Welcome to Day 10 of the “SMOKE ROSE TO HEAVEN” Blog Tour! @SarahAngleton @4WillsPub #RRBC


I am delighted to welcome Sarah Angleton to Robbies Inspiration with her new book, SMOKE ROSE TO HEAVEN.

Today, Sarah is sharing her journey to finding the perfect title for her book.

Smoke Rose to Heaven by Sarah Angleton (002)

The Perfect Title

I think one of the most difficult parts of writing a book is giving the thing a title. Not all authors struggle with this, and I’m sure not all projects are the same, but for me, titling a book is the last, and in many ways, the most difficult step.

It’s much like naming a child, which I also had a hard time doing. You don’t want there to be twelve of them in the same Kindergarten class or, in this case, Amazon category. It should be memorable, but not hard to pronounce or impossible to spell in the search bar.

A good title is intriguing enough to jump start the imagination and create anticipation for the story. It should be on point enough for its genre to attract attention from the people who will appreciate it most, but should also be unique enough to stand out to even the most skeptical of readers. The best title will draw attention to an important thematic element or moment in the story that will make a reader smile and think, Oh, I see what she did there.

It also has to look pretty snappy on a book cover.

When I completed my newest release, I had the perfect title in mind for it. The book is historical fiction, with some thriller elements, set primarily in nineteenth century Western New York State. American history enthusiasts may recognize this time and place as the Burned Over District, when revival swept through the area, resulting in the Second Great Awakening, the rise of communal living experiments, and the birth of religious movements, some of which are still going strong today.

The book tells the coming of age story of a woman who came to possess a manuscript that forms the center of a historical conspiracy theory known as the Spalding Enigma, which questions the divine origin of the Book of Mormon. It also plays with, and in many ways, pays homage to its setting.

For this reason, and because it contains a lot of fire and smoke imagery, I just knew the title should be Burned Over. What else could it possibly be, right?

Except that a small press wanted the book, and they didn’t like the title. At first, I was pretty upset. This book, MY creation, was crying out to me that it wanted to be called Burned Over. So, I did what any rational person would do. I argued. And then I polled potential readers about the title, and I learned that maybe I didn’t know everything there was to know about titling a book.

The publisher and I went back and forth for more than a month on title suggestions, arriving at last on Smoke Rose to Heaven, a compromise I have grown to love. In fact, when that contract fell through because publishing can sometimes be a messy business, and I had the opportunity to revert to the original title, I chose to keep the new one.

I’m hopeful readers will agree with me that this title is unique and memorable and on point for both genre and theme. I even think it looks pretty snappy on the book cover.


The blurb

New York, 1872.

Diviner Ada Moses is a finder of hidden things and a keeper of secrets. In her possession is a lost manuscript with the power to destroy the faith of tens of thousands of believers.

When a man seeking the truth knocks at her door with a conspiracy theory on his lips and assassins at his heels, she must make a choice.

Spurred by news of a ritualistic murder and the arrival of a package containing the victim’s bloody shirt, Ada must either attempt to vanish with the truth or return the burden she has long borne to the prophet responsible for one of the most successful deceptions in US history.

Protecting someone else’s secret may save Ada’s life, but is that worth forcing her own demons into the light?

About Sarah Angleton

Sarah Angleton

Sarah Angleton is the author of the historical novels Gentleman of Misfortune and Smoke Rose to Heaven as well as the humor collection Launching Sheep & Other Stories from the Intersection of History and Nonsense. She lives with her husband, two sons, and one loyal dog near St. Louis, where she loves rooting for the Cardinals but doesn’t care for the pizza.

Find Sarah Angleton




Purchase links



Barnes & Noble



Sarah is giving away 5 e-book copies of SMOKE ROSE TO HEAVEN and all you have to do for a chance to win a copy is to leave a comment below.

To follow along with the rest of her tour, please drop in on her 4WillsPub tour page.

