Friday, December 20, 2019

Interview with Award-winning Author Cathi Stoler

Holiday Greetings! I’m interviewing Cathi Stoler, a prolific, award-winning author. She is a three-time finalist & winner of the Derringer for Best Short Story, “The Kaluki Kings of Queens”. Cathi is a board member of Sisters in Crime NY, and a member of Mystery Writers of America & International Thriller Writers.

Question: What is the title and genre of your novel?  Why did you select them?

Answer: OUT OF TIME A Nick Donahue Adventure is a mystery/suspense novel and is the sequel to NICK OF TIME. From the very beginning, I wanted to write a story featuring a male as the main protagonist. Like most writers, I wanted there to be something unique about this character; something that would make him stand out in the crowded mystery/suspense genre.

Question:   What inspired this novel? How did it come about?

Answer: As I thought about who the character would be, I had the idea of creating an interesting and exciting professional gambler who becomes involved in solving crimes that are somehow related to his profession. I recalled being in a casino in Venice, Italy and watching all the well-dressed men and women playing high-stakes Blackjack, and knew that was the game for Nick. As a Blackjack player, he needs to get into the heads his opponents to stay ahead of the game and win. It’s the same for solving a crime.

The first book actually started with a short story in which Nick Donahue meets a mysterious woman, Marina DiPietro, who is being pursued by an International gang of jewel thieves. The story evolved into the novella, NICK OF TIME. By the end of the book, Nick discovers Marina is working for MI6 and they are living and working together.

Question:  Could you tell us a little bit about the heroine and/or hero of your novel?

Answer:  Nick is a character I really enjoy writing, Suave, sophisticated and smart, as a professional gambler, he’s also a risk taker—it’s what makes him a successful gambler, and he understands the odds are not always in his favor. He tends to figure things out in the long run and wants to be part of helping Marina solve the cases she now works on as a private investigator. As you’ll see in OUT OF TIME, this can lead to perilous situations in which he needs all the cunning, skill and subterfuge he possesses as a gambler to win.

Question:   Can you tell us about some of your other published novels or work?

Answer:  My first series includes the three-volume Laurel and Helen New York Mysteries featuring magazine editor Laurel Imperiole and private detective, Helen McCorkendale, in KEEPING SECRETS, TELLING LIES and THE HARD WAY. I’ve also written several short stories and am a three-time finalist & winner of the Derringer for Best Short Story.

Question:   What are you working on now?

Answer:  I’m working on an Urban Thriller Murder On The Rocks series. The first book is BAR NONE, with Lower East Side Corner Lounge bar owner, Jude Dillane who investigates murder and fraud at the Big City Food Bank. The next two books in the series, LAST CALL and STRAIGHT UP will be published next year.

Question:   What made you start writing?

Answer:  I was an advertising copywriter for many years and finally decided to try writing a novel, which I’d been thinking about doing for some time. Of course, I chose to write a mystery, the genre I loved to read since I was a child. If I couldn’t be a detective, at least I could write about one. So far, it’s been a great experience and I don’t plan to stop anytime soon.

Question:   What advice would you offer to those who are currently writing novels?

Answer:  Be totally committed. Talent aside, writing and finishing a book is an enormous amount of work. But that’s just the beginning. Most of us spend months, if not years, searching for an agent, then an editor and a publisher who will to take a chance on you. It can be a very long process and not always financially rewarding. So, I’d say look deep inside and make sure you want to do this.

Question:  Where and when will readers be able to obtain your novel?

Answer:  OUT OF TIME, is available in paperback and eBook editions on Amazon. Here are the links:

Paper back:  

I hope you will enjoy reading OUT OF TIME.

Cathi welcomes your comments and/or questions. So don’t be shy!

Friday, December 13, 2019

Sharing Reading Suggestions for the Holidays 2019

The winter holidays are a great time to gift friends, family or  yourself with books to read. With people going on vacation, many individuals enjoy relaxing with a good book. And there certainly are a lot of them being published! You can find books to suit every age and taste whether fiction or nonfiction. Let’s share recommendations, whether it be your own work or that of others. The only requirement for this blog is that the book was published in 2019.

