Saturday, June 25, 2011

Dating A Metro Man (Cover and new excerpt)

Dating A Metro Man is still out to editor, but I wanted to share the awesome cover that Dara England made for the book. It is still my hope to get the book released sometime during the July 4th weekend.
I am including another tiny teaser excerpt for those patiently waiting. I'm sorry it couldn't be longer, but had to find something contextually contained to share. 

Setup: Jenna is Lauren's maid of honor and this is a piece of a scene from the wedding. Jenna is discreetly exchanging text messages with someone she lies and pretends is from her work. There was something even funnier Lauren says just before this about Jenna having the cell phone on her person in the first place, but I didn't feel I could include that snippet and keep my PG rating. I am sure you understand. I added a few words here and there for clarity so this version might be a tad different from the finished book version. Hope you enjoy.

The phone buzzed back. Jenna had to read the message twice to take in what it said. When she was done reading, all she could think about was getting to him.
Meet me in the hall. I know someplace private.
Jenna sighed and looked at Lauren in apology. “I need to go take care of something. It shouldn’t take long. Give me twenty minutes. I’ll be back for the cake cutting and the dancing.”
Lauren patted Jenna’s shoulder in understanding before she dashed off.
“Sorry Lauren. Jenna’s been every bit as bad as Seth today about her electronics,” Alexa said sharply, rolling her eyes. “He’s been on the phone since the wedding ended. He’s supposed to be helping Casey provide security.”
Lauren shrugged. “Jenna’s been great. I couldn’t ask for a better MOH. She deserves some relief from her duties,” she said, smiling at Alexa.
And if Lauren had read the text message correctly, Jenna was about to get some. Lauren would have bet her trust fund and all of Jim’s money that the sender of that message was Seth Carter.
“So what’s with the MOH stuff?” Alexa said laughing, “We have to talk in acronyms now?”
“It’s efficient and effective—like sexting—I mean text messaging,” Lauren said, looking at her husband and giggling at his blush. “It was a Freudian slip. I swear.”
“What’s wrong with sexting?” Ben asked, looking at Jim’s flushed face.
“Why is everyone looking at me? I didn’t say there was anything wrong with it,” Jim said, defending himself, and giving his bride a don’t-you-say-anything-more look.
Lauren giggled again.
“Well, I don’t know what the big deal is,” Alexa said, shrugging her elegant shoulders. “If I want to tell Casey something sexy, I call him up and tell him. I don’t know what’s so great about seeing it in black and white on a tiny little screen you can barely read.”
Regina patted her arm. “Some of us like the titillation of reading the words over and over throughout the day. Plus it’s fun to play word games,” Regina explained. “We’re not all as brave as you are about telling men what we want or need. Sometimes it’s easier to do when you can’t see their face, and it gives them time to think about it.”
Alexa snorted. “I guess I like a more direct approach and face-to-face communication.”
Ben linked his fingers with Regina’s and leaned in to kiss her cheek. “I want to sext you for the rest of my life.”
“Kaiser, you’re so pathetic,” Jim said, smirking at the man who he now considered one of truest friends.
“Gallagher, don’t be insecure on your wedding day. I’ve spent months giving you my best tips. Now it’s time go practice them on your wife,” Ben told him with a laugh, loving the way Regina snickered at his side. Her support of him was unconditional and he was already getting to that point where all he could think about getting her home and alone with him.
“Don’t worry, Ben. Jim will not let your training go to waste. I intend to see to it that he gets to practice every day,” Lauren teased, laughing at her husband choking on his drink.
“Am I ever going to get used to that mouth of yours?” Jim exclaimed.
Lauren smiled and held her husband’s gaze as she happily finished the rest of her food. She sincerely hoped Jenna was having as much fun at her wedding as she was.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Wedding Music, Cellos, and Pachelbel's Rant

This blog is a nod to Katie G. who showed me this rant on her iPhone at the coffee shop last night. Pachelbel's Cannon in D is probably my all time favorite piece of music. For parents or grandparents of small children, it is also easily recognizable as the "Little Mermaid" wedding song which is where I first heard it and fell in love with the music. Yes and Bugs Bunny/Elmer Fudd taught me opera and other classics. In my thirties,  I joined the BBC music club to learn about classical music for real and received a CD and educational material every month for a year or two. I am an eclectic music lover, but most of my favorites have come through odd paths. I'm the person in the restaurant or store who chases down the owner to ask what song is playing when Bruce isn't around with his iPhone Music Hound app to help.

Anyway, the original rendition of this song has layers of instruments complete with violins. The music unwinds everything tense and tight inside me, and then swells my body to fill me up until I feel like a hot air balloon ready for lift-off. I had always planned to play the original rendition at my wedding instead of the traditional march, but I can just hear Bruce singing one of the other songs from the rant and making me laugh when I'm trying to be serious and beautiful. No. No. <sigh> I believe we have to have a different song now.

I would also like to offer a second nod in this post to a friend of mine, Teresa B., who was once a cellist in a rock and roll band. Truth. If you haven't heard "Knights in White Satin" done with a cello, you have missed out. She is an awesome cellist with an amazing sense of humor. Teresa, I hope this makes you laugh as much as it did me. I've been thinking of you a lot lately.

