It’s no secret that I hate the working title on Bree and Mike’s story, “To Catch a Wife.” I blogged about it way back in May.

Last night, inspiration struck as I drove to the grocery store. I thought I’d found a perfect replacement: “Virgin and the Tramp.” A play on “Lady and the Tramp” … a description of the heroine and hero … perfect, right?

Not so much, apparently. When I posted the suggestion in my Facebook status, it was almost universally panned. One of my friends, someone I went to high school with, said it sounded like two lesbians. I have nothing against gay romances …. however, I did not write one, so I don’t want the title to make it sound like that’s what it is. I was thinking of Mike as the tramp (at least in everyone else’s mind. He works hard to maintain that image!)

Another of my friends said she’d pick up a book with the first title, but not the second.

So “Virgin and the Tramp” doesn’t play well in the Heartland.

Knowing that, I went back to the drawing board … again. “To Catch a Wife” was a decent title for the original draft of the book, in which Mike spent a good portion trying to convince Bree he wanted to marry her (because he thinks she’s pregnant, which she’s not). That still happens, but the book’s focus has shifted a bit, focusing more on Mike’s journey from pseudo-playboy who uses his bad-boy image to push away girls he doesn’t think he deserves to guy who knows he not only deserves but needs the love of a good woman.

Again, I started toying with the words I’ve been kicking around for months: mirror, image, playboy, virgin (because the heroine is one). I’d been down this road many times before and came up dry. However, the thought crossed my mind that Mike moonlights as a stripper — and a new perfect title was born: “Moonlight Madness.”

At first, I thought, “No way.” But it quickly grew on me. I walked through the parking lot to my car thinking, “That’s not bad.”

I think I even said it aloud: “That’s pretty good, actually.”

Why? Well, Breanne has harbored a crush on Mike, a coworker, since she started working at the paper … but she’s resigned herself to being just friends. As the story opens, she and her roomates are at a bachelorette party at the local strip club. She’s enjoying the show despite herself — until she discovers Mike’s the masked man shaking his junk at her.

Madness sets in and she can’t stop fantasizing about Mike. (She’s only a virgin, not dead!) When they get snowed in on assignment with one hotel room between them, she gets drunk and screws up the courage to give him her virginity (even though she knows it’s a bad idea). Mike, who’s sworn never to get involved with another virgin, doesn’t handle it well when he discovers he’s just taken it … and they spend weeks not speaking until Mike, who has a bad habit of eavesdropping, overhears what he thinks is Bree telling her former roommates (both of whom are now married) she’s pregnant. (She’s not.) Guiltily, he flashes back to that drunken night … yep. No condom. That’s what three hours of foreplay and a six-pack’ll do to a guy. But despite the image he goes to great lengths to create, he has old-fashioned values. So he sets out to seduce Bree back into his life. (Thus the original “To Catch a Wife” title.)

Advertisements

As I was printing out the completed draft of Bree & Mike’s story, I realized something: I HATE the title.

The working title has been “To Catch a Wife” … but that’d be coming totally from Mike’s perspective — and only AFTER he realizes he wants one, about 1/3 of the way into the book.

I could call it “To Catch a Spouse,” since they’re both after one of those (Bree at the start and Mike later on) — but that’s kind of generic. I might just need a completely new title. Maybe “The Virgin and the Playboy’? (Except Mike’s not really a playboy, he just pretends to be one … and Bree doesn’t stay a virgin for long. She and Mike get together in Chapter 3 … or maybe it’s 4. I’d have to check.)

Speaking of titles, I’m not wild about Cassie & Dustin’s, either. (That one’s been dubbed “Daring to Love.”) That’s probably why I continue to call those stories “Bree & Mike” and “Cassie & Dustin.”

Brad and Erin (“Operation Snag Mike Brad”) and Kari and Damien (“Blind Date Bride”) are different. Those titles sprang, fully formed, from the depths of my imagination, and I often use them when referring to their stories.

Ugh. Titles are nearly as bad as queries and synopses. They have to convey so much in so few words — tone, substance — and they have to be interesting enough to jump off the shelf and into readers’ hands (or at least out of the inbox into editor’s hands).

Any tips on coming up with a good one? I’m all ears!