Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The blog that isn't...by Sheila Claydon

My turn to blog and I haven't even thought of a topic. Why? Well for a start I've been too busy editing my next book. Remembering Rose, which is due out at the end of the month, is different from my previous books. Although it's still a contemporary romance, this time it also includes time travel and history, and it could even be considered a family saga, so it's complicated.That's not really the problem though. Writing and then editing a book has its own momentum and I know I'll finish in time for publication. What is really challenging me is trying to think up the title for a series.

When I started writing Remembering Rose, it was going to stand alone. It was still going to stand alone when I typed The End. Then I handed it over to the two readers whose opinions I value before finally sending it off to the Books We Love editor for checking. They both sent it back with the same comment. It should be Book One of a series because they want to know what happens to some of the other characters in the book.

My first response was a groan because writing a series isn't easy. Every fact has to be checked against previous books, and every character has to move on. I discovered this when I wrote my When Paths Meet trilogy. By the time I started Book 3, Saving Katy Gray, Jodie and Bella from Books One and Two were years older with growing families, and I had to remember this every time I referred to them. The other thing about a series is that it has to stand alone if it is to appeal to all readers because not everyone wants to invest in three books at once, so any reference to the characters from the earlier books has to be in context. Also, if on occasion a back story explanation is necessary, then it must be short, concise and relevant, because nobody who has read the earlier books wants to waste time revisiting the stories.

My second response was elation though. If my advisory readers were engaged enough to want to know more about some of the secondary characters in my book, then I had to listen to them. Keeping this in mind I re-read the manuscript, and soon I was listening to one of the characters as she told me her story. Yes, I know that sounds far-fetched, but it's sort of how it works. I start off directing the character and then he or she takes over and before I know it my story has changed.

So now here I am with a series to write but no title. How do I make it an interesting enough series title for readers to want to pick it up? How do I convey the overall theme in two or three words? How do I make it different enough to stand out? The stories are set in Mapleby, an imaginary village in England, and the characters are ordinary. No billionaires or high profile celebrities, just everyday folk living and loving as best they can. I only have a day or two to come up with something and send it to the book cover artist with an apology for asking her to revisit work she has already done.

So that's why I don't have a blog topic today.

On the other hand, I might just have come up with that elusive title. How about Mapleby Memories? I'll sleep on it and see how it looks in the morning. It might just be a winner though, so thanks for listening.

Sheila's books can be found at Books We Love and on Amazon. She also has a website and can be found on facebook