Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wacky Wednesday: Title help, please!

**UPDATE** As is obvious from the side of my blog, I ended up with Lost In Italy. Not for lack of wonderful suggestions, but in the end I was convinced (by others) that it fit the book and it also allowed me to stick with a similar theme for the next two books in the series. I truly appreciated all the suggestions!

I will soon be publishing my currently titled romantic suspense Lost In Italy and while the title is okay, I'm open to better suggestions if anyone is willing to help.  Something eye catching to indicate romance, suspense and adventure.

Here's the blurb:

LOST IN ITALY:  fast-paced 100,000 word romantic suspense that runs high on danger and adventure.  

Halli Sanders spent two years planning the trip of a lifetime to Italy.  Her itinerary did not include being stranded by her siblings, kidnapped by a sexy American movie star, dodging bullets, or fleeing criminals in a car chase around Lake Como.  And that’s just in the first three hours.

Trent Tomlin put his movie career on hold to investigate his brother’s murder-ruled-suicide at his villa.  He’s closing in on the suspects when an American tourist unwittingly films the murder of the retired cop helping him.  The killers will stop at nothing to get the evidence—including holding Halli’s family as collateral.

Thrust into the role of real-life hero, Trent finds himself falling for the Plain Jane whose beauty blossoms with every challenge they face.  Can he manage to keep the evidence and get justice for his brother and friend without betraying Halli and her family?
Life’s a little different unscripted.

(Updated 8/25/11:  proof everyone can use an editor...a friend pointed out I had my heroine's last name different in my blurb and my excerpt! LOL)

And here's an exclusive excerpt to give you a feel for the book:

Chapter 1

“For the love of God, Hal, we didn’t travel over ten hours for you to film swans.”

Halli Sanders ground her back molars together and zoomed her camera in on the flock of white birds across the water.  Graceful and serene, they stood out in stark contrast to the dark, shaded water of the small inlet her brother had parked near.  A shaky breath helped steady her hands.

“I want to see if Lake Como, Italy and Lake Como, WI have more in common than their names,” she informed her sister and brother.

“Who cares?” Rachel moaned.  “I just want to find the hotel and shower away some of this jet lag.  And, we still have to find a converter for my hair dryer.”

Halli rolled her eyes and kept filming.  Yes, she was being snotty about it, but they’re the ones who threw away her meticulously planned itinerary so they could make impromptu stops like this.  They’d insisted she lighten up, even knowing it would trigger her anxiety.

The half dozen or so swans had floated into the sunlight, near a wooden dock in front of a stone villa.  She wondered who lived there.  The tabloids always talked about George Clooney’s house on Lake Como in Italy—this could be it.  Matt Damon or Julia Roberts or any other number of stars could be visiting him right now.

That’s it, she told herself.  Focus on something other than the fact her plans had all been scrapped.

She allowed herself one last lingering look at the regal villa through the viewfinder.  The weathered stonework was beautiful, but the shiny, reflective windows captured her attention.  She loved large windows that let in natural light.  Wished she had them in her studio apartment overlooking the lake back home.

Ben ran interference behind her.  “We’ll go find the hotel first, then an electronics store, then we’ll find a place to eat.  That sound okay?”

“Yes, thank you,” Rachel agreed with exaggerated drama.

Halli took a step backward, but a movement in the windows caught her attention.  She paused and steadied the camera.  The front door to the villa burst open as someone ran outside.  The swans took flight, their startled cries echoing across the water.

Bam.  Bam.  Vrrooommm.

Halli glanced over her shoulder.  She did a double take when the little blue car her brother had rented in Milan shot off the curb into a brief break in traffic.

“Hey—”  She spun around, took a few steps, then stopped.  A disbelieving laugh escaped.  “Real funny, guys.”

Any second now, they’d give up the joke, pull to the side, and wait for her to catch up as they laughed their hilarious fricken heads off. 

The blue car accelerated around the bend in the road and disappeared.

No brake lights.

No U-turn.


Muttering her annoyance, she looked around self-consciously.  A dark haired man across the street glanced her way with open curiosity.  Thankfully, he kept walking.  Cars cruised past; a couple kids on bikes; a woman on a moped.  Though the kids stopped a short distance away, no one paid her much attention over the next few minutes.

Well, sure.  Lake Como, Italy was probably used to lost tourists, what did they care?