I’ll start things going. I have short stories in five new publications which I recommend. They are: SHERLOCK HOLMES MYSTERY MAGAZINE #27, THE BLEND INTERNATIONAL, ROCK AND A HARD PLACE, RE-HAUNT, and last but not least, A MURDER OF CROWS. This last anthology is a large collection of cozy mystery stories connected by a common theme.

I also humbly suggest my just published historical romance SINFUL SEDUCTION which is receiving excellent reviews:





Okay, now it’s your turn. Please share the books and publications you think will make for good holiday reading. Feel free to talk about work you’ve recently had published if you’re an author. Readers, please mention books you have on your wish list and/or recently read and enjoyed.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

New Novel Reveal

Today is the publication date of my latest novel, an historical romance from Luminosity Publishing. I would like to introduce SINFUL SEDUCTION to you.

Brief Synopsis:

They met and loved passionately in a time of revolution.
Anne McIntyre, a schoolmistress in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey at the outset of the American Revolution, is serious-minded, intelligent, and patriotic. Anne supports her sister in her marital problems and helps the ironmaster’s widow manage a difficult situation with her daughter.
Peter Kensington should have been an earl, but thanks to the duplicity of his younger brother and his own reckless nature, he has ended up an officer in the colonial war. Spying is alien to his gentlemanly code. Yet he must do exactly that. Anne is suspicious of him from the first but as passionately attracted to him as he is to her.

SINFUL SEDUCTION has received an excellent review from the Historical Novel Society:

Sinful Seduction sets a romantic domestic drama against the backdrop of the American Revolution in an innovative way… an enjoyable read.”

You can check out the complete review here:


New Jersey, 1776

AT FIRST, the trip to Princeton was not frightening. There were no armies of soldiers on the road. Yet the smell of fear was in the air. Anne McIntyre had been told the Continental Army was retreating across New Jersey with the British army in hot pursuit. The coach pressed on. She grimly kept her skinning knife at one side and the spare pistol at the other — just in case. Visions of red-coated soldiers pillaging and raping marched through her mind.
A few miles outside of Princeton, old Jacob sped up the coach. Anne could hear horses racing and drawing near. Soon there was the sound of voices yelling at Jacob to halt.
“Is it soldiers?” Delia Baincroft asked in a small, frightened voice that made her sound more childish than her sixteen years.
Anne turned her head toward the window at the rear of the coach and peered out. There were four armed men on horses chasing after them, but they were in civilian dress.
“It looks like highwaymen, although I cannot be certain.”
The coach could not outrun the men on horseback, and they were forced to pull over. Anne’s heartbeat increased as she gripped the pistol beside her.
“Where are you goin’, driver? And who are the folk within this fine coach?”
“Who wants to know?” she heard Jacob return sharply.
“Do not be rude to your betters, old man, or I’ll slice out your tongue.”
Fanny Baincroft slightly opened the coach door and peered her head outside. “Step away, man. My daughter is ill, and we are on our way to seek a physician.”
“Then surely you fine ladies have money with you to pay a fat fee. Get out of the coach and hand over your valuables.”
“How dare they!” Delia sputtered indignantly.
“Stand and deliver.”
There was the sound of a pistol fired and then another in exchange. Anne brushed past Fanny to see what was happening. Jacob had obviously tried to shoot one of the robbers, but his aim wasn’t good enough. The old man gasped, holding his chest where blood spurted forth. While the men had their eyes turned on Jacob, Anne took up her weapon and aimed it at the leader of the group.
“I’ll shoot you if you don’t get out of here,” she said, cocking the mechanism.
The highwayman laughed at her in a crude, menacing way. “And what does a young woman like yourself know of weapons?” He started moving toward her. “I think you need to be taught a lesson in how to yield right and proper.”
Anne let loose her shot and caught the man in the head. She saw the look of astonishment as he fell from his horse, blood trickling down his temple. She hoped that without a leader, the others would turn and ride away, but that was not the case. Three men charged toward her, and she could only think to remove her knife from its hide casing in readiness. She would not die without a fight.
But suddenly she heard a pistol discharging and then another. A tall man on a great horse dispersed the robbers, another of whom fell from his horse, bleeding profusely while the other two rode away.
“Are you all right?” The man’s black horse reared up.
Anne found herself trembling. She had been fine in the moment that required her greatest effort, but now she felt weak. It was as if her legs could no longer support her. Their savior seemed to sense this. He climbed down from the spirited stallion and put his arms around her, holding her close as if she were a child. Normally, she would have been shocked and offended by such behavior from a stranger, but these were not usual circumstances. She felt his gesture of comfort suffuse her flesh with an unfamiliar but pleasant sensation of warmth.
“They won’t be back,” he said reassuringly.
He ran his hands over her back and continued to press her close against the hard length of his masculine body. Her reaction to him was peculiar. She felt herself begin to tremble as if in the grip of a raging fever. It took all the strength she could summon to pull free of him.
Anne looked up into the handsomest face she had ever seen. The man removed his hat and bowed to her. His eyes were of a deep, dark blue, hair completely blond on top and sandy beneath. He was well-dressed in a great, black cape and fully armed with a sword and brace of pistols. When he returned his hat to his head, he cocked it jauntily like a military man.

