The Book Title Challenge

Last week, I shared how Dress Shop Miracles came about and why it was delayed a year.

Today, I’d like to tell you about the original title and my reasons for abandoning it. 

When I began writing this story, I knew the title was Open for Christmas, which hinted at a Christmas story and the plot. It can take weeks to articulate the right book title and minutes to search online for other possible books with the same title. There are several reasons to avoid this, but today I’ll spare you those details.

Fortunately, I didn’t find any books titled Open for Christmas. Whew! The three words I had chosen in hopes of reaching the hearts of readers were a go. 

For more than twelve months I worked under that title. It inspired me to keep with the theme, to move my protagonist, Molly, forward with her dream and Ted with his. It helped me to shape the unexpected twists and turns into meaningful messages with an ending I prayed readers would love. 

It was a beautiful partnership: the title, the story, the characters, and me.

Then, last November, I sat down to relax in front of the TV only to come across a Hallmark movie with the title Open by Christmas. My heart sank. It was too similar to my story’s title. Titles can’t be copyrighted so I could have kept it. However, if a reader searched it online without my name, the results would direct them to the movie, not my book.

I had to start fresh. Not an easy task. Approximately four million new books were published in 2021! That’s a lot of titles!

I scribbled various words on several paper scraps. My critique partner and I tossed ideas back and forth. The good titles were taken, and the washouts made me cringe. I sought my husband’s opinion regarding possibilities. I even tried an online title generator. I think there’s an online generator for just about anything writing-related. 

The title I loved and worked with remained the best option, and honestly, I didn’t want to change it.

Have you ever tried to let go of something in order to redo it differently? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Frustrated with the title challenge, I put my efforts aside several times to clear my mind. Let me tell you, once again I felt like Molly.




A few weeks later, I gathered my papers with the handwritten possibilities, mixed and matched words and phrases, then drew a line through the titles I disliked. One remained: Dress Shop Miracles and it wasn’t taken!

I stared at it for some time, read it aloud, and thought about what it conveyed. It was better than the original title.

I wanted to open the dress shop door and take hold of the Christmas miracles!

Why couldn’t I see this before?

Sometimes we try too hard. Sometimes we just need to relax and wait for God to give us what we need. As Molly’s friend said to her in Dress Shop Miracles, “That’s when we learn the most, often about ourselves.”

Release day is November 1, so be sure to get it now on Amazon while it’s discounted. 

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Background Photo: Tim Umphreys