Monday, February 28, 2011

All You Need is Love...plus a book giveaway


**Giveaway is now closed**

Shana Mahaffey lives in San Francisco, California, in part of an Edwardian compound that she shares with an informal cooperative of family, friends, and five cats (two hers, three residing in other apartments in the buildings). The causes she holds closely to her heart are for wildlife preservation, natural resource conservation and marine mammals. She has written several short stories for various publications. Her first novel is "Sounds Like Crazy" and she has come to tell us why she made sure to include a love interest for her main character. She also is offering to send two copies of her book to some lucky readers anywhere in the world.

If you like what you've read here, check out her blog, follow her tweets and visit her on Facebook.

Why Does the Love Interest in Novels Interest Us?

Why is it that a novel isn’t complete without a love interest? From Science Fiction to thrillers to fiction someone is either looking for love, falling in love, or in love. If the writer has done his or her job, we hitch our wagons to the main character and look eagerly or fall blissfully. When it comes to “in love,” unless the book is a thriller, mystery, or some kind of quest—inward or outward—where the two lover are in it together, the “in love” state is usually a state of delusion and the relationship is most likely a “fixer” that requires a hammer, screwdriver, or in most cases, a chainsaw.

In my novel, Sounds Like Crazy, my main character, Holly, was “in love” with Peter. The book is not a mystery or a thriller and Holly and Peter weren’t on a quest. So, you guessed it, they had a chainsaw variety relationship—i.e., they had no business being together. Holly was an emotional cripple and Peter fit the bill of quintessential jerk, turd, douche (a term I seem to hear a lot these days), or a man who “meets expectations.” Do you like that last description? I mean it, meets expectations. Without any awareness on her part, Holly sought out the guy who fit her understanding of a loving relationship. Peter fit the bill to a “T.” Sound familiar?

Originally, Sounds Like Crazy didn’t have a love interest. I figured a woman with Multiple Personality Disorder (or Dissociative Identity Disorder to use the current DSM IV term), Holly’s condition, had enough on her mind, or I should say “in her mind,” to deal with. Then I did a plot review with Martha Alderson, author of Blockbuster Plots. During our session, Martha said, “You need a love interest in your book.”

“Why?” was my very confused response. Why indeed? I certainly didn’t want to go “there,” because given that I like to live and breathe the characters I am writing about, there meant I’d have to explore my own understanding of a loving relationship. Nevertheless, there I went in the form of Peter.

The funny thing is, writing about Holly and Peter’s relationship was harder than writing about a woman with five alternate personalities living inside her head. Go figure! I had to revise this part of the book more than a dozen times. Finally, I had the perfect man: The narcissist, the liar, the cheater, the dangler of carrots, the promiser, the man who embodied every cringe-worthy trait you find in those guys in the books, and movies, and TV shows. The one who when you read about or watch the woman falling for his shtick, chasing after him, outwardly you groan and inwardly you get it. At least most of you do, because you’ve done it at least once. And those of you who haven’t, have nursed girlfriends and guy friends through the aftermath of this kind of human wrecking ball.

Now, I’ve always been good at professional life. I’ve never been so good at personal life, at least when it comes to relationships. I always chose the wrong guy. They were all nice men. They met my expectations, because my expectations were unavailable men who saw me the same way I saw myself—a flawed woman who had a big fat ass. IMHO of course.

What I learned writing about Holly and Peter’s relationship is that to heal, Holly needed seriously upgrade her understanding of what she deserved when it came to love. And the only way she could upgrade was if I did the same thing. To do this, I needed to take a hard look at my current relationship with my own Mr. Wonderful, who upon a giant step back for big picture viewing and reflection, was a mirror image of Peter with minor differences like a partner, children and a country making ours a long distance relationship.

If Holly deserved better, didn’t I? You bet. And in a perfect twist of fate, my “a ha” moment came when on his next visit, Mr. Wonderful commented on my recent weight gain (we’re talking 10 pounds here. TEN POUNDS!), “I don’t find you attractive right now with the extra weight.” My immediate thought? “WTF? You the liar and cheater with big ears, and bad spelling, and paranoia, and fill in the long list of blanks are going to give me grief about ten pounds!” My spoken response? “Get the F*(& out of my life.” I’d discovered through Holly and Peter it was all about the pattern. No more fall in love, then when it ends, feel bereft, chase, and basically destroy something I’m not even sure was in me or I wanted in the first place. I wanted a different pattern this time.

So why is it we relate to the bad relationship and we find hope in the triumph of the elimination of the bad relationship on the way to the nice guy we all dream of?
I believe it’s because deep in our hearts we all want that heart stoppingly, blissfully in love relationship to be one that is real and positive. Something that brings out the best in us. Makes us want to be a better person. We all want the person who brings a smile to our faces when we think of them and a thrill in our heart when we see them. Discovering Peter in Sounds Like Crazy and exploring the relationship between him and Holly, including the moment of triumph we readers want every character to find/experience, certainly made me look in my own mirror. It helped me understand why indeed every book needs a love interest, that and a whole lot more.


Thanks to Shana for sharing her point of view with us, as well as offering the books for our giveaway.