No, you’re not lost.  The adamant statement helped to steady her deep breath.  That’s right.  Ben and Rachel would be back any moment.  She had nothing to worry about as long as she didn’t leave this spot.

The man across the street lounged a short distance away and a chill trickled down her spine when he gave her a more thorough inspection.  Halli averted her gaze and hugged her arms around her middle.  Her heart rate began a steady acceleration.

Oh, she was going to kill them when they got back.  Of all the pranks they could’ve pulled, this one was cruel—especially her first time travelling overseas.  If Ben’s phone wasn’t the only one equipped to make international calls, she’d call and give them a loud, extended piece of her mind for leaving her all alone.

Stop!  You’re going to be fine.  There are plenty of people around and no one’s going to do anything in broad daylight.  She clutched the small travel purse hanging around her neck containing her passport.  See?  If you need help, you can prove you’re a US citizen.

Not that she’d need to prove her citizenship.  Any minute the blue car would come back around the bend.  Any second even.

She stared down the road, counting seconds.

Seconds became minutes.

Desperate to control the unrelenting apprehension no amount of silent talk would quell, Halli turned back to the lake.  It reminded her of the camera in her hand.  The red light on the front reminded her she was still filming.

She stopped the tape and took a seat on the cool ledge of stone that held the lake water at bay.  Perfect vantage point to keep the loitering man across the street in sight.  A glance over her shoulder located where the swans had landed a good distance from the villa’s dock. 

She frowned and faced the lake.  Strange how that person had burst so suddenly from the villa.

The noon sun sat at a point that she had to squint and shade her eyes to see the structure’s stone walls across the small inlet of water.  Even then, it was too far away for the naked eye.  Flipping open the viewfinder as she lifted the camera, she waited for it to focus, then tried to zoom.  The low battery indicator flashed as she noticed she’d already maxed the zoom.

She studied the picture.  Something was different—one of the windows looked odd.  Her attention snagged on a dark figure in the corner of the window.  Her pulse jerked with the realization a man with binoculars stared straight at her—

Tires squealed and an engine revved loud to her right.  Halli jumped about a foot.  Ben and Rachel!  An uncharacteristic spurt of anger doubled her anxiety as she whirled around.

“I can’t believe you guys left—”

Words disappeared with the heart-stuttering realization that the shiny blue car half pulled onto the cobblestone sidewalk was not her brother and sister.  They couldn’t afford a convertible.  And the man sitting in the driver’s seat most certainly was not her brother.
Plain was the first word that came to mind when Trent Tomlin got a good, close-up look at the girl dressed in baggy black pants and an oversized black tee shirt.  Except for her eyes.  Almost the exact color of his convertible, they blazed with anger—if the shrill tone of her voice were any indication.

Because he couldn’t afford to waste a second, he slipped into character while pushing up his Ray Bans to flash his trade-mark, million dollar grin past the two day’s worth of camouflaging scruff on his jaw.

“Hi.”  Usually that’s all he needed.  One…two…

Astonishment replaced anger.  Oh my God.”


“You’re Shain West.”

“Only in the movies, darlin’.”

That always got ‘em, too, the good-ol’-boy southern drawl.  Didn’t matter he’d been born and raised in northern Oregon.  He had a natural talent for mimicking any accent, and after just a few words, he placed her in mid-west United States.  American tourist.  Perfect.

Her cheeks flushed.  “Of course.  I know that.  Sorry.  It’s just—I’m…ah…I’m…”

Hell, he’d better speed this up.  “Can I give you a lift?”

“W-what?”  She looked around, as if he might be speaking to someone else.

Resisting the urge to check over his shoulder, he kept his gaze trained on her.  “You look lost.  Hop in and I’ll give you a ride.”

Her throat convulsed, and though he wouldn’t have thought it possible, her blush deepened to crimson.  A fleeting smile revealed even white teeth.  “Oh, no.  I mean, um, thank you, but no.”

She lifted a hand to tuck a strand of straight brown hair behind her ear as she looked back and forth along the road.

Trent cast his own quick glance in the rearview mirror, pressure squeezing his body like a starving boa constrictor.  He figured he had about three more minutes.  If they were lucky.  Pushing up to sit on the headrest, he prepared to turn on the superstar charm.

“I’m waiting for my brother and sister,” she said before he could speak.

So that’s who’d driven off as he watched from one street above and behind her.  He lifted a tense shoulder in a careless gesture.  “Quick spin around town, and I’ll bring you right back.  They’ll never know you were gone, Sugar.”

