Title Search

I tried something new in title brainstorming: Looking up key word quotes in Google images. I like short titles with two or three words because short is punchy and memorable, but never just one because the fun is the relationship between the words. I’ve used key word quote searches before, but I end up wading through unhelpful long quotes that are too nuanced or obscure to be the kind of attention-grabbing marketing tool a good title should be. When I switched over to an image search for “devil quote,” though, I got a page of pithy quotes that looked to be good sources for titles:

Devil Words

From those I got:

Somebody’s Devil (sung by Jackson Browne)
Dancing with the Devil
Clever as the Devil
Devil in Disguise (definitely going on the soundtrack)
Devilish Thoughts
Devil in the Details
Different Devils

The only one there I really like is Different Devils, probably because of Linda Ronstadt, and it doesn’t really fit. But that’s a good title for something.

So then I switched to demons:

Demon Words

Fighting with Demons
Snuggling Demons
Cheesecake with Demons
Casting Out Demons
Feeding Demons
Playing Well with Demons.

Cheesecake with Demons won’t work, but Doughnuts with Demons would, or Doughnuts to Demons, but neither of those sells the book as a mystery/love story, so no. Although I may pull some of those for use in the story. Definitely this one:


I have to put in a throwaway line where Nita crawls out of bed and Nick says, “Oh, crap, she’s up.”

And then there’s this:


I hate the “literally” there, but Nick really should have a hellhound named Spot.

And then there was this one, which reminded me of the Republican primary and gave me a direction for part of my back story:


I’m thinking “devil” or “demon” belongs in there to signal “supernatural,” but I want to avoid religious connotations, stay in the Elvis Presley vibe. Too bad Nick’s not in disguise. But really, Devil in Disguise is a terrible title because anybody who searched for it would be overwhelmed by Elvis links.

So characters. Amanita and the Devil (worked for Agnes and the Hitman). Nita and the Demons (terrible rhythm). Nita Among the Demons (terrible rhythm). Nita with Demons (better).Nick and Nita Go To Hell (except Nita never goes). Love Among the Demons (no no no).

One title I love is The Devil She Knows, but that’s Jeanne’s title, so nope. Drove me crazy when I remembered that and then couldn’t remember where I remembered it from. Light finally dawned. And then I found the old post where we brainstormed her title. It’s a better title for Jeanne’s book anyway, and it doesn’t really fit mine. ((It’s also been used before, but it’s on an out-of-print book from five years ago, so it doesn’t matter quite as much.)

The Nick and Nita callback to Nick and Nora Charles was one I thought about; there was even an extremely dumb move in the first draft where Nick was going by Nick Charles and Nita lampshaded it. That’s gone now and The Thin Demon ties it too closely to a story that really doesn’t have that many parallels.

It really might come down to Amanita and the Devil. I could do worse than call back to Agnes, even though the two books have nothing in common. Or The Devil and Amanita, that’s at least different. Or The Devil in Amanita, but that’s kinda dirty. Amanita’s Demons. There aren’t a lot of places in the book where she’s called “Amanita,” but it has a much better rhythm than “Nita.”

But it should be better than those. A title has to capture the tone of the book and be new and different to intrigue the reader without being cutesy or obvious, and it should have a good rhythm, easy to say. I can do better.

Edited to add:
And now many hours with Curio and Acorn later, I may have a working title I can live with for awhile:

Nita Cover 1

Still not sure about the “Amanita,” but I’m also not sold on Nita and Her Demons. Maybe Nita with Demons, after all?

Nita Cover 2

Amanita with Demons doesn’t scan, so it would have to be Nita with Demons. But I don’t think Nita and Her Demons sounds right, while Amanita and Her Demons does. Hmmmm. Good thing I’m not actually writing this book or I’d have to actually pick one of these.

74 thoughts on “Title Search

  1. The Devil and Amanita Lastname. I keep thinking Brown for some reason. Amanita Brown just scans for me.

    Amanita’s Demon.

    It’s really too bad you used Welcome to Temptation already.

    1. Dodd. Amanita Dodd. Although the reason went with Dodd has now changed, so that could, too.

        1. His name is Borgia. Hers is Dodd (Dod) because in the beginning, she was going to be Death’s great-great-granddaughter.

  2. i really like “everyone is someone’s devil,” but I suppose you’d have to get permission from the author to use this?

    1. It’s not specific enough, and it doesn’t actually reflect the book, which as it turns out is more about demons than devils.

  3. Nita with demons sounds a bit like night with demons, especially if you spell it nite (sorry, I know that’s wrong but…)

    1. That’s a good point. The thing about titles is that they have to be grasped easily as somebody’s eyes skim them in a bookstore, library, or online. So anything like that needs to be considered. “Nita” is not “Jane;” it’s not a name that people recognize without stopping for a nano-second to think.

