Need a Title? Here’s a Title!

Here’s the thing: I’m not great at coming up with titles. Heck, I suck at coming up with titles. And I have read some great ideas about how to come up with a title. A few weeks ago, a GH sister, Pintip Dunn, had a great post over at Waterworld Mermaids, asking “What’s in a Title” [there’s the link to check it out.]

And I would like to apply her methods and others I’ve seen for a great title (like brainstorming over the theme of your book; brainstorming 100 titles and narrowing it down from there, etc). But I have neither the finished book nor finished series yet; this little guy is still just in formation. And I’m getting really frustrated with it having no name at all.

So, that started me playing. πŸ™‚ (Yes, I’ve been working too, promise.) And I found some interesting title generators that maybe you’d like to try out, too. Some of the titles are ridiculous of course, but some? Some you could write a whole book just for that title. πŸ™‚

Book Title Generator – This one I like because you can choose the genre you want (scroll all the way down to the bottom for the actual generator). Since my book is a bit of a mash-up, I looked at a few generator. And, even if you don’t use the title just as it appears, maybe it will inspire the real one.

The Title Generator by Fiction Alley is probably my favorite, because you get to select the words that create the title. This means you can use some of the major elements or themes in your book and fit them in. I didn’t find a perfect fit yet, but this one generated some of my favorite.

Random Story Title Generator on Mcoorlim.com was another I liked, probably because of the words that came up; the titles were evocative and interesting, even though they’re still totally random.

Random Title Generator by Maygra I liked again because of the words that were used to generate the titles. Again, totally random, but some of these made you pause and wonder what kind of story would go with that title.

Oddly, I’ve never popped up these random name generators before, and I’m not sure I’ll use it to give the final title to my novel, but it certainly was fun to play with and might be fantastic for a piece of short fiction, or inspiration for what eventually becomes the title.

So how do you come up with your titles? Are you one of those people for whom titles come easy? (And if so, can you help me? Can I be reformed??) πŸ˜‰ Or, like me, are titles a challenge, and if so, how do you cope?

Thanks so much for reading! Have a great week, happy writing, and have fun out there. πŸ™‚

Stop and Have Some Fun: Avoiding Burnout and Unnecessary Stress

2014-03-22 22.39.37So I have a not-so-secret secret for you: too much nose to the grindstone with zero fun makes you crazy.

Yes, I know, not exactly genius. But you’d think it was. I’ve been pushing really hard to get a book ready in time for conference. Like crazy-time pushing, meaning I didn’t even take the weekend off. Every day meant thousands of words, either writing them, deleting them, or a bit of both. Which is fine, for a little while. But as my mind narrowed too much on the story, and all I could see were the two remaining chapters that weren’t working, what it translated to was me seeing the entire manuscript as not working.

Seriously, on Friday last week I almost would have printed out the entire manuscript just to start it on fire. This is not a healthy approach to my work.

So I took the weekend off. And I stewed on Friday and Saturday, felt generally miserable even as I started to play up in the craft room (I’ll post on my other blog, Craft Room Chronicles, what I was up to). And then Saturday night I decided yet again not to work, even on the critiques I owe my partners (Friday night is critique night in my world). Instead I watched the first Harry Potter movie, with all of those actors so young, just kids, and the beautiful sets that beg you to recreate them in miniature.

And suddenly I felt a lot better. The rest of the nonsense I’d been worrying about, all sorts of things I have absolutely no control over, that evaporated. Today I could go back to writing, and while completing a chapter-by-chapter synopsis, I could actually see maybe the book was, gasp, not terrible!

So again with my not-so-genius advice, which I’m ashamed to say both my husband and best friend advised (and I duly ignored and denied). Take a break. Have some fun. Your brain and mental outlook will thank you. It’s a bright beautiful world out there, and sometimes we just need a change of perspective. πŸ™‚

Ever have that moment, where you’re just too stuck in what you’re doing to know when you need to step away?

Thanks for reading, and hope you have a great week. Happy writing!

8 Ways to Shake Off the Winter Slump

Remember last week (and possibly the week before) when I mentioned how I was kind of in a slump? Kind of down and into running away?

I think I’ve finally started to shake it. And I thought I’d share how, just in case you’re still stuck in a state of Winter-Blahs since spring seems oh so far away (first day of spring was Thursday here … and it snowed. Again. I hate snow is becoming a motto to live by.)

