Blog Readers: A Writer’s Focus Group

Let’s face it.  I have amazing readers, who offer brilliant feedback and invaluable insight into the writing process.

Monday I posted a working title for my memoir, as well as a draft of chapter 1.  And you made substantial suggestions for improving each.  For this, I  thank you.

In the writing classes I used to teach, I’ve had students do peer-reviews as part of the composition process–encouraging them to try out their drafts on one another to determine what revisions were needed.  However, foolishly perhaps, I hadn’t thought to use those of you who read my blog as an actual focus group for testing drafts of my own work-in-progress.  Yes, I’ve shared with you the stories I intended to incorporate into my memoir, but I’ve not posted drafts and requested actual feedback about how to improve them.  Yes, others post chapters of novels they’re working on, but I’ve not noticed folks asking for actual criticism.

I did just that on Monday, and you, members of my reading audience, came through in a big way.  Some shared simple suggestions or chimed in on whether or not they liked my working title.  Others offered more detailed feedback on the chapter itself.  Both kinds of information are enormously valuable, as I collect data about what works, what doesn’t work, and why.

The success of this memoir will partly depend on you, and I intend to thank the reading members of my test audience in the acknowledgements section of the book itself.  I feel blessed to have a group of brilliant readers and writers, from around the world, to participate in this project.

You keep me going.  You motivate me, even when the feedback isn’t altogether positive–especially when your response is mixed or even downright negative.  Why?  Because you hold me accountable.  You tell me what’s effective.  You offer concrete suggestions about how to improve my work.

So, here are my decisions, based on feedback you’ve offered this week:

1.  I’m scrapping the title, Praying for the Mob:  A Childhood Gambled on God and the Mob.  Though many of you liked the title, as I did, there was enough negative feedback that I now believe I need something significantly shorter.  Now I’m considering:

Odds:  A Childhood Gambled on God and Mob  (or)

Odds:  A Mafia Childhood (or)

The Mob-God Odds:  A Mafia Childhood (or)

Odds: A Memoir

I’m aiming for a title that communicates the strange juxtaposition that I grew up with–a father in organized crime and a mother who was a devout, Bible-believing Christian.  I want it to express the  extremes of right and wrong I wrestled with as a child.

2.  I’ve decided to also scrap chapter 1 as posted on Monday.  I’m deep into a radical revision that will delete the Baby Doc material.  I may still use the Duvalier interview in a preface, adding  the context that allowed me to meet Baby Doc in the first place. In the newer draft, I will begin chapter 1 with an FBI raid of our house when I was a teenager–one that I witnessed.  I’ll use that event to introduce the players in my drama–my siblings and I, the federal government, and my parents–both mother and father and how they behaved during that raid–how that was emblematic of the larger roles  they played in my childhood and my evolution into an adult.

I hope to post a revised draft of chapter 1 next week.

Again, I want to thank everyone who offered feedback earlier this week, anyone who’s offered feedback any place along the way, for that matter.  You are dear to me–and a huge part of this memoir’s evolution.

I can’t encourage others strongly enough to do as I have and post drafts of important writing projects on your blogs.  Ask for feedback.  Use your readers as a focus group.  They will come through for you in the same amazing ways my readers have for me.

We have a brilliant group of writers who post on WordPress.  We can come together virtually from around the world, read one another’s work-in-progress, and help make it better.

As blog readers and writers, we form the ultimate compositional focus group.

We can influence the texts of tomorrow by posting and commenting today.  Please join this writing revolution by leaving a response below.

What feedback can you offer about what I’ve written above, especially about the title options and/or my revised strategy for chapter 1?  Will you consider posting work-in-progress on your blog?  Will you ask for feedback, both positive and negative?

85 thoughts on “Blog Readers: A Writer’s Focus Group

  1. My apologies, I have your first chapter saved for my weekend reading!!! I haven’t had time yet to read it thoroughly so I saved it for this weekend.

    I liked your first title. Maybe I’ll change my mind after reading the entirety of the last post. Wait for me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I guess if not your original title my second favorite is:

    Odds: A Childhood Gambled on God and Mob

    I am so behind!!!


