Among the serialized fiction in my Free Fiction Friday cycle is a dark, gunpowder fantasy that combines elements of gritty, realist, “hard” fantasy and epic, classic, “high” fantasy.
Based on this fusion, I originally called the story High & Hard, not only to reflect the two genre elements but to capture the Western grittiness of the tale. I kicked up a domain for it and everything, www.highandhard.com, and snuck the phrase into the story:
He saw nothing, heard nothing except the broom-brush of nearby trees moving with the unstill air. His whole world was empty and, but for the sick breath of the wind, quiet… The sun was high and hard. Even through the sheet of cloud, it hurt his eyes.
In the meantime, I received some reader feedback that perhaps High & Hard isn’t the best title for the series. So, since a reader raised the issue I decided to let the readers decide the issue, and started a poll.
Given a range of options, readers overwhelmingly chose the existing title! Some options that I thought were shoe-ins (The Cornerstone, The Long War, The War for the Cornerstone) received no support whatsoever. The results are below: