Newly Released: First Book in a New Series!

It’s here! It’s here! It’s here at last! 😀

“What is here?” you ask politely, perhaps taken aback by my enthusiasm.

A Talisman Arcane

This book got interrupted while I was in the middle of writing it. It feels like it’s taken much longer than usual from the moment when I started the story to now, when I’m publicly announcing its release. So I’m excited!

Not only is the book available now, but the early reviews are largely favorable, which pleases me a lot.

“Great book about an unlikely friendship…” —Karen B.

“…really enjoyed this story. I read it in a single day. I have to admit I was a bit annoyed when I was interrupted, so you might want to read it on a quiet day of solitude…” —Caroline McBride

“There’s an interesting magic system… But mostly this is a character focused book… The relationships, both new and old, were well written and well thought out.” —Sleepy

“…I really loved this book. I found it hard to put down…and when I did put it down I was often thinking about the characters and what was last going on…when I’d stopped. The characters were all well developed, with strong personalities and backgrounds.” —Dragonessa

But enough of what people are saying. What about the book itself?

Although it is the first in a series, it’s a complete story. I originally wrote the book as a standalone, but every one of my early readers demanded a sequel, because they wanted to hang out with Lealle again and revisit her world.

I feel that way myself. And I have ideas for fresh adventures! So books 2 and 3 will be coming along soon. 😀

Here’s a bit about A Talisman Arcane.

*     *     *

The mansion on Balard Square stands empty. Dirt grimes its marble columns. Cracks mar its once pristine walls. No one enters or exits.

Rumor says no one lives there. Neighbors ignore the property, glad it’s merely shabby, not derelict. Brash youths pretend a witch makes it her home, a wicked witch who hates children.

All of them—rumor, neighbors, and youths—are wrong.

Fleeing a ragged horde of boys, young Lealle discovers the truth of the history-haunted house.

She hopes to keep that truth secret.

But her silence threatens disapproving neighbors, trespassing bullies, and one gentle soul in desperate need of a lifeline.

Magic and coming of age in the tradition of Patricia C. Wrede’s Mairelon the Magician.

A Talisman Arcane is available as an ebook. Amazon

*     *     *

I am experimenting again with having an ebook in Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program. My apologies to those of you who get your ebooks elsewhere.

The paperback edition—which will release in a week or two—will be available everywhere. And I plan to make the ebook widely distributed after 90 days.

 

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Here Be Merfolk

My novel, Fate’s Door, is one of ten stories in a new bundle focusing on mermaids, sea people, and life under the waves.

The bundle includes some big names—Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Alan Dean Foster—along with some newer writers creating yet-to-be-discovered gems.

The first two stories, which I’ve read, are intense and powerful. I’m eager to read onward for the rest of the bundle!

If you enjoy fantasy featuring people of the sea and the shore, or if you’ve not yet read my own Fate’s Door, check out Here Be Merfolk.
 

Whale Rock’s sheriff, Dan Retsler, considers himself a practical man. But he has no explanation for the horrible deaths that take place on his beach. Nor does he know why so many locals fear the sea. The answer lies in legends of mermaids—not the pretty kind, but the kind that lure sailors to their deaths. Retsler doesn’t believe in them, but nothing quite explains the women he sees near the beach, when he investigates a friend’s sudden and tragic death.

“Like early Ray Bradbury, Rusch has the ability to switch on a universal dark.”  —The Times (London)

 
 

When Thalassa’s Children—the mer-like, genderless protectors of the ocean—experience the trapped and suffocating death of one of their own, a single member chooses to take action. Against the wishes of the collective mind.

But can a lone mer ever hope to convince the humans of what they have done to the ocean, in a language they will understand?

And will it be worth losing everything?

“[One of] the kind of stories anyone who reads them will remember forever…inventive, heartbreaking, and wholly original.”
    —Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Hugo award-winning author and editor

 

Best friends Chachel and Glint, a merson and a cuttlefish, are returning from a shark hunt when they stumble upon an unconscious female demon. Taking her back to their reef to recover, they fall into a unique friendship, one which will change their lives and community forever.

In this undersea adventure, New York Times Bestselling author Alan Dean Foster uses his extensive knowledge and experience from diving and traveling to bring to life the mysterious world of reef dwellers under the ocean.

