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Is Silver The New Grey? Older Heroes & Heroines in Fiction

There’s a growing trend in fiction, and it’s not grey, but almost. Silver is in, with older fictional heroes and heroines (not in their twenties) in romance novels, and even in some other genres, too. Which makes sense when statistics show a significant portion of readers who read books regularly are women, and over the age of fifty-five, as shown in this recent Book Bub study. Many readers enjoy stories with characters who are more like them, who have more life experience and are facing problems and challenges they can relate to.

Several social media pages or groups have emerged to provide a place for those interested in reading or writing romances featuring mature or “seasoned” main characters. For example, the “Seasoned Romance” group page on Facebook declares that it is a “place for readers and writers of love stories with heroes and heroines in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and beyond. Sex and love can get better with age. So let’s read, write, and talk about it!” They have already passed five hundred members as of this writing, proving there is interest in stories with older characters.

I am working on a new series featuring “seasoned” characters, so I did some research to find out what readers are responding to. Here’s what I found:

New York Times Bestselling Author Roxanne St. Claire features “silver fox” heroes in her popular Barefoot Bay Timeless Series. This series promises “plenty of laughs, a few tears, and a chance to fall for a man who’s lived and loved and knows exactly how to treat a woman. I promise you’ll break out a tissue or two with these emotional stories about three handsome, accomplished, and sexy men in their forties who kick off their shoes and fall in love again.” I agree there’s a certain appeal to a man who knows what he’s doing in the bedroom, and older guys usually do. Judging by the models on the covers of Roxanne’s books, they still look hot, too!

The blog Smart Bitches, Trashy Books has a post discussing the appeal of older heroes and heroines. Here’s the link: http://smartbitchestrashybooks.com/2017/04/rec-league-silver-foxes/   Scroll down to check the comments for recommendations from actual readers─there’s a ton of info here.

Even more proof that Seasoned Romance is now a thing─there will be a Vintage Love panel at this year’s RWA convention in Orlando in July, and also at next week’s (May 1-7) Romantic Times Convention in Atlanta. I will be attending RT, and attending the Vintage Love panel to take some notes. If anyone is going to the one at RWA, I’d love to share info with you! And if you are attending RT, let’s meetup.

Author Natasha Moore has a Silver Fox Series, with the tagline, “Love Can Happen At Any Age”. She also has a book in a multi-author collection of mature romances, entitled, Hot Silver Nights.”

Sometimes only one of the main characters is older, leading to complications due to age differences. It also plays into the fantasy of attracting younger partner. This list on Maryse’s Book Blog, from a few years ago, has several older woman/younger man books recommended by readers. The theme of an older man/younger woman has fans, too─as this list I found on Amazon shows: https://www.amazon.com/gp/richpub/listmania/fullview/RQFUP0JV5QOEA

Heck, even Nora Roberts is on this list of Mature Romances on the Booklist Reader Blog, and of course Goodreads has a list of novels with Older Hero and Heroines (over 40).

Perhaps part of the appeal of older characters is they have more to offer─more experience, more connections, and thus they often have more at stake. They may have children or a business, something significant to lose, more so than perhaps a younger, twenty-something character. They also may have more emotional baggage, since they’ve been around; second chance romances or widows/widowers are a common trope with older characters.

I know diversity of characters is a hot topic these days, and rightfully so─fiction should reflect a wider view of the world than it sometimes does. And that includes characters of all races and origins, in the prime of their lives, who still have dreams, ambitions, and yes, hot sex!

This is one trend I can get behind, because for many of us it’s true that love, sex and romance do not belong only to the young. I’ve had some of the best sex and most romantic moments of my life after I turned forty, and I’m not done yet!

How about you? If you have any recommendations of books featuring older characters that you loved, let me know!

 

 

 

Five Tips For Handling The Book Promotion Phase

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You finally published your book, and holding it in your hands for the first time is such a thrill. Mission accomplished! Right?

Yes. You should enjoy it, savor it, and bask in the attention. Because the next phase of authorship, called The Promotion Train, is about to leave the station on the 13 ½ platform and you’d better be on it!

Promos, Promos, Everywhere!

Once you have your books in the marketplace, your work has just begun. Ideally, your promotion efforts  should begin way before your first book is published, but that’s a whole other post. If you are traditionally published, this may also apply to you, because most publishing houses won’t do all the promotion for you. Establishing your brand and connecting with readers is important, no; it’s crucial, for any author. But since I’m indie and that is where my experience lies, this post is slanted in that direction.

