Ask any writer where their titles come from for their work and you’ll get a thousand different answers from “It just came to me!” to “My publisher made me use this one.” As an author, I’ve had both happen to me, with several other scenarios for my titles scattered in between.


PRPFire Eyes 2 web

In my first book, FIRE EYES, the heroine’s name is Jessica—my own daughter’s name. She needed a name that she was referred to by the Indians, and my daughter had told me years earlier she wanted her Indian name to be FIRE EYES. So that was a given. And it worked out great! That story was the one that the title came easiest for, of all my books.

BUY IT HERE: http://www.amazon.com/Fire-Eyes-Cheryl-Pierson/dp/1499215452/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473745119&sr=8-1&keywords=Fire+Eyes&tag=pettpist-20




Fast forward to my first contemporary romance novel, Sweet Danger. The story takes place in a deli that has been taken over by a very dangerous escaped convict, Tabor Hardin, and his men. His hostages just happen to include an undercover police officer, Jesse Nightwalker, who put him away in prison—supposedly for life. One of the other hostages is Jesse’s neighbor, Lindy Oliver, who is the retired police commissioner’s daughter. They’ve just met and are minding their own business over a sugar ring when a hail of gunfire erupts and—well, y’all know how I love my wounded heroes, and Jesse is no exception. I had titled the story THE SUGAR RING. But I was told by my publisher that that title would have to be changed. Period. SWEET DANGER was born, and in retrospect, is a much better title.

BUY IT HERE: http://www.amazon.com/Sweet-Danger-Cheryl-Pierson-ebook/dp/B00KY8GGH4/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1473745201&sr=8-4&keywords=Sweet+Danger&tag=pettpist-20#nav-subnav

Titles should stick with the reader, be memorable, and make readers want to know more about the book.

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (Who would do that?)

SWEET SAVAGE LOVE (Tell me more!)Sweet Savage Love

SHANE (Who is this person?)


NOBODY’S DARLING (Maybe mine?)

THE GATES OF THE ALAMO (I’ve gotta know!)


HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE (Maybe I can learn something, here!)


LOST SISTER (Who was she and why was she lost?)

THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE (Who was he? Certainly not who we thought!)



TALES FROM THE OTHERVERSE (Where is this place, and what are these tales about?)

BUY IT HERE:http://www.amazon.com/Tales-Otherverse-James-Reasoner/dp/1519314272/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473745321&sr=8-1&keywords=Tales+from+the+Otherverse&tag=pettpist-20



The list goes on—but you get the idea. I know right now you’re thinking of titles you’ve read that have stuck in your mind—and the questions they’ve made you ask about those particular stories or books.

And I bet you’ve seen a phrase and thought, “That would be a great book title!” I know I’ve done that plenty of times. I’ve even written them down. Now, if I could only remember where I wrote them!

Another fun way to come up with titles is through a title generator. There are several of these online. They even have them for different genres: Sci-fi, westerns, fantasy…you name it. But they come up with some real doozies! Take a look at some of the ones a western title generator came up with for me:












These are mainly odd, funny titles, but the beauty of them is that they get your mind working in ways you might never have thought before—and adding and changing some of the words in some of these titles can make for a beautifully creative experience!

What are some of YOUR favorite titles, and why? Be sure to leave a comment for a chance to WIN A FREE COPY OF A KISS TO REMEMBER! Five wonderful western historical romances by Kathleen Rice-Adams, Tracy Garrett, Tanya Hanson, Cheryl Pierson and Livia J. Washburn!

(If you can’t wait to see if you won, here’s the link to buy A KISS TO REMEMBER!)


A Kiss to Remember

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A native Oklahoman, I've been influenced by the west all my life. I love to write short stories and novels in the historical western and western romance genres, as well as contemporary romantic suspense! Check my Amazon author page to see my work: http://www.amazon.com/author/cherylpierson
I live in Oklahoma City with my husband of 40 years. I love to hear from readers and other authors--you can contact me here: fabkat_edit@yahoo.com
Follow me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/cheryl.pierson.92


  1. The first title that popped to mind is my favorite book by my favorite author, “Jude the Obscure” by Thomas Hardy. It reflects everything about the story of a young man’s dreams and search for light, while mirroring the nature of life itself. The title isn’t just the main character’s name; it a metaphor for the whole novel. And life.

    ‘There is this advantage in being poor obscure people like us—that these things are done for us in a rough and ready fashion’ (5.1.19).

    The second book is also Hardy’s: “Far from the Madding Crowd.” On the surface it’s about English rural life rather than urban life (“madding” meaning “frenzied”). It’s also rather ironic in that all the things that happen despite location; and also because the title came from a 1751 poem by Thomas Gray titled “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard.” From the poem:

    Far from the madding crowd’s ignoble strife
    Their sober wishes never learn’d to stray;
    Along the cool sequester’d vale of life
    They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.

    For a romance western, another favorite: “Silver Lining” by Maggie Osborne. Right from the start a character named Low Down is treating miners for the pox. Is the silver lining the character, the journey of her story, both, more? And it starts with miners. Perfect.

    • Eliza those are great titles. You know one I’d forgotten about was Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence. You mentioned Thomas Hardy, and it made me think about her. What a wonderful book that was! And a perfect title. So many of those old titles from that era were ones that had an all-encompassing meaning–in more ways than one. MUCH thought given to those titles, for sure. I did not know that Far from the Madding Crowd” was taken from that poem–I learned something new today!

