Camelot’s Queen Finalist for Foreword Indies Fantasy Award

Can you take two award announcements in one day?

I just found out that Camelot’s Queen is a Foreword Indies Book of the Year finalist in the Fantasy category! There were 2,200 titles submitted in 65 categories. Winners will be announced June 24!

Double IBPA Awards Finalist

Yes, more awards, but this is a really big one in indie publishing.

I’m so excited that two of my books have made it into the finals of the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) Benjamin Franklin Awards. Daughter of Destiny is a finalist in the Best New Voice: Fiction category and Been Searching for You is a finalist in the Romance category. We’ll find out if either of them wins the Gold Award on April 7. Regardless, they are both Silver Award winners.

How Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Feminism Influenced Guinevere

My monthly Spellbound Scribes post…

Spellbound Scribes

That may be the oddest blog title I’ve ever written.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how the society and culture around us impacts the work we produce as writers. What got me on this train of thought? Well, I’m working on a non-fiction book on the evolution of the character of Guinevere in literature from the Welsh triads through my own novels. My thesis is that each version of Guinevere reflects the society in which and for which she was written.

And this is true of my own version. I started writing her in 1999. The 1990s, especially the late 90s, were a time when women were coming into their own in pop culture. It’s the time that started what we now call “Third Wave Feminism.” (Buffy has even been cited at as Third Wave Feminist Icon by The Atlantic.) Here’s the brief timeline:

  • The…

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Words: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Image purchased from Adobe Stock

Image purchased from Adobe Stock

I’m happy to have found the weekly blog challenge this year because so much of what I would normally share here during my research process is going into my non-fiction book. But I will have some fun tidbits and teasers in a few weeks when the book is in first draft stage.

This week’s theme is “words that make me go ick.” I’m not really sensitive to words like a lot of people are. I have no issues with most of them.

What I don’t like is made-up words/phrases. I couldn’t handle Harry Potter for the longest time because of terms like muggle. (Thank God I got over that one!) I especially despise ones used by the kids nowadays like: totes adorbs, on fleek, jelly (as in jealous), all the feels, I knows, miss your face, squad (when used to refer to friends – um, you only have a squad if you are a cheerleader or maybe a fighter pilot). *shudders* Ugh. I know this is how language evolves (I can still hear my History of the English Language professor explaining this to us), but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. I don’t things that make people sound unintelligent.

Words that are fun to say:

  • Berber (my boss and I have a whole running joke around this one)
  • Yert
  • Lugubrious
  • Ishkabibble (I’m trying to bring that one back from the 1920s)

Words I say far too much:

  • Dude (now I’m dating myself)
  • Like (I was like, no, I’m not a Valley Girl. Why do you ask?)
  • Bugger (I watch a lot of British TV, okay?)
  • Oh my god (or OMG, but I don’t say the letters, I use it as an abbreviation in texts and such)
  • F*ck (I try not to curse online, but in real life, I curse like a sailor)
  • Goober (that is my “meant as a compliment” pet name for a lot of people, as well as one of my cats)

Words I love:

I like the $25 words that most people don’t use daily. I think that makes me a word snob. These are few I do use:

  • Oblique
  • Obtuse
  • Ubiquitous

Words I overuse in my books (and try to edit out)

  • That
  • Seemed
  • Smiled
  • Was
  • Just
  • Always

What are some of your favorite words? What about the icky ones? Which ones are just plain fun for you?

Double Finalist in Wishing Shelf Book Awards

image1Just a quick note to let you know Daughter of Destiny and Camelot’s Queen are both finalists for the Wishing Shelf Independent Book Awards in the adult fiction category. We will know final results around April 1. I’m excited about this one because it’s a contest run by another author and the judges are reading groups in London and Stockholm. Awards determined by readers are extra cool because they are the people I am trying to reach and the reason I started writing in the first place! And I’m excited that this is an international audience!

Titles – Often the Hardest Part of the Whole Book

Image purchased from Adobe Stock

Image purchased from Adobe Stock

If you’ve ever tried your hand at writing advertising copy or even had to come up with a title for a paper in school, you’ll understand how difficult today’s blog challenge topic is.

“How I Choose a Book Title”

It’s such a seemingly innocent, easy answer. But that’s like calling a crocodile gentle.

I don’t have a set process for picking my titles, but I’m going to try to break the basic idea into steps:

