Win a $25 GC: Fortytude by Shelly Hickman

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Shelly Hickman will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

The Challenges of Writing Chick Lit

1. Avoiding the Cliché

I suppose trying to avoid the clichéd storyline is a challenge, no matter what genre you write. Let’s face it, there are only so many plots to explore. I always get a bit miffed when people say the plot of a story was predictable. Well, unless you’re writing a thriller that’s intended to be a real mind bender, stories based on any kind of romance will likely include elements we’ve seen before. Whether it be the woman who’s secretly in love with her longtime best buddy, her boss, or her ex. Personally what I like about chick lit is the predictability of a happy ending, so I guess one of the big challenges is crafting interesting characters. (I changed that one midstream, didn’t I?)

2. Keeping it Light

This a struggle I’m dealing with in my current work, Harmony to Heartburn, the third book in my Fortytude series. I’m building up to an awkward and painful conflict for one of the characters, and my goal is to convey it in a sensitive manner without being overly dramatic or heavy. I love addressing difficult situations in my fiction, but at the same time chick lit should be an escape, and I don’t want my readers feeling like they signed up for some giggles, and instead were given a heavy heart. I hate when stories do that! I think I can safely reference How Stella Got Her Groove Back. That movie came out in the 90s. If you’ve never seen it and think you might someday, I’m giving you your spoiler alert now. Skip to number three. Anyway, I was soooo pissed when Whoopi Goldberg died in that movie! I was like, “Really?” This was supposed to be some light-hearted flick about an older woman getting her groove on with the incredibly sexy Taye Diggs, and they just had to throw in Stella losing her best friend to cancer. Don’t get me wrong. It’s still a great movie, but so not cool!

3. Being at Least a Little Bit Funny

Chick lit should provide a few good chuckles here and there, and there’s always a balancing act when it comes to occasionally injecting humor, without trying too hard and falling flat. I think this is easily my biggest fear in regards to this genre. Everyone’s sense of humor is different, so when I list “humor” as one of the sub-genres for my books, I get a little nervous. Especially since whenever I do a promo for a Fortytude title, “humor” is the category it seems to chart in the fastest. I dread the thought of a reader finishing one and thinking, “Humor? …If you say so, lady.”

There are plenty of other challenges that come with writing in general—writer’s block, making the time, getting hung up on finding the perfect word, etc., etc.—but I would say the three mentioned are my biggies. I would be interested to hear how other chick lit authors would answer.

Anna has never been the beautiful one; she’s always been the nice one. So when the gorgeous man sitting across the table at a wedding reception remembers her from high school—and quite fondly at that—she’s taken off guard.

Formerly overweight and unpopular, Kiran has never forgotten Anna, the one person who was kind to him when no one else could be bothered, and Anna’s a bit flustered as she slowly comes to grips with his intense attraction for her.

In what feels like a romantic dream come true, all-grown-up, hunky Kiran invites Anna on a trip to Varanasi. But her troubled, whack-a-do ex-boyfriend starts interfering, creating drama at every turn, which begs the question, “Can nice girls really finish first?”

The sequel to "Vegas to Varanasi" catches up with Anna and Kiran a couple of years after the event that brought the once “ugly duckling” high school acquaintances together. But will their romance continue to flourish in the face of a whole new set of insecurities brought on by middle age?

First, there’s Kiran, who has an unexpected health scare. While his doctors assure no permanent damage has been done, there seems to have been some damage to his personality, as the normally respectful and reserved Kiran begins behaving erratically and overtly. Anna wants to hope that this is temporary, sparked by the visit of Kiran’s womanizing, free-spirited cousin, Seth. But is this just the midlife Kiran surfacing?

Anna has midlife issues of her own. Now forty-eight, she’s navigating the onset of perimenopause and all the delights that come with it, from facial hair to mood swings to body temperature issues. On top of that, her two-year-old granddaughter is starting to show signs of a behavior disorder, bringing with it a whole other level of stress and worry.

Will Anna and Kiran finally find their happily ever after? Or end up stuck in a midlife mess in this romantic comedy of accepting change, and “the change.”

Enjoy an excerpt:

When I look up, Kiran is regarding me so intently, I swear he’s mentally calculating the diameter of my pupils. “It was truly exceptional, for someone your age to be so compassionate toward others.”

  This is becoming far too intense. My insides feel as if they’re playing musical chairs. “I could really use a drink. You?”

“I’ll get it for you. What would you like?”

“A glass of white wine, please.”

“Any particular kind?”

“Whatever they have is fine.”

I sit down on one of the sofas while he walks to the bar for our drinks.

This is childish. Why am I acting like I’ve never had a man give me attention before? It has to be because I’m letting his looks intimidate me.

Luke never flustered me, but maybe that was because he was my buddy first. Despite his good looks, he was approachable. Kiran, on the other hand... I can honestly say I’ve never met anyone in real life who was so arresting.

I feel flushed and touch my face.

He’s not full of himself, and he genuinely seems to like me. Clearly, he has these idealistic memories of me which are far too much to live up to. I’m not Gandhi, for crying out loud!

About the Author:
Living in Las Vegas since she was two, Shelly Hickman has witnessed many changes in the city over the years. She graduated from UNLV with a Bachelor of Art in 1990, and in her early twenties worked as a computer illustrator. In the mid-90s, she returned to school to earn her Masters degree in Elementary Education. She now teaches computer literacy and media technology at a middle school in Las Vegas. She loves to write about people, examining their flaws, their humor, spirituality, and personal growth. Shelly lives with her husband, two children, and their dogs, Frankie and Junebug.

Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Amazon Author Page

Buy the books: Amazon: Vegas to Varanasi Menopause to Matrimony Barnes and Noble: Vegas to Varanasi Menopause to Matrimony

NOTE: Vegas to Varanasi is now perma-free on multiple platforms

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Thank you for hosting
Shelly Hickman said…
Thank you for featuring me!
Eva Millien said…
This sounds like a fun and entertaining series and I enjoyed following the tour and learning all about Fortytude! Thanks for sharing and good luck!
Rita said…
I have enjoyed the tour and learning about your book.
MomJane said…
Enjoyed this excerpt very much.
What is your favorite reading spot?
Great post! There are a lot of reasons why I respect authors but your list is definitely some of the top reasons... writing is tough!!! But you amazing authors definitely know how to make it work :D
Shelly Hickman said…
Thank you, Victoria! And thank you ladies for following along on the tour! I appreciate you! <3