Saturday, December 22, 2012

Better Wrap Those Gifts

The Mayan's were wrong, or else they just scheduled The End on the wrong day. I can sympathize because I sometimes schedule an important event on my iPhone calendar on the wrong day, or time, or century.

A few things I know (or hope) won't be rescheduled ...

Release of GROUNDS TO KILL January 7th - click here to pre-order

Release of DEAD SUITE February 19th - click here to pre-order

Release of DROP DEAD BEAUTY May 21st - click here to pre-order

Release of ME from rainy Vancouver to the sun-drenched beaches of Maui on December 26th

I will talk to you in the new year. No matter how you celebrate this holiday season, I wish you JOY.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

How to Chop Down Your Own Tree

In the spirit of the holiday season, I'm providing you with this How-To video on the joy of chopping down your own Christmas Tree. 

You're welcome.

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

We have a winner!!!

If your name is Andrea, check your email and let me know which e-reader or gift card you choose!

In other news, yes that's me standing in a cemetery. Had a photo shoot in an old graveyard. At night. When there was a full moon. I really love my job!!

My wonderful photographer agreed to meet me at the entrance to this old cemetery in historic Fort Langley. When I arrived in the pitch dark I saw a man standing at the gates and hustled on over. Except it wasn't my photographer. It was another random person waiting at the entrance of a graveyard. In the dark. Alone. 

So then I look across the tombstones and in the shadows I see someone walking through the cemetery. I jogged after the guy hoping it was my photographer and not, you know, some ax murderer waiting for a stupid author. It turned out that it was the right guy and we began our photo shoot. He used a technique called painting with light. This involved the camera remaining still on a tripod and me remaining very still for 2-3 minutes after he snaps the picture while he ran around me with a flashlight painting in whatever light you see in the shot. Sometimes I shivered because it was VERY cold but then the picture would look like I had 2 noses so I did my best to remain frozen in the freezing graveyard. What fun!!

Got some great pictures AND some cool ideas for my next book. Did I mention I LOVE my job?!

Monday, November 26, 2012


I was going to have the draw for an e-reading device in January  when Grounds to Kill comes out. Then I thought what kind of Christmas gift is that, right?

So the draw date will be December 5th.

Want a chance to win a Kindle, Nook or your other wish-list e-reader?

OR have an e-reader but would love a gift card for the equivalent value so you can add more books to your device?

If you're on my mailing list, then your name is already in the draw.

If you're not on the list (and why the heckadoodle not?) then go to by clicking here and send me a message adding you to my mailing list.

In other news, I'm trying to cut down on caffeine. Specifically, I'm trying to get down to 2 cups of coffee a day (rather than 2 pots). So far it's not going well z-z-z-z-z *snore*. 

How caffeinated are you?

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Elephant in the Room (e-readers vs paperbacks)

It’s time we talked about the elephant in the room. More precisely, the elephant in MY room. And by elephant I mean the emails I’ve been getting and comments surrounding the controversy over e-reading vs paperback.

First let me say I LOVE my readers. I know lots of authors say that, but I’ve got a special file with emails  received from fans. If that sounds stalkerish I apologize but being an author is lonely work and sometimes you need the encouragement and opinions of people who you’ve never met. Weird, right? In my defense I write paranormal murder mysteries so there is no way to be “normal”.

My readers are wise, wonderful, witty women. Oh and great men too (sorry Jack). And you are better than most people in the world because you actually read. If you’ve read a book in the last year you’re already a million times better than a person who, say, would rather watch reruns of Miami Vice instead of pickup a book.

Back to the emails.

In January, Carina Press will be publishing GROUNDS TO KILL. In February, Penguin will be publishing DEAD SUITE (Ghost Dusters 4) and in May they will also be publishing Ghost Dusters 5. I am super pumped about this!

All three of those stories are coming out as e-books only at this point.

Did I work just as hard on these e-books as I did on my paperbacks? Yes. (Harder if you count the fact that I had to finish one book only typing with my right hand since I hurt my left shoulder.)

