Every author has their own unique way of coming up with titles for their books. Some already have titles in mind before they begin writing. Some wait until after they've written the book and choose a title relative to something in the story. Others may find it difficult to decide on a title, and ask their betas or someone close to them to help them select something appropriate. When it comes to figuring out book titles in an ongoing series, the task may be more difficult than titling a stand-alone book.
Coming up with titles for a series of books can be quite a challenge. It can feel daunting, but it doesn't have to! Try to see the experience as part of the creative process. That's what I do. I make it fun, and I even do some investigative research work, too. Many authors, myself included, probably have a theme or a main character idea for their series. They may already have starter plot ideas stirring around in their minds. It's that exact moment, I seize the opportunity to get busy. If I wait too long to play with titles, my creativity gets bogged down with details, the plots begin to unfold, characters become fleshed out too fast, and overwhelm settles in.
Seizing the opportunity: I begin with jotting down everything that comes to my mind about the series. Theme is a biggie for me when it comes to tossing around titles within a series. One important detail is I want a fused connection between the book titles, a theme thread that runs throughout the entire series. I want them to be catchy, easy to remember, and readers to enjoy reading / saying them. I'm going to use my Steely & Cuff Mystery series as an example, and even give you a glimpse into how my mind works. (Remember, every author is different. I'm sharing my own method of madness.)
My series began with a character, Steely Lamarr. I knew I wanted her to have an interesting profession, which I chose dog-grooming. I wanted her to be an amateur sleuth, help solve who-dun-its, in her mid-twenties, in the transition of life at home and out on her own. I wanted her to have a dog, and I wanted the dog theme and mystery theme to run throughout. I instantly knew book 1 would become part of a series and not a stand-alone book. There was a lot of potential, and many starter plot ideas that had already formed. I knew it was time to sit down and brainstorm.
The word brainstorm is spot-on for my process. The ideas literally rain down so quickly, I have a hard time catching them all. Sometimes, the ideas have a tornado effect and whirl around, making me dizzy. I love when ideas storm down on me. It's invigorating! I grab my notebook, a pen, and get to work. Yes, I'm a long-hand brainstormer. It works for me during this stage of the process. I prefer long-hand brainstorming, because I can go back again and again, even if I've crossed something out, I can still read it. Sort of. Long-hand brainstorming can be messy! But, on a computer, once a deletion on a document has occurred, and you've re-saved, your original idea is gone. So, a messy, maddening method works best for me.
Back to the Steely & Cuff titles.
The books are mysteries with the main character, Steely, her pup, and the two of them together helping solve a murder mystery and/or crime.
My steps are simple.
Step 1: Research every word regarding dogs and make a list.
Step 2: Research words regarding book baddies and make a list.
Step 3: Column both lists next to each other and create combinations. (see images 1 and 2 below)
Step 4: Sleep on them. Several times. Read them aloud. Change them up.
Step 5: Select your favorites and save the rest. (You may have a plan of how many books you'll have in the series. But sometimes, plans change.)
I then work the mystery for each book around the titles. (spoiler alert) Example: In How to Leash a Thief (book 1), my villain is a bank robber, and Steely & Cuff actually hogtie the baddie with a dog leash. For me, it was easy to construct a mystery story around having a thief and leashing him in the end. The study title in the beginning was, "Leash a Thief. The "How to" part of the title happened to occur after I created the combinations, and I liked the way it sounded. Hence all the "How to" combos in image 2.
And, there you have it, my method of madness creating book titles in a series.
Let it go...
Photo by Cat Clayton
According to Merriam Webster, a book review is defined as, "a descriptive and critical or evaluative account of a book."
If we Indie authors fell down every time someone said something negative about our writing, book(s), cover(s), characters, plots, etc. we'd be face down, in the dirt, possibly giving up on writing, and wind up miserable. My mama used to tell my siblings and I when we were feeling sorry for ourselves, we were "eating worms." I don't know about you, but worms are slimy, and icky, probably salty?, and I don't like dirt in my mouth.
So, before you eat worms, and throw in the proverbial towel, ask yourself, what exactly is in a bad review?
How can you turn around a bad review and use it for good?
What about those bad reviews where the reviewer claims they only read a few pages or couldn't get through the first chapter?
And finally, some authors refuse to read their own reviews. Me? I'm a curious cat, and thankfully, I have nine lives. :-) Whatever you choose to do, please don't engage with a negative reviewer. It's a terrible idea on all counts. Punch a pillow if you have to, rant and rave to your writer buddies, go outside and scream into the wind, cry to your furbabies--they're amazing listeners, but stay away from the comment button. It's a big no-no. I promise, nothing good will come from confronting a bad reviewer.
