Books Behaving Badly

Remember those days when writing was just about writing for the thrill of it? And you only shared your freshly printed pages with your friends and family members who were blown away by your budding talent . . . or at least surprised by it?

I can hardly recall that time, it was so long ago.

Although my love for writing itself never fades, the pursuit of publication adds challenges which make writing start to feel a lot like work. In fact, these days, if it doesn’t feel like work, I know I’m doing it wrong.

Finding an agent. Getting a book deal. Anticipating editorial notes. Meeting a deadline. Missing a deadline. Is anyone going to buy my book?? What will the reviews say?! What if I never sell another manuscript?!?! This all causes me stress.

So once in a while, I find it healthy to unwind. Write something ridiculous! Free write for the love of wordplay and humor. And what’s better than letting loose and writing for fun? How about writing for fun and PRIZES!?

Anyone out there want to win a free book?

Our theme for today is Books Behaving Badly. We want to hear your best ideas for bad titles, bad pitches, and bad, bad beginnings.

Here are a few examples to get your juvenile juices flowing:

Judge a book by its cover, do you? I came up with a bad title for each of these talented author/illustrators to work with (and check out the awesome covers they created!):

* * *

Lice

Illustrated by Kevan J. Atteberry
http://www.kevanatteberry.com

* * *

Illustrated by Ruth McNally Barshaw
http://www.ruthexpress.com

* * *

Unicorns

Illustrated by Deborah Underwood
http://www.deborahunderwoodbooks.com

* * *

Now, imagine sitting with an editor in a private pitching session. Let’s make her day with a truly horrible, cringe-worthy pitch:

.

coupon clipper
Clairvoyant eleven-year-old, Stella, can see into the future. She uses her skills to predict coupon specials and become an expert clipper, but is ostracized by her friends who just don’t get it.

.

inflammation-broken-foot-leg-cast-2

Brutilda breaks her foot and uses her cast to flirtatiously stomp on the foot of the boy she likes. For reasons unknown, he doesn’t return her affection. Angst and heartache ensue.

.

hippolkaJane Austen (almost) meets Charlotte Bronte . . . an exposé of those ten or so missing years between the Regency and Victorian eras that authors skip over for no apparent reason. (I’m guessing the lost-to-the-ages Hippopotamus Polka was a big thing during this mysterious era. Maybe that’s why nobody writes about it?).

.

Editors often tell writers that they need to grab a reader’s interest in the first few sentences. I’m pretty sure these beginnings would be epic fails:

.

big nose cold
You know that feeling you get when mashed potatoes are stuck up your nose? Yeah, that’s the kind of cold I have.

.

.

.

.

.

goat sticking tongue out, blog

Rollin’ in the hay really can be fun. Billy may be a goat, but our first kiss was still an eight out of ten.

.

.

.

.

.

promMy cousin is looking seriously hot today. I think I’m gonna ask her to Homecoming.

.

.

.

.

.

So let’s hear it: Your worst titles, pitches, and beginnings. Leave them in the comments, along with a category for your entry.

A winning entry in each category will be selected by a prestigious judge—someone who reads good (and bad!) titles, pitches, and beginnings for a living. The winners will then get to choose a book written by any of the EMU’s Debuts members, past or present, as long as it’s at least available for pre-order. Entries are due by midnight Eastern time on Oct 15th, and winners will be announced here on Oct 17th!

You don’t have to be a “writer” to play along! Anyone at all can join in for a chance to win a book! Good luck!

_________________________________

IMG_0723-2Amy Finnegan writes Young Adult novels and is a host at BookshopTalk.com. Her debut novel, NOT IN THE SCRIPT, will be published by Bloomsbury, Fall 2014. You can follow Amy on Twitter @ajfinnegan, and Facebook (Amy Finnegan, Author). She is represented by Erin Murphy.

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31 Comments

Filed under Advice - Helpful or Otherwise, Anxiety, Writing

31 responses to “Books Behaving Badly

  1. Haha I wonder if some of these hit a little too close to home for the agents & editors in the audience. I bet they have to wade through soul-crushingly terrible stuff way more often than they’d like. Thanks for the smiles this morning, Amy! 🙂 I look forward to seeing what folks come up with (or do I?? lol).

    Like

  2. Kim

    The toilet paper roll was empty once again. Well, not exactly empty. It had that one piece left on it, you know, the one you try to carefully peel away but comes off in strips anyway? Yes, Braxton smiled. Another mystery that would put him in business for another day. (Beginning)

    Like

  3. Title: Eye boogers in my breakfast bowl !!!

    Like

  4. Title: Me and My Rash

    Pitch: Itchy, pussy, scaly, and nasty. Once upon a time, this is how I might’ve characterized a rash. But rashes are nothing to be ashamed of; in fact, they should be celebrated, for when one is rashy, one is fully and gloriously human. Learn to identify your rash (Hey! I’m allergic to squash!) and encourage it to reach its full potential (Hey! I’ll eat more squash!).

    Like

  5. I am no good at stuff like this – my funnies are pretty much accidental – but I will happily watch others play! Go go go!!!

