Thursday, April 30, 2015

Titles—Agony or Epiphany? by Gail Kittleson

Gail Kittleson
I hear titles in ordinary conversation every day. My memoir title came in a flash, on an evening flight from Des Moines to Colorado.

“We’re catching up with daylight,” another passenger exclaimed, and I thought, “That’s the story of my life.” 

But other titles don’t appear so easily, so I did a little research about this all-important banner on every book’s cover.

Ane Mulligan: I type whatever comes to mind, no matter how bad. One idea sparks another, and another, until you finally find what works. :)

Ruth Logan Herne: the story’s emotion inspires the title. "Red Kettle Christmas" was perfect for an industrious Salvation Army bell ringer and a WWII vet/NYPD cop.
"Try, Try Again" is a marriage reunion story.  And "Safely Home" for a Minneapolis cop who thought she'd never go home again, yet, here she is, fresh out of an abusive relationship.

Alison Stegert wrote a YA ghost story about a high school photography field trip to a historic cemetery. Weird things happen to some teens when they develop their photos...no matter what they do, they can't get rid of a certain ominous photo.
“One day I drove out of shade into blazing sun and needed my sunglasses. Photophobia popped into my head. I had my title!”

Dina Sleiman’s YA series Valiant Hearts—tough heroines in traditionally male roles—captures the heroine’s cover expression and indomitable spirit: Dauntless,reduced from Dauntless Love. Dina’s advice—“Don’t get too attached to your working titles.”

Lee Carver: Make your title brief, powerful and reflecting the genre. An agent once insisted on "Love" or "Romance,”, even though my books many friends wanted "Hijack" in the title, but that was a 3-chapter subplot, so we agreed on Love Takes Flight. It's so much more than a romance novel, and I feel it turns off male readers.
         My WWII novel, A Secret Life, involves hidden identity, romance, battlefield scenes, and Jewish persecution. The title fits on so many levels as the protagonist has dual citizenship and conceals his American background and U.S. sympathies.”

Sara Goff’s friend came up with her debut novel’s title, I Always Cry At Weddings—right to the key emotion.

Rachelle Rea: On my way to college my sophomore year, I heard this sparkly, cymbal-y sound at a song’s beginning. I remember thinking, The Sound of Diamonds, and spent the summer writing and figuring out what that title meant.”

I often try three or four working titles before finding the ONE. My first World War II novel started as A Time For Flowers, since my beleaguered heroine found joy in her garden.
But my final pick, In Times Like These, an old hymn title, fits the overall plot and story emotion far better. Still, I had fun creating a one-sheet with Addie and her victory garden vegetable basket!

Thanks, authors, and I hope you’ll share your favorite titles, or helpful title-creation ideas.

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Catching Up With Daylight invites readers on a journey into contemporary and historical women's lives, interweaving the author's own story, biblical insights and encouragement from the ancient mystics. Kittleson shares a simple Benedictine meditation process called Lectio Divina that revolutionized her prayer life. Why shouldn't Protestants use this tried-and-true method, too? This memoir is set in small-town Iowa after her husband's second deployment and during the renovation of a really old house. Readers may ponder its everyday anecdotes sequentially or use them as "bathroom reading" to cheer the mundane hours of an ordinary day.
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About Gail: Sometimes we learn what we've done only after we do it. I wrote my memoir Catching Up With Daylight over a ten-year period, but learned the term "spirituality writing" only after the book was published. Figuring things out after the fact is a life theme for me, but even though it isn't the easy road, I learn a lot in the process. My very patient husband (37 years) and I live in St. Ansgar, Iowa, where a small creative writing class meets in my home, and we enjoy our grandchildren. I facilitate workshops on creativity/memoir writing/aging with grace. My first fiction release with Vintage Rose, titled In This Together, will be released sometime in 2015. 

Connect with Gail at http://www.gailkittleson.com/ and www.facebook.com/gail.kittleson

17 comments:

  1. Fun, Gail. My story is about an actuary and a marketing rep, two extreme opposites. My title was Opposites Distract. My publisher feared people would think, Opposites Detract, since the negative word detract rhymes with attract. So the title became, Calculated Risk, playing on the financial risk actuaries evaluate and the probability these two extreme opposites will get together.

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    1. Oh, that makes sense. But your first idea was SO good, too. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. The title for my January 2016 release is A Reluctant Melody. It came to me pretty quickly and represents the hero and heroine's reluctance to hear that romantic melody playing in each of their hearts. **wiping tears** :)

    I have issues with series titles. Nothing I ever come up with sounds good to me. I try to go by what the books have in common, but am never happy. Any ideas, Gail?

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  3. I've heard titles in overheard conversations, too. Most didn't fit my novels, but I've "given them away" to friends. LOL Brainstorming is a fun way to get titles. The novel I'm working on right now is titled Lost in Chapel Springs. It suits Lacey's storyline.

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    1. Brainstorming is great, Ane. I sometimes call my crit partners for ideas, and often they come through for my manuscripts.

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    2. Okay, I hope the comments I've written so far come through, but am not sure. I'm coming up with nothing for my WWII series, Sandy. I think it's because I'm a detail person and seeing the overall picture is tough sometimes, but I like what Ane said below about brainstorming, and Joy's about scripture, and Zoe's story about the gradual development of her titles. Thanks for stopping by, everyone, if my comments on your individual posts fail to come through.

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  4. My titles have come from Scripture (current WIP one example) have come through brainstorming, have come through portions of song titles, and one came from God Himself - I couldn't figure out why the title wouldn't let go and I came to two different places in the story that brought the title to life - NOW THAT WAS AN EXCITING 'AH-HA" MOMENT! I love the title of your memoir, Gail! Blessings.

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  5. A fun post, and useful as well. My current WIP has the working title "Retreat to Shelter Creek," but it probably isn't dramatic enough a title for some future publisher to keep. It does tell the story of a woman, wounded by her husband's infidelities, who goes to a small Texas town to help her grandmother through chemo and figure out what comes next. The plot was inspired by the tragic experience of our daughter.

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    1. Wow. I'd like to hear more of that story, Lee. Will you write a sequel, Lee? B/c if you did, w/an overall title about Shelter Creek, like Ane has for Chapel Springs, maybe Retreat to Shelter Creek would work, after all?

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  6. Great post, Gail, and I appreciate getting to know you a little better. Titles can be a challenge, so it's good to hear how others arrive at theirs.

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    1. Thanks, Kathleen. I'm so glad I could join your blog today--feel like my "writing friend" circle is enlarging, and that is ALWAYS a good thing.

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  7. Fun post, thanks for including me :)

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    1. I really like your whole series title, and the way the individual books FIT, Dina.

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  8. Love the title of your memoir, Gail. Sometimes titles come to me fairly quickly based on the series like Harmon Heritage, about three siblings who struggle to find healing after their celebrity athlete father's suicide two decades earlier. I settled on Rori's Healing, Beck's Peace, and Burk's Surrender, my first books with names in the title. Other times it's days of flinging around various combinations of words until one combination pops. Fun post, Gail!

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    1. Those titles sound so fitting, Dora. Healing, Peace, Surrender, in the wake of a parental suicide. I once wrote a book for survivors, and those three elements are so essential.

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  9. What a playful yet important post! Thanks, Gail!

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    1. Nice to see you here, Sara. How was your birthday yesterday?

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