Tremendous Titles

I’m currently about a third of my way through writing novel number (checks on own website list for number) eight. I always have to give a ‘work-in-progress’ a working title, but that title is never the one I go with at publication. Much thought goes into finding a title, and I’m pretty sure I’ve got it horribly wrong more than once (but hopefully not seven times).

So I wondered, what makes a great fiction title?

Having thrown this open to friends and social media, here are a few really great titles, along with their authors, genres and what I think makes them great titles (and I’m including links to Amazon because that’s only fair when referring to any writer’s work):

  • Hormones, Hexes and Exes by J C Blake (Women’s fantasy). It says what it is on the tin, as it were. A mixture of middle age life, witchcraft and relationships all in one story, succinctly summarised into four words. Plus there’s pleasing alliteration and rhyming going on in the title.
  • Touch not the Cat by Mary Steward (Literary fiction). An element of mystery, an olde worlde touch with the word order, plus (from my point of view) a bit of a giggle because I’ve known cats that hate to be touched!
  • The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (Humorous fiction). Makes you want to find out how a person can be a project and why.
  • The Name of this Book is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch (Children’s Humorous Action & Adventure). A ‘pseudonymous’ author and a secret title? What kid wouldn’t want to find out more?
  • The Nothing Girl by Jodie Taylor (Women’s fantasy fiction). I want to know more – why is she nothing? Does she become something?
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (Humorous science fiction). Says what it is – both the mundane and the bizarre thrown into what has become a true humorous sci-fi classic.
  • The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (Women’s fiction). Harold is an old-fashioned name. Why is he going on a pilgrimage, and why is it unlikely? I want to know, don’t you?
  • Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (Coming of age fiction/murder mystery). I’ve no idea what a Crawdad is. Do they sing?
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon (Children’s fiction). Sounds Sherlock Holmesy (because there is a link to a line in one of the Holmes stories, it turns out). Why is it curious? What happened? Who is investigating? I want answers!

There seem to be a few obvious(ish) themes:

  1. Does what it says on the tin titles
  2. Makes you ask questions titles
  3. Unusual combinations of words/ideas

Does this help me decide on my own next book title? I’ll have to give it a few more months of thought because, although all of these titles look like they were effortlessly written, I bet the author/publisher spent ages working on them.

If you have any favourites that aren’t on my list, please drop me a line and let me know.

A Link to the Past

I am lucky enough to remember my paternal grandfather. He was small man, around 5’2” tall, with a shiny, bald head, a twinkle in his eye and an ancient, much-faded tattoo of an anchor on one arm. His favourite activities were watching cricket (he’d go and watch it live, sitting in the stands with a knotted hankie on his head to stop his bald pate from burning in the sun) and spending time with his beloved dog (who was so old that she’d lie in front of his gas fire, unaware her fur was singeing).

Grandpa was born in 1894 and could remember both the day when news came of Queen Victoria’s death and his first sight of a motor vehicle driving in Folkestone, where his family then lived. He served as a signalman on a submarine during World War I (just imagine!!) until a shrapnel wound to his head had him invalided out of the navy ‘in case he had seizures’ – which he never did.

Grandpa’s name was Jack. Well, actually it was Henry, but everyone knew him as Jack. When my dad was born, Jack was 44 years old, as was my grandmother. To say her pregnancy was a bit of a shock is putting it mildly – especially when you take into account that both my grandparents were married to other people at the time (but that’s another story).

It’s only because Grandpa was in his forties by the time my dad was born that I was lucky enough to hear his many stories of times that were, to me, unimaginably long ago. It still amazes me that I was fortunate enough to hear true, first-hand stories about a period in time of which no living memories now remain.

To say that Grandpa led an interesting life doesn’t say half enough. His parents both died before he was ten, and he grew up in a ‘Cottage Home’, which was a Workhouse for children. If you have found this brief summary of my grandfather’s story interesting, here’s a link to where you can read a true story from his Cottage Home years (he is ‘Will’ in the story). The details of life in that institution are all directly from Grandpa’s own memories, so take a step back in time and read ‘Poor Law’.

Jack in 1913

Reasons to be Proud

This morning I found myself thinking about things that have made me proud. Here are a few, just in the order they popped into my head (excuse the obvious ones – they are still hugely important to me):

  • My daughter (every single day of her life and on too many specific occasions to mention them all here).
  • Passing my AAT accounts course (with credit) after my lecturer told me I had little chance of passing at all.
  • Self-publishing my first novel – and all the others, of course, but the first was a milestone moment.
  • Being the first in my primary school class to move up to ‘magenta’ reading books. I remember desperately wanting to beat a boy named Anthony to that landmark.
  • Standing with a placard in the midst of a crowd demonstrating about Climate Change (I’m an introvert).
  • Passing a Dyslexia Specialist Teaching Assistant course.
  • Wearing my face covering in public places when others were/are not.
  • I felt proud to be British when I attended the London 2012 Paralympics (and also proud to be Welsh. Apparently 25% of the GB team’s gold medals came from Welsh athletes, and I watched Aled Davies win his gold medal for discus).

I think it’s an amazingly positive thing to think about what makes you proud. For me, certainly, pride is a wonderful feeling of ‘tallness’ and buoyancy and confidence (see previous comment about being an introvert) and the feeling that my heart has, quite literally, grown bigger.

There are other things that make me proud that I don’t feel able to share in a blog. But I know they exist and next time I’m feeling a bit low, I hope I will remember to call upon my list of reasons to be proud.

I’d be happy to hear your own lists and to find out how being proud feels for you.

Photo by Miguel Bruna on Unsplash

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore Update – #Reviews – #Dystopian #thriller Terry Tyler, #Fantasy D.Wallace Peach, #Shortstories Sian Turner

Huge thanks to Sally at Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore for including my short story compilation ‘A World of Impossibilities’ in this post.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the Friday edition of the Cafe and Bookstore Update with reviews for authors on the shelves.

The first author today is Terry Tyler with a review for her most recent release Megacity (Operation Galton Book 3)

About the book

The UK’s new megacities: contented citizens relieved of the burden of home ownership, living in eco-friendly communities. Total surveillance has all but wiped out criminal activity, and biometric sensor implants detect illness even before symptoms are apparent.

That’s the hype. Scratch the surface, and darker stories emerge.

Tara is offered the chance to become a princess amongst media influencers—as long as she keeps quiet and does as she’s told.

Aileen uproots to the megacity with some reluctance, but none of her misgivings prepare her for the situation she will face: a mother’s worst nightmare.

Radar has survived gang rule in group homes for the homeless, prison and bereavement, and…

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