The Chicken or The Egg ... The Title or the Story ... Which Comes First?

Today at BRA we have uber-talented, multi-published romance author Nancy Fraser! With eleven projects on the docket for the next year, we know this gal has been busy. Take it away, Nancy . . . 

The proverbial question ... which came first? The chicken or the egg?

As a writer, one of the things I find most difficult when creating a book is selecting the best title for my work. I’ll sometimes start with a “really cool” idea for a title, and plan my book around that.

Usually about half-way through, my characters start demanding something different. Or, the story has changed and the title no longer fits.

One of the many things I’ve learned in over 20 years of writing romantic fiction: DO NOT become attached to your title!

A perfect example of choosing the title first came with my historical romance, Gambling on Love, written with friend Patti Shenberger and released earlier this year. The original title was Runaway Angel – based on the story idea that our heroine is running away from her home in Louisiana with her father’s illegally indentured workers in tow. They consider her an “angel” because, not only has she’s prepared them for life in the north by teaching them to read and write, but she’s also sold off many family heirlooms to pay for their passage!

Now, mind you, the new title, Gambling on Love, fits just as well. Our hero runs a gambling riverboat and he’s opposed to a permanent relationship or lasting love ... until he meets our heroine, of course.

One of the most frustrating things about titles revolves around rejection. I remember way back in the mid to late 1990s I’d submitted a manuscript to a major publisher. I loved the story, I loved the title ... but apparently I was the only one. The book was rejected. However, about nine months later I saw my title on one of the publisher’s new releases in the same series line I’d submitted to!

I happened to run into the author at a conference that following summer and introduced myself and commented on her book and title. She gave me this long sigh and said, “That wasn’t the title I’d given the book. They changed it on me about halfway through the editing process.” I didn’t say anything but the urge to boycott the publisher was paramount in my mind!

What’s the secret to keeping your title? Well, if you have ˜star˜ power, or a really great agent, you can negotiate it into your contract. OR, you can do what I did with my ten-book novella series, The Golden Decade of Rock and Roll, with The Wild Rose Press ... you can use song titles! Of course, then, you’re stuck with the title ... no matter how much your characters complain.

Fortunately, my newest release, “April Love”, (out today on Kindle Select) fell right in line with the title as I was writing.
I started the story in early March, had my characters fall in love in April, and reach their HEA to the wonderful background music of some old-fashioned rock and roll! Sometimes romance doesn’t get any better than that!

Book Blurb for April Love:

Eleanor Martin is every company's dream employee. She arrives early, stays late and never misses a day. If it weren't for Eleanor's skill as a private secretary, her architect boss would never make a deadline. Not only does she keep him on track, she runs interference between him and his over-bearing mother, his deadbeat brother, and the half dozen or so women who want to bed him and/or wed him.

When Jess Norton acquires a new client who asks him to build a palatial hideaway on Grand Cayman Island, Jess is certain he'll never be able to complete the multi-million dollar job without the help of his efficient secretary.  Despite her reservations, he convinces Eleanor to accompany him on the assignment of a lifetime.

The sun and the sand cast the perfect spell for romance But will the tides turn in the opposite direction?

Author Bio:

Like most authors, Nancy began writing at an early age, usually on the walls and with crayons or, heaven forbid, permanent markers. Her love of writing often made her the English teacher’s pet, which, of course, resulted in a whole lot of teasing. Still, it was worth it.

With eleven contracts/releases coming up in the next year, Nancy is currently working on a four book series titled, All The Single Ladies. The first book in the series, Tall, Dark and Hers, is scheduled for Summer, 2014 release from Entangled. Also in the works is the fifth novella in Nancy’s Rock and Roll Romance series for The Wild Rose Press.
When not writing (which is almost never), Nancy dotes on her five beautiful grandchildren and enjoys traveling and reading.

Social Media:
Twitter: @nfraserauthor

All of Nancy’s books can be found on her Author Central page:

Question of the Week: Do you ever write a story based on a great title? How about a tag line?

Are Book Fairs Dying?

