book titles

Ok. This is all about looking for book titles.

I am not normally a person who has a hard time with book titles. The Strongbox Chronicles, though, are not easy for me to title. I’m now starting the 2nd trilogy of the series, which features a new main character, Carmen Davenport.

Before we go any further, let me encourage you to go read this post, so you have a sense of what I was trying to accomplish with the titles for the first trilogy.

Ok. Now that you’ve read that, I want to do the same essential thing with the second trilogy. I want a real-world starting point that builds up to a mythical creature. I didn’t mean to get this elemental thing going, but I have, so maybe that can be used. Lemme tell you a little about what I know about Carmen. There may be mild series spoilers ahead, so

Her element is earth. She was a soldier in the Iraqi war, injured in battle, came back mentally scarred and essentially fell through the cracks of society. She had an alcohol and drug abuse problem which (we believe) she has overcome as the series starts. She’s badly disillusioned the US and considers herself in most ways to be a soldier without a country. She was found, picked up, dusted off, and given a reason to live by characters from the first trilogy, and has now been embroiled in the Sicarii underworld for a few years.

She’s very grounded in the physical world. Scent, flavor, touch, are all a big part of what she notices and how she responds to things. I think this trilogy is going to be a little more traditional-romance (which is to say, I see something like a happily ever after at the end of it) than the first trilogy, which may or may not reflect in the trilogy’s titles. She acts because someone has given her a mission, not out of any particular personal will to do so. Part of her story will be about growing beyond that.

In personality, she’s been polished up, but she’s a military grunt. She speaks plainly and prefers action over thinking. I think she actually comes from a good family, possibly a very good family, but has basically rejected them, possibly out of a sense of noblesse oblige that drove her to enlist. She would like to prove herself on her own merits, but perhaps doubts she has any to prove herself on. She’s inherently distrustful, having been burned by VA benefits and the government in general. These are the things I know about her right now.

And as far as titles go, right now, I got nothing. I’ve never had titles for the second and third trilogies of the series. The fourth trilogy I kept throwing around OPERATION: TIMESLIP, OPERATION: MOBIUS and OPERATION: OUROBORUS (which falls out of the elemental thing but keeps with the ordinary to extraordinary. Not that they will *ever* let me use ‘ouroborus’ in a title, I’m pretty sure. Still. Possibly seeing those will help somebody somehow.)

The same offer stands as last time: if anybody manages to come up with a title we end up using, I’ll send you a copy of the books when they’re done, as thanks. :)

BTW, and , I owe you copies of the original trilogy, for coming up with titles for me. You want me to send them now (or when I get copies of FIREBIRD, more likely), or wait til the 3rd book is out in December?


  1. shadowhwk

    The thing that immediately came to mind is Golem. Stone elemental, defender, protector, definitely a supernatural thing. May be a bit too mindless but there are different takes on how they work.

    Gargoyle? Again with stones, but as they have wings, they may be too air-associated.

    And then I go to ground critters.


    Just some thoughts.

  2. sionainn

    Following your previous trilogy naming scheme of “The ____________ Something about previous ________” and since this new heroine is very sensual (i.e. sense-driven)… it would naturally fall that her trilogy have titles referring to the senses. From the more concrete sense of taste to a sixth sense perhaps? Or seventh? Perhaps also tie in the actual first ___blank___ to an earth element. Metal, minerals, gemstones…

    Gemstones…… hmmm.

    The Amethyst Spice (taste)

    The Bloodstone Scent (scent, duh)

    The Moonstone Voices (hearing)

    The Tigereye Seeing (seeing or “seeing”)

    Those title suggestions pretty much suck. But that is what I came up with after 3 whole minutes of thinking about it. Maybe it will help spark something. *shrug*

  3. rain_girl_ak

    With earth as the element, my first thought was a progression of stones including garnet & ruby (but I don’t know what a third could be). The red would tie in with cardinal, firebird & phoenix. Except from what you’ve said above, Carmen is becoming more flexible, so it doesn’t quite fit.

  4. ellenmillion

    I totally thought of gollem, too, and I dig the ‘senses’ theme.

    Something like:
    Taste of Earth/Rock/Stone
    Sound of Gollem
    Touch of Gaia

    Or… something along those lines. Trying to keep with the normal to supernormal theme, too. Actually, I like ‘Sound of Stone,’ but I really don’t like ‘Taste of Golem.’ Maybe Sight of Golem.

  5. shadowhwk

    These appeal to me, also, because you’ve got the Desert Storm/Iraqi/sandy environment thing. It pulls in sensation and…

    I’ll stop justifying.


  6. de_vany

    I like the gemstones idea – maybe the more “stony” ones though – like Jade, Obsidian, Onyx, etc. And since Carmens’s a warrior by trade, maybe there could be weapons in the titles? eg

    Obisidan Blade
    Jade Arrow
    Serpentine Curse
    (Apparently there’s a stone called “Serpentine” – you learn something new every day!)

    Obisidan blades were used by the Aztecs in human sacrifices, supposedly for the good of their people. Talk about taking one for the team! Arrow – I dunno – allusion to a missile? Bullets don’t sound nearly so poetic. And the curse can be the more supernatural thing???

  7. jcberk

    My immediate thought for mythical earth creature was the basilisk. And I second the scorpion thought, particularly relating to the desert Carmen fought in. Conveniently, basilisks and scorpions were both said to like dry places and make their victims hydrophobic, so they might be sufficiently related for your progression to work.

