I’m at a writing conference this week and will respond to all the comments on Harry Potter soon. (You know how it is at a writing conference — just too fun to spend much time on the computer.)
However, today, August 1, is also the day Allison Bottke’s latest novel launches. As most of you will recall, I’ve done a series of teleseminar interviews with Allison in recent months in which she talks about mission statements, strategic planning, branding, and all that stuff. My life is amazingly better because of Allison’s advice, and many of our listeners have written to me to say how grateful they are for her help.
Allison is amazingly productive. She’s currently turning out several nonfiction books PLUS a novel each year. Her latest novel is launching TODAY, August 1, with a 31-day blog tour. She’s asked me to be the first blogger on her tour. So I’m interviewing her below, AND I’ve talked her into giving you an amazing deal on our teleseminar series, a 24-hour special for anyone who buys her book today on Amazon.com.
Allison writes Christian fiction for women of the Baby Boom generation, “Boomer Babes” as she calls them. I happen to be married to a Boomer Babe, and my wife really liked Allison’s last novel. I sent Allison some interview questions last week, and here’s what she sent back:
Q: People say that you write “women’s fiction with an attitude.” What does that mean?
A: It was my agent who first coined that phrase in reference to my work. He was trying to describe the kind of fiction I write but it’s not your typical romance fiction, and it’s not historical, and it’s not quite chick-lit. My lead characters are all baby boomers, in their 40’s and 50’s. They are all smart, savvy, sophisticated and a bit sassy. He told a publisher that my stories had “attitude,” that my characters had “attitude.” Thus, “women’s fiction with an attitude” was born. So, for the record, it’s my characters and stories that have the attitude, and not me.
Q: You’ve always been somewhat of a trendsetter in the Christian market, encouraging writers to have a strategic business plan and to be on top of marketing and such — now, it appears as though you’ve coined a new genre with your work — “Boomer-Lit.” Tell us about that.
A: Typical “chick-lit” is written for a 20-30 year old target market. The protagonist is usually single, and struggling with her faith, career, family, love-life and things young women often struggle with. In my books, I wanted to approach the issues that baby boomers are dealing with, things like the empty nest syndrome, aging parents, a change in career, retirement, menopause, and other health issues. I wanted to look at women in the prime of their life who were suddenly stepping out in faith to achieve the dreams of their heart. Women who weren’t afraid to take risks — who had the chutzpah to dare to dream big. That’s how “Boomer-Lit” was born.
Q: Your latest novel is ONE LITTLE SECRET, which releases today, August 1. Tell us about this book.
A: I developed ONE LITTLE SECRET first as a screenplay called JUST A HOUSEWIFE. When Bethany House wanted a second novel after A STITCH IN TIME, I immediately thought of this story, realizing that it would make some great Boomer-Lit!
For Ursula Rhoades, her ONE LITTLE SECRET becomes her one big problem! ONE LITTLE SECRET fits seamlessly into a culture obsessed with reality TV and celebrity lives (think American Idol and E! channel). Delving into the life of a fictional rock star, ONE LITTLE SECRET takes readers on a fun-loving ride through Hollywood and the famous GRAMMY awards.
In a land of glitz and glamour, Ursula Rhoades isn’t fazed in the least by the constant parade of Prada. She has a beautiful home, a loving family, and fulfilling volunteer opportunities that leave this fashionable and loving Bel-Air housewife completely content, even if she did have to give up her dreams when she married Don so many years ago. Enter Nikolai Prevelakis, or Nik Prevel to his fans, the hottest young music star in the country. But it isn’t enough. Handsome, famous, and living the life of a rock star, Nik isn’t content. When his path crosses Ursula’s, he sees the opportunity he’s been waiting for. But what seems like a harmless little secret changes their lives forever-and becomes one big secret everyone’s trying to figure out!
ONE LITTLE SECRET is a Hollywood fairy tale with all the pleasures of escapist literature mixed with gentle lessons on using the talents God has given you, the power of sacrifice, self-esteem, and the value of being “just a housewife.”
Q: Did I hear correctly that you’ve developed some sort of Hollywood contest to cast the film version of ONE LITTLE SECRET?
A: Yes sir, you did. We’re actually giving away an all expense paid trip to Hollywood for two in the event the movie gets optioned for a film. Your readers can vote on who they think would make the best Ursula and Nik — from stars like Catherine Zeta Jones and Antonio Banderas. It’s a fun and funky contest, how about you stopping by and voting, okay, Randy? Check out the contest here.
Q: Allison, you made your name writing nonfiction. What prompted you to step into fiction?
A: I’ve always wanted to write fiction. In fact, when I grow up I’d like to work in the world of film — writing screenplays. I have a deep love for creating those sappy, romantic comedy fairy-tale love stories that women can escape into. However, I had a major life-changing epiphany at the age of 35 that brought me closer to God in a very profound way. As a result of that, I founded an organization called: GOD ALLOWS U-TURNS. A vital aspect of that organization is a compilation book series of true short stories written by people from all around the world. The GOD ALLOWS U-TURNS anthology collection took off with its first volume published in 2001 and today, there are 23 plus books under the recognized GOD ALLOWS U-TURNS “brand.” That said, I was blessed to enter the world of publishing and get my feet wet—more important—I was able to make connections with editors and publishers who were able to see how I conducted my business.
I also began attending writer’s conferences as an instructor, and while there I was able to take classes as a student with some amazing novelists who generously shared their craft in workshop sessions. I soaked up everything I could about how to write fiction — taking notes — buying tapes — listening over and over again to teachers like Angela Hunt, Gayle Roper, Brandilyn Collins, James Scott Bell, Jack Cavanaugh, Lauraine Snelling, and Tracie Peterson. It was after taking a 3-day long intensive workshop with Tracie Peterson that I was able to fine-tune my work-in-progress and submit it with a proposal to Bethany House. The rest, as they say, is history. Bethany House signed me to write two novels and the whirlwind began.