Pachabel's Rant  Thanks Rob Paravonian and Penn State for the funny video. If you are not familiar with the piece of music, listen to one of the original versions before you listen to the rant.  It will make more sense and you'll get all the jokes.

Here are some links to the "real" version:

Pachelbel's Canon in D (one real version)

Pachelbel's Canon in D (has nature photos for those who need visuals)

Pachelbel's Canon in D (original instruments - probably my favorite)

Pachabel's Canon in D (London Symphony Orchestra -- typical wedding version) 

Pachabel's Canon in D (finger guitar version - really good)

It's a quiet, rainy Sunday in Lexington, Kentucky.  I need a nap after this post.  This song is very relaxing and stays in my brain a long time after I've heard it.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

If I sound like a man, there's a reason

If you have read more than one of my books by now, you have certainly picked up on the fact that I love to write from the male perspective. In fact, in my new Art of Love series I am staying in a male character's perspective longer than ever. I am intentionally making the heroes the center of the story. I wanted to show a fractured family that was mending itself. I wanted to explore a strong relationship of an older father to his adult sons. In a way, I feel like these three books will be a truth about familial male bonding that I don't think gets a fair shake most of the time. There are lot of really good fathers out there. We mostly only get to hear about the bad ones.

It is a well-known writing risk for one gender to write too much from the perspective of another. In all honesty, if I had sent Carved In Stone to a traditional publisher of romances, the first request I would have gotten from them would be a recommendation to change the primary talking character to the heroine. Being able to take the risk of writing from a male perspective with readers, instead of publishers, is just one more reason I am grateful to be an Indie author. Am I going to always get it right? No. I'm not a man. However, I am adventurous enough to try living with my character in the male perspective and seeing what readers think.

So why do I do this? I love men. Okay, maybe that doesn't sound right. How about I just say that I like them a lot. I see their imperfections and their humanity, their weaknesses and their strengths. None of that offends the female in me, even if I roll my eyes or walk off in a snit. I have an empathy for their preference to be the hunter instead of the hunted in relationships. I understand the sacrifice it is to commit fidelity to just one and give up culling the herd of available females. At my age, I can tell you there are many, many women who are just the same regardless of what statistics are put out about such things. Look at how many women divorce after forty and you'll start to understand what I mean. Genders are not so unalike in their relationship thinking and sexual needs as science would like us accept, especially if you understand older women. I sincerely enjoy exploring this by creating both male and female characters who bust the "norm"and just live life on their own terms.

To play armchair psychoanalyst on myself, I would say I seek to explore what it is to be male so I can understand the chaos of being female. I was raised by a single mother and do not know my biological father. There were men in my household, but I took care of them, not the other way around. I was terribly in love with a boy in high school who repeatedly broke my heart until I chewed off a leg to escape the trap of my feelings for him. I was married twenty-three years to a man who oozed manliness, but had an unfortunate negative outlook on life. Divorcing him cost me things I can't even begin to describe.

Finally at the ripe old age of 41, I found the best man I have come across who in twelve years has taken me through all the above again. He is over a decade younger than me. The heartbreak and frustration came with the rest of the package. The difference is that at least the current male genuinely likes me and will chase me down when I walk off in a snit. For that, I'm still deeply glad to be the one he culled from the herd and kept. Maybe like my 50 year old character Alexa in Dating A Cougar, I guess I just have a thing for sexy former Marines. Or maybe I'm just a crazy female. It's hard to tell sometimes.

If I lost the current love of my life for any reason, it would shatter me. But now I know myself. I would eventually just start the process of trying to connect to another male all over again because I like spending time with men. Now you can see why I ended up writing stories about humorous relationships.

I follow the blog of fellow writer who is man attempting to write scenes and characters that women will appreciate. He wants to create believable female characters, believable sex scenes, and ultimately a romantic relationship that his female readers will buy as real. Many of his blogs are explorations of all that is woman. I find them funny, but also genuine and sincerely admirable.  I like him for that alone, though I intend to buy the book he is working on so diligently.

I am including a link here to a favorite blog post of mine that Dave Thome wrote about translating "Chickish into Guyese". This post was short and simple. His comment about after thirty years later still being able to "vividly photoshop" himself into his friend's place in feeling a woman underneath him still makes me laugh no matter how many times I read it. It is the voice of an honest male. It is direct. And the ring of truth in it is absolutely undeniable. His female readers will respond to his writing voice because they will know, simply know that he gets it or is really, really trying to do so.

