Florida Romance Writers is my local RWA chapter. At our Christmas party a couple of days ago I was reminded how lucky I am to be a member of this chapter. These are writers I can look up to, envy, and strive to emulate.
Some of them are so successful that they have mutliple pen-names. With multiple brands. Each with their own separate social media profile. It boggles the mind: how do they do it? And, what's it like to live it?
When I read Sneaking Candy, the latest New Adult offering from Entangled author Lisa Burstein, I found an answer. The hero of Sneaking Candy is Candice Salinas, a graduate writing student with teaching fellowship who has left Syracuse and any hope of winning her parent's approval to attend the University of Miami. She's dealing with a lot of baggage, but her biggest problem is juggling two identities: Candice Salinas by day, graduate student and acolyte to lit-fic professor Tony Dylan; and Candy Sloane by night, writer of selling-well erotic literature.
It's a schizophrenic life.
Candy starts out as a way for Candice to channel her romantic fantasy life. Candice has never given or recieved a BJ, but Candy is an expert. Candice spends months ogling a handsome barista without saying anything, but Candy writes her phone number on a dollar bill and gives it to him as a tip.
Whoops. It was actually Candice who did that - but Candy was behind the wheel.
That's the problem with multiple identities. Who is in charge? Who do I want to be?
That's the question we ask ourselves as New Adults, and some of us are still asking ourselves years later.
I'd feel sorry for Candice, except she snares the hottie barista from the get-go, only to find out, oops, that he's her student. To add insult to injury, he's been published in The New Yorker.
Candice's real problem is balancing her desire to be a "serious writer" with her active success as an erotica author.
The erotica author gets paid. The erotica author gets lots of fan love. The erotica author has the support of other erotica authors.
This is how Burstein describes a crit session of Candice's story in Professor Dylan's class:
I'd never quite experienced anything like being ripped apart in a crit. Sure, I'd gotten some bad reviews, but they were nothing compared with the seething hate I experienced around that dark wood discussion table.
Tedious, repetitive, mindnumbing, just some of the choice phrases used to describe my poor, sad, good-but-not-great story.
The only way to live with a crit like that is to go to an Eroticon conference in a blond wig and be adored by her fans.
The problem is, Candice can't let Candy solve her problems. Not if she wants to keep her job, stay in her writing program (not sure why she would want to after a crit like that), and keep the hot barista in the boyfriend zone.
Funny, hot, a fast read. Great for wanna-be writers and schizophrenics alike.