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.
Just released! Click HERE to buy:
More Bang! For Your Buck – A third short, erotic encounter of the Judy Banger kind
Kudos to my wonderful cover artist Kim Van Meter. She found the perfect “vector” to represent my heroine Judy Banger, tweaked the image as needed added the great lettering and special accents–notice the handcuffs. And lips.
When I showed the first draft to my husband, he said, “Where are the lips? You gotta have lips.”
Be still my heart. He noticed. 🙂
I may have mentioned that when I started this series, I assumed there’d be three books. Who doesn’t love a good trilogy? But when I came to the end of this book something amazing happened. Someone unexpected showed up and took Judy’s–and my–breath away. Suddenly, I knew Judy had a chance at her very own HEA (happily-ever-after, for you non-romance junkies).
Here’s Judy’s first glimpse of the man (from More Bang! For Your Buck):
Fletcher’s annoyed snarl gave way to a sigh of resignation. He swallowed a big gulp of wine then said, “Hello, Dad. Imagine meeting you here.”
He made a sweeping gesture with his free hand. “Gang, let me introduce you to my father, Judge Wilson Canby.”
“Judge?” Lewis repeated before levitating off the bed to disappear into the bathroom.
Pru, Judy noticed, had apparently snatched her purse and hightailed it at the first sign of trouble.
Judy shrank against the cushion pinned by the blue steel gaze that surveyed her from toe to head. The man’s expression was as unreadable as his son’s, but tightly clenched fists and the rigid cast of his shoulders spoke volumes. Anger. Frustration. Disappointment. And something else. Grief? Despair?
She’d seen the same look on Buddy’s face when he talked about the pain of losing his wife or the regret he felt over the vast chasm of disconnect between him and his son. Buddy had thrown in the towel and let Lewis manage their relationship. This man, Judy guessed, wasn’t the type to give up without a fight. His Armani suit might as well have been made of chain mail.
Poor Judy. Caught in a most compromising position by the man of her dreams. How could any writer write her out of this mess?
That’s a very good question. I’ll let you know as soon as THE BIG BANG! THEORY is published (hopefully mid-June).
In the meantime, please help me get the word out about this series. Every review and social media “share” is greatly appreciated. And please sign up for my May Contest.
your choice of any one of these three current Screw Senility titles
AND a free copy of On Fire Fiction’s LOVE ME SOME COWBOY, a box set of five great books by five awesome authors.
So, Happy May Reading, my friends! Deb
As the adage says: There’s strength in numbers.
Like the number SEVEN…as in…The Magnificent Seven.
Ask Yul Brynner. If he were alive, he’d tell you: The right group of people can make magic happen.
And, it doesn’t hurt if one of the seven is Steve McQueen. (Be still my heart.)
So, what does The Magnificent Seven have to do with writing?
Well…um…seven rhymes with eleven…and since I belong to On Fire Fiction, a creative cooperative made up of ELEVEN published authors…okay, that’s a stretch. You’re right. You know me too well. I’ll use any excuse to post photos of Steve McQueen.
But, obviously, the main purpose of this blog is to introduce On Fire Fiction and its ELEVEN members –and to explain about this growing trend in publishing: authors working cooperatively–and creatively–to share the daunting and at times overwhelming task of promoting their work.
Why do authors need to worry about promotion?
We all know publishing, along with book buying habits, has changed. Ebooks, ereaders and online retailers like Amazon, iTunes and B&N make it easy to buy a book. But have you looked at all the titles out there?! Eek!
Smart, well-focused promotion helps your loyal readers find out about your latest release. Promotion raises your “discoverability” to attract new readers. Hopefully, promotion begets sales, which, to be frank, is how today’s author makes a living so he or she can continue to write books to promote.
So, let me introduce my wonderful, magnificent-if you will–cohorts:
- If you follow me on Facebook and/or Twitter, you may have seen this photo from a get-together of the “West Coast” members of OnFireFiction. We used Facetime and Skype to work with our members on the east coast, Texas and Colorado. We covered a rigorous agenda. But, yes, we did break to eat. I learned that I really like Vietnamese Pho. Yummm. 😉
There is never a shortage of new things to learn in this ever-changing business–especially when it comes to marketing your books.
