Book Titles vs. Character Names

What's harder for you to come up with, book titles or character names?

For sure the book title is harder. It’s so immediate, so vital as a first impression, akin to the book cover. You can draw a reader in or shoo them away. The names of characters, while important are rarely deal-breakers as far as someone picking up the book or even continuing to read. Interesting and meaningful character names do not necessarily matter in many cases and analyzing why an author named a character yields few results except in obvious cases like Voldemort.

In fact, obscure or everyday names are chosen more often than not to no ill effect. I sometimes
choose names from the credits of a movie or by combining first and last names I’ve heard. Human names are easy to come by and many are unique and interesting or common and easy to remember. Titles that tell you something about the story are rare and give so much of a feel to the entire text, especially before you have a completed cover. It's hard to overstate the pressure I feel when choosing a book title.

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Does Spring Make Me Write More?

I'm not much for seasons, times of day, or anything else for when I write. I don't have set times for writing. I write whenever I want to or need to write. The need could relate to completing a project on a deadline or be the release valve on an emotional explosion that needs to be defused. I've tried to write in a consistent manner all at the same time or about the things that I know best, but none of that matters much to me either. I write what strikes my fancy.

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Book Review: Livia Lone

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This book kicked butt! Livia is a truly powerful character. I loved the way Barry Eisler switched between her origin story, training, and the present mission she's engaged in. The first chapter is one of the best I've read in a long time – immediately drawing me into the world of crime and intrigue, along with a strong awareness of the predatory nature of some people. It also provides a glimpse into the world of white supremacist hate groups and their high level of organization. The fact that I read this book in less than a week says it all.

Spring & Rebirth

Springtime makes me think about rebirth, and of the rebirth of my connection to the Virgin Islands through writing and publishing my upcoming book, Dark Paradise. I lived in St. Thomas during my formative years and I often revisit the locales, smells, and sounds of my youth in my mind. But youth has a different outlook on the world.

When my father passed in 1995, I had to return and live in St. Thomas on my own for one month. I dealt with urgent matters and family squabbles. It was a haze of legality and drama. Then I left for law school and managed things from afar for three years.

At the conclusion of my degree, I returned for several months. I drove a rickety brown Toyota that took fifteen minutes to warm-up every morning. I’d go down, start the car, then go back inside to eat breakfast. It was the first time I’d spent driving on the island as anything except a passenger, and that painted a different, adult picture of my homeland. The daily grind of making a living, dealing with estate matters, and hiring a lawyer changed my naïve perception of the surrounding tropical beauty and the realization that no matter where you go, people are similar in fundamental ways. They show hate, greed, and envy. They torment each other in myriad ways, which is something I explore in Dark Paradise.

Picture of St. Thomas, courtesy of the St. Thomas Historical Trust.

Picture of St. Thomas, courtesy of the St. Thomas Historical Trust.

They also show love. In St. Thomas, people smile a lot. I smile a lot. My wife believes it’s the result of growing up in that culture. It’s inclusive. People accept your faults and your values. They will take you into their homes. As a white boy in an Afro-Caribbean culture, I was always treated as one of the family. I never felt like an outsider as a child. I felt more like an outsider as an adult.

I know what it’s like to leave a place that feels like home, then return years later. When my mother and step-father moved to St. Croix in 1984, they had to drag me kicking and screaming. I loved St. Thomas with a fiery passion. I had no desire to leave. That love is what triggered my desire to revisit my home world through fiction.

By writing this book, I’ve taken the opportunity to gain a better understanding of the history of the islands that I never learned in my youth. Some of the places I explore in my book are no longer there and I wish they were. The West Indian Manner, a guesthouse I actually grew up in, was torn down and replaced with government offices. Other venues were haunts of mine and my family, while others are only known to me anecdotally or in passing. Between my recent knowledge and my personal experiences, I have learned a lot about a place I feel so connected to, but could not explain to others so well.

I hope to bring both knowledge and an emotional resonance to the reader in Dark Paradise. Despite the outward changes, the Virgins still feel the same for me on a dimensional level. It’s instinctive. It’s in my bones. It’s home.

A brochure and picture of The West Indian Manner, a guesthouse I grew up in on St. Thomas, where Dark Paradise is set. 

A brochure and picture of The West Indian Manner, a guesthouse I grew up in on St. Thomas, where Dark Paradise is set. 

How Do I Celebrate Achieving a Writing Goal?

I share my success with the people who make it possible, especially my wife and my daughter. They are constantly inspiring me. They give me the room to be a writer and the things I learn from both of them come out in everything I write. I know it sounds cheesy, but getting the affirmation they give is the best part of achieving my successes. Anything after that is gravy, but they are the gist of my celebration. We might go for a nice meal and talk more about my writing, my wife may embarrass me, but also make me proud by bragging to friends and family about what I've achieved. Perhaps, I should come up with something else, but really there is nothing more I look forward to more than that first look and the hug of recognition they give. Nothing.

Submissions Blog Hop With Chrys Fey

Topic: How to rewire our brains to enjoy the submission process.

Response: And why not treat yourself to chocolate or something else you love for doing submissions? Mostly I get kind rejections and it does give a rush of dopamine or whatever makes you euphoric after sending out the query letter and/or manuscript. I like the treat idea, but I like the idea of doing something fun even more. Heck I'm going to treat myself for doing this blog hop! Keeping up with you bloggers is a feat. I think I'll go see Phantom Thread tonight.