Thursday, August 11, 2016

So How I Choose a Title and Why I Choose a Book to Read

This week’s discussion at Type M is all about what makes a reader pick up a book. Here is what appeals to me: First, if I like a particular author, I will generally read anything s/he puts out. Second, I am swayed by the recommendations of people whose taste I admire. Third, if I am not as familiar with the author, the blurb is what persuades me to give the book a try. Fourth, a good title will entice me to pick up a book and read the blurbs. The cover may make me look, but I am not particularly influenced, unless the cover is really ugly or bloody, in which case I am inclined NOT to read the book.

I’ve written before about the importance of choosing a good title and how hard I work at it. My publisher lets me choose my titles, and thus far has not changed any that I have picked. My first Alafair book was entitled The Old Buzzard Had It Coming, because I wanted something that was eye-catching and conveyed a sense of ethnicity. I was a little surprised that the publisher kept it, but that title has served me well over the years. The only problem with it is that now I feel like I have to come up with something equally good every time. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I succeed less.

And on that note, look what I received in the mail today. These are the ARCs, or what used to be known as the “galley proofs” of my ninth Alafair Tucker Mystery, The Return of the Raven Mocker, which is due to hit the shelves in January 2017. It is somewhat shorter than most of my Alafair books—less than 300 pages. As I hold it in my hand, it feels slight, which is odd considering how hard I worked on it and how long it took me to finish. Raven Mocker reminds me of the first book I wrote in this series, The Old Buzzard Had It Coming, and not just because both of them have birds in the title. The stories are not alike at all, but the mood and feeling seem alike to me. Alafair is much more concerned with the welfare of her children than she is with finding justice. Though of course, justice does get found.

The title is taken from the Cherokee legend of Raven Mocker, an evil witch/wizard who takes the form of a raven at night and flies about looking for the old and the sick to torment and suck the life out of them. I chose that because the novel is set during the influenza pandemic of 1918, an epidemic so virulent that experts believe close to fifty million people worldwide died from it.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting an excerpt on my website, as well as reviews when they start coming in.

So…on another topic entirely—my husband and I were watching the news a few weeks ago when out of the blue he said, “Have you noticed that these days everyone begins their sentences with the word ‘so’?”

I had not noticed that. But since he pointed it out, I have become hyper-aware that it is true. I challenge you, Dear Reader, to listen to a radio or television interview and count the number of “so”s. How this language hiccup came about I do not know, but it does remind me that when I was growing up in the wilds of Oklahoma, it was very common for the folks to begin every sentence with “well…” I have considered making a drinking game out of the “so” habit, but I’m afraid that if I took a shot of  something every time someone on t.v. or elsewhere began a sentence with “so”, I’d end up passed out on the floor.


Charlotte Hinger said...

Donis, I'm reading a lot about sociopaths right now. They remind me of your Raven. Scary people. And some of them are in our everyday lives

Donis Casey said...

Charlotte, sometimes I feel we are surrounded by sociopaths, and no more so than right now...