"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Friday, July 6, 2012

A weekend assignment for my Peeps

I'm on the backstretch, so to speak, of finishing the third Peri mystery. The threads I've unraveled and strewn about the first two-thirds of the book are now being gathered and knitted together. This morning I'm going to do a little recon in my neighborhood so I can write the final showdown as realistically as imagination will allow.

Recently, I made a comment on Jenny Hilborne's post in the Crime Fiction Collective about my books having "roots." There's always a core subject from which the plot and subplots grow. In Freezer Burn, it was about having children and being a mother. Peri's investigation leads her to women who have had children out of wedlock, and she thinks she might be pregnant. In Hit or Missus, it's all about friendships and what we're willing to do for people we love, people we are not related to. In both, I tried to lay down the root without bias. You're free to decide for yourself whether you want to have a child, kill for a friend, etc.

This new book will need a little more editing than the first two, not in terms of line-edits, but in content. As I get closer to the finish, I see more clearly what the book's roots are, and I know I will need to go in and strengthen a few of the scenes. I also know not to do this for at least 3-4 weeks. It's weird, but I know from experience that if I go back and edit too soon, the book gets all muddled, kind of like over-mixing the bread batter.

I've got plenty of other projects to distract me, but I'm missing something from the new book that I already had with the first two: a title.

The working title is Burning Mad, but I don't really like it. Your mission, should you accept it, is to suggest some alternatives. Here are the highlights (no, I don't have a blurb or a logline yet):

1. The main plot revolves around Benny Needles' house burning (almost) down. There is, of course, a body discovered. Benny hires Peri to investigate why his house burned, why someone was in his house, and why the insurance company won't pay up and people are suing him for wrongful death.

2. The root of the story is about families and how we survive them. The Debussy family is having problems with their son, Benny is refusing to talk about his dad, Peri is trying to locate her missing brother, and a lot of the main plot is caught up in the families who built the insurance company.

3. I like short, unique titles, preferably with a mischievous play on words. You know me.

I've been playing with words like smoke, fire, burning, insure, indemnity, loss, premium, coverage, family, heir, tree...

Any ideas here? Throw a girl a bone. Please.

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