This book is available in print and all e-book formats.

Some Book Links: 






I hope you decide to read this novel.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Publicity and Promotion

Many people in the public eye believe that there is no such thing as bad publicity. Publicity, positive or negative, promotes a career because it puts that person in the limelight. Of course, writers would like to be recognized for the quality of their work. Bad reviews hurt a writer’s sales and recognition as a serious author. Nevertheless, being ignored by reviewers is not something that authors appreciate either. Readers aren’t going to buy books they’ve never heard of. No reviews? No publicity? No sales.

So how do authors go about reaching readers, building a following among those who buy books? After all, it’s not just the small independent publishers who do little to promote their authors. These days even the major publishers do not put much effort and money into book promotion either. Writers have to think proactive.

How should writers go about reaching and building a readership? I’m going to offer a few suggestions that won’t break your bank account.

l. Use the internet:

a. Create a website. Every professional writer should have one.

b. Do social media networking such as blogging. Create your own blog and also guest blog on other sites. Interview other authors. Offer to do interviews on other sites, not those only for writers. Reach out to a more general, larger audience.  Create a presence on such popular internet sites as: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Bookbub, Booktown, etc.

d. Join internet writer groups of authors with common interests. Be an active reader and comment often in group and on their blogs. Not everyone can be an “influencer” but it helps to connect.

e. Be willing to read and review the work of other writers.

f. Ask other authors in your genre to read and review your books as well. You want as many reviews as possible on Amazon, B&N, Goodreads, Kobo, etc.

g. Send out advance review copies to internet reviewers who read in your genre. Reviews are important and we can’t always get them from the major review publications.

h. Possibly offer ARCs as giveaways both on your site, other sites. Is giving away free books a good method of increasing overall sales and getting publicity for an author’s brand? It appears to do so for ebooks. Many writers are offering free ebooks on Amazon. Usually this creates awareness of an author who has numerous books to offer. I don’t have the statistics on how well this is working out. If you do, please comment.

2. Bookstore signings and events are great. However, unless you are a famous author, these opportunities have diminished. My advice is to see if there are any independent bookstores locally that you can contact. Be prepared to advertise your “event”/signing on your own.

3. Library Events. Offer to do a program at your local library. You can have a book signing and selling afterward if the library approves.

4. Don’t forget to advertise every program you do. Contact the local newspapers and offer a “news release.”

5. Your college probably has a graduate publication, magazine or newsletter. The publication of your book is certainly a newsworthy item.

6. Consider selling books at various unexpected places. Book fairs sponsored by local libraries are great and so are craft shows, however, you might think of a more creative venue. Try to think outside the box. For example, suppose your novel is about a baker. Is there a local bakery that might display and sell your books on consignment?  Is your novel set in a beauty parlor? Would a beauty shop owner allow your books selling space for a cut of the profits?

7. Attending conferences. Many writers swear by them. It’s a great place for networking and connecting. You can meet editors, agents and other authors. At the very least, you can interact and get interesting feedback and share ideas. Since our work is solitary, this is a good way to know you are not alone.

8. Some writers publish their own newsletters which advertise the release of their new books as they come out.

9. You might also keep friends and relatives in the loop through e-mail announcements.

10. Send out announcements to acquisition librarians, especially if your book has had good reviews which you can quote. This can be done inexpensively via e-mail.