If you’d like to take your book or books on a virtual blog tour, please visit us at 4WillsPublishing.wordpress.com and click on the VIRTUAL BLOG TOUR tab.

Thank you for supporting this author’s tour and also the blogger of this post!

100 thoughts on “Welcome to Day 10 of the “SMOKE ROSE TO HEAVEN” Blog Tour! @SarahAngleton @4WillsPub #RRBC

  1. I agree with you Sarah, title is another challenging step and I know what you are saying, having struggled with many titles of my poems, looking for the symbols that hide the real emotion behind the idea and for a book title, I’ve stayed awake many nights. 🙂
    Wishing you great success Sarah. Thanks for hosting Robbie.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think poetry, too, might be especially difficult because it is all about the precise use of language. Each word does a great deal of work. Outside of the title, fiction writers probably don’t have to be as careful with our choices, except perhaps in the shortest of flash pieces.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. To me, titles are a strange thing. I’ve had them come to me before I even start writing, but I’ve also struggled to determine what would be best. It’s an interesting journey that your book title took. I am rather fond of the current one. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You’d think something so simple wouldn’t be so difficult. But aside from the cover, I feel like the title is one of the most important elements. Guess we can’t be at fault for wanting it to be perfect. 😃

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Being Mormon, this story sounds interesting- kind of like Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code.
    Titles, especially in fiction, are nebulous. They can either directly relate to the story (a name, or setting), or be more about the emotional impact.
    I’ve used different methods for finding mine, either through writing until it comes to me, or starting with a title and building a story around it. And when it’s just right… it clicks 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, I just wish I could get to the clicking part faster. I really do like where this title ended up. It was just a painful process getting there.

      The novel is not nearly as straight up thriller as Dan Brown’s books, but like them, it is fictional and I hope can be enjoyed in that light. Thanks for your comment!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I loved the title of this book. It makes me want to dig right in and find out more. It’s what attracted me to it in the first place, well, after the lovely cover. I enjoy getting to the point in the book where you discover the “meaning” of a title that might be a bit mysterious. The AHA moment.
    Rebecca Carter (writing as Ronesa Aveela)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Isn’t this something! When I was in college, I took a special topics history course called “Utopian Communities,” which included the following:

    “American history enthusiasts may recognize this time and place as the Burned Over District, when revival swept through the area, resulting in the Second Great Awakening, the rise of communal living experiments, and the birth of religious movements, some of which are still going strong today.”

    As for the title, if I were browsing in a bookstore, I would pick up a book titled “Smoke Rose to Heaven,” but I’d pass on “Burned Over.”

    Liked by 1 person

  6. another informative read. While I have never written a book, I have written many blog posts, and I consider the title of the post to be the most enjoyable part of blogging. Usually, I wait until I come up with a catchy title for my posts before I begin formally writing it. The title then keeps me on track for what I want the focus of my writing to be. There have been a few occasions where I have gone back and retitled my posts, but not very often

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I never get it right the first time, which is probably why I only blog once a week. I try to draft on Wednesdays so I can revise Thursday mornings before hitting “publish.” And then there are the inevitable typos and such that alert readers (and my mother) still spot. I’ve been blogging for almost eight years and that “publish” button still fills me with a little bit of anxiety.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Congratulations on your book, Sarah, and great conversation about titles. I usually teach students to come up with a title after they’ve written the book–which doesn’t always work. Me, I end up picking a draft title and then changing it if need be. I like this title for your book.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jacqui, I do the same with the title. I pick it and then I get attached to it and don’t want to change it so I ensure my story develops around it. I am glad you are also a title lead writing. I do think Sarah ended up with a brilliant and catchy title.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Great to have a post on titles! It’s one of those things that a lot of readers don’t realize can be a difficult part of the publishing process. Well done, Sarah and Robbie. Wishing you all the best with the book, Sarah!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I love the sound of the book as well and the story about the genesis of the title. I do like the title and the cover, so I think the author made the right choice. Good luck to Sarah!

    Liked by 1 person

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