Writers choose to write about what they admire and/or what they long to understand more. When I write from the male perspective, this is certainly the case for me. It is my hope that my sincere appreciation of all things men and male comes through in my work, even when my sense of humor gets the better of my writing. Nobility and perfection are not nearly as interesting. I'd rather have real. Still, a happy ending would never be possible in my stories if my male characters did not prove out to be the good guys that most men sincerely try to be in reality.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Mainstream optimist seeks AARP interview

When I hit the 2000 downloads for Dating A Cougar at Smashwords at the end of my first three weeks of being published, I had a strong feeling that my work would sell after that. As I got inundated with learning about self-publishing, a giant light bulb in my brain started glowing just like it does in cartoons sometimes. I got this great idea that other unpublished writers nearing or over 50 needed to know that dreams of being published were possible in a world now open to Indie authors. Of course in order to spread the word, I had to find a path to the right audience.

Being a card-carrying member of AARP since the age of fifty, I send an email to them on March 21, 2011 asking if they would review Dating A Cougar which featured older characters in a genre romance or be interested in talking to me about what it was like being published finally at my age.  I got a very nice note back on March 30 informing me that AARP only reviewed "mainstream, widely-distributed books targeted to the over 50 age audience". So I wrote them back and told them my books did that, plus they drew an even wider readership because of the humor.  I was making over 50 sexy and doing a pretty good job of it.  I ended my reply with an admonishment for them to re-think their book review policy and get back to me if they changed their minds.

My downloads of Dating A Cougar at Smashwords at the moment I write this blog entry are 7550+. Last night I calculated my downloads of Dating A Cougar at Amazon which are over 13,000 since they made it "free" in the Amazon UK channel.  I have no visibility to the exact number of downloads at Apple where I have 144+ reviews on this one book and 806 book sales in April for the other two in the series. I guess I don't know what AARP means by "mainstream, widely-distributed". You can't distribute much more widely than the internet. That's how the writer from Bloomberg Businessweek found my book.

Harrison Ford is on the cover of the newest AARP magazine I currently have in my house. He's a hell of a good-looking guy and that grin of his is certainly worth a cover. But I can't help thinking that many readers of their information might be just as interested in the fact that as an average person I am launching a second business at age 50+ and it's starting to look like I just might be on to something good for myself. Oh--and I found a way to be happy as I try to deal with the fact there are more years behind me than ahead for me.

Now I know most published Indie authors are looking to sales numbers for their books that draw the big New York publishers and might get their books into the NYT book lists. Maybe I should be thinking along those lines myself at this point, but I'm not there in my head yet. Maybe six months or a year from now I might be.

Funny as it seems, my original instinct remains to share my self-publishing journey with other financially struggling and restless Baby Boomers like myself who still want to make their dreams come true before they die. AARP can keep Harrison Ford or some other sexy hunk or babe over 50 on the cover. I just wish they would allocate some publishing space to the rest of us less glamorous achievers on the inside. We have some moderately interesting stories that could be inspiring to their members.

When my company downsized and I left in 2009, I renewed with AARP for five years. I thought they would be a helpful support group to look to and they are about many, many factual things. But they aren't really focusing on realistic needs with merely providing appealing pics of celebrities. Baby Boomers are motivated by seeing the dreams of each other come true. We look at the person riding in the car with us and say "yeah that's great, maybe I can do that too".  Face it, AARP. If your members are not Harrison Ford by the age of 50 in their lives, it is unlikely they will ever be. Laugh all you want, but you know that's both reasonable and true.

So motivate the rest of us, AARP.  Acknowledge less famous members making real achievements. Try putting age 50+ entrepreneurs on your covers. See what kind of response you get. Look, keep the membership dues. I'll give you the five years I've already paid you for to convince me that you "get it".

Just call me a "mainstream, widely-distributed optimist targeting the over the age of 50 audience".

Saturday, June 4, 2011

"Middle class author" makes article in Bloomberg Businessweek

(For an explanation of my title and why I refer to myself as a "middle class author", see this blog entry.)

The book and cover of Dating A Cougar made it into a marketing article in Bloomberg Businessweek!  The article is about marketing to the "cougar" demographic. Check this out.

I did not know about this until today.  A friend of mine sent me the most awesome email in the world this morning. Her husband accidentally came across this in a magazine his sister had saved for him from mid-May. It was truly one of those accidental things the universe does to get to word to you about something important. He was looking through the magazine early this morning when he happened across the cover picture. She said he ran upstairs to show her when he recognized my book. Three books were mentioned in the artcle. Two were shown.  I give Dara England full credit for making the cover design do justice to the story contained within it.

The article in Bloomberg Businessweek, May 16-22, is called
"The Cougar Economy," on pages 74-75 of the print version. It's about cougar dating sites, conventions, websites, etc. It has a half-page of graphics accompanying it, sort of a collage of cougar-related items. My book cover for Dating a Cougar created for me by my totally awesome cover designer shows up in the collage and is mentioned in the article.

The online article has the same content as the hard copy article, but a different title. The book, Dating a Cougar, is mentioned in paragraph six that begins, "Nevertheless, a special name is..."

The sentence that mentions the book says, "...The greater cougar industry has expanded into books (Dating a Cougar, Hot Cougar Sex, A Christian Cougar), television (real-life cougar Courtney Cox's Cougar Town and the reality-TV show The Cougar), and even the big screen."

Here's the online article:

Here's a link to the graphic that accompanies the article in the hard copy. You'll see the book cover there: