Last week, I mentioned that I have begun working on a story called Two Days before Christmas. Because this is a Christmas story, I have been listening to some “inspirational” music to get me thinking Christmasy thoughts. The song below is one of those songs that makes me want to get out the decorations or bake some Christmas cake. But, I don’t want to talk about that story in this post — although I will share an excerpt. No, today, I want to ask you a question.
JohnnyReidVEVO. “Johnny Reid – Waiting For Christmas To Come.” YouTube, YouTube, 24 Dec. 2009, youtu.be/wT9mJTYq-P8.
Do you ever judge a book by its title? This is a question I have been thinking about this past week. You see, I have a book coming out this Thursday. You’re probably familiar with the story if you have been reading my blog because the book’s title is With the Colonel’s Help, the story that just finished posting on Thursday’s a few weeks ago. We’ve now begun a new story titled Confounding Caroline.
Here’s why that book coming out and the new story that has started posting has me wondering if people judge a book by its title. My first reader, who happens to be my sister and the Jane to my Lizzy, asked me during our conference call where she told me about things she thought needed some attention — “Do you think people will pass over this story because of the title? Will they think it is a story about Colonel Fitzwilliam and not Darcy?”
She knows, from what I have told her about my sales figures, that Darcy and Elizabeth stories usually sell much better than any of my other stories. Darcy’s a favourite — which is understandable. He’s Darcy, after all. So, she has a point — she usually does. (She tends to be the annoyingly correct older sister at times 🙂 )
Adding to worry her question created, I read a comment somewhere from someone who saw a post about With the Colonel’s Help that said the person doesn’t normally read stories about the colonel. Hmmm… My worry may be well-founded. 🙂
There is a trend to give stories titles with Darcy in them, or so it appears from the number of titles that show up with that name in them when you do a quick search. Again, titles with Darcy in them tend to sell better from what I have observed and been told. (He’s a favourite. 🙂 )
It’s not my practice to include Darcy in a title unless that book is one of my Dash of Darcy book. For those books, I require myself to include Mr. or Mrs. Darcy in the title because I want the connection between book and collection to be clear.
But normally, I choose a title that contains a theme of some sort or highlights something important to the story. For example, the title With the Colonel’s Help lets the reader know that Colonel Fitzwilliam is instrumental in the story. He is actually the hero — not the romantic hero, that role is filled by Darcy, but the person who brings about the happy conclusion for Darcy and Elizabeth. Likewise, the title Confounding Caroline should let the readers know that Caroline is a problem that needs solving.
It might be of interest to note that even with my Dash of Darcy titles, I still have a theme referenced in them such as unravelling a character’s uptight manner or waking up to who someone is.
It’s important to me, as a writer, that my titles have a meaning, which is why I have chosen to keep With the Colonel’s Help as a title. Hopefully, when the book comes out, I will find out that I have worried for absolutely no reason. 🙂
Those are a few of my thoughts on why I name stories as I do. What I would now like to know is what you think about titles. Just drop your opinion in the comment section.
But, before we get to that, I suppose you would like an excerpt from what I wrote this past week? In fact, I am going to share everything I wrote this week because I only managed to get in one writing session — yes, one! It was a very low writing week for me! I was editing With the Colonel’s Help and getting that ready to publish, and I had an Austen Author’s post to get ready as well. My day on Austen Authors is tomorrow! I’ve got a different sort of giveaway going on, so drop by to see what that’s about. But thankfully, I still have the excerpt below to share with you.
AN EXCERPT FROM Two Days before Christmas:
Bingley’s brows furrowed. “But what if she smiles at every gentleman and not just me?”
“She has a tender heart,” Mrs. Annesley replied. “It is likely that tender-hearted lady fears being spurned more than others because she will feel it more grievously.”
Georgiana knew there was truth in what her companion was saying. “I know there are those among my friends who would not feel the weight of a refusal as much as I have,” she said softly and then shrugged. “Or perhaps they do feel it as much but rather than pain and sorrow it is displayed as anger and viciousness.”
“Quite true,” Mrs. Annesley muttered.
“You truly believe I should return to Netherfield?”
“Yes!” Georgiana blurted. “That is,” she continued, “if you still wish to see her wear that ring as your wife.”
Bingley let out a great sigh. “I have no greater desire.”
“Then go,” Georgiana encouraged. “And invite my brother and me for Christmas.”
Bingley’s brows furrowed. “I do not think that is a good idea.”
“Why?” Georgiana asked as the tea tray arrived. “Your sister will gladly go with you if she can be hostess for my brother.”
“It is not that,” he said as he took a small bite from an almond cake.
“Then what is it?”