  4. Nita Throws the Devil
    Nita Draws the Devil
    Nita Fells the Devil
    Nita Unseats the Devil

  5. Nick and Nita anything kind of reminds me of the movie “Nick and Nora’s infinite playlist”. I never saw it, but it was a memorable title.

    1. And that’s a throwback to Nick and Nora Charles in The Thin Man, which was the first thing I thought of when she was already Nita and I had to find a not-obnoxious name for the Devil. Nick and Nita are too much alike and then there’s the callback to Nick and Nora, which as you’ve just pointed out is a double callback. I think I’m stuck with them anyway.

  6. Yup, GREAT thing you’re actually not writing this book.

    What would it take for you to write You Again, Stealing Nadine and Haunting Alice?

    Btw, all the time we do this I’m trying not to say “write another damn book, Crusie” but in synonymous terms and I think I’m failing.

    Sorry. But I’d give a lot for those three books. Probably dollars, for two hardcovers, like I did for Agnes and the Hitman. And our economy is shittier than yours, our dollar-rand rate is at R16 to $1. Perspective: R12 buys us a 700g loaf of good bread.

    1. In defense, the office is about 2/3 done and SO much easier to work in. I am accomplishing something.

      1. I know. And I’m glad. You’ve made more progress in two weeks than I have in two months (two years, even).
        I’m trying to be supportive and not pushy while recognising I may be being pushy anyway. I need to cut that out but am not sure how.

        Arghers keep me saner than I’d be without ’em.

  7. Also, I would try looking up quotes with “bedevil/ed.” Maybe there’s a bed pun to be used somewhere?

    1. She’s not bedeviled. I know, I know the story and I haven’t told any of you, so that’s just ANNOYING.

  8. Is there a crime in this – like a murder?

    Yes, it worked beautifully for Agnes & the Hitman but somehow X and Demons seems flatter.

    Is it a caper? Are you doing a nondenominational hell?

    Welcome to Club Styx (too much like Welcome to Temptation)

    Everybody Goes to Nick’s?

    1. Yes, crimes, but there’s a larger concept at work. Which I have not quite nailed down yet because I keep telling myself I’m not writing this book, I’m just getting the stuff in my head out of the way. So argh.

  9. Agnes would definitely feed her demons. Just saying. Also, I’ve had the “hell is open all the Devils are here” quote stuck in my head – work has been stressful – so this is appropriate.

    Wait – it’s hell is empty, not open. Although if he’s running a bar…. “Hell is open” with grinning devil in a restaurant apron.

  10. I know it’s more syllables than you like but Nita and the Prince of Darkness?

    1. He’s not the Prince of Darkness. He’s more like the CEO of the Afterlife. Which is not a good title.

  11. Totally get the title thing. Titles are important to me — part of my inspiration process. For this story of yours so far I’m liking the “Doughnuts, Demons, & Deception” type names–nice combo of what you’re trying to convey & short & snappy. But then I’m also a sucker for alliteration:)

    1. I think that’s too general for what I need; I need something that ties directly back to Nita, a title that reflects her personality.
      Best advice about titles: Should sound like something one of the major characters would say. I’d forgotten that one, but it’s a good touchstone. Nick calls her Amanita sometimes, so a lot of those titles sound like something he’d say.

  12. I like The Devil and Amanita best, fwiw. Has the ring of The Master and Margarita.

    Not so much (or at all) Amanita and her Demons.

    Spot, eh? Wasn’t that Lady Macbeth’s dog’s name?

      1. Yes, but it’s Amanita’s book.
        Shouldn’t that make it Amanita and the Devil?
        Really asking, not rhetorical.

        Or maybe The Devil and Amanita Dodd, to put emphasis on her at the end instead of an also-ran?

        1. Yes, it’s her book, so her name should go first. But my two reasons for liking her name second in the title are:
          1) I really like the way the title sounds (I know, that’s weak)
          2) Not being familiar with the name Amanita, I would stumble over that being the first word in the title

          But really, and I’m embarrassed for even saying it again, I just love the way it sounds.

        2. I really like Amanita and the Devil. Yes, it rings like Agnes and the Hitman, but there’s nothing wrong with being straight forward.

          Besides, I can read it and still hear Jackson Browne singing “he’s got to be somebody’s devil. He must be somebody’s Satan, he’s so fine” anyway. 🙂

          1. And if some other kid put beans up his nose, would you do it?

            Sorry, my childhood comes back to haunt me at odd times.

        3. The Devil and Miss Todd.

          (Because of Beatrix Potter’s fox character Mr Todd. Firstly, tod is dead/death in German, so he is Mr Death, which is amusingly accurate. He is an awful figure of horror in the books. All-powerful and devil-like. Not suitable for children!)

          And now I just want to watch Jean Arthur in The Devil and Miss Jones, which is decidedly not evil.

    1. I thought about that, too. The comma makes a difference.
      But when I looked at it on the book cover, it didn’t read at all.

