Dare to Read

October 5, 2011

In Search of the Perfect Title

by Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban

Given that my agent has requested my full manuscript, I have stopped rewriting my query and, instead, dedicated my efforts to another, if possible, more difficult task: finding an enticing title.

I must confess that if writing a query/blurb/pitch is intimidating for me, looking for a title is paralyzingly scary. My track history of naming my books having been one of utter failure so far.

I called my first novel Leaving the Castle, a title that, in my opinion, conveyed my protagonist’s goal of leaving her father’s castle to find freedom and live life on her own terms. My editor didn’t agree and published it as Two Moon Princess (http://www.amazon.com/Two-Moon-Princess-Carmen-Ferreiro-Esteban/dp/1933718277/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1317490293&sr=1-1).

I thought I had found the perfect title when I named my most recent YA fantasy, Requiem for a King. But when I published my first page for critique at the writeon.com conference last year, I was told my writing was engaging but the title made my book sound terribly boring. Humbled by such comment, I changed the title to The Revenge of the Wolf King and, voila, my rate of manuscript requests increased substantially after I queried with the new title.

Seeing that my instincts cannot be trusted when it comes to naming my book, I studied the titles of many classical and modern books looking for inspiration. I also read many articles on the subject.

From Jane Lebak’s recent blog post, You Called it What? (http://querytracker.blogspot.com/2011/09/you-called-it-what.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+QueryTracker+%28QueryTracker.net%29) I copied the following advice:

“Your title should fit (and be specific for) your book.”

“It must fit your genre.”

It “should convey tension” and “elicit an emotional reaction.” A good title allows you to “predict the central conflict without knowing any more about the story.”

Overall the purpose of a title is to intrigue, to “entice someone to learn more about the book.”

It’s all great advice, yet still I can’t decide.

Here is the list I have compiled so far:

Becquer Immortal

Becquer Eternal

Meet Becquer

Becquer’s World

Becquer Forever

Any preference?

October 3, 2011

Meet Becquer. A Query in Progress – Redux

Filed under: Becquer,Garlic for Breakfast,On Writing,Query — carmenferreiroesteban @ 11:57 am
Tags: ,

by Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban

 

 

It worked!

“What a great blurb!” my agent wrote back to me after I sent her my query for Becquer Eternal, and she requested my full manuscript.

Yes, she was my agent already, but she is representing my YA fantasy and Becquer is an adult paranormal. That is why I needed a killing query.

After a personal introduction, this is the query I sent.

(…)

The novel, tentatively called BECQUER ETERNAL, is the story of a writer desperately looking for an agent while trying to survive her two smarty teenagers. So desperate is she that she signs with Becquer, an impossibly alive XIX century Spanish poet, even though she knows he is an immortal that lives on human blood and that his secretary, and maybe lover, wants her out of the deal.

Here is the blurb I wrote for it:

Meet Becquer.

He’s handsome, well-read, and can get you that book contract you always dreamed.

Never mind that he’s also an immortal and lives on human blood.

What would that matter?

Your relationship is strictly business.

Or so you thought.

Until Becquer’s life is threatened, and you discover that walking away is not an option,

Because he was hurt while protecting your son,

Because you are the only one who can save him now,

Because you care for him.

Welcome to Becquer’s world.

Please, come inside. He’s waiting for you.

(…)

As you can see, it’s a combination of Take 2 and Take 3. It worked, so I’d say it was a good choice.

September 30, 2011

Meet Becquer. A Query in Progress – Take 3

Filed under: Becquer,Fantasy,Garlic for Breakfast,On Publishing,On Writing,Paranormal,Query — carmenferreiroesteban @ 9:02 am
Tags: , , ,

by Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban

 

Thank you so much to Kay (at http://www.kaysbookshelf.com) for commenting on my previous query.

And now for my take number 3.

BECQUER ETERNAL is the story of a writer desperately looking for an agent while trying to survive her two smarty teenagers. So desperate is she that she signs with Becquer, an impossibly good looking man with a devilish smile, even though she knows he is an immortal that lives on human blood and that his secretary, and maybe lover, wants her out of the deal.

This time we are down to 65 words. I think this one could work as a pitch, an elevator pitch that is, for a real pitch, I’m told, is just one sentence. So I guess I would have to cheat and insert a comma where the period is now.

What do you think?

BTW did you notice I changed the title? Any preferences there?

September 29, 2011

Meet Becquer. A Query in Progress – Take 2

by Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban

Here is my second attempt to write the query for my adult paranormal novel, Meet Becquer. This time I got it down to 89 words.