    How about –
    The Spider Snare
    The Scorpion Strike (or maybe Strikeforce)
    The Basilisk Rendering (in both “image” and “take captive to a foreign country” senses)

    No idea if any of those fit your plots…

  8. ysarndrax

    My apologies in advance…many partial thoughts that probably aren’t spelled right…but maybe this will propel others to great ideas.

    How about the use of metals?
    Iron => Steel => Adamantite (Adamantine)
    (Basic) (Adv. composite) (magical/mythical)
    I thought these went well with the soldier, warrior, paladine from above.

    Or maybe
    stone – granite – crystal
    bronze – silver – gold (silver – gold – platinum)

    Snake – Viper – Serpent

    I was thinking Giants, cockatrice, chimera, golem…but not sure.

    The Alisha books have Rule, Deception, and Law after them so…

    task (operation), mission, quest

  9. veilofgrace

    Dunno if you want to stay with the animal/color scheme you have with the first trilogy. Keeping to the desert is going to give you a bunch of fire-related beasties.

    I thought maybe you’d want to go the other direction. Since she’s kind of a desert herself in the beginning, she’ll have to ‘blossom’ in order to grow (and blah blah blah). Plus we have the romance and sensual angles. So maybe…

    The Sage Directive (I think the rose is the national flower of Iraq, but people usually think red when they hear rose, sooo…tried to think of something common and mild)
    The Lotus Alternative
    The Eden Decision

    Dunno about the two ‘tives, one right after the other… :T But there’re my thoughts. :)

  10. cyranocyrano

    I like the warrior progression, but I keep trying to get Ronin as the first stage, and then I get stuck. Ronin/Knight/Paladin possibly? But ‘Ronin’ is very Japanese despite fitting her situation. Ronin’s Duty, Knight’s Desire, Paladin’s Destiny.

    As far as the first trilogy I was going to say just wait but I want to read them NOW. And if I have you wait I’ll end up buying my own copies first. (:

  11. rmd

    earth things?

    i can see starting with slate. slate’s something you build with. not a lot of personality, but it’s a substance you can defend on. or flint — you make simple tools and/or weapons with it.

    middlewise, maybe bronze — you build with it and make tools and weapons, but it makes decorations, too. it’s malleable and can be cast from one thing into another. it’s literally forged.

    and then, diamond. it’s carbon, a simple element, but changed from simple organic matter and cruft into something incredibly hard and beautiful and valuable.

  12. mizkit

    No, actually, that was the first thing I thought, too, when I read this, that the scarab thing was a really nice way to go, especially because this particular character’s field is going to be the Middle East (whereas Alisha’s is basically Europe). So yeah, that’s a really nice place to start.

    And I cannot *believe* I hadn’t thought of golems, but I totally didn’t. Dur.

  13. mizkit

    Fortunately, I’m in such early stages I can work the plot to fit the titles, at least to some degree. Hoo hoo, hm. Boy, you guys are all real cool. :)

  14. mizkit

    *laugh* Email me your address (I know I’ve had it at some point, but I don’t seem to right now) and I’ll send you the first two books as soon as I get copies of FIREBIRD, and then the third at the end of the year. :)

  15. madmiss

    I was thinking of something along those lines…
    Except I was going for the more
    Coal to Diamond progression.

    Well if it starts off with clay… it could be
    The Golem Formation
    The Coal Disguise
    The Diamond Exposition

    ick.. i’m not very good at this!

  16. drivingblind

    This has my vote, by dint of being very much the direction I would’ve gone in.

    That said, some of your titles suggest more a sort of activity or event in the second half, right… Cardinal Rule, Firebird Deception.

    Essentially you’ve got (Element) (Event) as your template. My sole worry with the Soldier/Warrior/Paladin is that that trio lives in a different “scope” than Rule/Deception/etc

    Unfortunately, I’m not sure where that takes me, at least as I chew on it.

    Another way to go with the element side of it is by a gradual firming up progression — perhaps signifying an overall increase in the character’s resolve, inner strength, whatever. I’m talking about going on a progression like Sand -> Stone -> Granite

    If we’re keeping the Soldier/Warrior thing, I might set aside Paladin for Knight, if only because I think ‘Paladin’ is a little gamer-geeky of a vibe. A D&D bias, yes, but ther it is.

    Throw those together and you get Sand Soldier, Stone Warrior, Granite Knight. Not awful. :)

    Ah — as to your question — send ’em in December. I like whole sets!

  17. drivingblind

    Mmm, these are interesting — going from formulation, to established secret, to revelation…

    I’m still stuck on my Sand -> Stone -> Granite progression from above, so riffing off this set of things — which is a little more to my liking as something in keeping with the first trilogy — we get …

    The Sand Formation
    The Stone Disguise
    The Granite Revelation

    … Not shabby. I like that second-half trio; I’m tempted to screw with the elements some more, but possibly in a way that breaks the format suggested by the first three …

    Forms of Sand
    Guises of Stone
    Revelations of Granite

    Mmm… Mess with that a bit…

    Forms in the Sand
    Disguises in the Stone
    Revelations in the Granite

    Forms of Sand
    Guises of Stone
    Revelations of Obsidian

    That’s all I got

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