Tag Archives: reading

Blog Tour for Charles French 

​I am very happy and honored to introduce to you my dear blogging friend, Charles French. As a professor of literature, Mr. French is well versed in the world of reading and writing, and passes on this knowledge with his fellow readers in his daily posts.

In preparation for the release of his new book, Maledicus: Investigative Paranormal Society Book 1, I am pleased to be the host on day 6 of his book’s blogging tour. On today’s leg, Mr. French  offers a glimpse into the very real struggle of titling a literary work. It is both a delightful read and encouraging one.  So without further delay, I present:

The Evolution of the Title in my Novel: Maledicus: The Investigative Paranormal Society Book I
When I first began drafting my novel about 5 years ago, I was not sure about what title to use.  Since I am a lover of Shakespeare, like many writers before me, I went to him for my original title. I decided on Evil Lives After, which is a paraphrase from Julius Caesar “The evil that men do lives after them/The good is oft interred with their bones” (Act 3, Scene 2, Lines 77-78).  I was happy with the title because it reflected one of the major themes in the novel: the consequences of evil during and after life and its continued existence.

I continued using this title through many drafts of the book. (As an aside, the final draft is number 13, but do not worry. Unless you are a Knights Templar in the year 1307, and King 
Philip of France covets your money and gold, you have nothing to worry about from the number 13. But that is a tale for another day!) 

As the book moved along, I had the good fortune to have several very skilled beta readers read and examine the novel. One consistent complaint was that the title seemed tame or stale. At first, I disagreed, because I liked the title and had grown attached to it. Upon serious reflection, however, I came to agree with my beta readers. 

It was time for a title change.

I considered that including the name of the protagonist in the title might work. After all, 
Roosevelt Theodore Franklin is the main character. And the book, in many ways, is about war. Several of the characters are veterans of combat in Vietnam and Iraq, and the Investigative Paranormal Society goes to war against a terrible demon that threatens a child. I created, therefore, the title Roosevelt’s War. This seemed to work—the title was crisp and should capture attention.

But. . . 

As a friend pointed out to me, this title suggested an historical nonfiction book about either President Theodore Roosevelt or President Franklin D. Roosevelt. My friend was completely correct. If I kept this one, it would suggest a completely different kind of book. Roosevelt’s War had to go.

I still needed a title.

Inspiration came to me while teaching a class “Gothic and Horror in Our Culture” at Muhlenberg College. I use Dracula by Bram Stoker in that class. In that classic novel, Dracula is the title character, but not the main character, and the antagonist, not the protagonist. I had my answer to the title dilemma. Like Bram Stoker did, I would make the villain the title character, but I would add to the basic title and include a reference to the group of people who would oppose him. Since this is the first book in a series, I also decided to indicate that situation in the title; therefore, I arrived at Maledicus: The Investigative Paranormal Society Book I. 


Siblinghood of the World Bloggers Award

sisterhood-of-the-world-bloggersThank you, Simon, for nominating me for this award.  I look forward to your unique posts (and those designs you promised me 🙂 ).

THE RULES:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and link to their blog in your post.
  2. Answer the questions that the blogger who nominated you has provided.
  3. Nominate ten other bloggers (or up to 10).
  4. Create ten questions for your nominees and notify them of their nominations.

GONE WITH THE WIND, Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, 1939.

My Answers

  • What’s your favorite male character in a book and why?

Rhett Butler.  He invented tall, dark and handsome.  His personality is flawless!  I don’t think I’ve come across a more well-rounded character.

  • What’s your favorite female character in a book and why?

Scarlett O’Hara.  Maybe you are seeing a theme at this point… She’s also a survivor at all costs.  She may seem cold and uncaring to some, or the anti-hero.  But to me, she was courageous during a time I can’t imagine living through.  She was loyal to her home and her father.  There was nothing she couldn’t accomplish, until the end of the story 😦

  • What’s the one thing that happened in a book that you would like to do?

True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle – I would love to be that young, innocent, beautiful English girl making the sea voyage home to her family, only to realize she is amidst a crazy captain and a crew out to get rid of him.

