Author Archives: debooker

About debooker

A brief (and somewhat ambiguous) biography. One hundred words, more or less, about David Booker might include the following: though lost in the cosmos without a compass, he has nonetheless managed to find his way into middle age. As to what he will do now that he is there is still a matter of speculation. He often seeks guidance from his youthful daughter as he alternately approaches and retreats from the slow expansion of his waistline and the slow collapse of Western Civilization as he knows it. He hopes the two will reach a libration (or libation) point and he will creep into old age with some dignity and clothes intact.

Monday morning writing joke: “Head ache”

Q.: What type of performer is a zombie?

A.: A headliner


Q.: When a zombie leaves, what is she doing?

A.: She’s heading out-of-town.


Q.: What is the main feature a zombie looks for in a car?

A.: More head room.

1 Comment

Filed under Monday morning writing joke

Map: The book that best represents each state — Vox

Map: The book that best represents each state – Vox.

We always love a good map. The below map might just seem to be another riff on “which book is most popular in each state” or something similar. But it’s actually much more interesting than that.

Take a look:

The map is called The Literary United States, and it aims to plot out the “best books for every state.” It’s not based on research or polls or statistics. Instead, it was compiled by writers for BK Mag. Fortunately, they have great taste.

A literary map of the U.S.

A literary map of the U.S.

For instance, BK Mag chooses Zora Neale Hurston’s masterpiece Their Eyes Were Watching God to represent Florida. The novel is set in the Sunshine State, which makes it an obvious choice. The book selections, though, have to do with more than just setting.

The rest of the article at:

Leave a comment

Filed under literary map of the U.S., map

Brother, can you spare a change?

Anthony Horowitz to copy editor: “I’M NOT CHANGING THIS.”

The full article at:

by Kirsten Reach

Nobody wants his conversation with a copy editor made public, but there’s a galley floating around from Harper at the moment that contains some accidental gems. Anthony Horowitz, author of a new Sherlock Holmes novel and the next James Bond novel, had a conversation in the margins of Moriarty that mistakenly made it into the advanced reader’s copies.

Sarah Lyall‘s report in The New York Times gives you a sense of her own reading experience as well as the dialogue between author and copy editor. What’s so brilliant about her telling is the way she manages to rationalize the notes at first, as some sort of meta-commentary:

“Moriarty’s” narrator, an American detective named Frederick Chase, is laying out the background to the story – how Holmes and Moriarty came to be at Reichenbach Falls and what is believed to have happened next. All of a sudden he switches to capitals. “NO NEED TO COMPLICATE THINGS HERE, I THINK,” the text announces. “WHAT I’VE WRITTEN IS BROADLY TRUE.”

Can the narrator be offering some meta-commentary on his own text? At first it seems so. But then it happens again. In a spot where Chase and a Scotland Yard inspector have found an important clue that seems to be an excerpt from a previous Holmes story written by Dr. Watson, things suddenly veer off-piste again. “IT MAKES NO SENSE FOR FREDERICK CHASE TO HAVE READ THE SIGN OF FOUR,” the text declares.

Of the six annotations, the highlight is one firm line from Horowitz: “I’M NOT CHANGING THIS.”

So what happened?

The rest of the story at:

[Editor's note: Thank you Ashlie for the link to this article.]

1 Comment

Filed under publishing, publishing news

Photo finish Friday: “the Cop Cab”

Is it a cop car?

Is it a cop car?

Is it a cab?

Is it a cab?

Is it a Halloween prank?

Is it a Halloween prank?

It is not a prank. It is the Knoxville Police Department’s attempt to educate people on the cost of drinking a driving. They contacted cab companies for the fare rate. They talked to defense lawyers for their prices to defend people charged with DUI (Driving Under the Influence). They contacted bail bond companies to get their price for a bond to get out of jail after being arrested but before being tried. The rest of the numbers come from Tennessee Code Annotated and the District Attorney’s office. What is painted on the hood of the car is the average cost of all those items. All this for a total cost of $18,815.

The average taxi cab fare: $2.00 a mile.

Which would you want to pay?

Might be better of to ride with “tha funk.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Photo by author, Photo Finish Friday

Haiku to you Thursday: “Dark smile”

Failure stares at me /

feral animal, dark smile /

face fractured with fear.

1 Comment

Filed under Haiku to You Thursday, poetry by author

Writing tip Wednesday: “MG vs YA”

The Key Differences Between Middle Grade vs Young Adult


by Marie Lamba (
author of the YA novels What I Meant…, Over My Head and Drawn. She’s also associate literary agent at The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency (

OK, class. What sets a middle-grade novel apart from a young adult novel? If you said MG is for readers ages 8–12, and YA is for readers ages 13–18, then give yourself a check plus. But if you’re writing for the juvenile market and that’s all you know about these two categories, then I’m afraid you still need to stick around for the rest of this class. A book that doesn’t fit within the parameters of either age category is a book you won’t be able to sell.

