Today Raphael and I leave for Hawaii--Maui to be exact--for our honeymoon as man and wife. Yay! Apparently the term honeymoon comes from the ancient Teutonic practice of consuming large quantities of mead, or fermented honeyed wine, during the first month of marriage.
Anywho, as a gift for our honeymoon and to start things off *wink *wink *nudge *nudge, I plan on giving my hubbie a personalized romance novel that features the two of us.
Using yournovel.com, I simply selected the location (I chose an Alaskan cruise since that is where we went last year and where he popped the question), then inserted our names and some personal facts like pet names, favorite radio station, physical features, jobs, etc. I also chose if I wanted the novel to be mild or wild. I picked wild, it's our honeymoon, after all. Then you can upload your picture to be added to the cover of a paperback or hardcover print and voila, I had my very own romance novel to give him. Sure, it's not entirely a gift for him, but hopefully he'll like it or at least the wild parts.
YourNovel.com inc. is the brainchild of husband/wife writing team Kathy M. Newbern and J.S. Fletcher, who write together as Fletcher Newbern. They not only developed the concept and founded the company back in 1992, but they have written 17 of the 24 current novels available for customization. The books range from 150-190 pages and depending on the options you choose each book can cost $49.95, $74.95, and $94.95.
During the process of creating "our book" Cruise Alaska, I also conducted the following email interview with J.S. Fletcher.
Who typically orders YourNovel.com and for what occasions?
When we first started yournovel, we thought that nearly all our customers would be women - you know, buying romance novels about themselves. Well, were we ever wrong. It turns out that the stats break about right in the middle with men typically buying 50%. Now we are not sure that they are reading the books - OK, certainly the Wild parts - but are mainly buying them as gifts for the woman in their life, which is pretty smart on their part.
Of course, Valentine's Day is our busiest season, but we do a brisk year-round business filling orders for weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, Mother's Day, and just to say, "I love you!" The winter holiday season is also strong and in fact, we have a holiday book, "Season's Greetings, Season's Love" by author Marcy Thomas.
How did you write the core stories that are then customizeable?
Kathy and I are not only novelists, but we are also travel journalists who get to travel the world to exotic destinations and then write travel articles that are published in major publications. So although in the beginning, we wrote stories that were set in generic destinations (Caribbean Island, ski resort, dude ranch), now we are using more of our travel adventures as settings in which to weave fun plots. Our newest titles have come directly from site visits and invitations.
In addition to Kathy and I, we currently have 3 other authors who have written books for us.
Marcy Thomas, Geno Vincenzo (who wrote our first detective book, Missed Tryst) and Jennifer Price, who has written our first historical fiction, High Seas Romance. We also have two other authors who are working on books that will be ready later this year.
How/when did you come up with this idea?
As to how yournovel.com started, it's a great story that dates back to 1992:
Kathy: "I was on a panel at a public relations conference and the ice-breaker question was: 'What would people be surprised to find out about you?' I answered that I had written a yet-to-be published romance novel, which got an appropriate response. Fletcher, then my boyfriend, had driven to the conference with me, and at lunch, one of the women, a friend, at the table said, 'Wouldn't it be great to read about yourself in one of those romance novels?' Well, we all laughed and kidded around about it. Then, on the four-hour drive home, Fletcher and I looked at each other, and the proverbial light bulb went off. We said, 'You know, we could do that!' and actually started outlining our first book, 'Another Day in Paradise,' on the back of a manila folder on the drive. We started writing it the next day."
What is your most popular title?
Our best sellers are Another Day in Paradise and Island of Love.
Do people typically order mild or wild?
Oh, wild - probably 98%, and we always get requests for "the wilder the better." (Good, I'm not alone!)
(Note: This blog post was pre-written before leaving for my wedding and honeymoon)