On Writing & Reading

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How to Select an MPNTLP Title Without HCs
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Music, Like a Declaration of Love, Demands a Response #MFRWauthor
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Dr. K, the Man in My Life #MFRWauthor

How to Select an MPNTLP Title Without HCs

My checklist for creating book titles:

  1. Memorable
  2. Pertinent
  3. Not too long
  4. Pronounceable
  5. No hidden connotations

I’d like to say I used this checklist when I determined the title of my first book. Instead I went with my own favorite type of title. The book is a romance. It’s about a man. The man has a name. The title of the book is the man’s name. Yeah, I like books named after the main male character especially those that are part of a series. My developmental editor doesn’t like book titles that are just a male name. When I submitted the book to a publisher and was offered a contract, I expected a request to change the title. That didn’t happen, so my first book is titled Shane: Marshal of Tallav. To be followed by Maon and Rand.

The publisher did change the subtitle. I’d originally named the book, Shane: Tallavan Marshal. Someone at a publisher’s meeting thought it sounded too much like Taliban, so it was changed to Marshal of Tallav. I explained that the name of the planet, Tallav, had meaning in the book and couldn’t be changed. The series became Sons of Tallav when it occurred to me Rand wasn’t a marshal of Tallav. So his book will be Rand: Son of Tallav. The matriarchs on Tallav wouldn’t appreciate it if I called it Rand: Sadist of Tallav. They can’t deny he’s a son of Tallav, although many would like to.

The first four items on my checklist came from my own interactions with book titles as a reader. Number five came from my experience with the hidden connotation in Tallavan Marshal. (This would never have occurred to me, but then I count as one of the top five oblivious people on the planet. (Earth not Tallav.))

I’d like to say I use the checklist, but truthfully, I forget to. I’m not very good at coming up with titles. My latest short story, “The Key,” is a good example. It’s not memorable. Not in the least. It meets the other requirements, but memorable is number one for a reason. You want people to remember the book. Even thinking about it now, I’m not sure what I should have named it instead. “Kolya Takes the Key?” That sounds like an elementary school book. “The Key” is my free story for those who subscribe to my newsletter. If after reading it, you have a better title, let me know.

The novella I’m currently writing is titled Matou & Me. Matou is the nickname of the main male character, but it’s also a part of the play on the tomcat/cat burglar theme of the book. Matou is French for tomcat. Minou means kitty in French. Matou calls the female lead in the book minou. But Matou & Minou seemed too much. I think Matou & Me meets all five requirements, and unless I think of something better, it will be the title of the story when it releases in late Spring. I think it’s the best title I’ve come up with so far, but I’m open to input and advice.

Music, Like a Declaration of Love, Demands a Response #MFRWauthor

Many authors listen to music when they write. Some even give you the playlist for the songs that go with a particular book. I am not those writers. I need quiet for the thoughts to flow from my brain to my fingers. Even quiet music sends its soft tendrils into my mind  and draws me inexorably into its melody until I become submerged in listening. Then my toes get involved, followed by interpretive hand movements and eventually full body swaying or dancing depending on the tune. Like a declaration of love, music demands a response. It can’t be background noise for me. It always forces itself front and center.

My taste in music is all over the place. I love Bach, Handel and all things Baroque.  Seventies music with all the falsetto and disco beat turns me into a nostalgic puddle. Everyone’s heard of Led Zepplin, but my heart belongs to Bread. And Mozart, because his music is sublime.

If you’ve never heard the Queen of Jazz, Ella Fitzgerald sing, you need to get hold of any of her albums. I especially love listening to her sing the Gershwin song book. If you like that, dip into some Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin. YouTube has awesome clips of stars of that era singing on television shows. Oh, and don’t forget Judy Garland. She did more than just sing “Over the Rainbow.” And for singing, nothing can beat Freddy Mercury and Queen.

Here’s my playlist for this post:

  1. Bach https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WljAjYDg5IQ
  2. Handel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cnn3TVBDtcA
  3. BeeGees https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpqqjU7u5Yc
  4. Donna summer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uW-3Hp1EVdQ
  5. Led Zepplin https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IS6n2Hx9Ykk
  6. Bread https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s0KXV0gB0dw
  7. Mozart https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VEJFuWgkGkY
  8. Ella Fitgerald https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2bigf337aU
  9. Sammy Davis, Jr. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5voM2HExV_Q
  10. Ella & Sammy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQLmQpgv1w405
  11. Judy Garland https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAKyf3nJvGM
  12. Queen https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJ9rUzIMcZQ

Dr. K, the Man in My Life #MFRWauthor

No, not Dr. K. Similar, but not as good looking. 😛

Dr. K and I met when I was sixteen-years-old. He earned money during the summer running a jack hammer on highway construction. He was built. He was tan. And he was very fine. Romance blossomed. That was several decades ago. In the intervening years we’ve raised a family, come close to splitting up, and suffered through long military deployments.

We’re stronger than ever because we hold nothing back. He knows my darkest secrets. I know his. He covers my weaknesses, and I cover his. My life, my world, almost my entire history is tightly bound to him. It’s a bondage I hope never to be free of.

That’s the kind of bond I envision for each of my characters. A happily ever after is essential to my romance novels. I have my own happily ever after, a marriage to my best friend for 37 years. I want that for everyone, but I can make it happen only with my characters.

  • Shane & Adrianna – Shane: Marshal of Tallav
  • Maon & Selina – Maon: Marshal of Tallav
  • Rand & ??? – Rand: Son of Tallav is a work in progress.
  • Tyen & Kolya – “The Key” – free when you sign up for my newsletter
  • Matou & Maurelle – Matou & Me – a novella planned to release in late Spring
  • Derek, Siever, & Jane – “Merry Christmas, Santa” – short story

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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