Sex Positive Romance Writing is Not an Oxymoron Here

This book is so much more than it’s cover.

On the surface “Burnouts, Geeks and Jesus Freaks: a love story” is a simple, funny,easy read.  I designed it that way.  It’s meant to be something fun you can start and finish on one vacation because sometimes you need a book that doesn’t drag on forever and require major brain cell usage. 

But, if you look closer, and scratch beneath the very cool pink surface, there’s a lot more there.  There is trend bucking galore.  I love NA books, but I started to feel like the world of new adult romance had become over populated with motor-cycle riding, tattooed, angsty man-whore heroes and the equally ubiquitous cavity-inducingly sweet, virginal, damsal-in-distress heroines. In response to these archetypes I created Ben – a geeky, polite, virgin hero, and Carrie – his sarcastic, funny, sex-loving heroine.  

Wait, hold the phone … she loves sex?!?!  

Yep, and her friends do too.  I’ll pause here to give the overly offended time to exit (mumbling “I always knew there was something wrong with her.”) and everyone else time to switch gears to this burgeoning new idea – women can like sex and it doesn’t make them a whore or a slut.  It makes them human.  

I’m excited to be part of this new idea in romance writing.  I’m ready for more unapologetic, fully-human female characters.  And equally as important, I can’t wait for more male characters who value a woman for more than being previously unclaimed territory and smokin hot.  

I’m sure some of you are wondering how this works … she’s not a slut, but she loves sex?  Well, first you have to let go of the idea that women have absolutely no control over their lust once they lose their virginity. I’m not sure who started the idea that once we have one guy we just can’t seem to stop ourselves from wanting any and all guys – that we become indiscriminate, grabbing at any low-hanging fruit (visual pun).  My guess would be that the idea came from the guys who would fall in the low-hanging fruit category – a marketing campaign of sorts from the bottom rungs of the male gender.  There is no magic presto-chango that happens to a female upon losing her virginity. She’s the same person she was the day before with a little more life experience tucked under her belt. (Check out this fantastic post on the whole concept of what actually constitutes losing your virginity from Girl on the Net.) 

My novel is not a morality play for or against premarital sex.  It’s a slice of reality.  Some of my girls have sex, some don’t.  Some regret it, some don’t.  Some enjoy it, some pretend too.  What they don’t do is apologize to anyone for the choices they make. 

But there is still more hidden in this deceptively simple story.  There is also some really steamy realistic sex.  If you love erotica that features Cirque-du-Soleil gymnastic style moves, this is not the book for you.  If you want to believe that a well-used gym membership can make some guy is so studly he can defy that fact that 80% of women cannot come by penetration alone, this is not the book for you.  I think these myths hurt women more than help them, so I left them out.  

If you are still with me–welcome to the trend, and while I support this trend, I promise not to be preachy in my books.  For those who buy my novel for an easy read by the pool with too many margaritas, don’t worry, you won’t be disappointed.  The shiny, pink fun is there, and if you are interested, a little social history-making underneath. 

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One Hit Wonder


Not that I have had a hit (yet), but I am already experiencing the difference in creating your first public creative work versus your second.  I am not surprised there are so many one hit wonders out there. 

Essentially, I wrote the first book for no one but myself, and maybe a few friends.  I solved each question and dilemma with gut check of what felt right for me.  I created the story I wanted to read and I am amazed how much I still like reading it.  I still don’t cringe and wish I had made it any different.  

My first love, about first love.

That was all before I entered the world of self-publishing and books reviews and genre discussion boards.  Opinions on writing to sell books and trends and over-saturation are in my head and hard to completely ignore.  There are other voices in my head now, critiquing each choice and it is more difficult to hear my own voice, my gut check, through the others.

Don’t get me wrong, writing is still a blast.  I really do get to day dream, then write it down and call it a (fledgling) career.  But I am also spending part of my day marketing book one, and sometimes having a hard time finding the right audience, the right blog reviewer, the right words to explain the unique, creative story I made.  I find myself doing a lot of “well, it’s not this, and it’s not that, but it has a little of this and a little of that.”  Sometimes comparison is the only way to describe something new.  I want to say, “just read it, then you’ll get what I’m saying.”  Marketing my unique voice has its unique challenges.

