Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Confusing Titles: Problem for Both Readers and Writers

Recently, I was looking at the selection of large print novels in my local library (yes, I have older eyes and appreciate large print). My gaze lingered on a novel entitled THE GIRL IN THE CASTLE. The title interested me. So I took the book out and read it.

It is a rather long, complex novel, and reminds me of THE THORNBIRDS in many respects--although this is apparently planned as the first in a trilogy. The novel begins in 1900 in West Cork, Ireland, and involves Kitty Deverill, an Anglo-Irish girl who falls in love with Jack O’Leary, a Catholic.
Their star-crossed love story ends in 1925 but will obviously continue in the second book in the series. The novel is engrossing and well-written, has many characters and much Irish history.

When I selected this book at the library, I thought I was choosing a book that was on the bestseller list. After I rechecked the list I discovered the novel I was thinking of was in fact entitled THE WOMEN IN THE CASTLE set during World War II. I have no regrets that I read THE GIRL IN THE CASTLE and will request the other novel at a later time. However, the incident made me think of how confusing titles can be for readers and how difficult they are to choose for authors. And so I decided to share my thoughts.

I believe that a well-chosen title helps to sell a writer’s work. The first impression a book or story creates depends on several factors, one of them being the title. The title will set a certain tone or expectation. Whether an author writes literary work, genre fiction, nonfiction, short stories, poetry, etc., the title should fit the work. If it’s not appropriate, the reader may rightfully feel cheated.

I have a few suggestions for fellow writers that I believe might prove useful:

First suggestion is to do some initial research. For instance, visit Amazon and Google. Check out titles for the kind of work you’re writing to get a sense of what is appropriate.

Second suggestion, go to World Cataloging and type in your title under the keyword heading. See what pops up. If your title is used by many authors many times, you might want to try for something different. Ecclesiastes states that there is nothing new under the sun; however, you can do some variations that are unique. Also, keep in mind that titles are not copyrighted unless there’s a trade mark involved. You can, in fact, have the same title as another author, although if possible, it’s best to distinguish it in some way.

Next suggestion: consider if the chosen title can properly characterizes a theme of your book, story, poem, article via your word choice. Maybe it represents a reoccurring symbol in your book.

Another suggestion: keep your title short if possible. Modern titles are generally brief unless you’re writing an academic dissertation. Otherwise, a few words will suffice. For example, the title of one of my YA novels is STACY’S SONG. Just two words. Appropriate because it’s a coming of age/romance. Enough said.

Last suggestion: Try for a clever use of words which will make your title in some way memorable, interesting, intriguing, and/or provoke curiosity. Example: for the third novel in my Kim Reynolds mystery series I used the title THE TRUTH SLEUTH. Kim is an amateur detective and also an academic librarian. So the title fits the main character. The whimsical bit of rhyming hopefully makes the title stand out. In my romantic short story collection, BEYOND THE BO TREE, I used alliteration.

 Are there any titles that stand out for you? If so, which ones? Why? Comments welcome!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Guest Blogger Jennifer Lowery

My guest blogger today is author Jennifer Lowery who is here to tell us about her latest novel and offer a book giveaway for today. NY Times & USA Today bestselling author, Jennifer Lowery grew up reading romance novels in the back of her math book and on the bus to school, and never wanted to be anything but a writer. Her summers were spent sitting at the kitchen table with her sisters spinning tales of romance and intrigue and always with a tall glass of ice tea at their side.
Today, Jennifer is living that dream and she couldn’t be happier to share her passion with her readers. She loves everything there is about romance. Her stories feature alpha heroes who meet their match with strong, independent heroines. She believes that happily ever after is only the beginning of her stories. And the road to that happy ending is paved with action, adventure, and romance. As her characters find out when they face danger, overcome fears, and are forced to look deep within themselves to discover love. 
Jennifer lives in Michigan with her husband and two children. When she isn’t writing she enjoys reading and spending time with her family.
  Without further ado, here's Jennifer:

