Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Title Quest

Titling books is always tricky. I was pleased with the titles of my first three Sebastian books--What Angels Fear, When Gods Die, and Why Mermaids Sing. Then I ran into a snag with my fourth book. I don't recall the exact original title, but it had the word Virgin in it and that scared the Powers That Be. I called the fifth book What Hell Marks; the word "hell" was also too scary, so after much to-ing and fro-ing, they changed it to What Remains of Heaven. More drama ensued over the title of Book Number Six; Where Shadows Dance was actually the title I had envisioned for my seventh book. Which means I find myself stumped for a title for the manuscript I am now starting. Since I like to have a title on a book while I'm writing it, I thought I'd throw the process open to suggestions.

Without giving too much away, the murder victim--a beautiful but troubled young woman--is found in a boat floating at Camelot Moat, a real place just north of London. Since the victim--we'll call her Gabrielle, for now--is a scholar of the Arthurian legend, the tales of King Arthur play a significant role in the mystery, with a hat tip to Tennyson's Lady of Shallot. The book takes place when little Alfred is three years old, and the murder victim is his aunt.

This needs to be a "When" or a "Why" title, or a "Who", although those are tricky (a title I'd love to use for a future book is, Who Bells the Kat?) I'm considering using the word "legend", as in, When Legends BLANK,but I'm open to anything.

Suggestions, anyone?


Barbara Caridad Ferrer said...

When Legends Weep/When Knights Weep

Who Chases Legends (the husband's suggestion)

When Knights Descend (or alternatively When Knight Descends)

This is hard, because for the most part, you've had a 1-2-1 cadence with the titles, which is rhythmic and works well, since it's very pleasing to the ear.

Kim said...

Since the woman is found around water and the Lady of the Lake (aka Maiden of the Lake) presented young Arthur with the sword, Excalibur, perhaps this can be worked into the title:

Why Maidens Weep

Where Maidens Die

When Legends Meet

Where Legends Collide

When Legends Collide

Charles Gramlich said...

Here are some that occur to me.

When a Lady Lies Dead
When Death Lies Hidden
When Legends are Lies
When Morning Never Comes
When Dawn Never Comes
When Camelot Dies
When Legends Sleep

Who Speaks for Arthur
Who Speaks for Camelot
Who Sings of Legends

Why Knights Regret
Why Morning Never Comes
Why the Water Sleeps

Steve Malley said...

Will you continue with the Shakespearean quotes, or maybe branch into Tennyson or his contemporaries?

Or is it at this point more about that rhythm and cadence uniting the titles?

cs harris said...

Barbara, good ideas. Weep is a great word. They probably wouldn't let me use "knights" because they'll say it sounds medieval.

Kim, Ooh, I like the word "maidens"! And not nearly as scary as "virgins".

Charles, you always have the most wonderful, evocative titles. I wonder if they'd let me use Camelot? Probably not--too woowoo or something.

Steve, I think it's more important to aim for a union in rhythm and cadence. I've been pouring over my Penguin Romantic Verse but nothing has struck me yet.

orannia said...

How about...When Sleepers Dream?

Don't know why the word sleepers keeps popping into my head, but I think it's from hearing The Lady of Shallot title and thinking of the scene from Anne of Green Gables (the Canadian TV series version :)

I'm useless with words (which is worrying considering my occupation :) so I'l keep thinking.

Pax Deux said...

I Like When Dawn Never Comes and Why Rivers Sleep

May I also suggest

What the River Fears

I borrow inspiration (can you say that in English?) from a line of A Poison Tree - a poem by William Blake

I was angry with my friend;
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.

And I waterd it in fears,
Night and morning with my tears:
And I sunned it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles.

And it grew both day and night,
Till it bore an apple bright.
And my foe beheld it shine,
And he knew that it was mine.

And into my garden stole.
When the night had veiled the pole;
In the morning glad I see,
My foe outstretchd beneath the tree.

Kim said...

How about a mix of Charles's title and mine?

Where Maidens Sleep
When Maidens Sleep

Barbara Caridad Ferrer said...

