Tag Archives: Titles

Finding Novel Titles by Pat Bertram

Finding a title is not an easy task. My novels all had simple working titles: The Red Death, The Chameleon, The Gangster Book, The Alien Book, but except for The Red Death, none of those titles were ever possible for the real title.

I considered using the title The Red Death for my story about Colorado in the grip of an epidemic since  the quarantine mirrored the middle ages, though in a hi-tech way, but the name had already been used several times. And anyway, from the very first, I’d planned on using A Spark of Heavenly Fire. That was my inspiration for the book, the Washington Irving quote: “There is in every true woman’s heart a spark of heavenly fire, which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity; but which kindles up, and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity.” I wanted to tell the story of ordinary women, women who seemed colorless in ordinary times, but who blazed brightly in dark times. When I found no takers for the book, I thought perhaps the title didn’t reflect the story, so I changed it to In the Dark Hour. And I got an agent. She couldn’t sell the book, so when my contract was up, I changed the title back to A Spark of Heavenly Fire. And that’s the title Second Wind Publishing released it under.

I had to try several times before I got the title of More Deaths Than One right. The working title was The Chameleon but that was never a real contender since I didn’t want to give the story away. So first I used the Law of the Jungle, which amused me since the jungle was so much a part of the story. Also, at one point I had my hero say that the villain might be above the law, but he wasn’t above the law of the jungle. Both the line in the book and the title ended up being deleted because they were too trite, so next I went with Nature of the Beast. It was adequate, and I would have stuck with it despite its triteness, but then I came across a couplet from Oscar Wilde’s “Ballad of Reading Gaol”: He who lives more lives than one/More deaths than one must die. Since my hero appeared to have more lives (and deaths) than one, More Deaths Than One struck me as the perfect title.

Daughter Am I, my gangster book, only had one previous title: Sins of the Fathers, though really it should have been Sins of the Grandfathers. Then I found the Rudyard Kipling quote: “Daughter am I in my mother’s house but mistress in my own.” The quote would have more accurately described the theme of the book if it were “daughter am I in my father’s house,” but I was taken with the title Daughter Am I and decided it was close enough.

Which brings me to my final novel, Light Bringer. Sad to say, I haven’t a single story to tell about the title. Even though the working title was The Alien Book (because it was meant to debunk alien/UFO myths), I always knew the title was Light Bringer. Light is the theme of the book, and the Light Bringer (planet X) was the reason for the story.

So, how did you find the title(s) of your book(s)?

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SNARE – Uncovered

I’ve received raves for the cover of my debut suspense thriller STACCATO, so the pressure was on to think of equally compelling ideas for my latest release.

This project has held the title ICE ON FIRE since its inception as a screenplay, but after receiving input from quite a few published novelists I decided stay with the musical theme for Book Two of the Deputy Hawk/Inola Walela thriller series. In doing so I had to come up with a different title—a single word grabber more relating to this rock music themed thriller. Not an easy task, believe me.

Many suggestions were offered, but SNARE kept coming to my mind and wouldn’t let go. I try my best to implement titles that signify more than one element relating to the plot. The word “snare” has not only has a musical connotation, but also means caught in a trap—which every character in the novel finds themselves ensnared in.

Once the title was nailed down I enlisted the assistance of the incredibly talented designer Chantelle Aimée Osman for the crucial task of coming up with ideas for the cover most fitting the new title. Chantelle insisted I stay with the “hands” theme. She was absolutely right. Due to her innovative efforts, SNARE truly is a killer cover.

SNARE is slated for a limited release December 28th and will be available to a wider audience beginning February 22, 2011.

As with STACCATO, I look forward to taking you on the journey to publication for this release as well.

So, what do you think? Does the title work for you? Is this cover an eye catcher? I look forward to your comments.

Be the first to read the first 25 pages of SNARE before the official release by going to my website.

 

Deborah J Ledford is the author of the debut suspense thriller novel STACCATO, now available from Second Wind Publishing, Amazon and Kindle. If you’re in the Arizona area, STACCATO can be found at Borders Scottsdale Waterfront, The Well Red Coyote, and Changing Hands Bookstore.

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Searching For a New Title

If you’re anything like me, you spend a long time coming up with the perfect title for your novels and short stories. Some writers give their manuscripts numbers or nicknames until they’ve found something ideal. PublishersMarketplace often lists sales of projects as “Working Title” because agents and editors know the title pitched isn’t perfect/already recently exists/hasn’t been approved by the editing committee.

The title is one of the elements I always know when I begin a novel. Every title I’ve attached to my works has at least 4-5 different meanings to the piece.

I write thrillers, and one word titles seem to work best for this genre. Lisa Gardner’s titles Gone, Hide and Alone come to mind. And of course the Twilight blockbuster trilogy which has made one-word titles such a hit.

The title for my debut thriller novel is perfect: Staccato. This definer, along with the cover photo of hands clasped in handcuffs, hovering over a piano keyboard, give the perfect set-up. I had the Staccato title from day one of story conception and was thrilled when Second Wind Publishing agreed to keep my original title and the cover concept.

Now I’m polishing the second book in the Steven Hawk/Inola Walela series and I’m rethinking the original title: Ice on Fire. Yes, there are problems . . . people are constantly calling the project Fire on Ice, which has been used as a title before. To me, these titles have completely different meanings and implications, but not to others. And the visual of a jagged edge chunk of ice with fire licking upward would make a really cool cover photo.

But after spending time with my writer friend, Jeffrey Siger, who’s second novel Assassins of Athens just came out from Poisoned Pen Press, I’m thinking I should not only go with a compelling one-word title, but completely redo my existing title’s concept. Jeffrey suggested I stick with the music theme since the plot also involves the music world (this time a rock star is in peril). I think that’s a great idea, so I’ve been kicking around options and looking through music term glossaries.

And so, for the first time ever I’m considering a different title that the one I originally came up with. Nothing has rung my bell yet, but I like: Resonance, Vibrato, Cadence, Velocity (my favorite so far, but not really a musical term unless I add another term to it) Frequency, Counterpoint. Any one-word suggestions for the title of the next book would be greatly appreciated!

What about you? Have you ever needed to change the “perfect” title of one of your novels?

Deborah J Ledford is the author of the debut suspense thriller novel Staccato, now available from Second Wind Publishing, Amazon, Kindle, and independent book stores.

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