      Oh, and I’ve not read Silver Lining. It’s going on my list now! Thanks so much for stopping by–always love your comments!

    • Boxed sets are always kind of hard to name because you’ve got to consider so many things–the genre, the sub-genre, the era, the theme of the works (if there is any other than genre, etc.) and come up with something catchy that’s not been overused and will work for all the books in the set. Thanks for stopping by Janine!

    • Estella, I used to be able to remember both–just like with music, I had a brain for remembering artists and song titles. Boy, anymore, as I’ve gotten older, I do well to remember one or the other. LOL More often than not now, it’s “I wish I could remember the name of that story about that outlaw that…” LOL Thanks for commenting!

  2. I always loved “Gunpowder Tea” from Margaret Brownley. It makes me want to know if the tea actually has gunpowder in it!

    • That is a FANTASTIC title, Susan. So many of the Fillies here at Petticoats and Pistols have some wonderfully innovative titles for their stories–and they make you wonder “WHY?” in some capacity–which is the whole reason we want to pick up a book in the first place and find out the answers!

  3. I love Julie Cantrell’s “Into The Free.” I think that title shows strength and courage. Both great qualities!

    • Melanie, I’ve never heard of that one, but I LOVE that title, and just based on the title alone, I would buy that book and read it. Thanks for mentioning it. It’s a wonderful title and conjures up all kinds of images, doesn’t it?

  4. Cozies are always very clever but my first thought was The Flame and the Flower and Clan of the Cave Bear! But that could be because I loved the books too lol.

    • Catslady, The Flame and the Flower was one that came to my mind, too, and of course, The Wolf and the Dove! LOL I read those back-to-back and was so thrilled with those–the title fit well, didn’t they? Cozy mysteries always have such neat titles, don’t they? I admire anyone who can write in that genre–there is no way I could do it.

    • Kathleen, I agree, totally–Livia’s titles are all so exceptional and they can’t be easy to come up with! Titles truly are tricky little devils. And once you come up with one, then you have to wonder…”Is it good enough? Or should I have named it blah blah blah…” LOL

  5. Titles are the clichéd bane of my writing existence. 🙁 If a phrase from within my story doesn’t jump right out at me, then I’m in a world of hurt to come up with a title. It is a rare situation that I have a title when I begin writing. Now, speaking of how important titles are, here are links to unfortunate covers with titles that leave us muttering “hmmmmm”. Granted, these books were published years ago before the unfortunate connotations became what they are today, but my point is, when coming up with a title for our romances, it behooves us to contemplate innuendo and misinterpretation.



    • LOL OH MY GOSH, KAYE! These are just horrid titles! Thanks for sharing–I’m laughing still and probably will be for a good long while. (Moral of the story…don’t go into the woods…)

      You’ve got some excellent titles–The Comanchero’s Bride (a YUMMY story!)A Permanent Woman, For Love of a Brystile Witch…Lots of others, and some new ones headed our way in the near future, too!

      Yes, you are so right…”innuendo and misinterpretation” are NOT our friends! LOL Thanks so much for commenting!

  6. Gee nothing is popping into my head at the moment… I do enjoy some of the titles that are interesting and draw attention… but sometimes a title makes me wonder, if it doesn’t seem to fit the book.

    • Colleen, I know what you mean–if I read a book and am still wondering what does the title have to do with the story, I think maybe there’s something I’m just not “getting”, or maybe the author liked the way the title sounded and was determined to name a book that, no matter what.

  7. A Woman of Substances by Barbara Taylor Bradford always popped into my head when this question arises. Some of the subsequence titles that followed for this series didn’t make much sense to me, but this one certainly did.

    • Oh, that is a great title! I have heard of that book, but have never read it. I so enjoy reading the comments to a blog post like this, because well, can you ever have too many books to look forward to reading? LOL I’m adding to my list, and I’m not a fast reader, but much of the enjoyment is the anticipation! Thanks, Kathleen. A Woman of Substance should have been on my list long ago.

  8. Thanks for a fun post. I can see how it can be difficult to decide on a title. It is always interesting to hear how authors come up with their titles (Fire Eyes). I sometimes wonder why publishers change them and The Sugar Ring, Sweet Danger, is a good example of why it is done. Most of the time it is a good change, but I have heard of a few where the author’s working title was much better.
    Julie Garwood’s historical titles are short and perfectly descriptive of the story within – The Secret, The Prize, The Wedding, The Bride, Ransom, For the Roses, etc.

    • Patricia, sometimes it’s the hardest thing in the world to try and come up with a title–I think it’s from being so close to the story and sometimes having our minds set on what it “should” be or “should” have to do with…but when someone else reads they story, they may have a totally different idea that would be better than the original.

      Thanks so much for stopping by tonight! Oh, and I agree–shorter is better. LOL

  9. Several book titles have made me curious enough to buy them to find out what’s inside. Knight On The Texas Plains by Linda Broday, The Forever Tree by Rosanne Bittner, Find Her by Lisa Gardner, See Me by Nicholas Sparks, & King’s Ransom by Sharon Sala.
    I’ve always wondered where titles have come from that’s for this great article.

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