by Susan Sey
I am not what you might call quick on the pick up.
Remember Grrrranimals? It was a line of kids clothing where you knew your shorts matched your top because they both had a little tiger (or kangaroo, or penguin, or whatever) on the label. Match the animal, match your outfit. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. (Hang on while I experience a moment of intense nostalgia for that concept. Okay, I'm back.)
Yeah, I was the last kid in my grade to realize it was dorky to wear those. I won't tell you how old I was. It's embarrassing.
And you know that exquisitely uncomfortable moment when you realize you've been insulted in front of a bunch of people? I often compound the humiliation by not even catching the insult. I just toodle merrily along, laughing & chatting. Then two days later I'm like, "Oh! Hey!"
A stinging retort, no matter how superbly crafted, loses its punch when it's 48 hours late.
So, yeah, I'm that girl. Not super quick on the pick up. Things that jump out at most people just sorta fly by me. Which is how I come to you now with a book called MONEY SHOT featuring a heroine named Goose. (A book which is to be released this coming Tuesday, June 7. I should mention that.)
I swear on all that's holy it did not occur to me that either of things would make this book difficult to promote. Somehow I did not realize that people would crack Top Gun jokes everywhere I went. (It's the Goose/Maverick thing, and though I love me some Anthony Edwards, this has gotten old.)
And the full import of naming a book MONEY SHOT didn't strike me until I started googling my title to see if review copies were out yet. (Do not do this. Especially not on Twitter. Just...trust me & save yourself an eyeball bleaching.)
This is not my fault. I can explain.
The Goose thing was an accident. Or at least a failure to look ahead the way an author should. I needed a secondary character when I was writing my previous book MONEY HONEY, & Goose just strolled onto the stage. She was six solid feet of sex appeal & polished charm, and made my heroine feel even dumpier and more awkward by comparison. In short, she was perfect. A little too perfect, actually. Nobody was going to like her if she wasn't a little more human.
So I named her Maria di Guzman, & called her Goose. It's short for di Guzman, & a nod to the fact that middle schoolers are cruel when it comes to assigning nicknames. Especially when you're a six foot tall middle school girl, & awkward with it. Maybe Goose ended up gorgeous but damn, she earned it. And the fact that she still lets people call her Goose tells the reader that she hasn't let beauty go to her head.
Then she got her own book. And now I have to promote a book whose heroine--for excellent reasons!--is named after a barnyard animal. Or maybe Tom Cruise's Top Gun sidekick. Sigh.
And now the money shot thing. Oh, double sigh.
Okay, I originally named this book MONEY MOON. It has a pagan subplot running through it--the island where the book takes place is home to an ancient altar that lines up to the moon just so at certain sacred times of year--and so the moon is a major story element. And since Goose spends the book tracking down a counterfeiter, the money reference seemed appropriate. Plus I thought MONEY MOON was a cute play on HONEY MOON which is what happens after people fall in love. Right?
Yeah, my editor wasn't so into it. And if you have to explain the reference, your reference was too obscure.
So we brainstormed a whole bunch of titles and MONEY SHOT was the one everybody agreed on. There's also a shooting subplot (Goose doesn't like to shoot her gun, though she's really good at it), so the shot part made sense. And though money shot is still used to refer to the, uh, grand finale scene of a porn movie, it's also become common parlance for somebody's signature move. You know, a basketball player's dunk, a pool player's favorite shot, a boxer's big punch, whatever. The porn thing just gave the phrase a slightly sexy connotation.
Or so we thought. Then I did a search on Twitter to see if anybody was talking about MONEY SHOT. Turns out they were. But they were NOT talking about my book.
Lot of porn out there, ladies. Lot of porn.
So there you have it. Could have happened to anybody, right?
But here's the thing. I love this book. Goose and Rush both started in a pretty dark place--Goose especially--but they came back to the light. And they worked like hell for it, & they did it with style and humor. So no matter how many Top Gun and/or porn jokes people make about this book, I'm keeping my chin up. You've got to have a sense of humor about these things or life is too grim. Just ask Rush and Goose.
How about you? Have you ever been the last one to get the joke? To catch a clue? Will a title or a name turn you off a book, or will you give things a chance? Be honest. I'm bullet-proof at this point & I really want to know. Plus, I'm giving away a copy of MONEY SHOT, so if you want to see how much the Goose/MONEY SHOT thing bothers you, comment & you could find out for free!