Thanks everyone for your thoughts. The official word has been handed down and the book will be called Adopted:Outback Baby.
I must admit that it's an economical title. Every word helps to tell exactly what the story is about. The fact that Nell and Jacob don't actually adopt Sam (it's almost impossible for grandparents to adopt, although they can become legal guardians) is splitting hairs, I guess.
On another matter, I'm pleased to report that I've taken a deep breath and dived into my next book. Just as well, considering the looming deadline. The first chapter has been polished and re-worked to within an inch of its life and I'm moving on to Chapter Two. I'm not one of these authors who can write a dirty draft.
You can follow the whole process of a book being constructed on Nicola Marsh's blog.
I must admit that while the actual flow of my story can be different from book to book, I always start the same way -- not with characters alone, but with a story idea -- a situation that intrigues me. In Claiming His Family, for example, I wanted to write a story that started where my other stories usually finish -- with a woman from the city (Manhattan - why not think big?) and an Outback cattleman, who have already fallen in love and married, but their marriage failed and they are now divorced.
Sometimes I might even start with nothing more than a story-rich title like Having the Boss's Babies.
Once I have an idea that excites me and which I know has the right ingredients and hooks for the Romance line, then I ask myself: who will this happen to? Why? How? Where? When? etc, etc. But this process is never orderly or predictable. Sometimes the characters arrive almost at the same time as the starting idea. Sometimes I'm halfway through the book, before I really get a grip on them. Sometimes, I outline the plot before I start. I can't say for sure that any of these methods is more successful than another.
This time I've planned as much of my story as I can before I start. I think it was the careful planning, wanting to have everything perfect in my head, that held me back from diving in. But there's a point when you hear that starter's gun and you just have to start dog-paddling and hope like crazy that you get to the other side. That's where I am now.