What’s Up With Book Titles?

I am probably like most every author in that I choose my book titles carefully, and with a twinkle in my eye and with a wry smile. The titles of my books have multiple meanings- most of the time two, but sometimes more. As the reader becomes engrossed in my books, they uncover possible meanings.

I am never quick to let a reader know what I was thinking when I named my books, because I believe that is up to the reader. I would rather be on the side watching and waiting for a catch of the ‘ah-ha’ moment. Many times, readers will share their thoughts with me, but again, I seldom tell them they are right or wrong, and I won’t share what I was thinking when I selected the title. I want it to be theirs and theirs alone, and I tell them that.

Often, I begin with a tentative title, but as I become knee deep in the writing, I will at times throw out the original title and select a new and better one. It just happened with the book I am currently working on.

I began with the title, At Any Cost. Strong. Intriguing. You might ask yourself, “At whose cost?” I believe any title should keep the reader guessing.

In Stephen King’s book Salem’s Lot, the lead character is an author. He publishes a new book and travels to his childhood town because he has an idea to write about a scary house in the community he grew up in. One character asks him, “What does Cloud Dancer mean?” (that was the name of the character’s book). The author merely smiles and says something like, “Did you read the book?” or “You have to read the book!” He implies that the meaning of the title will be uncovered as one reads the story. Like King’s character, I believe any good title should cause questions and only when reading the book will the answers be found.

Instead of using At Any Cost as the title, I went with Black Yéʼii (The Evil One). Black Yéʼii is a Navajo term for one of their deities, but they don’t speak much of it because, to do so, might invite “The Evil One” into one’s life. Black Yéʼii uses the five senses to trick an individual to seek pleasure in areas of life and, by doing so, harms them or others. Black Yéʼii goes against ‘living in the light’, or Hozho, which means inner life and harmony. Black Yéʼii fights against Hozho by creating darkness and evil among people.

Given that background, which I state at the beginning of the book, just under the title and just under the quotes I use for the book, it gives the reader a focus. Who is the evil? What is the evil? Is it one person or more than one person? Perhaps a group of people? And will this Black Yéʼii bring harm to one of more of the Evans boys? Perhaps the whole family?

Take my book, Spiral Into Darkness. The cover is black and has the design of a downward spiral. David King, the creative genius behind my book cover designs, came up with it after seeking my input. The title is, by itself, intriguing enough. But together with the design on the cover, it becomes thought-provoking.

Now if I told you the book is about a serial killer who has murdered various individuals with no pattern and without any potential motive that ties the victims together, that might cause you to question what the title means.

But could the title have another meaning? Something going on in one character’s mind, one character’s life? I’m smiling, because I won’t tell you. You have to read the book to find out.

Another book of mine, Betrayed, the title implies someone, or a group of someones, is going to betray someone else. But could there be more within the title that meets the initial conclusion? What kind of betrayal? Who will be betrayed, and over what? You bet there is more to that title than the initial thought. You will have to read the book and come to your own conclusions because I won’t tell you.

An intriguing title works together with a great cover design and a thought-provoking book description to interest the reader. Those are the first steps to selling any book. But it should never end there. The writing has to match the title, the cover, and the description or the reader will feel cheated and won’t take another chance of reading anything else you write.

For your convenience, I’ve placed book descriptions and links to all my books, including the ones I mentioned above, except for the one I’m currently working on. But stay tuned. As I said, I’m about halfway done on Black Yéʼii (The Evil One). I’ll keep you posted as I complete it.

As always, thanks for following along with me on my writing journey. I would love to know your thoughts, so please use the comment section below.

One last thing, don’t forget to go to Goodreads and register for a signed copy of my new book, Fan Mail (talk about a title with multiple meanings, 😊). There are just under two weeks left, and I’d love to sign and send you a copy. Use this link: https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/enter_choose_address/365972?utm_medium=api&utm_source=giveaway_widget

My Books:

Fan Mail: New Release! A Maxy Award Finalist, an Eric Hoffer Award Nominee, and a Literary Titan Silver Book Award Winner!  

A barrage of threatening letters, a car bomb, and a heart attack rip apart what was once a close-knit family of adopted brothers. Randy and Bobby, along with fellow band member and best friend, Danny, receive fan mail that turns menacing. They ignore it, but to their detriment. The sender turns up the heat. Violence upends their world. It rocks the relationship between the boys and ripples through their family, nearly killing their dad.

As these boys turn on each other, adopted brother Brian flashes back to that event in Arizona where he nearly lost his life saving his brothers. The scars on his face and arms healed, but not his heart.  

Would he once again have to put himself in harm’s way to save them? And if faced with that choice, will he? https://amzn.to/3eNgSdS 

Blaze In, Blaze Out: Best Action Crime Thriller of 2022 by Best Thrillers! A Literary Titan Gold Book Award Winner! A Readers’ Favorite Award Winner! A Reader’s Ready Recommended Read! A BestThriller’s Editor’s Pick!

