Monthly Archives: November 2012

Picking a Title – I’m Not the Only One with Issues!

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While  complaining on Twitter lately about my lack of ideas for blog posts, a friend suggested I write something about coming up with titles. “Good idea!” I said and then I sat back and though but I’m awful with titles.  Damn. Therefore, I turned to my fellow authors and asked how they went about picking titles for their works and whether they thought the title was as important or more so than the cover that will accompany the story. Here’s what they had to say!

Jon Gibbs author of Fur-Face

I’m absolutely dreadful at coming with a good title once I have the story idea in my head, so these days I now begin the whole novel-writing process with the title, rather than a character or story idea.

Both my current WiPs, Abraham Lincoln Stole my Homework, and Dead Doris, began life that way, as did Barnum’s Revenge (the sequel to Fur-Face).

Patricia Lynne author of Being Human  and Snapshots:

All my titles are pure luck. Usually a word or phrase pops out while I’m writing and it fits the story.

When it comes to reading, titles aren’t as important. I can read a book with a weird or bad title if the story sounds interesting enough. Weird/bad titles just make me wonder what they were thinking when they came up with it.

Pavarti K Tyler author of The Sandstorm Chronicles, Two Moons of Sera and Consumed by Love:

I like titles that set the tone of the book. I absolutely buy books based on the title, just like I buy books based on the cover. It’s marketing 101, the first thing people hear is your title! For Shadow on the Wall, the title refers to something that’s in the epilogue so it takes a while for the reader to get it. It’s a superhero novel, so the idea of slinking around like a shadow works, until you get to the epilogue, then you’re like oh shit! That’s what this means! I get it now!

Two Moons of Sera was a spark of genious, no real though process. I loved her name and I started writing and when the idea of having 2 moons came to me the title just struck me, it set the tone of it being a fantasy romance.

White Chalk also sets the mood of the piece. It’s a Lolita-esque piece and the relationship is a 13 year old girl and a teacher. Chalk is such a sensory thing, the feel of it, the sound against the chalkboard, the taste of it’s dust. It’s bitter and dry and not pleasant but also strangely innocent. Indicating that the chalk is white also brings in a sense of innocence, but also has a kind of foreboding, most chalk is white, why specify?

Naming a book is tricky. I usually have a few working titles until I settle on the right one, its good to take some time and find what really evokes the emotion you want the reader to feel. That way they have a sense of what they’re getting into.

Karen Pokras Toz author of the Nate Rocks series and Millicent Marie is Not my Name:

My titles always come first for me. With Nate Rocks, I knew I wanted a name where the last name is also a verb so I could add to it depending on the book (ie… Nate Rocks the World, the Boat, the City, etc). With Millicent Marie Is Not My Name, the title came to me in the shower (as did the basic story line) & I just went with it from there. Come to think of it, I think the name Nate Rocks came to me in the shower, too. No wonder my water bill is so high – well at least I’m clean 🙂

James Crawford author of the Leech series:

I was trying to find my list for some examples but Im unorganized and can’t find the note book. My titles come after the storys first or second draft. As I’m writing I write a list of possible titles as they come to me. For Caleo I think it was a list of 12 possible choices. The Angel, Leech, Leeching are some of the ideas. In the end I went with the best idea I have ever had and let my mother pick. My second title ‘Jack’ was an easy choice for the second book in the series.

Marie Landry author of Blue Sky Days, Undressed and The Game Changer:

For me, the title is usually one of the hardest parts of writing. With my first and second novels, the titles came to me first and I went from there, but that’s rare. With my third novel, I’m still wavering on the title, which is the reason I haven’t announced it or finished the cover. With book #4, my NaNoWriMo project, I don’t even have a working title – it just won’t come to me. Sometimes a phrase from the story or a certain scene will inspire the title. Other times, I’ll work with the theme of the book and pull something from there.

Now from a reader’s perspective, I think the title is very important. You have two chances to initially grab a reader – the title and the cover. A title needs to get my attention or intrigue me in some way to make me pick up a book. A bad title won’t stop me from reading a book, but if I’m randomly scanning shelves at the library or bookstore, I’m always drawn to interesting or clever titles.