Bingley swallowed his cake. “Your brother has told me of your ordeal in Ramsgate,” he began cautiously. “There is a militia encampment in Meryton.”
“I am not swayed by a uniform,” Georgiana said lightly. “Nor am I swayed by pretty words any longer,” she added more somberly.
“Wickham has enlisted.”
Georgiana’s mouth dropped open and her eyes grew wide. “Oh,” she said softly. A shiver of cold ran down her spine as she stood and walked to the window. She had hoped that when she heard his name uttered by someone other than herself, her brother, or Mrs. Annesley she would be able to do so with more composure than she currently felt. His being in Meryton would make going to Hertfordshire more challenging. It was not that she suspected she would be affected by him as she once was, but it was harder to forget the pain of rejection and your foolishness when faced with the source of both. She gasped and turned toward her companions. “Is he why my brother is so miserable?”
Bingley shook his head. “I do not think so. Although…” his left brow rose and his lips pursed as he considered the thought.
Georgiana’s steps were quick as she returned from the window. “Although what?” she asked anxiously. “What might Mr. Wickham have done that has injured my brother?”
“We met Wickham on our ride one day. Neither of us expected to see him. I was not as affected by it as your brother was.” Bingley paused.
“I know Fitzwilliam despises the scoundrel, as he should, but why would that make Fitzwilliam so miserable and only now, not while you were in Hertfordshire?”
Bingley tipped his head and shrugged. “That is the question, is it not?”
“Yes,” interjected Mrs. Annesley, who was sitting forward in her chair, listening eagerly.
“Wickham was not alone.”
Georgiana took a tentative seat on the edge of her chair as things started to become clear in her mind. “She was with him,” she whispered.
“If you mean Miss Elizabeth and her sisters, yes.”
“My brother likes her, does he not? She was mentioned in so many of his letters, and you said he danced with her.”
“As I told you yesterday, yes, I believe he has lost his heart to Miss Elizabeth.”
Georgiana flopped backward in her chair, not caring that it was not how a proper young lady was supposed to sit. “She must have refused him,” she said.
Bingley nearly choked on the tea he was drinking. “No, I do not think anything like that has happened, for I am certain my sister would have crowed over such a wonderful event.” There was a note of sarcasm in his voice as he said the last part.
Georgiana sat forward again. “Then why would he say he is never marrying?”
Again, Bingley nearly choked on his tea. “Never marrying? What?”
Georgiana shrugged. “It is what he said. I asked him if he had finally been trapped by your sister –“
Bingley guffawed. “Oh, he must be in a terrible state if you thought to ask him that!”
“He is,” Mrs. Annesley assured Bingley.
Georgiana nodded her agreement as she continued. “He assured me that nothing so horrid had happened and told me that he was never marrying. Of course, I replied, that he would someday, and he replied with a perhaps. A perhaps! My brother, who has always droned on and on about doing his duty and finding a proper wife, said he would perhaps marry! What?” she asked in response to the finger Bingley held up.
“A proper wife is not the same as a lady one wishes to marry,” he replied. “Miss Elizabeth is a gentleman’s daughter, but her father is of no great standing.”
“So?” Georgiana huffed. Her brother could be far too particular at times. She understood following rules and meeting expectations was important, but a gentleman’s daughter is a gentleman’s daughter. It was not as if her brother needed to marry an heiress or a lady whose father held a title. He had said so many times when the subject of marrying his cousin Anne de Bourgh was broached.
“She had an uncle in Meryton and one town.”
“Many people do,” Georgiana retorted. “I have an uncle in town — at least, I do when the House of Lords is sitting. And I have several uncles in the country that rarely come to town.”
“Yes, but none of your country relations are solicitors and your uncle in town does not live near Cheapside, nor is he a tradesman.”
“Oh.” That made a bit more sense. A tie to trade was not something that all of her relations would appreciate. “It is her uncle not her father,” she argued.
“So I have said,” Bingley replied.
“Do you know the name and address of this uncle in town?” Mrs. Annesley asked.
Georgiana turned toward her companion with the same look of shock that Bingley was giving her.
“I thought we might call on her,” said Mrs. Annesley. “To be polite and to find out a bit more about Miss Elizabeth.”
Georgiana tipped her head. “Do you think it would be beneficial?”
Mrs. Annesley took a sip of her tea. “I would think it would be wise to perhaps caution Miss Elizabeth about some of the members of the militia. Only, of course, if it seems that the aunt is close to her niece.” She placed her cup to the side and continued with a sly smile. “And it would not be such a bad idea to have some credible material about the fineness of Miss Elizabeth’s relations — provided they are indeed fine people — with which to refute your brother’s protests about why he cannot marry a lady he so obviously loves.”