3.19.2007

Writing Life 1

It's been an intersting time leading up to the publication of my latest book, The Whole Sky Full of Stars. First, about the cover: the car pictured is a 1964 Ford Galaxie, the make/model that a father and son would travel halfway across the country to buy. That according to my father-in-law who owns one, who let me get grease under my fingernails while I passed wrenches and screwdrivers to him while we "worked" on it to ready it for my wife's and my wedding. I say we worked on it, but really, I did more standing around learning about the art of cars and science of mechanics, which was fine by me. And so I write about the '64 Ford Galaxie, make it an integral part of the story, b/c of the above, but mostly b/c my wife and I drove away from our wedding in my father-in-law's car, the very car he and my mother-in-law drove away in after their wedding. Later, I found out that my father owned a '64 Ford Galaxie as well when we lived in California, so another reason to insist on this version of this cover, although in retrospect. In any case, the publisher decided to go with a '65 version (which I'm including below for you to compare to the final cover to your right on the screen). The '65 is a nice enough car, but not the one a father-son team would travel to SC to purchase.



Note the difference in shapes: the '64 end is tapered, the '65 more blocky, a move toward muscle rather than style. I asked my editor to please rework the cover, and she did. (Wendy is awesome in so many ways.) To boot, it's a wrap around cover, and very gutsy, in my opinion, since we left to top half of the cover empty of text; the title and byline both are made to fit at the bottom. So much space, so much, but I like it b/c the title, in part, concerns itself with the sky, and that's what you get.

Second, the editing process: wow! It's a lie if I say it's getting easier. It's still a hard thing to go through, but it's a part of the process that I've grown to love. I'm doing everything in my power (and with the help of a very good editor) to communicate as clearly as possible with my readers. It's at this point that I keep the reader in the foremost part of my mind. Am I willing to take my editor's suggestions to cut (sometimes dramatically and traumatically) seriously? Will it help me reader understand better what I want them to understand? If yes, then do the deed. Anyway, it's a great time.

I am encouraged b/c the book's been picked up by the Junior Library Guild, which is too cool b/c they put the title out there, get it into school libraries. And so far, the reviews are positive. Discouraging is that my brother's gone to two of the major book chains, a friend into one, and a former student into one, and each has been told that they, the bookstores, are having a hard time getting copies for whatever reason.

What I'm reading: The Book Thief by Mark Zusak, Night of the Howling Dogs by Graham Salisbury (ARC), A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life by Dana Reinhardt, and Running Loose by Chris Crutcher.

Loved reading: American Born Chinese by Gene Yang and Mediggo's Shadow by Arthur Slate.

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