If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com

Our September Author Interviews--9/6 Kathleen Valenti, 9/13 David Burnsworth, 9/20 Jeri Westerson, 9/27 Frances Brody. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.

September Saturday Guest Bloggers: 9/2--Anne Bannon, 9/9 WWK Bloggers, 9/16 Margaret S. Hamilton, 9/23 Kait Carson, and on 9/30 Trixie Stiletto.


“May 16, 2017 – The Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA) today announced the finalists of the second annual Star Award, given to authors of published women’s fiction. Six finalists were chosen in two categories, General and Outstanding Debut. The winners of the Star Award will be announced at the WFWA Retreat in Albuquerque, New Mexico on September 23, 2017.” In the general category, WWK’s Carla Damron was one of three finalist for her novel, The Stone Necklace. Go to Carladamron.com for more information. Congratulations, Carla!

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Warren Bull's new Lincoln mystery, Abraham Lincoln In Court & Campaign has been released. Look for the Kindle version on February 3.

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

In addition, our prolific KM will have the following shorts published as well: "Sight Unseen" in Fish Out of Water, Guppie (SinC) anthology, just released, and "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017.

Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Once a Kappa" was published as a finalist in the Southern Writer's Magazine annual short story contest issue. Mysterical-E published her "Double Crust Corpse" in the Fall 2016 issue. "Baby Killer" will appear in the 2017 solar eclipse anthology Day of the Dark to be published this summer prior to the eclipse in August.

James M. Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available. His novella "Low Tide at Tybee" appears February 7 as part of Lowcountry Crimes: Four Novellas, which is available for order.
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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Titles and Tribulations

I'm pleased to welcome Vinnie Hansen to today's Salad Bowl Saturdays. Vinnie noticed my offer to guest blog on Saturdays (which is still open, just drop an email to me) and I'm glad she contacted me, because she's written a delightful piece on the mystery of titles

~ Jim. 

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The Great Gatsby could have been The High-Bouncing Lover, Of Mice and Men was almost called Something That Happened, and Harper Lee had the working title Atticus.  It reassures me that even the greats struggled to find the right title. 

Mystery writers of a series presumably have an easier task.  For her periodic table mysteries, Camille Minichino selects another element: The Hydrogen Murder, for example.   Titling strikes me as the easiest part of that series!  Cara Black’s titles move from one arrondissement in Paris to another: Murder in the Marais, Murder in the Sentier . . . .  Sue Grafton just has to think of a crime to go with the next letter of the alphabet, although the challenge increases as she approaches the end.  Y is for Yenta

With a series, the title of the first book seals one’s fate. In my Carol Sabala mystery series the first book is Murder, Honey.  I like the double meaning of honey.  The food word suggests the milieu, and what indicates menace better than “murder”? However, even though baker/sleuth Carol Sabala eventually trains to be a private investigator, I’ve needed to retain the titling pattern: a food word and a hint of malice.  The titling should have been straight forward, but the truth is my writing group has had to rescue me from serious missteps!

For a long time I called the sixth, and latest, book in my series Art, Wine & Cheesy.  Set during Santa Cruz’s Open Studios Art Tour, “Art” was a given, and what food item goes better with art than wine?  But the writing group struck. 

“Cheesy?  Really?” 

“Cheesy is demeaning to your book.” 

“Cheesy is cheesy.  That’s the problem.”

“Okay, already,” I sighed. 

So what would the new mystery be called?  Since there was some strangling involved, I thought I might be able to do something with choke, especially since choke is a shortened form of artichoke.  Art, Wine and Choke?  Arty Choke? 

Bagels and Bullets?” a group member proposed. 

I like alliteration, and there are both bagels and bullets in the book but I wanted “art” in the title.

“How about Art, Wine & Nuts?” I asked.  Seepage, I suppose, from the way I was starting to feel. 

The eventual title, thanks to my husband: Art, Wine & Bullets.

Now I am writing the seventh book for my series, which takes Carol Sabala to Cuba.  I am tentatively calling the manuscript Mojito Madness.  Popularized by Hemingway, mojitos are ubiquitous in Cuba (although the author himself preferred double frozen daiquiris without sugar, or a gin and tonic with bitters). 

Even though I’m counting mojito as the “food” word for this title, it’s the “madness” I’m worried about.  The villain of this seventh book is a sociopath, but I can already hear my writing group objecting that “madness” sounds quaint. 

I’ve already prepared a backup title: Black Beans & Venom.  Black Beans are a staple of Cuba and the new mystery prominently features scorpions.  I would love to hear your thoughts.  Mojito Madness or Black Beans & Venom?

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Vinnie Hansen is the author of the Carol Sabala Mystery Series, 
now also available as e-books at Smashwords and Kindle. She lives in Santa Cruz, California, with her husband, abstract artist Daniel S. Friedman.


17 comments:

James Montgomery Jackson said...

I suspect many authors are title challenged.

For my fiction, the publisher has accepted my titles--for better or for worse.

For my bridge book, the publisher didn't like my working title [Secrets to Becoming a (Bridge) Life Master]. He came back with a number of alternatives, none of which I really liked. In talking to a friend, I mispoke one of his suggestions.