Author Kim Hornsby joins Beach Read Authors today to comment on her recent trip to the ECWC Book Fair in the Seattle area last weekend. Take it away Kim...

Thanks BRA!
I did the Emerald City Writer's Convention Book Fair yesterday, as a new author, a scared author, and a fan of authors. I wasn’t sure what I was trying to accomplish except, like that crazed Glenn Close character in Fatal Attraction said, “I will not be ignored.”
I hate to be left out of any social gathering and so I registered to ‘sell’ my books at the book fair. This was my first year as a published author and this is my home RWA chapter. Yipee!
I ordered a load of books, not knowing if I'd sell any, made some pens, got The Wild Rose Press to donate a bunch of swag, had a big sign made that told the world I’m an Amazon Best Selling Author, and chose the color aqua for my signature shade, to go with my book cover.

I won’t pretend that I was excited. I was actually scared to go to the Westin Bellevue yesterday at 3 to sit at a table and hock my goods. I emailed my critique partner and writer bestie, Christine M. Fairchild and she promised to come sit with me.
Did I sell books? Not really. A few. Did I have a good time? Yes, I did. Was it good to get my name out there? I think so.
I gave out candy, pens and eventually books, got my pic taken with some wonderful authors, learned some marketing tricks from other authors (Dana Delamar, Kristyne Cayne, Ann Charles,
Cherry Adair, Susan Fox and on and on) and got through my first book fair.

Was it worth it? Kind of. I got some interest generated in my book by giving out cards with my URL and had a nice conversation with a Montlake acquisitions editor named Helen, who looked me up on her phone as soon as I introduced myself to her. (It’s a digital age) And getting your face out there never hurts. The thing is that I’m super friendly, kind of loudish and not shy, so I spent time away from my table (thanks Christine!) to schmooze and see what all the other authors were doing. Hi Rebecca J. Clarke! (I loved my table, but my hair looks a bit flattish in this pic!)
I did not see many books leave the room and I was close to the door so I could keep an eye on the comings and goings. I wonder if Barnes and Noble thought it was worth sponsoring the event. In past years, the Book Fair has been CRA-CRA busy and the lineup to check out would be thirty people deep, but not this year. There wasn’t even a huge lineup at the Superstars’ tables. Many ‘customers’ told me they read off their Kindle or phone, not print.
I sat there worrying about the future of the printed book. And the future of a Book Fair. Maybe in the future, instead of a book fair, conventions will have meet and greets where you can scan the code to download the book at the table while you talk to your author crush. Apparently autographs are big at book fairs. You line up and get your favorite author to sign the copy of your book that you already own. I saw a bit of this.
For me, I got to talk to two authors whose careers I’ve watched closely over the last year, Catherine Bybee (although when face to face with her, I had one of those brain farts and forgot her name!)
and Ann Charles, both of whom have risen to the top of the heap fast, if you consider the rest of us a heap.
And I got to thank Cherry Adair for helping me with my opening chapter when I did Finish the Damn Book and won a critique by the Best Selling Author and Pacific Northwest writing mentor to us newbies.
I made Cherry cry when she saw my book in print and told her how much I rely on her advice. Sorry. And I ended up giving her my PROOF copy, by mistake, I believe. Double sorry! God, I hope she doesn’t read the back page to see the word PROOF. Please, please, please.
Was it worth the money and time and effort of lugging around a hundred pounds of books and all the candy and pens? The jury is still out on that one. If I hear from Helen, I'd say yes. But, I’m not sure if I would do this book fair again as a new author, although it was mega- fun to be lumped in with a room full of successful romance authors and see how they work their magic.

What do you think, authors, readers? Is the Book Fair worth it anymore or will it evolve into something else soon?

Kim Hornsby is the Amazon Bestselling Author of The Dream Jumper's Promise and Necessary Detour, both romantic suspense novels and available on Amazon. She's also a former scuba diving instructor and once a professional jingle singer.

A Romance Writer's Love Life

This week's guest blogger is author Eliza Knight, and her post is fun and titillating to say the least. Have fun reading AND commenting, since one lucky commenter will win a $10 Amazon giftcard!


