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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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!

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.

Researching the Ten Pound Poms

Sydney_Opera_House_Sails_edit02[1]Last week, I blogged about listening to a radio show on coded knitting that inadvertently sparked ideas for a new novel. This week, novel research is being approached from the opposite direction. The work is written, but now I need to flesh out the details.

One section of the contemporary fantasy I’m writing takes place in York, England in the 1950s. My protagonist, a widow with two young children, needs to flee the country to escape her wealthy, predatory father-in-law who’s scheming to take her children away.

Originally, I thought she’d go to South Africa, but after reading a few pages aloud to my critique group, two key questions came up. Why South Africa and how could she afford it? Good questions indeed. I began some research and soon came across an article about the “Ten Pound Poms” as the Australians once called British citizens who migrated to Australia and New Zealand after WWII.

You see, after the war, the Australian government decided it needed British workers (partly due to the Australian government’s racist whites-only policy back then) to build its economy, so they offered passage for only ten pounds, including free passage for kids. Tired of food rationing and probably the weather, among other things, nearly 400,000 Britons applied in the first year alone. The catch to the offer was that the Britons would have to stay for two years before they were allowed to return. Otherwise, they’d have to pay back the full fare.

Many built new lives there, but a minority loafed around not doing much of anything until they could return home, according to the article HERE. Also, those without money were shuffled into former army barracks when they arrived, so needless to say, conditions were less than ideal.

It’s a fascinating story to me, most of which I’ll never use in the book because my protagonist actually winds up in Canada, due to a dramatic change in circumstances. Still, like last week’s knitting story, this is a bit of real history that I knew nothing about until I began the research, and for that I thank my critique group!

The Secret World of Knitters

knitting_250x251[1]When I was a girl, my grandmother taught me to knit. I kept it up for a few years, but then stopped. I’m not sure why, but it was probably because school and the many ballet classes and practices that demanded my time. Perhaps I haven’t lost interest completely, though, as my most recent Evan Dunstan mystery novella has a ball of yarn on the cover and a couple of key characters are knitters.

What really sparked my interest again was part of a radio discussion I heard while driving home from work last week. It was about women who had used knitting to implant coded messages during WWII. In fact, apparently Dickens’ novel A Tale of Two Cities has a French character who knitted the names of people who were being beheaded into her work.

After I got home, I googled coded knitting and found interesting articles on the topic. In a book called Writing Secret Codes and Hidden Messages it’s stated that after Morse code was invented it was soon realized that yarn or well would work quite well as a way to send messages.

I learned that an ordinary loop knot can make the equivalent of a dot, a knit stitch looks like a ‘v’ and a purl stitch could look like a horizontal line or a little bump. Even a dropped stitch had meaning, so you can see how messages could have been embedded in a scarf, for example.

A great example in the article HERE tells the story of a female secret agent who parachuted into Normandy in 1944 and began speaking with the Germans, pretending to help them. The information they inadvertently gave her was then embedded in her knitting and passed onto the British.

The other article (HERE) indicates that the Office of Censorship (in Britain) banned people from sending knitting patterns through the mail in case they contained encoded messages. Did you know that older Belgium women whose windows overlooked the railyard were recruited to note the trains coming and going, and embed that information into their knitting?

All this got me to thinking about the whole concept of coding, from early times to what we think of as coding today (something my son learned in computing science courses). Maybe there’s a mystery novel to write that incorporates different types of coding. The idea’s percolating in the back of my brain. If it has merit, it’ll surface, and a new novel will begin. Meanwhile, perhaps I should take up knitting again. Their world sounds pretty awesome.

A Story State of Affairs

nobel-prize-logo-300x225[1]I’ve never paid much attention to major writing awards. I know they’re important to many writers and other hardworking people in the writing community, but they’ve just never meant that much to me. After reading a headline in CBC News stating that the Nobel prize for literature won’t be award this year due to scandal, perhaps I should be paying more attention.

What the heck is going on? If this was April 1st, I’d take it as a joke. Sadly, it’s no joke. In fact, serious allegations of sexual abuse and financial conflicts of interest, have been exposed.

My first thought was how could this happen? My second thought was why am I being so naïve? Over recent years, a number of institutions have had their seamier sides exposed. Misbehaving members of these institutions are finally learning that they can no longer get away with manipulative, predatory behavior.

The Swedish Academy has been a fairly secretive institution since it began in 1901, and for me, its credibility is deeply tarnished. Members claim they’ll work to clean house and regain their reputation, but will they be successful? Entrenched values, behaviors, and regulations are not always easy to break.

Perhaps the entire Swedish Academy should be sweeping out dusty old traditions and practices to rid themselves of the cockroaches hiding inside their privileged, cloistered world. The windows are opening up and people are peering in. It’s about time. You can find the highly interesting CBC article HERE.