11. Podcasts are popular as are Youtube videos. If you have a talent for creating either one, it might benefit sales.

Have I left out anything that I should be mentioning? As a writer, what promotion and or publicity ideas have worked well for you and might work well for other authors?
Readers, what determines the books you select? I would love to share ideas in this forum.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Creating the Right Book Cover

Every publisher and every author wants a book cover that will draw reviewers and readers. “A cover only has seconds to make an impact,” says Becky Rodriguez-Smith, Design Services Manager at BookBaby. “Our purpose is to create visuals that will grab a potential reader’s attention so that they click on the book to read more about it. To that end, the bolder the better.”

As readers, do you initially judge a book by its cover? It stands to reason that writers want to create an appealing cover that draws the eye. Cover art can make or break a book especially if the author isn’t well-known. What kind of front cover will grab the reader’s attention? What kind of cover art should a book display?  A lot depends on the genre of the book itself. The cover should be appropriate to the type of book. A basic question to ask: is the book going to be sold on the shelf of a bookstore or is it going to be available only online? Is the novel going to be a hardcover, trade, paperback, e-book or audio—possibly all of these?

With hardcover fiction books, as with all others, the cover needs to fit the genre, be attractive, while the title should be easy to read and intriguing. Cover art needs to play fair with readers so that they don’t feel cheated when they select a book.
Paperbacks need simplicity in covers. The artwork should also support the title and the genre. E-book covers shouldn’t be too fussy or busy either. The old saying “less is more” works best for a book cover that’s displayed online. A short title with a large, easily readable font and bright contrasting colors shows up well on the computer screen. Publishers want to avoid covers that are complicated and hard to read. Plain, simple graphics are preferable.

What are the qualities of a good cover?

We are able to read the title and author and all subheadings with ease.

The image that doesn't interfere with the written information.

The book cover is memorable: simple yet vivid and pleasing to the eye.

The theme is expressed by the image and in keeping with the genre of the book.

The bottom line for good book covers is that they make you want to read what's inside.

Here is the cover for my latest novel, an historical romance set during the American Revolution, which just received an excellent review from the Historical Novel Society:

The hero and heroine appear as if they are about to kiss, which fits this novel. The background setting evokes the Pine Barrens of NJ where much of the novel takes place.

Book Links: 






What are your feelings regarding cover art? What draws or attracts you to a novel? What do you dislike or prefer not to see?

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Interview with Anthology Editor Kelly A. Harmon

Kelly A. Harmon is the editor of Pole to Pole Publishing which is putting out several anthologies. The current one is a perfect Halloween read. So this is my holiday treat to fellow authors and readers.

Question: What is the title and genre of your anthology?  Why were they selected?

Answer: Re-Haunt: Chilling Stories of Ghosts and Other Haunts. The book contains dark, creepy stories of “ghosts and other haunts—”  While all of the stories are “dark,” and a few are tense enough to raise the hair on the back of your neck, I wouldn’t categorize the anthology completely as “horror,” because there are a few lighter stories in the bunch as well.

Question:   What inspired this book? How did it come about?

Answer: Who doesn’t love a good ghost story?  Pole to Pole Publishing (link:  publishes dark stories of all kinds.  After doing some brain-storming, my co-editor Vonnie Winslow Crist and I went with “ghosts and hauntings” because we liked those the best. Among the top considered were military stories, mysteries, outer space and dark stories about “wine and spirits.” Some of those are on the publishing agenda for 2020 and 2021.

Question:   What are you working on now?

Answer:  We are finishing up our “Not Far from Roswell” anthology, which is a collection of alien and cow stories, all related to Roswell, New Mexico.  That should be available before the end of November. 

And, we’re ramping up to open submissions for a tribute volume to Jules Verne, tentatively titled Twenty Thousand Leagues Remembered. Steven R. Southard (link: and I will be editing that.  It’s scheduled to be published in June 2020, on the sesquicentennial of Jules Verne’s work.

Question:   What made you start working as an editor?

Answer:  I initially started as a newspaper editor. Some years into it, I was asked by a friend to edit the grammar and punctuation for some fiction. That little bit of experience got my foot in the door. Because of my love of science fiction, fantasy and horror, transitioning to fiction editing when I stopped reporting was a natural fit.

Question:   What advice would you offer to those who are currently writing?

