Titles: Why isn’t there an app for that?

I recently read a site dedicated to writing tips, and it lost me on pretty much the first line.   Apparently it is strongly advised that my books have a working title before I start them.  Oh, and it is strongly advised that I keep extensive notes and such… there’s an app for that now, you know.

Quite bluntly, if I waited for a title before I got started, we’d still be waiting for me to start anything at all.   Usually it’s the book itself that gives me the title, there’s some phrase that gets repeated, or just sticks out.   The first, The Emperor’s Finest…well, that was a struggle and I’m still not happy with it.  It’s cliche.  I know it.   It just never bothered to tell me another name, and I couldn’t send it off to publishers calling it “Arien and Niel.”  (As I’ve said before, works in progress are identified by the names of their main character(s) until they show me a working title)

Fall of the Old Guard and its unwritten sequel Rise of the New Guard are pretty self explanatory.  The Harder Right, my single solitary contemporary fiction, is entitled from a line out of the Cadet Prayer for the United States Military Academy (West Point) which reads “Make us to do the harder right, rather than the easier wrong) and it seemed to fit the work much better than just about any of the titles I’ve ever managed to come up with.

Why am I thinking of this?  Well, pretty simple… the sequel to The Emperor’s Finest, currently in editing, has a working title of seq.   I’ve been pounding my head here, because obviously ‘seq’ is just not going to cut the mustard when it comes time to actually do something with it.   My mind is full of ….of the Empire.   Daughter of the Empire…sorry, taken.   Scions of the Empire…ugh.   Harsh blunt instruments of the Empire?   Well,  yes but.  I’ve even contemplated doing the Richard Castle thing and naming it some takeoff of Arien’s last name, but that bogs me down as well.  While Arien does have a commonly used word as a last name, Noble, it’s always been an irony play because she’s not particularly noble, her boyfriend is.

So, as I sit here, staring at the little yellow post it notes clinging to my desk… (A list of the military schools that Gideon would have been through to have been what I said he was, and the cryptic “108 repeats on 188, 188 version stands”)  knowing that there’s an app for that…   I have to ask:

Titles.  Why isn’t there an app for that?


If an author crashes into a tree in a forest, does any one hear it?

Yesterday was one of those days.   On the good side, I finished the first draft of Clearing the Way, the first completed original manuscript I’ve managed since the stroke in 2010.  Even though it has some holes where I’m still trying to remember exactly which word I was looking for (only the right word will do), it’s a triumph and I am beyond pleased.   It’s currently in the hands of my main beta reader for it, and will go to the hubby for first edit this weekend, but the first part of Nathalie and Gideon’s saga is set down and ready for the nuts and bolts attack.


And then there’s The Emperor’s Finest.  My first baby, completed in 1999.   My dark, bloody epiphany, the first of these to develop legs strong enough to take it beyond the page 40 death mark.  And when it did, it did, topping out in its first draft at an unwieldy 490 pages. As you may possibly know, Emperor’s underwent a marathon editing session, cut down to 370 pages, and went live as an Amazon ebook not that long ago.   I’ve been purposefully ignoring it, focusing on Nathalie, and trying hard not to obsess over its progress or lack thereof.   But last night I finally dipped a toe in, and took a look.

I’ll be the first one to admit that Emperor’s Finest has a brutal ending.   On one hand, I am proud of it.   Neither of the main characters acts out just because it’s over.   Neither one of them does something they wouldn’t, shouldn’t, do just to give a sparkly feel good ending.

However, that’s easy enough for me to say since I’ve…read the sequel.   Yes, there is one, there has always been one.   Somehow, I came straight off of the 490 page first part and started the second the next day.  The decision was made at the onset of this to just see how Empfine went… if had all the flight capacity of a lead pigeon, then we weren’t going to disturb the sequel, we were just going to let it all die gracefully while focusing on the newer works.   Call it a learning experience, and carry on.

