The next morning, I had a very brief synopsis ready for the publisher. Here’s what it said:
Brianna Daniels has a younger sister, a step-sister, though she’s never really thought of her that way. A sweet, loving, kind step-sister who has battled a rare disease her entire life, and deserves one good thing. One magic wish.
She wants to go to the ball.
It’s the Cooper-Renfield Museum’s annual fundraising gala, and all the city’s elite will be there, wearing beautiful clothes, making sparkling conversation, and dancing under the stars. Brianna tells Natalie that she’ll find a way to make it happen. And she does. And wouldn’t you know, Natalie meets her prince.
The problem is, Brianna is in love with the prince. But what kind of wicked step-sister would begrudge a sweet, loving, kind young woman’s one shot at happiness?
Now we needed a title. I hate coming up with titles, especially before I’ve even drafted the book, but publishers want what they want when they want it, so I called up about twelve friends and said, “Geez, what am I going to call this book?”
My friends came up with lots of riffs on the Cinderella theme – my favorite being The Glass Slip-Up. But the story was taking a more serious turn than I’d originally expected (you’d think Jenny Jacobs was writing it; she’s always so damned sentimental). I’d thought romantic comedy to start with but it was turning into a straight contemporary. I find it’s easier to write humorous in a rush because people will forgive you a few false notes as long as they’re laughing but already the story didn’t want to be romantic comedy, and I didn’t have time to screw it up and have to try again.
So I thought, well, fine, I’ll do straight contemporary, and now I need a straight contemporary title. What would suggest something Cinderella-ish without being too overdone or likely to provoke eye rolling?
Then the song that Mia sings in The Princess Diaries popped into my head (“Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket”) and I knew I had my title: Catch a Falling Star. Thank God my daughter made me watch that movie ten thousand times, and thank God for annoying earworms.
So, I popped the synopsis and title in an email to the publisher, said she was free to suggest tweaks and that I’d be happy to hear feedback, and didn’t say out loud that I would be hanging her in effigy if she wanted to change anything because my brain was already smoking from the effort (acting like a professional means you can never say half the things you want to say to the people you want to say them to.)
Fortunately she liked everything. Which was great except now I had no excuse. Butt in chair time, friends. Butt in chair.