I don’t think this summary works as a query either. More like the copy for a book trailer?

 

Meet Becquer.

He’s handsome, well-read, and can get you that book contract you always dreamed.

Never mind that he’s also an immortal and lives on human blood.

What would that matter?

Your relationship is strictly business.

Or so you thought.

Until Becquer’s life is threatened, and you discover that walking away is not an option.

Because he was hurt while protecting your son.

Because you are the only one who can save him now.

Because you care for him.

Welcome to Becquer’s world.

Please, come inside. He’s waiting for you.

September 28, 2011

Meet Becquer. A Query in Progress

by Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban

To write a query requires summarizing your novel down to two or three informative and engaging paragraphs that not only tell what your book is about, but also capture the mood of your story.

A difficult task I have decided to accomplish in several steps.

So here is my first attempt. From 50,000 words to 356 words. Not bad for a first try.  But I don’t think it works for a query, more like a blurb?

Anyhow, here it is. Any feedback will be greatly appreciated.

Meet Becquer (Previously Garlic for Breakfast)

In the dreams of every woman there is a man. A man who understands her, a man who listens, a man who whispers words of love that sing without music when he makes love to her.

In the dreams of every writer there is an agent. An agent who reads her book carefully and loves it almost as much as she does. An agent who discusses her characters as if they were real, as real as they are for her. An agent who will sell her book and draft a contract she understands at the first read. An agent who will give her the freedom of writing what she wants, then helps her rewrite it until it’s perfect, or as close as perfect as it will ever be.

Carla has met both. In one. His name is Becquer and he’s a poet. Or, more exactly, he was a poet back in 1870, the year he died. Only he didn’t died, just stopped being human.

He’s an  immortal now, a stronger, sense-enhanced creature that lives on human blood.

There are others. Well-known poets and musicians and heroes we have met on the pages of History books. Poets like Lorca who was once his lover and still loves him. Statesmen like Cesare Borgia who hates him and has sworn to destroy him.

And there are humans who know about them. Humans, like Beatriz, Becquer’s secretary and former lover, who covet his gift. Beatriz who has waited a long time for Becquer to make her immortal and does not take lightly to his interest in Carla.

When Carla meets Beatriz and realizes the danger that signing Becquer as her agent poses to her and to her children, she asks Becquer to break their contract. But, by then, it’s too late. Too late for Becquer to escape Beatriz’s murderous scorn, too late for Carla to leave unharmed for he already loves him.

Yes, Carla’s dream has come true. Her dream of finding the perfect lover, the perfect agent, the perfect book contract.

But somehow, along the way, the dream has morphed into a nightmare from which she cannot wake up.

August 19, 2011

Requiem for Federico

by Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban

to Federico Garcia Lorca

In August 18, 1936, Federico Garcia Lorca was taken prisoner by Nationalist militia in Granada, during the chaos that followed the failed military coup that ignited the Spanish Civil War. He was never seen again, and his tomb was never found.

He had been born in Granada in 1898 and, by the time of his death he was an internationally renowned poet and playwright.

Interested in the Spanish folklore in his youth he published Libro de poemas (1921) and Romancero Gitano (“The Gypsy Ballads”) (1928). Some of these early poems (La Tarara, Verde que te quiero verde, Anda jaleo, Romance de la luna) have become deeply engraved in the Spanish subconscious and are still widely sang today.

Romance de la Luna.

Verde que te quiero verde.

De los cuatro muleros.

Lorca was also an accomplished pianist and (as reflected in his poems) a lover of the Cante Jondo or “deep song” performed by singer and guitarists in his native Andalucia. A passion he shared with the renowned Spanish composer Manuel de Falla.

Falla’s ballet El Amor Brujo was brought to the screen by Carlos Saura in the 1980s with Antonio Gadés and Cristina Hoyos.

As was Lorca’s play, Bodas de Sangre.

Lorca’s other two plays in the Rural Spain trilogy, Yerma (about the impossible yearning of a barren woman for a child) and La Casa de Bernarda Alba (a tragedy that explores the repression suffered by women in traditionalist Spain) have also been filmed. La casa de Bernarda Alba by Mario Camus in 1982 and Yerma by Pilar Távora in 1998.

The three plays are still performed today both at University Drama representations and at mainstream theaters.

To escape a deep depression brought about by an unrequited love and his conflicted feelings about his homosexuality, Lorca traveled to New York where he lived in 1929-1930. NYC made a profound impression in him. During his visits to Harlem and later in his trip to Cuba, he discovered and fell in love with African-American spirituals which reminded him of Spain’s “deep songs.”. All these experiences, coagulated in his book Poet in New York.