I was inspired to write this post because tonight, for the first time in months, I took a few minutes to sit on my deck with a glass of wine and just be (see it on Instagram, under Renee Regent). I actually relaxed.  I can’t even recall the last time I did that. Before I started writing to seriously pursue publication, I sat on my deck as often as I could. But writing a three book series for indie publication requires dedication, and a ton of time, and I am happy I accomplished that.

To Help You Navigate

I’m in the process now of learning what it takes to promote and sell those books and to gain readership. I’ve blogged for years, and have been active on social media, but having books published means switching gears in a few ways. And it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the possible ways to promote yourself and your books, so I wanted to mention a few things I have learned so far:

Take a breather now and then. You can’t do it all, all the time. If your stress level takes the fun out of writing, step back, even if it’s just a few hours, or a day. Being frazzled means you won’t be effective.

Don’t neglect your S.O. (significant other). Whether that is your husband, boyfriend, your best friend, your mother, or your cat or dog, remember to make time for them. Writing is a business, yes, and it requires your attention. But so does your support network, the ones who were there before you wrote the book and who will be there after your big success. Or your quiet retreat into retirement. In any case, don’t neglect your loved ones for the sake of promoting your book. The book is going to outlive all of you, anyway.

Research before you try. There is a proliferation now of groups for promotion and companies providing author services. Some are wonderful, some are predatory, and some are ineffective. Talk to other authors, read blogs, search keywords on Facebook. I belong to a Yahoo Group of authors who regularly discuss marketing they have tried. If you try something, don’t forget to let others know if it works or not. Pay it forward.

Remember everyone’s path is different. This is so easy to say, and not so easy to follow, but I believe it’s true. Just because another author seems to be on the fast track, or another seems to be doing everything wrong, the two can’t be compared. So many varied factors that play into an author’s success. Yes, there are trends and best practices to follow, and you should seek those out. But what works for one book or one author may not work for another. Remember, your path is your path, and no one else’s. Celebrate the successful and help to support everyone who is still finding their way.

Don’t be afraid to fail, and don’t take success for granted. We all come to the writing table with different skill sets, and we all have something to learn. And the wheel goes round and round….

I’m so glad I took a moment to step back, because I was getting a bit frazzled. I love writing too much to give it up, but I don’t want it to drag me down, either. What about you? Have you felt overwhelmed with all the choices for promotion? How do you determine what to try?

Happy Writing!

 

 

 

 

 

Paranormal Investigator Interview- A True Ghost Hunter

Have you ever wondered what a Paranormal Investigation is really like?  Are the ones you see on television and movies close to reality or are they exaggerated?  I sat down with Paranormal Investigator Brandon Keeler of He’iau True Ghost Hunters, and we had an interesting conversation. Since I often write about the supernatural (ghosts, psychics and witches) in my novels, I was personally excited to find out what PI work is all about.

How long have you been performing paranormal investigations?

I’ve always had a love for the paranormal. My first real investigation was when I was 21. There was an old house down the road from my girlfriend’s house, which had burned down. I asked her about it, and she didn’t know much other than the entire family had died in the house. I did some research and found   the older son had actually killed the mother and two sisters, the father, and then killed himself because his girlfriend had left him. So I’d have to say about 11 years. What was really cool during this investigation was I took some still pictures, and was able to catch what looked like two kids in the pictures.

What prompted you to begin doing PI work?

My grandpa died in 1998. One evening about two weeks after he passed away, I was in the living room, and smelled his scent that he always had on around him. I thought I heard someone walking up the stairs, so I turned my volume off on the TV, and that’s when definitely I heard footsteps going up the stairs. I got up thinking it was either my sister or my mom and went around the corner, only to see my grandpa walking up the stairs.  I froze and said, “Pawpaw”, and he stopped and looked at me and smiled, then continued walking upstairs and disappeared. I screamed and ran out of the house. Funny as that sounds now, that’s really how paranormal investigations started for me. I always wanted to find ways to reach out and talk to my grandparents again, and as time went by, I learned other ways to attempt to communicate with the dead.

How many site visits have you done?

Officially…5… Unofficially, 15.  From simple things like graveyards, to houses, all the way up to old school buildings that have flooded, to an old mental hospital.

What equipment do you like to use?

