February 24th, 2014

book cover humor

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Anne - What do you think?

What Do You Call A Girl Scout Story With No Girl Scouts?

            Okay, so this YA “Girl Scout” novella I’ve been working on is almost ready to go, and it has no Girl Scouts in it.

            (That’s for legal purposes. This organization is my own invention, and the fact that some of the proceeds are going toward the Girl Scout camp my wife worked at is completely coincidental.)

            So, since the Girl Scout story has no Girl Scouts, I should probably give it a title. I brainstormed, writing down a list of a couple of dozen potential titles, which is what I sometimes do when I’m stuck for one (which is all the time).

            The story revolves around 15 year old Beth Hamlin’s misadventures when she gets to camp and discovers they can’t have any campfires that year, due to a drought. She and her friends work to keep everyone’s spirits up while also taking steps to make it rain—steps that lead to disastrous consequences.

            Some of the titles I came up with were discarded because they gave clues about things that happened late in the book, so those were the easy ones. For obvious reasons, I’m not going to tell you what they were.

            Others were a bit too bland: “The Year Without a Fire”, “Rain Dancing”; or dependent on wordplay: “Weather … Or Not”, “Where There’s Smoke, It’s Dire”.

            Some titles the reader wouldn’t figure out until they’re well into the story:

            “If You Don’t Like The Weather …”
            “Dance, Wind, And Fire”
            “Don’t Kill The Messenger”
            “They Don’t Listen To Teenagers”
            “Totally Not An Emergency”
            “Four Friends and a Drought” (A little shout-out to a fanfiction series of mine.)
            “Riot Prevention Badge”

            For you “Walking Dead” fans (and only you will get it) I found a title that fit the story and was also a shout-out:  “Heroic Stuff, Dangerous Things”.

            Two titles I discarded because they referred to a supporting character, and would be considered un-PC to our more delicate readers. I just didn’t feel like arguing. But the character, a half-Cherokee owner of an Indian-themed souvenir shop, also appears in a YA mystery I’m trying to sell—and will refuse to be silenced.

            Toward the end I got a little silly:

            “If You Like Your Weather, You Can Keep Your Weather.”
            “Mary Potter and The Rain Dance Of Doom.”

            Sadly, the story doesn’t have a character named Mary Potter.

            When I was done winnowing the list, which I believe is also a dance move in Philadelphia … there wasn’t much list left. This is what I ended up with:

            “Have a Safe Summer”
            “Who Keeps Singing?”
            “Best Session Ever”
            “No Campfire Girls”

            They speak to the story and Beth’s character. Emily was leaning toward “No Campfire Girls”, which left me wondering exactly how that title would go on the cover. We don’t want people to think we’re banning Campfire Girls, for instance. It could be:

            “No Campfire, Girls”
            Or, “No-Campfire Girls”
            Or maybe an emphasis with bigger letters or italics: “No Campfire, Girls”.

           So, what do you think, Title-wise? The Girl Scouts are counting on this … even though the story’s not about Girl Scouts. Honest.