Kaitlyn Dunnett/Kathy Lynn Emerson here. Last week, in a guest post at Wicked Cozy Authors, fellow Kensington author Maya Corrigan (https://wickedcozyauthors.com/2017/07/28/the-tell-tale-title-guest-maya-corrigan/#comments) talked about using crowd-sourcing to find good pun-laced titles for her food-oriented cozy mysteries. I am blatantly stealing this approach because in just one short month I have to turn in the proposal for the second book in my Deadly Edits series.
Yes, I know the first book isn’t out yet. It won’t be out until next June. But a “reasonably detailed outline” of the plot of Book Two has to be turned in to my editor on September 1 and it would really help if it had a title. Right now the file in my computer just says “Mikki #2” to distinguish it from the nearly empty “Liss #13” file. Liss #12, due December 1, has had a title, Overkilt, from the beginning, but it was my previous editor at Kensington who picked that one, not me. Don’t get me wrong. I like it. It just wasn’t my idea.
I think I’m pretty good at coming up with titles. I have a few I’m particularly proud of. Face Down in the Marrow-Bone Pie (written as Kathy) was a hit with pretty much everyone. That was the first of ten books to feature Lady Appleton, sixteenth-century gentlewoman and expert on poisonous herbs as the amateur detective. All the titles in the series start with the words Face Down, which has been good for branding. The Diana Spaulding Mystery Quartet set in 1888 (also as Kathy), used words related in meaning in the titles: Deadlier than the Pen; Fatal as a Fallen Woman; No Mortal Reason; and Lethal Legend. I can also take full credit for the titles of my (Kathy’s) two collections of short stories, Murders and Other Confusions and Different Times, Different Crimes. Kathy’s track record for coming up with titles in Mistress Jaffrey series has not been as good. Murder in the Queen’s Wardrobe was mine but Murder in the Mercery was changed to Murder in the Merchant’s Hall and Murder in a Cornish Kiddlywink became Murder in a Cornish Alehouse.
As for Kaitlyn’s titles, those in the Liss MacCrimmon series have been a mix of those I came up with and suggestions from two agents and three editors. I came up with Kilt Dead. My agent wasn’t enthusiastic about the original plot, but she loved the title. Since then, though, more often than not my original idea has been overruled by either the editor or the marketing department. I’m not complaining. My editor came up with The Corpse Wore Tartan and I think that’s one of the best. On the other hand, A Wee Christmas Homicide still makes me cringe. I kept pitching ideas to do with the Twelve Days of Christmas theme but none of them made the cut.
By now you’re probably wondering what happened to the search for a title for the new book. Let me do a cover reveal first. This is an early draft of the front cover of Crime and Punctuation, the first Deadly Edits mystery featuring Mikki Lincoln, a retired teacher who sets up as a free-lance book editor to make ends meet. There will be at least minor changes to the cover art before publication, if only adding a real quote where it says “a really good reading line here.” My original title for the book was Deadly Edits, which is now the series title. I can definitely live with that. It was my editor who came up with Crime and Punctuation—a perfect choice given Mikki’s new profession and the fact that this is a murder mystery.
In the process of finding a title for Mikki #1, the editor who bought it, the editor I now have, my agent, and I all came up with title suggestions. Once the decision was made for the first book, the best of the other possibilities went on a list to consider for Mikki #2. I’d really appreciate any and all feedback about these titles. Just post your opinions in the comments section below.
If anyone can think of a possible title not on this list, that would be even better. Post a new suggestion in the comments section and if I love it, I’ll send you your pick of any of my novels as a thank-you gift.
And now, without further ado, the current list of title ideas for Mikki #2:
THE BLOOPER MURDERS
MURDER OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE
HOMICIDE WITH HOMONYMS
DEATH OF A NIT-PICKER
KILL YOUR DARLINGS
MURDER IN THE PRESENT TENSE
THE STYLE SHEET MURDERS
LINE-EDITED TO DEATH
THE PROOFREADER’S LAST MARK
THE COMMA BEFORE CHRISTMAS
A FATAL REVISION
REVISED TO DEATH
CLAUSE AND EFFECT
DIAL M FOR MODIFIER
GAME, SET, SYNTAX
BRAVE NEW WORD
THE SENTENCE ALSO RISES
THE SOUND AND THE FRAGMENT
Kathy Lynn Emerson/Kaitlyn Dunnett is the author of more than fifty traditionally published books written under several names. She won the Agatha Award and was an Anthony and Macavity finalist for best mystery nonfiction of 2008 for How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries and was an Agatha Award finalist in 2015 in the best mystery short story category. She was the Malice Domestic Guest of Honor in 2014. Currently she writes the contemporary Liss MacCrimmon Mysteries (X Marks the Scot—December 2017) and Deadly Edits series (Crime and Punctuation—2018) as Kaitlyn and the historical Mistress Jaffrey Mysteries (Murder in a Cornish Alehouse) as Kathy. The latter series is a spin-off from her earlier “Face Down” mysteries and is set in Elizabethan England. New in 2017 is a collection of short stories, Different Times, Different Crimes. Her websites are www.KaitlynDunnett.com and www.KathyLynnEmerson.com