Her eyebrows drew together above those deep blue eyes.  Damn.  He fought his own frown.  Based on previous experience with star-struck women, she should’ve jumped in at the first invitation.  Wasn’t it just his luck, this one had common sense.  Leaving the car running, he swung his legs over the door and rounded the front of the convertible.

She backed away from his approach.  “Look, I appreciate the offer, Shain, but—”

“Trent.”  He forced an easy smile.

“Right.”  Her blush deepened.  “I know.  Trent.  But I—”

“I need you to get in the car.”  As an afterthought, he added, “Please.”


He used her glance down the road as cover for his own.  Still time, yet his control slipped.  “Seriously.  Get in.”

The sharp command widened her eyes.  Suspicion darkened them to navy, and she took another step backward.  Then her shoulders squared while her gaze narrowed with determination.  “No.”

The right taillight on his Alfa Romeo exploded.  Trent ducked reflexively as bits of plastic flew in all directions.  Adrenaline spiked through him, but other than a sharp reactive jerk, the girl just stood there holding her camera.  Trent lunged forward, grabbed her arm and hauled her toward the car.

“Hey—let me go!”  She pulled back with surprising strength.

He picked her up and shoved her head first into the passenger seat, then vaulted over her to slip behind the wheel.  Heartbeat thundering in his ears, he gunned the gas with a sickening grinding of gears before the convertible shot out into traffic amidst screeching tires and blaring horns.  A frantic half-second glance in the rearview mirror confirmed a black vehicle weaving through the cars behind them.

He switched his concentration to the road in front.  If he didn’t lose these guys fast, they were dead.


So there you have a general idea what the book is about and the beginning.  I'm open to suggestions and if I find a title I love, the person who suggested it gets an acknowledgement in the book as well as their choice of free ebook or print.  Yes, this one will be available in print as soon as I'm able to manage it!  :)

The current options under consideration are:

Lost In Italy
Life Unscripted
Italy Unscripted

I will let you know the final decision as soon as...I decide. *grin*  Hopefully soon so I can get my cover art finalized.

Thank you!

Stacey Joy Netzel

PS:  please feel free to share this far and wide on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, ect. with your friends and family and anyone who enjoys reading.  I need all the suggestions I can get. 


  1. Wow! Great excerpt and great characters. None of your titles felt RS to me. I like "unscripted" in the title. Unscripted Danger, perhaps?

  2. Stacey,

    I can't wait for this one! What about Italy Unscripted: Danger Sizzles or something like that.

    I'm really awful with titles and blurbs. But I love yours.

  3. I like "Life Unscripted" or maybe "Off Screen"?

  4. Hi, Stacey. I played around with the ideas of acting, the lake, photography,witnessing murder, and came up with Shooting Murder, Dark Water, Playing Dead, In Too Deep, Skin Deep, See No Evil (been used?), Bella Notte (sp? Good Night in Italian), Digital Murder, Naked Desperation (just liked the sound).

  5. Stacey,
    In Italian It's Morte

    I like some of the others that were mentioned, too.

  6. Maybe just call it Lost and Found?

    Jill Senso

  7. I think you put the title in your description: Trip of a Lifetime.

  8. Thanks so much for the suggestions so far. I'm not going to comment individually, but I really appreciate the comments. Keep them coming! :)

    Though I will say...I do like the idea of an Italian word in the title.

  9. I like Danger Unscripted. Another trick I've learned (after having three titles changed!) is to make a list of all the themes in the book. So, danger, deception, etc. and start playing with them. Sometimes you can combine two of the words for a title.

  10. Thanks for the suggestion, Adrienne! I'll definitely give that a try.

  11. Adventure in Italy, Death in Italy, A Role to Die For, To Die For, Seven Sunny Days in Italy, Change in Plans, Bella Adventure, Once in a Lifetime, Before I Die. Here's some more to chew on. I like the Bella Morte (beautiful death, I think, although I'd check the endings). The story kicks off with a bang, all right, Stacey.

  12. I like Edie's Unscripted. Here's some for thought: Star Struck in Italy, Halli Unscripted, Unscripted Hero

  13. Stacey. Great post. Lost in Italy sounds like a great story. Title Ideas:

    Justice for All
    Murder North of Milan
    Murder on Lake Como
    A Vacation to Die For
    Evidence of Murder

    Good Luck!