Nothing says romance quite like the Wrath of God.

OK, that's got almost nothing to do with today's featured anthology, "Cowboy Christmas  ." But it's a catchy little opener, and writing and bookhawking's a whole lot about getting somebody's eyeballs wanting to read more of what you're figuratively and literally selling.  So when Christian fiction author Mary Connealy submitted her romantic-comedy manuscript to a publisher under the snappy title, "Room for God's Wrath," she genuinely was surprised it was rejected.

"The characters all want revenge [on] a bad man," says Connealy. "The title [came] from the Bible verse that starts 'Vengeance is mine...leave room for God's wrath.' I thought I was pretty tricky to use the second half of that verse rather than the better known first."

Connealy's read got picked up by that same publisher when she and her agent re-submitted it under a new name they'd created which they believed more apt, "Petticoat Ranch  ." Ultimately, the novel inspired a 3-book series in which the publisher brainstormed with Connealy matching titles.

"[We] needed...a lady's undergarment and a ranch-y type word," recalls Connealy with good humor. "Okay, I write Christian

fiction, there are a limited number of ladies' undergarments I'm allowed to mention anywhere, let alone in the title. We ended up with...the Lassoed in Texas series...[including] 'Calico Canyon  ' and 'Gingham Mountain  .'"

So what's Connealy got to do with "Cowboy Christmas," the holiday anthology I'm psyched to tell you about? Well, she's hit the title trip-up again, 'cause she's got a book out by that same name, plus, there's a Janette Kenny romance so titled this holiday season.

Today's featured "Cowboy Christmas  " contains three sexy n' satisfyin' little short stories set 'round the Yule season, one by Pam Crooks, Connealy's western romance group-blog pal.  In Crooks' "Cattleman's Christmas Bride," Crooks riffs on the beloved kidnapping theme when a former sort-of bad guy who's learned his lesson helps a socially ruined heiress find respect while she finds a wealth of inner strength.  Luckily, they're still pretty smitten from a couple years back when he took her prisoner...

In Elizabeth Lane's "The Homecoming," a man who's done hard time for a crime committed while saving his irresponsible brothers' life returns home to a wife who doesn't trust him and a young son who doesn't know him.  Figuring out whom to forgive may be the greatest Christmas miracle of all.

And the heat is on in Carol Finch's "A Husband for Christmas," as an independent businesswoman "hires" the handsome Texas town marshal to play the part of her spouse as she goes home to visit her blue-blood folks for the holidays.  Neither counts on their "pretend" affection turning into a grounding relationship neither thought they'd have.

It's fairly unusual for romances published in the same year, let alone months apart, to have the same titles, as publishers search lists well to avoid repetition. But why don't we just turn the above-mentioned title triple play to our advantage. In fact, during the holiday season, I suggest the well-prepared hostess is one who pleases her best girlfriends by always having on hand a goodly supply of Christmas Cowboys. 

Boy, howdy, indeed.

What makes the title of a romance "grab" your attention?  At what time of the year do you start reading Winter holiday romances?

by MaryConnealy on ‎10-12-2009 02:05 PM
Not just romance...with the wrath of God,
by MaryConnealy on ‎10-12-2009 02:06 PM

Not just romance...with the wrath of God, Michelle. Romantic Comedy.

Ah, live and learn. :smileyhappy:

HEY! I think I wrote a really good book. Titles, however, may not be my strength.

by PrincessBumblebee on ‎10-12-2009 02:19 PM

To me, simple, straight forward titles of the best, especially when they all relate, like Nalini Singh's Guild Hunters all start with "Angel" so it's less confusing. Also, if they're unaccountably witty like Kresley Cole's "Dark Needs At Night's Edge". How can you not love it?

As for when I start reading holiday anthologies, I always seem to start one Thanksgiving holiday and then finish on Christmas holiday. Of course, I usually have a couple, which reminds me to grab some more, hehe.

by Blogger Michelle_Buonfiglio on ‎10-12-2009 03:16 PM

Hi, Mary!  Thanks so much for sharing this story with us.  It's very sweet that you've shown us how you very earnestly thought you'd chosen a catchy title, but learned you maybe were selling short the fun and romance that made your manuscript win so many contests before it was published.  You've let us see through humor how a new author learns about parts of the publishing business, and, as you've done, travels some of the paths toward final publication.  I appreciate your letting me have fun with your title and story so we could talk a little about how some books get titled. 


btw, I think I speak for everyone when I thank you, Pam and the rest for the obvious, for one simply never can have too many cowboys, whatever the season.

by Blogger Michelle_Buonfiglio on ‎10-12-2009 03:20 PM

Great point, principessa!  The titles that are related make it easy to know a series is related, or by a certain author.  If the covers are related, that helps, too, no?  And the Cole titles are pretty remarkable, as well as the covers: "A Hunger Like No Other," "No Rest for the Wicked," etc.  Good stuff.   