Hi Jacqueline and all you fabulous readers out there *waves* Thank you so much for having me today! I’m super excited to be here! I have a couple giveaways and a free book to offer you so read on to find out how to take advantage of fun, free books!
Ever since I picked up my first Suzanne Brockmann Navy SEAL book I’ve been in love with these tough, incredibly intelligent men. I knew I had to write my own series with my own SEAL team. A SEAL’s Song is the first book in my SEAL Team Alpha series and what an incredible journey it was for both me and my characters! Today, I’m bringing you a special interview with the hero and heroine from A SEAL’s Song. I hope you enjoy meeting Jack and Darci as much as I enjoyed writing them. 
P.S. A SEAL’s Song is FREE on Amazon today May 25 so be sure to grab your free copy HERE!
Did you ever think that your life would end up being in a book?
Jack: Hell, no.
Darci: No, but it’s flattering.
What are your favorite scenes in your book: the action, the dialog or the romance?
Darci: *smiles* The romance. I already know what Jack is going to say.
Jack: *grins* Sorry, hun. The action. And the sex.
*Darci rolls her eyes*
What do you like to do when you are not being actively read somewhere?
Jack: Take my sailboat out deep-sea fishing.
Darci: I’m not much for fishing, that’s Jack’s thing. I’m usually in my studio writing and composing songs. But, when he gets home… *she smiles at Jack who grins back*
Do you like the way the book ended?
Jack and Darci in unison: Yes.
Would you be interested in a sequel, if your writer was so inclined?
Jack: Not if it means putting Darci in more danger.
Darci: Agreed. Although, with Jack at my side, I wouldn’t be as afraid of what Jennifer threw at us. *leans in and whispers* She likes to torment us.
What do you do for a living?
Darci: *laces her fingers through Jacks* Jack is a Navy SEAL and the bravest, strongest man I know. I’m a singer.
What is your most prized possession?
Darci: A Celtic necklace given to me by my grandmother. Had it not been for that necklace, I never would have met Jack.
What do you like most about where you live?
Jack: Darci approved of my house. That’s all that matters to me.
Darci: He lives in this cute gingerbread house on the ocean. I adore it.
What’s your favorite thing to do on a rainy Sunday?
Jack: *grins* Stay in bed.
Darci: *nods* Definitely.
What is your least favorite word?
Darci: Classified.
What sound or noise do you love?
Jack: Sorry, that’s between me and my wife. *an intimate look passes between Jack and Darci*
What other profession would you like to try?
Darci: I’ve considered becoming a music teacher. Jack, he’s right where he was meant to be.
Jack: *nods*
*Read more about Jennifer's books on her website: http://jenniferloweryauthor.com/
Please "like" her Facebook author page! https://www.facebook.com/AuthorJenniferLowery/
Sign up for Jennifer’s Newsletter and get a FREE book: http://jenniferloweryauthor.com/join-my-newsletter/

*For everyone who signs up for my NEWSLETTER you will receive an e-book copy of my short story, Taking Chances ($.99 value) for FREE!

 Thank you for having me today!! I just want to send out a big THANK YOU to all my readers out there! Without you I wouldn’t be here. My wish is to one-day meet each and every one of you so I can personally thank you for your generosity and support! 
All my best, 
 Comments welcome!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Interview with Author Loretta Wheeler plus Giveaway

Loretta Wheeler is my special guest today. She is an author who lives in the South along with her Australian husband, their cat Lil’ Dickens, and their dog, Jack. Both pets are rescued fur-persons who are very much loved. Most of Loretta’s writing is set in southern locales, whether in the thriller or romance genre. She says she writes of southern things because most of her stories speak to her in a southern accent. Something she recognizes easily since her own is so strong.

Question: What is the title and genre of your novel? Why did you select them?
The title is, Southern Breezes/The Verandah.  I chose the title because I was looking for something to indicate what the story was about, what tone it set, so Southern Breezes, lets the reader know they’re in the south. And because all the books will be set in Galveston, it’s usually breezy with all the wind from the Gulf. For the subtitle, I chose the vicinity in the series that this particular book relates to most, which is Shelby Alexander’s verandah. There’s a lot of activity going on there, both physically and paranormally.

Question: What inspired this novel? How did it come about?
I had never read cozy mysteries until a few years ago. I was ill for a period of time and wanted something that was fun, light and yet had a touch of mystery to it. So I began reading a few cozy mysteries and loved them. I found I woke with a smile on my face each morning after reading them before bed. Then I thought, I wonder if I could write these? I’m normally a darker writer, so people seldom see my humor and lighter side in my work. Then I thought, why not set them in Galveston? It’s not far from me, easy to get to for research, and full of history. And I began. The characters lined up immediately with one addition I didn’t see coming. That was Dusty, a fourth character with a mouth that makes everyone whoop.
And because it’s set in Galveston, the first ghost walked right onto the page...but there’s one more...another one I didn’t see coming and I think if I’ve written it well enough, the reader won’t either. We’ll see.

Question: Could you tell us a little bit about the heroine and/or hero of your novel?
Oh, my. You know asking an author if they could tell you anything about any of their work, you better pull up a chair. I’ve begun to think people who don’t write, give us a wide berth at parties! 
Shelby Alexander, the heroine, is a New York Times Bestselling Author. Everything in her life at this moment looks like a story out of a fairytale. Everything’s darn near perfect. She’s just gone through a bad divorce, but come out on the other side with minimal damage. She’s not only had the dream of making the New York Times list come true, but she’s just purchased a portion of the house her Aunt Sookie owned in Galveston. This is where she went every summer, along with her girlfriends, and the place where they all dreamed of living when they grew up. So, that’s her second wish come true.  But fate has a few other things in mind. A gorgeous guy, Boone Dawson, shows up, and Shelby doesn’t do gorgeous. Ever. But he seems like he’s going to become part of her landscape, at least for a time, because he’s just completed the renovations on her house and has a few loose ends to clear up. And along with him, is the town dog named Charmin’. Short for Prince Charmin’, which he’s not. He’s anything but. Both have entered her life with a bang, showing up frequently, and both are concerned about something going on, on her verandah and in the apartment. It’s something they can’t see, but leaves behind the traces of a sensuous fragrance, along with frequently opened verandah doors.

