Nancy: A Rose by Any Other Name*

If I had to take out a personal ad to describe my current writing dilemma, it would go something like this: Multi-genre author with deep-seated issues around choosing book titles seeks readers with sharp, intuitive minds to help choose an appropriate marketing title for a book going out on submission.

You can probably see where this post is going. You, dear readers, are the sharp, intuitive minds in question. A few weeks ago, I didn’t realize I’d need your help, as I was merrily skipping down the primrose path with my beloved working title for a soon-to-be-submitted story nestled safely in my blue and yellow basket. (Yes, metaphorical Nancy is a weird amalgam of different fairytale characters. And she skips. Just go with me on this one.)

Then approximately a week and a half ago, I was on a video chat with Jennie Nash, one of my writing mentors, and a few other people when the conversation turned to submitting manuscripts to agents and editors. Jennie mentioned the importance of having an email subject line that captures the recipient’s attention. Since most query emails will have the prescribed subject line “Query: Book Title,” that means a marketing book title – without the benefit of a full book cover to convey genre and tone – might carry more weight than the final title on a published book. The title needs to convey Continue reading

Michaeline: What exactly is in a name?

Young woman with a large bouquet of roses on her lap. 1916

Helen Delilah Patton Leckey (whew! what a name!) takes time to smell the roses. (From Greene County, Pennsylvania Photo Archives Project. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

What exactly is in a name? “That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet” or so they say, but first impressions count for something. “Belladonna” sounds very pretty, even if we know it’s a bit sinister. On the other hand, “deadly nightshade” is a clear warning. Same plant, different names.

I don’t have many problems with character names. It’s pretty easy to set a name for my characters at first, and as I get to know the character better, I have no problems changing them. (I make it a point to note the character’s name changes in my Cast of Characters spreadsheet so I can go back later and make sure every Luke is changed to Hadiz, or whatever name I’ve chosen.)

My characters often start out with half-forgotten celebrities from the 1970s and 80s (remember General Hospital’s Luke and Laura? No, neither do I, really, but Luke has stuck in my head as a name for a romantic lead. It almost always needs to be changed at some point, but it’s a good start).

Book titles are another story, and they give me fits. Continue reading