Writing Tips: Heidi Chiavaroli


Today I’m happy to introduce Heidi to you…

Heidi Chiavaroli is a writer, runner, and grace-clinger who could spend hours exploring Boston’s Freedom Trail. She writes Women’s Fiction and won the 2014 ACFW Genesis contest in the historical category. She makes her home in Massachusetts with her husband, two sons, and Howie, her standard poodle. Visit her online at heidichiavaroli.com.

Finding Freedom With Your Writing Voice

One of my biggest struggles on my journey to publication was the often frustrating advice to “find my writing voice.” As if the giver of guidance was certain I even had one! But the more I wrote, and the more I inched (very slowly) toward my writing goals, the more I came to understand this complicated thing called “voice.” As it turned out, I did have one—and whether you believe it or not, you do too.

Here are a few things that have helped me find freedom in my writing voice over the years:

~ Read
You probably already do this, so have fun! Read and read widely. When you find an author you like, read as many books of theirs as you can. Often what we like about their style might be their voice. Are their words lyrical? Humorous? Blunt? If we read enough of a certain type of writing, we might just find that same style appearing in our own manuscript.

~ Write
You knew this was coming, right? But the more we write, the more freedom we find in our words. We loosen up a bit, maybe quit analyzing so much. It’s often here—when we’re not scared of breaking the rules—that our voice is set free.

~ Get Real
In his book, Writing the Breakout Novel, Donald Maass says, “To set your voice free, set your words free. Set your characters free. Most important, set your heart free.”

Don’t hold back with your writing. We are sometimes tempted to guard off the vulnerable pieces of our heart from spilling onto the page (or computer screen), but don’t. We only rob potential readers of the best stuff when we do this. Instead, we must let down our guard. Be honest and real with our words. Be vulnerable. Be free.

Your readers will thank you!



About “Freedom’s Ring”

From the Boston Marathon bombing to the American Revolution and the Boston Massacre, past and present intertwine to create an unexpected destiny.

Freedom’s Ring begins when an antique ring reunites a Boston Marathon bombing survivor with the man who saved her. Together they unearth the two-hundred-year-old history of a woman who suffered tremendous loss in the Boston Massacre—a woman torn between the love of two men—one a Patriot, one a Redcoat.

Writing News – July 23

I’ve had so much writing news lately, I’ve been afraid I’ve been overshadowing my wonderful guests! So, I’m shifting all that news to a day of its own, once a week on Sundays.

Where am I at in my writing, mid-July 2017?

My 50-book Jubilee, held on July 10th was a huge success. Almost 500 stopped by and a lot of fun was had by all. I felt like God gave me a week-long hug!

I have finished the rough draft of this year’s Christmas novella: Christmas Child (September release date.) Preston Marshall and Eliza Lampert plan on going their Rhode Island cotton mill’s annual masquerade as a soldier and servant girl working at Herod’s palace. They didn’t expect to have to defy the mill owner to rescue a child in danger.

I’m also busy working on devotions from part of fourteen Bible books (all of Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther and Romans) for the 2019 edition of Daily Wisdom for Women. I am thrilled to be writing devotions for a year-long plan to read through the Bible.

My publisher, Forget Me Not Romances, is celebrating Christmas in July. Nine of my Christmas stories and collection are available for 99 cents:

  1. An Advent Journey through Matthew
  2. An Apple for Christmas
  3. First Christmas
  4. Jacob’s Christmas Dream
  5. Christmas Mail Order Angels
  6. Open My Heart This Christmas
  7. Merry Matchmakers
  8. Matchmaker Mixup
  9. Merry Christmas, With Love

Upcoming interviews and events:

July 24 – interview and giveaway with Debbie Costello at http://www.debbielynnecostello.com/

July 24 – interview and giveaway with Donna Schlacter at http://www.historythrutheages.com/

July 27 – interview and giveaway with Catherine Hershberger at www.catherinecastle1.wordpress.com

July 27 – Facebook party: Christmas Mail Order Angels in July at https://www.facebook.com/events/110117242965812/

Writing News and Tips: Susan G. Mathis

I have lots of news to share with you today!


Almost 500 people stopped by my jubilee on July 10th!  I am excited about what lies ahead.