Detectives Eiselmann and O’Connor thought the conviction of Dmitry Andruko, the head of a Ukrainian crime family, meant the end. It was only the beginning. They forgot that revenge knows no boundaries, vindictiveness knows no restraints, and ruthlessness never worries about collateral damage. Andruko hired contract killers to go after and kill O’Connor and Eiselmann.

The killers can be anyone and be anywhere. They can strike at any time. They care nothing of collateral damage. Andruko believes a target is a target, and in the end, the target must die. https://amzn.to/34lNllP 

Betrayed: Two Top Shelf Awards: 1st Place Fiction-Mystery; and Runner-Up Fiction-Crime; A PenCraft 1st Place Winner for Thriller-Fiction! A Maxy Award Runner-Up for Mystery/Suspense! A Literary Titan Silver Book Award Winner! A Reader’s Ready Recommended Read Award Winner! A Reader’s Favorite Honorable Mention Award Winner for Fiction-Crime-Mystery!

Betrayed is Now Available in Audio Book, Kindle and Paperback! https://amzn.to/3AfUUpS 

A late-night phone call, a missing kid, a murdered family, but no one is talking. A promise is made and kept, but it could mean the death of a fifteen-year-old boy. Greed can be all-consuming, and seeing is not believing. No one can be trusted, and the hunters become the hunted. https://amzn.to/2EKHudx

Spiral Into Darkness: Named a Recommended Read in the Author Shout Reader Awards!

He blends in. He is successful, intelligent, and methodical. So far, he has murdered eight people. There is no discernible pattern. There are no clues. There are no leads. The only thing the FBI and local police have to go on is the method of death: two bullets to the face- gruesome and meant to send a message. But it’s difficult to understand any message coming from a dark and damaged mind. Two adopted boys, struggling in their own world, do not know they are the next targets. Neither does their family. And neither does local law enforcement. https://amzn.to/2RBWvTm 

Caught in a Web: A PenCraft Literary Award Winner! Named “One of the Best Thrillers of 2018!” by BestThrillers.com 

Caught in a Web is also available in Audio Book, Kindle and Paperback! http://bit.ly/2WO3kka

They found the bodies of high school and middle school kids dead from an overdose of heroin and fentanyl. A violent gang, MS-13, controls the drug trade along the I-94 and I-43 corridors. They send Ricardo Fuentes to find out who is cutting in on their business, shut it down and teach them a lesson. But he has an ulterior motive: find and kill a fifteen-year-old boy, George Tokay. 

Detectives Jamie Graff, Pat O’Connor and Paul Eiselmann race to find the source of the drugs, shut down the ring, and find Fuentes before he kills anyone else. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CKF7696  
The Lives Trilogy Prequel, Taking Lives:

FBI Agent Pete Kelliher and his partner search for the clues behind the bodies of six boys left in various and remote parts of the country. Even though they live in separate parts of the country, the lives of Kelliher, 11-year-old Brett McGovern, and 11-year-old George Tokay are separate pieces of a puzzle. The two boys become interwoven with the same thread Kelliher holds in his hand. The three of them are on a collision course and when that happens, their futures grow dark as each search for a way out. https://amzn.to/34nXBH5 

Book One, Stolen Lives: Editor’s Pick by BestThrillers! Literary Titan Gold Book Award Winner! A Crime Thriller finalist in the 2021 Best Thriller Book Awards!

Two thirteen-year-old boys are abducted off a safe suburban street. Kelliher and his team of FBI agents have 24 hours to find them or they will end up like the other kids they found- dead! They have no leads, no clues, and nothing to go on. To make the investigation that much tougher, Kelliher suspects that one of his team members might be involved. https://amzn.to/3oMo4qZ  

Book Two of the Lives Trilogy, Shattered Lives:

The boys are home, but now they have to fit back in with their families and friends. Their parents and the FBI thought the boys were safe. They were until people began dying. Now the hunt is on for six dangerous and desperate men who vow revenge. With no leads and nothing to go on, the FBI can only sit back and wait. A dangerous game that threatens not only the boys, but their families. https://amzn.to/2RAYIk2 
Book Three of the Lives Trilogy, Splintered Lives:

Three dangerous men with nothing to lose offer a handsome reward to anyone willing to kill fourteen-year-old Brett McGovern. He does not know that he, his younger brother, and a friend are targets. More than anyone, these three men vow to kill George, whom they blame for forcing them to run and hide. A fun vacation turns into a nightmare and ends where it started, back on the Navajo Nation Reservation, high on a mesa held sacred by George and his grandfather. Outnumbered and outgunned, George will make the ultimate sacrifice to protect his adoptive father and his adoptive brothers- but can he? Without knowing who these men are? Or where they are? Without knowing whom to trust? Is he prepared for betrayal that leads to his heartbreak and death? http://bit.ly/SplinteredLives    

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