Anyhoo, some of these things are really not rocket science, and I’ve heard them before … but I have a very hard head, evidently, and sometimes it takes more than once (or possibly a small anvil) to get me to actually help myself. So without further ado, how to shake off the blahs and feel better:

  1. Connect to people. Talk to them. Meet new people. For me, this was and is hard. I like talking to people, 2014-03-22 22.39.37but I find actually putting myself out there to meet people a bit terrifying. I’m afraid of being burned, hurt, shut-out. But the reward of a funny conversation with someone new, a shared smile, is SO worth it. Promise.
  2. Let in the sun. Whether that means going out for a walk or even a drive, let the sun shine on your face, and let in good feelings. Sometimes we’ve been shutting them out without even knowing it.
  3. Give yourself something to look forward to. I have an upcoming vacation which does help, but I also found that I’ve been feeling down how to get through the weeks after, since spring seems soooo faaaaaarrrrr (note the more stupid snow on Thursday?). And then I got my new seed and bulb catalogue from a Garden and Nursery company, and just looking through those pictures started getting me excited about my garden, and what I’d plant, and what this year would turn out like. When you’re a gardener, seeds are naturally imbued with hope (they really are the future), but other things work, too. What about events that are coming in a month or so? Look for something to put on your calendar and start counting down the days.
  4. Put on some upbeat, happy music. Music seriously affects my mood, which is why I have specific disks I’ve made with “happy music,” some of it just music that I really love, some stuff amusing, like “He’s got high hopes.” Sometimes it’s just a great song on an upbeat radio station. (And if you’re looking to create a compilation for yourself, try showtunes, seriously. They’re so cheerful it’s almost nauseating … but fun.)
  5. Read or watch something funny. Read a funny book, watch a funny movie. Let yourself just enjoy, without over-analyzing or trying to be down (though that might just be me.) πŸ˜‰
  6. Try to see the world with a child’s eyes. Ever notice that kids love snow? They love playing in the rain and out in the puddles. They love playing, altogether. And sometimes, it really pays to just get down with them and let yourself try and feel some of the sheer joy they feel. Because that’s allowed – and strongly encouraged! And it’ll probably at least give you a smile.
  7. Give yourself a little treat, especially a silly one. The little … “thingy” in the image? He was my treat one day, quite some time ago. He was free, I have no idea what he’s supposed so be, but he made me smile. On weekends, I love to go to dollar stores, just ’cause if I find something I like (craft supplies, home stuff, kids stuff, etc), I can buy something and not have to worry about the cost much. Those are my little treats. Do you have some for yourself?
  8. Go play! Take your play seriously, letting go and just having fun and shutting out all the voices that want to stop that fun (like inner editors when you’re trying to write, ambitions, to-do lists, etc.) Make something with no particular purpose. Write something just because you want to. Go jump in puddles. Just remember, play. Life’s too short, and way too dull otherwise. πŸ™‚

Okay, so that’s my two cents and my likely reused advice. But know what? It works.

What works for you? Why not share?

Have a great week, thanks for reading, and here’s to sunshine, happiness, and some play. πŸ™‚

What I’m Reading: Libriomancer

I have a book recommendation for you. It’s a fun one, and be warned: this is the kind of book that will make you want to forget all the things you should be doing and just go off and read. πŸ™‚

51hecROhA8L._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_To follow with my recent love affair with urban fantasy, I’m reading Libriomancer (Magic Ex Libris, Book 1) by Jim C. Hines. I saw the recommendation on another author page with an interview with the author, and it moved up quickly on my TBR list. And I’m glad it did.

Here’s the back copy:

Isaac Vainio is a Libriomancer, a member of the secret organization founded five centuries ago by Johannes Gutenberg.Β  Libriomancers are gifted with the ability to magically reach into books and draw forth objects. When Isaac is attacked by vampires that leaked from the pages of books into our world, he barely manages to escape. To his horror he discovers that vampires have been attacking other magic-users as well, and Gutenberg has been kidnapped.

With the help of a motorcycle-riding dryad who packs a pair of oak cudgels, Isaac finds himself hunting the unknown dark power that has been manipulating humans and vampires alike. And his search will uncover dangerous secrets about Libriomancy, Gutenberg, and the history of magic. . . .

What do I like about it? I really love how much this author clearly loves books; this book reads like a near homage to other paranormal, urban fantasy, and books in general. The writing is cute and funny with a quirky character voice, and I figure it has to be cute that I even find myself fond of a very large spider. Lots of fun, lots of pop culture references, and if you read in this genre and sub-genre, I imagine you’ll enjoy it even more. Personally, I’m finding it rather hard to be a good girl and do my work instead of just curling up and reading until the last page. πŸ˜‰

So, any good books you’d recommend? I’m a decent way through the Harry Dresden books thanks to my brother, and also done most of The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne. If only I could read faster!