  • What would you do with a magic pen that any time you wrote with it, it created whatever you described (I liked this so I kept it)?

Draw doors that went into gardens.  Whenever I was a place I didn’t want to be, I’d draw a little door and disappear 🙂

  • What’s the book you couldn’t put down?

Gone with the Wind and Everyday Saints

  • Where in the universe would you like to go? Why?

I’m happy looking at the stars on the ground… Earth’s ground.

  • Who is your favorite author?

Funny, I can only think of one who I didn’t like

  • Have you ever read a book that you didn’t want anyone to know you had read? What was it?

The Twilight Series.

  • What book has made you feel something the most intensely? What did you feel?

Gone with the Wind. I was just so upset that Scarlett and Rhett were over!

  • If offered the opportunity to visit a fictional world, where would you go and what kind of character would you become?

Does being a mermaid count?  Living in the Great Barrier Reef??  Otherwise, if it’s a book, I’ll settle for any fairytale princess.

My Nominees:

  1. Poor Prose – a very new site that has great potential.  The writing is great and I can’t to see what else he does with the site.
  2. Sometimes Silver Linings are Blue – Wow!  Carisa’s poetry is beautiful, provocative, and oftentimes, hits right to my core.
  3. The Lonely Author Blog – I just recently stumbled upon this blog. Another fantastic writer!
  4. Charles French – writer, book and movie reviews of the classics!
  5. My Two Sentences – Beautiful writing in only two sentences.  You won’t believe what he can do until you read it for yourself.

My Questions:

  • When did you begin writing for enjoyment?
  • Who is your favorite philosopher and why?
  • Why do you write?
  • What is hardest part about the writing process for you?
  • Do you find you’re bummed out when you finish a good book?

Reading Comprehension: More Useful When Applied than Tested

My soon to be 14 year old has been tested as having the reading comprehension level of a third grader. He was diagnosed as autistic at age four and a half. After two years of public school kindergarten, where he learned nothing except that he thought he wasn’t smart, I pulled him out and homeschooled him. I homeschooled all the kids until this January.

He always did everything at his own pace, be it school work or making tea in his just – so way. This was never a problem because, at his own speed, he was learning.

He always was behind in math, but again, he was just learning at a different speed. When we did literature study and reading comprehension, he struggled greatly to put what he read into answer forms on paper. Yet, all of his free time has always been spent pouring over science books or researching plants, animals, ocean life, rocks and minerals, countries and states. His memory for all his “extra curricular” studies is on savant level. He can identify any mineral or rock. He knows all the plants around us, the wildlife and their habitats and diets. He memorized the periodic table on his own and understands how each element interacts with another.  He is, to say the least, incredible. He is also quiet and humble and gentle.

But testing doesn’t show this. Testing says his IQ is very low. Testing says he reads and understands at a third grade level. On paper, no one would know that he is actually a genius.

The other day we were at the park. When it was time to go, he was preoccupied by a very small snake he had spotted in a ditch filled with stagnant water. Naturally, I told him to stay away from it. But he described it to me (it had hidden all but its head under the murky water by the time I came over), and had determined it was not venomous. So we left the park and went home.

A few hours later, I was in the backyard with the little two picking odd sprouts of grass among our growing sod. Suddenly, my finger was on fire. I mean the kind of stinging pain that sends shock waves throughout the rest of your body. Some little weed I’d plucked had stung me. I quickly went inside where my son was researching on the computer.

“I need you to come tell me what this plant is. It stung me bad!

“Is it a stinging nettle?” he calmly asked.

“I have no idea, but it definitely stings!” So he came out with me to examine the offending plant I had pulled.

“That is a stinging nettle. They can be eaten, you know. They are actually very nutritious. People eat them and also use them in teas.” He said this quite matter of factly as I picked it up with a paper towel.

At my request, he very kindly looked about the yard for any more stinging nettles, lest a baby find them first and suffer the same agony I had.

While my finger throbbed and burned for hours, I thought about his reading comprehension abilities. He may never test as smart as he truly is, but he can most definitely apply what he reads. And that, as far as I’m concerned, is more valuable!