Answer: Figure out your “why.”  In other words, sit down and decide the number-one reason you’re writing. Once you know what why you’re writing, you can take the steps necessary to reach your goal. Every writer needs to hone his craft, but the career path of a writer who yearns for critical acclaim (a Pulitzer, the Booker Prize, a Bram Stoker Award, a Pushcart) will look different than the writer who wants (and deserves!) to be paid for his writing. Sometimes, those paths will intersect—especially if you plan for it. And that’s the heart of my advice:  determine your goal, and then plan how you’ll get there. Say “no” to any writing “opportunity” that doesn’t align with your goal. (It will only slow you down.)

And also, write: put words on paper, type them into word processors or dictate. Scribble on napkins.  Finish what you start.

Question:  Where and when will readers be able to obtain your anthology?

Answer:  Re-Haunt is currently available in paperback and ebook on Amazon, free for Kindle Unlimited.

Comments or questions for Kelly are welcome here.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Halloween Treat: Why Do Ghost Stories Persist?

An essay by Parul Sehgal was previously published in THE NEW YORK TIMES Book Review. The topic was appropriate for Halloween: Why the ghost story persists.

Sehgal observed: “Literature — the top-shelf, award-winning stuff — is positively ectoplasmic these days, crawling with hauntings, haints and wraiths of every stripe and disposition.” I myself have found much more of a demand for stories with a supernatural edge than those set in the verisimilitude of reality. Maybe people are looking for psychological escapes from the real world more than ever.

Many of the classics of literature such as Henry James’ “Turn of the Screw” or Shirley Jackson’s “The Haunting of Hill House” provide us with eerie ghost stories. Today’s ghost stories vary. They may be written in the classic mold or entirely unique. They may reflect our modern society or hearken back to the past. Sehgal observed: “ghost stories are never just reflections. They are social critiques…” 

In my novel DARK MOON RISING, there are two ghosts, women from two different centuries who haunt the family home of the men who wronged them. These ghosts seek justice via revenge.

Sehgal commented that ghost stories are often drenched in sex and violence. But obviously that is not the only thing that makes them appealing to readers. I think that one strong appeal of ghost stories is the suggestion that there is life after death.

What is your opinion? Also, are there any ghost stories that particularly have appeal to you or you found memorable?

Friday, October 25, 2019

Interview with Author/Editor Sandra Murphy

Sandra Murphy lives in St Louis, the land of the blues, brews, and shoes. Her short stories appear in her collection, From Hay to Eternity, and in anthologies such as The Eyes of Texas, The Extraordinary Book of Amateur Sleuths and Private Eyes, The Book of Historical Mystery Stories, The Killer Wore Cranberry #4, and others. On occasion, she is privileged to co-write on with Michael Bracken, who has more ideas than his keyboard can handle.

Question: What is the title and genre of your anthology?  Why did you select them?

Answer: The title is A Murder of Crows, twenty-one cozy stories each featuring the collective name of a group of animals and a crime. I looked for a mix of established and new writers, a variety of animals, settings, and time periods. One is in the 30s, one in the 40s, two set in England, the rest current time and in the US. Among the animals are tarantulas, koalas, dodos, goldfish, bees, goats, penguins, alpaca, bears, and of course, crows. The rule was no animal could be maimed or killed and that included what people ate and wore.

Question:   What inspired this book? How did it come about?

Answer: Kaye George, who writes multiple series of cozies, made a casual remark on Facebook. She saw a large number of birds in her yard, realized they were crows, and said, “How cool is this? I’m a mystery writer and I have a murder of crows in my yard.” I suggested it would be a good theme for an anthology but she didn’t have time so I got to be editor for it.

Question:   What are you working on now?

Answer:  I have a lot of half-finished projects that need attention. One is a mystery set in an animal sanctuary. Untreed Reads has said we may be able to publish it next year. It’s in need of editing!

In the meantime, the next anthology is underway. It’s tentatively titled, Rebellion, Revolution and Rock ‘n Roll—The Sixties in Music. There will be about twenty crime stories inspired by or that revolve around 60s music. It’s a lot of fun hearing how writers chose their songs.

Question:   What made you start working as an editor?

Answer: I was volunteered to edit a newsletter for a group I belonged to. When that ended, a position came open for a similar job. I get a lot of editing experience with my writers group, Writers Under the Arch. We meet weekly and critique/edit each other’s work. Editing others makes my own writing better.

