Molly Best Tinsley Guest Post: Titles Elude Me


Publisher: Fuze Publishing, LLC

Publish Date: May 15, 2012

Order From:  Amazon Paperback / Kindle / Nook / Fuze Publishing

Synopsis: What happens when one's larger-than-life military parents--disciplined, distinguished, exacting--begin sliding out of control? The General struggles to maintain his invulnerable façade against Parkinson's disease; his lovely wife manifests a bizarre dementia. Their three grown children, desperate to save the situation, convince themselves of the perfect solution: an upscale retirement community. But as soon as their parents have been resettled within its walls, the many imperfections of its system of care begin to appear.

Charting the line between comedy and pathos, Molly Best Tinsley’s memoir, Entering the Blue Stone dissects the chaos at the end of life and discovers what shines beneath: family bonds, the dignity of even an unsound mind, and the endurance of the heart.


Molly Best Tinsley's Bio: Air Force brat Molly Best Tinsley taught on the civilian faculty at the United States Naval Academy for twenty years and is the institution’s first professor emerita. Author of My Life with Darwin (Houghton Mifflin) and Throwing Knives (Ohio State University Press), she also co-authored Satan’s Chamber (Fuze Publishing) and the textbook, The Creative Process (St. Martin’s). Her fiction has earned two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Sandstone Prize, and the Oregon Book Award. Her plays have been read and produced nationwide. She lives in Oregon, where she divides her time between Ashland and Portland.

Guest Post: Titles elude me.  It’s as hard to craft a good one as it is to say what a poem means, or to distill the “moral” of a story.  I totally understand when I see a painting in a gallery entitled “Untitled.”  It’s like the artist is saying, I went to all this trouble to make this wall-sized picture.  Don’t make me boil it down into something cute and catchy to print on your program.  I feel this way in spite of writing a novel and countless short stories (one book-length collection, Throwing Knives); not to mention countless plays, and  currently a monthly column on theatre and the arts for a regional magazine.  I’ve had to come up with a lot of titles. Frequency hasn’t made me any better at it. 

Before I wrote the memoir Entering the Blue Stone, I collaborated with Karetta Hubbard on a spy thriller, and she knew the title from the start. Satan’s Chamber.  I think it came to her in a dream or something, and it was non-negotiable.  So then we just had to come with the story to fit it.
 
Entering the Blue Stone had two earlier titles.  The first was Extended Care—uninspired, but it got the job done, as the story recounts my parents’ experience in one of those retirement facilities, where you begin in an apartment upstairs, then descend, level by level to the dreaded nursing home.  The second was Tragedy in a Soup Bowl—my mother’s semi-lucid expression for this whole process.  I liked that title because it captured the craziness of their situation—our situation:  sustained disaster laced with hysteria.

But then close friends who read the manuscript thought that title overstressed the comedy at the expense of something more mystical.  That’s when I decided to select a title that would highlight the Native American tradition of folding a stone into the hand of a dying person, so that person’s soul will have a place to go as it sheds the body.  This transference takes place twice in my memoir. 

You could call it a real-life horror story, or the end of a deep romance.  Or a dark comedy of the absurd.  I chose to emphasize something else—the mystery and dignity of our lives and deaths.

Entering the Blue Stone is available in hardcopy from the Fuze website, www.fuzepublishing.com, Amazon, and select independent bookstores.  It’s available for download from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, mobi.


3 comments:

  1. Star, thanks for hosting Molly today. I really enjoyed getting to know the story behind her choice of title.

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  2. Molly, thanks for your comments about titles. I've written some fiction and it is hard to find the just right title, or to narrow it down from the handful that emerge as contenders. I'm looking forward to reading your book. I like what you said about the end of a deep romance--that maybe that's what losing one's parents is all about.

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  3. I echo your discomfort with choosing a title. That's why I named my abstract painting "Element." It was just enough to put pen on paper and let the viewer interpret it in his or her own way.

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