Okay, but. . . .

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for the world to go back to normal. I’m not talking about masks (although I hate them) or the constant media barrages about how we’re all going to die if we don’t do this or that. That sort of crap’s always going to happen to one degree or another. No, I’m talking about being stuck at home and–gulp–not being able to escape to my favorite coffeeshop to work for a couple of hours several times a week. The result is I’ve been forced to entertain myself and that’s included things like painting shutters, patio furniture and the like this past week. I wanna go back to being a lazy writer. VBG

To be honest, it started with the shutters. One blew off overnight. Since it was down, it was “suggested” this would be a good time to repaint all the shutters. That meant taking the rest of them down. And, well, you can see where this is going.

The good thing about it, beyond actually getting some things off my to-do list, it gives me time to think.

It also gives Myrtle the Evil Muse time to mess with me. Hence the title of the post. Why, because most of my “conversations” with Myrtle begin with me saying, “okay, but. . . .” This is mainly because she loves to screw with me. She’s done her fair share of that with Rogue’s Magic and its sequel. To start, she had me writing the books out of order. And wasn’t that fun once I realized why I was fighting the book so hard?

Then she played a game she just loves to torment me with: not telling me the main character’s name. That’s bad enough when the book is written in third person POV. When it is in that character’s first-person POV it truly sucks. But she thinks it’s fun to screw with me and she takes such pleasure with it. Fortunately, this doesn’t happen too often (knock on wood she doesn’t take this as a challenge.)

Earlier this morning, I took an hour to finish painting the patio furniture and metal planters. As I did, I thought about what I wanted to blog about. Then I remembered a post I’d read last night over at The Passive Voice. That, in turn, reminded me of the guest post by Jean Rabe last month. And all that reminded me of certain things that happened when I was shopping around my second novel and the frustrations involved.

No, this isn’t a post about the evils of traditional publishing. If anything, it is a post about knowing what you as a writer want and what you as a reader want.

I don’t know about you but, as a reader, I quickly grow tired of books that are nothing but retreads of books I’ve already read. It doesn’t matter if the book being “mirrored” is a best seller or something the author wrote earlier. We’ve all read more than our fair share of Da Vinci Code rip-offs or pale versions of Harry Potter. I’m tired of some of my favorite writers ( or used to be favorite) basically taking a book or series that did well a few years ago and simply changing the names of the characters and the location. If I can tell you exactly what happens, including the sub-plot by the end of the first paragraph, I’m not going to keep reading.

Give me something new, or at least newish. Don’t be afraid to mix it up a little.

That’s what brought me to not only Jean’s post but to what I dealt with when I first shopped Nocturnal Origins around. Jean found herself with a series she wanted to write and publishers telling her they couldn’t accept it because it didn’t fit any of their established niches. Forget about opening the envelop and expanding the market. It didn’t fit the mold, so they wouldn’t look at it. That is their loss because she was brave enough and determined enough to bring the series out on her own.

And I found a new favorite series in the process.

With Origins, I made a decision early on that I didn’t want to follow what was already becoming an oversaturated market of UF novels with a female lead written in first-person POV. For one, I wanted the book to stand out from the others. For another, I felt third-person POV, even third-person limited, better fit the story and structure of the book. So I finished it, sent it to my beta readers and then off it went to agents and publishers.

That’s when I discovered doing something different wasn’t all that welcome. Most of the editorial responses I got back came down to one thing: if my lead character was female, I needed to rewrite the book in first person and, oh yeah, add sex. It didn’t matter sex was not appropriate to that book. All that mattered was fitting the mold.

Now, Bransford, the author of the article linked by The Passive Voice, is right. You need to know your genre. I’ll add you need to as a writer and as a reader. But as both, it’s important to remember not every variety of genre and sub-genre has been discovered. Of, if they have, they may not have been adequately promoted by publishers (large or small).

I guess this is a long-winded way of saying don’t be afraid to try something knew. Don’t worry if it doesn’t fit some definition set out by bean counters who probably never read a space opera or cozy mystery or urban fantasy book in their lives. Find what you like to read and support those authors who write in that genre or sub-genre. As a writer, if you can’t find the exact sub-genre, create it. It wasn’t that long ago most of us had never even considered fantasy and space opera combining or–gasp–romance happening in our SF. Yet now they are growing sub-genres.

