Recipe For A Startup Romance

If you saw my last post “Wanna Learn How To Start A Startup?” you know that running a startup is pretty much a 24 x 7 gig, which begs the question, are there any slivers of time in a given day dedicated to dating and romance? I mean, even entrepreneurs need love, right?

Interesting and intriguing questions, considering I’m a romance author and I basically create love stories out of circumstances that wouldn’t ever materialize in reality.  I can make anything happen…to anyone…and find the perfect resolution for all to end happily.

Courtesy of Entrepreneur

Courtesy of Entrepreneur

But in the real world, things aren’t so simple. They can’t be handled with a few clicks on a keyboard and a couple of glasses of wine.

The Truth About Entrepreneurship And Dating

I read about a company called Underground Attached, a unique dating experience that brings together 40 (20 men and 20 women) prescreened, like-soul and like-minded people for an evening of play (no, get your minds out of the gutter) and hopefully, a few love connections. Put a roomful of driven, ambitious professionals together and hopefully, sparks will fly…as long as they can stay off their iPhones, Galaxies and CrackBerries long enough to exchange business cards.

39 Signs You’re Dating An Entrepreneur

Sounds good in theory.  Of course, if all else fails, they could also find solace in using my brilliant app idea to build their own virtual reality porn star and their own…well, read the post if you can’t figure it out.

Maybe entrepreneurs should look at potential mates as prospective “investors.” You want someone who will support your goals and help drive you to achieve, someone who understands what it takes to be a success and will be patient waiting for the big returns.

How Can I Find Key Influencers In My Niche?

Start-ups are typically cash-poor, at least in their very early days. So how the heck are CEOs supposed to get the word out about their fabulous offerings? Marketing firms, publicists, advertisers…everything costs MONEY! CEOs need boku bucks in order to develop their ideas into something saleable but then they need even MORE money to reach customers.

But not if they can appeal to key influencers in their market segments.

Influencers are people who have a respected voice in a specific niche area. They have an avid group of followers that holds their opinions in high regard. They are a trusted source of information and opinions about a given area.

They trick is to figure out WHO the influencers are in your niche.  There are tools you can use to find them.  I’ve used Klout and Kred but i found another one I like better called Followerwonk. You look up keywords and search results are presented with a ranking.  Pick out 10-20 influencers and then the fun really begins because you’ll need to incent them to endorse your product or service. They may accept payment, although this is not as effective as getting editorial review for your company. Positive affirmation from an unpaid source is always preferable, just not always possible.

instyle

Sometimes incentives come in the form of some type of gift, like product, tickets to an exclusive company-hosted event, or swag of some sort.  But what happens if what you have to offer isn’t really enticing enough?  This is the issue for most of us, if you were wondering.  =)

That’s when you have to get creative.  And believe me, it isn’t easy.  I’ve tried a few different things as an indie author to raise interest in my books.  Most times, it doesn’t work.  On rare occasions, my efforts pay off.  It’s those few and far between wins that I choose to focus on, because maybe it’ll be one of those influencers that will ultimately help me spread the word.  Too bad I don’t have any more Krina handbags to send out.  What romance aficionado wouldn’t love to tote around a luxurious leather handbag for an e-reader and some assorted favorite novels?  And maybe a bag of Starburst jelly beans.

Oh To Be Young And In Love….But When Is It Ever That Simple?

I love stumbling upon a great book, one that draws me in immediately, one that I cannot put down, one that elicits both tears and laughter.  As authors, we strive to bring this experience to readers.  Ryan Ringbloom seems to have it down to a science.

I read Panic on the heels of Flaw, my very first encounter with New Adult author, Ryan Ringbloom. And while I loved everything about Flaw, Panic is on an entirely different plane. I haven’t been held captive to a book like this in a very long time. I laughed, I cried, I empathized, I cried some more – I was completely engrossed in the characters, their experiences and interactions. They were so real, relatable and endearing. My heart broke for them in times of despair and I felt uplifted by their happiness and excitement.

