Monday, December 16, 2013

Possibly the Worst Contest Ever

As some of you may know, I have a short story that is almost ready to be published and a short novel. They're both chick lit with an underlying layer of romantic comedy. Those genres can be very intertwined. Anyway, I have a point here, I swear. The novel has no title and no cover. I'm completely blank on it. Nothing seems to fit. I don't have a blurb, so I'm going to wing it here.


Emma is an artist who works as a waitress while she waits to be discovered by an art gallery. Her personal life is a mess, but slowly things start to look up. Everything around her starts to improve. Her tyrannical boss suddenly leaves. A gallery owner offers her the first gallery showing she's ever had. Her boyfriend leaves, which is the greatest thing to happen to Emma in weeks. The positive changes seem to be a little suspect. Since when does everything go according to plan?


Boston winters depressed me. My painting suffered, my cat avoided me, and today, I hated my boyfriend. That wasn’t entirely the fault of the weather. Today was the first day of spring. I should have had a bounce in my step as I headed to my waitress job. Instead, my mood was foul.

I wasn’t sure why I put up with him. Overall, Stephen wasn't a horrific boyfriend. He didn’t beat me, or shove me into a kitchen cabinet if I burnt the toast. He forgot my birthday more often than not. He left the toilet seat up. He didn't always listen when I talked. Typical boyfriend drama. I hate to make generalizations about men because women tend to forget anniversaries and birthdays, and they don't always listen, but women always put the seat down.

On the flip side, he liked Sadie. All right, maybe he just tolerated my cat, but that's okay because I just tolerated his best friend. That evened us out. He appreciated my art. That's what it really came down to at the end of the day. He thought I had the potential to become a great artist with people lined up to buy my paintings. In all honesty, he might have become a habit. I thought some days I might love him but mostly, he was comfortable and safe.

There was nothing comfortable or safe about my thoughts at the moment. I imagined taking a pair of scissors to his favorite football jersey. My vivid imagination helped with my paintings. That same imagination supplied a detailed picture of scissors slashing through the number on his favorite football shirt as I cut it into thin strips of cloth confetti.

I was slightly disturbed by how quickly the violent picture flooded my mind, but it wasn't like I would ever take scissors to his jersey. That would dull the scissors. What could he possibly have done to incur my scissor-producing, violent imagination? He stepped on Sadie. Accidents happened. I understood that. I'd almost stepped on Sadie myself. But, he stepped on her and wouldn't apologize. He didn't have to get down at floor level to apologize face-to-face with the cat, but an out loud 'oops sorry' to the general, cat-loving public (me) would have been appreciated.

On top of that, he had the nerve to look offended when I asked him to apologize. We got into an argument over it. Can you beat that? He actually gave off the impression that he doesn't like my cat, and that he never had. That changed the whole aura of our relationship. That fact took away half the reason I liked him.

In the process of mentally re-evaluating my relationship on the way to work, I’d almost lost track of time. A glance at my watch told me I'd been walking and fantasizing too long, I was going to be late for work if I didn't hurry. Currently, I waitressed at a diner on Tremont Street outside the Common. Currently, in this case, was four and a half years. There was no sign of that changing any time soon either. The base pay was lousy, but it bustled at lunchtime. The tips more than made up for the hourly pay.

The office and government workers in the area provided a steady flow of regular customers. Due to the nearby Freedom Trail and city tours, late spring was when the tourist crowd picked up. It meant my boss would be more grumpy and demanding than usual. This equaled no patience, since normally the man was like a surly pit bull who missed its afternoon fill of mailman. The more money and customers, the more he stressed and the more he yelled at us.

I shoved through the door on the run, waving in response to my boss' frown. Before he could open his mouth to yell, I’d banged through the swinging door to the employee's area. I tossed my light jacket into my locker then fished around in my bag for an elastic. If I can't find an elastic, Joe makes me wear a hair net. Not a cute look.

Of course with the day I was having, I couldn't find an elastic even after dumping the contents of my purse on the floor. I knelt on the ground sifting through all the daily junk that accumulated in my bag; lip gloss, store receipts, my wallet, pens, loose change and a couple of crumpled one dollar bills but no elastic.

My co-worker and best friend, Melanie stood over me. "What are you doing down there? You think you can pray to get out of your shift?"

I blew a long suffering sigh. I’ll stop feeling sorry for myself sometime soon, but maybe not right now. "I am having a day."