Could they eventually come out in print? Maybe. That will depend on sales.

Did I do this to piss you off because you only read “real” books? No. I wish I could wave a magic wand and please everyone. Hell, I wish I had a magic wand just so I could summon a cabana boy to deliver me a latte every hour!

Did I have a say in whether or not these books got published only as e-books? Sure. I could’ve said no to their offers and they, in turn, may have refused to publish the stories. This is a business and, like most businesses, publishers need to make a profit or they will go the way of the Dodo bird and my first word processor

Now, for all of you on my newsletter list there will be a contest to win an e-reader!! *YAY* If you already have an e-reader *YAY* you can choose a gift card to Amazon, or Barnes and Noble, or somewhere else that sells books. 

Not on my mailing list but dying to be? Click here.

In unrelated news, I’m getting my hair done tomorrow to cover up the gray hair that comes with having 4 teens and writing 3 books in 15 months. What are you doing?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

DEAD SUITE - Ghost Dusters 4

News! News! News!

Yes, I have news.

DEAD SUITE (Ghost Dusters 4) will be released mid-February!

Amazon is showing it as February 19th and so is Barnes & Noble.

And, yes, that means you can pre-order now. I did :D

Oh and the picture of my dog, Bella, is there because I don't have a cover picture to share with you yet.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

My Precious

I am no PhilipEmeagwali but I do consider myself somewhat techno savvy. For example, I am the only one in my house who correctly programs the PVR to make sure we don’t miss a single episode of Pawn Stars. Also, I can change the clocks on all 3 family vehicles without reading a manual AND I know how to operate truly obscure programs like Multimate.

What I lack in the area of technological skill is patience. This is the reason why I’m having huge issues with Windows 8. It’s also the reason why I play Pogo Scrabble only against robots and not live partners. Robots don’t say “brb 1cpkg”. Which translates to “be right back number one child is puking”. I don’t care if your kid is vomiting when I’m waiting to put down the word ‘Qadi’ for 50 points!

Windows 8 is trying my patience and this is from a woman with 4 opinionated teenagers who test me daily. I’m sure there’s a reason why I have to look at giant colorful tiles before I can get to my real screen. I’m sure there’s also a reason why it took me half an hour to find the button to allow me to shut down the computer. 

I keep reminding myself that this laptop was a gift to myself; a reward because I successfully wrote three complete manuscripts in 14 months (a personal record). I deserve my new HP Envy dv6. Especially since I got my last laptop using air mile points and it ran as slow as I do after a round with my physiotherapist. But it’s hard to think of something as a reward when you find yourself yelling obscenities and threatening the piece of machinery with a sledgehammer.

Maybe I should’ve purchased a new laptop before Windows 8? The problem is I have a superstition about completing manuscripts on the same computer where I type the very first word. I was committed to completing those manuscripts on my old Toshiba and now my old work horse that allowed me to write Grounds to Kill and also the next 2 Ghost Dusters, has been retired to kiddie corner where it will be used solely to play Minecraft.

Maybe what I need to do is start a new manuscript on this baby. A new story will keep me focused on Microsoft Word and I can ignore all the other new fangled whatchamadingles associated with this new operating system. 

Now if I can only find Word.

Anything testing your patience these days?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

We Have a Title - Woot!

I’d jump for joy if I could! There is now a title for Ghost Dusters 4 - YAY!

It will be called DEAD SUITE. 
No release date yet but when I know, you’ll know.

I’ve also finished Book 5 of the Ghost Dusters - double YAY!!

I’m happily plugging away at the edits these days but I’m still experiencing excruciating shoulder pain (boo hiss). After weeks of physio, cold laser therapy, acupuncture and a cortisone shot I can safely say … I’m exactly the same, if not worse. Sigh. Surgery pending but don’t know when.

So in muted celebration here are some random things I’ve learned over the last few weeks:

* We use our shoulders for practically every movement and you don’t know that until scratching an itch makes you want to punch someone in the face.

