2007 02:35 pm (UTC)
I'm aiming a little more for the quiet and engaging side now. This book is going to be hard to pitch without it sounding like a dreaded "portal" story, although it really isn't that...so while it kind of has a hook, I'm just having trouble making that hook original. Sigh. But it's a character story, really, and I'm trying to keep the scenes character-driven rather than so action packed.
Mar. 27th, 2007 09:30 pm (UTC)
I don't dread portal stories!
Mar. 27th, 2007 05:50 pm (UTC)
Mar. 27th, 2007 09:31 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Meg!
Mar. 27th, 2007 08:44 pm (UTC)
No meth addicts?!

I am so disappointed.
Mar. 27th, 2007 09:33 pm (UTC)
Ha! Um, the friend's mom IS a meth addict.

But her story isn't the central narrative. I think some people who've read the MS were hoping to read something gritty and shocking. Nope.
Mar. 28th, 2007 04:24 pm (UTC)
Oh, phew! At least there's ONE.

And I think there's room for books that are NORMAL! Sometimes I'll be reading a book, & I'll think, "hey, this is a pretty good book about a dissatisfied kid." And then it's revealed that the kid is troubled not because he/she is human, but because she was sexually abused!!! Of course!!!

It's like, lighten up a bit, author-horde. Kids have all sorts of problems. Stop dipping into the auto-sympathy jar o' tricks, & just aim for something sincere.
Mar. 27th, 2007 10:54 pm (UTC)
My books are definitely more on the quiet side (and let's hope engaging). I enjoyed Carter's book a lot, and I'm finishing up MILLICENT MIN, which is very funny! I liked STORKY too -- there were some definite LOL moments in that one :)
Mar. 28th, 2007 01:09 pm (UTC)
Oh, you're so lucky! You get to read all three books in a row - Millicent, Stanford, and Emily.
Apr. 3rd, 2007 10:34 am (UTC)
Loren and I get to be on a panel with Lisa next month at IRA in Toronto. Can't wait! I think I'm going to do a lot more listening than talking!
Apr. 3rd, 2007 01:13 pm (UTC)
Sounds so fun!
Apr. 3rd, 2007 02:21 pm (UTC)
Thanks for reading Storky and talking about it on your blog. I'm really glad you liked it!

I have to say, unfortunately, it was difficult getting it published, mostly I think because it didn't have a hook. I heard from many publishers, "His problems are too ordinary." The eleventh publisher bought it.
Apr. 4th, 2007 07:49 pm (UTC)
I think I remembered that you had a hard time getting it pubbed.

But it DID! Yay for the eleventh publisher!

How frustrating: "His problems are too ordinary."

Boys deserve books, too. Even ones that are quiet, with ordinary problems instead of upper case Problems.

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