For the last few weeks, I’ve been working on outlining the second book in my I HEART BAND series. While I’ve never really been a seat-of-the-pantser, outlines haven’t exactly been my forte, either.
The outline for book 1 was fairly easy. With book 2…well, there was a lot of stuff I knew was going to happen. Fitting it together cohesively – and more importantly, finding the real conflict – was another story. I finally sent the outline along to my editor, who gave me some great comments that really helped flesh it out.
Then, just as I was starting to write the first draft, she sent me an email: “Can you come up with a few book 2 title ideas for the sales team?”
But I said yes, of course. Then I flailed. I’m not joking when I say the only thing I could think of for days was I HEART BAND 2: ELECTRIC BUGLE-OO.
The thing is, I’m normally pretty good at titles, and I love figuring out what a book’s name is. In all honesty, I’ve never gotten more than a chapter or two into the first draft without a title. It’s hard for me to write a story without one, like swimming to shore at night when the lighthouse is burned out. (Thus endeth the over-dramatic metaphor segment of this post.)
Right about the same time, my agent asked for a book 2 blurb for the website. Even though I had the outline, it just wasn’t coming together in blurb form for me.
So I started with the title. My typical strategy for title brainstorming is as follows:1. Write down a bunch of words related to the plot, the theme, and the mood 2. Open thesaurus.com and use it to quadruple that list 3. Begin combining words at random
Half the time, the title I end up going with doesn’t appear in any form on that list. The point of the list is just to get my brain going. For I HEART BAND 2, I included a lot of music words as well. After too many hours of rolling the list around in my head, I decided the title had to convey three things: a music element, the friendship-rivalry theme, and the bake sale plot point.
I came up with a bunch of embarrassingly horrible titles which I will not share here. Finally, I was sort of settled on one, but it still didn’t quite work for me: FRIENDS, FUGUES, AND FUDGE
“Friends” worked for obvious reasons. “Fugues,” I loved – it’s musical, it directly refers to a plot element, and it subtly references the rivalry theme (if you know what a fugue is). “Fudge” referenced the bake sale, but that’s the part I was meh about. It was the only sweets-related “f” word I could come up with, and I wanted to keep the alliteration. And then, randomly, I thought “it’s too bad the kids can’t make fortune cookies to sell at their bake sale.”
And then I thought “why can’t they?”
And then I thought “what would happen if they did?”
And then, literally within about five seconds, everything that was still nagging me about the story fell into place. I sent the title into my editor, she approved it, and I rewrote the outline.
A random word – okay, two random words – fixed my plot. After that, writing the blurb was a piece of cake. (Or fudge. Or…whatever.)
FRIENDS, FUGUES, AND FORTUNE COOKIES (I Heart Band, Book 2)
There’s nothing like a little friendly competition. When Holly Mead’s band director announces that their bake sale fundraiser will pit the sections against each other, Holly is positive the brass section will win. After all, the two most competitive kids in band are French horn players – Holly and Natasha Prynne. The girls might be rivals for first chair, but they don’t let it get in the way of their new friendship. Natasha is even helping Holly with the music for the all-region band auditions in a few weeks, when both girls will be competing not only with each other, but with other horn players from all of their district’s middle schools.
Holly can handle a friendly band rivalry with Natasha – but competing over boys is another story. Especially when that boy happens to be Aaron Cook. When Holly hears a rumor that Aaron is going to ask her to the winter dance, she’s ecstatic. After all, she has been talking to him a lot (and with hardly any drooling or stammering, too). Plus all the fortune cookies she’s been cracking open lately thanks to her brother’s new delivery job are about secret admirers and being lucky in love. So when Aaron ends up asking Natasha to the dance instead, Holly thinks she can’t feel much worse. Until she finds out that Natasha has had a secret crush on Aaron, too…she was just afraid of hurting Holly’s feelings.
With all the competition over boys and band, Holly and Natasha’s friendship is more than a little rocky. Before long, Natasha starts distancing herself from both Holly and Aaron. To make things even worse, a small disaster involving a rogue volleyball sets the brass section way behind in the band’s bake sale. Then Holly gets a brilliant idea that’s guaranteed to help them win – and with a little good fortune, it might save Holly’s friendship with Natasha, too.