I was in the car, listening to the radio and the Who's "Love, Reign O'er Me" came on and I wondered if Reign was a word you could work with.

Something like When Legends Reign, maybe?

Or is "reign" one of those words that's going to scare marketing?

Queen Lizz said...

Since some of the former titles are dichotomies, of sorts - such as, What Angels Fear and When Gods Die. I thought that a legend would like most to be remembered. A good title along this vein might be, When Legends Fade.

Pax Deux said...

As I kept on thinking... and liking the suggestions of your readers, here are some more

What Rivers Remember

What Legends Forget

When Legends Forget

When Legends Lie

And now i am off to read Tennyson, who I haven't read in such a long time...

Anonymous said...

When Legends Fall

cs harris said...

Orannia, they probably wouldn't like another "sleep" title, which is too bad, since it would work nicely. So would "die", which I also already had.

Pax Deux, I hadn't thought about going with the river image. Hmm.

Kim, I think I still like your original Maidens Weep better.

Barbara, reign just might terrify them!

Queen Lizz, that's an interesting approach. And I LOVE When Legends Fade.

Melodyisapirate, I've been thinking about that one, too; I wonder if it's a good or a bad thing that it reminds me of Legends of the Fall?

Anonymous said...

Don't know what Legends of the fall is? but if it does remind you too much of it then I also like When Legends Fade

le fleur said...

When Lily Maidens Lie
Where Lily Maidens Ly

Reference to the Lady of Shollot; although it is a bit longer than your other titles.

I also like what others have suggested:
Why Maidens Weep (water reference)
When Legends Fade (follows your other themes).

By the way, I love the titles of your books and how you weave them into the story.

le fleur said...

ps. Just for interest sake I googled "lily maiden" and found this reference, which I thought was good:

“Like a lily among thorns, so is my darling among the maidens.” (Song of Songs 2:2)

Barbara Caridad Ferrer said...

Candy, yeah, you start getting a feel for what might freak marketing out, which is why I suggested reign with a grain of salt, as it were.

FWIW, I think When Legends Fade works really well within the context of what you've let us know of the story and fits well with the other titles.

I always have to have a working title too-- sadly, I suck at them, which is why I shamelessly steal from song titles.

Sarah McShane said...

When Legends Breath
Where Legends Breath
When Legends Live

You've got a lot of really good suggestions already. I like a lot of Charles' titles and I love Pax Deux's "What Rivers Fear" or "When Rivers Sleep", but both of those have words of your previous titles in them. Who knew three words could be so hard!

Anonymous said...

Hmm, this sounds fun ^^

When Legends Rise/Wake/Lie
What Sleeping Maidens Dream

>.> Now I see why it's hard for authors to come up with titles. Ah well *sigh* hopefully, you're getting ideas and inspiriation :)


cs harris said...

melodyisapirate, Legends of the Fall is a Brad Pitt movie from the 1990s.

le fleur, I like the idea of perhaps putting an adjective in their, and lilies does nicely evoke the Tennyson poem as well as that lovely line from the Song of Songs

Barbara, I also need to have my character names before I start plotting. Not sure why.

Sarah and Julia, I like your idea of going with the legends live/breathe/wake/rise image. And yes, titles are incredibly hard--and they are so important. Some people seem to have a knack. I flail.

Anonymous said...

I know I am missing the bigger picture here, but just wondering: who is Alfred?

BTW, the book could be called Book No. 7 and I'd still read it!

Queen Lizz said...

Candy, I am so glad you liked my suggestion of When Legends Fade. :) I just want you to know that I now own 9 of your books, including your non-fiction work, Women, Equality, and the French Revolution. I have been really busy with my family's genealogy research lately, and being of French descent, I thought that this book would be fascinating. Thanks for all of your literary contributions, as I am enjoying them tremendously. :)

Carey said...

Loving the Sebastian St Cyr Series

titles i thought of

When Legends Arise
Where Legends Arise
Why Legends Arise/Rise

Good luck lookn 4ward to the next instalment

cs harris said...

Anon, Sorry! That's what happens when I get to engrossed in what I'm doing and just assume everyone's on the same page as I am. I meant Alfred, the future Lord Tennyson.