I’m not alone in being asked this question. In fact, on a panel of several authors a couple of weeks ago, we were all asked. A burning question in readers minds that I’m about to answer for you—well two really.

ONE: what is our love life like? And TWO: do our husbands like that we write romance?

Now, I’ve been known to joke around and say I turned my husband down because I’d already had sex with a few heroes that day, but in all reality –the real honest truth? We are pretty normal. What does every consenting adult romantic relationship involve? I’ll give you a few seconds to think about it… If you guessed, sex, then you are correct!

Sex is a natural part of romance. When we love someone, we like to share that love, and our bodies, with them through a sexual experience. This could be something as simple as a kiss to something major and adventurous (insert your fantasy here). Sometimes we want to make slow, sweet love, sometimes we want to be, as one reader put it when asking me, “freaks in the bed.” :-)

There are days when I’ve done a marathon of writing, cleaned the house, made dinner, and then taken three different princesses to three different after-school activities, and I might be too exhausted to do more than pat my husband on the back and say goodnight. And then there are days when I’m begging him to come home early before the princesses get off the school bus.

Do our husbands love that we write romance? I can answer for myself and many authors I’ve spoken to about it—YES. They are involved in many of research studies *wink*. They get to reap the rewards of agonizing over a love scene all day. Let’s face it—if our love scene doesn’t turn us on, it won’t increase the heartbeats of our readers.

Keep reading romance (and, if you’re a writer, keep writing!). I read in a study that romance readers have more fulfilling and lasting relationships than other readers. Maybe it’s because reading romance makes us smile, makes us happy, and it makes us want to be romantic with our partners.

Go forth, read! And share your love with someone!



Eliza Knight is the multi-published, award-winning, Amazon best-selling author of sizzling historical romance and erotic romance.

While not reading, writing or researching for her latest book, she chases after her three children. In her spare time (if there is such a thing…) she likes daydreaming, wine-tasting, traveling, hiking, staring at the stars, watching movies, shopping and visiting with family and friends. She lives atop a small mountain, and enjoys cold winter nights when she can curl up in front of a roaring fire with her own knight in shining armor.

Visit Eliza at or her historical blog
History Undressed:

Winner of InD’Tale Magazines Best Historical Novel 2012!

She belonged to another… But was destined to be his…

Lady Arbella de Mowbray abhors the idea of marrying an English noble occupying Scotland. When she arrives in Stirling, she is thrown into the midst of a full battle between the Scots and the English. Besieged by rebels, she is whisked from her horse by a Highland warrior who promises her safety. But when he kisses her she fears she's more in danger of losing herself.

 The last thing Magnus Sutherland wants is to marry the beautiful English lass he saved. As the laird of his clan, he has a responsibility to his clan and allies. But when Arbella is attacked by one of his own men, he determines the only way to keep her safe is to make her his. A decision that promises to be extremely satisfying.

 Magnus brings Arbella to his home of Dunrobin Castle in the Highlands. And that’s where the trouble begins… Their countries are at war and they should be each other’s enemy. Neither one considered their mock marriage would grow into a deeply passionate love. What’s more, they were both unhappily betrothed and those who've been scorned are out for revenge. Can their new found love keep them together or will their enemies tear them apart?

Ever Feel Like Your Holidays Are All Mixed Up?

Our Guest today is the super-talented author Terry Spear to talk about writing stories set at holiday times. She's also sharing with us not one, but two (2!!!) book blurbs for the upcoming Halloween and Christmas holidays AND a hot giveaway, so be sure to comment below. Take it away, Terry...

You walk into a craft store, or even the grocery store, department store—just wherever and talk about a mad mix of holiday stuff from Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas. Surprised they don't have Valentine's and Easter stuff too!

Currently, I'm writing A Highland Wolf Christmas—so I've got to think Highland Christmas, mixed with American Christmas, since some are from the U.S. And it's 90+ degrees in Central Texas still. So I'm researching Christmas—music, decorations, shopping, etc in Scotland, while keeping the AC on.

Now, I also want to have fun with Halloween. I write ghost stories, vampires, werewolves, jaguar shifters, psychics, all the things that go bump in the night. So October is a great month for me to go paranormal. More so than usual.

