Do Any of These Titles Grab You?

leather-book-preview[1]Two weeks ago, I blogged about my struggle to find a title for my 6th Casey Holland mystery, I’ve been giving titles a lot of thought since then, especially since I’m closing in on finishing the 6th draft.

Thanks to all of those who provided helpful comments, and I’ve managed to come up with a shortlist of candidates. To me, each of the eight listed below speaks to the theme and/or crimes in the book, but let’s approach this from another angle.

Suppose you were browsing through the mystery/thriller section in a bookstore, and saw a title on a book that you knew nothing about. Would any of these titles make you want to pick up the book and read the back cover? Maybe flip through a few pages?

  1. Senseless Acts
  2. The Blade Man
  3. Relentless
  4. Ruthless
  5. Dead Set
  6. Hell-Bent
  7. Rage
  8. Enraged

Please let me know which one(s) capture your attention, or if none of them do, and thanks again for your input!

 

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Canada’s 151st Birthday

canada-day-614290_960_720-1[1]As I write this, it’s July 4th, Independence Day in the U.S. and three days after Canada Day, here at home. Canada’s only 151 years old and very much a work in progress, but what country isn’t?

What struck me most about Canada Day was the sense of community I saw everywhere, from the multi-generations of families attending celebrations at Memorial Peace Park in Maple Ridge, to the gatherings in many communities I later saw on TV. This country is as much about family and camaraderie and gratitude as it is about marking another birthday on the calendar.

The older I get, the more apparent it is not to take for granted the country where I was born. My grandfather came from England decades ago with only a few dollars in his pocket. He built a life and created a family, and although he’s long gone, it’s only later in life that I fully appreciate what a daring and smart move he made.

For all of my Canadian friends, I hope yours was a wonderful Canada Day. For my American friends, Happy 4th of July!

MIA: A Title For My Next Novel

leather-book-preview[1]I’m working on the sixth draft of my current Casey Holland mystery. The book’s coming along nicely, except that I haven’t yet found the right title. Titles used to come easily for me, but for some reason the more books I write, the harder it gets.

The sixth installment in the series has Casey’s employer, Mainland Public Transport, (Casey’s a female security officer) under siege by an arsonist. Two of the company’s bus drivers have also been attacked by an unknown assailant who’s been attacking others in the same area of Coquitlam BC. Meanwhile, local thugs hold a grudge after an ugly confrontation with Casey and a driver during a riot. This isn’t the book blurb,  just my thoughts about will eventually be a blurb.

One of the ongoing themes is anger, the way it permeates the workplace, the public, and one’s personal life. Another part has to deal with mental illness issues that drivers in real life face from the public nearly every day.

There’s a lot of action and drama, which should make finding a title easier, yes? I’ve been compiling a list of key words and trying mind mapping, but so far nothing’s working. The title, Under Siege, aptly describes the plot and subplot, but it’s been used in movies and books many times before. So, if anyone has some great tips on coming up with a title, please let me know!

Five Great Quotes for Writers

success-failure[1]Great quotes are like mantras to me. Words to live by, to be inspired by. They can be funny, poignant, or even maudlin, but if they resonate with me in some way, they go into my collection.

I don’t have a large collection yet, but after reviewing the few I do have, I found that they still work for me, even though some I found over 20 years ago.

I’m sharing five of my favorites. You’ll notice that many have a lot to do with success and failure, which isn’t a negative in my view, but rather a reality, a challenge, and a necessary part of life.

Some of the quotes directly refer to writers or the writing life, but many are more generic thoughts that certainly can apply to writers. Do any of these resonate with you?

  1. Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm. – Winston Churchill 
  2.  Success is not built on success. It’s built on failure. It’s built on frustration. Sometimes it’s built on catastrophe. – Sumner Redstone
  3.  Rejection is a writer’s best friend. If you are not failing regularly, you are living so far below your potential that you’re failing anyway. – Gregg Levoy
  4.  I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying. – Michael Jordan.
  5. I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by. – Douglas Adams

And finally, I’m sharing one that has nothing to do with writing, but given the world’s political climate, I couldn’t resist:

No diet will remove all the fat from your body because the brain is entirely fat. Without a brain, you might look good, but all you could do is run for public office —  George Bernard Shaw

If you have any great quotes, please feel free to send them along!

The Only Constant in Life…

bigstock-Change-Green-Road-Sign-Over-Cl-8148542[1]I’m sure you know the ending to this blog’s title, and you probably also know how true it is. Change is coming for me and my family. My 83-year-old mother had cataract surgery last week and is staying with us until the eye drops are finished. Given that she also has dementia, the very notion of expecting her to put three sets of drops in her eyes in the morning and at bedtime, and two more drops at lunch and supper, would for never have happened. Thus, her visit.

After nearly four stressful years of watching her slowly deteriorate and six months on a waiting list, she will be moving into assisted living next month. The problem is, we haven’t told her. The surgery was a bit traumatic for her, since she didn’t think she needed it in the first place, and the Ativan given at the hospital knocked her off her feet, literally. Having lived on her own for 40+ years, the idea of sharing meals in a communal dining room bothers my mother immensely, even though she’ll have her own little kitchen.

