Guest Post: “Chapter Titles and Other Tortures”, from Kristen Brand, author of Dead Messages

It’s a brand new year, and I’m really excited to share Foxes and Fairy Tales’ first guest post of 2022.

If you’ve ever read any of my posts or reviews on cozy mysteries, you’ll know that I have a weakness for clever titles and puns. As a writer, titles are my kryptonite, something I always struggle with. Here, Kristen Brand, author of Dead Messages, shares her thoughts on that even trickier prospect: coming with titles for every chapter of a book.

Order Dead Messages

Dead Messages Kristen Brand, a Texts From Beyond novella.

Titles are not my friends.

Often, I’ll finish the entire first draft of a book and still have no clue what title to give it. I’ve always struggled to come up with catchy, original titles that encapsulate a story, and I admire authors who can invent the perfect title before they even start writing.

So I’ve never tried giving titles to chapters before, settling for “Chapter 1,” Chapter 2,” etc. Why torture myself with creating fifteen titles when just one is hard enough?

Yet my newest book, Dead Messages, has chapter titles, and I’m 100% in love with them. How did that happen? The trick was thinking like my main character and titling them from her perspective.

Kristen Brand, indie author of speculative fiction, may not be good at titles, but that’s not true of Sydney Farina, amateur sleuth and full-time cynic.

Here are the chapters in Dead Messages:

Sydney’s not having a good time in this book. 😅

Nothing here is necessarily a spoiler, though some of it makes more sense after you’ve finished the chapters. And it gets across a lot about Sydney’s character. She’s a pessimist. She doesn’t think she’s a good detective. And she’s certainly not thrilled about getting text messages from a ghost.

Using this style of chapter titles made creating them less of a chore and more of a game. Sydney might not enjoy experiencing the mystery, but I enjoyed writing it. And hopefully, the chapter titles give readers some extra fun as they make their way through the book.

What’s your favorite book with funny chapter titles? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Dead Messages

Cynical baker Sydney Farina is having a bad enough week when her boss forces her to go into work on her day off. When she arrives to find her boss’s corpse on the floor, her week gets a whole lot worse.

She’s shocked to learn it was murder—though maybe not too shocked. Her short-tempered boss, Glenda Whitaker, made more enemies than she did sprinkled cupcakes.

Then the texts start coming.

They’re from Glenda’s number, demanding Sydney find out who murdered her. Sydney thinks the messages are a bad joke at first, but when they reveal things only Glenda would know, she’s forced to accept the truth:

She’s getting texts from a dead woman.

Glenda’s ghost wants justice, but Sydney doesn’t know the first thing about solving murders. As she investigates her own coworkers, can she find out who killed Glenda? Or will she join her grouchy boss on the other side of the grave?

Read the first chapter

About Kristen

If Kristen Brand could have any superpower, she’d want telekinesis so she wouldn’t have to move from her computer to pour a new cup of tea. She lives in Florida with her husband, and her hobbies include reading comic books and desperately trying to keep the plants in her garden alive. An author of fantasy and superhero fiction, she writes stories with fire-forged friends, explosive fight scenes, and kissing.

Pre-Order Dead Messages

From more information about Kristen, Dead Messages and her other writing, visit

3 thoughts on “Guest Post: “Chapter Titles and Other Tortures”, from Kristen Brand, author of Dead Messages”

  1. I don’t normally remember chapter titles after a book is over, but I love it when they are either funny or helpful! For example, in a time travel novel, putting the timeline in the chapter title is super important for me as a reader. It helps me keep things at least a little straight.

    Liked by 1 person

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