* It’s possible to name a character Eddy in one book then totally forget him and name another random character Eddy in the next.

* I miss lemon meringue pie.

* Having a vacation to look forward to is one of my most favorite things.

* Having a book release to look forward to is even better.

* Wanting a new laptop is great but doing all the research to find a good one sucks all the joy out of it.

* That also applies to printers.

* When you’re hurting and miserable your dog will become an unruly, attention-seeking pain in the ass.

* If you clean out the vanity in your bathroom and discover a dozen nearly empty tubes of Aveeno hand cream, you may have a hand cream obsession.

* It is possible to love your physiotherapist and also hate her with a white hot fire that makes you want to skin her alive.

* Drinking coffee does not work well with most medications.

* I care more about my coffee habit than my stomach.

* I can read the same page ten times before I find one error but it only takes my editor one time to find ten errors.

So what are random things you’ve discovered lately? 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Book Cover!

Attention! Attention! I just now (well an hour ago) received permission to share the cover for my January book GROUNDS TO KILL being released by Carina Press.

Isn't it fabulous?! I want to love it and squeeze it and sleep with it every single night! I particularly love the ghostie face in the steam.

I have been absent from the blogosphere but I have a great excuse, erm, I mean reason. I tore my rotator cuff. OWWW! Anyone who has ever experienced excruciating shoulder pain on a daily basis for weeks knows that no amounts of vodka and/or oxycodone takes away the evilness of it. And no I'm not using hillybilly heroin and drinking booze at the same time because that requires a level of crazy even I don't possess. But I've thought about it. A lot.

I am, however, still writing on a daily basis and I'm well on target to make my deadline for the fifth book in the Ghost Dusters series. Since writing now equals pain I'm not blogging, I am saving all that agony for fans of Ghost Dusters. You're welcome.

So if your shoulders are in good shape, pat yourself on the back and give someone a hug and then come back and write in the comments what you think of my new cover!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Gallivanting & Writing

I went to Vegas with my sister because when you reach a certain age it becomes important to go and see Menopause the Musical. It also became important to see Phantom of the Opera because my sister had never had the pleasure of having a chandelier nearly fall on her head.

It was so hot in Vegas the bottom of my flip flops melted. It became abundantly clear why only the disheveled, homeless dudes selling water are out during the day. If you want to really be in the spirit you must rub shoulders with the drunks and hookers at night. Good times.

Because I lack the ability to turn off my brain when only vacationing for 3 days, I was up at the butt crack of dawn (6:30) each morning. I learned that, yes, it is possible to write pages on my iPad using a wireless keyboard precariously balanced on my knees while sitting in the hall outside Palio's, the fabulous coffee shop at the Bellagio that makes better lattes then Starbucks.

I am getting into Ghost Dusters 5 and trying to become well entrenched in that story before edits arrive on Ghost Dusters 4. But it's also summer, I'm on an Alaska cruise in a few weeks, all 4 kids are in the house and I need a tan. These are all distractions. However, have iPad and will travel.

How's your summer going?

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Oops! You're dead. Or not.

Occasionally I just kill off someone and then magically they reappear later on in the book.  Sometimes it happens.  

On page 76 I killed a character or, at least, implied they were dead. Then on page 348 VOILA they were resurrected and having a conversation. 

Oh the magic that is second draft, how I loath and love thee!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Book Title!

Yes, my Carina Press book due to be released in early 2013 has a title!

Grounds to Kill

Isn't that the most fabulous title for a paranormal mystery involving a gal working as a barista?! My fab editor is a creative genius.

Still hard at work finishing up Ghost Dusters #4. I'm in second draft mode which is not nearly as much fun as first draft mode because now I know whodunit. Entertainment wise it's kind of like watching the movie Sixth Sense for the tenth time, however, it's an important stage so I'm not taking it lightly.

What are you hard at work on these days?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Win a Sony E-Reader & some books

I assume you've been following Brenda Novak's annual auction to raise money to find a cure for diabetes. If not ... why not?

This is a great cause put on by a fabulous author.