"Everyone has a day now and then. Don't let yours bring you to your knees! Get up offa that floor, girl. You know we never wash this floor 'cause the customers never see it."

I winced. Mel was right. Plus seeing the contents of my bag strewn across the floor was too symbolic of the way my life had headed lately. Still, the artist living in the back of my head took snapshots of the moment in the hope of turning it into a painting later. Light angled on the dirty linoleum as a battered waitress knelt among her bag's contents. Lank, brown hair hung down to obscure her features. Her whole demeanor conveyed weariness. Her too-wide hips and small breasts were formless under her baggy uniform.

I scooped my life back into my bag and shoved it into the locker. The tiny artist in my head was usually right about things like this. I'd file that away for future use. My immediate need was an elastic. There was no way I'd suffer the indignity of a hair net today.

Hands on her hips, Mel cocked her head at an angle telling me she was about to launch into a tirade about the troubles in my life. She always stood in that fighting stance when on the attack. Before she could open her mouth, I thrust my hand up at her. "Don't even start. You have all day to harass me about my choice in boyfriends. I need you to find me an elastic."

Mel snorted out laughter, "That sounds like you're trying to bargain with me. For the price of an elastic, I get to tell you exactly what I think of your boring-assed boyfriend choice? Is that what you're telling me? I need to be sure of the exact bargain you're striking with me for the price of a hair scrunchy."

I snarled a little as I searched the room for a rubber band or a piece of string, anything to tie this unruly mess away from my face. "Why you opportunistic b--"

"Uh huh huh. Be nice now. I'm the only thing standing between you and a severe case of cafeteria-lady hair."

"Fine. Yes, you get to spend the day telling me how much you don't like him. Like you ever needed to get my permission to voice your opinion. Plus, how is it different from every other day when you complain about him?"

Mel beamed triumphantly like she'd won some kind of prize. "Because today, I have your permission which means you have to listen to my all-consuming wisdom."

She really knew how to spot weaknesses. Mel spun the dial on her lock, grabbed her bag and fished around inside it. Her busy hands don't distract her. Mel was a serious multi-tasker. She could criticize and be helpful at the same time. She handed over the elastic.

“Now, tell me what happened.”

I yanked my hair back into a ponytail and sighed.

“You always sigh when you're mad at him, which is all the time lately. I'm just pointing that out because I'm your friend, not because I'm rubbing it in that I am right about him.”

This is the contest. In the comments below, give me a title for this book. If I use the title, I'll credit you in the book's front matter telling people how awesome you are for helping me! I may use none of them, and if that's the case, I'll still talk about how wonderful the readers of this blog are. If your title spawns the idea for a similar, tweaked title, I'll still credit you in the book. 



  1. I have to admit that I'm probably the worst person to name a book so I'll have to pass on this. Loved the story though but I can't think of a name. :)

    1. I'm glad you loved the story. That's really all that matters in the grand scheme of things.

  2. My advice is 3 to 5 words and make them matter. That is what I learned while doing research for the book, I just published.

    1. I've brainstormed lists of words. Hundreds of words. None of them seem to fit.

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks for participating. That's a strong contender!

  4. Oh dear…I could NEVER name your book! It's YOURS! I'm not sure I could even suggest a name for something you've put so much work into :(

    1. At one point, I was sure there's something wrong with me. Surely an awesome title should have come to me by now. But nope. Nothing. It happens to lots of people, so I feel less horrible about it.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  5. Winter's Thaw (things are beginning grow)
    Ice and Fire/ Fire & Ice (if there are sexy elements)
    First Frost (conjures up expectation)
    Sculpted Ice (reaching on these but it's artistic and depicts something will be molded - i.e. Emma's life)

    1. Those are interesting options. I hadn't considered a winter option for the book. Thanks for adding your titles for consideration!

  6. I have no suggestions because frankly I stink at this kind of stuff however I LOVE Brandi's suggestion of Reframing Emma!

    1. It's a good one. My mind is snagged on reframing, though. For some reason, it reminds me of framing a house.

    2. I meant it from an art point of view ~ like a frame :) I have a daughter that is a 21 yr old artist and it reminded me of her.

    3. It's me being weird again! People don't reframe houses, I don't think, so I'm the only one who thought it sounded like that! I'm letting it ruminate as well as the ones that Gina put out to see if any grow on me. This book refuses to be named. "It That Shall Not be Named" How's that for a title?

  7. I don't have a title at all for you, but I love the way that it reads. I know that book will do well!