Thursday, March 18, 2010

The most overused cover models . . .

. . . can't beat the appearances of certain words in book titles.

I began noticing this with the word wicked. It seemed to turn up in titles more than Jehovah's Witnesses on doorsteps -- because, I guess, we wimmins are supposed to get all shivery in the chacha at the thought of baaaaad menz. (I'm here to tell you, I was married to an asshole, and he was shiver-worthy only in the most unpleasant ways.) Of course, there are a few notable exceptions to the shivery-chacha rule, like Ginn Hale's and Josh Lanyon's fine books. Oh, and that weird novella by what's-her-name that's part of some futuristic urban fantasy series.

Here's what Googlestoopid and Fictionwise turned up for me:

A Hint of Wicked
Slightly Wicked
A Little Bit Wicked
Just Wicked Enough
Too Wicked to Tame
Wild, Wicked, and Wanton
(I couldn't find Balls-to-the-Wall Wicked, so there's a slot that definitely needs filling . . . Wren. No, wait. I just might use that title.)
Wild and Wicked in Scotland
Bride of a Wicked Scotsman
Wicked Clare's Wicked Dreams of Wicked Scotsmen
(Aren't there any wicked Lithuanians?)
If His Kiss Is Wicked
The Wicked Kiss
Too Wicked to Kiss
(Alas, no Wicked Slobberer or His Wicked Morning Breath or -- because Jen's bound to notice the omission -- His Wicked Morning Fart)
Wicked Enchantment
Wicked Sexy
Wicked Hairy (You don't believe me? Ask Teddypig.)
Wicked City
Wicked All Day
One Wicked Night
Wicked Nights
Hot Boss, Wicked Nights
A Night of Wicked Delight
One Wicked Weekend
A Wicked, Wild Three-Day Affair
(Why no Wicked Bank Holiday?)
Wicked Shift
Wicked Business
Wicked Lovely
Wicked Gentlemen
Wicked Angel
Wicked Prey
Wicked Covers (a double entendre for Wave)
Wicked Destiny
Wicked Burn
Wicked Garden
Wicked Fantasy
Wicked Pleasures
Wicked Game
Wicked Games
Wicked Little Games
Wicked Chutes and Ladders (Those are euphemisms, you know.)
Wicked Ties
Wicked Whispers
Wicked Widow
The Wicked Wife
The Wicked Flame
The Wicked Dance
The Wicked West
The Wicked Upper Midwest (That one's for Chris.)
Call Me Wicked
Call Me Wicked, and I'll Kick You in the Nuts (That one's for me.)
I Spy Something Wicked
No Rest for the Wicked
Some Like It Wicked
Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night
The Wicked and the Wondrous
If He's Wicked
His Wicked Promise
Your Wicked Ways
My Wicked Vagina Dentata (I'm outing Kris here.)
Wicked and Willing (ditto)
When He Was Wicked
The Rake's Wicked Proposal
A Wicked Lord at the Wedding
A Knight Most Wicked
The Wicked Civil Servant (You know, the one who inhabits Tam's dreams.)
The Viscount's Wicked Ways
The Wicked Ways of a Duke
The Wicked Duke Takes a Wife
The Wicked Marquess
The Wicked Baron
To Wed a Wicked Earl
My Wicked Earl
Wicked Earl, Wanton Widow
The Duke of Earl Gets His Wicked On (That one's also for me. Yes, I get two.)
To Wed a Wicked Prince
Every Bloody Last Member of the Peerage Is Wicked (an antho featuring members of the Macaronis)

PHREW! I know I've overlooked plenty. Still, nobody, editor or author, has been able to top the famous and utterly creepy-fabulous Bradbury title, Something Wicked This Way Comes. (An interesting sidenote: While book titlers seem to perceive "wicked" as a word with darkly alluring connotations, they seem to perceive "evil" as repellant and therefore suitable only for true-crime stories and horror novels.)

In the past year, I've noticed the same phenomenon with the word bone(s):

An Echo in the Bones
Bone Crossed
Zero at the Bone (Nice to see Emily Dickinson referenced!)
The Bones of Summer
The Lovely Bones
(I'm not making up any titles in this section. It would be like shooting fish in a barrel.)

