I don’t know about you, but I can definitely tell when the Muse is Upon Me. I picture this little bird sitting on my shoulder. No, it doesn’t actually whisper in my ear, but when the Muse is Upon Me, my mind is filled with ideas for books, blogs, columns, etc.
Take this morning, for example. I got up in the early morning hours to heed the call of nature. When I returned to my bed, the Muse was sitting on the bedstand. Yup, from 1:30 on the Muse had me in its grip. I couldn’t wait until it was a decent hour to get up. I don’t know if you call 4:00 a.m. decent, but figured the neighbors might call the police if the interior lights were going on and off a lot earlier than usual. And when I return email or post on facebook or twitter in the early morning hours, I’m invariably asked “Isn’t it… in California? What are you doing up?” I wonder if they understand that when the Muse is Upon Me, I can do nothing but honor it.
And for writers, I think it’s a bit tougher when the mind is spinning. If you’re a mechanic, you really can’t go into work until the shop opens, even if you’re thinking aboout how to fix that car that was brought in last night at closing time. If you sell shoes at Nordstrom’s, you can’t get into the store until it’s open for business and you’re ready to serve the customers.
Us writers, not so. It’s often just a few steps to our working area and that working area is probably open 24 hours a day. So if the Muse is Upon You at 2:00 a.m., there’s a good chance you’ll be honoring it. I have to admit that I’m not a very good middle-of-the-night writer, but I know that for a lot of writers, when it’s quiet and everyone’s in bed, that’s when they do their best work. For me, the Muse serves more as an idea-generating thing in the middle of the night. I really think some of my best ideas for columns, books, resolving plot dilemmas, etc., comes from the Muse in the middle of the night. That’s when the pen and paper next to the bed serve me well. I can jot down notes and flesh in the ideas in the morning, my creative time. Last night, for instance, I thought of the plot for the third and final book of the Teddy series, mentally wrote two colums for a newspaper I contribute to, two blogs and two submissions to the Huffington Post, where I’m also a columnist. Actually, the Muse and I had a pretty good night. The Must is usually very quiet in the afternoons. It must be tired or maybe by now it knows that I find afternoons to be the best time for catching up on emails and reading trade items, rather than actively creating.
I sometimes wish my Muse was a real bird. Then, at least, I could put it in its cage, cover it with a towel, and tell it to be quiet. But no, when the Muse is Upon Me, there is definitely no way to quiet the cacophony of the mind. Muse – I need some sleep. Please, imagine you have a cage. Just for tonight!
Don’t think there’s anything better than being acknowledged by your fellow peers. Billy Ray Chitwood, author of Mama’s Madness and An Arizona Tragedy, among others, recently nominated me for Best Blogger Award. Thank you, Billy Ray, and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention his blog, Billy Ray Chitwood, http://billyraychitwood.weebly.com/blog—billy-ray-chitwood–writing.html. It’s absolutely beautiful and I highly recommend it!
Now comes the fun part. In addition to putting the logo on this post and naming people whose blogs inspire me, I have to list seven things people would be surprised to learn about me. So, for better or worse, here goes:
1. I’m an avowed “word nerd.” Show me a word game and I’m there! Words With Friends and Wordsworth being my two favorite ones. I’ve even succumbed to playing Scrabble on facebook. Ask me what I do first thing in the morning. Yup, you’ve got it!
2. I’m a closet Dulce de Leche ice cream lover. A little dish in bed at night while I’m reading, (or being a “word nerd),” is nirvana!
3. I’m capable of dealing with about anything with the exception of three things: problems with toilets, computers, or cars. I drove my husband to the airport the other day in his car. I’d forgotten that you have to put your foot on the brake and push the start button at the same time. I panicked, debating whether to jump out of the car, horns honking, run into the busy terminal and try to find him, or alternatively, just have the car towed. Finally, I remembered how to start it. Not as if I’d never driven it before!
4. I’m a puppy lover. At one time I had three puppies, one Brittany Spaniel and two boxers. I thought they were adorable. My husband not so much. Particularly when he planted an “azalea garden” with 30 beautiful azaleas. The puppies thought it was beautiful too. So beautiful, each one felt compelled to dig one up and greet him every time he came home. He’d like me to say it was a mutual decision to give one of the puppies to a dear friend. I know I wouldn’t be responsible for what might happen if I ever volunteered at a humane shelter, therefore, I support them monetarily.