How to win "Sounds Like Crazy":
Please comment below with your e-mail address.
(Please note: Entries without an e-mail address will NOT be counted. You can use AT and DOT to avoid spam. Or provide a link to your facebook page if you can receive messages there.)

1. Please tell us: Who is your favorite love interest in any novel you have read?
2. Please tell us: What other element should chick lit books contain in order to keep you interested?
3. Follow this blog and post a comment saying you are a follower (if you already follow, that's fine too).
4. Post this contest on Facebook or Twitter or in your blog, and leave a comment saying where you've posted it.
5. Join Chick Lit Central on Facebook. (If you're already a member, let us know that too.)

Giveaway ends Sunday, March 6th at midnight EST

34 comments:

Lady K said...

1. My favorite love interest in any novel I have read is certainly Sayuri and the Chairman in Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden.

2. A lot of humor, enjoyment, charming characters and real plot !!

3. Done, I'm a new follower !
4. http://twitter.com/#!/Lady_Kaiya/status/42271656785362944
5. Done, I'm Anaïs Doiseau

Do you wish that 3, 4 and 5 in separate comments ? Or it's fine ?
Thank you for this giveaway, this book sounds great !

anais.styling AT orange.fr

PoCoKat said...

My favorite love interest is Noah in the Notebook.

littleone AT shaw DoT ca

PoCoKat said...

Follow on GFC

littleone AT shaw DOT ca

PoCoKat said...

Member of Chick Lit Central on FB

littleone AT shaw DoT ca

PoCoKat said...

Chick lit books should have good friendships between women. And shoes. And chocolate.

littleone AT shaw DOT ca

Heather said...

I am a follower!
ra6352 (at) gmail (Dot) com

Heather said...

I am a member of Chick Lit Central!
ra6352 (at) gmail (Dot) com

Heather said...

I shared on facebook!
ra6352 (at) gmail (dot) com

AuDoc2B said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BRN2SHOP9 said...

I don't have a favorite love interest from a novel

BRN2SHOP9 said...

Chick lit books should be funny and have a mild love story in it.

BRN2SHOP9 said...

I follow the blog via facebook

BRN2SHOP9 said...

I follow via twitter

BRN2SHOP9 said...

I follow via GFC

Susan O'Bryant said...

I really enjoyed the relationship between Jack and Aliena in The Pillars of the Earth. It just seemed so real!

susanobryant at gmail dot com

Susan O'Bryant said...

Romance is great, but when you add the element of food, that is what really makes a novel delicious to me! :)

susanobryant at gmail dot com

Susan O'Bryant said...

I'm a GFC follower.

susanobryant at gmail dot com

Kat said...

I'd have to say my favourite love interest is Noah from the Notebook.

ladykathryn@rogers.com

Kat said...

I believe that most readers are pretty smart and now basically who's going to end up together. I like when the journey to that end isn't so inevitable. And even better when you aren't so sure how things will work out.

ladykathryn@rogers.com

Kat said...

Follower of the blog.

ladykathryn@rogers.com

Kat said...

Posted on Facebook.

ladykathryn@rogers.com

Kat said...

Member of CLC.

ladykathryn@rogers.com

Linda Kish said...

I like a bit of humor added.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Mystica said...

I dont have a favourite love interest as such.

But, I do like a bit of humor where we can laugh even at ourselves.

mystica123athotmaildotcom

JHS. said...

1. Wow, you ask a tough question. The first ones that leap to mind are: Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice (Colin Firth, please) and my all-time favorite, Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility. Both Jane Austen. Hhhhmmmm . . .

2. I look for the female lead character to have some sort of transformative experience or metamorphosis. In other words, I expect the character to evolve and be changed by whatever experience(s) she has in the book so that, by the last page, she is different than she was on the first page.

3. GFC follower.

4. FB member.

JHS
Colloquium

jhsmail at comcast dot net

Jeryl M. said...

I am not sure who my favorite love interest in a novel is.

jeryl.marcus@gmail.com

Jeryl M. said...

A really good chick lit novel should have a unique twist that sets it apart from every other chick lit novel.

Jeryl M. said...

I am a follower of this blog.

jeryl.marcus@gmail.com

Jeryl M. said...

I am a member of Chick Lit Central on facebook.

jeryl.marcus@gmail.com

Nancye said...

My favorite love interest was Jake from the book: "Fireworks Over Toccoa" by Jeffrey Stepakoff. If you haven't read this book yet----you HAVE to read it! The book starts off kinda' slow, but then picks up. As a disclaimer, I don't condone adultery, but Jake was smokin' hot!! Let's just say, if he was real and I wasn't married......whoa Nelly! Read his book and you'll know what I mean!


nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Nancye said...

Another element that a Chick-Lit book has to have is real and believeable characters that I can relate to. Without that then I don't think the book will be worth reading. (Just my opinion)

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Nancye said...

Follower

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Nancye said...

I joined Chick Lit on Facebook

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Nancye said...

Tweet! Tweet!
@NancyeDavis

http://twitter.com/#!/NancyeDavis/status/44581688549969920

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net