Want a Sony E-Reader and some paperbacks donated by yours truly? 

Click here.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Final Lap

I’ve entered the final lap of the first draft of the yet to be named Ghost Dusters 4. Well, technically it HAS a name but I feel no point in sharing it as it’ll most likely change. 

I don’t want to confuse the issue by calling it Sadie Goes to Hollywood only to have my editor change it to Hell in Seattle and then you get all attached to Sadie Goes to Hollywood and try ordering it by that name down the road. Okay, now try and get Sadie Goes to Hollywood out of your head, okay?

I also have edits waiting for me on the book that I called Wrong Channel. Don’t get too attached to that name either because that’ll be changed too. When they asked for my input, I came up with The Billionaire’s Psychic Pregnant Secret Wife. My new editor said it was too long for the cover.

When it comes to naming books I usually just allow the Powers that Be (my editor and agent) to toss around something until they both have an AH HAH moment. I figure I write the other 80,000 words, surely they can be responsible for four or five, right? Besides, they’re just better at knowing what works on a cover and what doesn’t.

Right now I’m reading two books simultaneously: Sarah Paretsky’s Breakdown and The Bloggess’s  Let’s Pretend this Never Happened. They couldn’t be more different but I’m enjoying them both.

What are you reading?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Sometimes the universe conspires just to mess with your head.

Last week I reached the three-quarters point of the first draft of Ghost Dusters Four - yay! I’ve been on a roll and happily meeting my daily writing quota and usually surpassing it. Then *boom* flood in the kitchen that translates into major water damage in the basement. This means workers are coming in and out of the house nonstop now for a week. Of course they have to always stop and talk to me too, however, I can handle a few words here and there without losing focus (I have four kids afterall).

Bella on the other hand has become a real problem. She is determined to protect me from these strangers at all costs. I’ve written today’s quota entirely with a Yorkie on my lap. Thank God she’s not a great dane!

Who or what gets in your way when you’re trying to reach your goal?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Don’t Blog While You’re Hungry

I love to munch while I work. Snacking while typing can have horrible side effects. My ass has been known to double in size while I write a couple hundred pages. In the interest of saving the springs in my chair and the seams of my jeans, I’ve been experimenting with non-fattening snacks.

First of all, it’s gotta be salty. Roll a carrot in salt and I’d probably be fine except the salt won’t stick to the carrot. Baked potato chips sounded like the perfect alternative except I find they’re only tasty when slathered in Heluva Good French Onion dip. 

Lately I’ve been consuming lots of pretzels. After a while it’s a lot like sucking on sand.

I’m off to write chapter 10 of Ghost Dusters 4 and plow my way through a bucket of baked crackers.

So what do you crunch when you wanna munch but don’t want to increase your jean size?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Dating Can Be Deadly!!

By the title of this blog I’m not referring to my own love life (or lack thereof). I am talking about my very first published book Dating Can Be Deadly. The book was published in trade paperback in 2005 by Red Dress Ink and now the story is available as an ebook. And by “now” I mean right now. Today. For the first time evah. Can I get a woo hoo?!

In other totally unrelated but even MORE fabulous news, I sold another book! Can I get a double woooo hoooo?! The story I wrote last year tentatively titled, Wrong Channel, has been purchased by Carina Press

Due to the magical ways of the publishing world this book will probably hit the internet before Book 4 of the Ghost Dusters series. This is mostly because Wrong Channel is already written and Book 4 is still in my itty bitty head (except for the 150 pages on my laptop).

I don’t have an official release date for the Carina Press book but the tentative date is January 2013.

Now, back to Dating Can Be Deadly. If you only joined me for the Ghost Dusters or (heaven forbid) have never read ANY of my books, Dating is an awesome opportunity to see if you like me, um, I mean my writing.

So get your little cursor over to anywhere and everywhere you buy your ebooks (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your independent store) and check it out!

