Thursday, January 24, 2013

Undead Thursdays -Guest Blogger - Elizabeth Brooks

Hello! And welcome back to another edition of Undead Thursdays, a special blog event I`m having every Thursday in January to celebrate the release of the anthology He Loves Me For My Brainssss from Torquere Press that includes my novella Two Guys Walk Into An Apocalypse.

Every Thursday we`ll have guest bloggers that have written or worked on zombie tales or articles. We`ll also have a new book review of a zombie book that I really enjoyed amid all the undead love from my fellow scribes! All in all it should be a great time getting to meet new authors and zombie aficionados.

Today I`m very happy to have the lovely lady who edited the He Loves Me For My Brainsss anthology, Elizabeth Brooks. Liz will be talking about something nearly as frightening as zombies, trying to pick a title for your work or writing a blurb! *Shudders at the mention of a blurb*

Take it away, Liz!


I'm not going to talk about zombies, actually. If I could write coherently about zombies -- if I could be as eerie and elegant as Lynn was in last week's guest post, or as funny as V.L. is, in her story in He Loves Me For My Brainsss -- I'd have written a story about zombies, instead of deciding to edit an anthology about them. (I've written an erotica/horror story, but it's about succubi, not zombies. And "Dead On Her Feet" sounds like it should be a zombie story, but it's really just about a very tired soldier.)

I'm going to talk about blurbs and titles.

I've only been in the writing and editing business for a few years, so I don't claim to be an expert. And every author is different. Some like writing in the wee hours of morning; some stay up late. Some write in offices on computers; others scribble their ideas on notepads in coffee shops. Some stick to a rigid outline; others prefer to fly by the seat of their pants. They love men or they love women or both or neither. They are men or women. Or both. Or neither.

But in my (admittedly limited) experience, one thing is nearly universal: they hate writing blurbs. You know, those 1-2 paragraph descriptions that (on a physical book) go on the back to give you a hint of what the story is about and entice you to buy it?

Almost every author I've ever met hates writing them. Admittedly, they're tricky -- I've seen otherwise perfectly good stories panned in review simply because it wasn't the story the reviewer expected from reading the blurb. You have to capture the essence of the tale without giving too much away; you have to introduce at least one main character, offer up a thread of the plot, suggest the story's overall tone, and hook the reader's interest... and you have to do it in, usually, about 75 words.

I'm a bit of a novelty, in this respect; I quite enjoy writing my blurbs. Usually. Probably, I suspect, for the same reason that I like writing to prompts or doing flash-fiction -- the challenge of it appeals to me. In fact, one of my latest writing techniques when I'm stuck is to start with a blurb, and build outward from there.

No, the bit of writing administrivia that gives me the worst headache is the one that seems like it should be the easiest: the title.

I hate coming up with titles. Come to think of it, I hate coming up with names, too. Naming things seems to define them, to squash them into a box that I wasn't yet sure they were meant to fit into. I'll waffle longer over my protagonist's name than I will over the entire first chapter. And most of my publications were drafted entirely without titles. I referred to them with temporary names that couldn't possibly carry onward to publication: "That one about the telepaths." Or, "the re-write of that gaming story I wrote ten years ago." Or, "the one about that adorable twink I met that one time."

Sometimes, the title will make itself known to me while I'm still writing. That was the case for Of One Mind and "The Sinner's Star" and "Succubus, Inc". More often, I'll get to the end, go through a revision or two, and still not know the title, in which case I'll grumble and mutter and re-read until a phrase or a thought from the story pokes out and lets me know that it's significant enough to be worthy of the cover. Sometimes I feel pretty good about the title once I've found it, as I did for Safe Harbor (which had "Rising Dawn" as a working title), and sometimes I still hate it months after publication, when it's far too late to change (I'm looking at you, Assumption of Desire).

(Sometimes I long for the days when I was writing merely for my own amusement, and that of a few friends, and could get away with unhelpful titles like "[Protagonist]'s Story" or using resonant song lyrics.)

But every once in a very long while... a title will come to me out of the blue. The title spawns the story, so to speak. It's why He Loves Me For My Brainsss came to exist. I was thinking about the rise of zombies in popular culture, and I thought, "I don't really see that becoming a trend in the erotic romance genre. I mean... ew." And then I thought, "What would you call it, anyway? Heartsss? No, no one would get it. I Love You, But I Love Brainsss? Blah."

And then, like a bolt of out of the clear blue sky: He Loves Me... For My Brainsss.
Having achieved such a wonderful title, I obviously had to make it happen. That title could not exist merely in my head. I had to make it a real thing that people could actually own. And so it came to pass.

Privileged as I was to be working with such fantastic authors on the anthology, I only saw a little grumbling when it came time to do the blurbs. But I smiled right through it, knowing that my hardest task -- the title -- had been settled long since.

--Elizabeth L. Brooks


Thanks so much for guest blogging, Liz. I hope to be able to work with you again someday over at Torquere Press, you`re a great editor. Next Thursday Georg Veramme will wrap up our Undead Thursdays with a gripping story he wrote about watching a zombie outbreak overtake the planet from the confines of space. I know, it`s an awesome premise for an awesome work and I`m thrilled that he`s sharing it with us here next week!

No comments: