I got email from my editor today, who is really enjoying OPERATION: CARDINAL, but who doesn't like the title at all. (Which, as someone said, is much better than the other way around!)
So I believe I'm looking for title suggestions at this point. I'm going to put some of my thought process behind the working titles behind the cut tag, and perhaps people will be able to help some! And if somebody hits on a title that Matrice likes and goes with, I'll send 'em a copy of the book when it comes out. :)
This was the email I sent to Matrice:
I've been going with a couple thematic ideas with the title(s). My working titles for a trilogy starring Alisha have been Operations Cardinal, Firebird and Phoenix. That progression moves in a number of different ways: first, on the most basic level, it goes from something firmly anchored in the real world (a cardinal) and as Alisha learns more about the clandestine superpowers manipulating both her and the world she's involved in, it moves toward the firebird, which is inherently a more fantastic idea. Ultimately, in the third book, as Alisha's firmly entrenched in this whole new layer of espionage on the global scale, it becomes the phoenix, an entity of impossible dreams whose reality is based in a wholly different place than where Alisha began.
Second, as you've seen already, there are some direct tie-ins with the Cardinal idea in the first book. The second introduces a new airborne AI drone called a Firebird, the existence of which will bring more of the world Alisha's getting involved in to light. In the third book, the Phoenix is representative of several things, the first of which is (spoiler). As I see the third book as being the point at which Alisha divorces herself from the CIA, she also becomes a phoenix in her own way, very possibly staging her own death near the end of the book so that she can be reborn as an agent of a higher order.
Third, although this isn't really exactly represented in the books, I just like the idea of the three red/fire birds and the elemental tie-in there. :) Given my druthers that's something I'd use through a whole series about different agents, giving each of them a color/element/creature progression separate from the others. (...actually, although that's not really in the books right now, I bet I could work that sort of suggestion in as personality representations too. I oughta do that on general principles; it's just a nice little idea that appeals to me. :))
So that's where I'm coming from with my original ideas for the titles. I would really, *really* like to be able to keep the concept of progression from the ordinary to the fantastic, although if it's a marketing nightmare, well, I'd rather the books sold. :) A couple of people've said, "Can you just drop the Operation: part?", but since I'm not sure what exactly you dislike about the title, I don't know if it could be that simple. :)
And she responded:
I getcha! And agree that the continuity can be strong, and should carry through the books. I think it's the "Operation" that distances us from the title. Browsing the shelves, it won't have the same impact as Firebird/Phoenix. And we've got to hook them with the first one to make sure it carries into the next ones! Building up to the strongest one is good, but the earliest title also needs to grab the reader's attention.
Hmmm. Robin might have a little more appeal, though not quite as red as a cardinal!
A Cardinal Matter
A Cardinal's Bloody Breast (lol! Not seriously. :))
The Cardinal's Nest
Flight of the Cardinal
I could live with changing the cardinal to a robin, although it's not my *preference*, but if people can come up with something that'd work as an appealing title, I'm willing to do that. I'd like to stick with a red bird, obviously, but if people could think of a ... non-fantastical fantastic thing that would sound better (I wouldn't mind another f/ph sound to go with Firebird and Phoenix, for example...), well, I'm open to suggestions. :)