My teen romance novel The Deer Shed is about two weeks from its debut publishing date. It was during its fourth draft that I decided to change its title.
The original title was, of course, The Deer Shed, and it had been the standing title over several months until I realized that not only was it not the right title, it was also a title that would have given too much of the story away.
Although The Deer Shed is a teen romance novel—a genre I had not chosen—it is also a memoir, a tribute to my father.
This novel is inspired by a true story.
When we—my two brothers and sister—would ask my father for something, he would most likely answer, “I’ve got a better idea”—something like in the tone of Bill Cosby. My father reminded me of Bill Cosby.
My father had a lot of sayings; “I’ve got a better idea” was certainly one of them, in the Top Ten.
“I’ve got a better idea” is the engine that drives this novel, and it does not give much away—if anything at all. So, I thought: What would be more appropriate of a title than A Better Idea?
This story is a based on a children’s story I had written several years ago, during what might have been a children’s story phase—just as A Better Idea seems to be part of a young adult novel phase. The children’s story it is based on is called Ben and the Big Stack of Bricks. The story has not changed, just the age it is more appropriate for—teens.
My father was a clever man, and he always had an answer for us.
A Better Idea is a celebration of good, better yet clever parenting.
Yes, it is a teen romance novel, but it is also a novel about parents or parenting, and, as I have said before, “good and clever parenting.” My parents always seemed to know what was best for us, their children.
Without giving much away—where the original title The Deer Shed comes from—about twelve years ago, my father was diagnosed with cancer. Months before his death, we were standing in the kitchen, next to an open back door when we suddenly sited a deer in the orchard in the backyard. The deer might as well have been a unicorn; no one had ever seen a deer before in the orchard—or the rest of the three-acre property, for that matter.
When my father saw the deer, he remarked—probably knowing before any of us had—that he was sick and dying, “Well, at least I got to see a deer.”
It is funny how life works.
After my father had passed away, we see deer quite regularly in the orchard—sometimes, two or three at a time! Sometimes, we like to believe that the deer are actually my father and his brothers looking after us.
The original title is based on that remark: “Well, at least I got to see a deer.”