Saturday, May 19, 2018

The Title's Not the Thing For Me

I can talk about titles in three areas.

First, my ancient Egyptian paranormals are all “of the Nile”. It’s my little inside nod to Mara, Daughter of the Nile, a YA by Eloise Jarvis McGraw, which I read in elementary school, and which inspired me to write my own Egyptian stories much later in life. It’s also a nod to “Princess of the Nile,” one of my all-time favorite 1950’s B movies with Debra Paget and Jeffrey Hunter.

And it’s a pretty good bet anyone searching for a novel set in ancient Egypt will correct identify my books as something they might be interested in.

When it comes to my scifi romance titles, I’m a bit all over the place frankly. My first published SFR was Wreck of the Nebula Dream, because really, what else can you title a novel about an interstellar cruise liner coming to grief?

Besides that book, my original plan was to title each book in some sort of alliterative fashion and include the name of the planet. This worked for Escape from Zulaire, Mission to Mahjundar and Trapped on Tlanque. Well, which is to say it worked for me. I was at a big conference early in my career as an author, doing a book signing, and met a number of my readers, which was fun and they were very excited about the books but after watching every single person have a problem with my tongue twister planetary names, I flew home and said, “Time for rethinking titles going forward.”

Then I hit upon labelling the series STAR CRUISE and having a short title after those introductory words – Outbreak, Marooned, Stowaway, etc. I think that strategy worked out all right.

When I was writing my story about kidnapped alien empaths forced to work for the interstellar mob (and how they escape and who they fall in love with), I went for sort of retro scifi titles – Danger in the Stars, Two Against the Stars, etc. This was my secret nod to Andre Norton, who inspired me to love science fiction and want to write it as my main genre.

Now, with my Sectors New Allies Series about genetically engineered warriors, the Badari, I’m following a current trend in the SFR genre of just giving each book the hero’s name as the title – Aydarr, Mateer and Jadrian (the latter to be released shortly, followed by Darik, Gabe and more titles yet to come, I hope!).

Yes, I am ALL over the place with titles. I don’t try to imbue them with any deep meaning or magic. I don’t agonize over them much (obviously). In my head I refer to them via a kind of shorthand or nickname anyway, which sometimes confuses people when I’m talking with them about my books.

Which brings me to the third bucket of titles – what do I label my Work in Progress files?

It varies. Are you surprised?

Sometimes I give a new book file the hero or heroine’s name as a working title. Sometimes that name changes but the file name never does. So for instance, JADRIAN began as Hadir, so that’s the file I open on my computer when I need to work on the manuscript.

Sometimes I give the file the planet’s name. I have one planet name that went through three iterations along the way but the file still has that original, first stab at a designation moniker.

Occasionally I give the file the name of the main concept of the plot.

There are times when I’m looking at my files and I have to laugh because anyone but me would have a hard time finding the right set of documents. Since no one but me needs to carry out that task, it works. I’ve always been a bit idiosyncratic in my filing methods, which used to drive my office assistants a bit up the wall when I worked at JPL. I’m not the most organized person in the world but I do have my own quirky structure underlying my efforts.

Works for me!

I can promise the book will always have a title when published. Fortunately Fiona Jayde provides me with gorgeous cover art (with a few of the earlier Egyptian covers from the incredible Frauke) so no one’s too focused on how the title parses anyway, right?