Individual stand-alone title #50, Mermaid’s Song, is included in book (stand alone or collection) #100 from Forget Me Not Romances: Love Everlasting (fairytales retold as historical romance.)  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073X28MBF/



I will be appearing on these blogs:

July 13: Jo Huddleston: http://www.johuddleston.com

July 17: Sarah Ruut: Faith, Fiction, and Fun http://sarahruut.com/

July 24: Donna Schlacter: History through the Ages  http://www.historythrutheages.com/


I’m also going to be involved in two Christmas in July Facebook parties:

Christmas Mail Order Angels: https://www.facebook.com/events/110117242965812/

Merry Matchmakers: https://www.facebook.com/events/265731327240789


Today I’m happy to welcome Susan G. Mathis to the blog.

Susan G Mathis is the vice president of Christian Authors Network. She is a versatile writer, creating both fiction and non-fiction for adults and children. Her debut novel, The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, came out on St. Patrick’s Day.

Before Susan jumped into the fiction world, her first two books were nonfiction, co-authored with her husband, Dale. Countdown for Couples: Preparing for the Adventure of Marriage and The ReMarriage Adventure: Preparing for a Life of Love and Happiness, have helped tens of thousands of couples. She is also the author of two published picture books, Lexie’s Adventure in Kenya: Love is Patient and Princess Madison’s Rainbow Adventure. Please visit www.SusanGMathis.com for more.

Writing Tip

As I began to write my second novel, The Fabric of Hope, I heard a sermon on the beatitudes. I’d heard a dozen or more sermons on that topic before, but as I pondered what the preacher talked about, I couldn’t help but applying it to the writing life.

Matthew 5 says that Jesus taught the multitudes, saying, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they, which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they, which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”

How can we apply the concept of “be-attitudes” to our writing life, our creative life, or just life in general in a new and fresh way? Although not in order of Matthew’s beatitudes, here’s what I came up with:

1. Be patient. Writing is perfected over time.
2. Be content. Enjoy the journey and stop wanting more.
3. Be prepared. Learn all you can about writing.
4. Be proactive. Schedule writing time and remember, you reap what you sow.
5. Be clear. Communicate well.
6. Be tenacious. It doesn’t matter how you feel; if God’s called you to write, never give up.
7. Be doers. Write! Write! Write!
8. Be connected. Find other writers and do life with them.
9. Be dead. Die to your personal plans and live for God’s plans for your writing life.

But Jesus wasn’t finished. He went on to say, “You are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.”

And then Jesus said, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

Writers, creatives, and friends, let your light shine!


About “The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy”

The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy is the story of an 1850s Irish immigrant and a 21st-century single mother who are connected by faith, family, and a quilt. After struggling to accept the changes forced upon her, Margaret Hawkins and her family take a perilous journey on an 1851 immigrant ship to the New World, bringing with her an Irish family quilt she is making. A hundred and sixty years later, her great granddaughter, Maggie, searches for the family quilt after her ex pawns it. But on their way to creating a family legacy, will these women find peace with the past and embrace hope for the future, or will they be imprisoned by fear and faithlessness? NOW available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.


Writing News and Tips: Kimberly Rose Johnson

I want to remind everyone that today is my 50 Book Jubilee over on Facebook. You can join the fun at https://www.facebook.com/events/1700850980218471


Today I’m also happy to welcome Kimberly.

Kimberly Rose Johnson married her college sweetheart and lives in the Pacific Northwest. From a young child Kimberly has been an avid reader. That love of reading fostered a creative mind and led to her passion for writing.

She especially loves romance and writes contemporary romance that warms the heart and feeds the soul.

Kimberly holds a degree in Behavioral Science from Northwest University in Kirkland, Washington. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers.


I’ve learned so much since I first started studying the craft of writing over ten years ago. The first lesson a seasoned writer ever taught me was that I needed to write a high concept story that readers wouldn’t be able to put down. I thought great. How am I supposed to do that? I’ve since discovered the key is to know your audience and what they expect in the kind of book you write.

Now that I know what is expected in my genre, contemporary romance, I must come up with story plots. For some people that is the hardest part of writing, for me, it’s probably the easiest. My mind never shuts off, and daydreaming is a constant in my life.

For me brainstorming starts with what if. What if a former actress turned restaurateur gets sucked into a children’s theater? What if a handsome man heads the children’s theater, but he doesn’t like the former A-list actress? What would happen? Do you see where I’m going? These are questions I asked myself when preparing to write An Encore for Estelle.