It's kind of funny that the holiday romances start around August.But I know folks who have their holiday shopping almost finished, so perhaps Christmas books should come out in July...

by 1lovealways on ‎10-12-2009 03:49 PM

Hi Everyone!   I've found that the title of a romance can grab my attention whether it be simple or elaborate, but mostly if it says something to me.  It's not so much what the title is , but what my mind conjures up from that title.  For instance, Johanna Lindsey's Angel.  When I saw that title, my mind was going in all directions.  The first thing I thought was "How beautiful!"  Then I thought, this book is going to be good.  How could it not with a title like that? 


What did surprise me about it, was that Angel turned out to be the hero's name when I thought it was a she.  When it turned out to be a he, that title took on a different meaning entirely.  Here was this tough, sexy guy with this beautiful name that seemed so unlikely that it would fit him.  It was intriguing!  After reading the book, I could see why he was named that.  It fit him very well.  I don't think another name would have.  So, the element of surprise was another thing. It was and still is one of my favorites by her. 


Dark Lover by J.R. Ward just enthralled me!   Ooooo, what a luscious title!  And of course,  I had all of these thoughts and imaginings as to why it was called this.  When I started reading the first chapter and got to the part where she described him

making his entrance into the club, that title came immediately to mind.  Then I knew why it was called this and why it applied to him so well!  Dark Lover indeed!  Yummy!


I start reading holiday romances around Thanksgiving.  For some reason, I always get the feeling to read them around this time.  If I can find a good anthology about the holidays makes it even better!  The ambiance created by the season, the feelings, the reverence are so wonderful and a good book just adds to it!  Love it!!!  :smileyhappy:



by MalePerspectiveGuy on ‎10-12-2009 04:28 PM

Frankly, what grabs my attention are all the romance titles that sound like they should already be titles. I look at all of Michelle's books, and so many of them sound liuke they have stolen titles. I'm writing this at work, so I don't have any examples, but I bet you know what I'm talking about.

by Moderator becke_davis on ‎10-12-2009 04:30 PM

Great reads, Michelle -- not that my TBR pile needs any additions. But I keep adding more books, anyway! I'll read them one of these days, it just takes awhile for me to catch up with all the exciting new releases!


Titles do hook me sometimes, but others leave me wondering what the publishers were thinking. And I'm constantly amazed how many authors have told me that they had little or no say in the title that appeared on the cover of their book when it was published. And yet, I think most writers put a lot of angst into that choice!

by 1lovealways on ‎10-12-2009 05:13 PM

Hey Princess & Michelle


I agree the titles make it easier to know a series.  The covers too!  Kresley Cole's titles are fun with a little bit of a dark underlying theme.  Did you notice that J.R. Ward's titles all have Lover as their leading word?  That word really draws you in! Also, when you line them up the words A Novel of the Black Dagger Brotherhood aligns from one book to the other.  I'll bet no one has noticed this but me!  Ha, ha!


Becke, You are so right!  Some titles are just downright strange for wont of a better word.  I had no idea the authors had little or no involvement in this aspect regarding their books.  If they did, we'd probably get some very interesting titles and some very good ones.  It seems as though this would be a part of the creative process from start to finish.  How very disappointing for them and us.  We'll never know what may have been. :smileyhappy:




by PrincessBumblebee on ‎10-12-2009 05:44 PM

Hey, girls. 1lovealways, I agree. The titles of Kresley  Cole's just say pretty much what they are. Fun and dark novels, hehe. Like I told my Grandma, they're like Halloween. Fun and with vampires and witches, hehe. And candy. Lots and lots of eye-candy, hehe. And have you seen the cover for "Deep Kiss of Winter"? Ladies, it's so yummy I had to post the full page spread from my Romantic Times magazine on my bedroom door. Juvenile, I k now, but well worth it. Talk about warming you up on a winter's night! Hubba Hubba!

