Chris Gardner

The joys of self-publishing.

Which of these titles makes you want to know more about the book?


‘Journal of a Loving Mother’, ‘Milly’, and ‘Hell Hath no Fury’ are all possible titles for my latest novel, which I’m planning to not guilty 2014 coverblogpublish on Amazon next month. I keep changing from one to another and would really like some input on this. The story is part fiction and part fact, loosely based on the life of Camellia McCluskey, who murdered her three children in 1910. The reason she gave was purely one of revenge for her partner’s behaviour and I’ve already written the factual story and published it on Amazon. (Not Guilty) It may seem strange that I felt the need to then write a fiction version of the same story but I am first and foremost a creative writer.

I first wrote about Camellia as part of a university thesis on Infanticide and Child Murder and found the restrictions placed on academic writing extremely frustrating! I then wrote the non-fiction book but, although I found a lot of information, there were of course lots of holes in the story and I decided to fill them up myself. I dislike those so-called true stories where the writer embellishes the facts so my embellishments must be fiction. I wanted to flesh out the person who was Camellia–maybe even try to get a glimpse of what drove her to such an horrific act as to kill her two year old twins and her four year old daughter with an axe.BookCoverImageher fleshandblood Of course the girl I wrote about was not really Camellia, just a fictional character, but in fictionalizing the story I like to think I can give the reader a deeper understanding than the non-fiction version can.

To make the characters, especially Camellia herself, real people with real feelings. I also had the title ‘Camellia’ as a possibility but I didn’t want any possible confusion with Camilla, Prince Charles’s wife! She later called herself Mildred and I’ve chosen to call her Milly. The story is told mostly from her journal entries and one thing that stood out to me amongst the newspaper reports was a statement by one witness who called her a loving mother. When I do publish it I’ll have the ebook version free on Amazon for a few days and I’ll mention it here, so stay tuned.

Update–The fictionalized account, now available on Amazon, is called ‘Her Flesh and Blood’.

Author: cmsgardnerblog

I'm a writer of fiction and non-fiction, for teens and adults. I live in Central Victoria, Australia and my books are available at

63 thoughts on “Which of these titles makes you want to know more about the book?

  1. Based on what you wrote about I would say ‘Milly’ would be my choice. ‘Hell Hath no Fury’ is interesting but the description of the book does not portray only the violent death. You said that one witness portrayed her as a loving mother, so there may be a balance of wickedness and good in your story about Milly. So something like ‘Milly:______________”[fill in the blanks here.]

    I hope I am making sense. I do hope you come up with eye catching title but also make your summary just as appealing.

  2. Of the choices I would go with “Hell Hath No Fury.” The title instantly brings to mind “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” so instantly, without the back cover blurb, I’m thinking it’s a book with conflict, revenge, tension, etc, and that draws me in. The “Journal of a Loving Mother” is a title with an ironic twist on the story once you know what the story is about, but initially does nothing to make me want to read the blurb. Likewise, “Milly” tells me nothing, which might make me bypass reading what the story is about. So if you’re going for drawing power, for me the 3rd title works, but in the end it’s your story and your gut decision. My best to you 🙂

    • Thanks for your help, Tanara. The consensus on other forums seems to be anti all my ideas so it’s back to the drawing board.

      What do you think of ‘All That I had’, subtitled ‘Memoirs of a Killer’? The first part is something she said after she killed her children–that they were all that she had.

      • The subtitle sticks out more than the main title. Reading the other comments I actually liked Patti’s Broken Promises suggestion. I know such myriad input is confusing so my best to you!

  3. My humble opinion is that in deciding to read the stories of others, if given the choice between titles of ‘the very loving mother’ a few tranquil beings will quietly smile….this book surely their trophy of fine, sweet tales.

    I think most humans will ultimately gaze at the ‘Fury” book; isn’t it rare to have no memory of a child’s version of “fury”? And so instead, we reach for these stories that bind us, to know our pains are shared by a struggling world, and there, a proverbial healing of kinds occurs in the reading. For some, through serial reading. As to the accuracy and your frustration, you do offer by title alone a possibility of a deeper, richer reading that your fan may feel she or he owes the work.

    Finally, it is a blessed thing so many of us still thrill in visiting the local bookseller. I would think the book’s title might determine its permanent fate in placement location.

    I have great respect for your handwringing and difficulty in this matter of your work.

  4. Go with “Milly” short, easy to remember, and unique enough to get attention.

    • Thanks for your help, Richard. The consensus on other forums seems to be anti all my ideas so it’s back to the drawing board.

      What do you think of ‘All That I had’, subtitled ‘Memoirs of a Killer’? The first part is something she said after she killed her children–that they were all that she had.

      • I’d really need to know more about the story to make any fair suggestion. I’m a fan of a short title with strong image words. People remember it better.
        Besides, I liked ‘Milly’.

  5. I’ve struggled with titles many times and so I find your question interesting and valid. I agree with the above comments that “Journal of a Loving Mother” is misleading and maybe off-putting. People who want to read crime won’t even pick up the book. “Milly” doesn’t convey anything, and “Hell Hath No Fury” is too clichéd. Given your synopsis how about something along the lines of “Broken Promise: The Camilla McCluskey Murders.” Just a thought. Good luck!