But knowing you’re not alone in your efforts really makes a difference. Plus, writers are the most generous professionals I know. We’re eager to share our experiences–good and bad. We’re happy to trade tips on what type of advertising works and what flops. We eagerly share and post the best sites for getting the word out about a new release. And we may be setting up a data base for finding the best Pho. 🙂
One exciting and very tangible thing to come out of this meeting turned out to be a win-win for both readers and authors. Offering “boxed sets” isn’t a new sales technique, but offering three complete books by three different authors for one super low price is just plain awesome.
Unsuitably Perfect, OnFireFiction’s first 3-in-1 “Boxed Set” is now available at Amazon for just $.99.
Forgive the salacious title, but it fits. Here’s why:
- Ebooks are fluid.
- Epublishing is not yo’ mama’s written-on-paper-bound-to-hang-around-for-as-long-as-yard-sales-exist kind of production.
Got typos? Fix ’em.
Hate your cover? Change it.
Missing a scene? Add it.
As long as the story is alive in the mind of the author, there is room, time and potential for change.
As a writer, I find this both scary and exciting.
Because most of the authors I know are perfectionists who can agonize for hours over the placement of a single word. Myself, I’ve tweaked a story to near death only to have my editor shrug off my concerns with a casual, “Oh, that’s nice.”
“Nice? Don’t you see the blood and brain matter on that page?” I wanted to shriek at her.
Anyway, the point of this blog is, as the title says, “More sex.” Here’s why:
In my second Screw Senility book, In With A Bang, I committed the writerly sin of falling in love with a cool line–a really nice cliffhanger line, granted–at the expense of story.
I knew this in my gut, but I didn’t listen to my inner author…until a reader–thank you, Ruth–asked, “What happens with Jed the Contractor? Do he and Judy get together in the next book?”
“Um…no,” I stutter while my brain scrambles to remember who Jed is. “He and Judy are just friends. Didn’t I make that clear?”
Of course not, dufus, or she wouldn’t have asked.
I realized immediately that poor Jed the Contractor got screwed. Or, rather, did not get screwed quite enough. He and Judy had unfinished business.
In a conventional print book, I, the author, and you, the reader, would be SOL (So…out…of..luck–don’t ask me why there’s only one O. I don’t know.) But this an eBook. I’m the ePublisher. So, guess what?
I added a new scene.
And yes, yes, yes (this is more affective if you say it ala Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally), it’s a sexy scene. A very Judy Banger scene. Jed got lucky. Very lucky. French tickler lucky.
There’s a lot to be said for satisfaction, don’t you agree?
PS: If you purchased In With A Bang! and your ereader doesn’t let you upload the most recent version, please contact me.
Spring has arrived in wild, reckless profusion. The birds are carrying on something fierce outside my window. A small green and black snake just wound his way through my newly planted garden.
I love Spring. And the Easter Holiday is one of my personal favorites. I have great memories of dressing up in all my newly purchased finery–hats and gloves were a must–to go to church.
Competitive egg dying is a more recent thing, but when my nephews showed up at Grandma’s, egg hunting became a contact sport.
Nowadays, I’m seeing all sorts of toys, games, hair ties, kites and non-candy goodies showing up in Easter baskets.
This Sunday, several generations will gather at my brother’s and sister-in-law’s home to watch the “old” kids hide eggs for the “new” kids while parents snap pics and grandparents snap pics of their kids snapping pics.
I will be taking the day to turn the “online” off and reconnect via “face time,” not Facebook. But, since this is a writer’s blog, I thought I’d spread some reading goodness in case you’d like to treat yourself to some fun, spring books for your eReaders libraries. Click on any image to take you right to the Amazon page.
$.99 Fun read!
A great Kindle buy at $.99
LOL fun! $.99
Double RITA nominee! Now, just $.99
May you begin next week and the new month with hope renewed.
Happy Easter! And Happy Spring!
Well, check out what my Thesaurus says about the word:
amazing, astonishing, eye-opening, fortuitous, from left field, impetuous, prodigious, unpredictable, wonderful.