Q: Your first novel, A STITCH IN TIME had some autobiographical elements. Are there any similar elements in ONE LITTLE SECRET?
A: Some? You’re being kind…there was a whole lot of me in “Stitch,” from the weight loss surgery aspect to the career as a professional fundraiser, to living in southern California. It’s been said that debut novels are often the most autobiographical in a novelist’s career. It’s also said that the second novel — the follow-up — is infinitely harder to write because you’ve used up pretty much everything you know in novel number one, and now the rubber meets the road for real creativity. (insert a big smile here.) That said, ONE LITTLE SECRET has far less of my real-life experience, which was a true joy to write! I had so much fun with this book!
Q: You changed POV’s entirely with ONE LITTLE SECRET. Your debut novel, A STITCH IN TIME was first person and ONE LITTLE SECRET is written in third person. Why did you change and which style do you prefer?
A: Like a ga-zillion other women, I first fell in love with the genre of “chick-lit” reading the 1996 release of Bridget Jones Diary by Helen Fielding. The intimate first-person POV allowed us to experience Bridget’s angst-filled journey right along with her. I was too green to know that first person POV is one of the most difficult to pull off. With ONE LITTLE SECRET, I wanted to see if I could get inside the head of a male character — as well as have more freedom of description and story telling that third person allows. I had a blast with this style. I’d have to say that while I enjoy reading first person, I enjoy writing third person more. All three Va Va books will be third person.
Q: I’m glad you brought that up, what about all this “Va Va Va Boom” stuff I’ve been hearing about?
A: You’ve heard about it? How cool is that! I lovingly call it the Va Va project. I’ve just been contracted by David C. Cook Publishers to write three new Boomer-Lit books in a series I’ve called THE VA VA VA BOOM series. All three books will introduce entrepreneurial boomer babes who own their own businesses. Additionally, each woman has a deep dark secret and a deep dream desire. The first book in the series will release in 2008.
Q: Okay, since you mentioned it, what is a Boomer Babe? And how did that come about?
A: Here’s the definition that appears on my web site. “A Boomer Babe was born between 1946 and 1964, we are women who are comfortable enough in our own skin to realize that the mid-life years can be some of the best and most exciting in our entire life. That the hubris of youth is behind us and the wisdom of the years has made us pretty darn attractive — both inside and out. We are Boomer Babes and we’re proud of it!”
For years I’ve been known as the “God Allows U-Turns Poster Girl.” I’ve been blessed with that moniker and it’s always a joy to share with people how my life direction radically changed. Yet over the years, I found myself being drawn to the challenges my fellow baby boomer sisters were experiencing. In late 2006 I woke up one day with the idea to develop a web site separate from www.GodAllowsUTurns.com devoted to boomer women. We launched the new business, www.BoomerBabesRock.com on January 1st of 2007. A cornerstone of the outreach is a monthly electronic e-zine that we call a “Dream-Zine.” It’s called Boomer Babes with Brilliant Dreams and our goal is to empower and encourage baby boomer women to achieve the dreams of their heart.
Q: Do you have a Mission Statement for your new Boomer Babes Rock! site?
A: Sure do! “Boomer Babes Rock, where fun, fashion, food, family, and faith merge to empower and inspire boomer women around the world!”
Q: Where can my readers find out more about Boomer Babes Rock?
A: Your blog readers can find more about what a Boomer Babe is by visiting this page on the Boomer Babes Rock! web site: http://www.boomerbabesrock.com/mission-bbr.html
And, they can sign up to receive our free monthly Dream-Zine by clicking here: http://www.boomerbabesrock.com/dreamzine.html
Q: Thanks for allowing me to launch your International Blog Tour here at Advanced Fiction Writing. Where else will you be this month?
A: I’ll be visiting 42 more blogs throughout the USA, Canada and Australia. Your readers can check out my schedule here, and I sure hope they check out some of the blogs on the tour schedule: http://www.allisonbottke.com/mr_blogtours.htm
Q: Any closing thoughts?
A: Randy, the fact I’ve been published at all boggles my mind. I want to encourage your readers who have a desire to write to never give up! I also want them to stop judging themselves against other writers. I’m a high school drop out with a ninth grade education and a GED. I quit school after the 9th grade to run away from home and get married. I was going to live happily ever after in my fairy tale dream.
But that’s NOT what happened. As a teenager, I was looking for love in all the wrong places. As a Boomer Babe, I know a whole lot more about life, love, and the pursuit of happiness. I also know a whole lot more about pursuing the dreams of our heart…walking in God’s purpose for our life, and making life-changing U-Turns. Boomer Babes Rock is all about living the great American dream. It’s about deciding today… that THIS is the break-out year when you’re going to make things happen — and happen in a BIG way! And that’s what ONE LITTLE SECRET is about. It’s about a dynamic woman who takes a risk to make her lifelong dream come true.
Randy, writing is not about formal education, or who you know, or how long you’ve been at it. It’s about perseverance and risk and belief in yourself — and knowing that inevitably, God will make a way where there seems to be no way. Thanks, Randy, for hosting me on your blog today. As always, it’s been a joy visiting with you and your readers.
Randy sez: Thanks, Allison, for the interview. I hope your book has a great launch. Once again, I’ll remind readers that Allison and I are doing a 24-hour special on our teleseminar series on August 1, as an incentive for people to buy her book. We’d like to see a flood of sales of the book on Amazon on Day 1. To find out more about that incentive, check out the 24-Hour Special Page.