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There are a lot of books out there and all of these books have titles. Although I’ve been writing professionally since 2011, the most difficult part of writing is —besides choosing the name for your character—is picking a title for your story. The title has to serve so many functions: it has to draw the reader in, it has to be (usually) short enough to fit on the book cover and still be readable, and it has to give some sort of idea about the story.
Unless I get hit by a bolt out of the blue, it’s a struggle for me to get a title for a story. Usually, I harass my writer friends (whom I’ve also harassed to read the book in the first place) to give me a title. Did I say harass? I meant ‘beg and plead’. I can write a passable blurb. I’m even getting the knack of taglines. But my titles? Not so fast there!
My first professionally published book was titled “Kitty Wishes” about a shapeshifting cat. Boy, did I dodge the bullet on that one, because the title hit me right before the story did. Little did I know, the title road ahead would be difficult.
However, despite my hemming and hawing, I was able to do a few good titles, but I got stumped once. It was a zombie short story and no matter how I searched and thought and searched again, I couldn’t come up with something catchy. A friend of mine offered “Duty to the Dead” which was wonderful because it gives the zombie vibe, as well as a tiny clue as to what the story is about.
I got smart after that. Because I’m a lover of music, especially 80s, I found a treasure trove of titles for my (sort of) new music series. Not only are the titles usually short, but they give an immediate sense of what the story is about. Saved!
Melodies of Love is my newest series that will be coming your way in September. The titles are: True Blue, Never Walk Away, and Unbreak my Heart. Now, La Belle Bete is also part of the series, but alas, the title came before the concept. I thought about renaming it to The Tender Trap, but hey, you can’t have it all.
So, now I turn to you: As readers, what title attracts you to a book? Writers, how do you come up with your titles? Do they hit you out of the blue, or do you have to work at them like I do? Leave your thoughts in the comments.
Ida B. Wells-Barnett totally bit a train conductor and then turned around and sued the railroad.
This month marks the marked the 105th anniversary of the March, 1913 suffrage parade in Washington staged to coincide with Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration. To mark the 100th occasion of this occurrence, many woman’s groups gathered in Washington (in 2013) to recreate this parade and celebrate how far women have come since the original march. Nice, right? Did you know the original organizers of the march wanted the Black women to march in the back?
Let’s take a closer look, without the rose-colored glasses. Woman’s suffrage was not for all women. The National American Woman’s Suffrage Association, in order to play nice with southern women, requested the black women march in the back of the parade rather than with their state delegations. Remember now, the very point of the march was to promote EQUALITY. Hmmmm. Anyone else see a problem here?
Mary Church Terrell, another leader of the Black woman’s suffrage movement, agreed to “make nice”. She was willing to sacrifice the mission of the Black women fighting the battle on two fronts: sexism, and racism in order to pacify the “big names” in the woman’s movement. Certainly her reasoning was sound in some ways. I’m sure she thought if the feminist battle was won, then the white women would fight against racism. However, given that the very feminists she wanted to fight for black women later, refused to fight for them now makes me think her reasoning was a little off.
There was another woman who disagreed with Mary Church Terrell’s stance: Ida B. Wells-Barnett. She once bit a train conductor who tried to forcibly remove her from a train car after she refused to leave the ladies’ car for a smoker car. This was a woman who had written several pamphlets condemning the practice of lynching and lived with death threats from whites. Of all women, she was not going to pander to the wishes of a racist South.
Refusing to conform to the designated black ranks, she “hid out” until her delegation had passed, then surged into the group of white women — some hostile, some not — and took her rightful place in the Illinois group. According to the timeline on the site http://idabwells.org, her actions began the integration of the movement. She also had to be protected from the other women in the delegation who were, ah, slightly peeved that an (uppity) Negro woman dared march among their ranks, after she had been explicitly told not to.
Now that’s bravery.
It is unfortunate that Mrs. Wells-Barnett isn’t a more prominent figure in history, especially in the context of women’s suffrage and the civil rights movement. Mind you, many of the websites that give biographies of Mrs. Wells-Barnett either gloss over the march, or don’t mention it at all. However, a bit of research can reveal how forward thinking and courageous this woman really was, to take on men (black and white) AND white women.
Check out the little story I wrote about the suffrage parade here.
Ida B. Wells: Civil Rights Activist
When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America
Ida B. Wells: Crusade for Justice
Ida B. Wells Memorial Foundation
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Title: The Ritual
Genre: Horror, Drama, Snoozefest
Summary: A group of college friends reunite for a trip to the forest, but encounter a menacing presence in the woods that’s stalking them. (from IMDB)
Starring: This Guy, That Guy, Glasses Guy, Red Coat Guy
Usually I’m down for a horror movie where the actors go on a hike and get lost in the woods. They can find anything there, from an evil killer, to a time loop or even a supernatural force that will tear them limb from limb. A good monster, such as Bigfoot or the Jersey Devil does well too. Alsi, alien invasions, government experiments gone wrong or mechanic cannibals.
Basically, anything. I’ve seen everything I’ve listed and more and have enjoyed the movie at one level or another.. or simply turned it off halfway through.
