Welcome back, guest Sharon L. Dean and a #giveaway

Guest Sharon L. Dean joins us for a discussion about titles. She’s here in support of two of her books, Leaving Freedom, which will be rereleased in June and Finding Freedom, the new sequel, which will be published simultaneaously.

Sharon will be giving away one copy each of Leaving Freedom and Finding Freedom to one lucky commenter below.

Take it away, Sharon!

Titles

What’s in a title? A lot. A few titles of books I’ve read plunge me into the world I once felt a part of. The Scarlet Letter conjures an image of Hester Prynne, a scarlet A visible on her bosom, standing in front of a pillory with her child. Say Moby-Dick and I’m in a “damp, drizzly November” with Ismael calling to me along with Queequeq to join Captain Ahab on the Pequod.

The Great Gatsby sets me next to a man in a pink suit looking across his lawn at a sparkling party. Move me forward in time and I’m on The Road with Cormac McCarthy’s father and son, wandering among “charred and limbless trunks of trees,” looking for anything to help survive the apocalypse.

I recently picked up John Irving’s The Last Chairlift, despite its 800+ pages. I wanted to relive my days skiing in the mountains of northern New England. It rewarded me with mentions of Olympic skiers whose names I remember, with descriptions of the stem christie, and unexpectedly, with hilarious commentary on Moby-Dick. His protagonist, like Irving and like me, writes in longhand. They use semi-colons, a punctuation mark I abandoned when I abandoned writing books with footnotes.

A title alone returns me to books I’ve read and loved. But what title would cause me to pick up a new book? No cover art––though that’s as important as a title––no jacket blurb. I checked a few titles in the New York Times Book Review that interest me. Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow (Gabrielle Zevin) for its reference to Shakespeare; Murder Your Employer (Rupert Holmes), something tempting for many; The Writing Retreat (Julia Bartz), compelling for a writer like me; Mad Honey (Jodi Picoult), a toxic substance that figures in my novella Six Old Women. Likely I’ll never read any of these, but note the fun I just had with semi-colons.

How much do I struggle finding my own titles? My first novel, Tour de Trace, is set during a bicycle trip along Mississippi’s Natchez Trace, an easy echo of the Tour de France. Death of the Keynote Speaker seemed perfect. It describes exactly what happens early in my novel. My surprise came after it was published and I discovered another novel that came out at the same time, Death of a Keynote Speaker. I wonder if Sara Elliott Sommerville has sold more copies than I have. Now I always check titles before I decide on one.

I felt good about The Wicked Bible, the second in my Deborah Strong mystery series, until someone asked if the novel was anti-religious. Not at all, I assured her. There’s a Bible printed in 1631 dubbed The Wicked Bible because of a misprint that reads, “Thou shalt commit adultery.” My typos are never that bad.

Titles guide me as I write and usually they come early and easily. That was not the case with Leaving Freedom, scheduled to be re-issued in June by Encircle Publications. I was still struggling to find a title when the novel was fully drafted. I bantered around ideas with my critique group. Finally, we landed on Leaving Freedom, a title that captures what I wanted for the novel. My protagonist, Connie Lewis, leaves her hometown of Freedom, Massachusetts, a town whose name I also worked hard to find because I didn’t want to name it after a real town in that state. Only by leaving freedom does Connie find freedom from her past and a successful path to her future.

The sequel to Leaving Freedom, Finding Freedom, is also scheduled for a June publication by Encircle Publications. The title was a no-brainer as Connie, now eighty-years-old embarks on a last adventure by driving from Oregon where she’s lived for forty years back to Freedom, Massachusetts. She’s alone and free to decide where she will live out the remaining years of her life.

But there’s a duplicate title issue again. Finding Freedom is a New York Times best seller by Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand about Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Fortunately, you can’t copyright titles. Maybe people googling the now not-so-royal couple will find my novel. Maybe the title will help sell a few copies.

Readers: Titles matter. What kind of title draws you in? One lucky commenter will receive Leaving Freedom and Finding Freedom.

About Finding Freedom

Leaving Freedom, reissued by Encircle Publications in June 2023, took Connie Lewis from her home in Freedom, Massachusetts, to Florida with her aging mother and then to Ashland, Oregon, where she found success as a writer and a place to call home. Now, in the sequel Finding Freedom, Connie is eighty years old and has exchanged the Volkswagen she called The Yellow Sub for a Honda Fit she’s nicknamed Last Chance. She’s ready for a last adventure and will use a drive across the United States to write a travel narrative she’ll call Travels with Connie.  From gospel singers in the little town of Fossil, Oregon, to a famous painter in Glacier National Park, to turtle races in Perhem, Minnesota, to a twelve-year-old grandniece who teaches her about the lives of modern tweens, she finds more material for her book than she expected. Both going and coming back, she solved mysteries that help her to understand how the world changes even as it remains the same. Will she complete her journey in Massachusetts where she was born, the Oregon she has learned to call home, or somewhere she hasn’t expected?