    • I’ll be curious to see what you think. I understand why you would save that for the weekend. It’s a little long. Who ever thought selecting a title would be so challenging? If you don’t have time to read the first draft, just wait for the second. I truly hope to post it next week sometime. Thanks, my friend, for reading. You are dear and your feedback so, so helpful!


  2. Excellent post, Kathy. And so true. I know the readers helped me when I was trying to decide what to do about a cover for Dancing in Heaven. I may take your lead and post snippets of my WIP too. (Although I don’t think I have as many “writers” reading my blog.)

    I think it is important to keep “God” in the title as your mother and her world-view are a large part of your memoir, I imagine. So I like: Odds: A Childhood Gambled on God and Mob. If you use “childhood” in the title, you don’t need the word “memoir,” I think.

    Just remember to follow your heart and not be confused by the many undoubtedly diverse opinions. It has to be true and genuine to you. It has to read well to you. You are an excellent writer, you can trust yourself.

    I read the comment above. Way to keep your readers on their toes, I almost missed the poll myself. 🙂


    • Yes, you’re right. If I say “childhood,” I don’t need the word “memoir.” And I think the former is the better of the two. I think you should post some WIP, as feedback fom non-writers can also be helpful. Your ultimate audience will not all be writers. The non-writers will offer a different kind of feedback, but it’s still valuable. Does that make any sense?


    • Gosh, it’s so hard to decide. I agree that “God” complicates. The question is–what work do I want my title to do for me? Do I need to include that juxtaposition in order to attract readers? Proabably not. Maybe that’s asking too much of a title. Great feedback. Thanks so much, Renee!


  3. Oh no Kathy, I haven’t read Chapter 1 yet, and it’s already scrapped! Not to worry, you know what is right for you, moreso than anyone else, and if the feedback you received made you reconsider what you had already written, then it’s got to be the right thing for you.

    I really like the idea of beginning chapter 1 with the FBI raid, and introducing the main people who will feature in your story. That sounds like an exciting start, and with a purpose. It will get your readers into the story right from the beginning.

    As for the title, do you have any more ideas? I agree with CMSmith about having God and the mob in the title, but options 1 and 3 are tongue-twisters, with options 2 and 4 just not descriptive enough. Well, that’s just my opinion.

    I love that you are sharing your ideas and asking us for feedback! But remember, don’t give away the whole story, keep us in suspence or we’ll know the whole story before it’s published. 🙂


    • You are probably right, Joanne. The title will likely be none of these options. Who would have ever guessed this would be so challenging? I’m glad you pointed out the tongue-twister issue. You are at least the 2nd person who mentioned that. I need to seriously consider that.

      Don’t worry about not having read the first draft of chapter 1. Save you readerly energy for the second draft next week. I will be curious to see what you think. So great to hear from you today, Joanne. Hugs to you from both Sara and me!


      • After I left you the comment last night I kept on thinking about the title Kathy, and I have a suggestion. Why not wait until the book is completed, then choose a phrase from the book, based on a poignant moment, (and I’m sure there will be many of those!) and make that your title? I’m thinking in particular about Mayo Angelou, writing her memoirs, and how she named her first book “I know why the caged bird sings”.

        I’ve just tried to find the sentence, to put it into context, but do you think I can find it when I need it? Not a chance! (Although the dedication is wonderful…”This book is dedicated to my son, Guy Johnson, and all the strong black birds of promise who defy the odds and gods and sing their songs”. I added that here for you, as isn’t that what you have done Kathy? Defied the odds and gods?)

        I look forwrd to reading your next draft, and hugs to you and Sara from me! 🙂


      • Damn, I LOVE that, Joanne! That’s exactly whatI have done. I’m going to play with that notion of “defying”– Thank you so, so much, my friend. But, yes, I’ve read “I know why the caged bird sing.” It’s true that a sentence or phrase not yet written will surface. However, now I’m taken with “Defying odds and God.” Gotta work on that. Hugs to you, Joanne!


