by Barb, who always gets a little sad when the summer ends
Those of you who read my Maine Clambake books and novellas know that my titles have a consistent construction. A past tense verb is followed by a preposition.
The first three titles were easy, and in my original proposal for the series:
My publisher, Kensington, liked the titles, which are pithy, punny, and foodie, and took them exactly as was. A title convention was born. Now what?
I didn’t know if there would be more books, but a girl can dream, right? I printed a list of prepositions from the Web. There are more than you think, but still…
In my spare time (i.e. while procrastinating), I doodled lists of possible verbs, both in combination with the prepositions and alone.
I have a lot more of these, too. (You can click on each to make them bigger.)
For the next book I proposed Fogged In. It was my first book set outside of tourist season, in the last week of November, and I thought the title was atmospheric and Maine-y. My editor didn’t love it, and it was only then that I realized we might have a fundamental misunderstanding of what I was doing. Kensington thought I was writing food books. I thought I was writing Maine books. Titles flew back and forth. At the eleventh hour, I proposed adding the second N, and Fogged Inn was born. The next book, set in February, became Iced Under. I would have preferred Iced Over, a more common expression, but I’d already used Over in Boiled Over. Or Snowed Under, which has a better ring to it, but the book was about the historic ice business, so there you are.
Then came a series of S books–Stowed Away, Steamed Open, Sealed Off, and Shucked Apart. I would have have happily called the next one Simmered Down, which has a foodie association, and the book was full of soups, but we decided we had to cut it out with the Ss. Readers were getting confused.
So I put out a call in my newsletter for suggestions. Some people really didn’t get the convention, but others were terrific. And so it was that a reader, Lorna Doran, titled Muddled Through.
I’ve been less concerned about repeating the prepositions in the titles of the novellas. Mine is always the third story in the book, and the title isn’t on the cover. It isn’t what sells the book. The novella titles are
- Nogged Off
- Logged On (Should have been the reverse, Nogged On and Logged Off, since the second one includes a theme of unplugging. Aw, well.)
- Hallowed Out
- Scared Off (in Halloween Party Murder)
- Perked Up (coming in Irish Coffee Murder on January 24).
Now that the novellas being released as standalone ebooks, I wish I had been more careful about those prepositions.
This summer I’ve handed in the manuscript for the eleventh book, and the synopsis for the sixth novella. What are the titles? You’ll have to wait and see.
Readers: In the meantime, do you have title suggestions for me? Load them up in the comments. If I pick yours, you’ll get a thank you in the Acknowledgements and an Advance Reader Copy, when they’re available. Hint: The next novel I have to write, the twelfth, includes a wedding. (But whose?) Any suggestion that follows the convention is most welcome, but extra bonus points for the wedding one.