 
 
 

Secrets, like troubles, come in threes. When you possess one of either, two more arrive to keep it company.

Nerine, a sea nymph of the ancient world, knows too much about both.

Each morning, in the chill before the sun’s rising, Nerine and the three Fates stand under the mighty branches of the World Tree, gazing into the depths of the Well of Destiny to master the dooms they must bring to life that day.

When the dawn’s visions show Nerine’s lover—shipwrecked and drowning—all her renounced yearning for him rises anew.

Surely, as handmaiden to the Fates themselves, she might tilt the odds to give her beloved a chance.

Somehow—this day, this morning, this time—Nerine must subvert destiny or lose the companion of her heart forever.

 

Setnya spies on her enemies, the land people. Humans engineered the sea people before the first world war between those of land and sea.

Once again, humans threaten to take over the sea.

Will Setnya’s choices move her people closer or farther from another war?

A thought-provoking story on the nature of humanity.

 
 
 
 

The call of the deep rings ever in our ears, from myth and legend to crime and mystery. Sea-people, mer and monster, immortals and reluctant heroes feature in this sea-worthy bundle.

“The Women of Whale Rock” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
“We, the Ocean” by Alexandra Brandt
Oshenerth by Alan Dean Foster
“Deep Dreaming” by Debbie Mumford
Dolphin Knight by Robert Jeschonek
“On Desperate Seas” by Kate MacLeod
Fate’s Door by J.M. Ney-Grimm
“The Murky Depths” by Linda Jordan
“Dark, From the Sea” by Linda Maye Adams
“Ondine” by Brenda Carre

The Here Be Merfolk bundle is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes, or direct from the BundleRabbit site.

For more bundles with my stories in them, see:
Here Be Dragons
Here Be Fairies
Immortals

 

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The Hunters Enter the Woods

I’m in the midst of writing a short story inspired by seven tapestries created in the late 1400s to depict the royal hunt of the unicorn.

The tapestries are gorgeous, although historians have thus far proven unable to identify the original patron and tapestry workshop from which they came. The first recorded mention of them has the works hanging in the Paris home of the de la Rochefoucauld family in 1680.

Nor is there agreement on the symbolism of the story told. Perhaps the hunt depicts two beguiled lovers, the knight represented by the unicorn, the lady by the maiden. Perhaps the hunt is an allegory for the Passion of Christ. Or perhaps both stories are present, each enriched by the presence of the other.

The first of the seven tapestries depicts the start of the hunt, when the hunters and their hunting dogs are ranging through the forest, hoping to catch sight of the mythical beast they will pursue.

So…how did I come to be writing a unicorn tale?

It all started with story bundles. A number of my stories have been included in a series of bundles entitled Here Be…

“Crossing the Naiad” appeared in Here Be Ghosts. The Troll’s Belt is part of Here Be Fairies. And all three of my dragon stories feature in Here Be Dragons.

Alex Butcher curates these fine collections, and she has several new ones planned for 2019. Here Be Unicorns will release in March or April. When she asked me if I had a story that would fit its theme, I had to confess that I did not.

But her query got me thinking. Why didn’t I have a unicorn story? I should! I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and soon an idea bloomed. After I’d scribbled four different outlines in my journal (three of which were too long), I realized I needed to take my longing to write about a unicorn seriously.

I started writing this week. 😀

Update on The Sovereign’s Labyrinth

For those of you who have been watching the progress bar on my website…

The second of the Gael & Keir Adventures is in good shape. In fact, it is in the hands of my first reader. She’s read the first few pages, reported that she was gripped by the opening, and is eager to read more. I like hearing that!

It’s time for me to reserve a cover for the book from Deranged Doctor Design.

I’ve already been thinking about the next adventure. I’ve actually written the opening scene, and I have a tentative title. Deepearth Rising. I’m just as excited about it as I was about Sovereign.

I’m not quite ready to post a progress bar for Deepearth Rising, because I need to transform the mass of ideas I have for it into a coherent outline. Usually I do this before I write the first scene. But the first scene was just here in my head, and I wanted to write it while it was fresh. So I did!