Of course, that is part of the benefit of having a book two.  Hopefully I will already have an audience who read book one and understand my unique voice and look forward to book two.  

If you lose touch with your unique voice when creating that second book or album or painting, you lose the audience that fell in love with your work in the first place.  You become a one hit wonder.  

Thank God it’s spring because walking has become an important part of my creative process.  Walking seems to help me clear the “you really should’s” out of my head:  you should follow trends, you should have your second book ready to be released immediately after your first, you should add some vampires, zombies, astronauts or angels to your new adult romance.  

My gut tells me I should write to please me, that my unique voice has a place and purpose.  Time to get back to writing and listening to it.

Calling Names (The story behind my book title)

To celebrate my 2nd anniversary of publishing I’m re-posting this explanation of where my very-long but so cool title came from. If this piques your interest you can enter a Goodreads Giveaway to win a signed copy. Follow this link and sign up to win your copy.


 

After almost three weeks on Amazon, I am starting to get some feedback on the contents of my novel, but more on the cover and the title.  When it comes to the literary world of Amazon your book will be judged by its cover and its title.  My cover is courtesy of the fabulous Kim and Kitten and Deranged Doctor Designs, the title is my own creation.  So, how did I decide on it?

For most of the time that I was writing, the novel was simply labeled Ben and Carrie on my computer.  I knew I couldn’t stick with that. Not only is it really unimaginative, it also tells you nothing about the story except that there is someone named Ben and someone named Carrie.  Not exactly intriguing enough to make you want to plunk down $2.99 to find out more.

One of the themes in the story is tribe or groups.  I’ve written a few posts here on my blog already about this concept.  I am fascinated with the idea of social groups, how innate they are, how they are formed, why we join them or leave them, and how they both divide and connect us to others.  Exploring those ideas was one of the main reasons I placed the characters in high school (and a little of  junior high).  That is a key time in life when people start to choose who they want associate with and be associated with.  For some it is a conscious choice, for others, it is more of a hit-or-miss chance meeting.

Burnouts, geeks and Jesus freaks are names kids use to define themselves, create separate identities, and connect with others who share the same moniker.  The names are short hand for (stereotypical) characteristics that allowed me as an author to build my characters more easily. In the beginning of the story, lines are clearly drawn between the groups but those lines start to fade and become less clear as the characters grow and mature.

The title grabs your attention because most of us remember these groups in high school or similar ones.  We had preppies, nerds, burnouts, goody-goodies, jocks; all derogatory terms meant to divide and define.  There was almost always a price to pay for crossing over the divisions, moving away from your group.  But some, like Ben and Carrie, were willing to cross those lines, because that’s the other thing that happens in high school: a love story.

 

Cover Reveal and Countdown

It’s tough, it’s pink and it’s perfect.   It’s the (reworked) cover of my first novel.  

The lovely Kim and Kitten at Deranged Doctor Designs spent hours upon hours learning about the characters and the story and then translating them into a cover that will hopefully stand out in the wide literary sea that is Amazon. 

It’s becoming a little more real everyday.  I’m almost finished with the final edit, which is good, because I need something to go with the cool cover.  And I’m making plans to tell the world (or as many people as I can) about it.  Which is strange for an introverted writer.  At the coffee shop where I had lunch yesterday I worked up the nerve to ask to put a flyer advertising my book on their bulletin board.  They not only agreed, but started talking about a possible book signing event – a very unnerving, but very exciting idea.  Luckily, I can put that on the back burner for now.  I have so much to do before I can even make a signed hard copy real.  

My countdown calendar hangs on the wall above my desk.  At twenty-five days out I have a cover and a novel, this is good.  Now for that crucial final element, readers.

  I realize that this story isn’t for everyone, so now I need to find as many of the people who will love it as possible and tell them about it.  

Who is it for?  It’s for those who love a love story, a happy ending.  It’s for those who like their love stories a little more gritty and real.  It’s for those who what a different love story, where the girl is not so sweet and the guy is.  It’s for those who want to remember high school, doing things you probably shouldn’t have, making the friends who will last a lifetime and for some, first love.  

In a nutshell, it’s sweet, it’s silly, and it’s smexy (smart-sexy) . . . and it’s almost here.

Available and an E Book March 4th on Amazon.