Yet, what do I have out this month and must promote? A SEAL Wolf Christmas!! Yes, hot, yes, love the Christmas story, and yes, I'm back into Christmas! LOL!

When I wrote short stories for magazines, it was the same thing. We had to write about seasonal stuff 9 months in advance. So we were always writing about a season that just didn't feel seasonal for the period of time we're writing it.

But I wouldn't have given up my wonderfully fun A SEAL Wolf Christmas for anything! And now with writing A Highland Wolf Christmas, the same thing! Next, it'll be cold here and I'll be writing about a steamy jungle for a bunch of jaguar shifters in Jaguar Pride.

So a little mix of holidays never hurt anyone, I figure. Besides, I had the same thing happen when I went to craft shows with my award-winning bears in the fall, and trying to promote Christmas!

And with that, I have two fun solutions to the problem. One lucky winner will win an ebook copy of Huntress for Hire, a vampire romantic suspense—appropriate for Halloween, and one lucky winner, US/Canada only, will win a copy of A SEAL Wolf Christmas, autographed print version—for Christmas.

So see? A little mix of holidays works!

Oh, and for Halloween, I wanted to include a mention of a REALLY, easy treat to make that's fun, if you like deviled eggs. Just cut up the black olives and you have spidery deviled eggs. We scarfed them down while watching scary movies for Halloween. What could be more fun?

Thanks so much to Beach Read Authors for inviting me here today!

What about you? Do you get overwhelmed with all the holidays blended together? Or can you sort them out just fine?

BOOK BLURB: A SEAL Wolf Christmas

Can an Alpha Wolf Who's Met His Match...

Navy SEAL Bjornolf Jorgenson has had tough missions before, but going undercover with feisty gray wolf Anna Johnson could top the list. She drives him crazy—in more ways than one. Now he has to investigate a murder, supervise a wild teenage wolf—and handle Christmas with Anna.
Survive the Holidays with Her?

For Anna, the only thing worse than staging the perfect family Christmas is having to do it with Bjornolf posing as her husband. Anna is a serious undercover operative who isn't afraid of a fight, even with a hunky SEAL shifter. With a killer on the loose, Anna just wants to focus on their mission, but the one thing she can't fight is her sizzling chemistry with Bjornolf.


“Hunter told Nathan he wanted him off the job. Immediately. Nathan insisted that he stay because it was the only way he’d consider staying with the pack. He wants to feel useful. I suspect the owner’s daughter has something to do with his wanting to work there as well,” Bjornolf said.

Anna shook her head. “She’s human. I can just imagine the mess he could get into with a human girl if he thought he was falling in love.”

“Right. Hunter didn’t mention it to you, but Nathan wanted you and me to protect him while we learned about the tree-farm deaths.”

“Why would Nathan want me to help? I understand him wanting you—but with me, he doesn’t even know me.”

“He’s heard of your exploits on the last mission here.”

“What exploits?”

Bjornolf shrugged. “I have no idea what rumors were spread in the pack about your mission when you were protecting Meara.”

“Nathan better not have heard about you tying me up in the hotel room and think he’ll get to see a repeat performance firsthand.” She closed her eyes and groaned. “That’s probably exactly what he’d heard about.”

Bjornolf chuckled. “Hell, if I have to have a mate, I want someone like you who can take anyone down.”

She fought smiling at him, but she wasn’t successful.

“You really never had a tree?” he asked, not liking that she’d missed out.

She shrugged and looked out the window. “First time for everything, I guess.” Then she considered him again. “Don’t expect me to do anything with it.”

“You mean decorate it? Nathan and I’ll set it in water and all.” He hadn’t thought a whole lot about what went on the tree. He hadn’t helped decorate one in years.

Anna didn’t say anything.

“We’ll figure out something. We don’t have any stored ornaments from last year like we would if this had been for real. We’ll have to go shopping for some.”

“Actually, you should take Tessa. If you have a fight over an ornament with another customer, Tessa will win the confrontation with a growl.”