You can pre-order Finding Freedom on the publisher’s website: https://encirclepub.com/product/finding-freedom/

Author website: https://sharonldean.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/267389.Sharon_L_Dean

About Sharon L. Dean

Sharon L. Dean grew up in Massachusetts where she was immersed in the literature of New England. She earned undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of New Hampshire, a state she lived and taught in before moving to Oregon. Although she has given up writing scholarly books that require footnotes, she incorporates much of her academic research as background in her mysteries. She is the author of three Susan Warner mysteries , three Deborah Strong mysteries, and a collection of stories called Six Old Women and Other Stories, Her novel Leaving Freedom will be reissued on June 14, 2023 along with a sequel Finding Freedom. Dean continues to write about New England while she is discovering the beauty of the West.

44 Thoughts

  1. Congrats on your upcoming book release. I like titles that give me a hint on what’s inside the pages.

  2. Welcome back, Sharon, and congratulations on the rereleases!

    Oh, titles. They can be so hard. One of my series needs foodie-punny titles, and I’m terrible at puns, so I crowd-source those. One of my tasks this week is to find a new non-punny title for the second book in my new series, and I’m stumped. Maybe I’ll crowd-source that, too.

  3. I like a cleverly worded title. It can be fun or hints at the content of the book. Thank you for this chance at your giveaway. pgenest57 at aol dot com

  4. Personally, I love titles that are a play on words or those that give a little hint to the content in a fun way. There’s also those titles that draw you, but really only make sense after reading the book, which are so cool too. Guess I’m a visual person because it’s the cover that draws me first and then followed up by the title.

    Congratulation on the rerelease of LEAVING FREEDOM and new release of FINDING FREEDOM! Thank you for your most generous offering of both in your giveaway. I would love the opportunity to read and review them both.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  5. A title can conjure up memories so if it has meaning it can bring up some powerful thoughts. I enjoy reading all kinds of literature and the title is one that attracts and makes you wonder what is inside.

  6. I do enjoy fun, creative titles. Especially when the book has a neat book cover. That will definitely catch my eye in a book store!

    Thanks for the chance! You are a new author to me!

  7. I love quirky titles and titles with literary references like Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow (what a surprise to discover that the Shakespeatean title graces a book about gaming!) I also find punny titles very appealing.

    When I taught creative writing to high students there were always a few who couldn’t begin without first deciding on a title. It was so difficult to convince them that the title could come last or to use a working title that could be changed later!

  8. Congratulations on the release. I like titles that reflect the type of book and give me a hint as to what the story is about.

  9. Love your musings on titles and their promises. You are very good at finding intriguing titles — and they never disappoint when one reads the work. Looking forward to “Finding Freedom.”

  10. Great to meet you Sharon, and congrats on your new book and the reprinted one. I love your explanation of the titles, which I know I will enjoy reading. Titles that attract me are punny or quirky ones, which after a second, give you a hint about what the plot may be, such as Barbara’s “Hidden Beneath”, or Maddie’s “Four Leaf Cleaver” or Sherry’s “Rum and Choke”. Thank you for sharing your writing magic with us eager readers!!! luis at ole dot travel

  11. Congratulations Sharon! Your books sound captivating and interest me greatly. Titles that are close to the story as much as possible.

  12. I like titles that are relevant to the book and hint at what is there. But I really love pun! Guess that’s why I’m such a sucker for a good titled cozy.

  13. Congratulations on the Freedoms! I like a title that gives a hint of something in the novel, but as a Kindle reader I find they are not that important as I never see them again after the book is loaded!

  14. Congratulations on your double release. I like a clever title as well as a colorful cover, it’s what makes me pick up the book and see what the story is about.

  15. congrats on the new release. i’m not sure if i’m drawn to a certain type of title or not. Never really paid much attention as to what grabbed me. now the cover itself that is certainly important to me.

  16. Congrats on your upcoming release!!! I love how the titles connect! & The cover artwork makes me want to go road tripping 🙂 So rad!

  17. I would have to say if the title paints the picture for the cover. I usually pick a book by it’s cover unless it is an author that I follow. Congratulations on your releases. Thank you so much for sharing. God bless you.

  18. This is really a difficult question for me because I don’t read a book based solely upon the title. I generally continue with another book in the same series. Also, I look at book recomendations given to me from Goodreads and also from my local library. The picture on the cover is also a factor. I wish that I could be more specific about the title!

  19. Congratulations on the rereleases! I personally am fond of the punny titles.

  20. I like punny titles, those that ask questions, and those that tell me just enough about the book to intrigue me.

  21. Great covers. I would have no idea how to title anything. Isaac Asimov complained that he was always having his titles for his Black Widowers short stories changed by his editor and would change them back when he put 12 of them into a book.

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