January 22, 2014

Blog Tour: Guest Post & Giveaway ~ The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant by Joanna Wiebe

Hey guys! I'm so excited to be hosting a stop for The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant Blog Tour hosted by Kismet Book Touring
The full tour schedule is at the bottom of this post. Click here for more information about each of the blog tour stops. 

Title: The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant
Series: (The V Trilogy #1)
Author: Joanna Wiebe
Publication date: January 14th 2014
Published by: BenBella Books
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

~ Synopsis ~ 

After her mother's death, 16-year-old art prodigy Anne Merchant moves from sunny California to the cold woodlands of Wormwood Island, Maine for what is supposed to be a fresh start. She is the newest student of Cania Christy, an elite boarding school that is as filled with secrets as it is with the world's most privileged - and competitive - teens.

From the first day of school, Anne finds herself thrust into the Big V competition, an intense race to the top of the class. With enviable talents, she quickly becomes the enemy of every junior seeking the Big V - especially Harper, the presumed frontrunner.

Like every student, she is assigned a guardian, and a unique mission. Anne's assignment is to "look deeper." Anne is determined to succeed, and won't let anything - not even her distractingly beautiful neighbor Ben - get in the way. But the deeper she looks the more questions arise, and the more she is forced to reexamine all of her assumptions - about the school, her classmates and even herself.

As layers of secrecy deepen, Anne leans on the friendship of Molly, a lifelong islander, and Pilot, the only junior not competing for the Big V, to make sense of this cloak-and-dagger world. But when people start disappearing, Anne uncovers a stunning truth that she must face head on - before she and everyone she loves is destroyed by it.

~ Guest Post by Joanna Wiebe ~ 

How I Arrived at the Title for My Book

I am masterfully bad at dreaming up titles for the stories I write. Masterfully bad. As in I could teach a graduate-level course called How Not to Title Your Story. Which probably isn't a good title for a course. 

But that's not the worst part. 

The worst part is that I actually loooove my awful titles. I openly, passionately believe they're really good. (Delusion is a defense mechanism for writers. Or at least for me.) I was surprised in my undergrad writing class to hear a few students comment on how bad they considered my short-story titles, like "There's a Hole in My Boat" and "Prep School Boys' Last Chance to Dance", to be. After all, who doesn't like a long title? A literal title? A title that matches the voice of the story you're about to read? Evidently, quite a few people. 

In the world of YA novels, my favorite titles are dark and length, and they generally feature startling visuals or a little poetic alliteration. Like The Forest of Hands and Teeth, The Mirk and Midnight Hour, and Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. Long, dark titles that take up the whole cover. Beautiful. 

I wasn't the one who came up with the name for my novel, The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant (Jan 14) - which is long and slightly dark - but I did come up with a boatload of options that were shot down. Let me entertain you briefly with a handful of them (and tell me in the comments if you think they're total crap):

Before I Wake
(this was the working title when my publisher bought it)

The Blood Flowers

Miracles Darkly Done

Shadows and Tall Trees

The Mortician's Daughter

So if I didn't come up with The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant, who did? It started with yet another late-night brainstorming session with my husband Lance, who's both patient and creative (which are important qualities when naming; I lack the former).

He suggested, after I'd listed off a few doozies, The Education of Anne Merchant. It reminded me of one of my favorite albums from my high school years - The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill - so I thought I'd propose it to my editor Glenn. 

Glenn liked it, too, but he noted that it could be improved with an adjective. He proposed the following: 




I loved Unseemly as a word. It's a seldom-used and rather dark word, which I dig. 

And thus was born the title. Not of my mind, but of the indirect collaboration of my hub and my editor. 

This is not the first book that has endured countless trips to the Naming Factory, countless spins of the Naming Wheel. Like most writers, I take comfort in knowing that other writers have been through what I'm going through - from naming books to dealing with rejection - so let's take a look at a few books that might've been called something else, had clearer heads not prevailed...

Stephenie Meyer submitted Twilight to agents under the name Forks.

Pride & Prejudice was rejected by a publisher when it was submitted under its original name First Impressions.

And the American classic Gone with the Wind was almost the pretty darn bland - but almost Bond-esque - Tomorrow Is Another Day.

There are dozens - surely 100s - of other would-be titles. Which ones are your faves? Share in the comments! 

Joanna Wiebe is the author of The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant, now available online and in bookstores in the US and Canada. Amy Plum called the novel "deliciously dark," and VOYA said it's great for fans of Anna Dressed in Blood

Visit Joanna at and follow her on Twitter or Goodreads.      

~ About Joanna Wiebe ~ 


By day, Joanna is a copywriter and the co-founder of and, a critique site for published and unpublished writers. As an undergraduate student, Joanna won several academic awards for excellence in creative writing: Canada's James Patrick Folinsbee Prize, which she won twice, as well as the Godfrey Prize.

After graduating, she lived for a year on the remote northern island of Hokkaido, Japan, which is the inspiration for the verdant Wormwood Island of the V Trilogy. She holds a BA in Honors English and an MA in Communications from the University of Alberta and lives with her partner Lance in Victoria, British Columbia. 

The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant is her first novel and the first installment in the V Trilogy. 

~ Connect with Joanna Wiebe ~

~ Tour Schedule ~ 

Monday, January 6th - Refracted Light Reviews
Tuesday, January 7th - Dee's Reads
Wednesday, January 8th - The YA Bookworm Blogger
Thursday, January 9th - Book Swoon
Friday, January 10th - Parajunkee

Monday, January 13th - Curling Up with a Good Book
Tuesday, January 14th - Bewitched Bookworms
Wednesday, January 15th - Such A Novel Idea
Thursday, January 16th - The Story Siren
Friday, January 17th - Book Whales

Monday, January 20th - Jump Into Books
Tuesday, January 21st - Supernatural Snark 
Wednesday, January 22nd - Donnie Darko Girl
Thursday, January 23rd - Reading and Writing Urban Fantasy
Friday, January 24th - Literary Me

~ Giveaway ~
15 Finished copies of The Unseemly 
Education of Anne Merchant

Blog Tour organized and hosted by:


  1. Christina R.1/23/14, 4:43 AM

    I really like The Blood Flowers!!

    Lots of people can't get the right title for their book I see :)

    Lovely post:)

    Thank you!! :)

    1. I liked The Mortician's Daughter. :) I love this guest post because I've never thought much about this before. I knew writers use working titles but never thought about all the brainstorming and changes it goes through. Thank you, Christina! :D

  2. Reading this post makes me realize that I never really knew much about the before of Twilight... I'm not sure how I would have reacted to a book called Forks. Snobbish yes but also the truth, it would have messed with me. However, I do like to know that often a title changes from one thing to another, kind of like the creative process :) Great post!!

    1. Titles are a huge part of a book, and I never thought about it too much before reading Joanna's guest post. I don't know if I would've picked up a book called Forks or how I might have reacted to it either. I agree about it being part of the creative process. Thanks for stopping by, Tiffany! :D

  3. Okay, this book really has my curiosity piqued! And I loved reading about the process is creating a title. Who knew it could be so difficult?!? Thanks for sharing, Jennifer. Another book to add to my tbr. :)

    1. I can't wait until you read this! I just finished it last night, and I laid there trying to sleep but couldn't after the ending. I'll be reviewing it soon. :) It's an amazing book - 5 stars for sure. I really loved learning about the title process. It's interesting when you find out the title might have turned out differently. And so cool her husband helped out! :)


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