For the last fifteen years, Rose “Manny” Mankowski has been a very good girl. She turned her back on her youthful fancies and focused on her career. But now, at the age of 45, she’s questioning her choices and feeling more and more disconnected from her own life. When she’s passed over for promotion and her much younger new boss implies Manny’s life will never change, something snaps. In the blink of an eye, she’s quit her job, sold her house and cashed in her pension, and she’s leaving town on a six month road trip.
After placing a personal ad for a travelling companion, she’s joined in her mid-life crisis by Zeke Powell, the cynical, satirical, most-read – and most controversial – blogger for the e-magazine, What Women Want. Zeke’s true goal is to expose Manny’s journey as a pitiful and desperate attempt to reclaim her lost youth – and increase his readership at the same time. Leaving it all behind for six months is just an added bonus.
Now, armed with a bagful of destinations, a fistful of maps, and an out-spoken imaginary friend named Harvey, Manny’s on a quest to rediscover herself – and taking Zeke along for the ride.
Victoria Bernadine (a pseudonym) is, as the saying goes, a “woman of a certain age”. After twenty-something years of writer’s block, she began writing again in 2008.
Victoria enjoys reading all genres and particularly loves writing romantic comedy and post-apocalyptic science fiction. What those two have in common is anybody’s guess.
She lives in Edmonton with her two cats (The Grunt and The Runt). A Life Less Ordinary is the first novel she felt was good enough to be released into the wild.
As part of the blog tour, I’m pleased to host in my Indie Author Interview Corner a women’s fiction author. Dear readers, please welcome Victoria Bernadine, author of “A Life Less Ordinary”.
Hello Victoria! Welcome to Roberta’s Dreamworld and thank you for your time.First of all, tell us something about yourself, both as a writer and as a person.
Thank you for having me! I’m very excited to be here! I’m a forty-something woman who started writing again after twenty some years of writer’s block. I’m the youngest of eight children, and I grew up on a farm in southern Saskatchewan. I now live in Edmonton, work full time and write whenever I can.
I love to write romantic comedies and post-apocalyptic science fiction. In fact, I’ve written a post-apocalyptic romance novel…yeah. I still give it the puzzled puppy look because I’m just not sure where it came from – LOL.
How/when did you realize you wanted to become a writer?
Probably from the moment I learned how to read. I was an insatiable reader, and it’s still one of my favourite things to do. I wrote stories (never finished) as a kid, mainly because I wanted something to read.
Let’s speak about A Life Less Ordinary”. Can you tell us a little about what the book is about?
The book is about a woman, Rose “Manny” Mankowski, who’s 45 and becoming more and more disconnected from her own life. She’s been doing the same job for fifteen years, and then she’s passed over for a promotion. Her new boss implies that nothing will ever change for Manny, and that’s the straw that breaks the camel’s back! Manny quits her job, cashes out her pension, sells her house, and hits the road for six months. Before she leaves town, she puts an ad in the paper for a travelling companion, preferably male with a hot red convertible.
Zeke Powell is 35, a bit of an arrogant jerk, who’s a multimedia developer and blogger for a website called What Women Want. He writes scathing blogs, and has some strong opinions about older women who are trying to recapture their lost youth. Manny’s ad is brought to the site’s attention, and his boss sends him on the road with Manny in order to write about her and her journey, all without her knowledge.
There are several other stories woven throughout the book , which involve Manny’s sister, Daisy, and their best friend, Rebecca, as well as Zeke’s best friend, TJ and his wife, Leah.
And, of course, there’s Harvey, Manny’s outspoken and sarcastic imaginary friend. Who looks very good in frilly pirate outfits, especially the tight pants.
How did you come up with the idea and how did you create the characters?
The idea grew out of the way I was feeling at the time, and was intended to be pure wish fulfillment. I already had Manny, but I had none of the other characters until an online friend gave me a list of actors along with the challenge of coming up with a TV show starring those actors. As soon as I looked at the list, and put them against my idea for this story, all the characters pretty much sprang fully grown from my head. The story practically wrote itself!
If you should describe your book in three words, what would you pick?
Fun beach read.
Do you have any favorite authors and did they influence your choice of the genre?
I have many, many, many, MANY favourite authors! LOL I read almost all genres (well, except erotica (just because I haven’t found any I actually find erotic)), but none of them really influenced my choice of genre. Light-hearted chick lit matched the story I wanted to tell.
I guess my answer to this question should really be: yes, and I WANT TO WRITE IN EVERY GENRE!! *flails* Unfortunately, I’m too lazy to do the necessary research for historical fiction (e.g., Westerns), and I don’t care enough about weapons and fighting techniques to write action-thrillers, and I’m not bright enough to write mysteries. I do write soft science fiction (“accept the gadgets and move on”), and I’d love to write a great, soaring space opera someday.
What else do you enjoy doing, when you’re not writing?
Reading, computer games, tv, movies, trying to get the cats to cuddle with me…or trying to get them to stop, if I’m in the middle of a game – LOL. There’s also family stuff, of course, and friends.
As a writer do you get support from your family and friends?
Yes, I do. They’re proud of me, and even said they liked the book! Some of the extended family bought copies, and/or told friends, and one of my sisters sold a copy in the airport on her way to Montreal last year – LOL.
Why did you decide to self-publish and how did you find the experience?
I decided to self-publish because I thought the book was good enough to justify asking people to pay money for it, but the thought of going through the query-rejection-query-rejection process just made me tired. Then one day I realized that, thanks to my previous job, I actually knew all the steps to publish a book, from contracts to editing to graphic design to printing. The only thing I didn’t have was marketing and distribution.
Are those important?? ;D
Indie authors don’t get to have a dedicated marketing team and professionals to look after the marketing of their books. How did you spread the news about your books and did it work?
I’ve been mostly using blog tours to spread the news. I did release the book in December 2012, and took a sabbatical from working in 2013, so my budget was (and still is) very small. I did do a few test ads on Facebook and a couple of other web sites, but those didn’t have any effect, as far as I could tell.
While the book isn’t even close to being a best seller, I’ve really enjoyed the tours, and I’ve interacted with great people, and that, to me, makes them successful.
That said, I’m coming up with ideas for expanding my marketing into the off-line world (e.g., working with other self-published authors to rent a table at conferences/trade shows/etc.; getting information out to independent bookstores). If you or your readers have any suggestions for marketing ideas, please let me know! :D
What are your dreams and plans for your future as a writer?
I have (counts on fingers) five stories on the go right now, with the goal of having three more published this year (a romantic comedy; a romance in a post-apocalyptic setting; a post-apocalyptic novella). The other two are a sequel to A Life Less Ordinary, and the novelization of a script about an alien invasion, and I’d like to have at least one of those released next year.
So, those are my plans.
My dreams are to continue to write and publish, and tour, and maybe gain a few more fans while I’m at it. :D
Would you like to say something to the readers to encourage them to read your books?
…I don’t really know what to say. Give them a try; I think you’ll like them? Seriously, I love the books I write, and I think that comes through (or I hope it does). I obviously need a publicist! LOL
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