“She nearly gave Hunter heart failure. He thought she was ready to strip and shift. I’d rather go with you. You’re a known commodity.”

She cocked a brow at that.

“As far as the shifting part goes. The rest of you I’m still trying to figure out.”
“Shopping is not my thing.”

“Now there’s a woman after my own heart.”

BOOK BLURB: Huntress for Hire

He’s a hunter turned vampire, she’s a huntress of vampires—he’s needs her cooperation to free his family; she’s trained to kill his kind.

Rebel vampire huntress Rachael Bremerton wants revenge against Piaras, one of the most ruthless vampires in Dallas , for the murder of her parents. But when she’s lured by another vampire, Adonis, into the darkness—the same darkness she’s feared since she was a child—she’s torn between her huntress sensibilities and some strange desire to be with the creature she’s meant to despise and destroy.

Adonis, a hunter turned vampire, has been ordered by Piaras to bring Rachel to him untouched. In return, Piaras will release Adonis’s family unharmed. But when Adonis first sees Rachael, his hunter desire to have a huntress mate kicks in, or is it the dark heart of the vampire that makes him crave her so?

Turning Rachel over to Piaras becomes less of an option. But can he find a way to free his family, claim Rachael for his own, and keep her family from discovering he is a hunter turned vampire—a creature they will all feel obligated to hunt down and kill?


Her heart began beating double time and another icy shiver rippled down Rachael’s spine as she stared into the darkness where the male voice had originated. If he was a vampire, he would hear her panicked heart, just as she heard her blood rushing in her ears. She tried to see what it was he held or wore that had so effectively lured her here.

She could see nothing in the ebony void, and the words he spoke again sifted through her brain. You won’t ever get to Piaras without my help.

Had he heard Zachary speak to her in the parking lot about how she was going after Piaras in sarcastic jest? Would he tell Piaras what she’d said? And then would Piaras, the devil of a vampire himself, come after her?

She swallowed, but her throat was dusty dry. She tilted her chin up, showing him he could not intimidate her. Yet every ounce of her huntress sense screamed at her to leave the balcony at once, to warn the hunters a vampire was lurking here, to have him destroyed before he could make her do something she would forever regret.

She’d never heard of a vampire behaving so boldly with that many hunters nearby. Which warned her he was a danger she should well heed. “If I scream, the hunters will come and rescue me.”

Hidden in the shadows, he made a derisive sound. “You’re not interested in anything they have to offer. To dance with any, you must ply yourself with liquor. You wish to be intimate with none of them...not like you wish to be with me.”

Instantly, her blood sizzled. “Why you arrogant—”

“But I can help you, and in return, you’ll aid me.”

To kill Piaras? The vampire had to be delusional, if he was sincere in the least. But he didn’t sound crazy, which left a more disagreeable reason he was risking his neck here. Some darker reason that had nothing to do with her helping him to kill the evil one.

“What makes you think I...” She folded her arms and changed her tactic, not wanting to discuss the most hated vampire in the region further, or give this vampire any clues about her own nature—that he hadn’t already sensed. “Who are you?”

Another inkling of dread twisted her insides—what if he were Piaras? What if he wished to see if she’d come willingly to him? The ultimate challenge for a vampire of his demonic stature? Right here under the noses of the gathered hunters of the biggest annual bash held in the region? And she, the head of the League of Hunters only unmated female relation?

“Come closer and I’ll whisper my name to you.” His sensual voice stroked her like a brush of black velvet against naked skin. “I wouldn’t want the others to know I have an interest in you.”


Bestselling and award-winning author Terry Spear has written over fifty paranormal romance novels and four medieval Highland historical romances. Her first werewolf romance, Heart of the Wolf, was named a 2008 Publishers Weekly’s Best Book of the Year, and her subsequent titles have garnered high praise and hit the USA Today bestseller list. A retired officer of the U.S. Army Reserves, Terry lives in Crawford, Texas, where she is working on her next werewolf romance and continuing her new series about shapeshifting jaguars.

For more information, please visit, or follow her on Twitter, @TerrySpear. She is also on Facebook at And on Wordpress at: Terry Spear's Shifters