But I plan to finish my unicorn story before I do more work on Gael & Keir Adventure 3. I’ll tell you more about it as I make progress! 😀

For more about the Hunt of the Unicorn, see:
The Unicorn Is Found
The Unicorn Is Attacked
The Unicorn Defends Itself
The Mystic Capture of the Unicorn

 

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That Sudden Leap

I researched and planned for The Sovereign’s Labyrinth for nearly two months. As the story grew in my mind, I found myself often murmuring, “Oh! That’s so cool! I can’t wait to write that!”

Concept for the bridges into Hantida’s Glorious Citadel

I finally did start writing on November 9, and the actuality not only lived up to my expectations; it surpassed them. How often does that happen? But it really did happen with this novel.

Each scene had me rubbing my hands in anticipation as I prepared to write it, and gasping at the end, “Oh, that was cool!”

I suspect that is why my word count mounted up so quickly. I was writing as though I were a reader, saying, “Just one scene more,” and staying up too late at night for it!

But that’s not why the progress bar in the side bar of my website leapt abruptly ahead.

Concept for the moat surrounding Hantida’s Glorious Citadel

If you’ve been watching it, you’ll have seen the word count increasing from between 1,000 to 2,000 words most days, while the blue stripe moved steadily rightward.

Then, yesterday, as it was crossing the 50% mark, it jumped past the 90% mark. What’s up with that? Did I do a spot of time traveling, so that I could write 50,000 words one night between dusk and dawn?

Well, no.

Whenever I start a book, I’m essentially guessing about how long I think it will be. The Sovereign’s Labyrinth was definitely going to be a full novel. But was it going to be a doorstopper novel of 160,000 words? I didn’t think so. As cool as it seemed, it didn’t feel l-o-n-g.

Concept for an interior garden within Hantida’s Glorious Citadel

So I estimated that maybe it would be 130,000 words, and that is what I used to calculate the percentages on the progress bar.

Once I was well into the writing of the novel, I began to suspect that it might be 100,000 words. But would it really?

I don’t like to monkey around with a gazillion different estimates while I’m writing a book. It would just distract me, when I want to reserve my brainpower for storytelling.

So I left that 130K alone, figuring I’d adjust it when I got closer to the end.

Of course, you know what happened with that! The closer I was to the end, the more exciting the events in my story became. I was writing late into the night, sometimes past midnight. Yikes!

Which meant that I was too sleepy at night to bother with the progress bar, and too excited about jumping into writing in the morning to do it then.

But today (Thursday, January 31, as I write this—or was it yesterday? bad memory!) I said, “C’mon, Jessica! Time to get that progress bar within striking distance of a reasonable total. You’ve got 71,000 words written and another four or five big scenes to go. Call it 80,000 and adjust that bar.”

So I did!

I have to catch up on sleep, so I am forcing myself not to start the next scene (I already wrote two today), even though I really, really want to. But, tomorrow? I am so going to dive on it!

I found the photos accompanying this post during the research I did for building the world of Hantida, the city in which The Sovereign’s Labyrinth takes place.

If you’d like to see more of such world building, check out:
A Townhouse in Hantida
Quarters in the Glorious Citadel
A Library in the Glorious Citadel

 

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Last Day of Kobo’s Start a New Series Sale

Kobo has been running a special promotion for first books of series.

The Tally Master is in it!

If you buy ebooks from Kobo, now is your chance to pick up The Tally Master at a discount.

Since I’ll be releasing the second Gael & Keir Adventure later this year, it’s a great time to start the series. 😀

Here’s the link to The Tally Master on Kobo. (Or click the image below.)

Today is the last day of the sale, so don’t wait!

Update: The sale is now over. I hope that those who took advantage of the deal (and there were a number of you) are now happily reading! 😀

 

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I Think I’ve Got It!

Once more, into the breach!

Yes, I dove into brainstorming the title for Lodestone Tale 5 one. more. time!

I figured the reason I couldn’t settle on any of the titles I’d considered was because none of them were right. It wasn’t that I’d asked too many people for their opinions. (Although maybe I had asked too many.) No. It was because I agreed with all of their objections.

To Thread the Labyrinth

Even though the concept of the labyrinth appears again and again as a motif in the story, it is not the heart of the story. Lodestone Tale 5 is about courage and kindness far more than it is about discerning the reality behind tricky turnings.