Except, Empfine is generally receiving quite positive reviews, except for that brutal ending.   So last night I began to look for just where I’d squirreled the back ups for the sequel.  (Hey, it was completed in 2000, it’s a bleeding miracle I thought I still had a copy somewhere!)  And finally, after some confusion, located my back up.  Then converted my back up to a format that my current word processing program will read.  Then, for the first time in years, opened the sequel to the Emperor’s Finest.

How bad could it be?   I vaguely remembered it as being ‘complete’, so my worst nightmares were over.  I found it, it was intact, converted and shorter than Empfine….right?   Some editing, and we’d be back in business.

Apparently my ability to keep a file for twelve years is better than my ability to remember something I’d written.  I had found it.  It was  intact.  Converted.  And… 539 pages long.   And that’s when I hit that tree at top speed.   This is more than ‘a little editing’.  Although I wrote much cleaner prose then than I do now, more precise and time consuming, I am still not willing to bring a 539 page monster to the table.   I guess it’s time to start whupping this one into shape, while I take a breather from Nathalie.

Erotica…or whoops, there goes my pacing!

The vast majority of my works involve a central male/female pairing relationship.   Which means I often find myself at a point where that relationship wanders where these relationships go… in a bedroom or other convenient, private and somewhat plushy place.   The moment this happens, my clickety clack pacing goes down the drain.   Sex scenes take me forever, as I try to balance what I want to convey while still holding on to a certain level of discretion.  I don’t write porn.  I don’t want to.   I want to express a true, intimate relationship, not just sex and I want to do with the same polished vocabulary I use for the rest of the book.  This is not nearly as easy as it should be, at least for me.   I spend a lot of time during these scenes fighting the urge to go do something else, anything else.  Laundry?  Well, there’s always that.  Dishes?  Sure.   Vacuum?   Ditto.

So here I am.  Most of Clearing the Way has been written to a techno soundtrack, Global Deejays is my newest love, but that’s just not hacking it through this day, with a full bore erotic scene unfolding.   So, I must sadly admit, I’ve gone back to even worse…techno love songs.   :/   It’s a morning of Cascada, Dj Sammy and DHT while I try to find the best route through where I’m at.   My hope was to actually see the first draft finished today, and the writing is going well, but as long as this scene is taking, I’m doubting if I’ll actually get to the end.   Agh, maybe it’ll be tomorrow, if I can get these two out of bed.

The mindset of a writer…random thoughts.

I’ve been writing for quite awhile.   And for the greater part of that, I’ve hidden my work, too embarrassed to share.  Looking back at some of my efforts, that might have been for the best, because…well…ugh.    Seriously, full body shudder ugh.  But eventually, we all have to face the facts.  If we intend to make a go of this, gain our dreams, eventually we have to let other people see what we do.  I’m not talking family, because they have to live with us, and it’s in their best interests to keep us happy.  Who wants to live with an angsty, sulking writer that you’ve just been brutally honest to?   Friends fall under the family heading.  While they don’t necessarily live with us, they have to deal with us, and they make biased audiences.

Dropping your work in a box (either email or physical mail) is a little like letting a part of yourself go.   People will look at it, but for the most part, you won’t get feedback.   It’s a whole lot of nothing at all.   You put it out there, and…crickets.

This leads us to resources where people will read your work, and get back to you on it.  This is both a blessing, and a curse.   Many sites have a strong ethic on reviewer behavior, and you will not receive utterly scathing and spirit shrinking replies.  My favorite of these is critters.org for the sci fi/fantasy afficinado.   As I’ve noted earlier, fanfiction was the route that really grew my thick skin and gave me a solid ability to withstand criticism.

I’ve kept everybody up to date on the continuing tale of Nathalie and Gideon.  And as an exercise in these continuing steps away from hiding my works, I have put the first chapter up on Goodreads.   Since you have read the path, perhaps you’d like to actually take a look at the beginning.    It’s still in first draft, there will be changes, but: