Sunday, December 16, 2018

Writing the Stories in My Heart

Because I strive to improve with each and every work that I write, I listen to every scrap of advice, read countless articles on how to captivate readers and void writing pitfalls. One bit of advice I've been given over and over again, is:

"If you want to sell books, establish your brand, stick to it, and even make sure your book covers all look similar as it's part of your brand."

I've also been told to stick to contemporary romance. My mind doesn't work like that. Although I make every effort to give readers what they want, my best known works are those of the Diversion series. Yes, there's a loving couple, but it's also a crime drama, with plots drawn from current headlines. Is it contemporary romance? Maybe. And it requires one heck of a lot of research.

Then, let's look at my WIPs. First up is an as yet untitled sci-fi MMM menage, from the same world as The Sentinel, with cameos from Connell and Stone. I'm also working on a fantasy demon-hunter story. Remember the short story In Dreams? Well, it wants to be a novel when it grows up. Contemporary romance, they ain't. But...

First and foremost I want to give readers a well-crafted story from my heart. Right now my heart is firmly fixed on planet Akiak, where a sentient star ship and it's human pilot rescue a man who is more than he seems, and become "more" by the minute.

My heart is also attuned to Bo and Lucky and crafting the next installment of the Diversion series. Two more to go! It's been an awesome adventure, one I'll miss terribly once it's over.

If the advice I've been given is correct, I'll never write a best-seller, and never be able to leave my day job for a writing career. Hearing that one reader say, "Diversion is my favorite series", or having them write to me asking when the next installment is coming out because they can't wait, to me is the definition of success.

Readers have connected with the story and characters I have created, which is what I set out to do.


  1. "If you want to sell books, establish your brand, stick to it, and even make sure your book covers all look similar as it's part of your brand."

    Oh, good grief. :/ The folks who are throwing this advice around are writing to the numbers and trying to game the system. It might work for a while, but chances are they'll be gone ten years from now, and everyone will be going, "What ever happened to...?" and their friends will be going, "Who's that?"

    Write what you want. Write the stories and books that make your inner two-year-old giggle. Write the books you'd love to write, and you'll find readers who'll love them too.

    Whole genres have crashed and burned, and taken hundreds or thousands of on-brand writers with them. Remember Gothic romances? Westerns? Regency romances? Horror? Technothrillers? All of them were huge at one point, then crashed and burned some years later, leaving only two or three writers able to get (tradpub) contracts in those genres. If 100% of your income comes from one genre -- or a major subgenre, like Gothic or Regency -- and the crowd moves on, you are screwed. Like, lose-your-home screwed.

    Yes, it takes longer to establish yourself if you write multiple genres, or multiple subgenres in a huge-ass genre like romance. Once you're there, though, you're much more stable, and less likely to watch your life drop off of a financial cliff because one corner of the market shifted.

    You're also much less likely to burn out because you bored yourself to death five years ago and have written twenty more books of the same-old-same-old since then.

    Yes, cover branding is a thing. You should brand series books so they look like they go together. (Which you do very well.) You can more lightly brand books in the same genre, or the same subgenre in a huge-ass genre like romance. Every single book you publish should only look alike if you write only one series, ever. And if you're doing that, you have bigger problems than your covers. [eyeroll]

    You're doing fine. Keep going. We'll keep reading. :)


    1. Thank you! Sorry, I just found your comment. I'll have to check the settings on my blog!

  2. I'm definitely one of those readers. I love the Diversion series and I'm so excited that Suspicion is about to be released! I've missed Bo and Lucky. :)

    1. Oh, my! I just found your comment! Something must be wrong with the notifications on my blog. Coming soon: Relation, Diversion 7.1, a Thanksgiving novella starring Bo and Lucky.