Monday, December 29, 2014

Pen name?

I've had a few readers and bloggers ask if Mae Wood is a pen name.

Yes.  Yes, it is.

I have an earlier post on what it means.  (Short story - there was a spring-fed man-made lake with a sandy bottom near Memphis for a very long time called Maywood.  It's now a housing development.)

So, why?  One of my life goals was to write a book.  Why would I hide behind a fake name?

Let me be clear.  I am extremely proud of my work.  It kills me not to be able to tell the world, announce it in my college's alumni magazine, and brag about it on Facebook.

However, I do know that some people turn their noses up at romance novels as "lesser than" literature or art.  (If you went to my college, where your schoolmates' novels are being turned into major motion picture and  being published in multiple languages -- I'm not exaggerating --, you might now necessarily want your steamy romance novel to show up in the alumni magazine).

Plus, I'm not sure how people who interact with me professionally would think about Risking Ruin.  Yes, it's steamy, but it's no Fifty Shades of Grey.   Would you think differently about your lawyer if she wrote romance novels on the side?

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Risking Ruin's Restaurant Tour of Memphis

Risking Ruin is set in Memphis, Tennessee.  Memphis is where my heart belongs and I eat very well there, too.

So what restaurants are real and what's my imagination in Risking Ruin?

At bottom, all places are fictionalized, but many places you can visit and see if my imagined version lives up to your expectations.

Paulette's -- The site of Trip & Marisa's first "date."   Paulette's is a lovely French restaurant with great views of the Mississippi.  It's a Memphis staple.  I could see Marisa having dinner for prom here.  High marks on Urban Spoon.

Pig & Barley -- This is the cozy low-country restaurant that Trip owns an interest in.  This is totally from my imagination.  But, it's back story could be real.    Piggly Wiggly was founded in Memphis in 1916 and revolutionized the grocery store business.  I located the fictional Pig & Barley in its original building in downtown Memphis.  See pictures at the link above or here.    If I had to pick a real Memphis restaurant that would be like Pig & Barley, I might suggest Sweet Grass.  It's local food and low-country and the bar as plenty of whiskeys to try.

Cafe Piazza --  Italian restaurant in downtown Collierville, right near the town square in an old home. High marks on Urban Spoon -- Like Marisa's parents, the toasted ravioli and scratch-made cakes are my favorites.

Earnestine & Hazel's -- Every city has its dive bar/ burger joint.  I think this is Memphis' quintessential dive bar/ burger joint.  Check out reviews on Urban Spoon.   Read about it here.  Like Marisa, I haven't been to Earnestine & Hazel's sober.

Folk's Folly -- This is the granddaddy of fine Memphis dining.  As a child, nothing said "big night out" than when my dad would take my mom to Folk's Folly.   Urban Spoon.  For a classic steakhouse experience in Memphis, Folk's Folly is the king.  *Note - I have never played footsie at Folk's Folly and cannot advise on this point.

What's your favorite Memphis restaurant?  I'm a huge farm-to-table fan. Where should Marisa and Trip eat next?

Take a chance on me

or, really, take a chance on my book.

I'm going to do a free promotion, but have learned that it isn't enough just to put it out in the market.  I have to actually market it. So, I'm putting together my marketing plan.

What would encourage you to take a chance on Risking Ruin during a free book promotion?

  • Any websites or blogs or twitter accounts that you rely on for free book promotions?  
  • Tips for chick-lit/ romance authors?

As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Comment or email -

Monday, December 8, 2014

Beyond the Bechdel Test

The Bechdel Test  asks whether two women in a work of fiction have a conversation not about a man.

So does Bechdel work in Chick Lit?

We've got Becky Bloomwood (Sophie Kinsella's heroine) trying to make curry and also her many financial woes discussed with her roommate.  At least the first Shopaholic passes the Bechdel test with flying colors. So passing the Bechtel Test is possible in Chick Lit.

I'm not sure if Bridget Jones passes the test, though.  Off the top of my head, I can't recall one scene where Bridget isn't having a discussion with a woman not about a man.

So does that make Bridget Jones more of a contemporary romance than a chick lit?

Does failing the Bechdel test mark the line between Chick Lit and Contemporary Romance?  

I'm not sure, but since I fancy myself a feminist (or at least a capable woman), I subjected my own work to the Bechdel test.

Risking Ruin passes.  Technically.

Marisa has conversations with her assistant that don't have to do with a man.  But who talks about their love interests and exploits with their assistant?   (Surely someone does, but no one I know.)

Marisa also interacts with the private investigator that she's hired to help sniff out a potential conspiracy behind the rash of sexual harassment lawsuits.  But again, I'm not convinced this "counts."

In both these situations, conversing about a man would be out of the normal course for a professional woman.  And with Marisa's high powered position and personality, it would be out of character her to "dish" with either her assistant or professional contact.

I think the truth in passing the Bechdel test is when two women have a conversation where men could be discussed, but aren't.  

Yes, that is a higher standard, but in the 30 years since Allison Bechdel came up with the standard, it's time to expect more.

Next time I'll analyze Risking Ruin as to whether it passes this higher standard.  (If you've read this far, please consider giving my book a try.  I'd love your feedback.)

So what are your thoughts about Bechdel in Chick Lit, the line between Chick Lit and contemporary romance, my proposed "Bechdel plus" test, armchair criticism of popular fiction for women, or anything else?

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Chick lit or Contemporary Romance?

I'm struggling with how to categorize Risking Ruin 

I've got it under Chick Lit and Contemporary Romance

Why Chick Lit?
  • Marisa (female lead) is independent, financially successful, and great at her male-dominated profession.
  • Strong, funny, and open relationship with her best friend.
  • Marisa has interests beyond love -- running, fashion, and a weakness for Anthropologie.
  • Marisa is close with her parents and her best friend's family.
  • Marisa's whole being is not about finding love.
  • Marisa likes craft beer and farm-to-table dining and other current trends.
  • Marisa likes to verbally spar.

Why Contemporary Romance?
  • A few steamy scenes.
  • She falls in love and there is a happy ending.

So, I'd love your thought?  Chick lit?  Contemporary Romance?

I like to think of Risking Ruin as blending the two genres (if they are in fact truly separate genres).

What defines Chick lit for you?  What characteristics define Contemporary Romance?

Where does Risking Ruin belong?  (Available through Kindle Owners Lending Library and Kindle Unlimited.)