Friday, April 18, 2014

LoveLines Facelift

Yep, folks. There you have it. A fresh cover for a book I’m still scratching my head over. I’ve got a new book description for you, too. Oh yeah, and a complete repackaging of what is no longer a series. Uh huh. It’s like releasing a brand new book.



"That’s how I constantly felt, that I lacked the abilities others had to function normally."

Thirty-one-year-old proofreader Bailey Mitchell is a slave to her tics. She inherited Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder from her father, and it’s done nothing but inhibit her love life. She’s run the gamut of boyfriends—none of them willing or able to cope with her condition.

When she meets 32-year-old Reece Powell, her new coworker at Beach Elite Marketing Firm, everything changes. He falls in love with Bailey just as she is—quirks and all—and she, in turn, opens her life to him. His love seems to change her—to help her better manage her OCD. But when tragedy strikes, she is consumed by the destructive nature of her condition. Reece sees the ugly side, and he’s left with a choice: stay or run.


You deserve an explanation.

It didn't take me long to realize that there was a disconnect with the LoveLines cover after the book released. Well, actually, it wasn't just the book cover. There were all kinds of issues, and I'm wondering if, despite my desire to be genre-less, I haven't, in fact, solidified myself as a writer of taboo whether I like it or not. It's hard to say, and there are so many variables at play, but here's what I think I know:

1. The original cover of LoveLines failed. Miserably. (I conceptualized the whole thing and realized I have no business conceptualizing any book cover. Ever.) Apparently it didn't "translate." It's too cute and sweet, and we don't like people smiling on our covers, thank you very much. Do I think the Bailey and Reece featured on the original cover represent a good portion of the book and their relationship? Yes, I do. The book is fun. A lot of fun, actually. I infused a ton of humor. I wanted to get away from Going Under, Good, all my previous works that were so angst-filled they started messing with my brain. I failed to see, however, that the book isn't all fun. There's still angst—adult angst. There are tough moments. There are scenes that squeeze the heart. There are my younger sister’s accusatory words ringing through the phone: “You said it was funny! I cried the last thirty percent of the book!” How could I miss all that?

I guess I was in Cotton Candy La La Land. To me, the book was so far removed from anything I’d previously written that I saw light, fresh, and funny while in reality the book is more light/dark/funny/depressing/sexy/sweet. Now there’s a package for you ;)

2. I write taboo. I write taboo. Get it in your brain, Summer. You write taboo. Whether you like it or not, you write taboo. (I like it, I do. I just don’t want to have to like it for every freaking project.) So, I’ve established myself as a writer of controversy, and I paired that with a smiley, bright red book cover…….um, excuse me? Didn’t take. Maybe I need a different pen name for my non-taboo stories.

3. I think before LoveLines even released, it was doomed. Kind of like the Titanic, but on a much much smaller scale J I wrote what I thought was something pretty special, but I didn’t package it correctly for the public. Not enough life boats. Too much speed. You see, I put together a whole marketing campaign I thought was just the cutest thing. (Yes, cute.) And I went full steam ahead with it, ignoring the potential problem that it wouldn’t translate. Potential problem equals big ass iceberg. And I slammed right into that iceberg. And it hurt. Why don’t people get it? Why don’t they understand? The answer to my questions? “Summer, you’re not giving them the whole story. You’ve packaged your book as ‘chick lit’ when it is soooo not chick lit.”

So there you have it:

Taboo Writer + Bubbly Cover + Cutesy Marketing Campaign = What the Fuck is This?

*sigh*

So, now I have a new cover that speaks to all the elements of the story. I have a book description that fits the tone of the new cover much better. I also made the decision to drop the series and make LoveLines a true standalone. What does that mean for the epilogue (if you’ve read it)? Well, in the new version, the epilogue is gone. I’m not abandoning that story idea, however. I’m still going to write what would have been Book 2 in the series but as a standalone. Am I writing that next? No. I need to go back to my roots for a bit—for a few books, anyway. I have some things I need to get off my chest.

LoveLines will be exclusive to Amazon for a few months. We’re gonna see if we can breathe new life into this “new” book. After all, it feels like it’s new to me. I have to tell you that it’s awful being a perfectionist and messing up a story publicly. But that’s the way it goes sometimes. You try things, you mess up, you learn valuable business lessons, and then you move on. <3




Sunday, March 23, 2014

OCD: It's funny . . . but it's not.

This novel would not be true to the style of S. Walden if it did not contain some dark and difficult moments. Events that cause anxiety can be especially hard for individuals who suffer from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder . . . It is obvious to me that the author thoroughly researched OCD and combined the knowledge she learned with her ability to write a beautiful story. ~ Robin (Hesperia Loves Books)

(art by Michelle @ Give Me Books)

I suffer from anxiety. Not the same thing as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (though the two are BFFs), but it’s a mental condition that can be quite debilitating. So when I created the idea for LoveLines—knowing I wanted to write a story about a heroine who suffers from OCD—I knew I wouldn’t take it lightly. “It” being the actual condition. I wouldn’t disrespect it. I knew I’d probably end up teaching readers a thing or two, because from what I discovered through research, OCD is nothing like our society portrays it in movies, on television, even in books! I thought I understood it before cracking open those journals. Um, no.

First off, let's be real. Tics can be funny. If you’ve ever read “A Plague of Tics” from David Sedaris’s Naked, you know what I’m talking about. You probably laughed so hard you peed yourself and never admitted it to anyone. So yeah, the quirks can be cute and funny. Reece, my hero, sees them that way. But that’s before he really “sees” Bailey’s OCD—how it affects every aspect of her life. Controls her. Inhibits her. Forces her to live a life with “clearly defined lines.” It is . . . debilitating.

Could I write an entire story with that somber tone? Hell no! And anyway, let’s face it: some tics lend themselves to humor. And Bailey can see the humor. She makes fun of herself. Her self-deprecation is probably her cutest characteristic. But understand that her creator took a lot of time to learn just how OCD works and how loved ones of OCD sufferers should help them manage their condition. Unfortunately, there’s not a ton of research out there. Doctors still don’t know why a person is OCD (they think it’s a different wiring in the brain), but there are treatments to manage the condition. Not cure it. Manage it.

Here’s the most important thing I learned: people who suffer from OCD do not take pleasure in performing their tics. In fact, they loathe themselves for submitting to their urges. Why can’t they just refrain from tapping that pen like we can? Well, here’s the second most important thing I learned: they believe that something disastrous will happen to them or their loved ones if they do not perform their tics. Makes no sense to us, but it makes total sense to them. They don’t want to invite heartache or loss. It’s easier to tap the pen.

You will see this all throughout LoveLines. Yes, you’re gonna laugh. A lot. Yes, you’re gonna think Reece is a weirdo. No, I didn’t say Bailey. I said Reece. You’re gonna experience some sickly sweet moments and tough moments that demonstrate Bailey’s condition. Front and center. And hopefully when you reach the conclusion, you’ll have a better understanding of a mental illness that’s been misrepresented or ignored.

(art by Karinna Baez)

Come join me at the LoveLines Release Week Party!! Games, giveaways, prizes, and one HUGE contest all week long!