Question:   What advice would you offer to those who are currently writing?

Answer: Read good books, read better books, and read terrible books. You need to read the overwritten, too much dialogue, too many plot twists, too many characters books so you recognize good writing when you see it. Don’t copy anyone else’s style. Find your own. Practice. Write scenes, write description, write characters, before trying to put them all in one place. Eavesdrop to hear how dialogue sounds. Read oddities in news streams to spark ideas. Don’t try to sound like a writer. It makes you come across as pompous.

Question:  Where and when will readers be able to obtain your anthology?

Answer:  It’s available now in e-book or paperback on Amazon at

Note: This anthology is published by Dark House Books.

Comments for Sandra welcome here!

Friday, October 11, 2019

The Real History of Halloween

Ever wonder what the real deal is concerning this holiday? The paranormal aura and mystique surrounding Halloween connects to a series of beliefs, traditions and superstitions. What is the actual origin of Halloween?  It appears to date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain.  By Celts we refer to the people who lived approximately 2,000 years ago in Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France, celebrating their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer harvest and the beginning of dark, cold winter, a time of year often associated with human death.

Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain, believing that ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future.  The Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities.
During these celebrations, Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other's fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they put out earlier that evening. This symbolic lighting was done from the sacred bonfire to serve as a protection during the coming winter.
By 43 A.D., the Romans had conquered a majority of Celtic territory. During the course of the four hundred years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain. The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of "bobbing" for apples that is practiced today on Halloween.
By the 800’s, the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands. In the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV designated November 1 as All Saints' Day, a time to honor saints and martyrs. The pope was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. The celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (All Saints' Day) and the night before it, the night of Samhain, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween. Even later, in 1000 A.D., the church designated November 2 All Souls' Day, a day to honor the dead. It was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels, and devils.
Tales of the supernatural and paranormal are ever popular during the Halloween season. Black Opal Books published WITCH WISH, my YA novel with a supernatural twist:

This follows THE DEVIL AND DANNA WEBSTER, available in all e-books as well as print.

Also available, DARK MOON RISING, Gothic romantic suspense from Luminosity for adult reading, available in all e-book formats and print as well.

Are there any books or stories that you consider good Halloween reading choices? 
If so, please share with us.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Tips on Choosing Titles: What’s in a Name?

According to Gertrude Stein a rose is a rose is a rose. Then again, some roses might be more perfectly formed than others. I believe a well-chosen title helps 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 and misled.

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.

Last suggestion: Try for a clever use of words which will make your title in some way memorable, interesting, intriguing, and/or provoke curiosity. A whimsical bit of rhyming hopefully also makes a title stand out.

December 1st is the publication date of my new historical romance SINFUL SEDUCTION which has a pre-publication sale. I began with the title THE DEMON LOVER. An editor who read the novel did not like that title for the novel and suggested I rethink it. Although I didn’t contract with her publishing house, I did take the advice to heart and rethink the title. In many ways, my new title fits the novel much better. Kate Miles, my editor at Luminosity, greatly liked both the book and the title which is encouraging.

Take a few moments if you will and look at the novel. See if you think the title suits the book. Your input much appreciated.

Book Links: 






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

Friday, September 20, 2019

Author in the Spotlight: Interview with Joe Prentis

Hello readers and writers. My current interview is with fellow author Joe Prentis. Joe is the author of over 70 short stories and fifteen novels.

Question: What is the title and genre of your most recent novel? Why did you select them?

Answer: The book I am promoting right now is ‘FORGOTTEN,’ a Young Adult Romance novel that also contains an element of mystery. I am a multi-genre writer who writes Mysteries, Westerns, Romance, and Suspense novels. I often deviate from the traditional concept of what the reader expects in each of these genres, but I think it makes a more vibrant, exciting story.

Question: What inspired this novel? How did it come about?

Answer: The company where I worked hired seventy college students during the summer months. Most of the ones I worked with were young women, and there was a commonality between them. They wanted to be understood, to succeed, and they wanted to be loved. A surprising number of them didn’t feel as if they were loved, even the ones from supportive, loving families. From talking with them, I learned that love is an elusive thing, hard to grasp, even harder to understand. I wanted to write a novel that involved the hopes, fears, and the uncertainty of coming of age in our society.

