Novel Evolution

It started out as an idea sparked by the movie QuartetHow lovely, thought I, to retire to a place full of industry folk. Great, nearly great, obscure. All birds of a feather. Then came my beautiful monster, Cecibel, who embodied a great deal of my personal life then and now.  MV5BMTk5ODEyMjQwMF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTU5Nzc3OA@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1333,1000_AL_

When I began writing the novel, it was called Traegar’s Lunatics. The agents at The Knight Agency (and later, my editor) didn’t like the title. It said nothing about the story, and the name was difficult to remember/pronounce, so it became The Pen, and sold as such to William Morrow. But those at William Morrow who heard the title consistently asked, “Oh, is it like Orange is the New Black?” So the title changed again. My editor liked the idea of titling it from a line in the book, and thus it became A Thousand Different Ways. 

I loved that title. Though I remained partial to Traegar’s Lunatics, I did see where it wasn’t the right one for the book. A Thousand Different Ways worked on many levels. But the reps didn’t like it. Boo. It said nothing about who’s inside, gave no clue as to what the book is about, and that is as important as the cover where a potential reader is concerned. So we worked.

…and we worked…

…and we worked…

Several weeks of going back and forth–Beloved Agent Janna, Fierce-Lady Rachel (editor), and I–title after title. Nothing worked quite right for marketing. Finally, Rachel said, “Why not just call it The Bar Harbor Retirement Home for Famous Writers (and their muses)?”

Well, now–that pretty much says it all. I wasn’t sure I liked the title. I didn’t hate it, but love? Hmmm…then again, it does exactly what the reps and marketing want it to do. It’s kind of funny, because it’s verbose. Writers do love their own words. It tells a potential reader exactly what’s inside, in a kitschy, Wes Anderson (my daughter Grace’s assessment) way. It brings to mind titles like Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.  That, in a nutshell, is what we’re going for. A lightness (because the book does open with a marijuana-smoking octogenarian calling her psychiatrist a dick, in a very mercurial way, of course) within a much weightier story (it’s an old folks home where the old writers and industry folk live daily with death, after all.) The more I consider the title, the more I like it. Dare I say, love? Not yet, but I’m getting there.

I did my final read-through while sitting on the beach last week. I got to see what it’s going to look like inside with all the lovely chapter fonts and embellishments. Sigh. I enjoyed every moment of it. I’ve never just read my story. I wrote it. I edited it. I edited it some more. This final pass was as clean a read as ever I read. The only final edits I had were to delete a repeated ‘only’ here, or a ‘still’ there. When you can go over your own book for the gazillionth time and still love every word, it’s an indescribable joy even someone in love with her own words can’t quite express.

My part in the production of The Bar Harbor Retirement Home for Famous Writers (and their muses) is done. I’ve been asked how I feel about a June 2018 release date, considering William Morrow picked up the book early in 2017; my answer is, I like it just fine. The anticipation is luxurious. Like the countdown to Christmas, or my yearly retreat in Virginia Beach. Things are always happening. Sometimes small, sometimes big, but consistent.

Next, the cover. My heart just exploded a little bit.



Filed under The Bar Harbor Retirement Home for Famous Writers

16 responses to “Novel Evolution

  1. I’ll be Team Traeger’s Lunatics forever – but I like the final title 🙂 So glad this is such a happy experience for you. I know it’ll be a great success. ((Hugs))


  2. I love the new title, and it’s certain to be an astounding success! Happiness is a Terri-Lynne DeFino book!


  3. You know I’m on Team Traegar as well, but the final title is fun. June 2018 doesn’t seem very far away. So exciting! Enjoy every minute of this wonderful ride, and I wish you sales as vast as the ocean. ❤️


  4. Carol Lovekin

    Traegar’s Lunatics is inspired. And I don’t agree that it says nothing about the content. On the contrary, given what the story is about, it says everything! IMV… 😉


    • Terri-Lynne DeFino

      But what does it say? That’s the question. 😛


      • Carol Lovekin

        Damn it WordPress, leave my reply alone! (It ate it…)

        And again… If they get the cover right it will say everything – elderly writers; him even – I can see him… What does Quartet actually say? Nothing much – not unless you read the blurb. It’s a play on words & not everyone gets those. TL is too – in a way. It immediately piques my interest – I would instantly turn to the blurb.

        Do you remember If I Knew You Were Going To Be This Beautiful I Never Would Have Let You Go? What does that say – really? Not a lot – it does pique the interest … sends you to the blurb.

        If I’m honest, although I like the long title (it’s fun & does have a Potato Peel Pie vibe) I’m unsure about the bit in brackets…

        I do feel for you, cariad. I remember when Janet told me Finding Blodeuwedd wasn’t about ‘finding Blodeuwedd at all, it was about finding Dora’ (*Stunned Author – Do Not Take My Title Moment *) So I changed it to Finding Dora & then she said, because Dora is old-fashioned (albeit perfect for the character) if it appeared in the title people would immediately think it was an ordinary Victorian ghost story rather the a quirky one. You know the rest…

        Onward & sideways, lovely! xXx

        Liked by 1 person

      • Terri-Lynne DeFino

        That’s strange. I got the email of your other comment, but it doesn’t show up here. Curiouser and curiouser.

        I’m honestly fine with the changeroo of titles, to be honest. It does cause one momentary angst, but, in the end, I trust my publisher and the marketing department to know what they’re talking about. My vision aligns with theirs for who my audience is, and all that jazz.

        (and, in the end, Ghostbird is the absolute PERFECT title for your magical book, right!? Inspired!)

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Guess what? I LOVE the new title and think the folks at our publisher know exactly what they’re doing. I mean, they’re experts in the marketing books, right? 🙂 I can hardly wait for the release!! Can you tell them I said to hurry? ❤
    p.s. and yeah, I like the other title you had, too, but this title will have great mass appeal.


    • Terri-Lynne DeFino

      Yay! I’m glad you’re down with it. I have to trust those who do this for a living to know what’s right and what’s not.

      I can’t wait for you to read it either. Bated breath!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I can’t wait to read this novel!!!!


  7. Carol Lovekin

    And ps: I am looking forward to the book, regardless of what it’s called! xXx


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