Guest Post: Book Titles and Inspiration by Joanna Campbell Slan

Book Titles and Inspiration
by Joanna Campbell Slan author of INK, RED, DEAD

Did you know that authors under contract with publishing houses typically don’t get to choose their book titles? It’s true. This surprised me. Maybe it shocks you, too?

My original publisher (Midnight Ink) did allow me to suggest titles. I was particularly fond of INK, RED, DEAD. They didn’t use it, but it stuck in my head.

When Midnight Ink and I parted ways, I decided to use that fun title on a book that featured a cat hoarder. For me, there’s always a spark, a kernel of an idea, that becomes the impetus for a book. The daughter of a cat hoarder had written a letter for a pet rescue publication. The daughter had described how taxing it was to deal with her mother’s mental illness. That’s what extreme hoarding is, a mental illness. Even though the daughter had paid to have her mother’s house thoroughly cleaned, and a judge had ruled the mother could never have cats again, the woman continued to hoard animals. She moved from cats to fish to birds!

Anyone who has tried to reason with an elderly relative could understand the daughter’s plight.

The murder of Kiki Lowenstein’s husband leaves the young mother penniless. Her best friend Mert—a housecleaner extraordinaire at a price that’s fair—hires Kiki as an extra pair of hands. But no one is prepared for the mess they tackle when they walk into the home of a cat hoarder, who died under mysterious circumstances.

Kiki is not only hardworking, she’s also observant and curious. Right away, she spots two oddities: there are no cat litter boxes, and there doesn’t seem to be any cat food in the house. How was the dead woman feeding her pets? Why did the murderer remove all the cat litter boxes?

A sleuth in the style of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, Kiki is easy to underestimate. But underneath that mop of blond curls is a brain that never stops asking questions. Even if they lead her to cross paths with a killer.

Meanwhile, Kiki struggles to balance a full-time job in a paper crafting store with parenting a confused and grieving twelve-year-old. It’s the sort of situation other women can relate to, and many men understand as well.

You can read more of Kiki’s story in INK, RED, DEAD.

Readers call this: a fun cozy mystery, a good enjoyable read, a delightful story, plenty of suspects, (with a) great ending. Why not take a break from grim reality and peep into Kiki’s world?

About The Book

Ink, Red, Dead: Kiki Lowenstein Mystery Series

On a sweltering day, ace scrapbooker Kiki Lowenstein has to cancel a crafting party when she discovers Marla Lever, their hostess, nearly dead of the heat. Not only is Marla seriously “under the weather,” she’s also a hoarder, and her home is a house of horrors, complete with a corpse in the cooler. Meanwhile, Detective Chad Detweiler works a cold case that involves women disappearing all over St. Louis. The attraction between Kiki and Detweiler heats to a red-hot fever pitch, but will it boil over and leave both of them feeling burned?

Purchase Link – Amazon 

About the Author

“Our best friend, our next-door neighbor, and ourselves with just a touch of the outrageous.” That’s how RT Book Review describes Joanna’s protagonist, Kiki Lowenstein. The truth is that’s a pretty good description of Joanna Campbell Slan as well.

Joanna is a New York Times Bestselling, USA Today Bestselling, and Amazon Bestselling author as well as a woman prone to frequent bursts of crafting frenzy, leaving her with burns from her hot glue gun and paint on her clothes. And the mess? Let’s not even go there.

Otherwise, Joanna’s a productive author with more than 80 written projects to her credit. Her non-fiction work includes how to books, a college textbook for public speakers, and books of personal essays (think Chicken Soup for the Soul).

Currently, she writes five fiction series: The Kiki Lowenstein Mystery Series (Agatha Award Finalist, contemporary, St. Louis setting, crafting), the Cara Mia Delgatto Mystery Series (contemporary, Florida setting, DIY, and recycling), the Jane Eyre Chronicles (Daphne du Maurier Award Winner, 1830s England, based on Charlotte Brontë’s classic), the Tai Chi Mystery Series (contemporary, senior citizen female amateur sleuth and Washington, DC setting), and the Friday Night Mystery Club Series (traditional mystery, 1980s setting, Midwest).

A former TV talk show host, college teacher, and public relations specialist, Joanna was one of the early Chicken Soup for the Soul contributors. She won a Silver Anvil for her work on the original FarmAid concert to benefit farmers.

In her ongoing quest never to see snow again, Joanna lives with her husband and their Havanese puppy, Jax, on an island off the coast of Florida. You can email her at or visit her website at

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