Among the highlights of my writing career was last year’s release of my very first Christmas story. It was fun to write, turned out to be a pretty good story, and gave me an excuse to peruse endless photos of hot guys with handsomely wrapped packages, if you catch my drift, wink wink, nudge nudge. It didn’t exactly sell like gangbusters, but I love it, and am in the airline-napkin-note-scribbling stages of making the Holiday Story an annual tradition.
Titles are hard. Holiday titles are harder. You want to capture the Christmas/Hanukah/Yule Spirit in three or four words, justify the half-naked Santa on the cover, and somehow tie in at least a reference to the actual story, and Jingle Bell Jock, while obviously awesome, is annoyingly already taken. Following a conversation with my orange-pop-loving nephew about its popularity (or ubiquity, at least) in Latin America, I lit upon the genius idea of setting my next Christmas Story in Mexico and calling it Fanta Baby. Which, as you see, would pretty much be the best idea ever — evoking, as it does, both Father Christmas and That Bad Eartha — if it wasn’t for all those pesky laws about trademarks. My husband pointed them out: You’d have to get permission from Coca Cola. Surely not, I said. For Fanta? I mean, for A Diet Coke Christmas, I can see. Or even for Go Tell It on the Mountain, Dew. But surely Fanta, in its role as cultural shorthand for “orange pop,” falls into some kind of Oh, Go Ahead category? The people who make us capitalize Kleenex and Jetway insist it does not.
So here I am, back at the drawing board, trying to cook up that Perfect Title around which to construct a winter romance. My friend who lives in LA enjoys taking what he terms “sweater-based” vacations in the winter; might he not also enjoy a sweater-based love story, Fleece Navidad? (Can you tell I worked a San Juan turn yesterday and have Latin America-as-setting on my mind?) In addition to being overly-suggestive and just kind of long, Chet’s Nuts Roasting on an Open Fire seems ho-hum and predictable. O, Little Town of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania calls for entirely too much firsthand knowledge of a place I’ve never been; as hot as a dude in a green t-shirt can be, as a title, Green Sleeves is a total snooze; Frosty the Blow Man would have to be all about cocaine, which risks plopping us right back at square one as it relates to infringing uses of the word “Coke.” Because you might otherwise want to read a gay romance about a drug dealer named Frosty. See? Hard.
I guess I’ll just have to go about this the old fashioned way: actually write a story, then shop for the title that fits it just right. Or let I Saw Daddy Kissing Santa Claus just write itself…