  6. I think you’re right Patti. What do you think of my new idea above?

  7. They are! I quite like both your ideas, Patti. Food for thought.

  8. What about “Journal of a Revengeful Writer?” My editors always seem to change my titles. “Good Attitudes Win” was changed to “God Attitudes Win.” One letter but it made a big impact.

  9. None of the three immediate choices completely grabbed my attention but your cover picture above did! How about Echeveria Rising! That could be enigmatic enough to interest people and make them curious enough. It certainly tells as much as the other tree choices.

    Titles are always difficult and unless you have something in the text that really stands out and encapsulates something of the essence of the book, the title does nothing. Look back through your text and see if a phrase or descriptive term hooks your attention. Ask yourself what is the essence of the story and can you distill that to three or four words?

    Good luck with finding the right title.

    • I am currently reading through it again and have found a few possibilities. “All That I Had’ is one and another is ‘Children With No Name’. I’ve also added ‘Retribution’ to the list, which is really what it’s all about.

  10. What about a mix, i.e.:

    Hell Hath No Fury: Journal of a Loving Mother

    Might describe a story that I suspect will have more than one facet.

  11. BTW, love your cover pic of the succulents!

  12. Thanks for the input. I’m going to read through it again and see if anything resonates. I’m leaning towards ‘All That I Had’ at the moment. I’ll let you know when it’s published–the ebook version will be free on Amazon for a few days, probably next month.

  13. All that I had – memoirs of a … That does it for me. It stirs my curiosity, and makes me want to delve into the story. That’s what it’s all about.

  14. When I look at a title I have questions and guesses. I guess what it is about by reading the title. I judge if it is a drama, action, or other first before I consider reading it.
    Sometimes the title can make me think drama and I hate drama, and only look farther when I really want something to read, and then I find stories I like a lot, but the title made me think it was something else.

    If you use ‘Journal of a Loving Mother’ I would think that could be boring because I would be an outsider looking in without understanding anything.

    If you use ‘Milly’ I would think it is about a girl, and that don’t tell me much. I would set it aside and come back to read more about it if I don’t find anything more interesting.

    If you use ‘Hell Hath no Fury’ that would sound like an expression people use that can be about anything, and it would be too much to relate how that title fits the story unless I hand nothing better to do but read the story, and that might never happen.

    A drama title is like ‘The life of Milly’
    A horror title like ‘Deadly Mom’
    Action ‘Mom’s Rampage’ or ‘Milly’s rampage’
    Dark Comedy ‘Mother Axe me Not’
    I think you might see a pattern.

    If you start with a title that helps describe what type of category, you can add a short description, like ‘Killer Moms; Milly’s Story’
    That way you can attract people more interested in that kind of story. If they think it will be a series of books it might sell better than just one story.

  15. Hi Chris I think both titles are strong but Hell Hath No Fury speaks to me. What you have outlined reminds me of Medea by Euripides who I became for a while-I’ll explain. I produced and took the lead (acting) in an outdoor performance of ten shows some years ago. The thing that I wanted most out of the whole experience was for the audience to find Medea a sympathetic character even though she murdered her two sons to seek revenge on Jason. I believe I managed to do that. I found madness in Medea and perhaps your Milly has that too- I believe you would have to be insane to kill your beloved children- how do you feel about that? I am also self publishing at the moment but it’s title has been with me for most of the journey . I would love to read your book so when you decide on your name and release it keep me posted. Regards Raine

    • Camellia’s sanity was definitely in question, Raine, but I don’t want to make any claim either way. I did have a title when I wrote it but I keep changing my mind! At the moment I’m considering ‘Sins of the Mother’ but ‘Hell Hath No Fury’ is still a contender. I’ll be letting all my blog readers know when I have it available on Amazon and it will be free for a few days. Some time next month.

  16. Hell hath no fury because it excites my emotions Christine

  17. Hi there! I’d suggest if you really want to hook readers you chose a more alluring title, something like, perhaps, “Revenge on the Innocent,” or “Revenge” or “As the Children Sleep,” (or whatever, however she killed them), something specific to this murder, this case, to define your book from all other’s out there. (Though I do like Sins of the Mother” as well.) Just the names you’ve given don’t offer enough about the intrigue and mystery behind the story which is what will draw readers to read your blurb and eventually want to read the story. Very important. Also, “Heel Hath No Fury” is a cliche, thus, I bet if you google has been used prior, and a lot. I’d be original and give your book the very best legs under it you can. BTW, sounds very interesting. Best of Luck to You! J

  18. How about…Hell Hath No Fury: Through The Eye’s of a Loving Mother I like ‘Hell Hath No Fury’. based on your description it seems suitable to depict what the story is about and it is an eye catching title. Maybe the subtitle could be Through the Eye’s of a Loving Mother as it would give an added insight of the depth and other side you are trying to convey. Goodluck and go with your gut.