Emlyn Chand author of the Farsighted series, Torn Together and the Bird Brain Books:

Okay, so I need a title before I can even start writing a story. I like to be able to weave in the meaning as much as I can. The titles of Farsighted and Open Heart came to me straight away and each has many layers of meaning, which readers have noted. Farsighted is about a blind psychic who doesn’t always interpret his life correctly (it’s all blurrified, if you will). Open Heart relates to the chakras and being willing to love as well as sensitivity and clairsentience.

On the other hand, my novel Torn Together went through several title changes. When I wrote it, I called it Iron Pillar to play on the Indian connection and reflect the story’s symbolism as well as its turning point. My literary agent changed it to Trick of Fate to play up the love story and the whole destiny angle. When I decided to publish with Evolved Publishing and end my contract with my agent, the title was changed again. My editor and cover artist thought I needed to emphasize the mother-daughter story and the women’s fiction angle. Since the daughter is an artist and the mother an avid reader, they both had paper in common. Paper tears, just like relationships–and so there you go 🙂

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As for myself, it’s a rare occasion that I have a title before I start writing. I may come up with it within the first chapter, but more often than not I decide on something at the end of the process. If I do pick a title early on, it isn’t uncommon for me to change it when I finish with the story either.  I sometimes feel I need a title, just something, before I can go on writing but when the story is over I look back and think Ugh! Worst title ever!  Sometimes I will ask my beta readers what they think about title ideas I have.  It’s nice since they’ve read the story to give me input on what they think works and what doesn’t.

While I have heard that if you’re going the traditional route for publishing that there’s a very good chance the publisher will want to change your title, I think it’s important to have something interesting and eye catching to help you snag that agent in the first place.

Here are a couple of good articles on the importance of having a good title:


http://easyauthorwebsites.com/easy_author_book_marketing/author-marketing-book-titles/

http://www.rachellegardner.com/2011/09/how-important-is-your-book-title/

http://terrywhalin.blogspot.com/2006/08/why-book-titles-are-important.html

http://lydiasharp.blogspot.com/2012/02/more-proof-that-book-titles-are.html

If you’re an author, how do you come up with your titles?

If you’re a reader, how important is the title when it comes to you picking up the book?

The Final Push – Nanowrimo

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The end is almost near! Just a few short days until NaNoWriMo 2012 is all over.  How are you doing?  Finish early (btw, that’s okay in Nano if not in certain ummm other aspects of life)?  Maybe you’re right on track, chugging along to finish on the 30th, victorious! Oooor perhaps you’re like me, behind and starting to panic.

I’m not super far behind. It’s totally doable for me to hit the 50k by the end of the week. My problem is just lack of motivation.  That’s not to say I don’t like my story, because I do! It’s super cute and I want to see how my characters end up.  It’s not that I don’t have an ending in mind, it’s not that the words are escaping me, forcing me to stare at a blank screen for hours, I just can’t seem to get motivated to sit and write lately.

Maybe it’s because some of my favorite regulars aren’t participating this year. Maybe it’s just the general malaise of my life lately. Maybe I’m just lazy. Maybe it’s all of the above.

There’s four days left and one more write-in tomorrow. Hopefully that will help push me to finish.  While it’s not the end of the world if I don’t finish on time, but I will be disappointed with myself and who needs more disappointment in life, right?

What are you doing for your final push?

 

Calling Indie Authors!

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Hi fellow Indies! How’s it going? Are you getting frustrated with the amount of hats you’re wearing these days? *Sigh* I know the feeling!  I don’t think our readers or even some traditionally published authors know how much work we Indies put into the production and promotion of our work. It’s daunting and often doesn’t lead to the results that we are hoping for.

Have you given any thought to a middle man?  We all know how hard it is to find an agent and get published in the traditional sense and many of us are reluctant to give up the control we’re allowed when we self publish. I can get that, but there is a middle ground. Many small presses have popped up and are looking for Indie work to better polish and promote and get it the attention it rightfully deserves all while leaving the author with a good amount of say on how the final product appears.

So why am I telling you about this, other than just to be informative? Well, that would be because I was contacted by a friend of mine Mary Duke, fellow Indie author, who has a small press of her own: Xchyler Publishing. Knowing my passion for reading and the amount of Indie published books I consume, she asked me if I would be interested in being a talent scout of sorts (she dubs it an acquisitions scout, which has a much nicer ring to it and no, it’s not the same as an agent). It involves me reading recently self published books and passing along information about the stories that really catch my interest so that the press or I can approach them and see if they’d be interested in re-releasing the book through a small press (or if they have new material they want to shop).