I get a little giddy thinking about all the possibilities: guest bloggers, Q&As with characters, super sexy, provocative photos OR pics of my dog, the rattlesnake we just killed, or anything else that might stumble into my corner of the world.
Snake, you say? 45″, 7 buttons. This big boy (or girl, I can’t tell the difference) scared the heck out of me while I was writing this blog. (It’s a beautiful spring day in Debland and my poor old deaf dog nearly got struck not ten feet from where I was sitting (on my deck).
What other types of unexpected goodies can you expect?
Well, for starters: How ’bout a Blow-out Sale?!
I reduced the price on ALL of my short fiction titles to: $1.99.
(Price changed at Amazon and Smashwords; other venues should be up soon.)
And here’s another deal: Unsuitably Perfect by Lisa Mondello, Barbara McMahon and Karen Sandler. Three complete, full-length romance novels from three bestselling authors for $4.99. You’ll have to do the math, but it sounds like a good deal to me. (I do words, I don’t do numbers.)
Read. Laugh. And if you’re eligible…Screw Senility. (I’m off to work on book III – More Bang! For Your Buck).
Sexual beings being sexual
Judy Banger, the heroine of my Screw Senility series, is a sexual being. She’s not a hot and gorgeous twenty-something, like this model hawking Guess sunglasses. (Exactly what I would have guessed was the focus of the ad, too.) Not.
Like a great many of us, Judy belongs to a market demographic far, far from that “sex sells” ideal.
In a blog for The Hoopla,
author Ilsa Evans calls this “the invisible women syndrome.”
She writes, “However this is exacerbated, hugely, by Western society being so youth-obsessed, weight-obsessed, image-obsessed. Female ageing has become demonised, an enemy to be battled on all fronts at any cost, automatically reframing the older woman as loser.”
Judy Banger would argue that age and weight does NOT define one’s sexuality anywhere other than in the media.
In Bang! You’re Dead!, she stridently declares, “I’ve got a vagina and I’m not afraid to use it.”
Actually, at 52, she’s more afraid she’ll lose it, if she doesn’t take a proactive approach to sex. So Judy is taking steps–and, yes, a mis-step or two–to embrace her inner bad girl and make up for lost time.
If Judy were writing an advice column for sexual beings of a certain age, here’s what it might look like:
Hank, my honey of forty-odd years (Well, some were normal, but most? Not so much…), is no longer interested in playing hanky with my panky, if you get my drift. What should I do to light his fire?
Signed: Still horny after all these years
Yank Hank out of his routine. You know that No-tell Motel on the edge of town? Don’t go there. Instead, book the best room in the nicest hotel in town. Nothing gets a man’s attention faster than overtly spending money he thinks might be his. Before your night at said hotel, invest in a “personal massager.” If Hank is reluctant to play, you can try using it like a Taser. It won’t lay him out flat, but he might laugh…and judiciously placed humor is a true aphrodisiac.
Signed: LOL Judy
So, what do you think? Does Judy have a future in the advice business? Or, perhaps more importantly, do you agree that the media has made “women of a certain age” invisible?
BTW, Books I and II in the Screw Senility series are currently available–click here: Bang! You’re Dead! and In With A Bang! And, because positive reviews drive sales, I’d love to give you one of my backlist titles (e- or print). Just email me a copy of the review from Amazon, B&N, Kobo, iBooks, Smashwords or Goodreads.
Thanks for reading and as Judy might say….stay naughty,
I ran across two interesting blogs today and wanted to share.
The first is fun–and about RETURN TO THE BLACK HILLS. Check it out. Tell ’em you love my books, too. 😉 http://www.rtbookreviews.com/rt-daily-blog/morgan-whitney-dish-return-black-hills-deborah-salonen
The second is more serious. One of our own, Fatin, who run the Novel Thoughts and Book Talk Blog and has been a dedicated reviewer and supporter of romance and romance authors for years, recently lost her husband to a senseless act of violence. He was gunned down in his store in North Carolina. Fatin and her four daughters need our help. Members of the romance community have come together to offer some fabulous donations for this great cause. Please check this out and contribute if you can. There are some really fabulous items up for auction later this month. http://www.superauthors.com/2011/03/friend-in-need-by-sarah-mayberry.html
Thanks, my friends.