STRADDLING THE LINE
Chick lit has always been my first love. For many years, I wrote light-hearted fiction, never abandoning the ultimate dream of having my own books published someday – and clothed in candy colored book jackets, naturally. But it wasn’t always easy to hang onto this dream, considering the number of rejections that continuously flooded my mailbox and my inbox.
On the bright side, many of my rejections were encouraging. Some of these rejections came later in the process (after an agent had requested a partial or a full) and I was happy to have made it past the first phase, but truth be told, I was getting nowhere. I decided it was time to work on altering my strategy.
I felt it was just too hard to break into the industry with chick lit, which has a bad rep in the literary world – an unfair fact I’m sure many of you are aware of. On the other hand, I knew romance novels as a whole sold consistently well, and were actually gaining in popularity. After brainstorming and researching and weighing the options, I came up with a new plan: I would become a romance novelist!
Easier said than done. I spent a year or so reading romance novels nonstop, and found that I enjoyed them immensely. I took notes. I studied everything from how the hero and heroine described each other’s appearances to the preferred usage of dialogue tags.
I was so stoked to begin writing my own romance, and although the story flowed freely, I kept having to go back and delete chick-litty things. Were my heroine and her girlfriend chatting about something that had nothing to do with the hero? Delete. Was I getting too descriptive about some of the fabulous fashions? Delete. Was my heroine too quirky? Too sassy? Too goofy? Delete, delete, delete. At one point, I realized I was deleting all of the fun stuff, not to mention that I was fighting against every creative instinct I had in order to write a story that would fit in the category romance box.
Why, I wondered, couldn’t I write a chick lit/romance hybrid? What if I crafted a love story that embraced all those elements I find so entertaining, rather than rejected them? I decided to go for it, and a few months later, I’d completed the manuscript for Fashioning a Romance. It was published in May, and while it hasn’t quite set the world on fire, the response has been positive across the board.
With cautious optimism, I started another chick lit/romance hybrid, this time leaning a bit more towards chick lit by implementing the first person point of view. I’m talking about Unmasking Maya, of course, which is my second novel, released just last Friday.
I know my unconventional hybrid story model may not appeal to everyone. The fact that the plot focuses so heavily on the romance may irk chick lit fans. And the fact that I spend a fair amount of time with the secondary characters and wrote the whole thing in first person may annoy romance fans. That said, I’m hoping Unmasking Maya will find its audience in chick lit readers who don’t mind a little extra sweetness, and in romance fans who don’t mind a quirky little edge. I’ve done my best to pick and choose what I consider to be the best elements of both genres, and to blend them together into one cohesive story. I can’t wait to see if this soufflé rises!
Born and raised in the Midwest, Libby Mercer’s adventurous spirit kicked in after graduating from high school, and she’s since lived in Boston, NYC and London. San Francisco is the city she currently calls home. For several years, Libby worked in fashion – first as a journalist and then as a shopkeeper. She also dabbled in design for a while. Even through the crazy fashion years, Libby never let go of her dream of being a published author, and has since developed her signature writing style, crafting quirky chick lit/romance hybrids. Fashioning a Romance was her first published novel, and Unmasking Maya will be her second. Libby has a third novel, The Karmic Connection, scheduled for release in 2013.
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Libby-Mercer/e/B0084US5S2/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1 (This links to my Amazon author page. Unfortunately, I won’t have a page for Unmasking Maya until it goes live on Amazon. If you’d prefer, I’ll post the link to my first book also) http://www.amazon.com/Fashioning-a-Romance-ebook/dp/B0084FGX36/ref=dp_return_1?ie=UTF8&n=133140011&s=digital-text