Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Title Woes

Oh, dear! My working title for Sebastian book number eight, Who Bells the Cat, has just been given a big thumbs down.

Needless to say, I am disappointed. I really, really liked that title. Not only that, but I now have three weeks--in the middle of the holiday season, preparations for a wedding, and all sorts of out-of-town guests arriving--to come up with a new title.

Suggestions are welcomed, encouraged, begged. What's the book about? Well, without giving too much away, the murder victim is a nasty old diamond merchant. Kat's husband--Russell Yates--is accused of the murder. The Hope diamond--which actually once formed part of the French Crown Jewels until its theft during the Revolution--figures prominently. The victim was a devote of magic and dabbled in the black arts.

Oh, and there's a black cat.


Beth said...

"Kat's husband--Russell Yates--is accused of the murder."

No conflict there, oh no! :-)

paz said...

I like Russell Yates. There. I said it. I imagine him as a cross between the actor Rupert Everrett and the UK TV decorator Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen.

My toss into the title ring: Where/Why/How/ Hope cast its spell.

Jessica said...

How about "When Hope was Lost" (or Found or...)??

Anonymous said...


How about: "When his pulse failing", from the poem "Farewell to Love" by Michael Drayton. Those words evoke death (appropriate for a murder mystery) and the whole poem reminds me of Sebastian's love for Kat:

Since there's no help, come, let us kiss and part,
Nay, I have done, you get no more of me,
And I am glad, yea, glad with all my heart,
That thus so cleanly I myself can free.
Shake hands for ever, cancel all our vows,
And when we meet at any time again
Be it not seen in either of our brows
That we one jot of former love retain.
Now at the last gasp of Love's latest breath,
When, his pulse failing, Passion speechless lies,
When Faith is kneeling by his bed of death,
And Innocence is closing up his eyes,
Now, if thou wouldst, when all have giv'n him over,
From death to life thou might'st him yet recover.

Charles Gramlich said...

Although I like Who bells the cat, it sounds more like a young adult book maybe.

Charles Gramlich said...

Hum, I'm thinking of titles, but nothing much seems to be coming to mind.

Who knows the darkness within


Who carries the darkness within

Where Lies the crown

Who Kills for the Crown

alas, that's about it.

Jane said...

How about "Where the Stone Lies"
or "When Mockingbirds Lament"?

Something along those lines.

Jane said...

Or, alternately "Where the Water Runs Deep".

Possibly inspired by Shakespeare, c. 1590, in Henry VI, Part 2, act 3, sc. 1:

Smooth runs the water where the brook is deep;
And in his simple show he harbours treason.

Anonymous said...

If you want to keep to the cat theme:
Where/When Cats Prowl
Where/When Cats Lie
What/When Cats Spy

cs harris said...

Beth, yes!

Paz, I like Yates, too. He's a fun character.

Jessica, yes, I've been puzzling on a way to use "hope"

HJ, thank you for this! What a lovely poem. I can't believe I'd never seen it before. And you're right, it's perfect.

Charles, my editor thought it sounded like a cozy, so I guess she was onto something.

cs harris said...

Thanks, Charles; I think this one is going to be hard.

Jane, thank you.

Lesley, I suspect she wouldn't like anything with "cat" in it!

Liz said...

Where Hope Lives? Or perhaps Dwells. Yes, Where Hope Dwells that's a bit more poetic I think.

Susan/DC said...

Or take another part of that lovely Michael Drayton poem and use "When Passion Speechless Lies" (I'd definitely pick that off the shelf in a bookstore) or "When Innocence is Closing Up His Eyes" (although the latter is a bit too long for a book title).

I too like Russell. He may very well be capable of murder, however. Rupert Everett is a good way to envision him: a gay man who actually likes women (just not that way).

Anonymous said...

How about something like Diamonds in the Rough

Barbara Caridad Ferrer said...

Candy, what about "What Immortal Hand" from Blake's The Tyger?

Since you have Hope Diamond figuring so prominently and black arts, "immortal" would seem to fit.

Katie said...

That's too bad! I really liked that title too. I didn't think it sounded young adult or cozy at all. To me it "rang" of mysteriousness and sounded so intriguing.

Phrases with hope that come to mind or I found:
"hope springs eternal"

""Hope" is the thing with feathers—" from the Emily Dickinson poem (However, that's American and later, so I doubt it would work)

"Oft expectation fails, and most oft there
Where most it promises; and oft it hits
Where hope is coldest, and despair most fits."
All's Well That Ends Well (II, i, 145-147) - from Shakespeare, so a more likely candidate

Those aren't really titles so much as phrases that hopefully might be helpful. I'll have to think about it some more.

Katie said...

As an opposite, I thought of the word "curse" because of the Hope Diamond. However, I couldn't find anything good that paired "curse" or "curses" with why, what, where, or when.

Jess said...

Although the "Hope Diamond" wasn't known as the Hope until the 1830s, it was known as the Le bleu de France, or French Blue.

Going off that...

What Crown of Blue

When Conjures Blue/
Who Conjures Blue

When Blue Enchants

What Darkest Blue/
Where Darkest Blue

(Darkest also referring to the black arts)

And along the dark arts, or "devilry"...

Where Devil's Curse

Where Devil's Lie

What Dark Betrays

I have a much healthier respect for thinking up titles now! No matter what title, I'm looking forward to any book in the series.

Essex said...

Hmmm. Titles are so difficult.
But I appreciate how you throw it out to your fans. It is fun, and makes us feel like we are a part of the creative process.
It makes me feel very inadequate, though. The harder I think about it, the less creative I become!

What Darkness Brings
When Demons Dream
What Darkness in Diamond
( tried to keep some alliteration- seen in some of your other titles)
What The Cat Saw( being silly)

I like a lot of the suggestions though.
Best of luck . And the best of holiday wishes to you and yours.

libraryeducator said...

Where light radiates (playing off the diamond theme)?

Meg said...

On the 'hope' theme, I like "Where Hope Lies," mostly because I enjoy the ambiguity in the possible meanings of 'lies.'

oldcelt said...

I like 'Where Hope Lies'.
Perhaps 'When Hope Lies"

cs harris said...

Liz, I do like Where Hope Dwells. Thank you.

Susan, I was thinking of When Passion Lies, too!

Anon, Diamonds is always a great word.

Barbara, Ooh, I like that!

Katie, I do like Where Hope is Coldest!

cs harris said...

Jess, I hadn't thought of trying to use Blue. Good idea.

Essex, I get especially frustrated when they nix my titles at the last minute like this. Thanks for your input, and have a good holiday!

Library, thank you; I'm always amazed at how people come up with angles that never occurred to me.

Meg, I like that!

Oldcelt, both good ideas. Thank you.

Eric Niderost said...

My name is Eric Niderost, and I am a fan of your work. i also appreciate your background, since I teach history. I have a question about getting into book publishing-- if you google me, it will spit out some dozen pages of(magazine) credits--ah, but not fiction! How may I best e-mail you? mine is and thanks for providing all of us so many hours of entertaining reads...