Please help us welcome author Charley Descoteaux back to The Novel Approach today, as she tours the internet to chat about her new Dreamspinner Press release, Buchanan House. Enjoy Charley’s guest post, then be sure to leave a comment right here for the chance to win an e-copy of the book.
See details below, and good luck!
A Title is a Promise
Thank you for having me back. I always have a great time visiting The Novel Approach, you’ve built such a fun community!
When I started writing Buchanan House I wanted the camp itself to be as important as any of the supporting characters, and I wanted the title to reflect that. Maybe I took the easy way out, but titles are the most difficult part of the writing process for me so I do what I have to. In this case, I relied on luck. J
One of my grandmother’s sisters and her husband ran a camp in Upstate New York when I was a kid, and I was lucky enough to visit once. It made a huge impression on me, and not only because it was one of my few childhood vacations. I’ve always wanted to write a story (or a series) about a camp house with personality like that one—it’s the perfect setting for romance.
To maintain plausible deniability I won’t name that camp, but it has a cool name. The names of the camps in that part of the country are all colorful, they’re also a promise. Those names promise fun in the outdoors or a romantic getaway at retreats like North Pole Resorts or Niagara Falls Park. I wanted to bring that kind of promise to this story, but with a queer twist. I got lucky, and the camp practically named itself early-on, in that strange and wonderful way otherwise unrelated things spontaneously combine while writing.
One of my passions has always been history—family history, US history, the history of my favorite band or motorcycle—you name it. I haven’t had much opportunity to formally study fun subjects like history, but I read a lot and love that some of the straightwashing I grew up with is being remedied. When I was in high school, or even my first stint at college, nobody would’ve speculated on a former President’s orientation. Not out loud and surely not in print. Not so anymore! It’s important for the world to know our history, to acknowledge that LGBTQ+ people have always been here, have lived in their neighborhoods, and have done some pretty cool things. Like being President of the United States.
When I realized I’d placed my fictional queer retreat a few miles down the coast from a town named for a president, Lincoln City, it seemed natural to name it after James Buchanan, the confirmed bachelor president with the close male friend.
Which is all a very roundabout way to say that I chose the title Buchanan House because a simple, straightforward Romance deserves a simple title that lets the reader know what to expect. Plus, after The Nesting Habits of Strange Birds and The Pinch of the Game, I was ready for a short title. :)
What say you, readers? Do you like a short and sweet title, one that’s fully readable in thumbnail, or do you like an elaborate title that tells you more about the story? What are some of your favorite titles and why do you like them?
Leave your answers in the comments for a chance to win an ebook copy of Buchanan House or the naming privileges for a character in a future book—winner’s choice!
THIS CONTEST IS CLOSED
Here’s an exclusive excerpt, just for The Novel Approach readers. It takes place the day Nathan shows Eric the camp for the first time.
Excerpt: Eric moved aside a curtain, stiff with dirt and things he didn’t want to think about, and saw a dock with a tiny boathouse perched on the near end. The river they’d driven alongside and then over appeared to flow directly into the ocean not far from where they stood. He ran to catch up with Nathan.
“…no silly little B and B, this is a real resort. We can clean it up and advertise in all the cool places and fill our rooms with hot gay men all year round. It’ll be like working in a candy store, and you won’t have to cook at Shari’s and live in a hovel anymore.”
“Hey. It’s my hovel.” Eric didn’t want to, but he smiled a little anyway, even if he didn’t own the one-bedroom apartment he’d lived in by himself for the past six months.
Living alone had been a failed experiment at being a real adult. Eric probably should have caved to Nathan’s peer pressure and moved into his shared apartment downtown. But he needed to silence his brother’s voice in his head, the one that laughed because he’d lived with Grammy Jewell every day since Thanksgiving when he was thirteen.
He followed Nathan down the main staircase and out the back way. Double french doors led out to a wider porch than the one in front—wide enough for tables and chairs, and a swing…. To the right it looked like there had once been a lawn and garden, and to the left, it was all about getting into the river. And the ocean. The ocean was right there, a short walk to what might be the high tide line, and then the beach.
Nathan went on about nude sunbathing and kayaking and massage gazebos—massage gazebos?—but Eric was entranced by the beach. He’d always wanted to live somewhere he could walk to the beach the way he walked to the post office or to the coffeehouse. He closed the distance between the camp and the beach like a man whose mind was being controlled elsewhere. The churning whitecaps made Eric’s heart race.
Nathan joined him near the place where the trees framing the backyard met the sand, and for a while they stood side by side, just watching the waves retreat to the unbroken line of the horizon.
“No,” Eric whispered, but was pretty sure Nathan heard him even before he replied.
“No, it won’t be just for men. I want women to be comfortable here too. Tex. Tex and Maria, and all their friends…. I want to do it, but it has to be for everyone under the rainbow. If a bi gal is married to a man, they can come. If a trans man is dating a woman, they’re welcome.” Eric looked up into the brown eyes of his best friend in the world, the most flamboyant queen he’d ever met, and felt as powerless over his emotions as he had at Grammy Jewell’s funeral. Except this was joy, not grief. Eric didn’t know the first thing about operating a retreat, but he feared if they couldn’t make this happen, he’d never get over it.
Nathan grinned. “Of course.”
“You did that intentionally.”
“Who better to pull your strings than your best friend?” Nathan draped an arm around Eric’s shoulders and pulled him close. “I saw you, picturing us here, making our own little west coast version of P-Town, but I have met you before. I knew if I tried to make it exclusive, you’d call me on it. I want this, Eric, as much as you do.”
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: August 19, 2015
Length: 136 Pages
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase
Blurb: Eric Allen, thirty-three-year-old line cook, moved in with his grandmother, Jewell, after a disastrous coming-out when he was in middle school. She raised him, and he cared for her when she fell ill. When Jewell died she left everything to Eric—angering his parents and older brother. The inheritance isn’t much, but Eric and his bestie Nathan pool their money and buy an abandoned hotel on an isolated stretch of the Central Oregon Coast. The hotel isn’t far from Lincoln City—a town with its own Pride Festival and named for a president—so they christen it Buchanan House after James Buchanan, the “confirmed bachelor” president with the close male friend.
Eric and Nathan need a handyman to help them turn Buchanan House into the gay resort of their dreams. Eric finds Tim Tate in the local listings and over the months leading to opening weekend Tim reveals himself as a skilled carpenter with many hidden talents. Eric falls hard for Tim, but before he can see a future with the gorgeous handyman he has to get over twenty years of being bullied and shamed by his birth family. It would be much easier if Eric’s brother Zach weren’t trying to grab part of the inheritance or ruin opening weekend.
BIO: Charley Descoteaux has always heard voices. She was relieved to learn they were fictional characters, and started writing when they insisted daydreaming just wasn’t good enough. In exchange, they’ve agreed to let her sleep once in a while. Charley grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area during a drought, and found her true home in the soggy Pacific Northwest. She has survived earthquakes, tornadoes, and floods, but couldn’t make it through one day without stories.