Writing The Next Big Thing

I got tagged by Ash Krafton, fellow blogger over at QueryTracker.net, for The Next Big Thing meme.

The object of the meme is to pretend I am the next big thing….and I’m being interviewed by Rosemary DiBattista.


What is your working title of your book? 

Titles are the bane of my existence. They either pop up or else they never come. We didn’t have the new title for “The Wrong Enemy” until the cover artist said, “Guys? I can’t design a cover until you come up with a title,” so at that point the publisher and I narrowed down the list of 45 titles to the one final title. Two of my own children were unnamed for the first 24 hours until we actually had to make a decision between our final two candidate names.

For this one, I picked “Domino Hearts.” Why? Because I think it’s an awesome title —  for someone else’s book. I like the feel of hearts breaking like dominos going down in a long row, but it has nothing to do with my story. I’m using this title because the more ill-fitting a working title I choose for this novel at this stage of the game, the better my perfect title will look when it presents itself. No, really.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

When I was twelve, my Great Aunt Millie told us about someone she knew — maybe a relative, but I don’t recall — who was watching the news on vacation and saw someone who looked just like her daughter. The woman had always sworn she’d given birth to twins, so seeing this woman on TV was a huge shock. This story came back to me decades later as an amazing setup for a novel.

The main character is inspired by two separate women: one woman I was helping to polish her resume, and I saw one of her previous jobs had involved testing burn-site specimens for accelerants related to arson. And the other was in grad school after a tragedy had changed everything she thought she would end up doing.

What genre does your book fall under?

Contemporary fiction.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I average one movie every three years, so I can’t begin to guess. When choosing actors, though, it’s not just how they look — it’s more their mannerisms, their bearing. Some people look just like your character but could never be them because of their delivery or their approach.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Amber Brickman never realized she was separated at birth from her twin, but even worse, neither did her mother.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Assuming my agent likes it, it will be represented.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Still working on it. I’ve taken several breaks during the writing in order to take a whack at the other projects in my life. In general it takes me three months of solid writing to turn out a 95,000 word manuscript, but I haven’t been doing this solidly.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Jennifer Weiner’s later work, for example “And Then Came You,” with its emphasis on multigenerational questions of parents, relationships, and motherhood. “The Unfinished Work Of Elizabeth D” by Nicole Bernier is similar in tone and reach, in terms of how secrets shape families. And I’ll also add Claire LaZebnik’s “The Smart One And The Pretty One,” with its emphasis on sisterhood and a career-minded character who resists romance.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

It was time. Amber needed to be written.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

There’s a mystery driving the storyline, but the characters are the backbone of this story: how each woman arrived at the place she’s at now, how she thinks this is the way things have to be — and yet how each of them could have more if they could resolve the pain in their past.

There’s humor in the characters’ interactions, and the would-be romantic couple have an amazing chemistry supported largely by their banter. You’re going to laugh out loud at times, but the story itself is driven by needs buried so deep some of the characters aren’t even aware, and I think the humor supports it without overshadowing it, and that will keep the reader remembering the story afterward.

Include the link of who tagged you and this explanation for the people you have tagged.

Ash Krafton tagged me. You can find her at her own blog and at the QueryTracker blog.

I’m tagging BR Myers because she’s my agency sibling and cheerleader, and she’s publishing her short fiction on Wattpad right now, with a novel coming up next year.

Also tagging Amy Deardon, whose book “The Story Template” we reviewed on this blog earlier this year, and whose book “A Lever Long Enough” I helped edit. She’s one of my critique partners, and she’s been working on a project for NaNoWriMo. Maybe she’ll tell us about it.

Also tagging Normandie Fischer, editor for Wayside Press and my critique partner, whose novels (two of them!) will be coming out next year.


  1. Pat

    You forgot the most important question of all – will it be available on *paper*? (I realize you don’t know that yet. But I hope so.)

    1. philangelus

      The paper thing is always dependent on the publisher, but yes, the goal is both paper and ebook.

  2. k8e308

    I’m with Pat! When, when, when???

    1. philangelus

      The sad thing about publishing is the lag time. Even if I finished it tonight, and Roseanne sold it tomorrow, there’s usually an eighteen month wait between the sale and the publication.

      That lag goes down a lot with the smaller presses, but if you’re shooting for the large ones, the ones that get your book on the shelves at B&N, then it’s a longer process.

  3. Ana

    Brilliant stuff! 🙂

    1. philangelus

      Thanks! I hope the finished product lives up to the hype. 😉

  4. ashkrafton

    You think you have trouble with titles and names? I named my current book after my favorite rock band and my first child after the villains in Pokemon.

    She HATES when I tell people her names’ origin. I, however, am a huge video game nerd and I’m geekly proud.

    1. philangelus

      You named your daughter Jessie James? 🙂

      I tried so hard to get Kiddo4 named after an angel, but it just wasn’t to be.

      1. ashkrafton

        Jessie Jaymes, to be exact…but yep. I got me a Team Rocket baby. If she had a Meowth, she’d be dangerous. lol

  5. Pingback: My Turn at The Next Big Thing | Writing on Board