Years later, the Canadian bard, Leonard Cohen discovered Lorca’s book in a Montreal bookstore. Lorca became Cohen’s idol so much so he named his daughter after him (Lorca).

Cohen’s translated and set to music one of Lorca’s poems Pequeño Vals Vienés. You may recognize this hauntingly beautiful song as Take This Waltz.

Apart from the films based on his plays, several movies have been made with Lorca himself as protagonist. (Go here http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0305030/ for a complete list). Among them, La Desaparición De García Lorca (1996) with Andy García, terribly miscast as Lorca, and the deeply moving Little Ashes (2009),

In Little Ashes, Robert Pattison, of Harry Potter and Twilight fame, does a moving portrait of the Surrealistic painter Salvador Dali and the Spanish actor, Javier Beltrán, plays Lorca as a young man in the fictionalized account of the time they spent together, and with the well-known director Luis Buñuel, in the Residencia de Estudiantes de Madrid. You can read my review at http://www.notreadyforgrannypanties.com/2011/06/little-ashes.html

Later Dali and Buñuel moved to Paris where they collaborated in the surrealist film A chien Andalous,

<a href="http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=3830396680029577028&hl=en&fs=true“><embed id=VideoPlayback src=http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=3830396680029577028&hl=en&fs=true style=width:400px;height:326px allowFullScreen=true allowScriptAccess=always type=application/x-shockwave-flash> </embed>

as shocking and provoking today, as it was in 1929 when it was conceived.

Lorca believed the title of the film (totally unrelated to its content) was meant as an insult to him. For as he says in Little Ashes, “I’m the only andaluz they know.”

His death at 38 put an early end to this talented poet, playwright, theater director (he travelled with a tent, La Barraca, through Spain in the 1930s, bringing the classical theater for free to towns and villages), and painter. You can see a gallery of Lorca’s pictures here: http://www.slide.com/r/3s4clS893z9ZetLN0MEKGwknzkdVTTEU?fbr=1

As my personal requiem for Lorca, I made him one of the immortals in my novel Garlic for Breakfast (https://carmenferreiroesteban.wordpress.com/2010/12/27/garlic-for-breakfast-8-by-carmen-ferreiro-esteban/).

This episodic review does no justice to the multiple artistic facets of this immensely talented poet, but I hope it has awaken your interest to learn more.

June 2, 2011

Doylestown Reading / Homage to Federico Garcia Lorca

Filed under: Becquer,Event,Garlic for Breakfast — carmenferreiroesteban @ 8:41 am
Tags: , , , ,

 

 

 

 

 

Event:

Please join me (and 16 other authors) tomorrow for a reading of our works.

I will be making my humble homage to the great Spanish poet/playwright Federico Garcia Lorca by reading from my work in progress Garlic for Breakfast.

 

See the information below

Time

Friday, June 3 · 6:00pm – 10:00pm


Location

Saxbys in Doylestown, PA


Created By

Lucas Mangum


More Info

If you

a) have written a piece of fiction that is one thousand words or less

b) have an excerpt of a longer work that you would like to share, or

c) want an opportunity to have your material heard…

… you should make it a point to come to Saxby’s in Doylestown, PA on Friday, June 3, 2011.

This reading is an unique opportunity for writers to read their work aloud in an intimate environment. The work you choose to present can be published, unpublished, and in any genre, as long as the work is one thousand words or less. Folks who are just interested in observing are also welcome.

To attend, it is absolutely free. I just ask that you RSVP either here or at my email L.Mangum.Fiction@gmail.com

***The night’s events will be professionally filmed and then released as a series of video podcasts.

Hope to see you there!

January 15, 2011

Becquer: The Unknown

Filed under: Becquer,Garlic for Breakfast — carmenferreiroesteban @ 2:59 pm
Tags: , ,

Click here

http://www.becquerdesconocido.es/

to watch a fantastic documentary about the life and work of Gustavo Adolfo Becquer, the Spanish poet I stole as the undead protagonist of my paranormal novel Garlic for Breakfast.

I just spent an hour watching it and loved every minute of it.

Who said research is boring?

Enjoy!

December 27, 2010

Garlic for Breakfast-8 by Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban

Welcome again to my paranormal novel Garlic for Breakfast.
If you missed the previous installments, please check below.

 

My cheap violin and my cross, indeed,” Federico said when the song ended, paraphrasing the last line of his poem. “I wrote these words years before I met Becquer and he made me an immortal. I wrote them for a lover long forgotten. But they reflect my feelings for Becquer exactly, on our first winter in Vienna.”