I love my SB7 Spirit Box, and my Full Spectrum IR Digital Camera.  The SB7 scans through radio frequencies at a rate of 7 sweeps per second, and it goes backwards to wash out normal sounds you get from radio stations. Anytime you use it, and you get full voice responses forward, that’s usually a spirit.  My camera is very helpful because I see in the full range of light spectrums, most of which we cannot see, and that’s how I am able to see spirits.

Tell us about your most successful investigation.

Well, I cannot say the name(s) of the family because they requested I not share the full information about it, but I can tell you it involved a very tragic situation─two young kids who happened to have their lives taken in a horrible accident.  I was able to contact the family, and with their blessings, was able to reach out and contact the kids and put to light what happened and let the family know they’re always there and are ok.

Has your work led you to develop any theories about the supernatural?

I think it’s like a script the spirits have to follow with regards to what they can or cannot say to the living.  I often feel that there has to be a place they are when they aren’t visible to us.

What is your dream job scenario for a paranormal investigation?

I have so many of those.  I would love to go to Scotland and England. There is an old Inn call the Ram Inn. There are so many stories about it that I want to find out more. Scotland has so many that I cannot list. Let’s just say it’s a good five or six months of non-stop investigations and that I’d get my own evidence.

You don’t charge for your work, but ask for donations instead.  Tell us about the charity you support.

This again goes to the beginning of my most successful investigation.  It’s in a family member’s name so all the funds I receive, go directly to them.  Let’s just say it goes to a great cause. I’m always welcomed to accept donations for them only. I must explain that 100% of any monetary contributions that come to me, go directly to them from me. You know you see some of these TV stars who have their own shows and make tons of money and expect more because they’re showing off things.  I’m not that way. Would fame be great? Heck yeah. But I’m not about money in this. I want families who have had tragic events take place to get answers they deserve, and not have to pay anything to have my company go out and investigate for them.

Please let all your readers know, in the Atlanta area especially, they can contact me at any time at keelerbr1986@gmail.com. I’d love to help them out. I like having help come along with me too on investigations.  I hope they know that Spirits have voices too. They often just need to know they’re being acknowledged, and that can help them pass on to the next life. Thanks for having me. I plan on doing a lot more investigations in 2017!

Good luck Brandon with your upcoming investigations and with the charity efforts. I’d love to go along on a job someday, especially if you go to Scotland! If I get the chance, you’ll hear about it here on my blog.  And if you’d like to know more about my books, see my website at http://reneeregent.com

Have you ever been on a Paranormal Investigation? I’d love to hear about it!

Switching Gears Without Derailing- New Series Coming Up!

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Ever have to switch gears so rapidly your head was spinning?  That’s where I am now, and it’s nerve wracking, but also a lot of fun.  I’m finding that growing as an author means adding layers, by branching out and trying new things. It’s also learning how to discern which opportunities are the right ones to take advantage of.

Times are tough for indie authors right now, but they are also fantastic. As I mentioned in an earlier post, discoverability is the Holy Grail. There are so many books available, and tons more being added in a constant stream, that the admirable accomplishment of publishing a professional, well-written story is just the first step in a long journey.

It’s Raining Promo

It’s amazing how creative this industry is when it comes to promotion. Ads, Facebook Groups, Blog Tours, conferences, and other co-op type promotions are springing up faster than you can fill out a form to join them. Giveaways are raining all over social media, like confetti and beads at Mardi Gras.

Now that I have three books out (the Higher Elevation Series), I’m signing up for various events and promotions. I’m not sure what will work best, and what works for someone else’s book may not work for yours or mine. The best thing of course, is a recommendation from another author who has tried whatever marketing tactic you are considering, but that doesn’t guarantee results. So you make the most informed decision you can, keeping in mind your audience and your budget, and cross your fingers.

Unfortunately, this is how marketing and promotion work, most of the time.  It’s an educated crap shoot. But I started to wonder if it would help to have more than one product (series) to promote. Here’s how that played out:

A few months ago, after I launched my three-book series, I came up with a new Contemporary Romance series idea. I sketched out several good story lines, but nothing jumped out at me, begging to be written. But I also had the plot for Unraveled, Book Four of the Higher Elevation Series, in my head so I wrote an outline for it, and a few weeks later I am 10K in and it’s going well.

BUT!

As much as I was loving Sophie and Kane’s story (Book 4), I put it down to work on something else. What prompted the sudden switch was I had a new logo and a new author tagline, “Love Grows in Unexpected Places”. To me, the logo of a tree inside a heart represented enduring love that is meant to be. I love writing about mismatched people who beat the odds to be together, and my books represent that.

