"Wherever men have lived there is a story to be told." Henry David Thoreau

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Merry Christmas to All!

This month has somehow gotten away from me. Here it is less than one week before Christmas! It is true that time flies when you're having fun.

I had one daughter and her family here for the two weeks after Thanksgiving and we had a ton of fun with the grandchildren. We went to our ranch in the mountains to cut down the Christmas tree. Ours is never a "perfect" tree. Each tree, each year, has its own personality. The grandchildren helped decorate it. We didn't even mind the half-dozen or so bulbs they broke! They're only two years old and four years old, after all. It was worth it to have small children in the house again, along with their laughter and mischievousness.

My grandson, the two-year-old, particularly liked my collection of little ceramic houses and tiny figurines. I think his favorite was the horse pulling the sleigh, which isn't in the picture (I couldn't fit them all in one shot). Nothing brings the Christmas spirit to heart and mind more than the wonder in a child's eyes as they experience the magic of the season.

Next week, my other two daughters will be here, and we've sent out word to Santa Claus that he needs to leave our five-year-old granddaughter's gifts beneath our tree. It's been quite a few years since he was in this neck of the woods to deliver toys, but I feel confident he'll remember the way.

This will be my last blog for the year. So here's wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! (Oh, and a lot of good books beneath your Christmas tree).

Friday, December 11, 2009

What's in a Title?

We've all heard the adage, "Don't judge a book by its cover." This could also be said of a book title. Unfortunately, we do judge a book by both. Before we make a purchase, we are first attracted to either the cover or the title. If neither catches our interest, we won't even take the book off the shelf or rack.

As writers, we have practically no input into the covers the publishers decide to give our books, unless we negotiate for that privilege in our contracts. We do have a little more chance to have a say in the title, though, simply by putting a good one on the book when we submit it. If it's really, really good, they won't change it.

Here are a few simple things that might help you come up with the perfect title:

1. The title should give an indication of what the book is about. Think of it as a mini-synopsis of your story.

2. It should suggest the genre the book fits into.

3. Even though you can't copyright titles, don't use one that is famous, like Gone With the Wind. Google your title and see what's out there before you decide to use it.

4. Keep it short, usually less than six words. People won't remember a long title.

5. Ensure that it flows well when spoken aloud. Watch for word combinations that might look fine on paper but could leave the wrong image when spoken aloud.

6. Try for something intriguing or provocative that will pique curiosity or conjure a mood.

7. Use words that the average person can understand and that are easy to pronounce. Avoid foreign words and phrases.

8. And last but not least. Be ready with options to present to your editor in the event she doesn't like your original one.