  13. We just went over 70,000 comments on Argh. Uh, drink?

    And now, back to clearing out the office because I have a post I have to put up on that tomorrow. That post every week thing is keeping me honest there.

  14. Speaking of the devil…I just finished watching Jessica Jones on Netflix, and it made me think of the comments posted here about the show Lucifer, which I have not watched. The bad guy in Jessica Jones is played by David Tennant (that alone is reason enough to watch the show). And the character he plays is pure evil. He controls people’s minds and always gets his way. He’s not a likable baddie. But that is what I really liked. The depth came from what he was, no excuses. I highly, highly recommend the show.

    1. Seconding the love for Jessica Jones, and Tennant’s character reminded me of Jenny’s advice that your antagonist be stronger/more powerful than your protagonist for ultimate tension.

      I thought the writers did a good job of making him believable and giving his evil a coherent internal logic (other than MWAHAHA I’M EEEEEVIL), which I really appreciated. There were even a few scenes when I was sympathetic toward him despite his evil (and/or annoyed with Jessica’s poor planning!).

      1. Thirding the love for Jessica Jones, and for David Tennant. He was terrifying in that. Even seeing the color purple on screen became terrifying. I’m not a big fan of superhero shows, but this one was brilliant.

        1. Fourthing. I know it’s rape-y, but the writers gave Tennant all that room for “normal slimeball baddie with a past to explain it all away” (what Peggy said about his internal logic) with “JESUS GOD KILL IT WITH FIRE” crazy punches thrown in. I’m 33 and repeatedly caught myself covering my eyes.

          And maybe I’m underexposed to the female anti-hero, but I love that part about Jessica. And the opening credits theme is killer.

  15. I’m thinking something involving a fall, since the devil’s a fallen angel…

    Falling for Nita
    Amanita’s Fall
    The Second Fall

    …but then again, there are no waterfalls (are there waterfalls??) and I’m awful at titles (like, legit awful, and although I haven’t ever managed to finish even a first draft of a novel, I thought that often the marketing people would change titles anyway? I was banking on having them save me from myself. Of course, I suspect you’ve got much more pull and might be able to title your own works at this point. I remember reading that you’d had “Manhunting” forced on you and were still annoyed about it, but that was many moons ago…).

    And congrats on 70.000! I’m always delighted when a post gets one. 🙂

  16. It’s really ethical of you to hands-off my title, but here’s the thing: when I changed the protagonist from Dara to Belial, I had to give up that title.

    It won the Golden Heart as Demons Don’t but I’m currently calling it The Demon Deals the Cards because it goes well with the cover I have planned (flat black with a torn playing card).

    The other reason I chose that title is for branding purposes. The second book is The Demon’s in the Details (flat black cover with a torn contract> and the third is The Demon Wore Stilettos (flat black cover with a broken stiletto).

    And now I wish I had any graphics skills whatsoever.

    Anyway, told you that to tell you this: please feel free to use The Devil She Knows..

    1. Oh, thank you. I’ll definitely keep that as an option.
      It was such a good title for your book . . .

  17. LOVE The Devil and Aminita Dodd. It gots rhythm, and that hard clip.

    Would have been 70,157 by now with all my failed attempts at comment posts.

  18. This isn’t really relevant, but from my endless river of trivia–

    There’s a nonfiction book about Wall St and the 2008 financial crisis called ALL THE DEVILS ARE HERE, and there’s a nonfiction book called DANCE WITH THE DEVIL which is about a man-about-town moocher who was Wallis Simpson’s lover and a constant companion for years of her and Edward VIII aka the Duke of Windsor.

  19. I’m starting to want this one as much as You Again. I really like your Playing Well With Demons title. Don’t know if it really fits the story, but it seems to strike a pretty light tone and signal some humor as opposed to suggesting a darker/non-comedic story (is that what you’re going for?). I also like The Devil She Knows.

  20. I don’t remember you saying why or how you picked the name Nita (or Amanita) for this non-book, so I Googled it. Apparently it’s a mushroom genus, which also contains the species of all-whie mushrooms known as the ‘destroying angel.’ I’m betting you knew this when you named your policewoman! I can almost hear her brother teasing her with the nickname ‘Shroom!

    1. It’s the Death Cap mushroom, also known as the Death Angel. There are, as Nita points out in the second scene in the book, some amanitas that aren’t poisonous, but basically, she’s a Death Angel.

      And now I’m going back to bed. Tomorrow will be a better day. Argh.

  21. A/The Girl Needs/Knows her Demons.
    She Knows her Demons.
    Nita and the Demon’s Luck.
    The Lady’s Demon.
    Nita’s Demon.

    The Demon’s Lady Kicks Hell’s Ass. Wrong on just about all counts. And I’m starting to channel Spider Robinson’s “Lady Slings the Booze” so I’m done playing.


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