Question: Could you tell us a little bit about the heroine of your novel.

Answer: People often ask me, “Am I in your novel?” Or they might say, “That guy in your book that worked at the service station reminds me of a man I once dated. You know the one I’m talking about.” I have never put any person I know in a book because there are too many characters nagging for me to let them tell their story. Amber, the heroine of Forgotten, is like so many people I know. She is ambitious, talented, but lonely at times, and wants her father and friends to love her. At times she feels slighted and will flee from a relationship before she gets hurt more than she already has. I think there is a truth that many authors miss in writing a novel. Everyone loves something or someone. Even a villain has some redeeming qualities. It can make them seem more real, or as in Silence of the Lambs, it can scare the living daylights out of the reader.

Question: Can you tell us something about you other published novels or work?

Answer: My most successful novel is Abraham’s Bones and the sequel, The Relic. These novels allowed me to combine several areas of interest into these two novels. I also like to write Westerns. I don’t write the traditional Western where the main focus is people shooting at each other. I like stories that reflect real life and all of the emotions involved. My Western novels are more like John Jakes or Bernard Cornwell. 

Question: What are you working on now?

Answer: Actually, I am working on two different books. I wrote Abraham’s Bones several years ago. It was a huge success for an e-book. It was on the bestseller list in England for nine and one-half weeks, moving back and forth from the number two spot to the number five position. I sold from thirty to sixty copies of it each day. The sequel, The Relic, did rather well and I sold thousands of copies of the two books during the next few years. I am working on a third book in the series. It will be several months before I complete it. The setting of both books is Israel and Washington. The story line involves the clash of the three great religions in the Middle East. They are not religious books, but are about religion. I am also working on another book in my Western series. I enjoy Westerns so much that it is hard to stay away from them.

Question: What made you start writing?

Answer: An older sister taught me to read when I was three years old. She read my storybooks to me so many times that I had them memorized. At first, I was following along with my finger from line to line and eventually began to recognize individual words. Some of the books had terrible endings. Someone got killed, or a wicked witch had kids in a cage fattening them up so she could eat them. The Three Blind Mice was awful. I crossed out the endings of some of them and scribbled my version in the space between the lines. I still have the first novel I wrote, and I take it out and look at it from time to time. It was a James Bond type thriller. I never contacted a publisher because it was awful and I didn’t know how to make it any better. To say that I was obsessed with literature is an understatement. I had a lot of encouragement along the way, but also some contact with people who seemed to know nothing about the real world. I learned that you have to be your own critic. You have to listen to others if they seem to know what they are talking about and keep on writing.

Question: What advice would you give to those who are currently writing novels?

Answer: There are two kinds of writers, those who want to be a writer and those who want to write. Some beginning writers don’t understand the difficult task of becoming published and what is required to promote a book. This is okay because you don’t have to be number one on the New York Times Bestseller list to be successful. Be realistic and decide what an obtainable goal for you is. Some assume that fame and fortune will come from writing. I know a man who had a successful small business. When he retired, he wanted to pursue writing full time. He would write a story each week, go to Rapid Print, and have a hundred copies made. On his way home, he would place one copy in each mailbox. He loved doing this, and his villagers liked reading his stories. His ambition did not go beyond this. He had no desire to be published or to be known beyond his village. He was happy with what he was doing. The average e-book on Kindle sells only about 40 copies. To anyone who wants to be a writer, I would suggest that they carefully examine why they want to do it. If they are seeking fame and fortune that extends to the far corners of the earth, it isn’t likely to happen. Many others don’t realize how long it takes to write a novel. Abraham’s Bones took about two thousand hours, which is roughly one year of eight hour days. I once raced a friend trying to write a book in one month. We did so, but it was challenging. I would also tell any would-be writer not to become fixated on being published by the big five in New York unless there is an obsession to do so. I write because I love every minute of it. If you have to force yourself to the keyboard, you are only adding to your store of difficult things you probably don’t want to do. Find your niche in the writing world so you can enjoy every minute of what you are doing. It might be a personal essay of interest only to your extended family, or it might be a book you will write and rewrite until you find a publisher. Above all, remember that writing is one of the noblest callings on earth. Enjoy yourself and others will want to read what you have written.     

Here is the link to my Young Adult novel, Forgotten, on Amazon.

Joe welcomes your comments.