Sunday, November 02, 2014

Where My Titles Come From

Please welcome a special Sunday guest on Judy’s Stew--Marilyn Meredith, the author of over thirty-five published novels, including the award winning Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series. The latest in the series is River Spirits from Mundania Press. Marilyn is a member of three chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. She lives in the foothills of the Sierra. Visit her at and her blog at

This is the first in a blog tour for River Spirits, and Marilyn is offering a prize for the person who comments on the most blog posts during the tour. He or she can either have a character in her next book named after them, or choose an earlier book in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series—either a paper book or e-book.

I thought it might be fun if I wrote about how I come up with title for this series. I prefer short titles, two words if possible. And, of course, the two words need to have a relationship to the plot. The hope is that a reader will be enticed by the title and want to read the book.

Often I've found a quote either from a Native American or a snippet from an Indian legend that lends itself to becoming the perfect title. Usually I have the title before I write the book. In fact sometimes the title is what has given me the idea for the book--or at least part of the plot.

Once I had to ask my critique group what they thought ought to be the title of the book I'd been reading to them. They came up with many suggestions, but only one was the perfect title.

Contrary to my usual practice, I'd nearly finished writing River Spirits before I knew what the title should be. As I was writing one of the ending scenes, the appearance of spirits rising from the river gave me the perfect title.

I'm sure other writers may have their own way of picking titles for their books and if so, I hope they'll share in the comments.

River Spirits:
While filming a movie on the Bear Creek Indian Reservation, the film crew trespasses on sacred ground. The female stars receive threats, the Hairy Man finds a missing woman, and someone murders an actor. Deputy Tempe Crabtree has no idea who is guilty. Once again, the elusive and legendary Hairy Man plays an important role in this newest Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery.


Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Thank you, Judy--sorry this got to be so complicated, but I am glad to be here.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

For those following the blog, tomorrow I'll be visiting and I wrote about where Tempe Crabtree came from.

Mary Montague Sikes said...

Love the photo of you with the flowers, Marilyn. Good luck with your new book!

Lorna Collins - said...

I, too, like short titles, but they have to relate to the story. A friend came up with a title for her suspense book that sounded more like a children's book. it related to the story, but was misleading.

Nancy LiPetri said...

Great photo of you, and I'm excited to read this one too!

Kathleen Kaska said...

I love the title, Marilyn and the cover of your book is enticing. Congratulations to another job well done!

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Thank you, Monti, picture was taken at my daughter's house. I agree, the title does need to reflect the story in some way. Thanks, Nancy, hope you like the book. Thanks, Kathleen, I love all of my covers for this series. The artist does a great job.

Anonymous said...

Hi Marilyn,
Titles do mean a lot. I started wtiting a suspense novel for which I had picked a title. the the novel turned into a romantic suspense novel and the first title no longer related to the story and I had to change it.
Richard Brawer

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Richard, sometimes I know the title right off--with River Spirits the title didn't come to me until I was nearly finished with the book.