  4. Kathryn: I agree with Renee (LITBL) and probably would even cut it to A Mafia Childhood — BUT … to be honest, your publisher and editor will probably choose the title anyhow. That was what happened with my two books, although I gave them options & had strong opinions (which they suggested I keep to myself). Don’t stress about the title — by the time you FINISH writing the book, it will become clear to you what the title should be. And I think starting with the police raid is a great idea. (But my suggestion to you, darling, is to set up a good working outline, then just plunge in, start writing, know you can always edit, and follow your own instincts. Once you get going, you’ll see your way!) Bon voyage, Miss K!!!


    • Gosh, this is important to know! Thank you for sharing that–about the title, that is. On the other hand, I don’t have a working outline, I’m afraid to say. I need to do that. My issue is tht I can’t decide how I’ll proceed and have, thus, avoided an outline. Maybe I need to create one, knowing I CAN change it–emphasizing the word “working” in “working outline.”

      I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your support, Betty! ALso, I ALWAYS take Renee’s advice seriously. She’s the one who challenged me to write this in the first place. Thank God for her. I know how highly you think of her. She’s dear–as are you!


  5. Well I liked Chapter 1 but think that shift that you are planning to make sounds like a great one—–a little bit of introduction into what to expect from the book will be good! You are one smart cookie!! As for the title—probably the shorter version is better and I like having both the Mob and God in the title because it poses such a dichotomy……I am excited to be a part of the journey vicariously!


    • Gosh, Beth Ann, I can’t tell you how much I LOVE having you along for the ride. It’s great to know I’m not doing this in isolation. Writing can be a solitary and potentially lonely endeavor, but this blog brings others into the process in a way that feels so supportive and motivating. You all keep me going–and I thank you for that, from the bottom of my heart. And, for whatever reason, you are particularly dear to me. I don’t know why. Guess I connect to the heart and soul of who you seem to be. Thank you for sharing yourself, Beth Ann!


  6. Ok Kathy, I LOVE the first title. I think you need to leave something in there about the mob to attract readers. If it is just odds then people will have to guess what the book is about. As an avid reader I admit that title is key. It makes me decide which book to pick up and read the back of, when I’m at the bookstore. I still like the Baby Doc stuff a lot. I would feel sad if you didn’t put it in so I still think as a preface or even in the afterword that it may be nice. This is so great that you are using your WP readers to help critique the book. Just like your friends wedding, you can use your blog to help with the book! I love that! I even thought of doing that with my draft. Keep it up. If you can share an outline of where the book is headed that may be cool as it would help in seeing the big picture.


    • BRILLIANT comment, dear Nicole! Yes, I don’t what the reader to have to guess. I need either the word “mob” or “mafia” in the title. It’s helpful to have you mention what motivates you to pick up a book. That kind of feedback is essential.

      The thing I wonder about the Baby Doc stuff is this–I suspect I can write an entire other book about the year we lived in Haiti. I think publishers like to know that they are investing in a writer who is not a one-book-wonder. I think I have another book about my mental illness–and two others–maybe one about Vietnam and another about Haiti.

      Yes, pleasse consider posting your draft. I would love to read it, whenever you are ready. I’m dying to know what it’s about. Also, have you ever considered writing about your post-pardom (sp?) depression? Also, books about each of these trips you’ve taken?


      • Good idea Kathy. You are write as a book on Haiti alone would be fascinating! As for me, the book is fiction. I will let you know once I start working on it again perhaps this summer. Not sure if I would want a separate blog just for it or not. Things to ponder!


    • Great to hear from you, Kirsten! I like the same title you do–but–it’s not something I need to stress about now–true! I also think Betty is right about my needing a working outline. I need to get on that. Hope you’re doing well!