Still, the move needs to happen for her own safety and for the family’s peace of mind (and no, she doesn’t want strangers coming into her home to assist her). We found a wonderful place that offers full memory support, closer to where I live. This should be a win-win, but have you ever heard of an aging parent who says, “Oh, boy! Assisted living? Sign me up!” For many of us, quite the opposite is true.

Once she’s there, my sister and I will go through the arduous task of sorting through what she won’t be taking with her, recycling and reselling what we can before selling her condo.

I’m therefore leaving my day job (a part-time secretarial position), whether permanently or temporarily is unknown. Either way, it looks like I’m heading toward semi-retirement, which is actually fine with me, as it could mean more writing time. I’ll also continue my job as a facilitator for the writing program through Port Moody Parks & Recreation, which I really enjoy.

I’m not looking forward to the talk with my boss at the end of this week, or the inevitable talk that I and my sister must soon have with our mother. Although I don’t like letting people down, the coming changes don’t frighten me. In fact, I welcome them. The amount of work, physical and emotional, is daunting, but I’ve been preparing myself for a while.

Meanwhile, I’ll keep blogging, and reading, and writing, because I love doing those things. I haven’t spent as much time as I‘d like writing or editing lately, but I do a little bit every day. I’m blessed to have something I can feel passionate about, and it keeps me from becoming too morbid about real life.

It’s likely there will be a new routine to adjust to in the fall, and that a lot of good will come from the upheaval this summer. Old chapters are about to close, but honestly, I look forward to starting new ones. In life, as in writing, I always want to know what will happen next.

My Latest Craft Fair Experience

Launch Mar2012-21One of the most interesting things about selling my books at craft fairs is the people I meet, and this year’s Creative Chaos experience in Vernon, BC was no exception.

The fun started on day one when a volunteer in a clown costume slapped a happy face on my shirt because I apparently have a nice smile. She and her cohorts were spreading cheer and goodwill everywhere, as I saw plenty of pink stickers all over customers and vendors that day.

One attendee who spotted my first book, Taxed to Death, said she has a signed copy at home, only hers was written by a man. I assured her that I’m the author, but she didn’t believe me. I then suggested that perhaps someone else wrote a mystery called Taxed to Death (not impossible here in heavily taxed Canada), but she assured me that the cover was the same as the one she had at home. She drifted away from my table, leaving both of us confused.

I met a lovely woman who came to the fair with a handwritten note, listing all of my books that she owned, so she wanted to purchase the titles she didn’t have. Writers live for readers like that. I also ran into a customer who had purchased all five of my Casey Holland titles for her mom at last year’s Chilliwack Christmas craft fair. Here she was in Vernon, (roughly a four-hour drive from Chilliwack) telling me that her mom loved my books. I live for moments like that too.

The most extraordinary exchange occurred when I was chatting with a woman whose friend joined her and said that she used to know a Debbie Purdy, although it probably wasn’t me. The woman didn’t look familiar to me either, but when she asked if I had a sister named Val, which I do, she and the other woman yelped. They were sisters and our next door neighbors back in Surrey, BC (a five-hour drive from Vernon) nearly fifty years ago. When I was fourteen, my parents split and we moved away, losing touch with the sisters. It was great, but somewhat surreal, to reconnect with them after all this time.

There were many other lovely, and sometimes odd, conversations. There was an exchange of business cards, and I was happy to meet other writers while I was there.

During the quieter moments, I watched the people go by, some wearing T-shirts stenciled with the names of places they’d been to…Paris, New York, Gettysburg, New Orleans. It occurs to me that people have become more colorful over the years with their pink, blue, and green hair, the tattoos and facial piercings. It was really fun to watch.

The seniors loved to share stories, and I heard a number of great ones. One kind gentleman even gave me one of the homemade butter tarts he’d bought from another vendor.

Craft fairs are always a gamble. The fee to participate can be steep and sales can be slow, but I can always count on stimulating conversation and even one or two ideas for my next mystery novel. I can’t wait to go back next year.

Arthur Ellis Award Winners & an Upcoming Event

Books, Craft fairLast Thursday, the winners of the Arthur Ellis Crime Writing Awards were announced at a gala in Toronto. You can see the list of winners HERE, and congratulations to all!

This week we’re driving up to Vernon, BC to take part in the 34th annual Creative Chaos summer craft fair. It’s been about three years since I last attended, so I’m looking forward to going back. Touted as the largest summer craft show in western Canada, there’s certainly a lot of cool stuff to purchase.

The fair has clear guidelines about handmade products, so I’ll be selling only my self-published mystery titles, which is fine. We always turn these out-of-town excursions into mini vacations and make sure to visit a winery or two while we’re up there. Lord knows, you can never have enough wine and cool crafts to buy. For more information about the fair, check out this link.