Today I’m hosting author Tara Lee Reed, who is touring with Chick-Lit Plus for her novel, Coulda, Woulda, Shouda.
I hope you enjoy Tara’s guest post today, and be sure to check out the giveaway at the end of the post where you can enter to win a $35 Amazon gift card.
Tara Lee Reed is the accidental writer from Toronto, Canada, not that chick from Sharknado. When her career in public relations was forced into hiatus by a jerky plot twist, she wrote the first in a series of interactive novels. When she received offers of single and multi-book deals from top houses, she turned them down to publish independently. Because she’s crazy.
She was voted Most Sarcastic Female at her high school prom, which she went to alone. (Not that she thinks about it.) She can fit her whole fist in her mouth (which makes the prom thing surprising), and she can sing with her mouth closed, but she can’t do both at the same time.
Her tweets on The Bachelor have been aired in a live broadcast and picked up by national media. She once appeared on the cover of a romance novel with her longtime partner, who has done 79 more – with other women. She thinks that’s qualification enough to write this book.
Advice is Great, Experience is King.
Have you ever read a dating advice book? Perhaps The Rules, or He’s Just Not That Into You, or the latest top seller, The Gaggle? If you have, you’re probably aware of the countless number of resources dedicated to the strategy of finding love. Books, magazines, websites, friends and family – it can seem endless, because it is.
One night, prompting a strange and somewhat serendipitous collision of events, I had a bad date with a wannabe pick up artist, which led me to buy a copy of his training manual: Neil Strauss’s memoir The Game. And, because I was curious, I bought the Amazon-suggested companion book, advice classic The Rules. With the recent He’s Just Not That Into You craze, I’d brought my advice repertoire to three books.
Even that was enough to overwhelm a girl. My video gaming brain eventually spun that notion into somewhat of a First Person Dater where the reader would control the plot, navigating her way through hundreds of dilemmas in the minefield that is new relationships.
I let that simmer for a couple of years and, in that time, I met my long-time partner. Soon enough, my Pavlovian neurosis and unwillingness to share my relationship insecurities with friends led me back to the self-help aisle.
To say I was overwhelmed before was the understatement to end all understatements, my friends. The volume of Do’s and Don’ts is enormous, and while there was common advice between them, most often one book would completely contradict what I’d read in the one before. Where I’d hoped to kick my romantic adventures into high gear, I had stalled.
Would following these guidelines make things better or worse? And while I could see how it might apply to previous boyfriends, did it apply to this guy? Did it even apply to me?
That last question stuck with me–the individual with a unique story, with unique experiences in all areas of my life, including love. I’ve had ups and down, I’ve pushed and pulled, I’ve had broken hearts and broken a few myself.
Eventually I realized the common denominator between those relationships was Yours Truly. Each decision I’ve ever made–how to act or react in a given situation or predicament–was influenced by my own experience more so than any article or friendly piece of advice.
I’ve made just as many mistakes as I’ve been on the receiving end of, and isn’t that why we turn to experts and friends? We want to learn what we did wrong and how to do it better next time, to understand what happened after a blindside breakup, or salvage a struggling relationship.
It seems relatively simple at first: type your problem into a search field, click a few buttons, and all your problems will be solved. But it’s a rabbit hole. The deeper you go, the more complicated things often become. And what about the fun stuff? That’s what dating is supposed to be, right?
I was struck by the notion that, no matter how much or how little I read, I had to keep one thing in mind: Me! Who I am, what I want, and what I believe in. Like everything in life, no matter how much advice we’re given, no matter how many books we read, or tales of life experiences we hear, how we handle our relationships is up to us. We have a choice. Even when we don’t have control over the outcome, we can decide how to react to it. And when it ends, we back up and make a different choice.
That was when I started putting together my interactive novel, Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda, the first in the Once Upon a Theme series. I read an exorbitant number of books and articles by professionals and individuals, extracting the most realistic representation of modern dating life I could. I mined books for common and contradictory advice, as well as the most familiar, fun and angsty predicaments individuals experience. Then I arranged hundreds of them into one giant work of fiction where the reader assumes the role of the protagonist, Elle, and calls all the shots, living (or dying) by the outcome.
The novel takes you through all of the ups and downs, stages and anxieties that come with falling in love, but it’s also full of fun, shenanigans and, most critically, hijinks. You set the pace of your fledgling relationship, decide how you handle fights, reject or face rejection, when to say ‘I love you’, whether to wait for a proposal or split, and even (spoiler alert) a classic pregnancy scare.
It’s like boiling down a decade of relationships into 529 pages and 60 endings, not all of which are happy despite your best efforts – because, just like in real life, there are times when we think we’re doing everything right but things just don’t work out the way we want them to. And we may never find out why. But unlike real life, my book gives you endless opportunities to start over or try again. All without putting on makeup or getting out of your jammies. If only real life were like that, eh?
Thanks for reading. I hope you’ll and pick up Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda with reduced pricing until August 12. You’ll also find character-curated Pinterest boards and an Unofficial “Official” Soundtrack at www.doorflower.com.
Connect with Tara!
Google + https://plus.google.com/u/0/?tab=mX
Buy the Book!