A Legacy Arcane

Neither is the story really about a legacy. Yes, two legacies feature in the novel, but that’s not what it is about. Furthermore, the word “legacy” has a weight to it which is all wrong for the story, which filled with hope, victory, and rebirth. “Legacy” does not feel dark to me, but it does feel weighty.

Talisman’s Reach

I have come to really like the word “Talisman” in conjunction with my story. Talisman is right! But “Reach” is not. Even if no one would mistake it as referring to a feature of the landscape, it is still wrong.

Yes, each of the lodestones in the Lodestone Tales has a long reach through time, but that’s a feature of the series. This individual story is not about that long reach; it’s about what happens between Ohtavie and Lealle. The scope of “Reach” is wrong.

Innocent Trespass

My brilliant writer friend Laura came up with Innocent Trespass. (Really, she’s been doing too much of the heavy lifting with regards to the title for this book. I should be ashamed!)

For several days, I thought this was THE ONE. The book starts off with teenage Lealle trespassing. Lealle herself is not so sure that she does so innocently, but I think the reader will be pretty clear on that. Later in the story, we learn that Ohtavie has also trespassed, also innocently, if not so innocently as Lealle.

When I wrote this story, I’d envisioned it as a standalone. But all of my early readers have requested a sequel to it. My first answer was, “No. Sorry.” But by the time the 4th request arrived, I found myself having ideas for an entire series. I grew excited about what I might do in Book 2, Book 3, Book 4, and Book 5.

Because Lealle is the daughter of the High Justice of Claireau, there will be an awareness of the law present all the books. (Yes, I am going to write them.) So titles referencing aspects of law would be a fun way to go. Innocent Trespass would follow that theme nicely.

But. But. But. Lodestone Tales 5 is very much a fantasy novel. It is not a thriller. It is not a legal thriller. It is not a mystery, although there are elements of mystery within it. Innocent Trespass does not say fantasy. Reluctantly, I loosed that choice from my grip.

What Is Central?

I revisited this question. I needed to stop devising titles that were accurate, but misleading in their focus on a tangent. The heart of my story is the idea that we redeem each other. Even within our mistakes, there is opportunity for us to save one another.

Is there some thing or place or person in Lodestone Tales 5 that embodies my theme and that can serve as the anchor point for its title?

Lealle

Lealle is central. She stumbles upon the first person she decides to attempt saving, but then through choice goes on to save another chance encounter plus an entire townful of people.

One salient characteristic about Lealle is that she is her father’s daughter. “Daughter” would be a good word to have in my title.

Talisman or Trespass

Place did not feel specifically important to my theme. Yes, setting is always important in a story. The people would not be who they are, if they lived elsewhere. The events would fall out differently in a different setting. But, for this story, place was not nearly so important as the action of trespass and the complication of the talisman.

I had three words that felt central. Daughter. Talisman. Trespass.

Models of Title Structure

I’ve read essays about title structures. There aren’t really as many possibilities for the bones of a title as one might wish. (Or, at least, as I might wish!)

It occurred to me that C.S. Lewis’ Narnia Chronicles include quite a few of the possible structures. What if I used them as guidelines?

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe The Daughter, the Talisman, and the Trespass
Prince Caspian ??
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader Trespass of Daughters
The Silver Chair The Iron Talisman Dark Talisman
The Horse and His Boy The Daughter and Her Talisman Talisman and Trespass
The Magician’s Nephew Talisman’s Magic Talisman’s Daughter
The Last Battle The Secret Talisman The Hidden Talisman

Well…maybe. But, no. I tried a few variations.

The Daughter and Her Trespass. Talisman’s Challenge. The Talisman Legacy. The Talisman Secret. A Talisman Unsought.

Wait a minute! That last was definitely not right, but it had the same structure as A Legacy Arcane. What if I pulled “Legacy” out, and replaced it with “Talisman”?

A Talisman Arcane

The talisman is definitely secret, mysterious, and understood by few. It is arcane. But unlike the weighty word “legacy,” talisman has a lightness to it. It breathes of hope and trust. Lucky pennies are talismans. We keep them for luck, for good fortune, in the hope of a bright future.

Yes! That’s it! My title! This is THE ONE! 😀

A Talisman Arcane.

 

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Writing vs. Publishing

I need to be two people!

One me would write my new novel, a sequel to The Tally Master.