Thanks for reading, and have a great week. πŸ™‚

 

Strange But Fun Research Books

I’m taking a break from the Regency for this week and instead showing off some of my favorite weird-ass books that I have on my shelves for research. You know the kind: they’re kind of unexpected, they’re not exactly the kind of book you use as everyday reference, they can become an enormous time-suck, but boy are they fun to poke around in. Yep, some of those. πŸ™‚

weaponsbookThe Complete Encyclopedia of Arms and Weapons. Eds. Leonid Tarassuk & Claude Blair.

This dear book has been a long and dutiful friend, ever handy when I’m feeling rather blood-thirsty. It’s an old guy that I picked up at a library book sale, but it’s a great reference for actually looking up weapons … or if you just want to compare different suits of armor, or maybe look for a neat-looking dagger your heroine might use. Or you know, play. πŸ™‚

Advanced Dungeons and Dragons: Dungeon Master Guide: Arms and Equipment Guide.

I confess that I haven’t used this book as often as I might, but when a friend’s hubby said he was giving away books, well, first, who says no to a free book? and second, this one looked handy when it came to describing things I wasn’t familiar with. There are lots of pictures and descriptions of those pictures so you can understand what different weapons are, different costumes, etc. Again, a fair bit of fun to thumb through.

bodylangThe Definitive Book of Body Language. By Allan and Barbara Pease.

This was purchased in relation to writing, and because it was really interesting when I read through it somewhat randomly the first time (have no idea why I picked it up). As well as being handy for understanding body language so you can write about it, try reading it and then go out for dinner with friends, or especially with people you don’t know very well. It’s great fun all dinner long to read what their body language is saying, so much more interesting than the conversation. πŸ™‚

You Can Read Anyone: Never Be Fooled, Lied To, or Taken Advantage of Again. By David J. Lieberman.

Yep, I got hooked on body language books, which is why I followed up the Peases’ book with this one. Also interesting, it delves into a bit more detail, and is especially used for kind of criminal profiling – though it also goes into why a read can be flawed on the basis of nervousness, etc. I, for example, swear I look like the most guilty person in the airport, because though I’m not doing anything wrong, I’m terrified I’ll be caught doing something and miss my flight.

bookromeTraveller’s Guide to the Ancient World: Rome in the Year AD 300. By Ray Laurence.

This was a bargain pick-up, and because someday, I swear I’m going to write a book with Ancient Rome in it. This one is a lot of fun because it’s formatted just like a modern travel book, which makes is super easy to find all kinds of information you’d be hard pressed to otherwise. I haven’t read – or double-checked – the sources and authenticity since I haven’t had to, but if you want it for actual reference, that would probably be a good idea. I’m not entirely certain how factual it is, but it is fun.

A Field Guide to Demons, Fairies, Fallen Angels, and Other Subversive Spirits. By Carol K. Mack and Dinah Mack.

I did mention these were weird and rather random books, right? This is an interesting book in how it’s written – as though you’re actually out encountering or hunting down demons. A bit strange, but definitely interesting for the perspective.

Planet Cat: A cat-alog. By Sandra Choron, Harry Choron, and Arden Moore.planetcat

I like cats, which is where this book originates. But I found, to my surprise, that it’s also a great source for weird cat-trivia which could come in handy if you happen to have a feline character. There’s tons of myth, famous cats, history, cat in context to said history, that sort of thing. No, you probably aren’t going to find a use for most (all?) of the info in here, but more fun than you’d probably expect.

birthdayencycThe Element Encyclopedia of Birthdays: know your birthday, discover your true personality, reveal your destiny. By Theresa Cheung.

Ah, and at last we end on my favorite weird-ass book. It grabbed the attention of my husband and I in the bookstore, and despite it’s price tag, it came home with us. It’s also often flipped through by friends when they see it, and I confess to looking up most of my friends and family to see what it has to say. (Oh, and characters for books too – though again, less research, more play.)

So what the heck is it, you ask? It’s an encyclopedia of birthdays, breaking it down by zodiac, numerology and other systems, so you can look at general “sign” information, as well as just look up your birthday and read an assessment of your personality. For example, if your birthday were today, July 26, you’d find (p297):

“this is the birthday of self-assurance.

“People born on July 26 tend to be charming and strong individuals with an almost unshakable belief in themselves. … Other people tend to listen when these dominant personalities speak because they have an air about them which others respect and admire. … From the age of twenty-seven, they have an increasing desire for more practical order, efficiency, and analysis in their lives. In the years that follow, it is important for their pscyhological growth that they don’t become over-confident …”

“On the dark-side: over-confident, tactless, uncompromising.”