  19. All That I Had is very powerful, I think. It implies such loss and regret. Then your subtitle could be Memoir of a Murderess. I like Murderess because it’s old-fashioned and tabloid-y and evocative.

    • Still thinking and that’s definitely on the list. Not sure how much I want to give away in the title.

    • I like that suggestion C. Kuehl. what do you think Chris? Another suggestion along the same line: A Mother’s Love; Memoir of a Murderess.

      • Thanks Vera. I like ‘All That I Had’ because it’s something she says in the book and the subtitle’s certainly a possibility. On the other hand I also like ‘Retribution’ at the moment. Not sure how much I want to give away in the title because there’s quite a bit of background story before the murders and I would like readers to have some empathy for the protagonist through her childhood diary.

  20. Hi Chris, I nominated you for a Liebster award which includes a link from my blog to yours. check out my recent post to find out more!

  21. Chris, How about: “An Ax to Grind”?


  22. Out of your initial suggestions, I like ‘Milly’ or ‘Hell Hath no Fury’. Keep us updated on the release, I would love to read it!

    • Thanks everyone. It looks like it’ll be either ‘Hell Hath no Fury’ or ‘Retribution’. It should be out some time this month and I’ll be posting here when it’s ready. The ebook will be free on Amazon for a few days.

  23. I would probably read a book titled: ‘MILLY’S JOURNAL – A MOTHER’S TALE’.

  24. There is a quote by Balzac, “The heart of a mother is a deep abyss” so maybe “Deep Abyss” would work as a title.

  25. Thanks to all–pretty much sorted now. I’ll make the final decision when I see what the cover designer comes up with.

  26. I would entitle this story; FLESH AND BONE .. or something along those lines ..

  27. Yes, I had actually thought of Flesh and Blood–it kind of makes sense and is a real possibility.

  28. Milly: Memoirs of a Child Murderer…

    What did you decide on? When will it be available? Waiting to find out!…. 🙂

  29. My favourite today is ‘Her Flesh and Blood’. Any thoughts?

  30. I’d go for Diary of a Loving Mother. Hell a bit ‘done’. ‘Milly’ doesn’t say anything to the reader, as it’s just a name until you open the book. Camellia is a bit better, as it’s an unusual name. How about ‘When a Mother Kills’ or something..something that gives you an idea of what it’s about and juxtaposes the ideas of motherhood and murder. Come to that “Motherhood and Murder’?

    • I have made a final decision on that; thanks for your input. It’s going to be ‘Her Flesh and Blood’ and hopefully will be out soon, free for a few days on Amazon. I’ll be posting when it’s up.

  31. Definitely “Journal of a Loving Mother”. The reader knows something’s “off” and is intrigued immediately. You could add a tagline below it or on the cover somewhere such as “Her innocent children never knew Molly’s definition of ‘Loving’ would horrify the world” or “Her first mistake was having children. Her second mistake was writing about it” or “She couldn’t make their father pay for his sins. So Milly focused on the next best thing”
    or “Milly longed for the day she would have children of her own. She didn’t know she would also give birth to the unspeakable evil buried deep in her soul.”

    Then again, you could also take a turn in that direction and call the book something like:

    “The Delivery Room”
    “Milly thought her greatest wish had been delivered when her newborn baby took his first breath. But she had given birth to more than a son. She also brought home from the hospital unspeakable evil that was getting stronger every single day.”

    “Natural Childbirth”
    (But put a line through the capital “N” and change it into “Unnatural Childbirth”

    “It was a picture perfect pregnancy with a storybook labor and delivery. In fact, less than two hours after arriving at the hospital, Milly and her husband we/re- bringing home their perfect baby girl. Seven pounds, two ounces of perfection wrapped in a cashmere blanket and enveloped in love, the newborn opened her eyes and looked at her mama and when she did, Milly was sure she knew precisely how the heroine in a fairy tale felt on the day she discovered the glass slipper fit and her every dream was about to come a reality. If she remembered that good wishes granted in fairy tales were paid for in currency rendered from someone else’s anguish, she chose to ignore it. For just this one day, Milly allowed herself to believe that every was going to be alright.

    It was the best day of her life. She was a mother!

    The day would come when Milly would be forced to acknowledge the truth of who, of WHAT had really been born on the day her daughter took her first breath. She knew that. There would come a time not too long from now when Milly would be hard-pressed to recall what joy had felt like when it was hers for a day. So for now, she would soak it all in and let this newfound joy permeate her soul even as she knew something else was now burrowed deep
    into her as well. It was this that Milly tried desperately to ignore, this second entity she had given birth to on the day her daughter was born that was also the picture of health. It was also exceedingly hungry. Today, it would allow Milly her day of happiness. Tomorrow, everything changed. The clock was ticking. Evil didn’t like to wait.


    Ha! Just saw how old this post is. Oh well. Congrats on all your success.

    Kristin Erickson
    Nouveau Niche, Ink.
    (608) 444-0654

    • Well thanks Krissy, for all the time and thought you put into that! I ended up going with ‘Her Flesh and Blood’ which I think has a nice ring to it, although I also liked ‘Journal of a Loving Mother’.

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