Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Book By Any Other Name with Guest Blogger: D.B. Reynolds

Welcome author D.B. Reynolds to the Book Boost today!

Here's what she had to say about the trouble with titles...

I’m terrible with titles. Book titles, that is, not like the title of the corporate vice president for making my life miserable. No, those titles I have no problem with. It’s book titles I’m no good with. Specifically, my own. I can whip out a few thousand words of story a day, but ask me to come up with a five words worth of title … and my brain freezes. There must be people out there who are great at this, and I think there’s money to be made! Offer your (reasonably priced) services to writers like me … please!

As a reader, I don’t pay much attention to book titles, although let’s face it ... some of them parody themselves. But even so, I’m much more influenced by cover art. I especially don’t like CGI (computer generated imagery) people on covers. There are enough inexpensive or downright free images of real people that CGI shouldn’t be necessary. I’d rather see a nice backdrop with no person at all, just the title and author. But that’s me.

Far more important to my decision whether or not to buy a book is the description—the plot and the way the characters are presented in the short blurb that compresses months’ worth of hard work into one make-or-break paragraph or two.

But while, titles don’t matter that much to me personally, but that’s not true of all readers.

My current series, Vampires in America, has a proper name as the title for each book, which is hardly a new concept. There are a lot of very good books out there with a character’s name for the title. But with my books, these names were never intended to be the final titles. They were working titles for the early books so I wouldn’t waste anymore time trying (and failing) to come up with something better. I was fully confident my future publisher would suggest something suitably poetic, romantic, mysterious … But, no, my editor went with the names. And there’s a certain logic to the naming, even though it was never what I intended—the naming, that is, not the logic. The logic is sound.

There are eight territories, eight vampire lords. Each book is named after the vampire lord we meet in that book. No problem, right? Except that while the eponymous vampire lord plays a big part in his respective book, he is not necessarily the star of that book. I have continuing characters who, as often as not, play the story’s leading roles, despite the book’s title. Honestly, I have no problem with this, but some of my readers do. And sometimes so does my editor, even though she was the one I counted on to change the title in the first place! Hello! LOL

But, it’s too late now. I’m happy to say the series is heading into book five, so the time for changing the naming convention is long past. I can, however, assure my readers that the fifth and sixth books—i.e., Duncan and Lucasdo star those two characters in their respective stories. But after that … who knows? Not me. I’m just the author. And I write good books. I’m just no good at giving them titles!

A Note from the Book Boost: Thanks for joining us today and sharing your title dilemmas with us. I'm the opposite and cannot even begin to write a book without a title firmly set in place. In fact, I'm scared that my publisher WILL change my title (and this has only happened once)! But I love to hear the opposite perspective and perhaps I should open a book title service (reasonably priced titled for sale). :-) Please tell us more about your latest book.


The Pacific Northwest . . . home to lush forests and constant rain, to lumberjacks and computer geeks, especially those of the vampire kind.

Sophia, beautiful and deadly, has spent the last hundred years dancing her way through the balmy nights and hot-blooded men of South America. But when her Sire sends an urgent summons, Sophia rushes home to Vancouver only to find he has disappeared, leaving nothing behind but three dead vampires and a letter with Sophia's name on it.

Colin Murphy, a former Navy SEAL, came to the Northwest seeking a quiet place to heal the scars earned in more than a decade at war. But when someone starts killing local vampires and torturing their mates, Colin takes on the mantle of a warrior once again as he sets out to find the killers and do whatever it takes to stop them, even if that means hunting with vampires.

Following her Sire's trail of death to a small town in northern Washington, Sophia unexpectedly discovers the heat of a South American night in Colin's arms. But too soon Sophia and Colin find themselves in a race to uncover the killers before the next dead vampire becomes Sophia herself.


Colin Murphy downshifted as he made the turn onto the narrow driveway. New gravel had been laid here a couple years back, but the rains had washed away much of it by now, leaving potholes big enough to swallow small animals. The truck dipped hard to one side and he gripped the wheel, his tires sliding on the uneven surface before the heavy 4X4 dug in and forged ahead. Say what you will about American-made cars, he thought to himself, but no one made a better truck. He gave the dashboard an affectionate pat as he leaned forward, squinting through the rain-spattered windshield.

Lillian Fremont had called to say she’d heard gunshots over here. Colin wasn’t really a police officer—more like an overqualified private security guy—but the good people of Cooper’s Rest paid him to deal with incidents just like this one, so he’d geared up and headed out. He didn’t really know what to expect, though. Mrs. Fremont had been adamant about what she’d heard, but the woman was more than ninety years old and her house was a good two miles away. Granted, sound was a weird thing, and situated as she was on the opposite side of a shallow dip in the forest floor, it was just possible she could hear quite well over there.

Especially if what she’d told him was true.

Of course, in his experience most people didn’t know what real gunfire sounded like, expecting it to be like what they heard in movies and on television. But this wasn’t the big city, either.

Most people up here had guns of their own and knew firsthand about gunfire.

And screams pretty much sounded the same everywhere.

Jeremy’s house came into view, a newer ranch style, single story with high ceilings and a fire-retardant shingled roof. The blinds were drawn behind the few windows, but then he’d expected that. Jeremy was a vampire, after all, so sunlight was hardly a priority. On the other hand, Jeremy’s significant other, Mariane, was human, and Colin had seen her in town often enough during daytime to know that she didn’t always sleep away the days with her lover.

Colin pulled up in front of the house, his eyes scanning the area as his fingers automatically switched off the ignition. He was getting a bad feeling about this. And if he’d learned one thing in twelve years as a Navy SEAL, it was to trust his feelings.

Especially the bad ones.

He opened his door quietly and stepped outside, standing perfectly still for a moment to listen. There was no sound. None at all, except the patter of the ever-present rain.

He backed toward the rear of his vehicle, his gaze never leaving the silent house in front of him. He grabbed his Sig Sauer P228 from where it rode in a holster on his right hip and ejected the magazine, dropping his eyes just long enough to check it carefully before slapping it back in with the ease of long practice. Popping the hatch on his Tahoe, he leaned into the cargo area and brought out a Benelli M4 S90 shotgun, a combat shotgun designed to kill humans. Or vampires.

Colin pulled the cargo door down, leaning his weight against it so it closed with a muted click.

And still not a sound from the house.

He didn’t like this. Didn’t like it at all. It had to be nearly sundown. It was difficult to tell sometimes with the heavy cloud cover, and he hadn’t exactly checked his Farmer’s Almanac this morning to find out the precise time of sunset. But it had to be close, and he sure as hell didn’t want to be snooping around Jeremy’s house when the vampire rose for the night, hungry and probably pissed if he found Colin lurking about uninvited.

But, he couldn’t walk away, either. Not with those screams Mrs. Fremont had reported.

Shaking his head, Colin racked the shotgun and rounded his truck, circling slightly to the left of the house. Finding nothing amiss, he crossed to the right and maneuvered through crowded trees around to the back. The rear of the house came into view and his stomach muscles clenched as adrenaline flooded his system.

Want more D.B.?

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