  7. Of the titles listed here, I’d vote for the second–although it doesn’t include the juxtaposition you’re wanting to include… I suspect the challenge of incorporating that juxtaposition into the title will be finding a balance between a title that explains enough (WE know what you’re getting at, but will a bookstore-browser be intrigued rather than confused by the title?) and one that isn’t too lengthy or unwieldy…

    I VERY much like the idea of beginning the book with the excitement & drama of that personal experience with the FBI raid! Most of us are only exposed to mafia through newspapers or movies–but you were right there in the thick of it… If that’s not a “hook” for your readers, I don’t know what would be. 🙂

    I like Monica’s suggestion of using the Baby Doc lead-in as a preface… It does provide a useful and intriguing CONTEXT for the story of your own family, with the tie-in between this internationally-known “bad guy” (who was disturbingly likable in person)… And a preface allows a “cheat,” in a sense–the opportunity to set up that context and introduction for your reader up front, while starting your actual STORY with the action/drama hook of the FBI raid you witnessed yourself.

    I’m excited for you about the prospect of getting your dad’s FBI files–that’s going to be a whole new phase of your journey, isn’t it? 🙂

    And now… WE WANT MORE! 🙂 Please.

    Hugs, Kana 🙂


    • Kana, I love you! Thank God for your enthusiasm. I can’t tell you how much that motivates me. And your insight about the title is HUGE! It’s the balance between too much and not enough that I need to figure out. You articulated that perfectly. Thank you for that.

      Also, I agree that beginning with action–the FBI raid–is a good idea. It’s what I had initially intended when I started thinking aoubt this book, and, I suspect, my instinct about that was right.

      Great, great feedback, my friend. As usual! What would I do without you, my dear?


    • Yes, I suspect there will be some degree of mixing and matching in the end. I would also love to know if another title altogether might occur to you. Chances are the title in the end will be none of the ones I mentioned here. Weird, isn’t it? Let me know if something else, another title altogether, occurs to you, Laurie. You know more about this stuff than I do!


  8. Kathy, you’re so very brave to put yourself out there like this. I love how you took all the comments to heart and have come up with a new plan. Your new chapter sounds perfect. Just the thing to get your story going!

    The book title is so important and critical. My suggestion (which is what I was told when writing mine), is to for now table it. Put it aside. Write some more, get some chapters under your belt and it’ll come. The only thing I’d say about “Odds,” is that I don’t necessarily associate “odds” with the mafia. Odds would be perfect if you were the child of a bookie. But if your father was a bookie for the mob, then maybe you can focus on that instead of the word mafia? I’m not sure, would need to read more of the story.


    • Oh, thank you, Monica. But, yes, my father was a bookie for the mafia. And that will become clear in the firts chapter–even in the first few paragraphs. ALso, there is some historical context I will eventually include, as Dick Thornburgh,ultimately the Attorney General for Bush number one, was, at this time, the district attorney for Western PA. He made a name for himself in the case my father was involved with. Thornburgh, in his memoir, writes aobut bookmakng being the “mafia’s cash regisiter” and his belief that to disarm the mafia, he had to eliminate the bookmaking. In fact, the case that he writes about–the FBI raids he orchestrated in Pittsburgh in 1970, my dad was locked in a room with the king pin of the operation when the raids were carried out. I have a post about this. Actually maybe more than one. Too much to explain here.

      Thank you, so, so much for your feedback, Monica! Thanks–from the bottom of my heart.


  9. Kathy, I apologize for not reading Monday’s post. I probably won’t now, as I will wait for the revised chapter rather than adding to input you’ve already used to guide you.

    I vote for “Odds: A Mafia Childhood” as the title. While God will play a significant role, I think it complicates things to add that to the title, while the concept of Mafia Childhood will intrigue.

    I am so excited for you for finding your way into a place where you are ready to share.



    • Yes, it’s not worth reading now. I suggest you wait for next week’s draft. And, yes, you’re right. The “God” thing complicates the title–that’s the perfect word to describe it. I really can’t wait to hear what you thin of the new version. The story is one I’ve shared before. My goal now is to craft it into a chapter and see how you think it works to grab the reader’s attention. Thanks so much for stopping by, my friend. I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your feedback on the chaper I share next week. Hugs to you, my dear!


  10. Oh dear. I was saving reading the first chapter until I had some time. Oh well. I’m sure the revision will only make it better. Also, I agree about changing the title. It’s a little long. I’m not sold on these titles but I like Odds: A Mafia Childhood. There is a enough intrigue by putting together Odds, mafia and childhood, indicating that there are so many directions it can go in.