In the end, let it go, and get back to what you're meant to do. Write.
Peace, love, & purrs ~ Cat
I was in the middle of writing a blog post about book reviews, and what they mean to the indie author, when a fellow author mentioned something regarding this very subject. Apparently, I'm not the only person / author who's feeling the burn. I want to focus on the positive reasons authors NEED reviews on their books.
Here's my list of the top five ways reviews can assist the courageous indie authors of the world.
1. Book reviews are a staple food in a healthy author diet. It doesn't matter how beautiful our cover is or how fantastic our book reads, or how many people read it. If we don't have an ample amount of reviews, we're done. Kaput. As in our books will die a slow, painful death. (IMO) And, by death I mean, they will sit there on sales sites going nowhere, or start off in an Indie bookstore window display, then, end up on the $2 sales table in the back of the store. Reviews are our bread and butter. Without them, we will starve. If you love an author, show them, and review. :)
2.) Indie authors are many times a company of one. They not only create the content, but most do their own formatting, accounting, managing, marketing, selling, tracking, more creating, more formatting... okay, you get the picture. Reviews are (hands down in my opinion) an author's #1 marketing tool!
3.) Reviews aid in promoting the next book. If an author has fabulous reviews on say, her first book, readers are more apt to go for the next one and so on.
4.) Book reviews propel our books upwards and onwards. This one is fairly self-explanatory, but reviews help us authors by putting our books in front of future readers. A well-reviewed book shows up on "suggested" books lists. I myself have purchased many books from these lists, especially on my kindle. Reviews also have the ability to help authors score big promotions on sites such as BookBub, or maybe even hit a best-selling list. I've seen it happen!
5.) Even bad reviews help. Bad reviews have the ability to teach us something. They can bring our attention to certain matters of importance, regardless if we agree or not. It's an opportunity to grow, learn, and move on. Even if our only lesson is to ignore the ugly in the world, we've grown, right? Trust me, my lip still curls at the one I received on my first book. But, bottom line, that rotten review helps me, despite the reviewer's obvious intention. And, speaking of my one bad review, it's actually more than I've received (in book reviews) from some family & friends who claim they love me! Seriously. And last, but not least, you can't get an ugly review on a book, if there's no book to review. So, pat yourself on the back for at least writing and publishing one.
Now, go show those fellow authors some love, or if you're a reader, show an author some xoxo!
Peace, love & purrs ~Cat
During the few days of rest & recovery (lol) while my beta readers have How to Fetch a Felon (book 3) under their expert readerly eyes, I'm switching channels and planning the new book's launch to the world. For me, even planning a book release is creative.
After a hailstorm of launch ideas pelted my brain, I ducked and ran for cover, screaming, "STOP!" I have to say, the most purrfect idea for book 3's release occurred to me. It is what author Liz Gilbert calls creative "Big Magic." And, I'm not letting the "idea baby" get away from me.
At the moment, I'm sending emails out to a few folks & companies who I'm hoping will team up with me for the book launch. I don't want to count my kittens before they're born, so I'll leave the details of the details quiet for now. But, here's what I will share until I get some confirmations back on my requests.
How to Fetch a Felon, Book 3, release day Sept. 13, 2019
Launch Party Deets:
*she squeals as she types*
-Sept. 13-15, that's right, all weekend long, baby!
-I have enlisted several members for CCM's "Launch Squad." Yes, they'll have fun t-shirts and super cool titles. (I chose my sisters, so no hurt feelings with friends.)
-There will be 3 separate events, one Friday, one Saturday, and one on Sunday afternoon.
-The overall launch theme itself will have a "Christmas in September" vibe. Don't ask, just go with it!
-Friday's (day) event will be virtual (on Facebook) w/ an evening AFTER PARTY at a local hotspot in Brenham. Come either in your favorite Steely & Cuff books character costume or wear animal print! (Oh, lordt! I can't wait to see if there are any Gertie Lamarrs who show up!)
-Saturday & Sunday's events will be a book launch party, signing + something revolving around animals.
-Paperbacks will be available at release launch party.
Stay tuned for more details!
2019 will be the year of the audiobook for Cat Clayton Mysteries! How to Leash a Thief (book 1) is in production, with How to Kennel a Killer (book 2) in waiting. :-) And, as if that isn't enough... How to Fetch a Felon (book 3) will be ready to produce this summer!