Question: Can you tell us about some of your other published novels or work?
I’d love to. Author hat on, remember? Lol   All my work can be
found on my website, www.lorettawheeler.com or on Amazon. 
First of all, there’s the prequel novella to the Southern Breezes series, titled, Christmas on the Strand. It’s also set in Galveston, and introduces you to most of the people in the town, including the clairvoyant Terence Whittaker.  http://tinyurl.com/mrvmosc 
Southern Breezes/The Verandah just released and it’s the first novel size book in the series following Christmas on the Strand. This is a cozy, romantic piece with a touch of paranormal. It’s based on an author who returns to Galveston to live, with life looking almost perfect when she does. But her life’s quickly disrupted by an architect, who’s drop dead gorgeous, and who’s accompanied by a scruffy town dog who decides Shelby, the author, is going to be his owner. And quick on their heels comes the eerie sensation that something is inside the house, something that no one can see, but is always accompanied by a sensuous fragrance. https://tinyurl.com/lg7946x
Next is Siren’s Call. This short story serves as a bridge between 
Southern Breezes/The Verandah, and the next book in the series, 
which I’m currently working on. Siren’s Call is highly sensual, 
so a bit more spicy than the other works. This is the story of 
Michael, a secondary character in the Southern Breezes series. 
And it explains why he is obsessed with sculpting one particular 
mermaid, over and over again. https://tinyurl.com/km9ds8r
 Then I have a novella size book, titled The Pan Man
It’s a YA Paranormal, set in California, and is the story of a young girl, heading off to college, who has a recurring dream of Pan calling to her. She eventually sees a gypsy at the local fair, who informs her the dream has great significance. This was my first YA and placed in a contest on Long and Short Reviews. goo.gl/lR2oiJ 
Mischief and Mayhem is a novella in which an author is being stalked by a killer and has chosen to live outside of town with her two cats near a derelict amusement park, rather than stay so visible in town. The cats, Mischief and Mayhem, are on high alert, and wind up coming to the author’s aid...although it costs them at least one of their nine lives. Not to worry though, even though one of the cats carries a singed smell now, they still have eight kick-ass lives remaining. http://tinyurl.com/hd8pst3
Dark Pleasures is a short story, originally published in a suspense anthology. It’s based on a serial killer in Houston who’s set his sights on a criminal psychologist who’s been assigned to his case. This anthology placed number one (#1) on Preditors and Editors. http://tinyurl.com/gr4w2cu
A Butterbean Named “A” is a children’s story that I wrote many years ago and finally published. It’s about a little girl who finds a butterbean and along with her grandmother, plants it near the fence line alongside a very talkative climbing rose bush.  https://tinyurl.com/jgkh3jp

Question: What are you working on now?
 A couple of things. First, the second book in the series, Southern Breezes/The Siren’s Shop, and a couple of short stories that keep dancing through my head. Literally. There’s a strong dance scene that sets the mood.

Question: What made you start writing?
I’m not your typical author. I started late in the game. I had written a few pieces when I was in high school, but did follow that path. I was more inclined toward commercial art at the time. It was much later that I found I wanted to write. I had posted an online story and allowed others to participate, and found I had so many comments about my writing, that I decided to write it formally. I already had the outline and had been writing the piece when I opened it up online, allowing others to create their own characters, but I wanted to go back to my original story and write it. That’s how I began. When I moved back to the United States from Australia, I had a request for one of my short stories to go into an anthology. I submitted it and they immediately took it.  That story was Dark Pleasures, which is now a standalone short story available on Amazon. From there, I just kept writing, having some of my work place in contests, some be published, and others released as Indie.

Question: What advice would you offer to those who are currently writing novels?
Keep writing. Don’t worry about it if you hit a wall, or if your receive rejections. Keep writing. Find critique partners that work well with you, ones who are drawn to your writing voice and who are knowledgeable. And this next piece of advice is just my opinion; I know others who feel differently. If you need a break, take it. Some of your most well-known authors take them. It lets your Muse wander. Trust me, the Muse will always return, and never arrive empty handed. Mine always comes with even more plots and ideas. I guess that’s why I’m drawn to short stories and novellas, because my Muse lays so many tales at my feet after a vacation. There’s no way they can all be novel size.

Question: Where and when will readers be able to obtain your novel?
Southern Breezes/The Verandah is already available and can be found here, on Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/lg7946x  All of my work is on Amazon or my website: www.lorettawheeler.com
And the trailer for Southern Breezes/The Verandah, can be found, here: https://youtu.be/e7F4W2U_NIs

*I want to mention that I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing Christmas on the Strand and can highly recommend it.

Loretta is offering one free Kindle e-book copy to one person who comments. Please leave an e-mail address for contact if interested.

Comments and questions for Loretta are welcome here!