Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Umm...What’s it Called Again? by Carol Ross

I'm okay with cover-judging on this one!
Soon after my first book for Harlequin Heartwarming (Mountains Apart) was published, I agreed to write three more books set in the same little Alaskan town of Rankins. And that’s how my first series was born. But, like other precious things that are born, it needed a name. To a lot of you out there, this might sound like a fun project, but naming stuff is stressful to me. When you choose a name for your child, or even your dog or cat - they’re stuck it with it. Forever. Same with a book, or in this case, an entire series. A series name might even be worse than a book title, because you only have a few words to capture the flavor of several books - all at once. And, let’s not even get into the whole judging a book by its cover/title thing.

For many writers, this is easy because they are clever enough to pick cool names for their settings in the first place and then go with a twist on that, like Bourbon Street CEO’s, Glacier Creek Cowboys, or Montana Hunky Guys. Well, maybe not that last one, but you get my meaning.

In looking back on it now, I probably would have chosen a different name for “my” town of Rankins. It doesn’t really sound pretty or roll off the tongue very easily. I hear Rankin, Ran-kin, and Rankings quite a bit. Most of the time it’s a simple, “What’s the name of the town again?” Don’t get me wrong, these mispronunciations and misspellings don’t bother me. And I did have a reason when I originally chose it. (This was many years ago, before I was ever published and didn’t have to think about these kinds of things. In my mind, the man the town was originally named after has his own fascinating story. But, as with most backstory, it never ended up playing heavily in the book. Hey, that might be a fun topic for its own post...)

Actual Seasons of Alaska.
 My point here is that Rankins, even as quirky, colorful, fun, and wonderful a place it has turned out to be, didn’t exactly make for a catchy series title. So I racked my brain, I looked at photos for inspiration, I made lists - lots of lists. I came across one the other day in the back of one of my notebooks. Some of my ideas were really horrific, like “Tasting Alaska.” Um, sounds like a really weird reality cooking show where people go around licking glaciers or sampling pickled moose lung or something else as equally and decidedly not romantic…

But all this thinking and bad list-making did get me there - eventually. As a setting, Alaska is about as broad as it gets. Which is perfect, because from the beginning, one thing I wanted to do was give the reader a taste (there's that word again) of Alaska’s diversity. One of the most striking examples of this is its seasonal extremes. I love the way Alaskans seem to both tackle and embrace every dramatic and changing aspect - from the beauty and chill of fall to the coldest and loveliest depths of winter, to the promise of new life each spring, to the wild abandon that summer brings. They are accepting and connected to their environment in this really special way. Rather fortuitously, I think, there is also the fact that the word “season” can imply “flavor” or “spice.”  Seasons of Alaska. Mission accomplished, I say.

My Seasons of Alaska


 A Family Like Hannah’s, book 4 in the Seasons of Alaska series is available now!

I’m going to share the back cover copy because I love it so much:

Starting over is serious business 
With her professional skiing career cut short by an accident, Hannah James is putting all her energy into transforming Snowy Sky Resort into something special. There's only one obstacle. Famous pro-snowboarder-turned-consultant Tate Addison has his own ideas about taking the Rankins, Alaska, lodge to the next level. But Hannah won't compromise her dreams. She gets that Tate is trying to create a stable home for his orphaned six-year-old nephew—a boy Hannah already adores. And if she isn't careful, she could also fall for the boy's too-attractive uncle. Is she risking heartbreak? Or do she and Tate really want the same things out of life?

Buy links:





 Also available in select Walmart stores in March!


For more information about Carol Ross and a complete list of books, please visit her website:

31 comments:

  1. I'm right there with you on naming things--my daughter Kari spent the first 20 years of her life berating me because I didn't name her Carol. I love the one you came up with, though, and the stories you tell about it!

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    1. Liz, this is so funny! I have a cousin named Cara and I was jealous of her name. And I'm a couple years older so my mom had no good excuse. I bet your daughter loves her name now - and that's such a great spelling for it.

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  2. Can't wait to read the new release! I also have trouble with titles. Thankfully I have two friends who help me brainstorm so I end up with a list for each book that is way better than anything I would come up with on my own. Titles are important, so therein lies the stress! Great post, Carol.

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    1. Thanks so much, Tara! I'm glad to hear someone else struggles with titles. I do like making the lists - that seems to be the only way I ever come up with anything good. I'm so grateful to have the editors helping me with this, too.

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  3. Carol, I loved the first 3 books so look forward to Hannah's story. Funny, but some of us have just been talking about the difficulty of titles. Some few times I've hit on one I think is perfect for my story, but mostly not-so-much. It helps to know that other writers go through the same angst.

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    1. Roz, thank you so much! I cannot tell you how much better that makes me feel. I've had a couple times where I "thought" I hit on a good one... lol!

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  4. I've loved the whole series, and Seasons of Alaska is the perfect name. I'd love to hear the backstory behind Rankins, too. I like the name Rankins because it sounds real, not like a storybook village. I'm looking forward to Hannah's story.

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    1. Thank you so much, Beth! It makes me so happy to hear that you think Seasons of Alaska fits. I like the "real" sound of Rankins, too. I've had several people assume it's real and ask me where it's located. I think that's fun. And a few have told me they'd like to live there - and that just makes my day!

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  5. Oy, names! Right there with you, LOL. Usually when it comes to characters, I love the process, but for places and things? *head desk*. Personally, I love the Seasons of Alaska moniker. And the books . Glad to know I'm not in the crazy alone. Great post! <3

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    1. Exactly the same with me, Anna. Character names are fun. But with both places and titles I can literally spend (waste?) hours. I am more than happy to share a little of this crazy.

