Square Peg Characters

Square peg Salonen blog

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.

Now FREE on Amazon, iTunes and Smashwords!

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, 2013

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.” 🙂

And because I couldn’t resist: round-peg-square-hole

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.

Happy reading,


4 Replies to “Square Peg Characters”

  1. Deb,

    Your Judy Banger stories are not only original, they’re unique! Maybe similarly quirky, outrageous, hilarious heroines/stories are out there, but I’ve never seen one. It could be in a genre of its own–erotic chic lit, maybe?

    This series is so different from your previous, series romance books. I’m curious if you considered using a pseudonym. You’re a well known series romance author, and of course your established name would help sell your new books. But did you worry you might risk alienating some of your series romance fans? What were your thoughts as you prepared to publish the first Banger book?

  2. Sheri,

    First, thanks so much for all your support. I LOVE that you “get” Judy. And I’d be delighted to think I created my own genre. I may have to start promoting that. LOL.

    Second, the big P, as in pseudonym, question. YES, I did consider writing this series under a different name. I even picked one out: Teddi Serrano–hot, like the peppers. BUT, by the time I finished Bang! You’re Dead, I knew I wasn’t going to be writing a lot of erotica. This series pulled me in because of the characters, but, like I said, my next series is completely different. I couldn’t justify investing the time, $$ and effort to build a new website, a blog, a FB page, all the stuff that goes into promoting an IDENTITY, along with promoting one SERIES.

    At the time, I didn’t know Julie Kenner – http://juliekenner.com/. If I had, I might have tried doing something along the lines she does for her various genres. She writes as J Kenner, JK Beck and Julie Kenner and all the names and books share the same website. I could have pubbed my hot stuff under DK Salonen. My paranormal under Deb Salonen, etc. Something to think about. The good thing about self/e-pub it’s never too late to change. But…do I have the energy? That is always the question. LOL.

    Thanks for asking, Sheri. Great comment.


  3. Sheri,

    I had a similar conundrum with my work. I’d published several fairly sensual category romances (the last ten with Harlequin), then I started writing teen science fiction. Although there’s a light romance in the teen books, there’s no sex.

    So when I indie-pubbed several of my older, sexy romances, I tried using a pen name, but it just got too crazy. I decided to just embrace the three genres I write in, science fiction, romance, and mystery, under one name.

    So many authors nowadays are writing in a variety of genres or sub-genres. Just like Deb with her fun, sexy Judy Banger books, we should be proud to “own up” to all our stories.


  4. Karen, I love your “genre-conflicted” label. Makes me smile every time I go to your site. I do think writing in other genres is a great way to stretch and grow.

    Thanks for sharing your experience with the pseudonym. Confirms what I thought.

    I had a lovely interaction with a reader today on FB that made me very happy to “own up” to Judy and her craziness.


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