    Can’t wait to read the new chapter.


    • Now you can wait for the next draft–or read the older version. The other I love, but now I don’t think it works for the beginning of a book about my childhood. Oh, well.

      I think you have identified exactly the three words I need. That distillation of the title to those three words is very helpful. Thank you so, so much. Can’t tell you how much I appreciate this feedback. I can’t wait to hear what you think of my new version of chapter 1. Hope you’ll stop by again next week and take a look.


  11. I completely support your two decisions.
    And, while I agree that we have amazing readers who are also amazing writers, too much feedback too early can kill a project. I wouldn’t post a working draft until the whole draft was done, and I had edited, tuned, and revised it to the best of my ability.

    As Anne Lamott says, you have to be free to write shitty first drafts. Knowing an audience will be reading that crap, makes it hard to generate (in my opinion). Personally, I have to generate A LOT of crap before I can find the diamonds I’ve shat.


    • Oh, Lord, when I say “first draft,” I don’t mean the literal first. This may be the 10 or 15th, but the first I dare share. I’m a big believer in the Lamott’s embracing of the “shitty first draft.” In fact, I use that chapter in most writing classes I teach. I should probably have clarified what I meant by “first.” I’m with you, sister–big time. I wouldn’t share my literal first draft with my worst enemy. Good point!


  12. I just read the first part of your post and this title popped into my head: “Wrestling With The Mob and God.” Eh? I’d love to read more but I’m in a flat out spin trying to keep up with everything including a final edit on my memoir–kindest regards, Rossandra.


    • Thanks so much for your comment, Rossanda. I like that title. I will add it to the list. And, Lord, I know what you mean about not being able to read more. Congrats on being down to the final edit on your memoir. Can’t wait till I can say that! Hope to see you sometime again soon.


  13. I like Odds: A Childhood Gambled on the Mob and God. I think “the Mob” should be first because that seems to be the most significant and unique part of your growing-up story (not that your mom’s influence isn’t as strong.)

    I’m looking forward to reading your chapters! I love the idea of a writer’s group. Very beneficial to the process.


    • Good point about the “mob” part coming first. I hadn’t thought about it those specific terms, to be honest. This is why feedback is so, so helpful. I’m happy you want to read more. How exciting that folks like you actually want to read what I write. Sometimes it almost makes me giddy! Thank you so, so much for your comment. Hope you will stop by again next week when I post another version of chapter 1.


  14. Like so many others, I like the idea of God and the mob in your title. What I find so exciting is your suggestion of beginning with that raid! That is SUCH a GREAT idea! You will pull your readers in from word one. There will be no putting it down after that!


  15. I still like the original title, but what’s most important is what’s contained in the pages within. Scrapping chapter one, changing the title, whatever – I’ll still read it when it’s finished, even if you’ve made a hundred revisions or none.


  16. Kathy, of the options above, I like the first title, with the addition of ‘the’ in front of ‘mob.’ I’m looking forward to reading a book that starts off with a bang. I think this new place will be really compelling.

    I have a rule about blog posts. They can be no more than 600 words in length. So, when I post excerpts from a novel, I seldom point it out. I just want to see how readers respond to things without drawing too much attention to my process. As an example, my Natchez Trace series from a few weeks ago is the seed for my next novel. I never really said that anywhere. I just wrote scenes and noted what people responded to.


    • That is really smart. Why didn’t I think of taking the stealth approach?

      And, yes, thanks for mentioning the “the.” I have to agree. Don’t know why I left it out, actually. Glad you think this new begining has promise. We’ll see. So far, so good.


  17. I’m late to the party, AGAIN and playing catch-up. I see I’ve missed some interesting stuff here on your blog. Since I’m reading newest to oldest, I’ve yet to read the post you’ve mentioned. But as far as the title, I really like the idea of incorporating both the mob and God into it. They each made up the center of your world and they are from where your story spins. Of the options you’ve posted, I like this one best: Odds: A Childhood Gambled on God and Mob.