Courtesy of Amazon.com

Courtesy of Amazon.com

The book is broken into two parts and is told from the points of views of four characters whose lives intertwine in quite an unexpected way.  At least, it was unexpected for me.  When I finally realized the final direction, I was on line at GameStop.  My audible gasp resulted in more than a few curious stares from the geeky gamer crew (I say this with affection since I write about the geeky gamer crew).  I had to fight back tears while the incredibly concerned cashier tried to comfort me.

I really enjoyed the way this story unfolds, how the relationships develop between these couples. Ryan has a real talent for delivering a riveting tale through the eyes of multiple storytellers. She gives us as readers eyes into the souls of the fictional characters that she’s worked so carefully to craft.

No words I can write will do this book justice. Panic is an excellent read, one that I’m so grateful to have found. Ryan, you really have a wonderful gift. I can’t wait to see what you come up with next!

Why Write Romance? Is It An Escape Or A Revival?

Relationships are hard.  That’s a shocking revelation, right?  They take work and dedication and tremendous amounts of patience, every day.  There’s never a break.  Most times, I’m happy to say things with Hubby click.  But on occasion, the edges fray a little and bickering ensues.  Chalk that one up to two stubborn Type As, lack of sleep and a gaggle of loud and whiny kids incessantly haunting us to play Super Mario 3-D World.  ARGH!!!!

Suffice to say, we’ve moved well-beyond the honeymoon.

Makes me think of a scene from Just Married.  Ashton Kutcher’s character Tom and his newlywed wife are on the brink of divorce after a horrific honeymoon in Europe.  He’s thumbing through a photo album with his dad, noting how happy his parents were in the pictures.  His dad reminds him that nobody photographs the difficult days and challenges. You can’t see the issues or aggravation that bridge you from one happy moment to the next.  But they’re always lurking in the background.  Some days are easy and calm and on other days it takes a heck of a lot more to get through, and you do it with a forced smile and clenched fists.  You put the effort in to catapult you to the next happy moment because it’s SO WORTH IT.

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That’s one of the reasons why I love to write romance.  Although the relationships are greatly abbreviated in a book, there are still ups and downs (normally much more dramatic than real life since I have to appeal to a reader audience and who the hell really wants to read about my day to day?).  But THE most fun part is always crafting the realization of why a couple chooses to be together, highlighting the forces that drive them to one another no matter what the obstacles, and the reasons why they are absolutely perfect as a unit.

I’ve been happily married for almost 14 years and I love that our story is already written, edited and published.  It provides me with all the inspiration I need to breathe life into my fictional world.

 

 

The Lady Devil With A Passion For Jamba Juice

As I write this post, I am actively fighting the urge to devour the remaining Russell Stover chocolate marshmallow eggs in the pantry.

Just saying.  I really need to get rid of this leftover Easter candy.  Sugar comas = lost productivity!  I get way too fidgety to write compelling dialogue when I’m all amped up on sugar.  Caffeine is another story.  I can drown in coffee and it only makes my stuff more compelling.  LOL!

Today, I finished the first draft of Nothing Ventured.  I love it.  If you’ve been on my Facebook page or seen my recent tweets, you already know this.  We’ve established that it’s narcissistic but, whatever.

The plot twists didn’t come easy…I drew a lot of inspiration from Fuel’s greatest hits, but it worked.  =)

I’m hoping my beta readers enjoy it just as much as I did, three times over.  Of course, there are certain scenes I might have read more than three times, but we’ll just leave it at that…

I love the characters that really evolve the most throughout a novel.  The more they change, the more invested I become.  That’s one of the reasons why I’m totally crushing on my latest hero, Chris Camden, who bears a striking resemblance to this young gentleman below.

liam-hemsworth-in-cannes

And here is my heroine, Mia Bradshaw.  They look so good together, don’t they?  =)

Ashley Greene

So now I pretty much have two-thirds of The Venture Series written.  And it feels awesome.  I’ve still got editing to do (hopefully not as much as I did for Unlikely Venture!), but I’m excited!

I can’t wait to share them with you!  Bear with me as I prepare to navigate this whole publishing universe!

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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