As a debut author—in this pen name, at least—I’ve been thinking lately about how hard it is for a new book like Summer at Mustang Ridge to stand out from the crowd. And it occurred to me that finding something wonderful to read is a whole lot like online dating these days, with lots of time spent going through promising-looking profiles that turn out to be not quite right for one reason or another. So I thought I’d share some advice for online dating, whether it be guys or a new book.
Take a good look at the cover. Granted, lots of dating profile pics are … well, let’s just say optimistic. Like the time I arrived for my date with Curly Haired Guy to discover that he had a lot less curly hair and a bunch more years than advertised. But a girl’s got to start someplace, right? I’m a sucker for a great pair of eyes or a ranch house with mountains in the background and a dog on the porch.
Check out the blurb. The “tell us about yourself” paragraph is where you find all the good stuff, like pirates, rakes, cowboys, sunsets and long walks on the beach. You can find some deal breakers there, too—with a few rare exceptions, I’m not big on amnesia, sheikhs, or guys who do their entire profile in text speak.
Ask around. Trekkie Guy had cute pictures and gave great email, but none of his info checked out in my online searches. Combine that with a disposable cell and an invitation to meet him at a motel, and I figured he must have a wife at home. Or a freezer full of them. So it never hurts to do a little search and see what pops up!
Excerpts rock. A quick phone call is how I discovered that Advertising Guy liked being the smartest, funniest person in the room, and got cranky when I was funny, too. Close, but no exploding cigar, which I wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t read his excerpt (so to speak). So click on that link and read a chapter or two!
But all that being said, now and then a girl just needs to:
Take a chance. Sometimes lightning strikes, the stars align, celestial beings sing, and you pick up a new book by an author you don’t know, and it turns out to be a keeper. In the end, that’s what happened to me when an amazing guy who lived three-plus hours and a ferry ride away tagged me with an email that started “What do you say we skip the twenty questions and write a story together?” Which, for the record, is an awesome way to get the attention of someone with “WriterChick” in her user name.
Yep. He turned out to be my keeper, and it’s thanks to him that I’m writing the Mustang Ridge books. Where before I wrote dark, sexy romantic suspenses and urban fantasies as Jessica Andersen, these days I’m channeling funny, sassy, emotional stories about a dude ranch called Mustang Ridge. The first book, Summer at Mustang Ridge, is the story of the ranch’s hunky head wrangler, an assistant cook who’s got “city girl” written all over her, and a sourdough starter named Herman.
So when you’re looking for something new to read, check out the cover and the blurb, ask around, read the excerpt … or, better yet, take a chance. And in the meantime, if you’ve got any dating/book buying advice, I’d love to hear it!