The other me would ready the latest book in The Lodestone Tales for publication in March 2019.

Actually I need a third me, who would write blog posts, create cool visuals to appear in BookBub’s newsletter, compose emails to send to those of you subscribed to my newsletter, and do all the other things involved in communicating with the wonderful people who read and enjoy my books.

Since I have only the one me, I’m attempting to strike a balance each day between these three different hats that I wear.

In the past, I’ve not tried to wear all three hats on any one day. I’d spend 3 to 8 months wearing the writer hat and writing a story. Then I’d move into revising. After that came the publishing mode: proofreading, formatting the manuscript as an ebook, creating the cover, uploading the files, etc. And then I’d blog about the book and try to get the word out.

The thing about doing it that way is that it leads to long gaps between the writing of my stories. The gaps are long enough that I start to pine for the writing.

So, over the years, I’ve worked to reduce the gap between writing stints.

Combining the publishing and communicating modes happened pretty readily and easily. They go together, in my brain at least.

I also learned that I need not wait until my first and second readers were done with my previous book in order for me to start on the next book.

But right now I am attempting to write The Sovereign’s Labyrinth in the mornings, while I work on publishing tasks for Lodestone Tales 5 and marketing Fate’s Door in the afternoons.

It’s a wobbly balance, but I’m doing it!

Some days I don’t get the writing in. Other days I don’t manage any publishing tasks. But it feels great to be writing, and I feel confidant that I will get everything done for publishing on time.

So how are things progressing under each of my hats?

I’m so glad you asked! 😉

Lodestone Tales 5

I still have not settled on a title for this book!

But that is not stopping me. I’m progressing steadily in the very last stage of getting the manuscript ready both to format as an ebook and to create the paperback edition.

This last stage involves listening to my computer read the story aloud.

The computer does a pretty good job of reading, so it’s kinda fun listening. But it’s an essential step, because I find the last teeny-tiny glitches that need to be fixed. In this particular manuscript, there were several instances of ‘though’ that needed to be ‘through,’ and two places where ‘through’ needed to be ‘thorough,’ plus two spots missing a ‘the.’ But they are all fixed now.

I’m two-thirds of the way through this audio proofing, and it is going well.

I’ve also been making a list of phrases from the manuscript that might make good titles. Want to see what I’ve got so far? You know I want to share! 😉

Reaching Refuge False Refuge Strangling Thorns
Rife with Hiding Places Held Breath Choose to Open
Choose to Unchain Not Just Fear Fighting Retreat
No More Doubt Other Doors Worse than Dying
Death by Beneficence Say Nothing of Me Word of Silence
Word of Solitude Before They Kill Me Pinching the Pendant
Sundered Radices Sundering Hope Unblessed Solitude
Fortunate Trespass Benevolent Trespass Honorable Trespass
Trespasser’s Surprise Long Secrecy Bequeath Doom
Approach with Courage Alluring Shadows Push Back the Darkness
Hallowed Beast Hallowed Secret Promises Kept
Promises Unwise Venture Beyond Let the Curtain Fall
Let the Curtain Rise Benevolent Illumination Intriguing Legend
Healing Knowledge Prelude to Friendship Magical Gift
Magical Talisman Occupy the Shadows Occupy the Edges
Enigmatic Magic Enigmatic Hunt Without Even a Knock
A Trespass Most Generous

Are any of these serious contenders? Well, no. But I have another third of the book to read. Maybe the perfect phrase is waiting there for me to find it.

The Sovereign’s Labyrinth

I’m super excited about my new work in progress, the sequel to The Tally Master!

I’m thrilled to be hanging out with Gael and Keir again. And I think the adventure facing them is way cool! I’ve got only the first scene written so far, but my plans for what comes next have me jumping metaphorically up and down in excitement.

Gael and Keir have arrived in Hantida, a city-state far to the west and south of Belzetarn. They’ve just witnessed a very peculiar failed arrest, and it is clear that ALL IS NOT WELL here. 😀

Oh! I can’t wait!

I need to do a quickly sketched floor plan of the house where they are headed to treat a badly burned girl, and then I can get on with writing the next scene. (After I finish this blog post, of course. See what I mean about those three hats!)

Fate’s Door Is On Sale

These days, getting the word out about one’s books is key. If you don’t do it, no one knows they exist. Which means no one buys them and reads them.

