You know the type. The square pegs that won’t fit in that lovely, convenient pigeon hole people use to classify books, characters, authors.
I’ve written 29 novels filled with characters I loved. They felt real to me when I wrote their stories, but I admit they fit nicely in the parameters of the series romance line I sold to or they wouldn’t have been published. They weren’t cookie-cutter characters by any means, but there wasn’t a lot of wiggle room in their pigeon holes when I got done with them.
My 30th category romance manuscript is sitting unfinished on my computer. I like the characters, but their stories all felt familiar and left me a little bored, although I really liked the cat. So, I set them aside and told them I’d be back. Then, I went in search of someone new. Different.
Hello, Judy Banger.
Even her name doesn’t fit as a romance heroine.
Plus, she’s 54. Divorced. Chubby. And she lives in a trailer park. She makes dubious choices but for all the right reasons.
None of these characteristics would fit your typical romance heroine. But the more I learned about Judy, the more I liked her. She made me laugh. And blush. She was outrageous, ridiculous, over-the-top, provocative, true-to-herself—all things I wished I could be (but know I never could pull off). Above all, she was honest. She wasn’t blowing smoke. And I felt her pain. Life hasn’t always been kind to Judy Banger. Surprisingly, she isn’t bitter. I admire that about her.
I’ve written three of her stories and I’m just about done with the final one–The Big Bang! Theory. My square peg just met someone who would make the perfect romance hero. Luckily, I think Judy is going to save him from his “pigeon-holiness”. She’s shaking up his life, his world view and how he sees himself. Maybe that’s the value of square peg characters–they push us outside our comfort zone.
The problem with square peg characters comes in marketing them to a reading public. I recently received my first ever 1-star review. The reviewer wasn’t mean or disrespectful. On the contrary, this person mentioned reading and liking my series romance books, but she found Judy too raw for her taste. I respect that.
Luckily, I’ve also received reviews from people who enjoy Judy’s unconventional approach to life.
Here’s my latest review on Amazon:
5.0 out of 5 stars Judy, Judy, Judy… May 30, 2013By Book Goddess
Judy breaks out the bustier for this installment of the Screw Senility Series by contemporary author Debra Salonen. Buddy’s son blames Judy for his father’s death and threatens to take legal action. But what’s a BFF with a whip for if not to help teach a naughty boy a lesson. Judy finds herself in a rather interesting situation with handcuffs, an eye opening visit from officer Canby and the Judge.Some light, laugh a minute BDSM. You’ve never read anything like a Judy Banger erotic encounter so don’t let the sex toys scare you.
Much, much appreciated!! Still, I would like to be able to reach new readers without scandalizing my former series romance readers.
If you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them. Or, maybe, I’ll borrow a page from Judy’s manual on life: “You can’t please everybody, so please the one person who counts most–you.” 🙂
Give me your best Judy-ism and it might show up in her next book. But hurry, I’m anxious to move on to my new series: paranormal romance, no sex, almost no cussing. LOL.