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

My Weird Little Thing

I've put aside the story I was working on the last few months in order to work on the next Ghost Dusters book. For a while I was writing both stories. I'd work a few pages on one and then switch to do a few on the other. However, one story is in first person and the other in third. I ended up being all discombobulated and confuzzled. I was worried I'd end up talking about myself in the third person and annoying everyone more than usual. 

 I'm really getting into the story and things are flowing nicely. Like my hair. The thing is, I really have a hard time writing if I don't tie back my hair. I don't know why the two things are connected but apparently my brain won't create if I don't have my locks tied back in a ponytail. Once during a particularly tough time of writer’s block, I considered a brush cut. 

 Now my hair is a couple inches past my shoulders. I have a hair appointment Friday and, although it's just a trim, I'm a little worried too much will come off and I'll not be able to tie it back. This happened once before when I was in the middle of the first draft of Devil May Ride. I would take a hair elastic and pull just the top hairs into a tiny little ponytail while I was writing. I looked like Alfalfa from the Little Rascals. One time the UPS guy came to the door and when I answered he gave me a funny look. After that I tried not to show the itty bitty ponytail to anyone. I gave up writing at Starbucks until my hair grew. 

 So that's my weird little thing. There are others but I don't know most of you well enough to share them. Do you have any weird little things that help you work?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

My road to publishing

As an end to the How to Write Your Stupid Book series, I thought it fitting to share how I became published. It may bore you to death so I apologize in advance for that.

1. I wrote a terrible book. It had no premise. No voice. No genre. It took up 10 Hilroy coil bound notebooks because I wrote it long hand.

2. I wrote another book. It was better only because it was typed.

3. I sent many, many query letters and sample chapters by snail mail to many, many agents.

4. I stalked my mail box for months until slo-o-o-wly the form rejections began rolling in.

5. I wrote a third book and I went to a writers' conference in my home town. I attended every single session on every topic for 3 days until my head exploded and I came home.

6. I sent many, many query letters and synopsis to many, many agents.

7. Rejections rolled in over a period of months, however, a FEW asked me to resubmit my next project.

8. I wrote a fourth book. I went back to the writers' conference (9 months pregnant with my 4th child) and pitched my book to none other than THE Donald Maass (because I didn’t know what a foolish idea that was at the time). Through the entire pitch I was having contractions. He was polite and kind but didn’t ask to see a copy of my book.

9. I wrote PART of a fifth book. It wasn’t bad. It had MY voice. It was MY genre which was a cross between mystery and romance. Someone told me it was Chicklit and I thought that was gum. I pitched it to author Nancy Warren who said it had great potential and suggested I send it to Red Dress Ink (a division of Harlequin) because I wouldn’t need an agent to submit to them. Everyone told me it would take MONTHS for Red Dress Ink (RDI) to get back to me because they were extremely backlogged and this was still in the day when everything had to be snail mailed.

10. I received a letter in the mail from Kathryn Lye, editor of Red Dress Ink, 2 weeks later asking to see the completed book immediately. But I’d only written 3 chapters.

11. With 4 kids under 10 years of age I wrote night and day for 6 weeks until I completed Cat’s Pajamas (aka Dating Can Be Deadly) and I sent it in before Kathryn Lye and Red Dress Ink could forget my name.

12. I received a phone call from Red Dress Ink wanting to buy my book. I was cleaning a turtle aquarium at the time of the call and was up to my elbows in turtle shit. I will never forget how great that was.

13. After Dating Can Be Deadly came out I was able to find an agent (big surprise) but it wasn’t a good fit. I was unable to sell another book until the Ghost Dusters series a few years later.

14. This year I spoke as a presenter (for the 3rd time) at the same writers’ conference that has helped me all these years. I also sat next to Donald Maass at lunch and we chatted about life in general and I didn’t once bring up the fact that my water almost broke all over his fancy new shoes back in 1999 and that he didn’t ask to see my query letter. But I did get back at him by purchasing Robert Dugoni’s t-shirt at a raffle and insisting Donald be the one to remove it from Robert’s body hee hee.

