I don’t know if life is dropping on anybody else like the proverbial measure of squarish building things, but it is me. Mom and Pop Dave had a great visit. Caer Dave is sparkling (ish), Dave wrote (a bunch: short story and several space opera chapters), much goodness was accomplished, and Wee and Wee-er Dave had ALL. THE. FUN.

Which is part of the problem. They are now having less fun, and taking this out on each other, which really means they’re taking it out on me. But I also received a call (half an hour after Mom and Pop Dave drove orft) asking if I was actually planning on bringing the car in to get the collision damage fixed. YES! Yes, I am. Called the insurance to clear up a final question, call the rental place to confirm pick-up, get the littles set, and loaded, and start the car. Start. The. Car.

The car isn’t starting.

My mighty steed is showing zero signs of life. Jumper box does nada. Jumping via Mrs. Dave’s mighty steed only makes the alarm go off, and then it dies agin. Loverly. AAA is apprised, and sends a dude. We wait. Dude arrives, jumps the mighty steed from his even mightier Clydesdale. We drive around, acquire caffeination (for me: littles will be little enough without it) and go get the parts tested. Everything checks out, and it looks like a creature left a light on. Again. Second time in a week. (Breathe.) Go to rental, do paperwork, head to body shop. Which is closed for lunch. Wait, then, rental dude arrives with rental. Office is still closed. Wait some more. Drop keys, apologize for delay (my fault for forgetting the appointment in the first place), bugger off. Finally get home.

So, I’m a little … frazzled. Frazzled is a good word. I’m sorry this is late. You’d think I’d enjoy it, as often as happens.

If life is hitting you as hard as it’s hitting me, stop. Step back, and take a breath. Now, take another. In through the nose, out through the mouth. Use that diaphragm. Just do that for a minute. Set a timer if you have to. If you have an errant thought careening around the back recesses of your mind, just let it. Let it do its thing, and see what happens. But keep breathing.

After that, I dunno. Write something? I’m going to go lift when I’m done with this. I need to check on the littles, and lift heavy things for my sanity. Plan dinner. All the usual bits that I don’t particularly like, but that’s my life right now.

Speaking of which, until the littles are in preschool for the mornings (thirty-five days and a wake-up), I won’t be doing much fictionating. I know what happens next, I know where I want everything to go. I think I even have the characters convinced they should go that direction (though that’s as much a question for the readers, as it is for me.)

To put a cap on this (on; not in), I have a question for you all: how do you come up with titles? I’m completely rubbish at it, so I’m looking for tips and tricks. I found this one weird one, but it just took me to a strange site that had nothing to do with writing.


  1. I usually start with a working title that sounds cute/hints at genre/mentions a character, just something to use when I save the file. For example, _Elizabeth of Starland_ began as _Mayhem and a Mule_. The mule is a major character, and chaos seems to coalesce around Elizabeth, so why not? My cover guy and editor suggested that it didn’t really fit the book, and with additional titles in the series, something more “series” would work better.

    The Familiar books… OK, first one was easy. Having [Adjective] Familiar went from there (_Strangely Familiar_, _Vaguely Familiar_, _Dreadfully Familiar_).

    1. Oh, I should add, once I find a title that I think will be OK, I check Amazon to see how many other books have something similar. For example _In Sheltering Talons_ was originally _With this Ring_. There were, when I looked, over a thousand romance books with that title. Time for a change.

  2. Titles. I dunno. Sometimes they jump out at me. Other times nothing works. And for a multithreaded space opera, what kind of title is “Burials” ?? That’s what the damn thing insists its named. Fine, have it your way!

  3. Puns, music references, literal descriptions of the conceit*, I haven’t finished designing the story yet and I have some words to string together**.

    Let’s do a test example. I’m designing a project that doesn’t have a working title. I know major characters, the setting, the start and end. I have a list of themes I know will be important. (Time, death, madness, magic, resurrection, as examples.) I toss some early ideas. Something with steps? Baited Breath? I have coma, fever, and death on my list also, and know that sleep is also a metaphor for death. Anything with sleep? Dreams? I eventually chase down Waking From Peaceful Dreams, which works. The viewpoint character had a peaceful life, until some very bad happened. It is at least a working title.

    Then I realize that I don’t have any actual antagonistic /characters/, so I’ve either messed up the design badly, or I’m doing man against self or man against environment. (There are horrible man eating world destroying monsters, but they aren’t really opposition.)

    *’They’ made two movies of the event, and this story is basically both of them. There’s a phrase for that, only instead of shown back to back, mine are spliced together. ‘They’ because much of it happens in an alternate 1992 LA.

    **Whatever ends up written, it’ll still be a perfectly serviceable title. This isn’t a project that will kill me if I don’t get it marketed optimally.

  4. Titles. Make some shit up and slap it on there. If it looks stupid, make up some new shit and slap that on instead. Repeat as necessary.

    My third book is still called “Another Story” because that’s what it started as. I’ll have to come up with something better. Eventually.

    1. I have one whose working title is That Bee Thing, which would be more understandable if there were actual bees involved. I don’t know why my brain does this to me.

  5. I generally start with a descriptive working title, so I can find the file again if I get distracted by something else for a week. Sometimes the working title is good “Children of a Foreign God” is a keeper. And some times it’s bad, “Scrambled” has nothing to do with eggs and breakfast, trust me. It. Will. Change.

    And sometimes, as I’m working on the cover, I realize I have a problem fitting it around the art work I’ve chosen, and shorten it or change it.

  6. I’m currently working on the Sky Watchers series. What the humans call the species of nonhumans that my male lead belongs to. Did that sentence make sense? I’m thinking of calling the first book Wild Mage or Manifest or Awaken because it revolves around the female lead’s first act of magic and coming into the world of adulthood. Hopefully I’ll come up with something less hokey before I need to publish. If anyone has any ideas I could really use some help.

  7. I usually make up a title related to some central aspect of the story, although not necessarily an obvious aspect. I wrote a science fiction detective story in which the protagonist had a phobia about airlocks failing and getting sucked out into space which was something that was holding back her career. I called that one “Crossing the Line” after both the line marking where one airlock ends and the adjoining airlock begins (a terrifying thing for the main character) and the main character’s struggle to overcome her fear in order to solve the case.

    There was one fairly silly sci-fi short story I wrote about a clueless newspaper reporter named Mr. Smith as part of a sort of writing game. I called that one “Smith from the Times” which was part of the punchline from a horrible joke I heard as a child. (“Are you tan from the sun?” “No – I’m Smith from the Times!” ba-dum bump…)

  8. For titles, I go hunting down my favourite poets, and re-read them. And sometimes I try new poets, too. You can pull phrases whole, or riff off of them. For example, I was reading a good translation of Pablo Nerudo, and wrote down phrases that just struck like I was a plucked chord on a Spanish guitar.

    From thence came Peter’s Cochrane’s Company series – “The Stones of Silence”, “An Airless Storm”, and “The Pride of the Damned.”

    For excellent reading:

    Sometimes I pull metaphors, too, and change a word – take the high road became “Take the Star Road”, and all boats rise in a rising tide became “Ride the Rising Tide”, for example.

    “Shattered Under Midnight” was from a song lyric that wouldn’t leave my head, and just resonated with the story – which was good, because the working title was Worst Vacation Ever.

    And failing all else, there’s asking friends for help. Alma Boykin suggested “Scaling the Rim” after beta-reading that book, for which I am forever grateful.

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