    Like

  6. Cockroaches, and other welcome guests in my home.

    1001 ways to torture someone with a wet noodle

    Athletes’ foot, and other edible fungi

    Hairstyling with electric current

    Like

  7. Tom Brennan is broke, acne-scarred and OCD. Enter Emily Kesler: rich, perfect and a hoarder. Together, they embark on an epic love story – “Romeo & Juliet” meets “Don Quixote” without the horse. Braving near death navigating through ceiling high stacks of magazines and embracing the grueling angst of dermatologist visits, this pair make us all realize that love is just one neurotic breakdown away. My book was also reviewed by my best friend who says that you will enjoy it so much that you’ll offer me a $2 million dollar contract. Call me. 😉

    Like

  8. Pitch: Falling in Love.
    He was a window washer. She worked on the twelfth floor. But when their eyes met across the room, they knew their love was meant to be. Yet when she accidentally opens the window and he falls to his death, she realizes their love was doomed from the start. Thus begins 192 pages of introspection about the nature of love and how you shouldn’t open a window at the wrong time. The perfect vehicle for Matthew Matthew McConaughey and perhaps Kate Beckinsale or maybe Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. I dunno. Doesn’t matter. Anyway, the manuscript is ready to go as long as I can write the screenplay and have my choice of directors.

    Like

  9. Zach Hastings

    I figure I’ll introduce myself by entering three times, once in each category.

    Title: If At First You Don’t Succeed, You Should Probably Give Up: A Self-Help Guide for Beginning College Students

    Pitch: ….you know what? I’m not going to give one. I like Olivia’s too much.

    Opener: The moment my eyes locked with Robert Spicheki’s, the school bully here at Mary Shelley Gothic High School, I knew two things were going to happen. One, I was about to take a beating that only geriatric and elderly boxers ever have to live (or die) through. Second, I was about to fall madly and deeply in love with him.

    Like

  10. Title:
    What Happened to My House? Wrecking Balls, Dead Trees, and Other Things That Go Bump In the Night.

    Like

  11. Opener :Auzeru licked his lips in anticipation. Unable to restrain his craving, he dove headfirst into the lake of giant frogs and began to lick the creatures hungrily. Suddenly, one of the frogs lashed its tongue out and hit another frog, causing a frenzy. Poor Auzeru was bumped away before he could take a bite.

    Title : A case of the horrible dripping wet smelly belly buttons.

    😀

    Like

  12. Title: fun with toe fungus
    Or

    Title: 1001 uses for belly button lint

    Like

  13. Title: Fun with Toe Fungus
    Or
    Title: 1001 Uses for Belly Button Lint

    Like

  14. Ooo wait I have another one.

    Pitch: Two mimes trapped in an imaginary box must save the world. Will they escape in time to save the president from the evil pomerainian Mr. Fluffybottom?

    Like

  15. TMcLaren

    Title: Growth Between the Bristles

    Pitch:The truth behind what is really on your toothbrush.

    Opener: We have all heard that dogs mouths are cleaner than humans and after hearing this laugh because frankly it is not possible, or is it? Do you know what is on your toothbrush. Between particles in the air after you flush the toilet and the amount of times every day that you touch your hands to your mouths, your mouth probably is dirtier than a dogs. This book unfolds the horrors of what is growing between the bristles of your toothbrush.

    Like

  16. Title: Buggers On The Wall

    Pitch: Detective Nosewiper and Officer Nosola are on the case of the mysterious buggers that appeared on the wall.

    Opener The detectives are questioning the usual suspects; Jimmy The Wiper, Joey Big Blows, and Sneezy Sal. They haven’t gotten any confessions yet, but are sure they will find the culprit.

    Like

  17. conniefischer

    Once upon a time, there was a Princess and a Prince. They were both so ugly, that no one else would have them. So they put bags over their heads, married and lived happily ever after. The End

    Like

  18. Kate McCoole

    Title: Once Upon a Mime

    Pitch: Is it a crime to climb a mime? Hilarity ensues as the mime acts out his victimization to many uninterested parties. Sublime.

    Like

  19. Thank you for your post, Amy.

    The worst book title I’ve ever come across is a romance novel by Parris Afton Bonds: “The Maidenhead”. I know we’re supposed to make up our own. But I can’t top that!

    Like

  20. Hannah Hollis

    Title: Socks Dripping With Sweat

    Pitch: Myrtle is starting eighth grade when she gets a huge crush on a tenth grader. She then follows the romantic guidelines of ancient China, such as giving an item of clothing with her smell on it. Unfortunately, she doesn’t want to give up the one shirt she owns, so she rummages through her gym bag for her socks. The more of her scent, the better, right? He receives the socks, and immediately falls in love with her, then gives her his own.

    Beginning: Every time I saw him I started to sweat heavily beneath my armpits and on my feet, until I dripped more than a bulldog slobbers and puddles formed between my toes. It felt amazing!

    Like

  21. Laurie P

    Pitch: He had the worst case of Halitosis the world has ever smelt. She was allergic to every green thing that grew and a few that didn’t. She hadn’t been able to breathe through her nose for years. They were the perfect match.

    Like

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