Nov 25

What’s in a Name?

With great reluctance, I finally decided to re-title one of my books. What began as ThAUTOmaturgy is now Familiar Magic. A little history…

In searching for a good title, I was inspired by the title of an Alan Parsons album, Stereotomy. “What a cool word!” I thought and looked it up. I had to go to my “big” dictionary (Webster’s Unabridged) to find the term. If you’re interested, it means, “The technique of cutting solids, as stones, to specified forms and dimensions.” Although I’m pretty sure Alan Parsons used the term for its riff on the word “stereo.”

Well, I’m a writer, which means I really love words. So I set out to find a cool word of my own for the title of my story. Magic, hmm. I pull out my thesaurus and start looking for synonyms, then find the word “thaumaturgy,” which means “the making of miracles or wonders.” Bingo! The book has a familiar in the shape of a car, so… ThAUTOmaturgy!

I was thrilled with my new word for a title. I loved the way it rolled off my tongue: THAW-toe-muh-tur-gee. The word even had its own definition: The working of magic through the medium of an automobile.

Then reality struck. People didn’t like it. It was long. It was almost impossible to pronounce. I allowed myself to be talked into changing the title for a while, but in my mind, the story was still ThAUTOmaturgy. So when Amethyst’s story debuted to the world, it was as ThAUTOmaturgy.

In addition to selling my books online, I also sell the paperbacks at my place of business. And as people looked at ThAUTOmaturgy, without fail, they stumbled over the title. What was so lovely to me was long and almost impossible to pronounce for readers. And if a reader can’t say the title, how will they remember it? How will they tell their friends about the book?

So, sadder and wiser, I re-worked covers and headers and title pages, and sent Amethyst and Talys forth once more as Familiar Magic. I think the new title is much more friendly and approachable. But in my heart of hearts, it will always be ThAUTOmaturgy.


  1. I liked ThAUTOmaturgy, too, but I understand your motivation. They say, “Kill your darlings,” and this was an instance for that. Good luck with the title change.

    1. Yeah but, y’know, I really HATE killing my darlings. My gosh! They’re my darlings! But thanks for your good wishes, Don. As I’ve heard said somewhere, from your lips (keyboard?) to God’s ear. 🙂

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