Friday, October 17, 2014

How the Novel Found its Name

My stories usually have titles before they possess a fully-fleshed-out plot. That certainly was the case for this latest one: The Fragrance of Geraniums, releasing in mid-November, Lord willing! :-) Yet that title has evolved since the story's inception...

Do you know what geraniums smell like?

When I was a very little girl, my mother worked part-time as a nurse's assistant for a very elderly man with Parkinson's disease. The man's wife {and primary caregiver} didn't mind at all if my mother brought me along, so I spent a few afternoons each week in their living room, reading The Boxcar Children, or sometimes played on their large property.

The patient's wife - Alana was her name - gave me one of the strongest impressions of my childhood, without meaning to do it, I'm sure. And this is whence the upcoming novel's title comes:

During one winter, Alana asked if I would like to come upstairs to help her with something - I don't remember now what it was. So I traipsed up the steep, ancient staircase behind that spry, white-haired woman. At the top of the stair, we entered a dark but not gloomy hallway, and then Alana led the way into one of the rooms.

That is where I first experienced the scent of geraniums: spicy, unique... as my mother puts it, "not a pretty smell, really."

But an unforgettable one. And I never forgot the smell of that room - the darkened library-room where Alana "wintered" her geraniums - for, in New England, we can't keep our geraniums out year-round. I remember the stubby stalks of all those potted plants, lined up on card-tables, little patches of soil dusting their surfaces. I recall the surprise of realizing that the plants still lived - though Alana had pruned their scarlet blooms and dead bits.

The fragrance of geraniums - more emitting from the plant-part than from the flowers! - filled Alana's library-room, mingling with the musty scent of old books lining the shelves.

And, as a five-or-six-year-old, I felt that I'd been let into a mystery: There was a secret meaning to the scent of geraniums... though I didn't know yet what it was. And that is what the original title of this soon-to-be-released novel was: The Scent of Geraniums... which eventually became The Fragrance of Geraniums. More on that process next time. :-)

Update on The Fragrance of Geraniums' release: I have been editing-editing-editing to get this story to you all with its message of grace clear and lovely. Next is formatting. My Launch Team members should be receiving their review copies shortly - hurrah! :-) -  and then, dear readers - dear patient readers - The Fragrance of Geraniums should release in mid-November!


  1. That's a wonderful story and I can't wait to hear more about the title. You have me hooked. :)

    1. Thanks, A.M. :-) I'm so excited about sharing it with you!


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