Monday, June 7, 2010

Cherry Bomb? Saving Mare/Mary? Tagged? CALL FOR TITLES!

A couple of weeks ago, in my post on "A Good Blog is Hard to Find," I sent out a CALL FOR NAMES for one of the characters in my novel-in-progress. It was both fun and helpful receiving all the comments on the blog, on Facebook, on Twitter, and even a phone call I received from one enthusiastic supporter! As a result, I settled on "Mare" for the lead character (full name is Mary Katherine Henry at this point, but that's subject to change.) I had settled on "Emily" as the name for the abstract expressionist painter/professor, but I'm going to work "Mary" into her name somehow. (I actually have a plan for that, but it's part of the plot.) And the third character is historical: the fifth century prostitute-turned-desert hermit, St. Mary of Egypt.

And so here I am wrapping up chapter one and a page or two into chapter two, and I'm still feeling a little sluggish in my writing. I think it's because I don't have a TITLE for the book yet. I know the title could change during the course of writing the book, or in working with an agent or publisher, but somehow naming it will help the creative process, I think.

To that end, I just spent the morning looking over what I've written so far, and researching a few books and articles (including two of my own published essays) that deal with some of the subject matter explored in the novel, like:



childhood sexual abuse

abstract expressionism

graffiti art

psychological, emotional, and spiritual healing

And so I've come up with a few ideas and would love your feedback, on these ideas and any new ones you might come up with! Of course I Googled all of these to be sure there aren't already published books with the same names, and I did find three that had already been taken:-(

The Girl With No Shadow by Joanne Harris (author of Chocolat)

Colors of the Soul
by June McLeod (on color therapy and healing)

And the title I most wanted to use is "Cherry Bomb," which is a Jack Daniels thriller, so I wonder if I could use it anyway? Especially if I named it, "Cherry Bomb: A Novel," and it's in a different genre? (The reason I want to use it is because the graffiti artist in the book, one of the three main characters, uses "Cherry Bomb" to sign her graffiti tags, because the term "bomb" is often used to describe a graffiti piece, as in "the wall was bombed" with graffiti....)

So, here are the other names I came up with this morning. I know you don't know the whole plot (and I won't tell you) but I'd still love your input. DO keep in mind the three main characters all have "Mary" in their names. So, if you walked into a book store and saw a book with one of these titles, which one would you pick up, and why? Here goes: (in no particular order)

Broken Palettes
Splattered Images
The Hidden Palette
Tagged: A Novel
(when walls and trains, etc., are painted with graffiti, they are "tagged")
Painted Stories
Painted Windows
(icons are often called "Windows to Heaven")
Mary's Shadow (icons don't have shadows; and think shadows in a Jungian sense)
Saving Mare/Mary ("Saving Grace" is my favorite TV show)
Finding Mare/Mary (as in finding her authentic self)
Painting Mary (as in painting St. Mary of Egypt's image, her icon)

Please leave a comment! Thanks! Now, I've got the afternoon to clean up my writing sample for the 2010 Yoknapatawpha Summer Writers Workshop (June 18-20) where the first 12 pages of the book will be critiqued by faculty and participants, so bye for now. I'll check back later to see what you brilliant readers have come up with!

P.S. The bottom three images in this post are by contemporary graffiti artist, Shepard Fairey.


c.a. Marks said...

I'd like to know more of the plot first, but here goes:

Tagging Mare


A kind of homemade ink made for your homemade marker. The basic recipe involves shredding carbon paper and mixing it with alcohol and/or lighter fluid. Said to be almost as good as grocery store ink.

Found here:

c.a. Marks said...

On second thought, I don't think I like Homemade Ink - doesn't really tell me anything about the book. Ya know?

c.a. Marks said...

Like this one though,

Originally, "getting up" meant to sucessfully hit a train. Now it means to hit up anything, anywhere, with any form of graffiti, from a tag all the way up to a wildstyle burner -- although the term implies the process of tagging repeatedly to spread your name. Tagging something once would be getting up, but would not make you an "up" writer.

Getting Up could mean all and everything.

Laura said...

whew, graffiti art, ab ex, and iconography are a diverse group of art forms. I'd like a title that somehow refers to all of them.

I like the idea of "tagging," too.

Maybe Tagging Mary?

Susan Cushman said...

oooh, "Tagging Mary" could refer to what happens as Mare and Emily's spiritual worlds converge through St Mary of Egypt and iconography.... thanks, Laura. (Although I still like Saving Mary and Cherry Bomb....)

Carol: I think Homemade Ink is too specific to graffiti and that's only one part of the book (I know I know you said you want to know more of the plot)... "Getting Up" would probablyy only be recognized by graffiti world? But I might use some of the info re homemade ink in the book.

I'm leaning into "Tagging Mary." Gonna' check Facebook now and see if I got any more suggestions there:-) THANKS!

Anne said...

Iconography...St. Mary of Egypt...Graffiti...this sounds fascinating (my parents are Eastern Orthodox and I grew up with an icon of St Mary of Egypt in the kitchen...seems a very unlikely place for her to hang out, in retrospect)! I really like Cherry Bomb or Tagging Mary...

Lucy H said...

What about Splintered Images; Mare's Window; A Cherry Bomb Triptych; can you use the concept of "triptych?" Cherry Bomb: A Triptych;

Lucy H said...

What about Tagging Mare instead of Mary? Just throwing out the first things that come to mind. :) You know my daughter's nickname is "Mer" short for Mary Olivia.

Susan Cushman said...

Lucy: I love the triptych idea, especially, "Cherry Bomb: A Triptych," but I'm wondering how familiar the reading public is with the triptych idea? I'll throw it up on FB and see what kind of responses I get. It's intriguing!

Anne: I sent you a FB message... love discovering you and your blog and value your input! Thanks to both of you for commenting.

Discourse said...

Kh. Susan,
Tagging Mare/Mary may mislead some readers. I feel compelled to point out to you that "tagging" is sometimes negative sexual slang (my husband works in the city and I hear all the slang, almost foreign to me).
Out of the titles you listed, I like Saving Mare/Mary and Tagged: A Novel. Window Tag might be fun as well, incorporating the "windows to heaven" and "tag".
Here's a wiki with many more graffiti terms you might find useful, maybe you already have it-