From the very first, I called the novel Manda the Brave. Manda was such a bold character, in spite of all the blows and setbacks in her life. She carried that bravery into sobriety and into her relationship with a very difficult hero Joel. Okay he’s rich and witty and cute as all get-out, but he’s difficult!
It was Joel’s AA sponsor Phil– the wise man of the book– who dubbed her “Manda the Brave.” As soon as Joel told Phil her full name, Phil called it:
“Manda the Brave,” Phil commented.
“Her name. Doughty is Irish. I believe it means plucky and courageous. And anyone contemplating involvement with you needs courage. Manda the Brave,” he repeated.
Manda stood up to Joel when he was out of line, and she got him to rethink a few of his own rules. Manda dared to love Joel and to make a life with him– not by compromising her own values, beliefs, and sense of self– but by learning to negotiate with him through disagreements. She was at his side day and night after his accident. So Manda the Brave cemented itself in my mind as the perfect title.
And then my publisher said, “Would you consider changing the title? Manda the Brave sounds like it could be a YA book. Your theme and plot are definitely geared toward adults.”
If she’d asked any earlier or any other way, I’d have been devastated. But she was right– it did sound very young adult. Breaking All the Rules seemed to fit both Manda and Joel, but a quick Amazon search revealed it’s a popular title, and one popular romance writer has a book by that title coming out in February. Scratch that.
At a loss for a new title, I put it out to my test readers. One by one, they came back with suggestions. Finally, the new title emerged: Stepping Up To Love. So far everyone likes it. We’ll see what the publisher thinks.