saturday morning odds and ends

Scheming and planning and plotting this morning. Here are pictures of this past week (what did I do with all those tomatoes and peaches and corn and more?) and looking ahead to fall:
1. The copy edited manuscript for the novel formally known as THE END OF THE ROPE will be back on my desk probably this week. I hope so, as I'm going to the beach -- remember that beach house I found? -- August 29 through September 5. More on this later. I'm grateful for a copy editor who employes a fine-toothed comb.
2. THE END OF THE ROPE doesn't work as a title. For too many at Scholastic, it conjured visions of lynchings or someone going mad, and I can certainly see that and take it to heart.

It was always a working title for me as well -- I am terrible at titles. I can't tell you how often I've had to explain to a ten-year-old the title EACH LITTLE BIRD THAT SINGS. Of course, that title came late in the game -- right up to the catalog copy deadline. If I had it to do over again, I'd make sure there was a reference in the novel to the title (other than song #72 printed in the front of the book), so readers would more easily connect to its meaning.
3. Alternative title suggestions:
FALLOUT, 1962, or
THE FALLOUT SHELTER, which sounds like a documentary to me.

I also came up with:
a few others that are more lame than I'm willing to reveal. Like I said, I'm terrible at titles. Think October 1962, Cuban Missile Crisis, space race, a military family, a friendship (crumbling, of course), the human face of war, a gravel pit in the woods, a loyal dog, a young girl stuck in the middle of her family, who is convinced she is invisible, both at home and school. Also... a heartthrob. Also... the early sixties -- all that fabulous music, all those clothes, Camelot, folk music, civil rights, slinkies, and more.

I'm soliciting your opinions -- what do you think? FALLOUT? TUG OF WAR? Something else? Catalog copy is due.
4. Social networking. Oy vey. I gave it a year as I promised I'd do. Then, I deleted my twitter account a few weeks ago. I set myself free.

Now I'm set to remove my professional facebook presence. I have sent a note to my 116 fans (remember when we were 16? Then 32? I do), inviting them here to One Pomegranate, where we can consolidate the conversation -- I hope you'll all sub either via email or RSS feed -- I would love to hear your voices. I've enabled comments on the blog once again.
5. I am turning into a different person (or maybe I'm morphing back into the old me... or maybe it's a combination of things). I am hooping and playing the banjo. Jim is playing guitar. We practice nightly and sound like sick cats. Our repertoire is three songs: Tennessee Waltz, The Old Crossroads, and I Saw The Light. Get ready, Sunday night jammers. Bring your earplugs.
6. There's nothing like toast with fresh honey-peach jam for breakfast, and real good coffee.
7. See that cookbook under that brand-new cover? It's The Fannie Farmer Cookbook. It burned on the eye of the stove a few months ago, and Hannah sewed a new cover for it. I love watching her sewing skills grow. And her cooking skills! That's her baked penne pasta in the photo above.

We're going through a pretty domestic period around here these days, a harkening back to the old days in Frederick, Maryland, where we had a big garden and canned and put by for winter and sewed lots of our clothes. Not that I'm ready to go backwards; I'm not. It's always good to move forward. So let's move forward. Social networking is this site, and this site only, for Deborah Wiles. The new book will be put to bed soon with a new title. The next book is about to start in earnest... I'm reading and making notes. I'll likely take it to the beach with me, along with some of those jars of tomato relish and peach jam.

A little of the past, a little of the present, and a surprise thrown in now and again -- that's what the future is made of. It's good to be alive on a Saturday morning, eating toast and contemplating the future.


  1. Deborah,

    I always enjoy seeing your pictures of food. It's inspiring to see how many ways you come up with for using the vegetables you find at the market. I wouldn't even know where to start. Thanks for sharing your struggles with titles. When I teach writing to my students past and present, I always share how difficult titles are for me. They are the last thing I come up with, and I'm usually not happy with them. So...I don't have a title to share, but I'm glad to be able to share with students that even published authors have trouble with titles (with your blogpost to back me up). On another note, our baby nursery is really coming along, there are pictures on my facebook page.

  2. I love seeing your peach food items. Hannah is a great cook by the look of things. Also those pizzas look yummy.
    Tug of War would appeal to my 4th graders as a title. They love to play it and they understand the concept of 2 sides and tension on the rope. I'll bet your book has lots of tension interwoven in the setting, characters, and conflicts of the time period.
    I'm glad you're back to just your blog... I had a hard time following the other entries. The blog allows you to complete a thought, elaborate, and for us, your readers, to consider it. Thanks for sharing these bits of your life with us.

  3. Looking at all the luscious, summer deliciousness, I'm hungry--and I just finished a decent lunch, too. (Couscous salad with red and green peppers, onions, dried cherries, flavored with cumin, ginger and cinnamon and dressed with reduced orange juice, vinegar, and olive oil.)

    Thanks for enabling comments again!

  4. Andy! When is the baby due? Do you know you're having a girl? So good to hear from you. Tell everyone at Barrow hello and hug them for me. And do share my title angst with them... sigh... it's perfectly okay to have title angst. Tell them to Keep Going. I will, too.

  5. Leslie, thanks for all your thoughts, including title thoughts. We're still ruminating, and by far teachers have written that they think their students would relate to TUG OF WAR far more quickly than FALLOUT. I haven't told you what we're thinking of for the cover, but will when I can. Then see what y'all think!

    Also thanks for what you say about the blog vs facebook, twitter, etc. I'm not a multi-tasking social networker -- that's my bottom line. Many are and do it well. I feel too scattered. Thanks for writing and have a good year with your fourth graders.


  6. Hey Katherine. I'm comin' to your house for lunch! Loved catching up with your blog.

  7. (Grown-up) Summer Beach Read suggestion, if you can get your hands on it in time: FEBRUARY HOUSE by Sherill Tippins, all about the year W. H. Auden, Carson McCullers, Gypsy Rose Lee and a bunch of other artsy/literary types shared a house in 1940s Brooklyn. I loved it part b/c it showed SUCH a different Brooklyn and publishing world than mine, yet somehow the same, too. And the antics among the artists! Kinda like reading People Magazine, except that it's set in 1940s bohemia. The author is a good writer, too, making nonfiction seem like story as much as fact. Anyway, put it on your reading list, even if it doesn't make it to the beach with you. And have a glorious, peaceful, happily sun-burned kind of time in NC!

  8. Okay, so I am reporting in from Facebook and will subscribe to your blog.

    Just one request..don't put a picture of the dog on the cover..and don't kill off the dog in this book.

    For the title, don't like Fallout..but I do like Tug of War that too close to Schmidt's "Wednesday Wars" ..7th grader set in 1967? (I probably say this because I just read that book this summer.)

  9. Well, we gotta dog, but he's not on the cover, and he survives the story -- so hooray!

    Fallout won the title contest, hands-down. I like it better than Tug of War... and hadn't even thought about The Wednesday Wars, which is a title that confused me, I admit.

    Thanks for reporting in, and for subbing to the blog.


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