Monday, April 25, 2011

What to do When a Book Lacks a Ttitle

In case you've been wondering where I've been lately, allow me to clear that up for you. I've been slaving away on the third book in the Thea Campbell Mystery Series. It's getting close to done -- as in final edits -- BUT I'm stuck. The book has no title. This isn't unusual for me. I'm terrible at titles. Very soon here, I'm going to have a finished, polished manuscript and no title. Which means no book cover, which also means no way to make it available to readers.

This is where you come in. This is my call for help!

Put on your thinking caps, folks, and send your suggestions. Send lots! Whosever suggestion is chosen will get a free copy of the book, and their name in the acknowledgments. If several of you offer up the same suggestions, then you all get the same prize. If I use a combination of suggestions, then all those who helped get the  prize, too.

So…in the spirit of getting you on the right track, here's the set up and the blurb:

The story takes place in and around Snohomish, Seattle, and nearby Issaquah, and involves the sudden death of a dressage judge at the annual awards banquet for the Puget Sound Dressage Society.

Blackie, Thea's alleged psychic horse, is involved to a small degree, as is a valuable fossil collection (to a larger degree).

The back-cover blurb will go something like this:

Wealthy dressage judge Sig Paalmann keels over at the annual Puget Sound Dressage Society awards banquet, leaving enigmatic last words and a bride of two months -- Thea's long-time friend, Andrea. Sig's reputation for arrogance and scathing criticism leaves no one sorry he's gone, much less Thea, but she is determined to support her friend through the crisis. When Andrea is arrested for her husband's murder, Thea's support turns to investigation. Secrets, lies, greed, and dangerous passions challenge Thea and Paul to put their personal relationship struggles aside in order to clear Andrea. But when an old nemesis appears on the scene they have more to worry about than either of them anticipated. This unforeseen player could provided the necessary assistance for solving the crime -- or he could be the one orchestrating the grave danger waiting for Andrea, Thea and Paul.

The contest will continue until a winner is chosen, and the winner announced here…and pretty much everywhere else. If you have questions about the plot (other than whodunit), ask away and I'll give you the best answers I can. If you'd rather send me your suggestions or questions via email, that's good, too. Get in touch with me at

Thanks for all your help! Have at it, everyone!!


Here some more info on the story -- hopefully without giving too much away. The victim is a wealthy dressage judge who collects many things: art, cars, fossils, people -- the people he collects puts  in positions where they are dependent upon him in any of a variety of ways, mostly financial. The fossil collection is uber-private and reported to be the most extensive private collection in the country (this appeals to Paul, the paleontologist). The cause of death is an insulin overdose -- he is diabetic. Diabetes plays an important role throughout the story. Passion is a theme -- both the romantic kind and the kind that drives someone's ambition in a professional sense


  1. Nice to see you, Susan. Well, in keeping in line with your first book, how about Death of a Dressage Judge. ;)

  2. Oooo, Good one, Donnell. I'm adding it to my spreadsheet (I keep spreadsheets on almost everything :))

  3. I'll give this some thought and get back to you. The blurb sounds great!

  4. Hmm... how about something that ties in the banquet where the judge dies, like, Death Served Cold, or Death on the Side, or Death Served Rare...

    Love the blurb! :)

  5. Ooo, Kathy, you know your dressage ;)
    Thanks Susan!
    Adding both of you and your suggestions to the list!

  6. Precision Death
    Death in Lock Step
    Judging Murder

  7. Hi Susan! I have my thinking cap on. Let's see...How about Banquet of Death; Evening at the Dressage; The Dressage Judgment; Death at the Banquet; Death at the Dressage; Judgment Level; Levels of Judgment; uhm...I'll keep thinking. I hope these are helpful. I'm looking forward to reading it! Wishing you all the best!

  8. Excellent suggestions, Tammy and Kellie! It's all going on the list!

    I added some more story information above (in the blog itself) to provided more fodder for thought!

  9. Secrets Best Left Buried
    Murder on the Rocks
    Fatal Impressions
    Unearthing the Dead
    Relics of Murder
    The Trouble with Fossils
    Extinction's Remains

    more later...

  10. What were the enigmatic last words? Perhaps a title is lurking there.

    Of the suggested titles, I like Death of a Dressage Judge, Relics of Murder, maybe the Trouble with Fossils if it's humorous. Somehow The Trouble with ... sounds humorous to me.

    Best wishes. Love the background colors of your blog!

    Nancy Adams

  11. Howzabout a pun on collection, what with the collectibles AND dressage? Plus, I'm gonna swipe some of Mark's vivid words, too. :) (Love 'em.)

    Dangerous Collection
    Deadly Collection
    Evidence Collection
    Evidence Collected
    Fatal Collection
    Collected Remains

  12. You guys are smokin'!! Thanks Everythings going on "the list"!!

    Nancy - there is humor in it, but I wouldn't call it a humorous mystery.

    The "last words" were: "It must have my name."

  13. I'm with Rhonda on the collection/dressage pun. How about:

    Collected Karma
    Final Judgment
    Errors Above the Ground
    Death Marks an 8
    Death Rides a Horse

  14. Great suggestions, Jane! Errors Above the Ground is really tickling my funny bone :) Not sure it fits the story, but it is excellent!!

  15. How about Over Collected.

  16. My suggestion: Passage of Death

    gkw9000 at

  17. Hi Susan, you have some great title possibilites here! Here's some more:
    Collected Levels
    Levels of Collection
    Fatal Judgment
    Levels of Ambition
    Degree of Judgment
    I like Mark's Fatal Impressions, too.

  18. You guys are doing great!! The list is getting very long -- It's going to be hard to decide!!

  19. Oh, there are so many good suggestions, and I'm not good at titles. But I was thinking collections too. (I grew up north of Seattle and I even know how to pronounce Issaquah. Back then the only horses I knew were plow horses!)

    My ideas are far-out. How about Fossilized Death, or Collecting Death? Probably not.

  20. Weren't fossils considered (perhaps long ago) to be bones of dragons? If it fits, perhaps use Slaying Dragons might work?

  21. Nice possibilities, Norma! I didn't know you were from the Northwest! Cool!!

    And golly, I think you're right! Seems to me I read that someplace not too long ago...China, I think is where that came from (correct me if I'm wrong)'ve got me thinking...

  22. Here are some titles based on the different themes:

    Horse/dressage - THE FOURTH HORSEMAN
    Collecting - I'd say "The Bone Collector" but that's already the title for a movie! Dang. How about "A FATAL COLLECTION"?
    Diabetes & Passion - "SUGAR RUSH". Too insensitive? :/

  23. Hi JC! Good suggestions -- lots of creativity going here -- Yay!!

  24. Death by a Fossil Collection
    My other has already been mentioned, Death by a Dressage Judge.

  25. Good one(s) Stephanie! Thank you!! You're on the list, too!!

  26. IS everthing under control lol