The story came to me in an epiphany as I was reading a self-help article about dieting. I laughed to myself because I thought, “How many of these dang articles have I read?” They give you 12 steps to follow, and the first I do in my mind is negotiate. “Well, I don’t have to walk two miles a day, maybe just two blocks” or “I can eat vegetables three times a day, but I’m going to eat them with fried chicken.” Yet, I still expect to lose 112 pounds.
So, I thought I’d write a story about a woman who attracts players. She knows it’s a pattern in her life that she needs to stop. She sees a self-help article about emotional baggage and toxic men, and one of the suggestions is a “man diet.” Just like a dieter that drives past the McDonald’s, stops for “one little Big Mac” and knows full well she should go home and eat a carrot stick, the main character Charisse stops for a big “something else.” That’s how her journey begins.
Tell us about your story.
Real estate agent Charisse Tyson seems to have it all-a great job, a dream car, and a McMansion in high-and-mightyville. Everything in her life is just right…except the Mister. While lamenting the break-up with her most recent “the one” during a holiday meltdown, Charisse realizes she has a type when it comes to men—players, players, and more players. A magazine article motivates her to swear off men and examine the complex roots of her romantic fiascos.
Just five simple steps to turn her life to the stuff of legends, right? Life is never that easy…
Charisse commences her do-it-yourself therapy project and barely cracks open her emotional toolbox when she encounters the monkey wrenches: an irresistible new beau, two persistent ex-flames, and an FBI agent with life-altering secrets threatening to turn her world upside-down.
A tug of war ensues and Charisse is dead center, trying her best to distinguish the Don Juans from the Romeos. As her love life is propelled into unpredictable twists not even she could imagine, will a twenty-seven-year-old secret keep Charisse from finding the right “one”?
Laugh loud and often as Charisse discovers whether her choices in men reflect more than a penchant for good looks, great sex, and bad judgment.
Was this your first book? Tell us a little about your journey as a writer. Has it been difficult?
Yes, this is my first novel. I had an Oprah “aha” moment one day last summer. I was coming up on my fortieth birthday, feeling like I’d reached some level of success in my life, but what I was doing didn’t really fulfill me. As I got to thinking about what I wanted to be when I grow up, it just hit me that I wasn’t living my best life. I’d always wanted to be a writer. I’d been writing in my diaries and journals since I was maybe seven or eight years old. I’d always let the fact that I didn’t have a degree in English or any fiction writing experience keep me from starting. I pushed those negative thoughts out of my head and decided to give it a try.
Has it been difficult?
It’s been more challenging than difficult. When you put yourself and your writing out there for all the world to see (and criticize), you have no choice except to grow. I’ve had to learn how to process criticism and accept rejection without allowing it to paralyze me. But I have also experienced the joy of making people laugh, entertaining and touching people through my work. There is nothing better than getting a note from someone who says they read and loved your novel, that it made them laugh until they cried. That’s like writer’s crack.
Is it tough writing a romance novel? If you had the option to do it all over again, would you have done another genre?
Well, it’s not exactly a romance. It’s funny women’s fiction with a romantic element, but the romance is not the core of the store. A woman’s journey for emotional growth is the driving factor, but there are certainly romantic elements in it. Many characterize it as chick lit, but the main character in The Bum Magnet is not your typical “chick lit” girl. She’s not a perky blonde and she doesn’t obssess over shoes and clothes, although she knows the value of a Marc Jacobs handbag. She is hilarious, however, which I think is the reason for the characterization. I love funny women’s fiction so I’m going to do it again and again.
Did you self-publish it yourself? Tell us a little about the process that led to the book’s realization.
Yes, I created my own imprint, LadyLit Press, and published it myself. I shopped it around to some agents for a while and, of course, I got rejection after rejection. But instead of letting it get me down, I took most negative comments and used them to fix my novel. By the time, I got to the version that I published, I was getting multiple requests to read the full manuscript.
If I had kept querying, I have no doubt that I’d have found someone to take me on, but I just decided that I didn’t want to give the publishing industry the power to determine my worth as a writer or the worth of my work. So, I stopped. I hired an illustrator to do my cover, a former acquisitions editor from Simon & Schuster to give it a final editorial review, and I put it out myself. It’s a lot of work because you have to become your own publishing house, from writing and editing to marketing and distribution. But it is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done and it never feels like work.
What, in your opinion, makes a good writer?
I think good writers just make you feel, you know? They transport you. They can make you laugh, make you angry, make you cry, make you want to change your life–they move you. It’s not an easy thing to move someone emotionally through writing, but when you can pull that off, through some element of truth, it’s very powerful.
K.L. Brady’s book is available at her website. Add one more self-publishing author to your shelf by reading her book. =3
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