I know. I know. I already did a cover reveal, and it wasn't this cover. A friend took pity on me and whipped this up on her lunch break. After spending weeks on the other cover, and countless emails back and forth to another friend for advice, I'll say I threw up a little in the back of my mouth when Vanessa threw this together for me. Isn't it totally freakin' gorgeous?
And she did a full wrap for me too. Here it is...
I'll admit it. I'm in girl-love with Vanessa Booke. I have met so many awesome authors on my journey, with incredible skills. I'm in awe. I have to tell myself, they probably can't milk goats just to make myself feel more adequate in comparison.
The blurb for Hot Mess is written intentionally vague. I intend to draw readers in with the hot firefighter, not the fact that the leading lady has HIV. Honestly, who gives their main character a disease like HIV?
A shitstack of research went into this book, as well as a few readers from the online HIV/AIDS communities to make sure my research was correct. Why did I write this story?
Like too many of my verbal odes, this one starts with a drunken night. Only instead of a party, or something super fun, I was drunkenly surfing the internet. (I know, barrel of laughs in my house on a Friday night). I ran across a positively heartbreaking blog post by Anonymous on a website called POZ.org. She told a riveting story of being diagnosed with HIV, starting her treatments, and then beginning her new life with a stygma. She bravely told of rejections from her friends, potential lovers, and school mates. She told of how her whole paradigm had shifted from living a "normal" life to one of "living with HIV." The story broke my heart. I started reading more, and realized that my own views of AIDS were outdated and wrong, based on stereo-types and misinformation.
I had to tell this story.
So I did. Hot Mess is about a woman living a healthy life with HIV, blogging and answering questions online, keeping that part of her life secret from her community (the small-minded, not entirely lovable folks of Serendipity), raising her daughter the best way she knows how. The hot firefighter moves in across the street with his daughter, and sparks fly. When he finds out about her status, he turns into a flake, allowing old prejudices to flare up. They manage to get through it, because I'm a firm believer in HEA with my books. And yes, there is sex. Because people with HIV/AIDS deserve a loving intimate relationship, too.
Most of the beta readers that I enlisted to give it a go loved the book, including the advocates, even though I'm sure they don't normally read a lot of Contemporary Romance, not because they don't like it, but because they probably don't have the time. You should see these women's schedules!
I had a couple of beta readers who didn't like that Sam acted so ignorant about the disease, but I've talked to people here in my own town (which Serendipity is based on) who should know better, and ignorance is alive and well.
I'm under no illusions that my book will educate the world. But it's already changed the view points of a few people who have read it. I'm really proud of the book. I'm proud of myself for tackling a topic that is difficult. I'm proud of myself for using this platform to actually SAY something. I may not have said it well, but I did the best I could.
Hot Mess is back from my editor Catherine, and is slated for publication on July 19th. I'm super stoked about it, and hoping that it goes over well. It's certainly the most intense writing experience I've ever had.