You Can’t Judge a Book Without a Title

As I’ve mentioned earlier on this blog, my next MG novel will be coming out this fall. But have I mentioned that for a long time my soon to be published middle grade novel did not have a title? I wanted to, just now, say that it was titleless but WordPress doesn’t acknowledge titleless as a word, contrary to Google which says it’s an adjective meaning “without a title.” Interesting.

Titles can be very important to a book. I can remember when my first book Bitter, Sweet was published; so many people commented on the well placed comma in the title. I had originally titled the book Bittersweet and when my publisher asked my thoughts on tweaking it a bit, I wasn’t quite sure. I needed time to think about it. I was told they wanted the title to stand out. There were other books out there with similar titles. I took a few days to mull it over, but ultimately agreed with them. Later, I was so glad I did. I now couldn’t imagine it being all one word and, as I said, many people seemed to be slightly curious about that comma.

But this last book of mine, coming out this November (yes, I did say November!) has been without a title for awhile now. I did title it when I submitted the manuscript, of course I did, but my publisher didn’t love the title. (Hey, these things happen!) So my editor and I brainstormed some ideas and sent our suggestions along. Our list was narrowed down to three, of which I was asked an opinion on. And suddenly my book had a title. Just that simple, dimple.

Did I say simple? Hmmmm, not quite.

The first list we submitted didn’t have anything that jumped out for my publisher. Could we come up with more suggestions?

No problem. We came up with another list. And then finally, within that list, three nuggets were found. I picked the biggest and shiniest nugget of the three. Hello book title!

I find it interesting that so often when people hear that you’ve an upcoming book, their first question is “What’s the title?” Never fail.

I find that interesting because, without knowing anything else about a book, the title doesn’t sem all that important to me. For instance is it an adult fiction? childrens book? non-fiction? What’s the story about? All things you might not be able to discern by a title alone. But that is just my thoughts on it.

So, happy that I am to have a sparkly new title. I won’t yet share it with you. Not to be intentionally cruel, but I’ll wait until I’m ready to show the cover. Believe me when I say, you’ll appreciate the title much more when you have a visual to go with it.

But stay tuned. I will share the original title in my next post, but only because there’s a story to go along with it. You may even learn a little something from the post. See you then!

Basil the Bootlegger

IMAG2423Years ago people used to comment all the time on what a small world we live in. That was back in the days before social media and the Internet, when you could travel to another county in the province or even a whole other province and cross paths with someone who knew a relative or neighbour from your little community. It seemed a big deal. A little serendipitous, a little uncanny that you should stumble across someone who shares that connection with you—enough to make someone declare what a small world it is. Usually here in Dalhousie, you’d meet someone who was acquainted with an old fellow who used to bootleg. Seemed no matter where you went in Canada, and mentioned you were from Dalhousie, his name would come up. I swear he’s East Dalhousie’s most famous person which is exactly what Cammie had to say about her aunt Millie in Flying With a Broken Wing. But seriously, that’s the truth about these little communities in Nova Scotia—the bootlegger holds near celebrity status. And now just look, there’s a blog post even named after the bootlegger from Dalhousie. Yup, people still remember him from back in the day. I should only hope for the same recognition with my books. Hmmm, maybe I need to rethink this writing career of mine!

These days our world has been made even smaller via the Internet and social media sites. Now, we’re stumbling across people from all over the world. I can promise you though, not one of them has heard tell of Basil the bootlegger. Well, maybe now if you’re reading my blog. With all the social media sites out there we’re privy to information we’ve never had before and our world just keeps getting smaller. Some of you might remember that I was contacted last winter from someone in the US who wanted a picture of an ancestors tombstone here in Dalhousie. I snapped a photo and sent it off…Super cool. I was happy to oblige.

If you’re an author, the world has also become smaller with all the different sites at your disposal. A Google search of you or your book will bring up reviews as well as all the sites your book is listed on. You can read what others have to say about your book on GoodReads and what rating they give it. A site called will show you the libraries around the world where your book (print and digital) is available. How cool to know that “Flying With a Broken Wing,” is in a library in Perth, Australia, and that someone in Singapore can sign out a copy of “Bitter, Sweet” and read about life in little old East Dalhousie, Nova Scotia—my backyard yet a totally different world for them.

