What’s In a Name?

If you’re friends with or follow a writer on social media platforms, you’ve probably heard them talk about blurb writing, or ‘blurbing’. Generally, this means they’re working on that short description of their book that goes on Amazon, or the back of a paperback. It’s usually a few hundred words (approx 100-300 on average, although there are the ones that are much shorter or much longer.) Sometimes it’s called a synopsis, although in other cases a synopsis is allowed to be longer.

Most writers are not a fan of blurbing.

Why? Well, summarizing an entire work in 150 words isn’t easy. This is our baby we’re trying to tell you about. It’s hard to decide what to highlight and what to leave for the reader to discover later.

The blurb for A Single Heartbeat took me several days to write. I had a rough idea of what I wanted, but a good blurb needs to be sharp. It takes honing. The final blurb, the one that went up on Amazon, is just a smidge over 150 words.

After 200 years, the nightlife has lost its allure for Reese. A leader among his kind, owner of a nightclub that serves as a banquet of nubile flesh and hot blood, he is bored out of his mind.

His heart hasn’t stirred in over a century.

Born to a line of vampire hunters, Will ventures out every day after dark to track down those creatures who have crossed the line from feeding to murder, and destroy them.

All he wants is one night off to drink and dance and get laid.

Too bad it’s not his lucky night. Or maybe it is?

Not even witnessing Will stake one of his brethren is enough to quell the lust that Reese feels from his first glimpse of the gorgeous hunter. And though Will knows how dangerous it could be to take the sensual invitation in Reese’s dark eyes, he can’t resist.

Why fight when they could fuck instead?

That’s a blurb. Introduce the main character(s), tell the reader a little about them, and then hint at what’s to come in the story. You don’t want to give everything away. You want to entice the reader to buy your book. It’s like the literary version of a movie trailer.

Sometimes, we also have to write a logline. A logline (or tagline) is even shorter than a synopsis or blurb. It’s a one line stinger.

Normally, I’m not a fan of coming up with these either. They can be even harder than blurbs. I mean, ONE LINE? Are you kidding me? But, thanks to some erotica gods somewhere, the logline for A Single Heartbeat came to me pretty easily. And I actually quite like it.

Nature made them adversaries, but one glance ignites a lust stronger than the need for blood.

Now that MLR Press has accepted A Kiss of Brimstone, the follow-up novella, I’ve just had to do another blurb and logline for that. This time was much more of a struggle, honestly. Andras and Ben’s story was more difficult for me to encapsulate. I needed to find something that hit the right mood.

After much tweaking and fiddling, I finally came up with something I was happy with. I’ll most likely be sharing that here in the near future, once I’ve gotten the go-ahead on it from Jennifer, my editor.

But, that’s not what this whole blog post is about, believe it or not.

No, I actually discovered something that was harder and more painful than blurbing OR coming up with a logline. I didn’t think it was possible, but I was wrong.

See, when I wrote A Single Heartbeat, it was supposed to be a one off. A fun, short, sexy romp between a vampire and a vampire slayer. But then… well, then Andras and Ben happened. Not long after A Single Heartbeat was published, I got this image in my head of another fight in an alley. Only, this time, the vampire hunter stumbled on the fight and ended up coming face-to-face with a demon. I saw the demon towering over him, looking fearsome, a long serpentine tongue flicking out to taste the air. And thought he looked terribly frightening, I knew he wasn’t. He was actually a kind soul, perhaps even a bit on the shy side.

Thus, A Kiss of Brimstone was born, with Andras’ otherworldly looks and soft heart.

It was while working on the rough draft of AKoB that it became clear the world I was exploring was vast, and that there were many stories to tell in it. Some of the players have already revealed themselves to me, and began whispering me their tales.

Which, it turns out, is a double-edged sword.

On the one hand, it’s a wonderful thing! I am quite enjoying getting to know and understand the world and all the creatures living in it. And I think people will enjoy the upcoming stories just as much as they’re enjoying A Single Heartbeat. MLR even seems interested in publishing more of them. All great stuff.

But, as good as all that is, it means I had to come up with a name for the series.

A small inconvenience in the grand scheme of things, for sure. But, damn, was it hard!

Having a series name is great for letting readers know that books are connected, the way A Single Heartbeat & A Kiss of Brimstone are. It makes a lot of practical and marketing sense. Branding is everything! And in paranormal romance & erotica, there are a lot of series.

Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark. Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling series, and her Guild Hunter series. Anne Bishop’s Others series. The list goes on and on and on and on.

Which added an extra layer of difficulty.

How to come up with a series title that not only fits my series, but one that isn’t already taken?

I agonized for DAYS. Went through lists of ideas, throwing most of them out. I Googled dozens of different permutations, and cursed when one came up as already in use. At one point, I thought I had an epiphany, I found one I really liked… only to find out that a New York Times best-selling author was already using it for a romance/erotica series.

Banging my head against the keyboard began to seem like a really good idea, like maybe it would shake something loose.

Poor Beta Team Voltron, I pestered them endlessly. “What do you think of this? How ’bout this? THIS ONE? OR THIS ONE?!”

I’m surprised they’re all still speaking to me.

And then, after I don’t even remember how long, I finally came up with something I sort of liked. (I say sort of because by that point I was so frazzled that I wasn’t sure.) I crossed my fingers and toes and held my breath and plugged it into Google.

Wonder among wonders, not only was there no book series showing up with that title, there were no books with it PERIOD. Could it really be?

I went through the first 5 pages on Google, and nothing. My heart was pounding. My hands were clammy.

“This is it,” I thought.

But first, I had to run it by BTV. Those ladies are always super honest with me, unafraid to poke holes in my paper boats and sink them, if need be.

When none of them came back with a vehement, “It’s shite,” I finally began to feel a bit of hope.

Still, I didn’t want to rush the process. I made myself sit on the title for at least 24 hours before going back to it, turning it over in my mind and seeing how it tasted on my tongue.

A little over a day later, I looked at the words again and found I liked them even more. Maybe it’s just Stockholm Syndrome, given how abominable the process was, but I don’t think so. You tell me.

A Single Heartbeat and A Kiss of Brimstone are now the first two novellas in the Out in the Shadows series!

I liked Out in the Shadows for several reasons. First, I felt like it fit with the tone of the series, the supernatural creatures and the things happening after dark. Second, I liked the way it worked with the existing titles. On Amazon (and other retail sites) you can include the series title in the book title. So it looks like this: A Single Heartbeat (Out in the Shadows #1)

The third reason I like the series title so much is that it’s a bit of a wink, a play on words.

It not only emphasizes the paranormal aspect of the stories, I think, but considering the main characters are all openly somewhere on the LGBTQ+ spectrum, it gives ‘out’ a double meaning.

So, after all the fuss and angsting, I am pretty happy with the result. Thank the gods.

What do you think? Tell me in the comments below!

~xxxM

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