Thursday, December 9, 2010

E-Book Thursday Guest Blogger -- Phoebe Conn

Please welcome Phoebe Conn! I remember reading Phoebe's wonderful fantasy books and meeting her years ago. So I'm very glad to have her here talking about her latest book.


DEFY THE WORLD TOMATOES has just been released by Samhain Publishing. It’s a contemporary romance with a dash of suspense, and the provocative title catches everyone’s notice. When an author is able to pique a reader’s interest with her title, she can more easily lure her into reading the book.

Looking at my backlist, I have to laugh at some of my own titles, and some chosen by editors, or publishers. My first book, LOVE’S ELUSIVE FLAME, had a heroine named Flame, and I just had to use her name in the title. I’ll admit now it was more or less a spoof of romance titles, but it stuck. My editor chose SAVAGE FIRE for my second book because it had a Native American hero and at that time, Zebra used savage for those books whenever they could.

My editor also chose ECSTASY’S PARADISE for my third book. I complained it was nearly impossible to pronounce, but I was overruled. CAPTIVE HEART was my title for a Viking story that made the New York Times bestseller list. Several books then had editor’s picks, but I chose TENDER SAVAGE for a story about the Minnesota Sioux uprising in 1862. My agent cried, “It sounds as though he’s been parboiled!” Perhaps, but the book is still many fans’ favorite.

Roberta Grossman, the late publisher of Kensington Books, chose NO SWEETER ECSTASY, TEMPT ME WITH KISSES, and LOVE ME ‘TIL DAWN. I prefer titles related to the action in the story so the reader can remember it. Her titles were generic romance titles that could have gone on any book. She was a wonderfully enthusiastic publisher though, and I didn’t argue with her.

Just for fun, I came up with a title for my first futuristic Cinnamon Burke book, RAPTURE’S MIST, that said absolutely nothing about the content. It was more or less a private joke, but my editor at Leisure, Alicia Condon loved it! I learned my lesson right there and gave titles more serious thought before submitting them!

My second book with Samhain will be a June release, and my editor asked for a new title because they had already used the one I’d chosen. The heroine is rebuilding her life after being widowed and I got busy dreaming up titles that related to her success. My editor chose WHERE DREAMS BEGIN from my list and it’s a title I love. It frames the story beautifully, and has an appealing uplifting quality. Even better, the manuscript is already finished!

You’re probably still wondering how I came up with DEFY THE WORLD TOMATOES.
I’m still close with a childhood friend who owns a jewelry design studio. I’ve taught classes there and went with her when she did art fairs. At one fair, there was a man selling plaques with the colorful labels once used for produce crates. There was a company named Defy the World, and there was their label for tomatoes. “Defy the World Tomatoes!” I said, “That’s the best title I ever heard.” Then all I had to do was write the book. The plaque is in my kitchen, and will always have a place in my home. The book has gotten great reviews, and I’m proud the title inspired such a well-regarded book. It’s certainly a backwards approach to writing, but it worked.

Has a title ever caught your eye and enticed you to pick up a book? Have you ever found a title that misled you as to the book’s content? Have you ever found favorite books’ titles impossible to remember because they are so similar to other titles? If you could write a bestseller, what would your title be?

I’d love to hear your comments and will give a pdf copy of DEFY THE WORLD TOMATOES to someone with a dynamite title!

Please look for my books at and


  1. Mission accomplished, Phoebe. I will never forget DEFY THE WORLD TOMATOES! :)

    Lynn Michaels

  2. Loved your agent's response to "Tender Savage"! Fascinating history behind your current title. Yes, titles are very important. Books that have caught my attention usually have a fun play on words such as "How to Cook a Tart" by Nina Killham or Jennifer Crusie's "Faking It" "Best Enemies" by Jane Heller I could go on (but won't). Thanks for your post, it's always fun to hear an author's title history.