An author can even track their book sales (print and digital) on a site called NovelRank that allows you to track your book on any Amazon site around the world. Novel Rank tells me that someone in France downloaded a digital copy of Flying With a Broken Wing. Tell me you don’t think that’s cool! There’s also a site called “Author Central” that tells you areas in the US that reported sales of your books, as well as the number of copies and how your book sales rank. Copies of my books have sold in Ohio, Colorado, New York, Minneapolis, Washington and Boston. (I believe this site keeps track of, not only Amazon sales, but other sales as well.)

And if all that doesn’t have you falling over with adulation for the Internet, you can become involved in promoting your own book through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, or by starting your own blog through WordPress or Blogger. Whew! I’m exhausted just writing this. Some might say we really don’t need all these tools at our disposable, and that might be true, nonetheless they’re here. Like it or lump it. I prefer to like it, but also to pick and choose how much time I’ll devote to any one of these sites. Let’s face it, if your book makes a peep anywhere in the world you have the ability to know about it. Wonder why some days the Internet can make us feel like a spy?

To prove my point about how small the world has become I just did a Google search on Basil the Bootlegger and a whole page of links came up. Seems he’s more world famous that I previous thought! Okay, so I’m just joking with you, but I bet I had you fooled for a second.

So, I’m sure you’re curious to know—was Basil actually related to me or just someone from the community? You bet he was a relative, a distant cousin a few times removed. Wow, never thought I’d be boasting that fact. When all is said and done my claim to fame might not be the books I write at all, but the fact that I have a connection to the once infamous bootlegger of East Dalhousie. Go figure!

The only thing now that could bring Basil world wide recognition would be if this post went viral. Now wouldn’t that be a hoot?

What are you thoughts on the small world we live in today? Is it good, bad, scary or do you fully embrace it? More importantly, do you know who Basil the bootlegger was or were you related to him?


The Full Cover

Here’s the full cover of “Flying with a Broken Wing.”  The book is ready to send to the printer. Yippee! I’m quite excited about it and trying not to be too obnoxious in my excitedness (Is that even a word?) so I won’t do anything silly here on my blog like squeal or jump up and down or turn somersaults. My kids embarrass easily, and I wouldn’t want to embarrass the darlings. No, no, that wouldn’t do. But you know how it is sometimes. We just can’t stop ourselves from, I don’t know, being silly. I’m looking forward to the launch which is tentatively scheduled for the end of September. The day after my birthday, actually. I’m really looking forward to the release of this book.



I’m In A YA State Of Mind

Earlier this week I turned 50—half a century. Sounds bad when I put it that way. Doesn’t it? (It’s okay if you have some “over-the-hill” jokes to insert here. I can take it. Give it your best shot!)

I’ve never been one to get hung up on my age. Age has always seemed a bit irrelevant to me. We are who we are regardless of age. There are some things that age cannot change or erase.

In a conversation with a friend we both commented over the fact that we found it difficult to wrap our heads around this whole aging thing and how difficult it was to believe the age we are. (One of those, where-have- the-years-gone? moments. I told him I thought that we all had a set idea of what age we are in our minds. He quickly agreed. When I asked how “old” he was, his answer was eighteen. I laughed and said, I thought I was probably somewhere between twelve and thirteen.

I think I chose this age because, when writing, I find it a very comfortable age to identify with. I don’t know why. Maybe I’m just in a YA state of mind. Maybe that age was pivotal in my development. Did something earth-shattering happen a way back then? Darned if I know.

I usually prefer to write a story from a child’s perspective. It wasn’t always that way. I’ve written many short stories from an adult perspective, but as time went by I began to notice a pattern evolving—many of my characters were children often around twelve or thirteen

You might say, “But you write for kids of course your characters are young,” and that would be true. I think, however, since I didn’t start out writing solely for children I still haven’t figured out if I should be classified as a children’s author or simply author. (Perhaps this is a topic for another post somewhere down the road.)

So who knows, while the protagonist in my current WIP is twelve (yet again), I might decide to make a concerted effort to change this in the future. There’s only one problem. My stories all start with the character first. The story follows. It’s very rare that I would have a plot already decided upon and then create my characters. When writing Bitter, Sweet I had a bit of a plot in mind for many years, but until a character made herself known to me I wasn’t able to write that story. It’s certainly something to think about.

I’m not worried, though. I’ll eventually figure out who I am as a writer. A writer’s journey will take us down many unexpected paths but none of them will lead to the sign saying wrong way. The only thing we can do is relax and enjoy the scenery.

But for now, for the time being I’m definitely in a YA state of mind.

How about you, what age are you in your mind?

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