As for others, I've already mentioned her, but had to say about Nalini Singh's Psy/Changeling series that the first I read by her was "Caressed By Ice". Awesome title! Sensuel, intriguing, relative to the story in more ways than one, and gives you shivers. And I'm not talking about the ice on the cover! The guy on the cover! Hubba Hubba! And all in the Psy/Changeling are like that. She's simply a great writer! Now I wonder, though, how much say she does get in the naming of the title?


by 1AnneB on ‎10-12-2009 07:49 PM

Hi Everyone - AnneB here - Well, my TBR pile is now going to quickly become a mountain!! The Christmas anthology sounds yummy - when does it come out ? I try to find one each holiday season - it really gets me into the holiday spirit - and add cowboys into the mix - WOW !!! At least we all will be in a good mood for the holidays !!!  Happy Reading ...



by 1lovealways on ‎10-12-2009 09:51 PM

Princess, you are on fire!  That cover for Deep Kiss of Winter is hot, hot, hot!!!   I don't care if it's juvenile or not, I could imagine that cover on my wall!  Oh, Lord! 


I haven't read anything by Nalini Singh yet.  I have her books on My Wish List.  You can believe I'll add this one.  It may be the first one I get!  Love that title!!!  I'm totally intrigued now!  Are they in a series?  I've gotten so many suggestions for good books from you guys, I'm just floored in a very, very good way!  Thanks, thanks, thanks!


AnneB, Your TBR and  mine are the same!  I've stopped wondering when I'm going to read them!  I just go pick a couple out and get going.  There are bound to be several Christmas anthologies.  I'm ready!  Hey, I'm a Texas lady, so you know I luv those Cowboys!  Yahoo!!!  :smileyhappy:

by PrincessBumblebee on ‎10-13-2009 09:27 AM

1love, you fit right in, hehe! Drooling over...I mean, appreciating those delicious covers, hehe.

And, yes, Nalini Singh's Psy/changelings are a series. There's about 8 books out, the next coming November 3 (yay!) and it starts out with "Slave to Sensation". I don't think you'll be disappointed by the cover, either *grin* But she's great with story arcs, so it's best to start out with the first one and go from their. You'll love it!

Listen to me, I sound like an Nalini or Kresley's PR, hehe. I wonder if they need one?

by Moderator dhaupt on ‎10-13-2009 09:48 AM

Well Michelle it's not reaally the titles on the cover that catch my attention if you catch my drift, take for example Roxanne St. Clair's Bullet Catcher series and the two new ones, if I hadn't had to know what the title was to order the book I would have just gone up to the counter at B&N and said, you know that book that has the hottest set of abs on the planet, yeah and I think there's blue on the cover too. Wowsa!! 

So really it's not the title that captures me, sometimes it's that I know the author and love her work, sometimes actually a lot of times it's from recommendations from my friends here on these boards and if I don't know the author or it hasn't been recommended to me it's the cover that catches my attention, that makes me pick it up and read the blurb.

Now as far as when I start reading holiday stories, all year long. They say that Christmas should be in your heart all year, so why not read about it all year.


by Moderator becke_davis on ‎10-13-2009 10:28 AM

Debbie - We are so shallow. I behaved until I hit my 50s, then I figured -- all bets are off. And, dang, those are good covers.

by Blogger Michelle_Buonfiglio ‎10-13-2009 11:12 AM - edited ‎10-13-2009 11:12 AM

So, apparently, you readers don't even need titles.  You prefer covers that suggest what the book's about.  Kind of like the wooden signs that used to hang outside pubs in ye olde days, when folks weren't able to read, slabs of board w/pictures carved in them: Black Rose, Three Bells, Rooster in Hand...  OK, that last one was just juvenile, but the tone's been set.


MPG, I think you mean titles that riff on established classics, like Vanessa Kelly's upcoming, "Sex and the Single Earl," a take on "Sex and the Single Girl." 


1la, I actually have noted that about the Wards, and other books.  Linda Francis Lee had a cute series out years back in which the spines lined up to make a cartoony characterization of a cute heroine.  It was her Simply or Sexy series.  She writes women's fiction or Southern Women's fiction now, I think.  We were talking in the "Everything New is Old Again" post about loving to just look at and, OK, pet our stacks of romances, so, yeah, we notice stuff. :smileyhappy:

by Blogger Michelle_Buonfiglio on ‎10-13-2009 11:14 AM

The anthology's out now, 1AnneB.


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