“Becquer made you?”

“Yes. Of course.”

“Why? Did you ask him to do it?”

“No. I was unconscious when he found me, bleeding through my broken skull and half buried in the ditch that was meant to be my grave. No, I didn’t ask him to change me, but I would have died otherwise.”

“Why didn’t Becquer rescue you before? Before they took you to the countryside?”

“Because Becquer was in Barcelona when he heard of my arrest through the radio. He had to get to Granada first, then wasted more time tracking me down.

“You must understand it was a confusing time that summer of 1936 in Spain. A time of fear and betrayal. And silence, thick as mud. When the fascists came to arrest me at my friend’s house where I was hiding, my friend was reassured I would be freed soon, after my charges had been disproved. And for all he asked, they refused to tell him where they were taking me.

By the time Becquer localized the cell where I had spent the previous day, the cell was empty.

To be continued …

If you missed the previous installments, please check below.

 

To hear Ian Gibson’s talk about Federico’s fate click here

 

December 17, 2010

Garlic for Breakfast 7

Welcome again to my paranormal novel Garlic for Breakfast.
If you missed the previous installments, please check below.


by Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban

 

 

“Don’t.”

Federico’s arm shot in front of me and grabbed my hand. “Please, don’t,” he said. “Becquer might forgive me for breaking his car. Or for failing to drive you to the party. But if I do both, he will kill me for sure.”

I turned to look at him, surprised at the self-deprecating teasing in his voice.

“I thought you were immortal,” I said.

Federico smiled. “I’m sure he would find a way,” he said letting go of my hand. “His ingenuity to cause me pain knows no limit.”

“You love him,” I said and regretted it immediately, for I was afraid my inappropriate comment would throw him into another fit of anger. But Federico didn’t seem to hear. He was staring at the gaping hole in the dashboard where the wheel used to be as if he willing another one to appear.

“Becquer is right,” he said after a moment. “I do overreact sometimes.”

He sounded so defeated I felt sorry for him. Becquer was charming, I had to admit. It was not difficult for me to imagine falling for him and the pain at his rejection. “Not at all,” I said to cheer him up. “Your reaction was understandable giving the circumstances. He should have offered to pick you up.”

“You think?” he asked. Then, after I nodded, he added wistfully. “Let’s hope Becquer agrees with you when I tell him.”

I waited for him to produce a phone and call Becquer to ask him for a ride. Although it wasn’t cold outside, I was not looking forward to walking in the dark in my too tight black dress. But Federico didn’t move and when, after digging into my handbag, I offered him mine, he shook his head.

“That won’t be necessary,” he said. “Matt is coming.”

“How do you know that?”

“Becquer just told me.”

“But you didn’t…” I didn’t finish my words but waved the unused phone in my hand.

“I don’t need a phone to talk with Becquer.”

“You can read his mind?”

“Not exactly. I only hear what he wants to share. I cannot force myself into his mind. He would notice and block me. Actually, he just did that, when… Did Becquer ask you to be his secretary?”

“No. I’m just a writer.”

“Only a writer.” He smiled, a friendly smile that lit a twinkle of mischief in his eyes. And I found myself warming to him. “And what do you write, if I may ask?”

“Mainly stories for young adults, about impossible love and faraway lands.”

Federico nodded. “It sounds like something Becquer would love, and Beatriz would hate.”

“And you?”

“Me? I would have to read the story first. I used to write dramas when I was human. But I have mellowed with time.”

“You were a writer before you were immortal?”

“I was indeed.”

Federico bent forward and worked the CD player with his long fingers until he found the right track. “Listen,” he said. Sitting back against his seat, he closed his eyes.

Now in Vienna there are ten pretty women.

There is a shoulder where Death comes to cry.

The broken voice of Leonard Cohen came through the speakers, declaiming a poem made song. The first song I had danced at my wedding with the husband that had since become a stranger.

Take this waltz, take this waltz,

take this waltz with the clamp in its jaws.

Federico, eyes still closed, sang along keeping the beat on the dashboard with his fingers.

I looked at him in profile and, as if seeing him for the first time, I noticed his dark wavy hair, his cleaved chin, his arched bushy eyebrows. I gasped.

“You’re Federico,” I said, my voice breaking before I could complete his full name.

Federico nodded. “Yes, he said. I am ‘that’ Federico.”

Without losing his beat, he resumed his singing, his voice fitting perfectly the lyrics of the song, the lyrics of his perfect words.

To be continued …

If you missed the previous installments, please check below.

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