Monday, April 6, 2015

It's a romance world, and I'm just surviving.

Biggest obstacle I face with my impending release? Love. Yep. Love. Feel-good love. Chain-me-to-the-wall love. Funny love. Dark love. Graphic love. Sugar sweet love. Basically, anything that has to do with the plot of a story focusing primarily on two people getting together and somehow, despite family, friends, and fate, making it work. And then having a baby.

I wrote some books like that. I loved writing them. (See what I did there?) But even those romance-centric books had other things going on. At least, it’s my hope that they were dynamic. Hoodie focused on a relationship between a black boy and a white girl. It wasn’t just about their love. It was about the stigma still attached to interracial relationships—people’s prejudices and fears. I know the stigma is still there because I heard from you about it. Good was definitely a romance, but let’s not forget Cadence’s spiritual struggles. Whether you liked it or not, her Christian faith was a HUGE aspect of that series. Reconciling God, sex, and deception wasn’t easy for her. And then there’s LoveLines: my weird S. Walden book that was soooo not an S. Walden book. Even LoveLines—“love” is in the title!—explored something other than love. I researched and wrote about OCD in all its tic-y ugliness. Reece didn’t save Bailey. She had to learn to deal with her condition on her own and not be co-dependent.

So, yeah. I wrote about love. And that’s great in the indie world because the indie world is all about love. When you write about love, readers see your work because the romance-only blogs are showing it to you . . . and the majority of blogs in the indie world are romance blogs. When you write stories like Going Under and Interim, you have your promotional work cut out for you. And yes, you read that correctly. I did include Going Under in that sentence. “Huh?” you say. “That was your biggest work! Every blog promoted it.” To which I will reply, “You’re absolutely right.” But the reason Going Under was promoted by romance-only blogs is because bloggers focused on detailing and teasing the love relationship in that book. Wasn’t even a key component when I wrote it. Brooke and Ryan were a side story. Big time side story. The major theme of that book centered on guilt and revenge due to severe psychological issues. Nothing at all to do with love. But because we crave the love aspect of any story, we’ll seek it out—even if it’s small—and make it something bigger than what it was intended to be.

Essentially, I got a free pass with Going Under. Blogs that would normally stay away from a story about revenge-by-entrapment promoted the hell out of it. To which I am forever grateful.

Interim isn’t setting itself up for that free pass. I’m sure readers can glean from the book description that there will be some sort of romance element in the story since Jeremy’s “madly in love” with Regan. But, readers are also aware that this story will focus primarily on bullying, brokenness, and revenge. I think the indie world is only okay with that if the love element is super strong. I can’t really say one way or the other if it is. I’ve heard from readers who say I’m downplaying the romance too much. I’ve heard from others who say I don’t need to mention the romance at all. So there you have it. I’m left sitting in this weird, uncomfortable position where I have no idea how to effectively promote this particular book. (I find myself in this position pretty much every time I have a book coming out.) I figured I’m owed at least one desperate attempt at selling this work as a romance thriller, so here I go.

“I’m taking you away from them for good,” he said softly. “And you’re gonna like it.”


In all seriousness, though, I have a small network of fiercely faithful bloggers who enjoy reading all sorts of literature besides romance—even the stuff that has no definable genre—and promoting the hell out of it. Those girls . . . man, I can’t say enough about them, and I don’t deserve them. Still, one of them said something the other day that gave me pause to think: “Summer, I just don’t know that we can be loud enough for you.” They’re loud, but there are only a handful of them. Then I realized, wait. Hold up. Hello? I have a HUGE network of “bloggers.”


Yeah. Even if you don’t officially blog, you’re my faithful readers, and I know if you read something of mine you like, you tell others. So it’s not written in a post online. So what? It’s still coming out of your mouth—the most precious words you could say for me—and that’s what counts. So yes. I’m calling you to arms. I need you, the reader, to fight for my work. Talk about it. Spread the word. Do that organic movement thing we love so much in our society. And I’m not talking about farming. I’m talking about that movement devoid of fabrication where you hear about something special and you share it with others because you want to. It’s real and powerful and effective. It worked for Going Under. Talking MADE those romance-only blogs take a look. MADE them read the book. MADE them share it with their followers. Interim may not be the romance book everyone in the indie world thinks they need, but it’s the “romance” book they actually do need. Yes, that’s quite the statement, isn’t it? And I stand behind it because I believe in it. I stand behind it because I’ve heard the feedback, and I know, with your help, we can get people talking about this book.

Thank you for sharing my work. Thank you for believing in me. <3


  1. The books that you have written are some of my favorites and not just for the romance aspect. I will be reading your new book Interim as soon as it is released....This one may hit close to home....Last year my daughters high school had a shooting a few days before the end of school (6/10/14). Two boys were lost that day, the shooter and one innocent victim who happend upon him in the locker room as he was preparing. I would really like to applaud you for not writing the same books over and over and always finding new (even when they are not comfortable) stories to tell.

    1. Thank you for expressing your desire to read Interim even though, as you said, the subject matter hits close to home. It's such a terrible tragedy and one, I fear, that's becoming all too commonplace. I know I scared the mess out of everyone with my disclaimers . . . good grief, with the book description alone! Even the girls in my inner circle who would read anything I wrote including, as one of them put it, tampon instructions, were soooo nervous to start it. And then a cool thing happened: They messaged me as they read. And they were okay. So now I wish I hadn't scared everyone :)