My Editor Told Me Something Hard & She Was Right
As some of you know, I love nature, and setting, and this has always shown in the titles of my books. Snow, falls, night, rivers.
In 2017, I was lucky enough to land with a publisher that is super invested in building authors, which in part requires defining a brand. Brand is the unique thing my books do—or yours or your favorite author's—that nobody else can do in the same way.
One of the things the team at my publisher suggested was a new approach to titles.
It’s true, you do nature, my editor told me. But you also write psychology and emotion very intensely. And your titles don’t reflect that at all.
Yikes. I really like my titles. The author’s title changes 50% of the time before publication, and I’ve always come up with mine, and all but one was my initial choice. (Want to guess which wasn’t? Email me to see if you’re right!)
But have my titles reflected all the facets of the story inside? Gulp.
My editor was right.
My Fifth Novel Is About…
A woman who accepts a post as teacher in a one-room schoolhouse on a remote island in Maine. It’s about love and loss, guilt and redemption—and the way one family’s legacy brings death and corruption to an entire community.
It’s also about motherhood with a mystery at the heart of it. And so my new title is…
[cue trumpet sounds, heavens parting]
THE SECOND MOTHER
Writers Debate Which Is More Important
Plot or character? I say both are equally crucial to a good novel—and equally difficult to get right. (Those who positively proclaim it to be character are either literary snobs or don’t know how to plot). But putting the character who drives my new book literally front and center—this is a first for me. Did I write someone finely wrought enough to name a whole book after her? I don’t know yet. That answer will come from critics, booksellers, and you, dear readers and friends. You can find out…
July 7th, 2020
As I passed the less-than-a-year mark to pub my agent sold the audio rights to THE SECOND MOTHER in a heated, multi-round auction! Somehow it sneaked up on me that audio is mad hot right now, the fastest growing way to read. Check this out:
A Horse of a Different Cover
One of the differences between self-publishing and traditional is that with the latter, we authors have something called “cover consult” while indie authors are entirely in control of the process. Now I personally would sooner do brain surgery than oversee the creation of a cover. (Anyone in need of brain surgery out there can be awfully happy I am traditionally published). But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t on pins and needles about it.
THE SECOND MOTHER needed a special cover to go with its game-changing title. Sometimes this process requires multiple rounds, with the author consulting all over the place. But this time everyone fell in love with the very first version.
This month's Spotlight features retired Army Colonel and pathologist Bradley Harper!
A familiar story: An elderly widow whose mail was stacking up, and who hadn’t been seen for three days.
We found her in the bedroom, propped up against the headboard. Her gray face was mottled and there was a small, blood-ringed hole through her frilly, pink nightgown over the left breast, a .38 revolver beside her.
I noticed her hair was recently permed, with every blue strand in place. Looking closer, I saw her lipstick and makeup were also perfect. Her face was turned to the left, and I followed her gaze.
Facing her was a small vanity with a faded, colorized portrait of a young man proud in his airman’s uniform, posed so that it would have been the last thing she saw. I imagined her making herself up as she prepared for her final date and wondered if she talked to the photograph as she applied her cosmetics.
On the Death Certificate I described the damaged chambers of her heart and ascribed her death to Suicide. Under the cause of death, however, I lied when I wrote: "Gunshot Wound to the Chest," knowing it was something else.
Next Month I Go to Chicago
I’ll tell you all why when I write you from the Windy City!
Love from the Hills of Wedeskyull,