I share these points only because I want you to know if your plan is to be published you need to keep at it. Actually, no matter WHAT your dream is, you need to keep going after it. Even if it means you’ll have to clean some turtle poop.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Yup - 2 More!!

Yes, it's true :D

I am super excited and THRILLED to announce that I’ve been contracted by Penguin Books to write two more Ghost Dusters books!

The new stories will be written for Penguin’s InterMix eBook line.

I don’t have an official release date for the new books because I have to write them first!

Thanks so much for your continued support!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

FEB. 20TH!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

How to Write Your Stupid Book: Tip 7 – S & M

S & M = Synopsis and Manuscripts so get your mind out of the gutter!

Today I’ll discuss the dreaded synopsis. Writers fear them.Agents devour them.Editors require them.
There’s no getting away from the fact that you will have to condense your four hundred pages into just a couple if you want to make a submission to the powers that be. And, yes, I said a COUPLE pages. As in two.

You may have heard some people say a synopsis should be six to eight pages. Or ten. I’ve heard some authors like to send in a hefty twenty page synopsis. That might be more appealing to you because it’s easier to chip away at your hundreds of pages and narrow it down to twenty. Two might seem crazy impossible.

Is it harder to do it my way? Yes. Then why the hell should you do it my way? Because I told you so. Sorry, I was channeling my mom there.

I have only one reason for suggesting a two-page synopsis and that’s because it worked for me. Maybe a ten or twenty page synopsis was good for somebody else but here on my blog I can only say what works for me because I just can’t speak for anybody else.
So how can you boil down 100,000 words to 500? First of all, you need to re-think the purpose of the synopsis. The reason you write a synopsis is to whet the appetite of the reader so they’ll read the book. You want them intrigued, fascinated and entertained and DYING to dig into the rest of the story. When you’re submitting to a potential agent and/or editor do you want them slogging through a long, tedious synopsis until they’re too tired or, heaven forbid BORED, to read your wonderful chapters that follow? I didn’t think so.

Yes, it’s true that some published authors get away with selling on a mere smidge and hint of a synopsis: “Joe and Jane are fighting crime and then some really cool things happen and everyone lives happily ever after.” Probably you won’t sell anything based on a sentence like that until you’ve reached NYT stardom. Until then, you need to do it the old fashioned way. Steal from others.

Okay, I don’t exactly mean steal. It’s more like borrowing. Go to your own bookshelves which are, hopefully, heavy with novels. Pickup a few of your favorites and read the descriptions on the back. That, my friends, is a great way to describe a book and it’ll set the tone you need to write your own synopsis. Make it leap off the page. Make it so that when they reach the bottom of page two the reader eagerly picks up chapter one because they can’t wait to read more.

Do I hear you crying out, “Prove it! Dammit, Wendy, why can’t I see YOUR two-page synopsis as an example?!”

Okay, you don’t have to whine … but you do need to jump through a couple hoops.

Until the end of the month, if you “like” my author page on Facebook and/or follow me on twitter (see the side bar for both) then I will email you a copy of my two-page synopsis for Remains of the Dead. You’ll also have to email me (wendy at wendyroberts dot com) and put “synopsis” in the subject.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

How to Write Your Stupid Book: Tip 6 – When do I go on Oprah?

First of all, the Oprah ship has sailed so forget that.

Okay, let’s assume you finished your book. You gave it to friends to read and they all told you it was wonderful because they’re your friends and didn’t want to hurt your feelings. Or maybe it IS wonderful. Who am I to judge? My first book was a convoluted story about a cup of flour’s journey to be a birthday cake (seriously).

So what’s your next step?
You need to edit.

“Hold on just a damn minute, Wendy, I’ve already edited this thing a gazillion times!”

Yeah? Well then one more won’t kill you.

“So what if there are a few mistakes? If an editor loves it, won’t they be glad to fix it?”

Maybe. But the world of publishing is highly competitive. Given a hundred manuscripts arriving in her email query box every week, do you think an editor or agent is gonna say, “Wow this one is great AND it needs work so I’ll be sure to pick this manuscript over the ten others that don’t need repair!”?