Queen Lizz, Wow, you even have my French Revolution book? I hope you got it secondhand, because it now costs a ridiculous sum. Incidentally, I could easily become obsessed with genealogy. If only I had more time for it.

Carey, good ideas all. Thanks.

Firefly said...

Out flew the web and floated wide;
The mirror crack'd from side to side;
"The curse is come upon me," cried
The Lady of Shalott.

A wonderful poem indeed!!

A few thoughts on titles.

When Legends weep/wept//cry/cried
When Legends curse/are cursed
Why Camelot wept (a why rather that a when)

Whatever title that you decide upon Candy will I'm sure, compliment the book & its content greatly

cs harris said...

Firefly, have you heard Loreena McKennitt's version of the poem, set to music? It's beyond lovely. And I really like the "Legends Cry/Weep" angle.

cs harris said...

Thanks, everyone, for your wonderful suggestions. I will be offline until next week, but if you get any more ideas, please post them!

Susan/DC said...

I like Queen Lizz's suggestion a lot. It echoes the previous titles and is evocative in itself.

Agatha Christie had a book title taken from The Lady of Shalott: "The Mirror Cracked"

Lainey said...

I'm liking:
When Legends Fade
When Legends Weep.

And points for mentioning Loreena Mckinnett! Her voice is so evocative of your Sebastian series.

orannia said...

Ahh, I'd forgotten that sleep had already appeared.

Queen Lizz - I love your suggestion too!

A said...

When Legends End?

Anonymous said...

There are great title ideas already. Here are some I'd thought I throw out there for fun.

When Mirrors Curse
When Mirrors Deceive/Lie
When Whispers Curse
When Mirrors Crack
When Shadows Flee

Why Whispers Curse
Why Mirrors Crack
Why Mirrors Deceive
Why Shadows Flee

Who Defends the Web
Who Weaves the Web
Who Delights in Webs

Anyway...can't wait for the next book!!!!


Katie said...

Re-read "Lady of Shallott" and came up with:

What Legends Veil
Where Legends Echo
What Legends Weave
Where Legends Drift/Float

Virginia said...

You have used strong reverbs in the other titles—sing, dance, sleep, fear, die. What about "When legends speak."

Virginia Reyna

Firefly said...

No,I have not heard the Loreena Mckennitt's version of the "Lady of Shallot", however I will make a point of listening to it!

You have some super suggestions from your many readers. All the very best with the final title choice. I cannot wait for the next book, let alone the ones to come!!!!

Mai said...

When Kings Reign
When Maidens Lament
Why Blinds the Night
When Kings Fall
Who Maidens Spurn
When Sirens Call
When Sirens Rise
When Ravens Mock
When Legends Kneel

Too long and wrong, but worth a try--

For Whom Maidens Lament

Keira Soleore said...

Candy, what fun this blog and comments are.

Firefly, I really liked your "When Legends Weep" suggestion.

--When Legends Hide
--When Fables Die (though 'die' has been used)
--When Legends Die
--Why Legends Live
--Why Fables Survive

Somehow use "torrent" (but I can't make it work) to go with river imagery.

Keira Soleore said...

Mai, I really like your "When Kings Fall." Goes well with Candy's "When Gods Die" and "What Angels Fear" majestic titles.

Anonymous said...

How about

Who Legends Revile

Kim said...

More title possibilities:

Where Sirens Dwell

While/Where Maidens Rage

Where Legends Dwell/Roam

Why/While Legends Rage

Where Legends Cross

Upon a Maiden's Wing

Where Chivalry Died

While Legends Curse

Anonymous said...

When Legends Speak

When Legends Fall

Where Legends Live


cs harris said...

Thanks, everyone, for a bunch of wonderful suggestions. I plan to compile them all and post them.

Cathy said...

Why fell the Lady at Camelot.
Who holds the keys to Camelot.

I am rereading these books and waiting for the new Sebastian book to come out...waiting...

thank you for the great books!

cs harris said...

Cathy, thanks, I'll put them on my list. And Shadows is coming!

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