Take a leap of, if not faith, curiosity.

I’ve found a lot of really good books that way. Too bad trad publishing isn’t willing to take that leap. But it is good for small presses and indie authors. They can write to market and they can create a market.

And isn’t that what it should all be about? Writing what we want and being able to find books we want to read, when we want them?

Featured Image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay

18 comments

  1. I will say how Rabe’s post affected me I bought her .99 e-book special and then after reading it I ordered from Amazon all 4 of the series in paper. 🙂

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed them. I started with the first at $0.99 and quickly bought the others. Then waited impatiently for the fourth book to be published. Now I’m waiting for #5, which she says she is working on.

  2. I had a few quibbles about how Bransford defines certain sub-genres, but I suspect that’s because the definitions have changed since I first heard them (4 [!] years ago). One thing I’m starting to wonder is just how important it is now to tie your book to more famous titles. For trad-pub it’s vital, because of shelving and :It’s just like Twilight, but set in a tropical rain forest and with voudoun!” But for indies? I’m not sure it’s the be-all, end-all of marketing that some seem to think it is. Important, sure, because you want to lure readers over to your lair, er, buying your work, but not SO vital anymore.

    1. There’s also the difference between being able to point to a well-known book and saying, “If you liked this, you will like my book” and having to pattern your book almost point by point to that well known book. That’s my biggest issue, as a writer and as a reader, with a lot of what I see coming out of trad publishing now.

  3. I stumbled across an RPGLit book that I liked – and it would have been much better with the very little bit of “RPG” it had removed. I grabbed something else by the author. The point being: Non-conventional (RPGLit without the RPG) can capture readers.

    When it is in that character’s first-person POV [not knowing the MC’s name] truly sucks.
    Um. Wouldn’t that actually be easier? The character’s name is “I”.

    1. LOL. You’d think it would be easier but it isn’t. Mainly because “I” is actually “he” or “she” in my writer’s brain, in that I don’t think of myself in that role. Yeah, it makes no sense. But I need to “know” the character and that includes knowing their name if I’m going to be able to get inside their head.

    2. It can be a hard sell. I recommend the Dungeon Samurai series (by Kit Sun Cheah), but the author’s had troubles because it is NOT your typical isekai.

      You might like it 0:)

  4. Just want to thank you for publishing that Jean Rabe interview. I don’t normally read police procedurals or mysteries but the series sounded worth a try. I’m half way through book 3 but finding it hard to stay awake as I only got to bed at 4 am this morning having had to stay up to finish book 2. I strongly recommend the series.

    1. I am so glad to hear it. I love the series because it is different. I like the fact the main characters — Piper as well as Oran — are human. They have strengths and weaknesses. They don’t always react rationally to a situation because theya re human. Plus, the mysteries are exactly what I can see happening in some small town.

  5. I feel the pain – we had a total refit of the hallway in my house: repainted, new doors to bedrooms, closet, bathroom and exterior to the garage, a built-in bookshelf, new flooring, cornice molding, textured wallpaper on the ceiling, and new baseboards … which all began with installing a fancy glass doorknob on one door.
    That made the door look tatty, and a new door made the rest of the hallway look tatty, and before one could shake a stick or a nail-gun…

        1. Those old windows; didn’t we want a bay there?… The gutters (or lack thereof)… Oooh, that roof really needs work…
          I could start down that road, end up with a bare slab – and then decide it needed taken out and re-poured. (If I resisted that, $SPOUSE$ would not let me rest for the remainder of the year.)
          So I try to sneak around and tackle ONE thing at a time. Which does mean there is an absolute mess in the back right now, waiting for the weather to cool off SOME at least.

  6. Err… Hunting for the “Home” button on posts, and not finding it. (Yes, I can just pop open my writing folder on the toolbar and go to Mad Genius Club main page, but not what I’m used to. Others might have to search even more through their machine.)

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