    • That seems to be the consensus, actually. I kind of like it because it explains the significance of the word “odds,” which could refer to a number of things. Thanks so much for weighing in, Terri.


  18. I feel like a giant turd, but none of your proposed titles rock my world. I think it would behoove you to just focus on writing your memoir and focus on finding the perfect title afterward. Whenever I have written a full-length work, in my case that comprises screenplays and stage plays (and I would not post those on my blog), I just try to write a complete draft first, power write the piece, and then I rewrite and tweak. That’s a process that can go on endlessly. Therefore, I think that rather than rewriting chapter 1 you should just plow ahead. Yet, if chapter 1 does not work for you, okay, write a new chapter 1 starting with the FBI raid. I seem to recall a very compelling post you published about a raid several months back or possibly it was last year. That was riveting. I urge you that once you’ve written a chapter 1 you can live with, move on and write chapter 2. I think this entire memoir is inside your head bursting to get out and you need to release it, so try not to move backwards. You can do that relentlessly in the editing and rewriting process once you have a first draft written.


    • I understand your point. However, the process of gettting an agent involves submitting a proposal that includes the first chapter or first 50 pages, so I need the first chapter first. I suppose the process is different for the kinds of things you write. It’s also different for fiction. You have to submit the entire ms.–not the case with non-fiction.


  19. It’s so exciting to have online peers to help better your work! You have a great attitude about being critiqued, which will only help you and your final project! 🙂 P.S. One of my favorite songs is called The Underwood Typewriter by Fionn Regan


    • I don’t think I would have had as good an attitude even 10 years ago, but I’m learning. Still, however, criticism isn’t easy to hear. I’ve never heard the song. I’ll have to check it out!


  20. Our readers are the best! I loved this post honoring them! Just think of all the input we have available to us. Feedback keeps opening our worldview, so that we can see like an eagle, from way above.


  21. I doubt I can add anything to the amazing feedback you have already. I found it ironic that your dad, being in the mob, is kind of like a “Godfather” and your mom, being of strong faith, is a “Godmother” – though neither of them in the normal sense of what those terms mean… Mob Father, God Mother. Surviving God and the Mob. Or something. Or not… 😀


    • Oh, I like that, Julie. I had played with the Godfather vs. God, the Father, but hadn’t considered God Mother. Kind of cool. Actually, I’m going to share another title option tomorrow when I post the next version of chapter one. Hope you’ll read and let me know what you think. Great to hear from you today!


  22. I don’t think I can add anything to all the incredible feedback you’ve already received. I like the idea that your title will come to you once the book is written. Kind of like naming a child, really. It’s hard to know for sure, no matter what you might think and plan, until you’ve given birth. Seems to me the creative process is just another way of giving birth. 🙂


    • Yes, it is another way of giving birth–and equally painful, I suppose–never having had a child. I’m sure the title will come eventually. I realize, however, that I focus on the title because the overall task feels so huge, thinking about the title feels like a managable task. Thanks for reading, Robin!


  23. I apologize in advance for not taking the time to read all the comments first, but I had to tell you that I went to sleep last night thinking about your book title (so someone may have already offered something far more fitting than I could ever come up with – especially since you have such a diverse group of readers). In any case, I kept trying to find something that would combine the basic God + Mafia / Odds + Childhood + Memoir, and I’ll have to admit, it’s really tough to get all those variables into one snappy title. Specifically if you want to highlight the juxtaposition of how opposed the two sides are in the natural order of things, and what it meant to grow up in the middle of that blend of extremes. I kept coming back to the thought of how confusing it must have been for you as a kid … I mean, really … wow.

    Coming up with a title that gives you an abbreviated version of what is inside the pages of your book is quite the challenge. I thought on it so hard that I finally fell asleep amidst the disjointed dreams of children peering out the window watching for the FBI while reciting their nightly prayers. It was a little bit kooky, and it really hit home how strange it must have been for that to be your every day reality. I mean, I know I’ve heard you mention it before, but I guess it never sunk in until I tried to form a book title around all those conflicting entities. In any case, I did wake up with a book title in mind, so here it is:

    My God Played the Odds –
    A Mafia Daughter’s Memoir


    Does God Play the Odds?
    A Mafia Daughter’s Memoir

    I’m in a rush today because I’m still woefully behind on getting caught up with all those emails (over 200 of em stacked up while my computer was dead), but I can’t wait to have more time to come back over here and read some of the comments, and maybe even add some more thoughts about other issues you brought up in your post.

