Saturday, February 12, 2011

What's in a name?

Captain's Conundrum, Captain in His Own Mind, Homeless Children. The first was suggested to me, and I like it best, the second, I contrived with much effort, and I don't like it at all, the third has long been the working title and will never be more than that.

Titles are not only necessary, but critical to the success of a book. It helps if a title naturally comes up in a variety of frequent searches. If a reader sees a book on a shelf, the title should reach out and grab him or her. But don't fool the reader with a title that connotes something it's not as I did with Danny's Dragon. Let it somehow reflect the contents of the book.

Yes, the right title is important, but with the latest book I've written, I'm still searching. I've never had this hard at time with a book I love. It was exciting to write,maybe my best yet, but no title ever suggested itself.

A junior high-school boy named Samuel Ellingsford Capulin III, who likes to call himself—and have others call him—Captain, lets his arrogance, temper, and acid tongue get him into serious trouble. Suspension from school and community service in a homeless shelter are prescribed to instill some humility and respect. An only child, Captain doesn't get along well with his father. But then Dad is gone most of the time as an airline pilot with a lot of intercontinental flights. Captains doting mother tries to take up the slack with over-indulgence.

Over time, his judgmental attitude toward homeless people begins to change. At about the same time, his world starts falling apart when he learns that his parents' marriage is in trouble and his mother is ill.

A homeless girl about his age and her baby sister add complications that grow exponentially the more he becomes involved with them.

Oh, I can't tell you more, though there is a lot more to tell. The question is, where is the title? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. If I get enough suggestions, I'll make this a contest that you may help me judge, with a free book as a prize to the winner.