What's in a name?
Juliet: "What's in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet."
Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)
So I spent some time considering sweet Juliet's words this summer as my editor sent me an email requesting ideas for titles for my new book. My romance novel comes out in March (2019) and neither she, nor I, was crazy about my working title (Moon Over Marquette). I'd named my book Moon Over Marquette initially for three reasons.
First, I needed a title, even if it was only a working title. I couldn't refer to my manuscript as Novel Numero Uno.
Secondly, the book takes place in Marquette, Michigan. If you're not familiar with Marquette, it's located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. If you still don't know where that is, don't feel bad. I didn't know about the Upper Peninsula of Michigan until after I had accepted a job interview there. It was only then, when my dad and I pulled out a giant atlas and spread it open on the kitchen table, realized that the Upper Peninsula was an entirely separate land mass north of the mitten of Michigan. It is a place that has harsh cold winters (they measure snow fall in feet), sunsets hand painted by God and the nicest people you'll ever meet. I wanted to pay homage to the place where I'd worked and lived during my early adult years. But, I could pay homage by setting the location of my novel in Marquette rather than forcing it into my title.
And third, I just kind of liked the sound of Moon Over Marquette. I like the near alliteration and the way it sounded when I spoke it. It kind of sounded like the title of a sweet old-fashioned love song. But alas, it was not a good title for a romance novel. It wasn't romantic, nor did it hint at what the book was about. It makes a better name for a play, in my opinion. But not a romance novel.
And so my editor, the very lovely Kathryn Lye, asked me to brainstorm some alternate title names.
I had never had to think up title names before. And this was to be the title of my very first published book. It needed to be fantastic. It needed to be a culmination of everything I was as a writer. It needed to convey to a potential reader that this book would provide them hours of enjoyment and a love story worth their while.
No pressure or anything.
Kathryn, though, a pro when it came to things such as this, had touched on a theme in my book. It was a reunion story. In short, the story picks up after the hero and heroine have been reunited after twelve years apart. They've both lived a lot of life and both felt a lot of hurt during those twelve years when they first fell in love. Though the love is still there, the reasons why they can't be together again are almost insurmountable. Almost.
Kathryn suggested I look for titles that reflected the reunion theme. Her suggestion to get me started was the title "A Promise Remembered." I liked that one and struggled to come up with a title I like more. I opened the notes app on my phone and started keeping a list of title ideas. Once I came up with my top twenty (I wasn't sure if more was better for this exercise or not) I showed my husband. His discerning eye scanned the list as he tweaked my ideas, adding or losing a preposition here or an adjective there.
I sweated over my list for Kathryn. I was a writer, for goodness sake. I could certainly come up with a brilliant title. I'd written the entire book, after all. Didn't I, in that very long nine months, mull over at least one or two good title ideas?
Finally, late one night, I decided I couldn't tweak my list of suggestions any longer. I ranked my titles in order of my favorite to least favorite, held my breath, said a prayer and emailed it to Kathryn.
She responded the next morning that the list looked great! (I breathed a sigh of relief). She said she'd touch base again soon.
A couple weeks went by. I wondered which of the titles she liked the best. I struggled to even remember the titles I'd invented without referring back to my list.
And then one day, Kathryn emailed me again and said they really wanted to go with A Promise Remembered.
Phew. I responded that I loved it. And I did. I always had. And I still do.