26 March 2012

An Abundance of Chloes

Fact: I kind of hate making up fictional names. If it were up to me, all my characters would be named "Sam." It's the one I use for all of my protagonists until forced to switch out for something else. However, you can't name everyone Sam (unfortunately) so then I scroll through lists of baby names, think about which friends are worth immortalizing in print, and sometimes just make stuff up.

For Exclusively Chloe, I Google checked "Chloe-Grace," the main character's name, just to make sure it was somewhat unique. Luckily, it returned few hits. The only competition was Chloe Grace Moretz, who was back then just a semi-obscure kid actress so I didn't worry too much. Now Moretz's a Hollywood starlet, tween style icon, and has dominated Google for the foreseeable future based on the strength of her work in (500) Days of Summer, Kick-Ass, and Let Me In. It's a good thing I like her or I would have declared Internet war!

What I didn't do back then was check to see how many other young adult books had "Chloe" in their titles. Last week I saw the great cover for the soon to be released Welcome, Caller, This Is Chloe and that led me to find all the YA Chloe books I'd missed before -- along with creating a Chloe-themed Pinterest collection.

As it turns out, there are almost fifteen books released since 2000 with "Chloe" in the title. I shouldn't be surprised I guess. On the baby name popularity charts, "Chloe" soared from a ranking of #63 in 1999 all the way up to #9 in 2009, where it has held strong for three years.

Does having the same name in our book titles say anything about similarities in plot and characters? Well, let's find out what's really in a name.

First up is Chloe Leiberman (Sometimes Wong), which features a half-Chinese protagonist who has an eye for fashion. My Chloe-Grace is a Chinese girl who also lives for fashion. Both young ladies live in Los Angeles, have dysfunctional families, and judge people based on their outfits. They would obviously be besties.

Actually they'd probably have to make room for Chloe Gamble too, the star of an entire Chloe trilogy -- admirably titled The One, VIP Lounge, and Hot Mess. This Chloe is a Machiavellian wannabe celebrity who makes a rapid ascent in Hollywood. She would get along with Chloe Wong Leiberman and Chloe-Grace just fine. (Note: this is the only other male author on my list. Ed Decter also wrote There's Something About Mary, The Lizzie McGuire Movie, and some of the Santa Clauses. He's definitely winning in the race for people who are successful before/after writing young adult books about Chloes. I hope to overtake him some day.)

And speaking of best friends, Zoe and Chloe On the Prowl features a rhyming duo who are out to find dates to the Earthquake Ball -- by placing want ads in the paper. This is right up the chick lit alley and I'd like to think of them as Chloe-Grace's pen pals from England. They'd talk about boys and teach each other important slang terms a.k.a. curse words.

There is a lot about family in Exclusively Chloe, as Chloe-Grace is adopted and on the search for her biological parents. In this she could relate heavily with Cesca Adey's Chloe, who also faces adoption issues and finding her real mother. And what are the chances there are two Chloe books with fairy godmothers? Chloe's Wish features a fairy godmother named Gloria while my Chloe-Grace has a fairy godmother named Luther. Luther is Chloe-Grace's friend and stylist and he gives her a make-under so he's more like a reverse fairy godmother I guess. Chloe's Wish wins for best Chloe cover as it features a pegasus. If only my cover had a pegasus!

And while I'm pretty sure Francine Pascal did not pen Secret Love Diaries: Chloe herself, it can't be left out because this is a novel about an undercover relationship. Chloe Murphy dates the hottest guy at Sweet Valley University but is forced to keep it a secret. "Girl, that's a relationship you should not be in," is the counsel Chloe-Grace would provide. "Dump that boy right now and make it a short story."

Lest you think Chloes are all superficial femme bots, let me show you some who also suffer from existential and theological crises. For example, Chloe from the series My Name is Chloe (Diary of a Teenage Girl) struggles with her relationship to God and eventually forms a band named Redemption while trying to remain edgy. I'm guessing lots of black eyeliner and harsh guitar riffs are involved.

And then there's the bad girl of the Chloe club, Chloe Doe, a 17-year old prostitute who propositions a plains clothes police officer. Whoa now, majorly bad career decision. Chloe-Grace would so take Chloe Doe under her wing and help her get on the straight and narrow. Then take her shopping on Rodeo Drive to re-invent her wardrobe.

Chloe, Queen of Denial and The Nine Lives of Chloe King series both share Egyptian influences. The former is about a girl who explores archaeological digs and the latter is about a girl descended from Bastet, an Egyptian feline goddess. Nine Lives is a television series that I should probably check out but I can't bring myself to do it because I'm bitter that it's Chloe King instead of Chloe-Grace on my TV screen. We Chloe writers are not above petty jealousy, oh no.

Lastly, here's two Chloe books that don't feature Chloes as the main character. Becoming Chloe is about a guy named Jordy who rescues a girl named Wanda while she is being raped. Since "Chloe" is an obviously much better name than "Wanda," she changes it and the two of them embark on a road trip across America to well, I dunno, find beauty and peace? At least I hope that's what they find.

Coping With Chloe is very intriguing as the main character is actually an Anna, but Chloe is her twin sister who dies (I think) and then her spirit somehow merges with Anna's body. So it's two girls in one! There is also a boy who likes both of them, even though they are technically the same person. Which could be, um, complicated. I definitely need to read
Coping With Chloe because sometimes I feel like my twin sister has infiltrated my psyche too. George, let's read this one together and compare notes.

