29 August 2016

HELP! (I'm told it's called crowd-sourcing)

by Susan Rogers Cooper

I'm knee-deep in the newest E.J. Pugh novel. Unfortunately, I should be at least hip deep, if not tickling-my-tummy deep. Why is it that, now that I'm retired from everything but writing (outside jobs, motherhood and wifedom) that it's taking longer and longer to write a book? Well, there's always the “hey, I'm retired, I can do it tomorrow” syndrome, wherein tomorrow keeps getting further and further away. And there's also the “I don't have to write X number of pages today. I can catch up tomorrow.” See above about tomorrow. And this summer it's been “the grand kids are coming by in four hours. I really need to rest up” excuse. But with E.J., I'm getting there. Slowly, but I'll make it. I always – okay, usually – do. But then there's the big problem, the one where I'm going to need some help. I'm told this is call crowd sourcing.


If I give you a quick synopsis with pertinent points can you make a suggestion? Here's the deal. It's taking place on the University of Texas campus. E.J.'s twenty-year-old son finds his obnoxious, much-despised (by everyone) roommate dead in the room – stabbed to death while Graham (E.J.'s son) slept. Guess who becomes the chief suspect? We have other wanna-be suspects, too, of course. The roommate's less than loving mother; his ex-girlfriend who keyed his car twice and sent him Ex-Lax brownies; his BFF whom he belittled in front of the friend's parents; and the roommate's student adviser whose wife the roommate came on to rather aggressively at a party.

Are ideas flooding in? I usually don't have trouble with titles, but this one is giving me a run for my money. Do I want to name it something to do with UT? Campus life? Or just murder in general?


As incentive for your cooperation the winner (or the one person who actually gives me a title, any title) gets a copy of the book when it comes out. I'm thrilled, are you? Is my sarcasm showing?

A woman in my apartment complex was recently told by another woman that I had thirty-some-odd (some very odd) books published. The woman looked at me and said, “Then why are you living here?”

Yes, it was a very rude question, but I only laughed it off. I didn't explain that there are only four people who actually become millionaires writing books, and only eight who actually make a livable wage doing it. I didn't explain the “claw” theory – the one that writing success is based on the machine you see in restaurant lobbies full of stuffed animals and you have to get that big old claw to grab on to the one you want – or any one for that matter – and it never does. Success is that claw, and somebody gets pulled up every million or so tries.

So the rest of us just keep writing. Why? Well, I don't know about you, but I do it because if I didn't there would be something very big missing in my life. I once said that if I didn't do this for a living, I'd probably write really great grocery lists. Well, I don't want to write really great grocery lists. I want to write stories. I want to make people ask questions, get anxious, and, sometimes, laugh their butts off. But still and all, I need a title.

Any title will do. Really.


  1. Susan, this might give you some college-based ideas. I thought of TRIGGER WARNING or NO SAFE SPACE or SAfE SPACE.

  2. Aargh. When I said THIS I meant this http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/27/us/university-of-chicago-strikes-back-against-campus-political-correctness.html?_r=0

  3. Good luck with the title. But at least you have a plot. I find I either get a terrific title and no book or vice versa!

  4. Janice, I know what you mean! I've got some great title ideas, just no story to go with it. And when I need a title -- well, enough said.

  5. Susan, how about Give It The Old College Die.

    Yes, I know, puns. But puns can sell.

  6. I'm so bad with titles! But I do like the set-up--and I think Rob might be onto something here.... (He's good at all things.) Best of luck with the book!

  7. First of all, I like Rob's idea about Safe Space better than anything I can come up with. Depending on how the roommate is killed, Trigger Warning might work, too.

    My only thought is that you might be able to do something with the fact that the roommate is killed while Graham's asleep. If you think the world can stand one more mystery title based on Shakespeare (and maybe it can't), you might borrow a phrase from Hamlet and try That Sleep of Death. If you want to stay away from Shakespeare, you could try something such as Killer Dreams or Killer Sleep.

  8. Maybe somethng inane or puny like "Degree in Murder" or "Murder in the First Degree"... A play on the word degree. However, I really like B.K.s suggestions on sleep in the title.

  9. Actually, the longer I think about it, the less I like the sleep title. It makes it sound like the killer is killing through dreams, or all victims might be killed while dreaming. Was the victim asleep when killed?

  10. Susan, see if any of these help you brainstorm a title:
    Final Exams
    But Officer, I Was Sleeping at the Time
    Dead Student Body
    The Trouble with Roommates
    Wanted: New Roommate
    Designated Victim
    Taking a Stab at College

  11. Susan, I like several of these, some better than the BMOC I mentioned. But after seeing RT's list, I like Final Exam (or Exams) best of all.

  12. I can't resist responding to Leigh's comment. He suggests shortening R.T.'s "Final Exams" to "Exams." When I saw R.T.'s title, my first thought was, "Or maybe `Finals.'"

  13. Jeez, you people are good! I might come to y'all for all my titles! Okay, in the running for a free book and a mention in the acknowledgements: Barb Goffman, Sylvia Ney, and R.T. Lawton. R.T. might win, y'all, because he's got three good ones! But it's going to be tough to decide. I'll be putting this out on f/b for a vote I think! Y'all have turned a problem into fun. Thanks!

  14. The Killer Roommate
    He Died On Me
    But I think the best is B. K. Stevens' "Finals".

  15. Bonnie, I wasn't clear. I mean Final Exams or Final Exam, not Exams by itself. And Finals works too! (If I keep practicing, maybe I'll become a writer!)

  16. This comment has been removed by the author.


Welcome. Please feel free to comment.

Our corporate secretary is notoriously lax when it comes to comments trapped in the spam folder. It may take Velma a few days to notice, usually after digging in a bottom drawer for a packet of seamed hose, a .38, her flask, or a cigarette.

She’s also sarcastically flip-lipped, but where else can a P.I. find a gal who can wield a candlestick phone, a typewriter, and a gat all at the same time? So bear with us, we value your comment. Once she finishes her Fatima Long Gold.

You can format HTML codes of <b>bold</b>, <i>italics</i>, and links: <a href="https://about.me/SleuthSayers">SleuthSayers</a>