Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Black Dog #5 Title, part three

You’re all sure doing the heavy lifting.

You know what I like right now — a variant on one of your suggestions, Jeanine —

Blue Mandala.

There is absolutely no blue mandala right now, but hey, there could be. Sandstone is right that there is almost a color thing going right now. So how does that sound, to those of you who are commenting about clunky rhythm? I’m not hearing clunkiness with “mandala” myself, but since several of you are, how about it when the word comes second?

Now, I do agree “Silver” has potential. After all, we already know silver is a supernaturally potent metal, so that’s good. Plus “silver” has a lot of fantasy connotations just in general. I’m not particularly a fan of “spiral” in these titles, but Silver Circle … hmm.

“Moon” has potential too. “White Moon Rising” sounds good to me, but is three words, so that’s really not appropriate for the series.

Natividad has always called the shape she draws a pentagram, not a pentacle. That’s a bit unfortunate because I can’t get “pentagram” to sound good in a title.

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11 Comments Black Dog #5 Title, part three

  1. Hanneke

    Just going by sound and image, and looking at the short words in the other titles, I prefer Silver Circle to Blue Mandala.
    Thinking about why, I ended up with the poetry rythms I was taught in ancient greek class, long ago.

    Though they are both 4 syllables in total the 3 syllable rythm of mandala is a bit off – it’s a dactylus that doesn’t fit the trochaic meter rythm you get with SILver CIRcle, COPper MOUNtain, PUre MAgic. All the titles have this accent-dip, accent-dip trochaic rythm, even Black dog fits sort-of, if you see the dip being the pause between words (though formally I think these 2 accented syllables are called a “spondee” instead of a “trochee”).
    Switching to Accent-Accent-dip-dip for BLUE MANdala makes the title fit less well rythmically with the rest of the series, and it also doesn’t fit the more familiar poetry rythms we are used to.
    See https://www.cliffsnotes.com/cliffsnotes/subjects/literature/what-are-the-metrical-features-in-poetry

    Or is my accenting of mandala off, and should it be manDAla in English?

  2. Rachel

    Interesting, Hanneke! MY pronunciation may be off, because I was indeed accenting the second syllable. Now I’m not sure how it’s supposed to be pronounced.

  3. Kathryn McConaughy

    I also thought it was man-DA-la. Searched the internet and found four different pronunciations, which did not resolve my confusion.
    Having mandala second in the title tends to fix the rhythm for me. I like Blue Mandala, but as you noted there hasn’t actually been a blue mandala, and I’m stuck trying to figure out how that would even work. Any one-syllable color would work for the rhythm… White Mandala? Gold Mandala?

  4. Pete Mack

    Hanneke, you’re right! Pronounced more like gondola than tequila (the opposite of what I and others had thought.) I also agree it has religious connotations–particularly Buddhist.

    How about Pale Mandala? Bright Mandala? (Dark Mandala being an alternate name for Copper Mountain.)

  5. Kim Aippersbach

    I’ve always pronounced it like tequila, but that’s definitely an English pronunciation of a word that’s originally Sanskrit.

    Previous readers of the Black Dog books would be intrigued by Blue Mandala as a title (and would be curious to find out why it was blue!) But readers unfamiliar with the books will probably think first of the Buddhist/Hindu uses of mandalas.

    Using Silver in the title would play nicely off Copper.

    (We’re not really helping you at all, are we!)

  6. Rachel

    KIM, NO, YOU ARE NOT HELPING.

    I agree that Silver is a good choice for lots of reasons.

  7. Mary Beth

    I was going to suggest Silver Sigil, but a quick search tells me Natividad never uses “sigil” to refer to the shapes she draws. Hmm. I do like the near-alliteration you get with Silver Circle, and “circle” does contain both the idea of the series coming to a close, the Dimiloc family closing ranks with each other, and Natividad protecting them all.

  8. Rachel

    Well, Mary Beth, I don’t much care for that near-alliteration, but (a) you make very good points about the appropriate symbolism in using “circle,” and (b) I’m getting desperate.

  9. Craig N.

    I kind of like Mandala as a title element, and my impressions are that the usual connotations in the U.S. are more undifferentiatedly mystical than specifically Hindu/Buddhist. But it does seem clear from this discussion that differing pronunciations mean getting the rhythms right may not even be possible.

    This isn’t helping either, is it?

    You’ll want a Book 5 title when the next collection comes out, shooting for around Halloween this year — right? Do you *need* a title before then for some reason other than being able to stop thinking about it?

  10. Rachel

    Yeah, the problem is, the cover is going to be ready long before the book is actually written. I hate to leave the cover artist hanging. I want to just get the cover settled. The back cover copy shouldn’t be a problem, either, since after all I know *basically* what has to happen in the last book. Rather different from when I had to write back cover copy for the third Griffin Mage book and really did not know where the book was actually going to go …

  11. SarahZ

    I like Silver Circle – it fits with the other titles, and like Mary Beth I think it evokes the right feeling. But, Bright Mandala or something like that would work too.

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