Monday, August 31, 2015

How do Authors Get Their Titles?

Obviously I can’t speak for anyone else and usually my titles come out of the blue. But sometimes I have a title for a book before I even start writing it. This was the case for my first published book (not the first written), The Pig Farm, also the first book in my (Human) Zoo Trilogy. Not only were no pigs harmed in the writing of this book but no pigs appeared either unless one considers the human kind. But something happened when I lived on a real Caribbean island that gave me the idea and I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I also had the titles in mind for the next two books in the trilogy: The Pool Lizards and The Groundhog Lounge. No lizards or groundhogs appeared in those books either but something or someone just happened to inspire those titles.

My first title choice for Amorous Ambush was Airport Ambush but that was a ridiculous choice for a romance novel. And the ambush in the novel was very amorous in my humble opinion.

While I was writing my first group of Twisted Tales (Margarita, Phoebe, City Girl-Country Girl, Nicolas), I hadn’t thought of any particular title for the whole collection. After I read through all four of them, I discovered something repetitious in each of them and, at first, I was dismayed. In each book there was a pivotal scene where the doorbell rang. And then it hit me—that should be the title of the book. Never mind that many authors have used that title but titles can’t be copyrighted. So, for Part One of Twisted Tales (another common title), I titled the little book The Doorbell Rang.

The easiest title was Death by Salsa because it referred to two real life friends who were arguing over who had the hottest salsa. I jokingly said, “I could write a book with the title Death by Salsa.” And I did.

A Caribbean Summer was a fantasy I had before I went to the Caribbean where I lived for four years. Nothing in the book resembled anything that happened to me in real life and I created the fictional island of Palmaltas to replace the island where I had lived.

I can’t remember when I came up with the title The Chameleon Chase. The story began in my mind during the 1980s and 1990s but it was the only title that could fit the story.

And so it goes. I may start with a title already in mind (such as The Pig Farm or Death by Salsa) or eventually discover something that holds the book together (The Doorbell Rang). Sometimes I write a story and still don’t know what the title should be after I have completed it. I wrestled with A Colorado Destiny for a long time before the title jumped out at me.

But titles are important and play a big part in how some readers choose what to read. Many people look at The Pig Farm, The Pool Lizards and The Groundhog Lounge and think they are for children. They aren’t. Yet, those are the only titles that fit the stories.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

A Day in the Life of a Boat Owner

This week my son Jaime R. Hernรกndez is my guest blogger. He tells a true story about adventures in boating.

What a day! Where to begin....
My friend Sandra's dad came over with his new chainsaw and cut up all the dead branches from the storm we had last month. I mowed the lawn and restrung his weed eater. Then we worked on the boat and got it going. So our next logical step was to take it out for a test run (keyword here is test). We picked up uncle Bruce and headed for the Wayne B Stevens boat ramp but on our way we decided to get sodas and made the impromptu decision to go to the Curtis Lee Johnson boat ramp off San Juan instead (this will be not so great choice later).
We put the boat in and fired up the engine, no issues, she purred. So we got underway on our "test" run. We were in a no wake zone for a bit and basically trolled to the first bridge. No issues, we were loving the breeze and our drinks. Three old guys on the water living it up. Soon after the first bridge we throttled up a third and worked on trimming out the boat. After the next bridge we turned North and headed towards downtown Jacksonville. At this point we full throttled and did some more trimming. It was a blast! So much fun, I forgot we were TESTING the engine...
Next two bridges were a railroad drawbridge and a busy road near Ortega drawbridge. They lifted the railroad bridge but kept down the one near Ortega because we were small enough that there was no need. We went under, jumped when the cars flew over the metal grate and then opened the throttle wide as we headed towards St Vincents.
It suddenly dawned on me that we were "testing" the engine. A sick feeling came over me so I throttled down and turned the boat about. I said we should head back to the dock. Everyone agreed...
On our way back as we approached the first bridge I had to do circles while the boat ahead of me stopped for the incoming boat. They looked unsure of themselves so I completely understand why the boat ahead of me stopped. After the boat passed, we both continued on our trek back. I kept my distance as to not make a huge wake for the smaller boat ahead.
As we approached the second bridge on our way back I noticed two ladies on paddleboards, one standing and one sitting, trying to traverse the across the river. So I throttled down to kill my wake. I wound up shutting down the engine. And then it happened...
We were dead in the water. I could not restart my engine. The engine temp was increasing. My initial reaction was an overheated engine. So we drifted to let the engine cool. I noticed the current had us, so I broke out the paddle and made my way to an upscale marina. My thought was that we could moor, troubleshoot the engine and get some help if need be.
I soon realized the battery was draining from our troubleshooting and trying to restart the engine. I noticed the sun going down. I researched and found the nearest boat ramps were the original one I set out to and the one we actually used. They were far far away.
So I called SeaTow. WOW are they expensive if you're not a member. $300 and hour and the closest boat was in Julington Creek. There went that idea...
My next thought? Start waving down inbound boaters. You can not imagine how many people would not turn their head in our direction as I waved my hands like a mad man. I could see them looking at my out the corners of their eyes. I was blown away! Over an hour of waving people down.
I see a smaller boat coming down the river, two guys looked like they had been fishing. I start my waving and the younger one turns his head and looks right at me. I holler out "is there ANY chance you could tow us to the San Juan dock?" but he couldn't understand me. He turned to the older fella and then turned back at me. He crawled forward on their boat towards me as to indicate they were going to approach us. As they got in conversation distance I restated my request for help. The older guy said he could take us to the Wayne B Stevens dock. I said THANK YOU LORD, I will take you up on that offer. We threw him the line, made it taut and tied it off to our bow. His boat was small but had just enough horses to pull us all the way. As we got close to the dock about a half hour later I asked them if they had Google Wallet. They both looked at me as if I was speaking Russian. I explained that I wanted to pay them some money for helping us out. I explained how many people had ignored us. They both waved us off and said absolutely not. It was the right thing to do. Yeah I got choked up...
Pete called Sandra  to come get me and drive me back to the Curtis Lee Johnson boat ramp. She asked what happened and after her dad explained she said "bless his heart, he has been trying to get that boat going forever" LOL But to tell you the truth, I actually felt blessed at that moment. The help of these two strangers, Sandra and her daughter dropping everything to come get me. Pete and Uncle Bruce having such an awesome attitude about the whole thing. Bruce said he would do it again in a heart beat. And I would also and you know what? I will. Only this time I will already be a SeaTow member so my tow is free ‪#‎lessonlearned‬