In my work with The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency, I see my inbox flooded every day with queries for manuscripts that suffer from an MG/YA identity crisis. Like when a query says, “I’ve written a 100,000-word MG novel about a seventh-grader who falls in love and has sex for the first time.” Or when one states, “In my 20,000-word YA novel, a 14-year-old holds her first sleepover and learns the meaning of true friendship.” Both queries would earn a swift rejection, based on both inappropriate manuscript lengths and on content that’s either too mature or too young for the audience they’re targeting. Sadly, by not understanding what makes a book a true MG or a solid YA, these writers have hamstrung their chances for success, regardless of how well written their stories may be. It’s like they showed up to a final exam without ever cracking a book.

One difference between middle grade and young adult is the age of your protagonist. But it is not the only one.

One difference between middle grade and young adult is the age of your protagonist. But it is not the only one.

On the bright side, writers who study up on the many key differences between MG and YA will be able to craft the kind of well-targeted manuscript that will make both agents and editors take notice. Pay attention, because someday your manuscript will be tested.

Mg At A Glance
Age of readers: 8–12.

Length: Generally 30,000–50,000 words (although fantasy can run longer to allow for more complex world-building).
Content restrictions: No profanity, graphic violence or sexuality (romance, if any, is limited to a crush or a first kiss).
Age of protagonist: Typically age 10 for a younger MG novel, and up to age 13 for older, more complex books.
Mind-set: Focus on friends, family and the character’s immediate world and relationship to it; characters react to what happens to them, with minimal self-reflection.

Voice: Often third person.

Ya At A Glance
Age of readers: 13–18.

Length: Generally 50,000–75,000 words (although there’s also a length allowance for fantasy).
Content restrictions: Profanity, graphic violence, romance and sexuality (except for eroticism) are all allowable (though not required).

Age of protagonist: Ages 14–15 for a younger YA with cleaner content aimed at the middle-school crowd; for older and more edgy YA, characters can be up to 18 (but not in college).

Mind-set: YA heroes discover how they fit in the world beyond their friends and family; they spend more time reflecting on what happens and analyzing the meaning of things.

Voice: Often first person.

MG vs. YA Characters
When picking your hero’s age, remember that kids “read up,” which means they want to read about characters who are older than they are. So an 8-year-old protagonist won’t fly for the MG category, though it’d be OK for a younger chapter book or easy reader. For the widest audience, you’ll generally want your protagonist to be on the oldest side of your readership that your plot will allow. That means a 12- or even 13-year-old hero for MG, and a 17- or 18-year-old for YA (just remember your hero can’t be in college yet—that would push it into the “new adult” category).

MG vs. YA Readers
Middle-grade is not synonymous with middle school. Books for the middle-school audience tend to be divided between the MG and YA shelves. So which shelf do those readers go to? While there is no such thing as a ’tween category in bookstores, there are degrees of maturity in both MG and YA novels that’ll appeal to the younger and older sides of the middle-school crowd. A longer, more complex MG novel with characters who are 13 could take place in middle school and be considered an “upper-MG novel.” But the material can’t be too mature. It’s still an MG novel, after all, and most readers will be younger. Writing a sweeter, more innocent YA? Then it’s pretty likely that your readers will be ’tweens, that your characters should be around 15 years old, and that your book will be marketed as a “young YA.”

While it’s useful for you to understand these nuances as you craft your story and relate to your true audience, when it comes time to submit, don’t go so far as to define your novel as upper MG or younger YA in your query. That’s already pointing to a more limited readership. Instead, just stick to calling it either MG or YA when you submit, and let an interested agent draw conclusions about nuances from there.

MG vs. YA Content and Voice
What’s cool to a fourth-grader differs from what a 10th-grader will idolize. Same goes for the way they speak and the way they view the world. Which is why if romance appears in an MG novel, it’s limited to a crush and maybe an innocent kiss, as it is in Shugby Jenny Han. A YA could involve deep, true love as well as sexuality, as in The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Another key difference? Overall, MG novels end on a hopeful note, while YA novels could have less optimistic endings, as in Green’s tearful story. You could say that that’s youth vs. experience coming into play.

The rest of the article at:

1 Comment

Filed under photo by David E. Booker, writing tip, Writing Tip Wednesday, writing tips


Willard wondered if there was a Sag Wagon for the sagging middle of novels?

Willard wondered if there was a Sag Wagon for the sagging middle of novels?

1 Comment

Filed under cartoon by author, CarToonsday