The Next Big Thing Hop Blog


Just as I was about to leave for a internet-less writer’s retreat last week, Helena Fairfax asked if I’d like to participate in The Next Big Thing blog hop. I said yes even though I’d would be out of touch with the world and I’d have to tweak the format a bit because my novel-in-progress is too in progress to share just yet.

I'm really glad I checked my email that one last time and that she was was okay with me talking about something that’s already out. It gave me a chance to participate in a great blog hop and I got to talk about one of my favorite characters. Thanks, Helena!

What is the title of your book?

The Brenda Diaries. It’s not very original but I pride myself on picking the perfect name for the main character.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Brenda started out as my nameless, imaginary assistant. She proved to be highly efficient and thorough despite being a tad surly. My husband, who owns his own company, asked me to help out in his office and I said, “I can’t do it, but Brenda can.” It then spiraled into barely controlled chaos (both imaginary and real) from there. 

What genre does your book fall under?

Short answer is chick lit, longer answer is commercial modern womens fiction. Brenda is in her early 20s, recently out of college and trying desperately not to define herself even though she knows who she is.

Which actors would you choose to play your main character in a movie rendition?

I won’t pretend I haven’t thought about this. It’s equally split between Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation) and Emma Stone (The Amazing Spider Man) and I’d be more than happy with either. Honestly.  

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Meet Brenda. A temp with a bad attitude and an excellent work ethic. (Technically two but the first one is really short.)

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

My first four novels (Underneath It All, Life Over Easy, More Than This and Good-bye To All That) were published by Kensignton and Touchstone. The Brenda Diaries was my first as a self-published author. I worked with an editor and copy editor as well as corralling readers to slog through my early drafts. 
I was already used to doing a bulk of the outreach for my first four novels so taking on that part of the process for The Brenda Diaries wasn’t as daunting as it could have been. Marketing is a lot of work, though, and I could be a lot better at it. Someday. Maybe. 

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

The Brenda Diaries started out as a Twitter feed (@BrendaDiaries) and a blog which I then turned into a diary based novel. The hard part was taking what had already been shared with followers and figuring out how to fit that into a narrative that would start on the day the feed did and end on the day the ebook came out. All in all, I’d say it took about six weeks with another six for reader notes, editing and copy editing. 

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

A blog reader commented that Brenda reminded her of a cancelled Showtime series called Dead Like Me. Lucky for not dead me, it was available for streaming via Netflix at the time so I watched it while I wrote. 

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Brenda is a fictional character with her own Twitter feed. Then she got a real job at my husband’s company and had more to write about. I was doing it as a lark but a friend asked if it was going to be my next book. That was the push I needed to take what I was doing for fun and approach it as an almost real-time writing project.  

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Brenda's Twitter feed continues on and I tweak how I approach it every once in a while. I thought I’d stop after the book came out, but I really enjoy Brenda. Because of that, I’m hoping to write a more traditional first-person or maybe third-person novel featuring Brenda sometime next year. It should be easier this time since I won’t have to worry about plotting it via Twitter. 

And here are few fellow writers I’d love to answer the above questions….No pressure, ladies.
Anne Van 
Mary Castillo
Heather Poole

Jaimie Gurley