I Had An Epiphany…And It Involved Chili And Triple X

I had an epiphany today.

Over chili.

It was lunchtime and Hubby was out with the boys.  He called for our order and as usual, came home with way more than I’d asked for, including a cup of chili.

I wrinkled my nose.  “Chili?  Why?”

He looked surprised.  “You love chili, so I wanted to get something that would make you happy.”

I groaned.  “Yeah, but I ate so much yesterday and I feel so bloated and…”  You know, blah, blah, blah.

That’s when he got annoyed.

“You know, I always try to do nice things for you even when you bitch and complain.  Would you even think about getting me a new flavor of Vitamin Water if you saw it, just because you know how much I love it?”

Hmmm, maybe, maybe not.  He’s very committed to XXX.  By the way, that’s a FLAVOR, not a really perverted type of porn.

And then it dawned on me.  I’m like the annoying and self-absorbed heroines in romance novels.  The ones who never recognize the sweetness and sincerity in their hero’s actions and get caught up in their own hang-ups that they can’t see beyond their noses.

Ugh.

I can’t stand those girls.  They grate on my nerves.  I always wonder why the guys fall all over themselves to change the girls’ views of them.  WHY???  Because that’s our fantasy!  To have men who enable us to be bitchy and illogical and unreasonable and overly emotional…BUT LOVE US AND ACCEPT US ANYWAY!

Well, okay, I’m generalizing here.  But it sure works for me!

 

Look Out Hollywood! This Book’s Got Silver Screen Potential!

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Someone recently asked me if i could see Unlikely Venture made into a movie at some point.  I suppose that would naturally come after it lands on the NYT bestseller list, right?

I’m sure it comes as no shock to anyone (especially fellow writers) that I most certainly think it has silver screen potential.  Heck, I’ve already picked out some of the actors and actresses (which you can see on my Facebook page).  =)

The story is so real to me…I’ve done research on all the settings in the book, I’ve conjured up images of the characters down to their most minute physical details.  Certain songs apply to scenes throughout the book and when I hear them on my iPod, I can see the characters interacting in my head.  I know their facial expressions and their mannerisms.  They are as real as I am.  When I’m out, if I see someone who resembles one of the images in my mind, I do a double-take and I wonder if they are any bit like my beloved characters.  

I sound obsessed, don’t I?

Maybe I am.  Okay, I definitely am.

But I believe it’s actually a good thing.  It makes for a richer story.  Like I’ve said, if I wrote books without really knowing my subject matter, they would fall flat.  They would be shallow and single-dimensional – a collossal waste of my time and effort.

So even though I am impatient and ready to jump into my next plot, I’ve got to handle the preliminaries.  The longer I take to get to know the elements of my story, the better it will be for all of you!  

Sometimes It’s Good To Take A Few Steps Back Before Moving Forward

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My editor recently told me that publishers don’t like the “s” in “towards,” “backwards,” or “forwards.”  Add this to the ever-increasing list of things I didn’t know about writing.  So I thought the title of this post was kind of apropos.

It’s come to my attention that the first few posts here sent somewhat of an ambiguous message so I want to set the record straight. 

I’m a total novice at this writing gig.  I’ve got no background to speak of, but I’m chuck-full of ideas.  I decided to try my hand at romance since I’m a sucker for drama, spicy hot shower scenes and HEA.  Three rewrites later, it’s 97% done.  I guess the third time really is a charm.   

So I’ve got a big decision to make.  How do I get my story out to the masses?  Do I self-publish and become an indie author?  Or shall I try my luck (again) and go the traditional publishing route?

I love the idea of being an indie author.  As a self-proclaimed entrepreneur, the whole model just suits me.  Also, I’m a little Type A so the idea of being the master of my own destiny is rather appealing.

But other factors come into play.  Do I have the bandwidth to take care of my family as well as juggle all the elements of my day job, my household AND a budding career as a romance novelist?  Maybe I should seek a partnership with a smaller press where I can have a voice at the table and leverage their expertise.  That may just be the ideal scenario for me.

The truth is, I don’t have the answer.  Hence the reason for my first set of posts.  I spend a lot of time opining on all of the alternatives and sometimes a glass of wine gives me some short-term clarity (any more than a glass and it’s back to square one).

What I’ve learned is that you need to have a solid platform, regardless of the chosen publishing method.  The bigger the following, the more lucrative the prospect. I’ve been doing a lot of research to figure out how to create my author brand and I wanted to share my findings, not to be confused with my anticipated successes.

So any time I come across information that I consider helpful, I’m going to share it here.  I’m not even close to being an “expert”; I’d settle for “somewhat informed” at this point.  

And so, my journey continues.

What’s In It For Me?

Let’s face it, contemporary romance novels are ubiquitous.  So how can you differentiate yours from the rest?  This is a big part of the value prop for an author but you don’t always get an opportunity to deliver a full Power Point presentation complete with charts and Smart Art explaining why your novel commands attention.  All the elements of value prop are essential in crafting your message but here’s the deal…you need an elevator speech to convince people on the spot that you’re book is worthy of their time and money.

I’m always challenged by the 30-second spiel.  By nature, I’m very long-winded so trying to whittle down my delivery into one or two sentences throws me into a major tailspin.  Luckily, I’ve learned to tailor my writing style with the help of a very patient editor.  But summing up my fabulous manuscript into so few words?  Impossible!

The problem is, if you can’t be proactive and distinguish yourself quickly, people will automatically assume you’ve written the next Fifty Shades.  At least, that’s the assumption I’m faced with most often.

Here’s how the dialogue usually goes:

“Kristen, you wrote a book, how fantastic!  What’s it about?”

“It’s a contemporary romance novel.”

(The knowing smile and head nod)  “Oh, so it’s another Fifty Shades?”

“Haha, no.  Actually mine is much hotter.  In fact, it’s so intense that steam will rise from the screen of your e-reader and peel the paint off your walls.”

Well, there’s a very convincing value prop!  But I’ve found that it’s not exactly proper as a description for my eighty year-old aunt or my son’s preschool teacher.  So I made some changes.  I’m still working on variations but this is the latest:

“It’s an emotional tale about an unlikely romance that develops between two people and is ultimately threatened by the heroine’s risqué past.”

I typically leave out any sexual references unless specifically asked.  Not everyone would appreciate that granular a description.

The key is to generate enough interest with your elevator pitch so that it drives the potential reader directly to the Kindle e-bookstore to buy your novel.  Not an easy feat, but that’s why the value prop is so important.  Once you’ve identified all the fabulous elements of your book, you can shrink them into a meaningful sound byte, kind of like creating a tiny URL.

 

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