And I liked that misspeak - did a quick survey of friends - they liked it and that's how we ended up with One Trick at a Time: How to Start Winning at Bridge.

Best of luck with the latest in your series - and I really like your bookmark.

~ Jim

Warren Bull said...

In an early draft Mark Twain called a charter Betsy Thatcher, not bad but not as good as Becky Thatcher. The publisher of Unteed Reads hated all of my suggestions for the short story collection just published. He gave it the working title of Killer Eulogy and Other Stories. that title stuck.

E. B. Davis said...

A distinctive title can help sell a book, and I think there is an art unto itself in creating titles. I think one verb and a noun makes for a good title, like The Exploding Cuban Stogie, Biting Cuba, Cuban Crazy, Cuba Killing. Unless the cover art evokes Cuba, Black Beans & Venom doesn't give me a clue as to what the book is about other than snakes. I like Mojito Madness better, but I like The Mojito Murder even more, or Mojitos+Madness=Murder. Good luck. I think titles are very hard to create.

Yolanda Renee said...

My books have had so many titles I don't have a clue anymore. I offered to change it, when I first approached the agent that signed me and she wouldn't have it.And yet I still question the choice.

'Murder, Madness & Love'
'Memories of Murder'
and the third WIP 'From Obsession to Murder'
A trilogy held together by the word Murder. Maybe it does work?

Terry Shames said...

Vinnie, you have hit one of my least favorite tasks--finding a title. I'm writing a series, but so far there's nothing to connect them. Since they are set in Texas I probably should have done a Texas theme. Too late.

For yours, although I like "Madness" how about Mojito Mojo? or Mojito Menace?

Gloria Alden said...

Vinnie, this resonates with me. I'm working with a gardening theme in my series. My first book is THE BLUE ROSE, the 2nd DAYLILIES FOR EMILY'S GARDEN, the 3rd still going through final edits is LADIES OF THE GARDEN CLUB. It's my 4th I'm having trouble with. It involves a Civil War reenactment in Elmwood Gardens, a large public garden in my series. I have the plot in mind, one of the soldiers will be murdered and I know who and why. It's that title that has me stymied.

Vinnie/www.vinniehansen.com said...

One Trick at a Time is a great title!

Vinnie said...

Hey Warren,

Eulogies are killers! The number one fear people have is speaking in public, which means people would rather be in the casket than delivering the eulogy.

Vinnie said...

Hi E.B.

I really like your suggestions. I do want a "food" word in the title, so Mojito Murder is a definite possibility. The last suggestion is fun, too with the + and = signs. Thank you so much for your thoughtful input.

Paula Gail Benson said...

Vinnie, sounds like you have a great series. I love mojitos, so I hope you can keep that word in the title. Would Mania be a possible substitute for Madness? Thanks for blogging with WWK.

Vinnie said...

Hi Yolanda,

As I am titling-challenged, maybe other respondents can weigh in on these titles. :)

Vinnie said...

Hi Terry,

Great to hear from you! I look forward to seeing you in Hayward in October. I love these M words people are giving me: menace, mania, . . . .

Thanks for weighing in.

Vinnie said...

Hi Gloria,

With flowers and murder, the first thing I thought of was Pushing Up Daisies, but that's too cliched. Good luck on your task.

Vanilla Queen said...

Hi Vinnie,

Blue Scorpion Venom is associated with Cuba as a family swears it cured a family member of advanced cancer. As a result people pour to Cuba for the venom. There's also a drink called the Scorpion as I recall. I resonate with Cuba Libre and Locura, though it's a little obscure. Locura means madness. But it definitely carries the food/craziness concept. xoxo VQ

Vinnie said...

Dear Vanilla Queen,

How wonderful to hear from you! The Locura reference is intriguing, but as you noted, rather obscure. I hope at some point that I will have the opportunity to show you how I've used/incorporated some of the material from your Cuba journal in this mystery.

All the best to you!

KM said...

Like others, I'm "title challenged." For my series, I didn't try to have a connection among the books. I have Steeled for Murder (a murder in a steel fabrication plant,) Fostering Death (a foster mother is killed,) Buried Biker (a murdered biker is found buried at a bridge construction site,) Sendoff for a Snitch (a known poice informant is found dead) and the one I'm working on now, Brothers in Crime (sorry, SinC) in which the protagonist is blamed for his brother's crimes.

Gloria--having spent the last 2 days listening to cannon fire & avoiding the main roads around my house, I can only wish you luck with your Civil War reenactment. It's the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, and the major Union encampment is down the road from where I live.

When they filmed the movie Gettysburg at the same location, it created lots of distrupiton. Try telling your boss (in Baltimore, no less) that you're late for work because you had to wait for Confederate calvary to clear the road.

Gloria Alden said...

Funny, KM. I know it's the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. There have been weekly articles in our newspaper for a year now on different aspects of the Civil War relating to our area and the soldiers here in NE Ohio who went there. One of the women in my writers group has written both a memoir of a Civil War ancestor of hers and a novel. She and her husband are part of a Civil War group who do reenactments. I haven't asked her yet for ideas on a title, but I will have her critique my work dealing with that aspect.