::J.M. shudders::

The idea of no one reading my books horrifies me!

I had great success last spring when I put Troll-magic on sale and created an image announcing the sale to appear in BookBub’s newsletter. Lots more readers than usual picked up a copy, and that heightened visibility continued for a full 2 months after the BookBub mention.

Naturally I’m trying to replicate that experience with my other books! But it’s tricky, and there is much to learn.

I didn’t get the same results when I tried this for Blood Silver, which did about half as well as Troll-magic. But I’m continuing to experiment, and now Fate’s Door is receiving its turn in the sunshine. I’ll be able to assess the results sometime next week.

In the meantime, the ebook edition of Fate’s Door is available at a discount on Amazon, so do pick up your copy!

*   *   *

That’s what I’ve been up to lately.

I have a bunch of blog posts I want to write about the world of Lodestone Tales 5. Plus I still want to share some of the Whole30 menus that I devised. Watch this space! 😉

(Maybe I need to be four people!)

 

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Stymied for a Title

I’m still stuck! I need a title, and I don’t have one.

To Thread the Labyrinth

To Thread the Labyrinth was the working title, and it seemed perfect all through the writing of the novel. A physical labyrinth fills part of the mansion’s cellar. A metaphysical labyrinth troubles my heroine. And the allusion to Theseus and the Minotaur is simply fun.

I loved it that I had a good title from the very beginning of writing my story.

But, but, but! My first reader didn’t like the title at all (too languid, no punch). My second reader didn’t think it was right either. (Implication of confusion, choosing, and picking one’s way, when the story is really about courage.) Neither was my husband much smitten with it. With so many against me, I caved.

A Legacy Arcane

Two legacies form the twin hearts of the story. One is a curse, afflicting the woman who inherited it. The other is a blessing, a cultural creation forgotten and abandoned amidst the vicissitudes of history. Both are secret and understood by few. Plus…who isn’t intrigued by the arcane and compelled by the promise of a legacy? Good hook!

I was sure I now had my title.

Once again I encountered resistance to my choice. My husband liked this one, but my first reader felt it was too dark for the golden-summer-evening mood of my story. My second reader felt that the essence of the story is not about legacies. And one very intelligent teen didn’t know what the word ‘arcane’ meant.

I could see all the points made by the dissenting opinions.

Talisman’s Reach

The inheritance that plagues my heroine is a talisman of old, forged by a brilliant inventor, and tumbling down through the ages to trouble all who tangle with it. It reaches through time. Thus we have Talisman’s Reach. My first reader generously devised this one and donated it to the cause. My son liked it. My daughter liked it. I liked it!

My husband thought it sounded like a place name: Howard’s End, King’s Cliffe, Skye’s Reach, etc.

Well, that rather tarnished the possibility for me.
 

Brainstorming

I decided to write down every idea I could come up with, censoring nothing, no matter how absurd. Somewhere amongst the dross there might be gold.

Her Labyrinth
Labyrinth Intangible
Labyrinth of Legend
Defy the Labyrinth
A Twist of Trouble and Truth
The Talisman Legacy
Talisman’s Tontine
Labyrinth Within, Labyrinth Without
Talisman’s Tribute
Talisman’s Travail
Talisman’s Trump
Legacy of Legend
Talisman of Ages
Talisman of Old
Magic’s Legend

There were many more than those I’ve listed above, but all of them failed to evoke my enthusiasm.

Poetry as Inspiration

My first reader suggested I visit the poets of the past for ideas. I’d watched her develop some brilliant titles for her own books using this method. Could it work for me?

Strange Charm
Ghost of an Ancient Legend
Child of Silence
Forgotten Mornings
Legends Old
Fear Made Manifest
Mortal Daring
Ascending Jubilant
Hallowed Relic
Grow Her Wings
Adamantine Chains
In Wand’ring Mazes Lost
This Pendant World
Wandering the Labyrinth
In Secret Kept
Won by Courage
Legacy Forgotten
Let Daylight In
Unbidden Guest
Taught to Conceal
Charm’s Wound
Ancient Alchemy

Well…these were better than my brainstorming efforts, but they were not better than any of the three titles I had first considered seriously.

What to do? What to do?

