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Archive for August, 2011

Hallelujah edits

Posted on August 18th, 2011 by annakjarzab

Man, I haven’t checked in here in a while, huh? Is anyone still reading this? Bueller? Well, you know how it goes. LIFE, etc. Although I have been (and will continue to be) very active on my Tumblr, so if you like Harry Potter GIFs and pictures of other people’s bookshelves (design inspiration for the house I’ll probably never own, natch), go there.

(Side note: Wow, WordPress got fancy in my absence!)

So I mentioned editing my new book on Twitter last night and people started @ replying me, “Hey, you have a new book coming?” Which was weird to me because I felt like I announced that a while ago, but who cares about my announcements, right? I probably haven’t been talking about The Opposite of Hallelujah as much as I should. A lot of that is because we don’t have a cover yet, or jacket copy, or a set-in-stone pub date (lol, like pub dates are ever set in stone), or a pre-order link, or anything, really, that will convince you that it’s a real book that will be coming out eventually.

So here are some things that I know about the book:

  • It will be called The Opposite of Hallelujah. This is not a title I’m 100% married to, but everybody else seems to like it, so it’s what we’re going with. I lifted it from a Jens Lekman song (also called “The Opposite of Hallelujah”), which is a very good song but also, if you were to read the book and then listen to the song, very appropriate thematically. Other titles for this book have included (but not been limited to!): Do Geese See God*, And So It Goes**, and Impossible Objects***.
  • It will come out in Fall 2012. Probably October, but maybe not.
  • It will be longer than All Unquiet Things, but FEEL shorter when you read it. At least, that’s been my experience.

And that’s it! Right now, if you’re curious, I’m in the middle of revising the book for my editor. This is almost entirely line edits, and mainly cutting. I mean it–I have erased entire scenes. I’ve been posting some cut passages on Tumblr, mostly Caro’s Tote Bags****. The book is just, at this point, too long (not unlike this blog post). It was 404 manuscript pages when I turned it in to my editor. All Unquiet Things, for comparison, was 313 manuscript pages; that ended up being 352 printed book pages (about 11% growth if my math is correct, which it probably isn’t). Books get longer when the paper isn’t 8.5×11 with very tiny margins. So a 404 pg manuscript would probably be about 450 pages typeset and bound. And that just feels too long. The book can be tightened, so I’m tightening it. I told my editor I could probably squeeze about 40 pages out of it, but right now I’m less than 100 pages from the end and I’ve only managed to cut around 20 pages. Obviously I’m going to have to go back and see what else I can chop.

Just to prove to you that I am indeed working on it, here is a blurry iPhone photo of my “workspace”:

Yup. That’s my bed.

*This is what I called this book all the way up until, like, 2009. I’ve been “working on it” intermittently since 2004, when I first got the idea for a book about a girl whose much older sister comes back home after being a nun for a while. “Do geese see God” is my third-favorite palindrome (after “A man, a plan, a canal–Panama” and, obviously, my own name), and I liked having the title of the book be a palindrome and the name of the main character’s sister (the nun)–Hannah–be a palindrome. So you can imagine how I laughed when I saw that #15 on Joelle Anthony’s list of 25 overused things in MG and YA fiction was “Main characters named Hannah and making a note of it being a palindrome.” Hannah is still the main character’s sister’s name (although I do not make a note of it being a palindrome–I don’t think), but Do Geese See God had to go for two reasons. First, it’s fine to call a WIP that, but once I decided I was going to publish it I knew that people probably weren’t going to be in to it. How is a sales rep supposed to sell in a book called Do Geese See God? They’re not. And secondly, it’s already the title of a Denzel Washington movie, so whatever.

**There was a time when the Kurt Vonnegut novel Slaughterhouse Five was going to be a call back throughout the book, for lots of thematic reasons, and “so it goes” is sort of a catchphrase that emerged from that book. Also, the Ingrid Michaelson song, “Soldier”, which I listened to a lot when I was writing this book, has the words “and so it goes” in the lyrics. However, I cut the Slaughterhouse Five references in favor of the much more relevant Escher motif that runs through the book, and thus the title made no sense. I wasn’t too attached to it, honestly.

***This would-be title emerges from the Escher motif, but my agent thought it sounded a little too much like Sharp Objects, the title of a Gillian Flynn novel. It also doesn’t tell you anything about the book; I mean, The Opposite of Hallelujah doesn’t necessarily tell you anything, either, but it’s more lovely and lyrical.

****”Caro’s Tote Bag” is a term I have coined to describe a passage that explains something incredibly minor in absurdly minute detail and in no way enriches the story. The original Caro’s Tote Bag was a paragraph in The Opposite of Hallelujah in which, I kid you not, my main character/narrator Caro spent an entire LONG paragraph explaining the fact that she carried her books to school in a tote bag that her mother, who works in marketing at a university press, brought back from a conference, but that Caro always carries it with the logo facing herself so nobody sees how lame the bag is. Alex, understandably, was like, “Maybe you could cut this?” I did cut it, but there are lots and lots of Caro’s Tote Bags in The Opposite of Hallelujah. There was a whole paragraph where she compares her relationship with her parents to American Gladiators. Now, I like an American Gladiators simile as much as the next person, but my editor, rightly, drew a big old slash through the whole paragraph. But I’ve immortalized it on Tumblr so that you can enjoy it. You’re welcome.