What if you don’t have any characters in mind or a setting, or a topic, or anything? What if you have nothing?

I would suggest you watch the news, read the paper, or sit at the mall and watch people. There are so many stories out there. I’m not suggesting writing a story ripped from the headlines, but why not use the headlines and ask what if?

The next step is to talk it out with someone and bounce ideas off of each other. Be sure to take notes. It’s difficult to remember every idea that gets brought up. Even if an idea doesn’t fit well with what you are going for, save it for the future. You never know if one of those ideas will work for a different story.

I wish much success as you brainstorm!


About “An Encore For Estelle”

A former A-list actress seeks to redeem herself in the most unlikely of places—a children’s theater. The writer/director didn’t anticipate a famous actress would ever show interest in his musical much less him. Will their pasts pull them apart or join them together?

You can sign up for Kimberly’s newsletter via her website at: http://kimberlyrjohnson.com/index.html

Amazon buy link: http://amzn.to/2pDQweE

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KimberlyRoseJohnson
Twitter: https://twitter.com/kimberlyrosejoh
Amazon Follow: https://www.amazon.com/Kimberly-Rose-Johnson/e/B00K10CR6E/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1435862403&sr=1-2-ent

July Books and Writing News


Darlene Franklin has just released book #50, MERMAID’S SONG, a retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale on the coast of Maine.

Join Darlene on July 10th for a come-and-go party celebrating 50 books! A box of books will be given away every hour, and her guests will include author Tracie Peterson, agent Terrie Wolfe, and editor Annie Tipton.

Learn more at https://www.facebook.com/events/1700850980218471/. Hope to see you there!


Now more about the Mermaid’s Song:

Noble Prescott is drawn to the scene of a shipwreck by a sweet song sung in a language he didn’t understand. The songstress is barely alive, holding onto a piece of the ship’s railing. Her dress wraps around her legs like a mermaid’s tail.

Thus begins this imaginative retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s classic fairy tale.

Justine Battineaux, an Acadian forced from her homeland on Cape Breton Island by British decree, finds herself adrift in the Maine colony. She doesn’t know the language and is distrusted as a foreigner.

Noble lives up to his name, providing shelter for Justine—and protection, as distrust turns into danger. For himself, his family—and the woman he comes to love.

How will Justine and Noble overcome the evil woman’s schemes to find their own love everlasting?


In other news:

Darlene Franklin is busy working on nonfiction projects for Barbour Publishing. She is writing the companion prayers for the text of A 12-Month Guide to Better Prayer for Women. She will also be contributing 2 months of devotions to 2019 collection of Daily Wisdom for Women. Writers’ Digest is considering an article by Darlene about lessons learned on the journey to fifty books.



Darlene is also doing galley edits on His Golden Treasure, included in Captive Brides, to be released on October 1. Her next novella, The Christmas Child, will be published about September 1, 2017.







Writing News and Tips: June Foster

I want to invite you all to my 50 Book Jubilee on July 10th on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1700850980218471/ I’m doing final edits on book #50, Mermaid’s Song, and it should be published by July 1st!

I also have two new collections for you to check out:

Open My Heart This Christmas (includes First Christmas): http://amzn.to/2t3zqMX

Maine: If there’s romance…it must be Maine (includes Acadian Hearts): http://amzn.to/2t3EBg6


Now let’s meet June…

An award-winning author, June Foster’s novels include Give Us This Day, As We Forgive, Deliver Us, Hometown Fourth of July, Ryan’s Father, Red and the Wolf, For All Eternity, Echoes From the Past, What God Knew, Misty Hollow, Lavender Field’s Inn, Christmas at Raccoon Creek, and Restoration of the Heart. Find June online at http://junefoster.com.

June’s True Confessions

As I prepared my post for Darlene, I asked what writing tips might readers find most helpful. Then it dawned on me. Why not share tips that sum up some of my own areas of weakness. I’m sure others can benefit as well. Before I list them, I must give credit to a former critique partner, Betty Noyes, for each of these suggestions.

The first set came when I was working on Deliver Us. Betty offered hints to make my hero, Riley Mathis, more believable.