Images as Inspiration

I decided to play to my strengths. I’m good with visuals, practiced with graphics. And a title does not stand alone. It appears on the book cover, and the impression created by the title is heavily influenced by the imagery of the art.

Now, I have booked a spot with Deranged Doctor Design for my cover. They created the cover for The Tally Master, which a sister author was so kind as to call “magnificent.” I feel confident that DDD will create something equally marvelous for this book…once I have a title. 😀

But, I figured that I could try my top three contenders within the milieu of paintings by the Pre-Raphaelites and those influenced by them. Seeing my titles within the context of art might clarify the issue for me.

Where Do I Stand Now?

I’m still undecided. But I have two more resources to consult.

1) I plan to read through the story v-e-r-y  s-l-o-w-l-y looking for a phrase in the text that will be perfect.

2) My son is my final reader, the one who gets the story after all the revisons and corrections have been made, so as to give it either a thumb’s up or the reverse. He just bopped into my room to tell me that he’s halfway through and to gush. He’s really, really liking it. And he has an opinion about the title that stems directly and immediately from his experience. That opinion…is carrying weight!

No, I’m not going to share it with you quite yet.

I know, I’m bad! 😉

But I’d love to hear your opinion!

Edited to Add: My son was halfway through when I wrote this post. Now, on the day it is going live, my son has finished his read-through. His verdict? He loved it, and he’s demanding a sequel.

He’ll probably get it, too, since every person who has read the novel thus far pleaded for a sequel. They want more adventures with Lealle and Gaetan. This makes me happy. 😀

 

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Progress on a Work in Progress

It’s rather difficult to report on a book that does not yet have a title. How do I specify the book I mean?

The working title was To Thread the Labyrinth. When I completed my first draft, I thought I might drop the “To” and call it Thread the Labyrinth. (The story does feature a physical labyrinth, as well as a metaphysical one). But my second reader pointed out some cogent reasons why highlighting the labyrinth in the title might not be a good idea.

My next idea for the title was A Legacy Arcane, but my first reader found that overly dark, while my second reader felt that the legacy reference was too oblique.

My first reader then suggested Talisman’s Reach, and I liked it. I liked it a lot! So did my son and my daughter. I thought I had my title! But then it was pointed out to me that the talisman in my story is never once referred to by that word. So now I am cast into confusion again.

Be that as it may, I do have progress to report!

My first revision pass in September was the most extensive, following the excellent feedback I received from my first reader. My second revision pass in October caught some really important details pointed out by my equally excellent second reader.

This week I fixed all of the typos plus a few other telling specifics found by my superb proofreader.

The book is ready to enter the production process that will make it into both an ebook and a paperback!

But I need a title first.

::puts thinking cap back on:: 😀

 

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Meeting and Greeting

The library in my town has a copy of The Tally Master in its Local Voices collection. I’m glad my book is there, and I hope that a few readers have checked it out, read it, and enjoyed it.

Just last weekend, my book’s presence on the library shelves led to something more. The library was holding its second ever Local Voices Book Fair, and I was invited to participate!

The event was held in a large ballroom on the third floor. Two authors gave readings, and roughly forty authors manned tables where their books were on offer.

I was impressed with my fellow indies! They seemed a fearsomely intelligent bunch with professionally done books featuring excellent covers. I gathered enough social courage to walk by all the tables and to stop and chat with every author who gave me the least of an opening. I had some interesting conversations, because of course we talked about their books! 😀

Meanwhile, my son generously manned my table and sold a copy of The Tally Master to the one fantasy fan present. (I was the only fantasy author there, so fantasy readers were a bit thin on the ground.)

I enjoyed getting out of my writing cave, and I learned from one of my fellow authors that bookstores in my town are actually very indie friendly. They are interested in hosting book signings by local authors. Furthermore, even unknowns can actually sell books at these signings, because the local readers like discovering local “hidden gems.” Clearly I should look into this!

I gave away bookmarks (image at right) to everyone who came anywhere near me, and I received two new subscribers to my newsletter.

The next day, the librarian who manages the library’s YA collection contacted me to ask if I would speak on an author panel geared toward National Novel Writing Month. (The manager of the Local Voices collection had recommended me to her.) I said yes!

I’m unexpectedly finding the public author shtick to be fun!

 

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