Like all of you readers, I get terribly excited about upcoming book releases. But I don't think I've ever been as thrilled for a book release as I have been for AMERICA'S NEXT REALITY STAR, by Laura Heffernan. Laura is one of the hosts of the Query Kombat contest, a Pitch Wars mentor, one of my CPs, and a good friend on top of all that. I'm happy to host her today on Operation Awesome. Before you read her guest post, though, let me tell you about her book!
In AMERICA’S NEXT REALITY STAR, Jen is cast on a reality show after she loses her job, her boyfriend, and her home. She hopes to win the cash prize but finds she also wants to win the heart of fellow contestant Justin. Fans of Sophie Kinsella's Confessions of a Shopaholic won't want to miss this charming, witty read published by Kensington’s Lyrical Shine.
Twenty-four-year-old Jen Reid had her life in good shape: an okay job, a tiny-cute Seattle apartment, and a great boyfriend almost ready to get serious. In a flash it all came apart. Single, unemployed, and holding an eviction notice, who has time to remember trying out for a reality show? Then the call comes, and Jen sees her chance to start over—by spending her summer on national TV.
Luckily The Fishbowl is all about puzzles and games, the kind of thing Jen would love even if she wasn’t desperate. The cast checks all the boxes: cheerful, quirky Birdie speaks in hashtags; vicious Ariana knows just how to pout for the cameras; and corn-fed “J-dawg” plays the cartoon villain of the house. Then there’s Justin, the green-eyed law student who always seems a breath away from kissing her. Is their attraction real, or a trick to get him closer to the $250,000 grand prize? Romance or showmance, suddenly Jen has a lot more to lose than a summer . . .
And now, let's hear from Laura herself!
Why You Should Write What You Love
When I was a kid, I loved doing puzzles. I spent thousands of hours putting pieces together while watching baseball games with Grandma or listening to adults who assumed a child’s ears didn’t work while her eyes were occupied. At school, I devoured mysteries. Each day in the winter, I’d pick up a Nancy Drew or Bobbsey Twins book from the library, read it after school, then return it the next day. I ran out of books long before we ran out of school year. I’d borrow puzzles from a next door neighbor, constantly looking for a new challenge. And when we had nothing else to work on, my best friend and I would put the same three puzzles together constantly: the movie posters for Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind, and a poster showing all the then-existing maps of the world. (I can thank that puzzle for being able to name every country, in alphabetical order, when I was twelve – a skill never once useful in the sixth grade.)
Over the years, my love for puzzles deepened. I bought books of logic problems. I devoured Sudoku. I raced for the mailbox every week to get to the TV Guide crossword as soon as the book arrived. (Did I mention I’m kind of a nerd? I am. Also a geek, a genius, and a pole dancer. I’m a bit of a puzzle myself. And I’m okay with that. I like me.) In college, I got a job working for a bank, and I soon became the person everyone would call to figure out what had gone wrong with customer accounts. Now I do research, each new problem presenting itself to me like a puzzle to be solved. I’m also a fan of escape rooms, ropes challenge courses, rock climbing, and mazes. Anything that I have to stop and think to figure out, I want to do.
So when I decided to write a novel, people who knew me weren’t shocked to see that a large component of the book involved puzzles and games. Creating the physical challenges that make up The Fishbowl, my fictitious reality show, was the most fun part of writing. I wanted to give my characters something interesting to do while they dealt with all the reality show drama.
Writing the fun parts helped me when I got stuck on the emotional parts or particularly sticky plot issues. Even though much of my original puzzles and games got reduced before the final draft, it helped significantly to have those moments so I could meet my daily word goals and feel like I was accomplishing something. Publishing can be a long, frustrating journey: if the writing itself isn’t enjoyable, I don’t know why anyone would put themselves through it.
They say to write what you know, and that’s all well and good. But write what you love. Write the book you want to read. Think of things you find interesting, and find a way to spread them around in your books. If it’s interesting to you, It’ll be interesting to readers. (Well, probably. I’m pretty sure there’s still no market for my “Sitting Around Quoting Buffy and Singing Show Tunes Badly” idea.) I’ve learned a lot from books, about topics I might not have otherwise explored, simply because the authors made them interesting.
Also, editing is a lengthy process. You will read that manuscript a couple dozen times, at least. If you don’t find the book interesting, you’ll hate yourself by about the sixth read (if not sooner). Don’t do that to yourself. Write a book that’s a pleasure for you to read.
Be yourself. Find what you love. Think of a way to share that with your readers, and make them love it, too. If I could turn solving puzzles into a three book deal, anyone can.
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