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So all those Contemporary storylines I jotted down now had a unifying theme, and they began yelling at me to be written. I’m thinking of calling it the “Love Grows” series. The first one, Cougar-ish, is about a couple, a younger man-older woman, who face many obstacles to be together. Once this series is underway, I can go back and finish Sophie’s story in the Higher Elevation Series. (Is it crazy I feel like I have to apologize to my characters for putting them aside?)

I think it’s an excellent idea to have more than one series to promote. I just wish I had four more hands and two more brains, so I could get them all done NOW!

What about you? Have you put down a beloved project in favor of something else? Was it the right thing to do?

 

Using The Tarot For Insight and Inspiration

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It’s only natural at the beginning of the year to wonder what the future holds. Maybe that’s why I have been seeing Tarot card readings popping up in my social media feed. Whether you believe a pretty picture on a card can foretell the future or not, you may want to give them a try.  There’s way more to Tarot cards than meets the eye, and several ways to use them.

 

Not Just A Game

Many authors and other creatives use Tarot cards for inspiration. I’ve been studying them most of my life, and have several decks. Invented in Europe around 1450, they were used as playing cards as well as for divination. The intricate designs on the cards are probably what inspired the divination aspect, as the drawings are detailed and full of symbolism. Many decks can be considered works of art, and some have themes, such as cats, steampunk, even zombies (huh?).  My personal favorite currently is The Witches’ Tarot, illustrated beautifully by Mark Evans and the guidebook is written by Ellen Dugan. The descriptions and explanations of the symbols are given a fresh take here, leaning toward Wiccan principles.

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However, there will always be a special place in my heart for the most common version, the Rider-Waite deck. Illustrated by Pamela Coleman Smith, this is the version frequently seen in TV shows and movies over the past thirty years or so. The drawings are a bit plain compared to some of the more modern decks, but that’s what makes these so interesting. Looking almost like they were made from wood carvings, these have an old-world feel. There’s plenty of detail and symbolism, and the old-fashioned style gives the illusion these cards have ancient wisdom to impart.

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Spreads

There’s several ways to do a reading, and the accompanying guidebook of any deck should have diagrams of the most commonly used layouts.  But here’s are a few that I’ve used:

The Celtic Cross– this consists of five cards in a cross formation around the center card, with the final four cards in a vertical row to the side (total ten cards).  Each position represents a specific aspect, such as “This is behind you, in the process of leaving” and “This is before you”.  This layout is a good one for a general reading or for a detailed answer to a specific question.

Card of the day– some people like to pick a card at random for inspiration. The theme of the card picked gives the reader a focus, something to consider as they go through the day.

Year in Advance– Many people, myself included, like to do a reading for the year ahead. This consists of picking twelve cards, one for each month.  As with any reading, the cards can be picked at random from the deck, or in order after a thorough shuffle. With Tarot it’s best to use your inner guidance, or your gut feeling to choose the cards, so which ever method you prefer is fine.

 

Art & Symbolism

As noted above, the cards are chock full of symbols. The colors, the background, the objects and people─every detail has a meaning. Though they may not actually predict a specific outcome, the cards can definitely inspire the reader to think about the meaning of each card and how it pertains to their situation. That’s what I use them for, as a focal point to help me direct my thoughts toward bringing about my desired outcome.  That’s where the magic is, right?

And then, sometimes I just like to enjoy the art of the cards for its’ own sake. There are some gorgeous decks out there! It’s interesting to see the different interpretations, too. I have a collection started on my Pinterest Page, under the board “Evocative Art” if you’d like to check it out.

Have you used Tarot?  What’s your favorite deck?

 

 

 

2017- Taking On A Whole New Level

Ta-da!

Ta-da!

I wasn’t going to do the obligatory end of year post, but what a year it’s been!  When I read over my posts from the past two Decembers, I realize just how far I’ve come. One thing I learned this year─even when your dreams come true, there’s usually a surprise or two in the mix.

Mission Accomplished

In December of 2014, I wrote about how my life in general and my writing career in particular seemed to be gathering momentum. I had goals and plans, and they were taking shape. At the end of 2015, I noted how my goals and plans had changed, but the progress I had made was beyond my expectations. The same was true in my private life as well, as I had begun to consider some major changes to my day job.