“At your best: honest, authoritative, confident.”

Neat, huh? Trust me, lots of time can vanish just playing with this book.

So, what are your favorite weird-ass books – whether they live in your home or not? Why do they make your list? What makes them special?

Thanks for reading, and speaking of vanishing time, I better get back to work. πŸ™‚ Hope you have a great week, and hey, if you liked this post, why not follow the blog? Have a good one. πŸ™‚

No Pressure – Just Play Time: Ten Tips to Add Play to Writing

I’ve written a few posts that have to do with the importance of play, but it would seem I wasn’t taking the advice myself. I found myself the past few months almost frozen with self-imposed rules, expectations, and pressure to succeed. So, I decided that what I really needed to do was remember why writing is fun, and why I want to write (other than to eventually make money at it, too).

As a writer – and the same goes for most other kinds of artists – we often need to be internally motivated and driven, our own bosses. But, hanging out with a demanding boss all the time can suck all the fun out of everything. Thus, here are my ten tips to add play back to your writing.

  1. Compose a “why I can’t stop writing list” [See previous blog on this]. Sure, this might be one of those only-if-things-are-really-bad moments, but it could also remind you that there are other reasons you started writing, or whatever it is that currently has you stymied. What did you really love about it? What brought you back again and again? How can you recapture those feelings?
  2. Write a short story. This isn’t the “hard” short story that you studied back in school, but a quick work of fiction. Whether this is extremely short (flash fiction, ~500 words or less) or something bigger, that’s up to you – but don’t worry too much about that. These are not necessarily stories to share with the world, but just playing with words, ideas, techniques. Start off with prompts, or start with the following point, what “what-if” list.
  3. Reconsider your method. If everything is working for you, and you’re happily producing lots of work, than leave things alone. However, if you feel change maybe warranted, than make some. Consider your learning style, what works for you, what doesn’t. Do you meticulously plot everything? What if you plotted a bit less? Do you never plot? What if you started with at least a brief plot map? Different methods work for different people, from listening to music / needing silence, pictorial story boards, index-card plot points (a favorite of mine), writing in noisy places, etc. Maybe something would work better for you, too.
  4. Take a shower. Or do whatever you know gets thoughts percolating. For me, taking a shower frees my brain for some reason, and if I let it, my imagination can take flight. Maybe a shower isn’t for you, but what about a walk? Meditation? Find what works.
  5. Start a “what-if” list. This can be a new, blank document, or as I did, a page in the “idea” book, scribbling down ideas. Don’t worry about the feasibility, your level of interest, how it fits your genre, marketing potential – no worries at all. This is brainstormed list of play; you never have to look at it again if you don’t want to, or it could foster some great brain-sparks.
  6. Build on the “what-if” list and increase the possibilities. If you play with one idea, what about it’s opposite? What if everything we thought was true, wasn’t? Okay, than the opposite might be: what if everything we thought was true, was? Again, no pressure, no worries – just write down whatever comes to mind.
  7. Write some hook-line-and-sinker first lines. Just open a blank document (or again, pen and paper if you prefer) and just start writing. These can be first lines to some of the ideas on the “what-if” list, or they can be something else. I’ve found that some of these first lines also have the potential to be the hook for the book. Plus, it’s actually a lot of fun. If you start writing more than a first line and really get going, follow through! Don’t stop now! πŸ™‚
  8. Remove the formatting and the preconceived notions that go with it. Personally, I’m a linear writer, and I start with the same formatting I always use, and “Chapter 1” blinking in the middle, and write in chapters through the book. What helped for me was to get rid of all the formatting – including chapters, double-spacing, etc – and just write. It helps to eliminate notions of where I am in the novel, how long it has to be, etc. Try it. Maybe it will work for you too.
  9. Write something for fun. Consider the possibility that not everything you write has to have the potential to be the “break-out novel” you’ve been working towards. What about some idea that you’re just toying with that may have nothing to do with where you want to go in your career? Or an idea your spouse had that sounded like fun? Try it. Don’t worry about how long it has to be, where it’s going to be, anything – just write, enjoy the process, see what you learn from it. Maybe it will someday become something significant, maybe not. But for now, none of that matters.
  10. Stop worrying, start playing. Easier said than done? Of course it is. That’s why it gets listed separately. But the important part is that you make a conscious effort to play; when it’s been awhile, it may be hard at first. But, the more you allow yourself the freedom of play, the easier it gets.

So, have you started playing yet? Did any of these ideas have potential? Or, did you try any of these ideas and they worked for you? Please, let me know – and if you have other suggestions.

Thanks for reading, and have a great week. Happy writing!