Title Reveal Tuesday (Take 2)

Katherine Longshore 11 Tuesday, August 30, 2011

We interrupt our regular programming for this important bulletin.

This week are supposed to be talking about “artist dates.”  My perfect date is popcorn and a movie, neither of which I get very often.  I’m boring that way.  So instead, I’ve decided to make an announcement.

If you have been paying close attention (and it's okay if you haven't), you will have noticed that my profile has changed here, on twitter, on Facebook, and over the Apocalypsies blog. What has changed, you may ask?

My title. Again.

Some of our old loyal followers may remember a post I did back in March of this year, about the struggle I went through to find a title. I'll repost it here, so our new loyal followers can get the idea.

I write terrible titles.  The worst.  Give me 80,000 words to write and color me happy, but limit me to one to five?  And I’m stuck.

My book is going to be published next year.  When I first started writing it, I called it UNTITLED CATHERINE HOWARD.  Original, yes?  Just like writing the first chapter, I can’t write a title until I know what the book will be like.  That’s what makes it so hard for me to start writing a book.  Without a title and a first chapter, what do you have?  Not much.

The first conference I took the book to, I threw on a title at the last minute before hitting print.  The title I chose?  CAT’S CRADLE.  I thought, Catherine Howard (Cat) gets herself into a mess of trouble – like she’s tied herself up in her own web.  Like a cat’s cradle.  I completely forgot that Kurt Vonnegut already wrote that title.  And as the critique-group mediator pointed out, the book is narrated by someone else. 

So I changed it to CAT’S SHADOW.  My protagonist not only falls into the shadow of Catherine Howard, she also follows Cat like a shadow.  Clever, right?  No, boring. 

Somehow, even with such a dire title, I managed to score a fabulous agent in Catherine Drayton.  And she came up with a title that made me tingle and wish I were that clever:  GILT.  Because gilding covers something in a veneer of gold to make it look rich and beautiful – a bit like Cat.  And because guilt plays a major role in the development of several characters.

We sold the book with that title.  Announced it with that title.  And then it was pointed out that perhaps gilt and guilt were too easily confused. 

So I’ve been riding on the e-mail-go-round with my agent and editor for the past four months – circling faster and faster as we got more frustrated (and I got more desperate).  I don’t mind admitting that most of my ideas were shot down quickly:  too boring, too literary, too long, too archaic, doesn’t say anything about the book.  My family started suggesting titles like:  WE COULDN’T THINK OF A TITLE FOR THIS BOOK SO WE’RE NOT GOING TO CALL IT ANYTHING. 

I spent long car trips shooting ideas at my captive audience – my family.  I spent an hour on the phone with my husband while he drove back from a meeting.  I went through the manuscript.  Twice.  I read Tudor poetry and Catherine Howard’s letters and Shakespeare (though he didn’t write until 50 years after the action of the novel).   And it wasn’t just me.  My agent came up with ideas at the beach.  My editor, Kendra Levin, had long conversations with colleagues at Viking.  The Muses fired off titles in e-mails.  Other writer friends sent lists of key words.

We kept circling the idea that the Tudor court was a great, gaudy, glittering show – all bright colors and extravagant jewels and ostentation.  And then when my characters get there, they are consumed by it all.  Trapped.  We wanted a title that sparkled, but carried with it a hint of danger.

So last week, after a long discussion with Regina Hayes, Kendra came back to us with a title we finally agreed on.  The relief in our e-mails was palpable. 


A few weeks ago I got a call from my agent. She didn’t ask if I was sitting down, but her voice carried that tone. “Katy,” she said, “they want to change the title.”

I may have shrieked, “What?!” But she tactfully ignored me. And before palpitations set in, she added:

“To GILT.”

I was caught somewhere between laughing and crying, though the crying was more from relief than from any other emotion.  Because I love this title.  I always have.  It is, perhaps, the reason finding another title was so difficult.  So I’m happy.  And now I can’t wait to see the cover.


I actually think I like Gilt - sounds like an interesting book!

So TOTALLY LOVE THAT TITLE. So glad it got changed back. :)

Congratulations! Glad the tense moment paid off!

It's a perfect title, Katy, and I can't wait to see the cover either!

LOVE this story! GILT absolutely sings with intrigue. I, too, cannot wait to 1) see the cover, and 2) (duh) read the book!

LOVE the new/old title Katy! Congratulations!

It IS the perfect title! And it's not just you with problems with titles. I think Sarah Dessen has the same trouble, as do many of the rest of us.

When will we get to see the cover?

It IS the perfect title! And it's not just you with problems with titles. I think Sarah Dessen has the same trouble, as do many of the rest of us.

When will we get to see the cover?

That is actually a great title. New follow. Stop by my blog sometime!

Tia @ Falling For Books

Thanks, everybody! So nice to get feedback. I love it, too.

And Beth, I don't know when we'll see the cover, but I'm having fun imagining it!

Much the best possible title! Love it! Easy to remember, and won't get confused with Girl With A Steel Corset. LOL

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