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  6. I know your pain!! I love the Seasons of Alaska and am very glad you didn't go with Tasting Alaska because I don't think it tastes very good (unless it's baked Alaska and then it's delicious!) So happy for you and your success! Keep up the good work :)

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    1. Thanks, Amy! Lol! Yes, Tasting Alaska was not my best effort. But, oh my, baked Alaska is delicious!

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  7. You picked the perfect title for your series, Carol! I look forward to reading Hannah's story. Congratulations!

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    1. Thank you, Jill! That's so nice to hear, especially when I think about how painful it was.

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  8. Congratulations on the completion of your series! Or maybe it isn't the end? Maybe you'll decide to tell Mr. Rankins' story after all. Which brings up another question I've been asking myself: how do you know when a series is over? There always seems to be a thread that could be developed into a new book.

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    1. Hi, Linda! It's not over quite yet... I am writing two unrelated books right now, but planning to revisit Rankins for at least another two. And that's an excellent question, because I have at least five Seasons of Alaska characters I think could use their own book!

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  9. I named a dog Dog once because...well, you said it--names are hard. But you did good with Seasons of Alaska! Can't wait to read this one.

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    1. Lol! Exactly, Patricia. Thank you. These books have been so much fun to write, which definitely helps with the pain of trying name them!

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  10. You're right about lists being helpful. When I was young, I tried to break into the greeting card market. It was writing, but blissfully shorter. I never made it, but one of the books I read a about the process said to write down everything that came into your head and that was the only way to get all the junk out of the way to hit the good stuff. Like mining, I guess. It does seem to help. I don't do well with titles. I don't think any of mine has ever stuck. Your titles are great, your covers are beautiful - there have to be more stories in Rankins. Love your photos and your description of Alaska.

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    1. I love this, Muriel! Too bad for the greeting card people! With your humor, wit and cleverness, you would have been spectacular at writing them. I do like that method of getting everything out of your head though. I think that's kind of the way I write books. I don't think I've written one yet where I haven't had to cut at least eight or ten thousand words. I wish I could take credit for all my titles, but only one has been mine so far (If Not for a Bee). And the series title, Seasons of Alaska, of course.

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  11. I love the name Seasons of Alaska. I'm in the middle of picking book title and series names and it is torture.

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    1. Lol! That describes it perfectly, Sophia. Good luck to you!

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  12. I love Seasons of Alaska AND that way we can go back to Rankins, right? I'm cracking the cover tonight and looking forward to it, Carol. I have adored the entire series. And your covers! Wow... you could wallpaper with the one for "If Not For A Bee." I loved that one. Keep going...for your readers' sake.

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    1. Catherine, your encouragement and enthusiasm is so wonderful and contagious! Thank you! I love "the bee" cover, too. I desperately hoped for a bee on there and I got one! I may have done a little dance the first time I saw it :)

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  13. Ah, titles. Having one helps me write the book even when they mostly get changed. But I once wrote a book without any title except New Book. The title came to me in a flash when I was done. Love your series title. And the stories! Patricia, your Dog goes with my Kitty. Well, her name's really Daisy but hubby calls her K all the time and she answers to it.

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  14. I'm with Catherine. I love Seasons of Alaska and Rankins . . . and of course I love your books.

    I wish I would have been as smart as you when I named my K-9 Trilogy. The San Diego Police Department's K-9 Unit has a rookie cop in the story. My editor and I agree that she and her police dog, Darwin, should have their own story, but how do you name a "sequel" to a trilogy?!

    I hope you write many more stories for your Seasons of Alaska series. You know I am a fan!

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    1. Thanks so much, Kate! This is so funny. You could have a lot of fun with this; K-9 Trilogy - The Before Years, or K-9 Pre-Trilogy. No matter what you name it, you should definitely write it!

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  15. I kind of like that title, New Book, Leigh! I find myself not agonizing as much about the title before I start writing the book these days, because who has time, right? Sometimes I'll rename it a couple times as I'm working on it and the book evolves. And Daisy is a doll no matter what you call her!

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  16. I'm a little late getting here today, but so glad I made it to read your post Carol. Seasons of Alaska and Rankins are great, catchy names, and I still remember the descriptions of Alaska so vividly. I went to WalMart yesterday looking for your book and then said dummy, the book won't be in WalMart until next month!! Incidentally, they still haven't re-stocked with the new ones for this month. If I don't see them there on my next trek (you know I love Heartwarming to drive 30 minutes to get there), I'm going to call the store like I did last month!! My next Heartwarming book is If Not for A Bee. Now if I could just finish the three random reads I've got going now!! Keep up the good work Carol. I love your books, and the covers are just beautiful. Congratulations on the new release. You're one of my favorites. ( :

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    1. I'm glad you stopped by too! You are too kind, Laurie! I know what you mean about WalMart - It's been a little confusing for my friends and family, trying to explain that yes, the new book is out and yes, it will be in WalMart. But it's not there yet... I can't wait for March - to see it in stores with my own eyes! Thank you so much for all your support. It truly means the world to me.

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    2. I'm glad you stopped by too! You are too kind, Laurie! I know what you mean about WalMart - It's been a little confusing for my friends and family, trying to explain that yes, the new book is out and yes, it will be in WalMart. But it's not there yet... I can't wait for March - to see it in stores with my own eyes! Thank you so much for all your support. It truly means the world to me.

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