Well in 2016, everything happened. I sold some of my business interests, a major change in my day job situation. The universe threw me a wonderful curve ball─as soon as I voiced my true desire and made a commitment to pursue it, the people and resources needed to make it happen came forward without me having to seek them out.  Funny how things begin to happen when you get out of your own way!  The result was I had a bit more time and energy to ramp up my publication schedule for my debut, Unexplained, Book One of the Higher Elevation Series. I also set up my author website and finally learned the whole process of producing an indie book and bringing it to market.  Unexplained, a paranormal romance, was published October 25 and was well received. Book Two, Untouched. followed on November 22.

Fallout Girl

Those surprises I mentioned?  I’m still working through them. There was some fallout from rearranging my businesses, and those you can never accurately predict, because people react to changes in different ways. Some aspects went well, some were difficult. The same was true for my rapid release schedule for my books, which I am still in the midst of (Book 3, Undeniable, comes out January 3, 2017). It was a thrill to finally be a published author, but there was some fallout from that, too. I talked about my unexpected reactions in my last post, Post-Publication Syndrome─Now What?

But that’s how it goes when you’re an entrepreneur, you learn as you go. If you start to think you know it all, you’re heading into dangerous territory. But I say learning is part of the fun, right?

Going Up?

So heading into 2017, it feels like I’m on a whole new level. As seems to be the state of the world, rules and traditions are changing, and all at a pretty rapid pace. The dust is beginning to settle in my personal life, making way for new things to grow.  I have new ideas for some old writing projects that have been fermenting, and a few new stories I’d like to work on.  Looks like the future is wide open, and I’m ready for the surprises yet to come.

What about you? Have you had any surprises this year? What are your goals for 2017?

 

 

Post-Publication Syndrome- Now What?

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You’ve worked hard for months, maybe even years, on your first book. You’ve dreamed of the day you can finally say, “I’m a published author”, and it’s finally here. You had the launch party, your friends and family have congratulated you. You’ve finally made it, your dream has come true.

So now what?

Preparing for that day, which I experienced in October 2016, I tried to imagine what I would do, how it would feel. I asked other authors, I read blog posts and craft books. Most of them said it’s a wonderful thing, and some of them warned that it was just the beginning of even more work and additional challenges. I understood, and was ready and willing to take it on and do the work. But there was something no one told me about. Or, maybe they did, but in my push to get published, I dismissed it.

I’m talking about The Let Down. The Post-Publication Blues. I’ve got it, and I didn’t see it coming.

Mission Accomplished

Now, I’m a practical sort of person. I had no dreams of grandeur, I didn’t expect to be a best seller or even a good seller out of the gate. I’m a business person, an entrepreneur, so I know I’m selling a product and it will take time to find buyers (readers). I’m not feeling down due to lack of sales or recognition.  With time, and perseverance, (and spending money on marketing) it can improve.

It’s just…I accomplished what I set out to, and now I have this sense of loss. It’s purely emotional, and not what I expected to feel at this point in my career.  How I went from hopeful enthusiasm to…a general lack of enthusiasm in such a short time is beyond me. I love my stories, I believe they are worth reading. I haven’t had many reviews yet, but so far they have all been positive. My negative feelings have nothing to do with the work I have published to date. It’s more to do with expectations and realities, and the emotions that go along with them.

So Back to Work…Right?

Being practical, I knew the best thing I could do right now, besides promoting my newly published series (Higher Elevation, Books 1-3), is to keep writing.  I had several projects on the back burner while the Higher Elevation Series was being published, so all I had to do was pick up where I left off.  I needed to get the pipeline going again.  But that proved easier said than done, and I found my post-publication blues were effecting my ability to write. I’d get going and then I’d stall.  I found myself procrastinating, which I rarely did before. Used to be I couldn’t wait to do something, anything writing-related.

It didn’t help that I’d spent the better part of this year editing, rewriting, and all the other business that comes with Indie publication.  My creative muse had been exiled, and when I asked her to get back to work, she had less enthusiasm than I did.  Clearly, something has gone wrong.

What’s Next?

One thing I know I won’t do, is give up. Writing is like breathing to me, so I will keep going, even if the muse stays in exile. And I know negative emotions are usually temporary. But any advice or tips from other writers are welcome. I doubt I am the only one to ever go through this!

Do I just need time off from writing? Or should I push myself and hope it will work itself out?  Have any authors out there experienced a sense of disappointment or loss, even after achieving success? How have you worked through it?