So now that I’ve convinced you to edit, don’t do it.

First, take a step back and work on something else, hopefully, an entirely different book. Give your brain a rest from those weary characters and that tired old premise and start something fresh. Then come back to your story in a couple weeks or a couple months. You thought you caught all the grammar errors and plot holes the first few times? I’m betting you’ll find even more this go round.

What about critique groups? They can be great. If you can, you should join RWA, MWA and any other writing organization that gives you access to like minded individuals and wonderful critique groups. But if you join a critique group, go in with your eyes, ears and mind wide open. If a lot of people take issue with something in your story, you should probably take a look at it but, in the end, it’s YOUR story and you need to decide what goes and what stays.

So NOW can I send it out to agents, editors and Oprah?

How about one more tip? Read your dialogue out loud. At least some of it. Why? Because that’s the best way to tell if your characters actually sound like real people -- people you know and hang out with -- or if they are stiff and formal like they’ve just stepped out of Ms. Hatty’s Haughty Finishing School.

Okay, I’m off to ready some dialogue. Out loud. To my dog. Nothing like a captive audience!

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

How to Write Your Stupid Book: Tip 5 – A Rose by Any Other Name Still Stinks

Since it’s been a while, let’s briefly recap how I’m writing my stupid books and notes from previous posts:

TIP 1: was all about BICHOKing.

TIP 2: Ideas

TIP 3: plotting and pantsing

TIP 4: internal editors

All caught up? Good.

Today’s post is about names.
The name of your book.
The names of your characters.

I know writers who obsess about these things. I know writers who truly can’t write a single word until they have THE PERFECT TITLE. They bounce the ideas off their friends and they make lists upon lists. If this is holding you up, let me tell you the secret to the perfect title: LET SOMEONE ELSE COME UP WITH IT.

I'm not kidding.

Confession Time. I am title-challenged. My first published book was called Dating Can Be Deadly. Did I come up with this? No. I called it Cat’s Pajamas. Yup.Regardless that there were no cats who wore pajamas in the entire story, that was my title. I don’t even know why I ever thought it was a good idea.

The good news is, they bought it anyway and wiser people than yours truly were charged with the job of coming up with a title. This is true for all of my books. I come up with something to place in the header just so I don’t have to refer to it as BOOK-I-HOPE-SELLS. But if/when it sells, I know the powers that be will work their asses off to find the perfect title. And, yes, they’ll consult me when they narrow it down so it’s not like I’m totally out of the loop.

A bad title will NOT stop an editor or agent from reading your work. Well, unless you called it "Shit". Then maybe. But if you’re wrapped up in the struggle to come up with that perfect title you need to let it go and realize your main job is to write the other 100,000 words. It’s okay to let someone else come up with the few on the cover.

Character names. Sigh. This is a bit more touchy and personal. I know you want to feel that connection to your characters and, yes, names are important. You sure as hell don’t want to name your protagonist Jane if Jane was the bitch who harassed and bullied you all through middle school, right? But. Again. Unless you name your character Pissypot Craphead, I’ve never heard of an editor or agent turning down a book because they didn’t like the character’s moniker. If they were truly bugged about it, hey, they would just ask you to change it.

I like to use Random Name Generator or an ancient baby book that helped me choose the names for my children. Sometimes I use the White Pages to choose a last name.

Then I write the damn book.

Often and, yes, I mean frequently, I change the names later. After the first draft, once I’ve gotten to know my characters, I might find myself thinking “Ugh. Why the hell did I name the antagonist Jarvis?” Then I simply hit global replace in Word and I replace all the Jarvis’s with another name. Simple. Easy peasy.

Do not get hung up with the deep, dark meanings and origins of a name. That’ll drag you through two weeks of hell. Just give it a title and if it’s not great, so what? And give that character a name, and if it’s not perfect, so what?

Just write the book. Agonizing over the name is just a form of procrastination.

Off to write my stupid book and pondering the name of Iesha Elefritz as an antagonist.