Shannon Stacey

A book by any other name…

Sometimes (I’d go so far as to say oftentimes, actually) the title on a manuscript when it’s submitted isn’t the same as the title on the cover when it’s published. The process of change is actually quite simple. The editor nonchalantly says “Oh, by the way, you need a new title. Send me a list of possibilities.” The author then nonchalantly says, “Okay, no problem” while secretly doing a rather impressive mental impression of the Home Alone kid screaming in the mirror.

As it happens, Carina Press would like a new title for Just Joe and, yes, I’m channeling my inner Macaulay Culkin. Not that I’m either surprised or upset—titles are a marketing tool and marketing is not what I do. The mental eardrum piercing comes not from resistance, but from the panic that naturally occurs when a writer needs words and finds the vault totally empty.

See, I know what Just Joe means to the book because I know the book. Creatively, that title resonated with me. But Just Joe says nothing at all about the book to someone who hasn’t read it and gives no clues as to the content which, along with the cover art, are the first thing to catch a reader’s eye. But, sometimes, the creative side of a writer and the logical side butt heads and the result is…a brain cramp.

I don’t think The Reluctant Author’s Secret Ex-Girlfriend is going to fly, either, so if anybody gets bored and wants to throw some ideas in the comment box, I might actually cry tears of gratitude. Big fat ones that will freeze on my cheeks when I take the dog out.

The Characters:

Keri Daniels is a journalist for an entertainment magazine, but she’s been hiding prior carnal knowledge of a reclusive celebrity. Now her secret’s out and her editor-in-chief is sending her back to face the boy she left behind.

Joe Kowalski isn’t a boy anymore, but he’s never forgotten the first girl to break his heart. Through eleven bestselling novels he’s been able to protect his privacy, but he’s prepared to step into the spotlight if it means a chance to finish what he and Keri started.

Tina Deschanel is the editor-in-chief of Spotlight Magazine and she’s had her sights set on an exclusive interview with Joseph Kowalski for years. She doesn’t think sending her favorite reporter into the northern woods of New Hampshire to fan an old flame is too great a sacrifice.

Teresa Kowalski Porter wants nothing to do with Keri Daniels. Her former best friend abandoned her several years before breaking her twin brother’s heart. There’s only one reason Terry’s willing to spend two weeks in the woods with Keri—payback.

The Set-Up:

One random blog entry is all it takes to pull the safety net out from under Keri Daniels. One minute she’s shopping with her boss, and the next she’s holding a photo of an eighteen-year-old version of herself in the arms of her high school sweetheart, Joe Kowalski. Tina Deschanel—the editor-in-chief of Spotlight Magazine—has been trying to get an interview with the reclusive, bestselling author for years. And when Tina tracked down a blogger who claimed to go to school with the man, she discovered her best reporter had been withholding some very interesting backstory. Now she’s given Keri a choice—the interview or a new career. She’s worked too hard and is too close to achieving her promotion to say no.

The entire Kowalski family is preparing for their annual camping trip in northern New Hampshire when Joe learns Keri Daniels is back in town. It’s not her first visit home since she left all those years ago, but it’s the first time she’s let it be known she’s looking for him. But he’s nobody’s fool and suspects Tina Deschanel—the most persistent stalker his agent has to fend off—has discovered her reporter’s connection to her prey.

Joe proposes an outrageous plan he’s positive will send Keri running in the other direction—for every day she survives with the Kowalski family on their annual campground vacation, she gets to ask him one question. But Keri’s worked too hard to walk away from her career and two weeks in the woods with her high school sweetheart is the lesser of two evils.

But not by much. The chemistry between Keri and Joe is still as potent as the bug spray, Joe’s sister Terry—Keri’s former childhood best friend—is out for revenge, and the cabin—the one she shares with Joe—has no running water. Being expected to take part in the ATV riding—something she hasn’t done since she was ten—is the icing on the pity party cake.

11 comments to “A book by any other name…”

  1. Charlene
      · January 22nd, 2010 at 10:15 am · Link

    OK, I already suggested Sex with your Ex. New ideas:
    Ask Me Anything
    Ask Anything
    Truth and Dare (he’s daring her, in return for which she gets truth)

  2. Shannon
      · January 22nd, 2010 at 10:23 am · Link

    I love Sex With Your Ex. I loved it yesterday, too, but I’m afraid it’s a little misleading as to the heat level of the book. A little bit o’steamy? Yes. But it’s not wicked hot.

  3. Jaci Burton
      · January 22nd, 2010 at 11:33 am · Link

    I still think you need “Dirt” or “Dirty” in the title, both from the ATV aspect and the expose’ Keri having to get dirt on Joe aspect. Unfortunately my mind works almost permanently in the gutter so my dirty is always more dirty than your book is. Heh.Then again, with the right cover…..

    Getting A Little Dirty
    Getting The Dirt

    Or, if you wanted to veer away from the dirt angle, how about Twenty Questions?

  4. Shannon
      · January 22nd, 2010 at 11:44 am · Link

    Well, the original title I gave it was Down & Dirty and I really liked that.


    Sandra Hill released a book with that title and, as with most of the “dirty” possibilites, I was afraid it would make the book sound naughtier than it is. Although…there may not be as many naughty acts as in some books, but there’s a whole lot of naughty thoughts.

    I’m putting them on the list.

    I’m also trying to make a list of the marketing hooks so I can brainstorm some more. So far I have “reunion”.

    A Little Bit Dirty.


  5. Charlene
      · January 22nd, 2010 at 12:11 pm · Link

    What about Playing Dirty? I like that.

    A title can sound sexy but not lead a reader to expect smut smut smut, y’know. :lol:

  6. Shannon
      · January 22nd, 2010 at 12:16 pm · Link

    I really like Playing Dirty, but there are two ’09 releases in romance with that title on Amazon. :sad:


  7. Rhonda
      · January 22nd, 2010 at 12:55 pm · Link

    Reluctant Reunion
    Temping the Recluse
    Staying the Course
    Dangerous Games
    Uncover the Dirt
    Turning up the Heat
    Digging up Dirt
    Dirty Business
    Oh, I quit… they get worse and worse

  8. Ann
      · January 22nd, 2010 at 2:21 pm · Link

    Dishing the Dirt?
    The Ex Challenge
    The Ex Capade?
    Ex in the Mud?
    Hide and Seek?
    The Cold Dish (as in Revenge is a dish best served cold)?
    Hope they help. :grin:

  9. Karen Templeton
      · January 22nd, 2010 at 3:47 pm · Link

    Ex Marks the Spot


    (I may think of more. Will return anon.)

  10. Jewell
      · January 23rd, 2010 at 1:27 pm · Link

    Bah. My brain won’t function.

    All I can think of is something like.

    A War of Words, or
    War of the Words (man that is a bad wordplay or what? LOL)

  11. Wanderer
      · January 23rd, 2010 at 10:49 pm · Link

    I really like the play on “dirty” you have above but understand how people may get confused about the level of heat in the book.

    Here are my contributions:
    The Ex Files
    The Ex Factor
    Inside Scoop
    An Innocent Proposal
    An Unusual Proposition
    The Write Stuff
    Two Can Play that Game
    It Takes Two to Tango
    Winner Takes All
    Insider Information

    The Kathleen E. Woodiwiss influenced title: Rekindled Flames

    The Harlequin influenced title: Inquiring Minds, Enticing Bodies

    The overpriced store influenced title:
    Beloved, Betrayed and Beyond

    Other misc brainstorming words:


    Good Luck! :D

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