or the untanned patches over one's shoulders after sunbathing. Those are strap lines, with an appropriate gap. No, it's the little pithy sentence or phrase under or above a title of a book which tells you everything about it without giving any of the plot away.
We, my publisher, editor, designer and several others, threw around over thirty pithy straplines before finally settling on 'Haunting memories arouse a dormant mystery' for my novel, Trying to Fly. That number only included two or three of the 50 or so Jane Clamp and I composed on the way to the CRT conference last year. The final one came to me when I took myself off for an hour or so and did nothing but write pages of straplines, whittling them down to a list of six for my publisher to consider, with asterisks by my favourite. It made it to the cover.
But here we are, a few months later doing the same for the next book in the series, Out of Silence.
I am seeing straplines everywhere, even when, strictly speaking, they aren't straplines at all. The UCB notes have a title, and underneath a bible verse. For example, title: TRY TO SEE PEOPLE AS GOD SEES THEM with, under the title: 'You are a letter from Christ'. Of course, this is for 300 words of text, not a 90,000 word novel about a psychologist struggling with his own grief while working with a mute stowaway who has post-traumatic stress disorder; with themes such as marriage, courage, fidelity, hope, redemption and restoration woven into the story.
We have been round and round trying to find that elusive all-encompassing rhythmic phrase that will intrigue and entice the reader to pick up the book and turn it over to read the blurb. We have even teetered on the edge of agreeing to 'Voiceless words echo unspoken loss', but alas, it has fallen out of favour.
Meanwhile, I am trying to work on the third book in the series, already dreading those days when words whirl endlessly around my mind refusing to coalesce into something so perfect that everyone breathes a sigh of relief and plonks it on the cover.
But I have had a thought. Maybe, just maybe, I should stop writing now to think of the most original and stunningly exquisite strapline ever composed then write both a title and novel to fit. What do you think?
Then all we would have to do is agree on an appropriate cover.
Annie Try is the pen-name of a writer living in West Norfolk who, as Angela Hobday, has published several therapy books (which never needed a strapline). Her debut novel, Losing Face, was published by Roundfire Books and she has two novels due to be released in 2017 by Instant Apostle.