Naming My Baby
This is a lengthy blog post but represents the long process of choosing the best title for my middle grade novel. I have to say, it’s been about as nerve-wracking as naming my human babies. But that’s a whole different saga I’ll explain in a different post with pseudonyms, so the kids won’t hate me.
My novel acquired the nickname “Hotdog” years ago when I was taking it to Carolyn’s Yoder’s Highlights Foundation workshops. I still call it Hotdog and am perfectly happy to continue. But NOW, it seems, I need a proper name, and soon, because it needs an International Standard Book Number, and I can’t get that without the title. Think of it as Hotdog’s microchip, rabies and name tags all rolled into one. (Without the collar. Or the jingle-jangle when he’s on the move).
What’s in a Name?
From what I understand (which isn’t much) the ISBN is a book’s identifier, so it doesn’t get lost in a worldwide system. But it must be associated with a particular title. Its own title. A name that expresses its personality but doesn’t reveal all its secrets. A billboard that readers will notice and gravitate to. And is easy to search for online.
At first when Hotdog was more of an idea than a book, the working title was TAKING HOTDOG HOME. I wasn’t worried about the title then. I had my hands full just trying to find and tell the story! But, as I made changes and changed the changes, the direction of the story finally became clear. The original working title no longer fit. So, I brainstormed about five seconds and the new working title became HOTDOG’S LAST HURRAH. Little did I know it would be five YEARS and about the same number of revisions before he was even close enough to the finish line to need a new title. THE title that will be the best fit.
At first, I thought I might go back to TAKING HOTDOG HOME. But I liked HOTDOG’S LAST HURRAH, too. I couldn’t decide. My former student, Holly McPeak, had her students vote on it for me and they chose HOTDOG’S LAST HURRAH. Which was great!
But again…I…wasn’t…sure… Was “Last” the best word to use? What about “hurrah”? I read more about titles and the reasons for their existence.
Wait! What? It also needs a subtitle? Nooooooooooooo!
So, I began brainstorming again, bouncing options off friends and family, basically driving them crazy. Here’s a few of my feeble and truly rotten attempts:
Hotdog’s Best Blog
Home Again, Hotdog
A Long Dog’s Blog
The Odyssey of a Dachshund Blogger
The Odd-yssey of a Doxie Blogger
What’s an odyssey, let alone an ODD-yssey?
Doxie is short for dachshund? Really?
Does it have to have a subtitle? Please say “no.”
Then I got the notes back from my editor who felt like the title didn’t quite fit the first-person revision. “It’s Xander’s story, after all, not Hotdog’s. Though he’s important, too, so should still be in the title. What about something like HOTDOG, FRANKENSTINA, AND ME? But with a reference to rocks, since that plays a part?” I liked HOTDOG, FRANKENSTINA…and but played with rocky possibilities:
and the Rocks in My Head
and All My Rock Relatives
and Rockhound Me
and Wimpy Talc Me
Rocky VII (just kidding)
I liked the Wimpy Talc one, but my editor had valid concerns about them all. Then she said, “What about something that refers to rock layers? This book has lots of layers.”
Something clicked! I looked up “talc” to see if it was sedimentary, a type of rock that forms in layers. But NO! It was metamorphic, a type of rock that results from change! This book is all about how my main character changes, with Hotdog’s help, of course.
Hotdog, Frankenstina, and Metamorphic Me
Hotdog, the RV, and Metamorphic Me
Hotdog and Metamorphic Me
Too hard to search for.
Do you need Frankenstina if it will be pictured on the cover?
A Little Help From My Friends?
So, what do you think? A new Miss Kansas was crowned this week. Do you think we could crown one of these as the new Hotdog title? One of them is calling me. But I want to see what you all say. Weigh in with your comments on Facebook or my website. Pretty please? Thanks.