Witchlanders by Lena Coakley at the Eternal Flame in Ottawa

This is a historical post in that it refers back to October 18. Kelly Duffin (Executive Director of The Writers Union of Canada) and I were dashing in to hear the second reading of Bill C11, the copyright bill. But I stopped at the Eternal Flame to read Lena Coakley’s brand new Witchlanders.   Okay not really.  I was reading it on the my Porter Airlines flight to and from but I didn’t have anyone to photograph me there.  Instead, a fantasy in front of Parliament.  More dramatic and fitting I think. Witchlanders tells an engrossing story about witches and magic and my favourite, the Dredhounds.   The cover is beautiful I’ll have to take a picture of it more close up.  Pale blue with strands of white ice on it.  The writing is pure magic too.  Get a copy and read it somewhere comfy.

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Title Sudoku

As part of my job as magazine editor, I often help or come up with “cover lines”, “heds” and “deks”.
A “hed” is the title of an article, a “dek” is the preamble to further explain what’s in the piece–both need to be catchy and cute.

Note the alliteration Catchy and Cute. Alliteration is my favourite tool.

Sometimes I play with movie titles, as in a Greek restaurant review, I called it My Big Fat Greek Dinner (there were generous portions) Everyone likes a double entendre although my “Egg citing Breakfasts in the Annex” got voted off the island by my other editor. Multiple entendres can seem like cliche puns.

I should be an expert on titles by now, after 27 books and five years of magazine editing. But the person who writes the piece, rarely is asked to title it. That person needs an overview (for newspaper and magazine anyway) of what other titles are in the magazine, on the content page and on the cover (cover lines). Yes, a piece often has three nomenclatures.

So back to my book: originally The Forty First Hour, named for the volunteers hours needed for the death/manslaughter to have taken place.

New additions to the title wars: The Lesser Charge (manslaughter is this)
We want to cue the reader that there is a trial as a major component of the story, so legal terms with double entendres might be good. The senior with dementia in the home might be considered a low

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responsibility on the hierarchy of who is important to society hence, the dead 75 year old could be The Lesser Charge.
with an implied irony.

Irony is a good tone for the title because the character can be witty in a sarcastic way.

Suspicious I just like this word and everything that happens in this story can play out so many different ways that it’s all suspicious.

We could add other words Truth and Suspicions.

Deliberate Actions

Nothing But the Truth

Sunny’s Daze (character’s nickname is Sunny )

Circumstantial Evidence


Trial by Fire


Innocent Until Proven Guilty


A Reasonable Doubt


While I like playing title Sudoku, it reminds me of when we first brought our puppy home. He had been named Willy by the breeder but my daughter was naming her newborn William and asked me to change it. For three days we deliberated but until we decided it was very frustrating for us to call “Sit ….” or “Be quiet noname dog”. I’m very excited about this upcoming novel and I find myself wanting to tell librarians, teachers, booksellers and potential readers in general about it. But to say I have this new book coming in March and not be able to quickly follow with “and it’s called” is frustrating.

By the way, my puppy became Mortie as in “Be quiet, Mortimer”. Mortie also sounds a bit like Willy to the dog so the transition was seemless. He’s mischievous, throwing huge boots or pillows around when he needs our attention, and very vocal. He seems to try to articulate his barking into groans, whines and words. I can’t imagine him with any other name.

If you have any suggestions, please make them. Feel free to combine titles that are already listed:
“Trial by Circumstance” “Reasonable Evidence”. Or vote on your favourite. My new title, when it’s decided, will become the perfect match too. Thanks.








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