What’s in a Name

For those of you who are regular readers of this blog, here’s the weekly wildlife update.  The body count for moles is two dead and one being held hostage in the back yard with Bella digging like crazy and hot on it’s trail.  Not good for the grass or the dahlias.  Eventually not good for the moles, either.  In fact, this morning while we were out watching for the few remaining front pond fish when a displaced mole came scuttling past my feet in broad daylight and disappeared into the rocks around the pond.  Bella gave chase and sent several rockery rocks into the pond, but she did not succeed in catching the little sucker.

The heron is back, so the heron statue is NOT working.  That means the fish count is WAY down.  It’s not as much fun to feed the fish when I know I’m really feeding the heron.

As for those of you who aren’t regular readers?  Go to the archives and catch up!

And now on to the topic of the day.

I’m someone who has always liked surprises.  Forty plus years ago, when my Ob-Gyn asked me if I wanted to know the gender of the baby I had in the oven, I declined.  I didn’t want to know what the baby was until it was unwrapped, as it were.  The same held true for my second baby.  And I believe when Joanna Brady was expecting her fictional visit from the stork, she made the same choice:  I’ll know when the baby arrives and not before.

So if you don’t know what the baby is before it arrives, you can’t very well name same before then, either. You need to find out what’s in the package first.  The same holds true for books.  They often don’t get named until the end or even after the end.

This time, I thought I had the situation handled.  I named Ali #9 “Tagged for Death” early in the process.  It turns out, however, that my editor is of the opinion that the name is too close to “Left for Dead” and may cause reader confusion, as in, “Hey, that sounds familiar.  I think I already read that one.”  We certainly don’t want THAT to happen.  So the editor came up with a one word title that I don’t especially care for.  The only real advantage to one word titles is that the author’s name gets to be a LOT bigger.

So an unnamed book, Ali # 9, is now in the hands of my agent.  Once she finishes with it, then we’ll have a cover powwow with the editor.  This is just to say, Ali # 9 is written and coming, and when it has a name, we’ll let you know.

But back to book titles and the history of same?

When my kids and I were moving from Phoenix to Seattle with our U-Haul trailing behind the car, the Mount St. Helens eruption was only a year in the past.  My daughter was old enough to read by then, and when we sailed past the road sides pointing to Mount St. Helens she asked, “Is Mount St. Helens going to interrupt again?”  Her question was wrong but in a way, especially if you lived in eastern Washington, it was also endearingly right.

I wrote the first Beaumont book.  I was thinking about writing another one and had mentioned a possible title And Justice for All to the kids.  When I was up against a deadline and sure I would never write another book, my daughter asked, “What about that book Injustice for All?”  Which was, of course, the exact opposite of And.  That explains how “Injustice for All” became the title of the second Beaumont book.

When I was writing Beaumont # 4, my nephew was the head carpenter at Seattle’s Fifth Avenue Theater. That explains how Taking the Fifth became the title of that book without having a thing to do with the amendments to the constitution.  It also explains the dedication for that book:  To DAL.  If all the world’s a stage, then God must be the Head Carpenter.

When it was time to write Beaumont # 8, Bill and I sat in a restaurant in Portland, jotting down potential titles on a napkin.  I knew that would be the book where Beau would end up in rehab in Arizona.  When we  hit on the words “Minor in Possession” they just seemed to fit.  Two weeks after the title was approved by my editor and marketing (Marketing always has the final say!) one of our sons brought home our family’s first and eventually only MIP, thus once again, I had both a title and a dedication.

When I was writing the second Joanna Brady book, I had just finished reading Pierce R. Brooks’s book, “…Officer down, code three…” a book that was then and still is used as a training manual in police academy situations.  Contained in the book was a list of the ten fatal errors police officers make.  (Believe me, at that time, the computer version of Fatal Error hadn’t come into common parlance, but there’s another title for you.  I used that for Ali # 7.)  But the Fatal Error on Pierce Brooks’s list, the one that caught my eye as soon as I saw it, was “Tombstone Courage.”  It means going into a situation without having proper backup, often referred to as “Lone Rangering.”  People picking up that book probably thought that since Tombstone, Arizona, is in Cochise County, that they were getting a book about that.  Nope.

Now that I’ve given you some insight into how my mind works, we’ll just have to wait and see.  The baby has definitely been unwrapped, we know what’s in the package, and we need to give it a proper handle.  I’ll keep you posted.

3 thoughts on “What’s in a Name

  1. The heron is back, because, according to the picture you posted, you only placed one statue. You need to add the corresponding female, the one with the bent head. Your live heron is courting your make believe one, and if you place the second one, live boy will realize what a loser he is and move on.

  2. Picture? Where did a picture get posted?

    Does your pond have a lot of water lilies and shade? What a heron can’t see, he can’t take ….

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