*Go deeper into his emotions. Allow him to feel guilt over his past and let the reader perceive it by using precise language.
*Word choice can make or break a connection with readers. Choose words wisely.
*In highly emotional or action-packed scenes, remember that simple is better. This is not the time to use flowery language, but get the point across as succinctly as possible.
*On occasion I tend to describe too much for the reader. He poked the key in the ignition and revved the motor. Putting his foot on the gas, he accelerated then turned the corner at the end of the block. The reader can fill in the unimportant blanks.
*Vary sentence structure so that every sentence doesn’t start with the character’s name or a pronoun.

The next set of suggestions came when I was writing Misty Hollow. Again, Betty’s observations worked well in my story.

*Give the reader the benefit of the doubt. I’ve always had to tendency to over explain the situation or the character’s motives. I suppose part of the reason is I was an elementary teacher for thirty years. Teachers tend to say things over and over again.
*No need to contrive sentences merely to switch things around. Readers will lose interest if they have to stop and try to figure out what I’m saying.
*In Misty Hollow, I wrote my villain, the heroine’s father, with no redeeming qualities. Even a bad guy can be good sometimes.
*In Misty Hollow, Molly came off as a dish mop at times. Probably because that was the kind of daughter I was as a teen and young woman. But I needed to rethink her and give her a bit of a rebellious attitude – even if it was only in her inner thoughts.

I hope Darlene’s readers will be able to relate to some of my own areas of struggle. Happy writing, all.


About “Misty Hollow”

Molly Cambridge determines to bring literacy to the people of Misty Hollow, but the town’s mayor opposes her at every turn. Dirt farmer, Joel Greenfield wants to own a dairy farm, but what are the chances? He can’t read. Will romance survive in the magnificent Appalachians? When two people are cultures apart, only God can bridge the gap.

Here’s the buy link: http://tinyurl.com/m3xa9hz




Writing News and Tips: Alexis A. Goring


Today I’m happy to introduce Alexis to you…

 Alexis A. Goring is a passionate writer with a degree in Print Journalism and an MFA in Creative Writing. She loves the art of storytelling and hopes that her stories will connect readers with the enduring, forever love of Jesus Christ.

Three Tips for Overcoming Writer’s Block

Tip #1: Free writing.

I learned this technique in college. Our English professor told us to rip out a sheet of blank paper and grab a pen. She then set her timer to a 10-minute countdown and told us to write until it buzzes. Her rules for this free writing exercise were simple: Write exactly what’s on your mind. Don’t edit. Don’t proofread. Just allow the thoughts to flow from your head, through your pen and out onto the paper.

After ten minutes passed, we stopped writing. She instructed us throw the paper containing our thoughts away and start writing our assignment for the day. It worked! My mind was clearer and the words flowed easier.

Tip #2: Exercise.

Make it fun! Go take a dance aerobics class at your gym. Try a spin class, step class, or even a boot camp. Any form of exercise that’s good for your health and considered fun by you should unclog your writer’s block and re-start the creative flow.

Tip #3: Watch a movie in your genre.

I love watching movies on The Hallmark Channel! The stories are all inspirational romance and always inspire me.

One recent Saturday night, I was feeling very uninspired so I watched the movie “All for Love” http://www.hallmarkchannel.com/all-for-love). It’s about a romance novelist who is experiencing a form of writer’s block and struggling with making her newest novel about a Navy SEAL, believable. She also struggles with creating a riveting romance. So for story research reasons, she joins a boot camp led by this really good-looking Navy SEAL and the plot twists ensue.

I related to the heroine of the movie and was swept away as I watched her love story with the hero unfold. By the end of their story, I was ready to return to my computer and work on my own.


About “A Second Chance”

A Second Chance is a fictional story about two entry-level journalists who are struggling to make ends meet and they both need a second chance at love.


Writing News and Tips: Leeann Betts

Happy Monday, everyone!