So what have we learned from our tour of Chloes? A lot right? Sure you may think that by reading one Chloe book you've read them all but as I've proven here, the Chloes of young adult literature aren't just all about celebrities, adoptive families, and running from the paparazzi. That's only in my book. So please don't judge one Chloe by another, even if some of them will certainly be judging you.

19 March 2012

District 5

A sorta weekly feature of things I co-sign:

(1) What Occupy can learn from the Hunger Games. With the Hunger Games movie coming right around the corner, I love how people have tried to tie it into everything.

(2) Downside to Rereading. Wicked is a great book, end of story.

(3) Michael Chabon Attacks Prejudice Against Science Fiction. I don't really get why science fiction and fantasy needs constant defending, but then again I don't really get why people play tower defense games either.

(4) Something Geeky. Where does Vanessa Di Gregorio finds all these amazing images? I'll just keep hearting them and saving special ones for iPhone wallpapers. Art Deco Mega Man!

(5) The making of a blockbuster. You've read this already, I'm sure. A fellow author tweeted: "That story about how Hunger Games became a blockbuster is everything I hate about the industry I'm in." Hmmm.

16 March 2012

E.C. Myers

A young adult debut from an Asian American male! This event comes around about as often the Olympics I believe. I've also heard that boy bands are on the comeback so if we can find a few other AsAm YA guys, we can start touring smallish arenas and large living rooms near you. (I believe we're currently up to four members, so we'll need a fifth to hit classic boy band proportions.)

Can you tell how excited I am to share with you E.C. Myers' just released book
Fair Coin? Here's the synopsis:
"The coin changed Ephraim's life. But how can he change it back? Sixteen-year-old Ephraim Scott is horrified when he comes home from school and finds his mother unconscious at the kitchen table, clutching a bottle of pills. The reason for her suicide attempt is even more dis­turbing: she thought she'd identified Ephraim's body at the hospital that day.

Among his dead double's belongings, Ephraim finds a strange coin--a coin that grants wishes when he flips it. With a flick of his thumb, he can turn his alcoholic mother into a model parent and catch the eye of the girl he's liked since second grade. But the coin doesn't always change things for the better. And a bad flip can destroy other people's lives as easily as it rebuilds his own.

The coin could give Ephraim everything he's ever wanted--if he learns to control its power before his luck runs out."
E.C. (aka Eugene) majored in visual arts in college, which is so intriguing and something we should ask him all about. In additon, he's published a ton of short fiction pieces; reviews books, video games, movies, and Star Trek episodes; and also creates book trailers. Plus he gets up really early in the morning somehow, perhaps his most admirable quality. A man who truly does it all.

Eugene's blog is fantastic because it covers stuff like comprehensively testing out Scrivener and also dares to answer the most important question of all: How is a writing career like Smallville? (I miss Lana so much...) Go congratulate E.C. on his debut and then read Fair Coin because the follow up, Quantum Coin, is coming soon.

11 March 2012

Advanced Reading & Writing, 1st Edition

When you play Dungeon & Dragons, a lot of your time is spent making characters. There's a lot of dice rolling, picking out skills and equipment from various charts, and then cramming all this information onto a character sheet. Here's what a D&D 4th Edition character sheet looks like. Tell me that's not more complicated than your high school homework. But the thing is, all the relevant facts and figures you need to successfully get your Dungeons & Dragons on are right there. Organized, accessible, neat.

The character sheet is one of the greatest contributions Dungeon & Dragons has made to our society -- among many. Where do you think profile pages came from? Facebook totally stole the whole distilling an entire complex person down to just one page thing from D&D! (The Zuck was obviously a tallish half-gnome wizard in his gaming days.) Of course, a genius idea like this needs to be extended to more things. For example, wouldn't it be handy if authors had character sheets?

Now for the few of you who have never played D&D before, the first step is to take three six-sided dice and use them to calculate your ability scores. Dungeon & Dragons uses a few key attributes to determine how good your character is at various tasks: strength, dexterity, constitution, intelligence, wisdom, and charisma. Of course these wouldn't work for our author character sheets so instead I'll be substituting in key authorly abilities such as (writing) skill, plotting, originality, revision, endurance, and charm. We could probably find a few better ones but that'll have to do for now.

Tack on slots for genre, class, experience points, skills, those all important magic items and here we are, an Advanced Reading & Writing, 1st Edition author character sheet. Take a look at these prototypes for John Green, Stephenie Meyer, and well, me.

See how convenient a character sheet is? And fun? Feel free to make some for your own favorite authors. Next up, collectible author trading cards! Oh right, or you could just buy an author's books and collect the covers. That'll work too.

05 March 2012

Five Spot

A sorta weekly feature of things I co-sign:

(1) Why I Don't Want to Join Your Shitty Book Club. A strong stance to take. Personally I would love to join your book club, but nobody ever asks. Sigh.

(2) YA March Madness Tourney. There's a sci-fi/dystopia, paranormal, contemporary, and a fantasy bracket. It's a shame you can't place bets on these and make an office pool. Or can you?

(3) Amazon & The Importance of Popularity. Everything is like high school, everything.

(4) On the Rise of the Book Trailer. Just give me a synopsis and few sample pages. Unless Ryan Gosling or Emma Stone is in your trailer, then I'll re-watch it over and over again.

(5) Lisa Simpson Book Club. I was never really into The Simpsons but this is gold. This is a book club we can all get behind.