Let’s face facts. Titles can make or break an author — at least in terms of attention, reads and sales. Regard the recent phenomenon of bestselling books with “girl” in the title. “Gone, Girl,” “The Girl on the Train,” are examples. “The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo,” thank you, comedian Amy Poehler!

Nowadays, EVERYONE wants to toss a girl into the title. Even me. Titles like “Saddle Girls” and “Naked Came the Girl” flare like a firework in my mind when I start contemplating titles for my books. So far, mercifully, I’ve managed to resist the girl-title urge.

Some trace the trend’s origins “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.” The late Stieg Larsson’s first book in his “Girl” trilogy set the literary world on fire. Girl doplingers sprang up like mushrooms after a rain. Girls appeared everywhere and in every guise. Authors of thrillers, young adult, romance, mystery and women’s fiction, by the droves seized the “girl” title’s coat tails, and bought that new Mercedes while they awaited a spike in sales of their own books.

Let’s see if adding the word, “girl,” would enhance other titles, and make the books seem more contemporary or compelling:

“The Portrait of Dorian Gray as a Girl”

“Girl Gone with the Wind”

“The Girl Godfather”

“Jaws Girl”

You can make up, some amusing titles of your own. Such as “How To Win Friends and Influence Girls.” That’s one of my own favorite pastimes when I want to have some fun, procrastinate at writing, or both.

Actually the use of “girl” in titles is not new. Only its gonzo proliferation. For time-tested blasts from the past, see, “Girl of the Limberlost,” “Girl of the Golden West,” and “An Old-Fashioned Girl” — the last by Louisa May Alcott. And a bunch of others.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing the matter with using “girl” in your title. But isn’t it about time for another fresh, catchy word to rocket to the top of the title heap? How about “horse”?

I can see it all now … Bestseller lists fairly bursting at the seams with titles using the “H” word:

“Horse with the Pearl Earring”

“Moby Horse”

“The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Horses”

No? Think I should stop having fun and return to editing and revising my new mystery, “Over the Edge?” The sequel to “Saddle Tramps.”

Maybe I should retitle it, “Horse Girl Over the Edge” …

Klutzdom Can Kill (But Doesn’t Have To)

Have you ever dumped an entire roast turkey — drippings, stuffing and all — on the floor as you slid the pan from the oven? Knocked over a store display with a shopping cart? Slammed the car door on your raincoat hem, and then fallen hobbled to the pavement? In front of God and everybody?

Story of my life. Or, at least, of random moments in it. Moments that suddenly, dangerously, and often in horrifying slow-motion, spin out of control while I watch. Moments that turn whatever I was capably accomplishing moments before, UPSIDE DOWN.

I feel at such times like Lucille Ball of the old TV comedy “I Love Lucy.” As if someone switched the Life Switch to warp speed, making my tasks come at me too fast to handle. I stand at the candy-factory conveyor belt methodically tucking chocolates into wrappers and boxes, when said candies inexplicably stampede past me. Then I must make like a windmill-on-meth to properly do my job, even tossing candies over my shoulder and stuffing extras in my bra.

Never happened to you? Would you feel confident enough of that to take this lie-detector test?

The “little mishap” is bad enough. Oh, the horror, oh, the insanity. I stare at the mess and freeze in the moment, staring in disbelief. Then I lunge into action. So no one will know. Please let me clean this up and get out of it as if it never happened, with no one the wiser. Yes yes YES, I promise to buy that Florida swampland you so graciously offer.

Hurry, hurry, for Lucy’s sake, HURRY. It must appear as if nothing happened. So the day or evening will unfold as it should — slowly, calmly, predictably. No muss, no fuss. No harm to anyone or anything.

There. Last dripping wiped, floor sanitized, fabulously browned fowl reposing, innocent and inviting, on our best heirloom platter. Guests smiling and toting adult beverages as they drift into the kitchen to encourage the cook and ask what they can do to help? (How about making restaurant reservations? Glad they didn’t wander in a minute earlier.)

This scenario is exactly how I feel, what I fear, approaching the self-imposed deadline of May 1 for my next mystery novel, “Over the Edge.” Things are progressing slowly or swiftly, by turns. But they ARE progressing. Everything will be fine. Even if I pass that deadline a little. The reading feast will be served in good time, and it will be good. Promise.

And if it does sabotage all my dreams and best-laid plans, and slide and dump? Hey. I’ve learned from the turkey: Don’t panic. Get ‘er done. Clean up the mess, plate the feast and serve it up with a smile. Breathe, breathe. Then move on.

Hello? No one’s died yet. Except in my novels.