New Review: The Puddingstone Well

My review of this second novel by a long-time New Jersey journalist is published. It’s a modern-day fantasy-mystery and, you guessed it, the plot revolves around a well made of puddingstones. Excerpt:

Glancing at the cover of this book we know right off the bat something is up with that well. There are too many historical writings about fountains of youth to count, not to mention the legendary island of Avalon and utopian villages such as Shangri-La. In The Puddingstone Well, the second novel from William Westhoven, variations of these myths are indeed relied upon, but with a contemporary spin. In the Prologue to Part One, the phrase “what history does not recall” lets us know this is Westhoven’s tale for the telling.

Read my entire 4.5-star review here.

Related reading: My interview with William Westhoven about his nonfiction book Superstorm Sandy: A Diary in the Dark.

Featured photo “Rockaway Plum Puddingstone (NJ) by Fblockmetal via Creative Commons share on Wikipedia


Naming Your Book: Weird Can Work

How fun. Lulu has a Titlescorer feature on their website. Enter the name of your next book’s ingenious (so you think) would-be title and see how your bright idea stacks up. Of course, there is a caveat:

The Lulu Titlescorer is a useful tool, which, in Lulu’s 50-year study of some 700 novels, proved 40% better than random guess-work in guessing whether a particular title had produced a bestseller or not. “It guessed right in nearly 70% of cases,” says Dr Atai Winkler. “Given the nature of the data and the way tastes change, this is very good — better than we might have expected.”

Even so, this is not an exact science. Far from it. In fact, Dr. Winkler advises that the Lulu Titlescorer should, in practice, always be combined with use of your own low-tech judgement.

This is because, for all the work that went it, the Lulu Titlescorer is capable of giving high scores to titles that most of us would rate as weird, if not terrible. Meanwhile, of course, it also gives low scores to the titles of novels (e.g. The Da Vinci Code) which, in fact, topped the New York Times bestseller list for long periods.

So, as well as using the Titlescorer to test the merits of your own title, you can also play around with it to see what is the worst or downright weirdest title you can come up with that still earns a high score. Give it a whirl.

On the same page, they’ve also got a link to their Titlefight where you can pit two titles against one another.

Thumbnail photo courtesy pschubert on morgueFile