At least, so far, "bone(s)" has fronted some good books. But I bet that will change. ;-)

Has any title word ever jumped out at you again and again and again, until you find yourself wishing it would be struck from the language? I don't mean traditional romance words, like "love" and "passion"; we all know they're overused. I mean some noun or adjective that doesn't have an inherent connection to sex or sentimentality.

I can already see that the word wild has cropped up a lot, and for the same reason wicked has.


Kris said...

How rude! You don't see me going around and telling everyone what your hoo haa does - or in your case does not - do.

I notice a lot of 'thes'.

Oh, and 'The somethingorother's soandso's knight/daughter/son/princess/bride/etc, etc. There's always one of those titles lurking around the new releases.

K. Z. Snow said...

Out of consideration for my partners, I had the teeth pulled out of mine. So there, smartypants.

K. Z. Snow said...

P.S. Castanet has challenged you to a Chew-off. Tell Sean to be in another part of the world when this competition takes place.

Teddy Pig said...

I take it there was no... He Wore A Wicked Kilt?

Tam said...

(Aren't there any wicked Lithuanians?)

Oh honey, there are, I knew one. No wait, he was Latvian. Close enough, right next door.

I'm dying to know what this one is about. Call Me Wicked, and I'll Kick You in the Nuts

That was funny. There are a lot of wicked books out there. God, now I sound like a 14 year old skater kid. I just read No Rest for the Wicked. :-)

Tam said...

Okay, just for fun since you brought up bone(s), so blame yourself, I thought I'd see which book have "boneR" in the title.

The Pocket Book of Boners: An Omnibus of School Boy Howlers and Unconscious Humor Holy shit, written by Dr. Seuss

Boners: Seriously Misguided Facts- According to Schoolkids.

Prize Bloopers: Radio and Tv's Most Hilarious Boners

Boner Juice by Dr. Porkenheimer? There is no info on this book so I'm wondering if someone made it up. LOL

There do seem to be a ton of books with (Boner Book) in brackets, most of them seem to be gay fetish titles including "Soaked! The Watersports Handbook for Men" And I don't think they are referring to water polo based on the picture.

Chris said...

Of course, the Upper Midwest includes Wisconsin.... ;)

Wait, where's Utopia X: Seeking Something Wicked?! :p

Wicked Hearts
Wicked Good Time
My Wicked Vampire
Wicked by Any Other Name
The Wicked Wiles of Iznogoud

Oh, good grief. I see what you mean. Hmm. How about "Test"?

wren boudreau said...

I'll have to mull this one over. Still gigglesnorting that you said 'chacha'. If you use Balls-to-the-Wall Wicked, then can I have Wicked Balls-to-the-Wall?

K. Z. Snow said...

Nope, Teddy, so there's another opening -- so to speak.

Tam, there are also wicked Hungarians. I know from experience.

Now why did I have a feeling you'd jump right on that B word?

Chris, I made vague mention of that Utopia book at the end of the first paragraph. Just had trouble remembering its exact title. :-) And, hey, how about Wicked Water?

Yikes, you found more! I had to give up. It started making me a little crazy.

Wren, I'll have to consult with my high-powered agent and bevy of lawyers about that.

wren boudreau said...

Ok, KZ, have your people talk to my people.

Average Reader said...

" to get all shivery in the chacha" OMG, K.Z., you have such a way with words! That just got a big, coffee-snorting laugh!

The Wicked Civil Servant! Too funny!

Wonderful post! In fantasy fiction, you get certain words just worn threadbare in titles like Dark, Dragon, Keep, Sword, Prince, Destiny, Road, Shadow etc. Plus a lot of what Kris mentioned: The[insert noun]'s Knight, King, Queen, Daughter, Servant, Stablemaster, Footman, etc.

One problem with picking a title like No Rest for the Wicked or Something Wicked This Way Comes is that, as phrases, they're in circulation already so if you set Google Alerts or try to search for mentions of your title, you're going to get a huge amount of extraneous, irrelevant references coming up.

K. Z. Snow said...

So true what you said about fantasy fiction, Val--high or epic fantasy in particular.

And I completely agree that it's helpful to steer clear of common phrases. Not only do they make titles less memorable, they wreak havoc with Google Alerts.