Thanks to Amazon making this book free in June, downloads were in the 60k range at the end of the month. I've received so many nice emails, messages, notes, and posts thanking me for making the book free. I think I've written bits before about why I did this and have answered other questions about the book, but the questions are still coming in so it seemed to make sense to talk about this book one more time in a post dedicated to it. Now I can include this blog in my reply.
Where did the idea of a "cougar" book come from?
I am a cougar myself with a 13 year age difference in my relationship. I had not read any books that focused on the doubts and insecurities of trying to be in a relationship like mine, especially when you are the older woman. So I decided to have a go at trying to show some of them through my characters and some possibilities for compromise. This type of male-female dynamic is often extreme, being both very exciting on one end of it and very exasperating on the other. I wouldn't trade my relationship for the world, but it is seriously hard work like all of the good ones end up being. Many fellow "cougar" readers have written to tell me they feel the same. I can see myself writing more "cougar" stories in the future as well as some "puma" ones. I am defining a "cougar" as a woman who is more than 8 years older than the man in her life. A "puma" is 1-8 years difference. When I find the article where I got these definitions, I will amend this post to include it. The terms originated in Canada I believe.
Why did I choose to write about older characters?
See this post.
Where did I get the inspiration for Alexa's character?
Well (she says with a laugh) Alexa is not me. She is perhaps a wish I have to be tall, beautiful, and look great in sexy lingerie at 50+. The last one is the only possibility and then it must be the right person doing the viewing. I am five foot, moderately trim, but still have a real woman's body. I am more like Lauren only shorter. I am more like Regina in my head and attitudes. Alexa--well, Alexa is an amalgamation of every beautiful aging model I still see in magazines and on TV over the age of 40. These are women with businesses, wealth, and families. You hear they marry and divorce and remarry. The best of them still look great, and in most cases they are not trying to look 20. At 50, they might still shoot for looking like 35 or 40, but that's as low as they go. What I admire most is their grace during the transition. When I turned 40, I went looking for a role model and found some of these women. The 40's were a hard decade for me, but I am absolutely loving my 50's.
Where did I get the inspiration for Casey's character?
The war. In my day job I am a college English teacher at several schools. I have seen many, many soldiers coming home and had them as students in my courses when they were trying to reinvent themselves. Many of them were injured. And of those injured, many of them were more "mentally" injured than physically harmed. They seem to have lost more than just some physical ability while serving our country. They lost a belief that they could ever be as good as they were before the war. So I made a hero that was obviously military, or at least I did my best to do so, and one that was also obviously working on rebuilding his sense of self. One of the qualities that makes a hero truly sexy, admirable, and desirable to a woman is how he handles what happens to him, because that is the outlook he brings to the relationship. Casey is one of my favorite heroes because he is very real. Just look around you. You can find heroes like him everywhere these days. (Also heroines, but that will have to wait for it's own story.)
Why did I decide to turn stories with older characters into a series?
I wanted to focus on older women and the importance of friendship. The relationship the three primary heroines have with each other was every bit as much fun to write as their relationships to the men in their lives. A real woman friend will tell you the truth, and then pass tissues or let you swear at them. She will sit there until the crisis passes, ask if you are done, and then hug you. She will support you even if you're wrong and take care of you if you're drunk. She will also embarrass you, restrain you, or whatever else it takes to stop you from doing evil. Unless she agrees with your evil, and then she will help. She will email you search terms for finding the sex scenes in your books to keep you on your toes. She will read your work even though she would otherwise never, ever have picked up a romance in her life. Friendships are where the quality fun is as you get older. Also, friends often remain when the men have moved on (not my heroes of course).
Why did I choose to make the book free?
I was new to publishing and an unknown author. A fellow Indie writer, who I credit with mentoring me to get my first two books published, used this strategy himself as a way to let people try his work. It made a lot of sense to me. The only sacrifice was that I invested more in the book initially and it was very hard to think I was never going to be paid for it. Now of course I understand some five books later that the other books have sold mostly because of all the readers who loved the free one. Dating A Cougar is still one of my best stories and I see it being much like the pilot for a new TV sitcom. The pilot has to be great for a person to want to watch the show or record it on the DVR each week. I still believe this book tells a great story and many readers have contacted me through some means to tell me they agree. Making it free to download in as many places as I could was some of the best start-up self-publishing advice I ever got.
If you have any other questions about this book, please let me know in the comments and I will do my best to answer.