Margaret Mizushima is the author of the Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries. You can find out more about her on her website. www.margaretmizushima.com, or by clicking here, read her last post here, and buy her books here.
Lately I’ve been consumed with finishing my ninth Timber Creek K-9 Mystery. My deadline was October 1 and now my publishing team at Crooked Lane Books and I are well into the editing rounds. Along with this phase comes the need to finalize the title for the book, which can sometimes be a challenge.
When the first book in the series was published back in 2015, the team and I decided it would be good to use a gerundive phrase as the title. Thus, my debut was named Killing Trail. We also decided that for branding purposes, each subsequent book in the series would follow this naming convention. It seemed like a great idea at the time, although sometimes in the past years I’ve had to wonder.
We’ve published a new book together almost every year. In order, the Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries are titled: Killing Trail, Stalking Ground, Hunting Hour, Burning Ridge, Tracking Game, Hanging Falls, Striking Range, and Standing Dead.
Standing Dead came out last March, and it’s one of my favorites. It’s set in a beetle-killed forest in Colorado where the trees are dead but still standing. And of course a standing dead man tied to a tree appears early in the episode.
Sometimes naming a book has been easy. Sometimes I even come up with the title before writing the book. But sometimes the working title of my book is weak or doesn’t fit the final storyline, and I end up struggling to find just the right name for the new book. When this happens, I typically submit ten to twenty titles and the team at Crooked Lane, my agent, and I discuss them by email, going back and forth about the pros and cons of the ones we like. And that’s been our process the past six weeks.
Timber Creek is a fictional town in the high country of Colorado, where all the books have been set so far. But the ninth book has a different setting. In book nine, my protagonist Deputy Mattie Wray and her K9 partner Robo are called to Washington’s Olympic peninsula to search for a celebrity’s missing child. (For those of you who’ve followed the blog, you might recall that this neck of the woods has become my new home, having moved from Colorado last year.)
I like to use setting and weather to challenge my characters, and book nine is no different. It’s all about the mist and rain. So I felt it was important to include Mist in the title. We tried out many, many gerunds to go with this title, but we finally settled on one.
I’m very pleased to announce that book nine’s title is Gathering Mist. I feel that it captures the chilling, swirling, layering, drifting, rolling, rising mist portrayed in many of the scenes. (And yes, we did consider these other gerunds, several of which I still like.)
So hooray! The title is finally set and soon we’ll have a cover. I’ll be very excited to share that with you when it’s ready. But now I’m curious. What are your thoughts about choosing book titles? How does a book title affect you?