Contemporary Fiction Author, Infrequent Blogger & Retired Clown

And the title is…

13 days to go….are you sweating yet?

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) starts in just over two weeks! Are you guys getting excited? Scared? Nervous? Stressed? I’m a little bit of all four, but most of the bad feelings are getting masked by my excitement. I’ve nailed down my idea (after a bunch of unnecessary overthinking–don’t you hate it when you do that?).

I’m going to talk more about my plot next week, but for now I’ll say that the central subject matter is forgiveness. It’s a personal matter I’ve dealt with a lot in the last year on a very personal level. Unlike love, which often comes upon us without any conscious effort or expectation, forgiveness is something that each of us must choose to do. Not just once, not twice, but every day. Every day you have to wake up and decide that forgiveness is more important than feelings of anger and resentment (which come easier). Eventually, it does become a second skin, but not without effort and time.

Brett Dennen and Jason Mraz
Brett Dennen and Jason Mraz

Of course, even with the discussion of a serious subject like forgiveness, I still have to be able to inject my sense of humor. Part of that is going to come through in the title.

Originally, I was kicking around the title “Long Road to Forgiveness” (which I thought of because it’s also the title of a great song by Brett Dennen and Jason Mraz that has given me some inspiration). But in the end, I felt it was too somber.

My friend Toni suggested shortening it to just “The Long Road” or “Forgiveness” but it was still too serious. I want the book to appeal to YA readers as well as older readers in my age group, and I just couldn’t see a teen picking a book off the shelf with any of those titles.

I started thinking about different words and phrases that go along with forgiveness and arrived at another title of a favorite song (this one by Zac Brown Band): “Let it Go.” I liked it–simple, to the point, but still focused on the central subject matter. I was all but settled on it, except for one little thing. One other title has been swimming around in my head since I first started planning the plot of this book.

Fried Pickles.

It carries a few different meanings. It’s relevant to the book because one of the main characters owns a bar known for its particular recipe for fried pickles (made with homemade pickles) which is shared with other characters and helps to bring them together. It’s also a tribute to another classic Southern novel — Fried Green Tomatoes.

Everything in the south is either about food, football, family or faith. When I visit my family in Alabama we plan lunch while eating breakfast, dinner while eating lunch, and so on and so forth. It’s a way of life. But food is also a pathway to family events–recipes passed down through generations, families gathered around a table, special events marked by certain meals, etc.

The title Fried Pickles represents a little bit of all of the above, which is why I’ve decided to go with it. I might throw in a subtitle just to clarify the book’s subject, but the title is definitely going to be Fried Pickles.

I hope everyone else is having success in preparing for NaNoWriMo! I happened to catch someone’s blog the other day with their outline for their next novel and I thought it was interesting how different it was laid out than the outlines I create for my work. There is no right way to write (I know, cheesy puns are gross but I couldn’t help it) and I find it interesting to learn about other writers’ habits and practices. So feel free to share your plans for NaNoWriMo or whatever project you’re working on in the comments below!

Later days,

– Shannon

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