Writer of Soul-Searching Snark

I Need a New Title

My friends, I have a quandary. For over a year now, between editing other novels, I’ve been working on Ex-Ray–a story about Maggie Shaw who escapes her abusive marriage by disappearing without a trace. She moves to Barrow, Alaska, assumes a new identity, Anne Sutton, and becomes a 9-1-1 emergency dispatcher. After 4 years in hiding, she falls in love with the new cop in town, Joe Carducci, and eventually has to face down her husband, Ray Malloy. It’s a gritty love story filled with angst, violence, humor and tenderness–not to mention polar bears. Kind of a Sleeping with the Enemy meets Hope Floats.

So, what’s my quandary you may ask? Here you go. The title is Ex-Ray, Ma came up with the name, which kind of plays off the title of my current release, Redneck Ex. I was writing page 200 or so before I realized that Ex-Ray wasn’t the best title since Ray technically isn’t an ex. Maggie/Anne is still married to him. In her mind he’s an ex. He stopped being her husband the first time he punched her in the face, but she’s still married to the guy.

Is Ex-Ray a misleading title? Do I need to come up with a new one? Any suggestions?


Comments on: "I Need a New Title" (41)

  1. She wanted him out of her life and as far as she was concerned he was an ex. In fact you might have her internalize that.

    She may have still been married to him but as far as she was concerned, She exited the relationship making him an ex!

    • Thanks. Linda. That was my thinking too. I always considered him her ex until she had to tell Joe about him. Then it hit her that she was technically still married. It was funny because both Anne and I realized it at the same time. 🙂

  2. I think it still works and is very clever. However, after I read this blurb, which I LOVE and must read, I’m not sure that title would grab me in a bookstore or online. It makes me think of a marine for some reason. Nothing against marines but it doesn’t give this plot justice, in my humble opinion. That said, if you’re wanting the word “EX” to appear on all of your titles, keep it!

    • Excellent point, Beth. I never thought that the title doesn’t convey the story. I don’t care about “Ex” being in the titles, but my mother was thrilled when she thought of it. 🙂 I’m so glad it would be a ‘must read” for you. I’ll be sure to let me editor know that! 🙂

  3. He’s and EX! No misleading going on. And I really like the title as is.

    • Awesome, thanks Ruby Blue. After talking with Mr. Taster-Editor, I have the cop aspects of the story tighter. I can’t wait to see how the rewrites come out!

  4. mgmillerbooks said:

    Next time you read through it, keep thoughts of a title in your head. One is likely to pop up in a phrase you hadn’t considered before.

  5. I am much in favor of Momma’s title (how cool is it that she is that involved in what you do?).
    I agree that EX is usable, but I had to really think about what you were trying to convey with the title the first time I saw it.

    • Thanks, Paula. My Mama is the best, ain’t she? You’re right about the title being somewhat vague. It really doesn’t convey much of a message. Can you think of a good Arctic phrase that would work? It’s set entirely in Barrow.

  6. Anonymous said:

    Science Dictionary
    chrysalis (krĭs’ə-lĭs) Pronunciation Key
    The pupa of certain kinds of insects (butterflies), that is inactive and enclosed in a firm case (protection) or cocoon from which the adult (her freedom) eventually emerges.

    One word perhaps? “Chrysalis”
    or perhaps within a title?

    • Hey there, I like Chrysalis. The main character has wrapped herself in a cocoon to protect herself and emerges strong and healed. I also like the idea of adding Arctic to that. Arctic Chrysalis. It’s kind of an oxymoron, for lack of a better word, since butterflies don’t exist in the Arctic. Thanks!!!

  7. Claire,

    Titles are not my forte – as you are well aware; however, the analogy you’ve drawn between Sleeping with the Enemy and Hope Floats, plus your words: gritty love story filled with angst, violence, humor and tenderness – all leave me to believe that your title needs more zing.
    (I started to write ‘punch’ but didn’t like the pun.)

    I’m just throwing things out here to help stir your creativeness…

    A Time for Tenderness (as in after a show down with Ex)
    Forever Found (as in finding herself and true love with the hero, a love that will last forever)
    Surviving Ray
    Falling Forward


    Linda Joyce

    • Oh, Linda, these are great! I love Forever Found and Falling Forward. You know I like alliteration, hence Santorini Sunset and Southern Seduction. Thanks so much!!

  8. Karen McConnaughey said:

    I think it still works, but I love thinking of titles and stuff…so
    Blue Ray
    “Surviving Ray” is good

  9. There is always, “Poetic License.” Plus, making him a is the ultimate goal.

  10. Claire,
    I love thinking up titles. And I do like that the first book is Redneck Ex and you continue that through with Ex Ray. However a reader my be mislead by this and think it a sequel to Redneck Ex.
    I’ll give this some thought but I love how everyone has left comments and suggestions.

  11. I think you need to gather ALL the suggestions up and then have a contest- ask everyone to vote, then give away one of your books- for the “IT” title. Just a suggestion.


  12. Haven’t thought of a title yet, but reading your comments sure is fun!

  13. The Ray Ban title with Mike’s cover brought a smile to my face. Surely anyone that sees the cover will at least pick up the book to look inside. And that’s the purpose of a good cover.

    My two cents worth – though you have several good ideas.

    If Redneck Ex becomes a best seller then your present title would be fine!

    • You’re so right, Denton. When (not ‘if’ :-)) Redneck Ex is a NY Times Bestseller, Ex-Ray would be a good title. I really like Mike’s idea as well for the cover for Ray Ban.

  14. Coming from your OWFI Facebook post.

    Some excellent comments. If it ties in to Redneck Ex, or you’re doing a series around ex’s, then Ex-Ray is great. But I like Ray-Ban.

    Maybe save “Ex-Ray” for a military-based ex?

    • Thanks, Bob. The hero in Redneck Ex is a civilian contractor in Iraq, which is close a military-based ex. Ray Ban definitely has potential. I appreciate your input.

  15. I like puns, so “Ex Ray” works for me. Of course, my opinion and three quarters will buy you something at the gas station, since I don’t typically read romance novels.

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