I'm working with audio narrator, Chelsea Kirkpatrick, who is a fabulous voice for Steely! As I'm listening and reviewing the chapters she uploads, I'm simply amazed. Her narration voice sparkles and she adds the perfect amount of sass & south to her narration. Chelsea really brings the zany, quirky characters of Buckleville, Texas alive.
We're producing the audiobooks through Audible, and we hope to have How to Leash a Thief available soon!
Peace, love & purrs, Cat
Like most everything in my world, the purr page is suffering at the claws of this cat. My hair needs a new henna job. My dog is bored to tears. My TBR list is piling up. My friends think I've forgotten them. And my workspace needs to be de-cluttered, big-time. For the past 45 days, I've been drafting the 3rd book in my Steely & Cuff Mystery series, #writersgonnawrite, and it's been a whirlwind of words, murder, and mystery! I'm wrapping up the last few chapters and it will soon be off to my beta buddies.
This third installment is the highpoint of the Steely & Cuff series. We have a double murder, and a crazy Christmas-themed mystery rolled into one huge, climatic story. Spoiler alert: this book wraps up the mystery of Steely's missing sister, Stoney. I also introduce the main character of my next mystery series in this book! I'm super thrilled to begin her story (3-5 books), beginning in 2020. This next MC makes an appearance to help solve a crime in Buckleville #sorrynohints.
The working title of book 3 is How to Fetch a Felon and the cover is in process! Stay tuned for news about a cover reveal party and launch date this summer!
Peace, love, & purrs, Cat
In no certain order...
1.) My readers-- success would be nothing without y'all.
2.) Beta readers-- for your story reading and assisting me with crucial story decisions.
3.) My editor-- for your skill, wisdom, and eye for detail.
4.) My family-- for your love and support through the process.
5.) Creativity-- I love how I can create story around everything I see, hear, and witness. Although, most of it stays in my head. Thank goodness!
6.) Fav. authors-- for inspiring me on a daily basis.
7.) Writing community-- support, technical help, and keeping it real.
8.) Time-- I love having the time to write. This grateful also ties in with #4; thank you fam for gifting me the time I need to create. xoxoxo
9.) My pet pals-- Glen Ellen, Hemingway, and Sherlock. For sitting by my side and listening to my out loud reading.
10.) Modern technology-- This includes, computer, programs, cell phone, Kindle Fire, social media platforms, Kindle Direct Publishing, and all the other awesomeness that helps me bring my stories to the world.
For all of this, I am grateful! And on this THANKS GIVING day, I give you How to Leash a Thief, FREE!
Stuck in long lines at the airport? Flight delay? Sitting in traffic while riding to your in-law's house? Fear not, my reader friends! Step into the pages of a fun, fresh mystery and download How to Leash a Thief for FREE!
If you've read my book(s) How to Leash a Thief and/or How to Kennel a Killer, you know I prefer my mystery books humorous. "But, murder isn't funny," you might be thinking. You're 100% correct. It isn't funny. However, crafting characters in a murder mystery, who tickle your funny bone, can be quite humorous. And, what does humor do? It lightens the mood. Lifts the spirit. Takes some of the sting out of the bite. In other words, humor makes the murder (medicine) go down. Of course, this is a matter of opinion. All five of the books below have in some way inspired my writing.
So, if you prefer your mysteries with a side dish of hilarity, featuring an amateur female sleuth, here are the top 5 humorous mysteries on my Kindle:
1.) Louisiana Longshot by Jana Deleon. The cast of Sinful, LA in this bayou murder mystery will have you giggling while you're figuring out whodunit.
2.) Confessions of a Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman by JB Lynn. Maggie Lee and her talking lizard "God" will surely lighten the fact she's taken on the unfortunate role as a hitwoman.
3.) Spying in High Heels by Gemma Halliday. Maddie Springer is sassy, saucy, and stylish, and before you know it, on the radar of a nasty killer.
4.) Nearly Departed in Deadwood by Ann Charles. This series will have you checking under the bed and peeking in dark closets before you turn off the lights, all while laughing. Spoiler alert: ghosts!
And because it's the first mystery I read that caused me to laugh so hard, I nearly choked on every page...
5.) One for the Money by Janet Evanovich. Probably one of the most famous amateur female sleuths of all time, Stephanie Plum (in my opinion). Trust me, you'll be in a constant battle: Morelli or Ranger? And Lula will have you busting a gut at her first appearance.
And, there you have it! My top 5 mystery books. I've read all of these several times and the best part is they're all part of a larger series, so the fun doesn't have to end. Happy reading & sleuthing!