Before I introduce you to Leeann, I wanted to share that my 49th book is officially available for purchase. Learn more about “Acadian Hearts” at https://www.amazon.com/Acadian-Hearts-Darlene-Franklin-ebook/dp/B071WQCLVQ/

Upcoming blog appearances:

June 14:


June 28



Now let’s meet Leeann…

Leeann Betts writes contemporary suspense, while her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, pens historical suspense. She has released five titles in her cozy mystery series, By the Numbers, with Hidden Assets releasing the end of June. In addition, Leeann has written a devotional for accountants, bookkeepers, and financial folk, Counting the Days, and with her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, has published a book on writing, Nuggets of Writing Gold, a compilation of essays, articles, and exercises on the craft. She publishes a free quarterly newsletter that includes a book review and articles on writing and books of interest to readers and writers. You can subscribe at www.LeeannBetts.com or follow Leeann at www.AllBettsAreOff.wordpress.com All books are available on Amazon.com in digital and print.
Facebook: http://bit.ly/1pQSOqV
Twitter: http://bit.ly/1qmqvB6
Books: http://amzn.to/2dHfgCE
Twitter: http://bit.ly/1qmqvB6

Writing Through the Summer

The summer is well upon us, and there are many activities and opportunities calling to us. Kids home from school, family and friends visiting, vacations to plan and enjoy—where will we find the time to write?

Here’s the ugly truth: we won’t.

But all is not lost: we can MAKE time to write.

Here are some suggestions:
– Set your clock for 15 or 30 minutes earlier to get up in the morning. The days are warm, the sun will likely already be up, so it’s not nearly as difficult as it would be during the winter months.
– Bring a notepad and pen wherever you go, including the beach, the park, the neighborhood pool, the grocery store, the library. Jot down some ideas, snatches of conversation you overhear at the checkout, character descriptions you might use.
– Use every activity as an opportunity for research. Just because you don’t write historicals doesn’t mean you don’t need to research. Taking the kids for swimming lessons? Ask the swim coach what training she needs to do this job. Dropping the kids off at the library for a reading hour? Talk to your librarian about your books and the possibility of doing a reading. Grocery store? Ask the cashier about his unusual name.
– Read as much as you can.
– Watch movies.
– Go to special events such as field days at the local museum, botanic gardens, and zoos.
– When you go on vacation, look for places to see along the way.
– Watch for historic markers along the highway.

Incorporating writing time into your day will keep your story in your mind and make it easier to get back to the actual writing. Plus, if your mind is brimming over with ideas, dialogue, descriptions, and details, the writing will feel as though it’s flowing from your fingertips.

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free print copy of Nuggets of Writing Gold, which is full of writing tips and exercises guaranteed to keep you busy through Christmas. No excuses!


About “Hidden Assets”

Carly Turnquist, forensic accountant, responds to a call from her friend, Anne, who is in the middle of a nasty divorce, and travels to Wyoming to help find assets Anne thinks her husband has stolen. But the mystery begins before Carly even arrives when she sees a man thrown off a train. Except there’s no body. Husband Mike uncovers an illegal scam in a computer program he has been asked to upgrade, and then Anne is arrested for her ex’s murder. Can Carly figure out what’s going on, and why a strange couple is digging in Anne’s basement? Or will she disappear along with the artwork, coins, and money?





Today I welcome Rhonda Gibson as my Fifth Monday guest. We entered the world of published authors at about the same time and tried repeatedly to work on a novella collection together with Barbour. I don’t believe that ever happened, although now we both appear in three collections from Forget Me Not Romances, including the most recent release Colorado: 2 contemporary romance novellas and 2 historical.

I was honored to speak at her local writers conference, Southwest Colorado Christian Writers.  A warm welcome to Rhonda!


Rhonda Gibson lives in New Mexico with her husband James. Reading is something she has enjoyed her whole life and writing stemmed from that love. She speaks at conferences and local writing groups.

You can write to Rhonda at rhondagibson65@hotmail.com

She hopes her writing will entertain, encourage and bring others closer to God.


How to Write for Two Publishers and NOT lose your Mind.

When writing for two houses like I do, you must be able to keep things straight. For a long time, I struggled with keeping up with deadlines, characters, book ideas, you name it. I tried day timers and calendars but all that did was give me lots of items to keep up with.

I came up with an easier way for me. I decided to organize all the things I mentioned above into one small notebook. The notebook can be any size you like but I like the ones that are at Walmart called Avery. You can buy paper, dividers, sleeves for notes and other things.

I make my own monthly calendar and put it in the front. The nice thing about creating your own calendar is that you can add to it as you please. Mine is very simple, I make one big one Jan-June on one side of the page July – December on the other. I put in book deadlines, blog deadlines, promotional deadlines and anything else that refers to my writing on the main calendar.