    You are one of the reasons I’ve evolved into someone that hesitantly believes that there is no good reason why I shouldn’t try writing my own book – although mine won’t have the the same theme. Other than some minimal but very specific references, I probably won’t even bring the connection into the story. But my experience was not at all the same as yours. It was much more central to your childhood than mine. In my experience, it was all about the violence, and although I’m still working on the details, I think the thrust of my book would be about finding a peaceful existence after living inside the violence. Anyway, best of luck to you as you move forward with your book. I know it will be a huge hit.


    • You are such a sweetie. I can’t believe you fell asleep thinking about this. However, I do love your suggestions. As I said above, sometimes the entire task of writing this memoir feels so overwhelming, I comfort myself by thinking about the title, as that feels like a more managable task.

      Yes, you’re right. Our stories, despite their similaries, offer two very different experiences of organized crime. But, I’d love you to write your book–and think you “should.” It’s great having companions on this journey.

      Thanks so much for stopping by. I’m thrilled you’ve gotten a new computer and are up and running again–so to speak.


  24. Love this one:
    Odds:  A Childhood Gambled on God and Mob 
    I would add “the” before “Mob”. I think it rolls off the tongue better.
    What a fascinating topic!


  25. I agree that the WP community is a great one, Kathy. It surprises me that more bloggers don’t use their readers as a focus group as you did– I’m sure the feedback provided was invaluable for your writing process!

    As far as the new titles go, I’m a little choked that the original one was scrapped, but out of the new ones, I like (b) the best. Options (a) and (c) seem too convoluted and tongue-twister-y to me, almost like they are trying too hard to play on words, and option (d) doesn’t provide enough context for me to want to pick the book up. (Somebody who wasn’t familiar with your book might not grasp the subtle meaning of “odds” in the title. It might not provide enough oomph to attract readers.)

    Looking forward to reading your revised first chapter. I think a raid scene would make a *tremendous* first impression on your readers.


    • Hey Dana, great to hear from you today. Actually, I’ve decided that no titles are totally out. I think anything is possible. And as several folks have said, my editor/publisher will likely pick the title. I just have to use one as part of my proposal, knowing that it will likely change. So never fear!


      • Sure thing, Kathy. I get that length might be an issue, but I hope your editors don’t crop the title too much, either! 🙂

        I’ve been a busy bee lately with work, but I’m hoping to play a little more catch up on the blog front this afternoon. Cheers!


  26. so you write what you think you want to write. Then you write it, and see if the people see it the same way you intended, check. Doesn’t sound too hard to get some solid criticism.


    • Oh, Lord, Brad, you ought to take a look at some of the comments in the post after this one in which my readers point out one of my major writing mistakes. I told the story–rather than showing. I don’t know if you ever remember my teaching that principle. It’s so hard to follow your own advice. I made the same mistake I always used to warn you all against!


  27. Kathryn, forgive my delay….and my presumptuousness, but how about, “Living with God and the Mob”? I loved loved loved your first chapter (I think it was the first draft), and wanted to read more! That’s the best indication of interesting subject material and great writing. You captured and captivated me. I love this journey you’re taking me on and look forward to your unique perspective and enchanting style. xo Julia


    • Oh, Julia, how fun to hear from you today! I like the title you suggest. However, I think you may be interested in the revision of chapter 1, as it was radically changed–and I think I throw title ideas around there, as well. I hope I’m remembering that correctly. So happy to hear you want to read more from having read that first version of chapter 1. Actually, I think the second version is better.

      And, goodness, please don’t apologize. I’m happy to hear from you whenever you find the time. Hope you’re doing well. Hugs to you!


  28. Pingback: Targeted Blog Titles Draw Traffic | one cool site

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