  1. Working title – I usually start out with some idea of what the book is going to be called, even if it’s really rough. Been Searching for You was called Romance all the way through the end of the first draft because I couldn’t think of anything better. Morgan’s Story and Isolde’s Story are called just that right now. However, when I’m lucky, like with Madame Presidentess, the book idea comes with its title and it doesn’t change. But that doesn’t happen often. When I don’t know, I go with instinct or anything that makes sense. At that point, I’m the only one who sees it and only a handful of people hear it, anyway.
  2. Research – I always look on Amazon to see if a book with my title already exists, and if it does, if it is in the same genre. If not, I go with it. If it does, I look to see if I think readers will get it confused with others. (Have you ever tried to search for a book called Hide without knowing the author? There are like a million. That’s the situation I’m trying to avoid.) Been Searching for You got its title after someone else beat me to publishing a book called He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not (which was its second working title). But that turned out to be a good thing because its current title fits the book better.
  3. Marketability Polling – Once I come up with a solid idea that isn’t already taken, I ask a few reader friends what they think. They have a pretty good barometer for what resonates with readers and what is pretty snooze-worthy. I’m going for something that will grab you and tell you something about the book. One of my pet peeves is titles that don’t have anything to do with anything. Like Twilight. What the hell does that have to do with vampires? Nothing frustrates me more than finishing a book and not understanding the title.
  4. Cover Art – I’m usually certain of the title by the time I get to this point, but seeing it on the cover is the clincher for me.
  5. Series – Series are difficult because you want all the book titles to tie together somehow. That makes it easier for readers to know the books are all connected. For example, I knew way back when I started my Guinevere books I wanted the titles to be in the format of “x of y.” Book 1 was originally called Guinevere of Northgallis. When I decided that was too boring, I held a poll of blog readers and also consulted my best friend. Somehow, all of that resulted in Daughter of Destiny. I wanted Book 2 to be called Queen of Camelot, but there’s already a book with that title, so I settled for the very similar Camelot’s Queen. Book 3 has always been called Mistress of Legend. I just liked it because it evokes something we all know about Guinevere (that she was unfaithful to Arthur) and ties in the idea of an enduring legend. Similarly, I’m hoping to have all of the Chicago Soulmates books have titles that tie in the idea of searching/finding/looking, etc. that started with Been Searching for You.

I know some people take a line from the book as the title, but I haven’t had any yet that sound like they’d make good titles. I’m sure traditional publishing houses have their own scientific methods to make book titles attractive. If anyone ever finds out what they are, please let me know!

Authors, how do you choose your book titles? Readers, what makes a book title appealing to you? If you had to rename any of my books, what would you call them? Ideas for Isolde and/or Morgan’s book titles?

Music as Muse

untitled-1Appropriate timing for this week’s blog challenge: Music to Write By, as I was just a guest on Roz Morris’ Undercover Soundtrack earlier this week, talking about songs that inspire my books.

I’m also participating in the #authorlifemonth challenge on Instagram, where a few days ago the topic was writing music.

Each of my books has a playlist, which you can listen to on Youtube:

But when a scene doesn’t have a specific song, I fall back on about a dozen or so movie scores that always work for me (see picture on the right). I love listening to movie scores for a few reasons: 1) I can’t listen to music with lyrics when I write; it’s too many words in my brain at once, 2) they have built in moments of emotion and drama due to the storylines they go along with, and 3) I see stories in my head when I hear classical music. Even if I know what scene a song goes with, often my mind gives the music a totally different story. In this way, the music acts as inspiration.

A few others not pictured that I love:

  • The Last of the Mohicans
  • Becoming Jane
  • The Dutchess
  • North & South (BBC 2004)
  • Mansfield Park (1999)
  • Jane Eyre (2011)
  • Northanger Abbey
  • Wuthering Heights
  • Cider House Rules
  • Chocolat
  • Pretty much anything scored by Alexandre Desplat, Rachel Portman or Nico Muhly

What is your favorite music to listen to? Do you like film scores? If so, which ones? Do you imagine songs to go with your favorite books? If so, what’s on your list?

PS – Yes, I skipped last week’s blog challenge. I was busy and it was about hobbies – I don’t really have any outside of reading, writing book reviews, and research, which are related to my writing. 🙂

Madame Presidentess Awarded Indie B.R.A.G. Medallion

brag-medallionI am super excited to announce that Madame Presidentess has been awarded the Indie B.R.A.G. medallion for excellence in independent fiction. Camelot’s Queen was given this honor last year.

The B.R.A.G. medallion is one of a handful of honors that attempts to distinguish the best of independently  published books in an effort to help readers weed through the glut of books and showcase the professionalism and excellence of certain works. It differs from programs like Library Journal’s SELF-e program in that it is not run by a particular organization within the publishing field, but rather by readers.

The Undercover Soundtrack – Nicole Evelina

My Memories of a Future Life

redpianoupdate-3The Undercover Soundtrack is a series where I host a writer who uses music as part of their creative environment – perhaps to connect with a character, populate a mysterious place, or hold a moment still to explore its depths. This week my guestis award-winning historical fiction and contemporary romantic novelist Nicole Evelina @nicoleevelina

Soundtrack by Sting, Fever Ray, The Civil Wars, Black Veil Brides

Every one of my books has a theme song/album – music without which the book never would have been written.

Capturing the essence of a legend

the-undercover-soundtrack-nicole-evelina-1The theme song to the Guinevere’s Tale trilogy is “ Thousand Years by Sting. This song came out just weeks after I began writing Daughter of Destiny, the first book in the series. There is something about the cyclical sound of the melody that calls to mind reincarnation, the thousands of versions and re-tellings Arthurian legend…

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