Nothing’s done ‘til it’s done, and then you may wish it was undone.
Sometimes titles are so easy. Sammy Keyes and the Psycho Kitty Queen—poof! There it was and everyone loved it. Sammy Keyes and the Sisters of Mercy—how can you argue with a song that keeps looping through your brain? Confessions of a Serial Kisser—everyone was in stitches.
But this one?
The one with the kinda loser guy who turned out to be super funny and uses the moniker Justice Jack?
The title has to start with ‘Sammy Keyes and the’—the ‘the’ has to be there. The first four Sammys were named with a ‘the’ and after that it just seemed weird not to have one. You can’t go and switch it up. Sammy Keyes and Justice Jack sounds lame. Like, what are they? Going out?
The ‘the’ has to be there.
And I’m kinda very stuck on having ‘Justice Jack’ in the title.
I just like it.
Nancy (my editor, for you newbies) isn’t as invested in including Jack in the cover.
She’s sorta partial to ‘Masked Maniac.’
Which would work very nicely with a simple ‘the,’ it’s true.
But I’m kinda very stuck on ‘Justice Jack.’
I’ve gone through SO many variations trying to find the perfect fit to capture the essence of this story. It’s been like naming Moustache Mary. I couldn’t figure out what word went best with it. I was partial to Sammy Keyes and the Spirit of Moustache Mary, but Nancy thought it sounded like an airplane. When I finally struck on “Curse” I felt this enormous sense of relief. Like, yes. That is the perfect word.
After that was settled we went round and round about the spelling of mustache. I really wanted the ‘o’.
I just liked it, okay?
Who knew titles were such battle grounds, huh?
Anyway, part of the challenge with both ‘the Curse of Moustache Mary’ and ‘the ______ of Justice Jack' is working with the space constraints. The word that fits in the blank cannot take up much room because of the design of the jacket.
I had settled on ‘Power’ but there’s something about it that Nancy isn’t keen on. And I do have ‘Power Potion’ and ‘the Greatest Power’ in the Gecko & Sticky titles.
That’s a different series, but it does influence my decision. Like, maybe ‘Power’ isn’t the best choice after all. I know I wouldn’t name another book with ‘Run’ in it – I have Runaway, The Running Dream, and Sammy Keyes and the Runaway Elf. I’m done with running. So maybe I should be done with ‘Power,’ too.
Then I came up with ‘Call’ as a nice substitute.
Nancy's reception to the change was cool at best.
Now, you’d think that an author could just say, This is the title of my book and you keep your mitts off! And if this had been one of those love-it-from-the-get-go titles, well, Nancy would have probably loved it from the get-go, too and we wouldn’t be swimming around in title stew.
But we need to decide!
So I brainstormed some more with Mark and we’re now liking ‘Legend’ as the fill-in-the-blank word. Physically it’s a little long, but only one more letter than Power, which is the same length as Curse, which we know fits.
We actually like ‘Ballad’ but there is no song in the story (silly me!) so it would make no sense. Too bad.
Anyway, I sent the new title to Nancy on Monday and her reaction?
I haven’t heard a peep.
Which means that she’s still wanting Masked Maniac.
(After 25 books with her I’ve learned to interpret the silence.)
And of course you have no idea what this story is about (except that it’s about a kinda loser guy who is very funny and goes by the name of Justice Jack) so you can’t help me!
Maybe next week I’ll have an official title for you.
(But don’t hold your breath!)