The Ritual is based on a book that my daughter is currently reading which I was unable to snatch from her fingers. She asked for it for Christmas, but she was so busy reading her novels for the Battle of the Books that I didn’t have the heart to take it from her and was too cheap to buy a Kindle copy.
The best horror movies can go one of two ways- you either care about the characters and hate seeing them in trouble, sitting through many nail biting moments, or you take the killing in stride and giggle gleefully as each person is picked off.
The Ritual, in short was neither of these. Despite some random chatter at the beginning which introduces us to the characters, immediate followed by a tragedy, I could not muster up any real emotion for the characters. So I settled into gleefully watch them wander around the woods and get picked off.
This was not to be. As a traditionally shot feature, I did not get the requisite introduction of the crew via straight talk to the camera. To me those are both fun and cheesy and allows you to bond (or not) with the character of your choosing.
Not only did I not feel a bond, the movie took a while to reach the action. After the tragedy, they go on the hike. Some introspection and discussion later, someone does something which then requires a shortcut to be taken. And I use the term ‘someone’ deliberately. I honestly could not tell one character from the other in tone. Though they all looked different, they all were so bland as to be basic clones of each other. I ended up labeling them “glasses guy”, “the one with the reddish coat” etc.
Whew, I think. The movie was finally getting underway. Boy was I wrong.
By the time they got to the meat of the movie, I was checking the time on my Ghost Rider watch. (A movie that I liked, by the way, in the face of much criticism.) Simply put, even the flashes of “something in the night”, growling and mysterious symbols on trees did nothing for me.
When you see what is really happening, the first thing I thought of was M. Night Shamalayan’s “The Village” and not in a good way. I kept wondering, if people were disappearing like this, would the authorities eventually send out search parties? Maybe things are different in Sweden.
By the final act of the movie, I just didn’t care. There was an inkling of sort of thought as to personal grief and soul-pain, but….not enough to redeem the movie. It was like The Village crossed with The Wicker Man on heroin. A huge snooze.
I can’t even recommend this for fun. Skip it. I’ll update the post when I read the book.
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars for the monster. If you’re not into seeing that, skip it.
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Whoooa! What’s going on? This post is primary addressed to writers, but is applicable for anyone who creates.
Writers! Yes, I’m talking to you: Treat your Writing like Men treat their D*cks
I’ve read so many self-deprecating writer speak that it ceases to be funny. “I’m not any good.” “I write crap.” “No one likes my work.” “Why am I doing this?”
Stop the madness, because personally I’m sick of it. And don’t get all up on your high horses, “Humph. Who does Dahlia think she is?” Nope, don’t even go there because I used to feel the same way. Let’s take a look.
Welcome to the world of self-deprecating writers. Have a seat. Sit down. Have a drink. Now that you know you’re there, here’s how to get out of it.
Remember Steve Harvey’s crap book/movie “Act like a Lady, Think like a Man?” Well, I can’t stand anything about Steve Harvey, but even a broken-ass clock is right twice a day. The grain of truth in this title can certainly be applied to writers.
“Treat your writing like a man treats his d*ck”
This is a bare bones joke, but you’ll get the meaning:
An elephant gets a thorn caught in his foot, and a mouse happens to pull it out. To show his gratitude, the elephant says he’ll do any favor that the mouse wants. The mouse says “I’ve always wanted to f**k an elephant”. The elephant says o.k., the mouse lifts the elephants tail and starts going to town. About that time a coconut falls out of a tree and bonks the elephant on the head. The elephant says “Ow!”, and the mouse says something like … “That’s right, bitch, you’re going to take it no matter how much it hurts!”
That mouse just KNEW he was packing a heavy package.
I have two boys, and from the time they knew what was going on between their legs, it was like a pop gun to them. When those pants came off, the fun began. “Pew, pew!” they’d say, grabbing it and running around pointing it at everyone. It got to the point where my daughter (in between them in age) bumped her crotch on something and cried, “I hurt my penis.” The influence is strong, folks. Not only could you pee on the run, but you could shoot people with it. How handy!
While I am not a man, I’m married to one and asked him about the mystery of the penis. Men love their penises, he told me. They even let them take the lead in decision making every once in the while.
I was amazed. The penis, making life-altering decisions? That just goes to show how very valued and important they are.
Which brings me back to your writing. No matter how big, how small your writing may be, you need to treat it like the best thing that you’ve ever done on paper. Of course, it can always get better, but those words on the screen are pretty darn good right now. Because they’re THERE.
I had a dream that I had lunch with George W. Bush. (He’s a friend in my head, by the way.) He looks like the type who would bring his own bottle to a lunch and pick up the tab without hesitation. Anyhoo, he and I were having lunch (at a very nice restaurant, by the way,) and he said to me, “As long as you act like you know what you’re doing, people will believe anything you say.”
I.Kid.You.Not. That’s what W said to me. And why shouldn’t I listen to a two-term President? Bonus points: He has a penis.
So, writers. Treat your art like your very own penis. Adore it, love it, find ways to make it better. Polish it, rub it down, make it happy. Above all, do not denigrate or belittle it. As you do, others will follow suit. Once you do this, you will gain more confidence. You will gain more creativity. You will become true to your art and will be so much better for it.