Monthly Archives: August 2011

Enter Title Here

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As I continue muddling through my writing degree, I often think about how many words I’ve typed on this computer. The number is most likely astounding and hard to comprehend, much like the current national debt, and to be honest I’ve probably forgotten most of the content. What tends to stick are the titles. I’m not talking about the generic assignment headings, but the real honest to God titles that I’ve sat and thought about.

I tend to be a post completion titler. I like knowing exactly where I’ve been and how I completed the journey before I decide to name it, but there are a few occasions when the title can inspire a piece of work. Here are a few tips I use when brainstorming a title.

1. BE PATIENT

First, don’t try to title something the instant you’ve finished. You’ll probably be brain dead and name it something stupid. Wait an hour, a day, or the amount of time it takes for the caffeine to hit your system. This way you are approaching your masterful work with fresh eyes and a fresh mind.

2. DON’T GET TOO ATTACHED

If it’s one of the rare occasions you find you have such a kick-ass title that you have to build a story around don’t get too attached. This process is like a relationship and you don’t want to commit to anything too early. Sure you should jot it down, remember it, take it out to dinner, but write about whatever comes organically. Don’t force your writing to match the title. Once you’ve finished maybe you’ll find that title is perfect, but maybe it isn’t and now you have all your options open.

3. WRITE IT OUT

Get a pencil and paper and write down what ever comes to your brain. I’m talking everything. Silly, stupid, made-up words, anything and everything. The phrase you least expect may be the perfect match. Now when I said a paper and pencil, I’m serious. While I dearly love my macbook, there is something about the process of writing in my own hand that triggers another part of my brain. I doodle around it, draw arrows connecting or linking words. I viciously underline to make a point, until finally I’ve found a title that looks good on paper.

4. SAY IT OUT LOUD

Now read it out loud. Preferably while your home alone, or in your room by yourself, somewhere you don’t look like a raving lunatic for shouting a random phrase. If it sounds good, say it again, and if it still sounds good you’ve got yourself a title.

Oh, and here’s another helpful tip. Stay away from puns. It may seem clever at the time, but later you’ll look back on it and wonder what you were thinking.

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Blogs about…

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I found three blogs aspiring authors should definitely take a look at. They’re run by literary agents, Nelson agency is even in Denver, and make the path to publication even easier!

http://pubrants.blogspot.com/– Pub rants, short for publishing rants, not bar complaints, is run by Kristen Nelson. She owns a literary agency in Denver and posts tips and tricks for getting noticed by agents. Her informal posts are typically weekly and give great information for those seeking representation. The clean, user friendly design is easy to navigate and fun to read. My favorite section is about nailing your query letter. She even gives examples of queries she loved!

http://blog.nathanbransford.com/– Nathan Bransforf’s blog is loaded with fantastic information. As former agent for Curtis Brown Ltd. he knows all about representing big time authors. The layout is a tad cluttered, but it is all relevant information and wanna-be authors will love his funny, but extremely valuable advice. He has won numerous awards for this site and gives writers everywhere an inside look at what really goes down in the publishing world.

http://jetreidliterary.blogspot.com/– Janet Reid another literary agent uses a sassy, personal style of giving information in her blog. It may not always be about sinking a book deal, but it is still informative and hilarious. I will say if you are specifically hunting for advice turn to Pub Rants or Bransford’s blog first, but if you are interested in a fun casual blog Reid is your cup of tea. Her layout is nothing special and just a typical template, but it’s easy to read and the book recommendations along the side are clever. The plain jane style really forces readers to really focus on the wit and humor of her blog rather any fancy text or banners.

My life is going to the dogs

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Dogs have always been a part of my life. I grew up with a yellow lab named Tally, I’ve volunteered at Humane Societies, fostered and trained a seeing-eye dog puppy, and recently I adopted my own precious mutt.

Tally and I getting ready for the big game

It all began on my fourth Easter morning when I found a special egg. Inside the pink plastic shell was the name Tally and directions to a nearby farm. At the farm a little ball of yellow fur was waiting, for me. Tally and I grew up together. We camped together, swan together, I even taught her how to dive underwater and fetch toys in the pool. She slept on the floor in my room and made it through 14 years of life right up until I graduated from high school. She was a great dog.

Next came Cronie, don’t worry we aren’t responsible for the name, she was named by a family that paid a lot of money to sponsor a guide dog. Cronie was destined for greatness. She came with an entire binder full of directions and guidelines. She was going to make a difference. She was also a little pill. Cronie was an interesting guide dog puppy; she peed in a blockbuster, tried to steal groceries, and had a penchant for chewing shoes. I think the final total to date is 14 pairs. But we all grew to love her, and when that fateful day came for her to go we all cried. However, about a month later a letter came. Cronie was chosen to be a breeder and she could come home. She had a litter of nine pups, seven golden labs and two black ones. They were so cute, and the best part was Cronie was now our pup to keep.

Cronie in her puppy coat

Cronie's pups

Then it was time for me to head off to college. I said goodbye to my dogs and packed up my car. The first month I was so busy I didn’t have time to miss them, but when things slowed down I sincerely began to miss my furry friends. I went to the only outlet I could think of the Stillwater Oklahoma Humane Society. I walked the dogs, giving them respite from the tiny kennels where they spent the day. It was fun and I once again had contact with some puppy love.

Rory and her pal Angie

Now I live in Colorado, and it wasn’t long before I succumbed to the desire to raise my own dog. I knew I wanted to adopt. My search led me to RROC, Retriever Rescue of Colorado and to Rory. Rory is a husky-lab mix and is one of the smartest and most mischievous dogs I’ve encountered. She came from a tough life, but now at nine months old she’s already 50 lbs. and when she jumps on two legs her paws reach my shoulders. She’s a pain in the butt just as often as she’s a blessing. But this dog is the epitome of man’s best friend, and I wouldn’t trade her for anything in the world.

Getting to know me

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Born in the beach side town of St. Petersburg, Florida, I have lived the majority of my life appreciating the sand and surf. It wasn’t until I moved to the mountains of Colorado that I realized snow is just as much fun.

Now I live in Denver with my dog, a lab/husky mix always following me around. I am a student at the University of Colorado studying English Writing, and crossing my fingers that some day I’ll see my name in print.