Meet Vivienne: A smart,sexy, boss babe heroine

I loved Bridget Jones’s Diary. It was a cheeky nod to the ups and downs of being a modern single woman but throughout the story I kept wanting Bridget to be just a little less bumbling, a little sharper, and a lot less interested in her boss, who did not deserve her attention. I wanted her to represent the best that women can be while also being real, having struggles, and overcoming them.

My frustration with that story was just one of the catalysts for my latest series, The Vivienne Series. I wanted to read more books about modern, career women, but I wanted the woman to represent the new breed of boss babes and girl bosses–sharp women who, while not perfect, generally have their shit together. These are women who know their skills and their value. They work hard and reap the rewards.

The heroine of my seven-book series is that woman. She’s uber-organized, knows what she wants and has no fear about going after it. But if that was the whole story it would be, well, dull at best. She wins, knew she would from page one…yawn.

So just like in real life, it’s those exact traits that make Vivienne’s love life and sometimes her work life, chaos. Knowing all the answers isn’t always easy when others don’t want your help and advice. And to this that our girl, Viv, is an introvert. She’s quiet (because she’s thinking) but that makes her easy to overlook in a world full of center-of-attention extroverts. When  opportunity comes knocking this heroine has to fight her fears and figure out a way to make life in the fast lane work for someone who prefers quiet, steady and predictable.

Book one is titled Fearless Flying. (It’s a nod to Fear of Flying, Erica Jong’s 1973 groundbreaking novel that featured a blatantly sexual woman.) The title also refers to Vivienne’s job, a secretary at a private jet manufacturer. It’s a high pressure job at an exciting company that she handles with grace and ease. I love this industry as a setting because it’s generally male dominated and it puts her in touch with the rich and famous.

I’ll be releasing Fearless Flying this July but you can sign up to get a FREE copy before the official publication date. Follow this link and let me know what email address you would like me to send it to. I’ll also keep you updated on my progress on the series, give you some behind the scenes info, as well as information about what I’ll be working on next.

So, let’s talk about chick lit, women’s fiction, whatever you want to call it. What’s your favorite and why? Share in the comments below.

The Commercial vs Creative Conundrum

“Look, no one’s gonna buy it — no one.”

“No one in Middle America, anyway. That’s for sure.”

Sweetheart, it’s just not commercial!”

These are some of my favorite lines from the song “Putting it Together” on Barbara Streisand’s Broadway Album. I played the song yesterday while I was driving and sang along as loudly as I could. I felt that song and needed to belt it out because right now I’m caught in the same conundrum as the painter George Seurat that it was written about and Barbara Streisand–balancing being creative with being commercial. It seems the state of art has changed little since Seurat was around.

One of my goals in becoming an author was to push some boundaries and expand the scope of the romance genre. I had reached my limit of bad boys and good girls, slut shaming, and billionaires desperately looking for poor, clumsy dates. I wanted to read about smart, funny, edgy females and intelligent, kind, multi-dimensional men, so that’s what I wrote. That part was actually easy, it was once I published it that things got complicated.

Genres, tropes and archetypes exist for a reason. They give everyone involved in fiction shorthand to help authors find readers and readers find authors. It’s easy to find a new vampire, BDSM novel to read when you and the author use the same language (keywords) to define the story. But what happens when a writer goes against the grain, on purpose? There isn’t a category for good guys and the smart, sexual girls who love them. I truly believe that I’m not the only one who wants to read a story about them but finding the others has been…well…daunting.

It’s part of being indie. Whether you are a painter, writer, musician, screenwriter or designer–indie is supposed to be independent of commercial influence. Indie is innovative but indie can also be broke. So I’m now pushing my indie boundaries by trying to find my more commercial side.

This past week I started to work with a designer on the covers for my Vivienne Series. I had pictures in my mind that looked like cutting-edge advertising, very arty. I showed a creative friend who also happens to work as a web designer (commercial). Through her eyes I was able to see where my “cool” image could easily been read the wrong way. We discussed the plot of each book and she fed me ideas for much more literal images. Part of me mourned the death of edgy but I could see how her ideas clearly let readers know what kind of book each is and a little of what to expect. They will still be cool, but not at the expense of being clear. I love my books and I want to give them a fighting chance to find their audience.

In the next couple weeks I will be rolling out new, more commercial covers for my first two books then the first book in the Vivienne series. I can’t wait to share all of it and my journey to get there. If you’d like to join me behind the scenes and get a FREE copy of Fearless Flying – The Vivienne Series book 1, click here.

And let’s talk. Are you ready for good guys and smart, sexy women? What new story lines are you looking for? Comment below.

 

Why I’m Changing the Covers & Titles of My First Two Books

The short answer is that as an indie author and entrepreneur I’m still learning, and that’s a good thing. The longer answer is that although I’ve had fantastic reviews I haven’t had much in the way of sales. It’s been frustrating, but in a way it was a good thing because it caused me to learn a very valuable lesson:

Tweet: In indie book marketing–your past books are never dead.

We all have our gripes about Amazon but one of the absolutely beautiful things about the mega sales site is that they allow you to tweek and change your product until you get it right. Unlike a retail store where once the product is on the shelf it will either sell or die, we have the opportunity to make changes then bring a book back to the market. Not only is this a product developer’s dream but it also allows those of us who are making tons of rookie mistakes to fix them.

I love the covers that I have right now. They are very cool, but they don’t work. When I worked with my first designer I just wanted a cool cover (and I got one), I didn’t understand that sometimes cool doesn’t translate for readers. What my covers didn’t do was announce that my books are romance novels. My titles didn’t help either. In my quest to be unique I uniqued myself out of what readers were looking for. Fortunately I met the amazing Whitney G. , a business-savvy indie author with a super-generous soul (and hella good writer, check out her books here). In a three hour meeting over coffee she opened my eyes to the problem. She straight out told me that if she were skimming Amazon, looking for a romance book, she wouldn’t know that either or mine were in that category or have a clue what they were about.

Now I could have gotten all offended and shut down in a huff. She was talking about my babies, my first two novels. But I want to be a successful writer more than I want to be seen as some creative genius. I have 100% faith in the stories inside the books but if I didn’t make some changes not many would ever get to read those stories. So, I’m working with a designer right now to create new covers. I’ve created new titles. I’m rewriting the blurbs and so much more. And I’m loving it. I’ve got renewed energy for the series. Half the fun of being a writer has been learning about the business side and this lesson is HUGE. Even if I had great covers, titles and blurbs they still might sell better with a new ad campaign or marketing technique. There is always an opportunity to grow and learn as an entrepreneur.

But to do that you have to be proactive–seek out other authors and ask questions about what is working for them. Listen to podcasts on the business of selling books (I highly recommend The Creative Penn). Study what the most successful in your genre are doing. Attend a writers conference that is focused on the business side of things. As I’ve noted before I had no clue I was opening a business when I hit publish on my first novel. That has made for a chaotic but still damned exciting start. I wouldn’t trade the roller coaster ride for anything. The longer I’m in it the more I feel like I’m in control of where I’m going.

How about you? Indie authors, how are your first books selling? Now that you’ve learned more about your market would you consider changing the covers? Titles? Marketing techniques? Share your stories in the comments so we can learn from each other. #PayItForward