Now you might be asking what’s the perk for someone who has already self published their work? Well, how about an amazing suite of editors, a marketing team and a graphic designer on hand?  For me, the marketing is the shiny bow on top of the brightly wrapped package.  Yes I have built my platform and have a good amount of followers but the constant promotion effort leaves me drained with often little to show for it. I love the idea of someone else, a whole team of someones, actively working to help promote me as well.  That’s not to say I’d stop doing it myself, but it would get more attention when I am busy working on other projects.

While they are relatively new, they have already released a great steampunk dragon anthology, Forged in Flame, which has been selling great.  It’s a great collection of stories, professionally presented with proper formatting and typesetting and one of the most gorgeous covers I’ve seen in a long time.  They also have several books that are releasing within the next couple of months and calls out for work for more anthologies.  This is not a company who is sitting on their laurels. They have authors and submissions they’re digging through looking for those great gems to polish up.

This is where you folks come in.  If you think you’d be a good match and have work that deserves to see a wider audience, get your story to me or check out Xchyler’s submission page! They currently focus on Steampunk and Paranormal stories but are definitely looking to branch out into other genres as well.

Do you think a small press is right for you?

Keeping it MG

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This year for NaNoWriMo I’m writing my first “official” middle grade story. Two years ago I worked on Power of the Stars which some could call MG, but because it has such a large cast with ages from 11 to 17 or so and some of the situations involved, I opted to dub it young adult.  So anyhow, I’m writing this MG story with a 12 (almost 13) year old main character and I’m finding it harder to relate!

I’m often having to stop down and reword some of my dialog knowing that my characters who are young shouldn’t be saying certain things or maybe have knowledge on a specific topic. I want to have a slight bit of a budding romance to it because I love the thought of those first feelings of “OMG when did boys become cute?” I had my first boyfriend at 13 so I think it can be realistic.  There won’t be full out snogging sessions or anything (Heh I love the term snogging) but I’m struggling to make it realistic with sweaty palms and tingly feelings.  That’s not to say characters in a YA series don’t have those feelings, but I think by late teens, they are expected and the characters get that there’s some kind of connection there. With a younger character, the whole concept of love and relationship is very different. They’re just getting into the puberty thing and then to have those weird sensations? It’s very WTH?! for them I think.

It’s a different experience for me, but I think it will help me grow in the long run. Just like writing short stories or flash fiction, writing in different genres or for different ages can help your writing  improve. Sometimes you have to take a chance and write outside your comfort zone to push your boundaries and see what you’re good or not so good at.

What do you think are important aspects to a middle grade story?

The Mid-Story Insecurities

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Talking to some fellow writers recently, I’ve found we all hit that mid-story slump where we think our work is absolute garbage and that no one is ever going to want to read it. It doesn’t seem to matter how many other books we’ve written and put out or how well those stories were received, our work is trash and we should be beaten down for calling ourselves authors.

I guess maybe it’s because writing, like all art, is subjective and it’s true, people might not enjoy this particular story as much as previous ones we’ve written. It’s also true that most first drafts are…well…close to garbage.  I really do believe in the whole ideal of the story comes alive in editing.  We normally rush and fuss to get that first draft done, straining just to get the story out.  When it comes to the re-reading and editing is where we start to polish and get rid of the stuff that’s not necessary or doesn’t work so well.

It also just seems to go with the job title that authors are insecure about their work.  Maybe we should hire people to stroke our egos during the writing process….naaaahhh that money is better spent on editors, cover designers and little “OMG I hit my deadline!” gifts (which I highly recommend if you need motivation!).

So what should you do if you hit that mid-story slump? Plow through of course!  The beauty of doing Nanowrimo is that you really don’t have the time to go back and re-read what you’ve done already. You just need to keep going and try to hit the 50k or finish. It can help to think back to your previous works and how you may have had the seem feeling during the initial writing and how you ended up with a fantastic finished product, a great book that  people enjoy.  Don’t give up! Remember all those books on the shelves in the store have gone through multiple versions and editing processes until it was ready for mass consumption.

What do you do to get through your mid-story slump?