I also make monthly calendars as I need them. They are simple pages with the month name at the top and the numbered days of the week down the left-hand side. For a forgetful person with lots of irons in the fire, it is the best way.

My writing is another section of the notebook. I put two dividers in and label them the names of my publishing houses. Then I put paper behind each divider. I keep doing this for each section of each book. I have 5 dividers for each book. I label them: Title, Characters, Synopsis, Maps and Research.

I hope this helps you as much as it does me.


About HEAD OVER HEALS (included in the Spinster Orphan Train collection)

Anna Butler is escorting a group of orphan train children to Douglas Center. Anna has never traveled by train before and is taken with motion sickness shortly after her journey begins. One little girl, Maggie O’Brian sticks to Anna and refuses to let her go. Even after the good doctor, Gideon Hill, heals Anna’s sickness and adopts Maggie the child still wants Anna as part of her new family. I hope you will all enjoy their story as they learn to love and trust, all for the sake of a little girl with big dreams of having her perfect family.


Darlene here… You can also find me today visiting with Donna Schlacter about lessons learned on the way to 50 books. https://historythrutheages.wordpress.com/

Also, Colorado Melodies will be ON SALE June 1 for ONE DAY ONLY for .99 cents. Don’t miss it!







Writing News and Tips: Helen Gray

I’m adding something new to my blog in the coming months. I’ll be hosting short devotionals here every Wednesday with the help of some guests. If you’re interested in signing up to write a devotional, visit http://www.signupgenius.com/go/4090b4ea9a92fabf94-devotionals.

I recently did a Book Trailer video and discussed “Seven Brides for Seven Mail-Order Husbands”. You can watch it here.

“One Lump or Two: 4 novellas of romance over tea (A Teacup Courtship Novella)” is available on Amazon right now for .99 cents. You can grab your copy here…


My big news: I’ve completed the rough draft of book #50, Mermaid’s Song. It will be available early in July.


Upcoming blog appearances:

May 27th:



May 29th:



Now let’s meet Helen…

Helen Brown grew up in a small town and changed colors when she married her pastor and became Helen Gray. They have three grown children and still live in their native Missouri Ozarks. She thanks God for the opportunity to spin Christian fiction, and considers it an added blessing if it should touch others in even a small way.

Visit her at http://helenbrowngray.com/

Choosing a Title

The first thing to consider is what your book is about. The title should reflect that. It can be as simple as the name of a person, place, or thing. Or it can be an event, a line from the story itself, or an association of ideas.

After publishing several romance novels and novellas, I have ventured into a new genre—mystery. While writing the first one, I began tossing around ideas for a title. My heroine is a teacher in a small town high school, a world of familiarity to me, so the words Schooled in Murder came to me. But then I did a search and found another book (in a genre far different from mine), as well as a series, by that title.

Yes, I’ve read that titles are not copyrightable. But I wanted an original title. So I pondered about it and settled on Educated in Murder.

When I started a sequel, I decided to stay with the same pattern, with a new word at the beginning. That story is about a preacher (a praying man) who was preyed upon. I titled it Preyed in Murder. The victim in the third story is a coach, so I titled it Coached in Murder.

At the time, I didn’t know about “trademark” titles, those that follow a pattern unique to their particular series. Some examples of famous writers who have made their titles follow a unique pattern are Janet Evanovich with her numbers; Sue Grafton with letters of the alphabet; James Michener with one-word titles of locations; John D. McDonald with colors; and James Patterson with nursery rhymes.

Have fun with your titles. But make sure they’re not dull, and that they are appropriate and easy to remember. Also, I read somewhere that most titles on bestseller lists are no longer than three words long.


“Educated In Murder”

Toni Donovan teaches science in a small high school in the Missouri heartland. As a devoted wife and mother of two young sons, she leads a quiet and orderly existence—until she discovers the district’s missing superintendent, a woman she hated, in the body farm kept by her forensics class. The victim was a tyrant and manipulator, and Toni senses there are secrets in the halls of academia that no one suspects.

When, with the instincts of a scientist, Toni delves deeper into the murder investigation, she finds herself facing more problems than just preparing for classes and dealing with unruly students. When her younger son, whose dream prompted her to the location of the body, is threatened, Toni learns that danger and terror do happen in a small town, and that she must not allow hate to overtake her life. Determined to stop a killer, her quest leads her into a series of discoveries that could cost Toni her own life.