5. I’m a shoe “fashionista.” There’s just something about a fabulous pair of shoes…
6. I’m a flower and candle junkie. I have to have bouquets of living things in the house throughout the year. Living in Southern California, I can usually come up with something, even if it’s a lot of orange or lemon branches in a big glass vase. Every room must have candles – yes, even the bathrooms. There’s something about lit candles that makes the world a better place to be. A few years ago I was in a nightclub in Sacramento, California, where they had a wall of mirrors and glass with candles reflecting off of them. A whole wall. Had to have it! “Don’t tell me it can’t be done. Tell me how we’re going to do it!” I said. Now I have glass shelves backed by mirrors and candles on two walls. When it’s winter and the two walls have mirrored candlelight, it’s magical. Light them even when I’m by myself. Good for the soul!
7. Lastly, I’m a closet introvert. Yeah, I know. I’ve entertained everyone from Governors to gardeners and enjoyed them all. But quiet time, looking out at the garden with a good book in hand, that’s when I’m happiest!
Now that you know all (well, maybe not all) of my secrets, it’s time to name a few people who write fabulous blogs and are are my choices for Best Bloggeer Award – in no certain order.
1. Michelle Browne @ Sci-Fi Magpie http://scifimagpie.blogspot.com/
2. Kirstin Pulioff @ The Literary Closet http://www.kirstinpulioff.com/
3. Travis Luedke @ The NightLife (Adult Content) http://thenightlifeseries.blogspot.com/?zx=3df2bb5e9e98b142
4. Thomas Rydder, Writer @ http://thomasrydder.wordpress.com/
5. B.R. Snow, Welcome to the Official Site of Author, B.R. Snow @ http://www.brsnow.net/category/br-snow-books/
6. Joss Landry @ Joss Landry Blog http://josslandry.com/blog/
7. Jet Elway @ Jet http://jetelway.com/
8. James J. Murray @ Prescription for Murder http://jamesjmurray.wordpress.com/
9. Jenna Brooks @ Jenna Brook Blog http://jennabrooks.weebly.com/
They write about everything of interest from children to adult! Enjoy! They’re all terrific.
Happens to all of us writers. Life is going great, the creative juices are flowing, and then you check your book on Amazon or Goodreads. There, in front of God and everyone, is a one or two star review. You begin to sweat. You curse inwardly, or maybe outwardly, and you wonder how anyone could miss the obvious brilliance of your book.
Sound familiar? If you’ve written anything, and if it’s been in the public eye for any amount of time, more than likely there’s going to be a bad review. Like taxes and death, you can plan on it. So, once you realize you’ve really seen it, and it was not a figment of your imagination, now what? First of all, who could have done this to you? And secondly, what are you going to do about it?
If you’re over the age of two, you probably have a couple of people who don’t like you. Yeah, sad but true. Or, they might not like where you live, your career choice, or your significant other. In my case, my husband was well-known politician, and definitely had enemies. The most scathing review I ever had was from someone who hated his politics. It wasn’t even about me or the book. But there it was. It really doesn’t matter why the reviewer trashed your book – it could have just been a bad day for him/her, and you know how empowering it can be to trash someone else when you’re having a bad day – but the important thing is what you do with that bad review.
Once your hands have stopped shaking from anger, and you can breathe deeply and calmly, it’s time to take a long look at that review. Did the reviewer trash the author or the book? If it’s the author, forget it. Not worth your time to convince someone what a wonderful person you are. If the reviewer trashed the book, were reasons given? And can you stop for a moment and just absorb the reasons? There may be some gold in there that will help you in your next book.
Jacques Pepin, one of my favorite chefs, has a saying that has served me well for many years: a recipe is just a moment in time. In other words, if you don’t have an ingredient the recipe calls for, use something else. Well, a book is just a moment in time too. I don’t think there’s an author out there who would write any book in exactly the same way it was originally written. I would definitely change things in my books. I have learned from my reviewers. If a couple of them said the same thing, that issue needs to be addressed.
The Magician’s Assistant is a book by Ann Patchett, one of my favorite authors. As I wrote this article it was #13 in Paid Kindle, had glowing reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and Amazon.com Reviews. And the numbers – 77 five stars, 47 four stars, 24 three stars, 19 two stars and 10 one star – almost 7% were one and two star reviews. Even top selling authors are not immune from bad reviews. If you need further evidence, take a look at the top selling authors. Bad reviews go with the territory. If you’re going to write, you’re going to be a candidate for a bad review or two or…
I read somewhere that there are bad five star reviews and good one star reviews. If we can take something from the review, it’s all good. When I can, I try to contact reviewers and ask them why they wrote what they did about my book. If I’m the only review they’ve ever posted and they don’t get back to me, it probably was a “grudge review.” If they do get back to me, and I’m gracious, I can almost guarantee that they won’t post a bad review again. What’s important is that you really, really listen to them. This is someone who has taken the time to get back to you, and therefore, they probably have something to say that is relevant.
And the worst thing you can do – dissing them on facebook, twitter, or any other social media network. “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” and all the rest of the sayings are really applicable here. If you run to and fro telling everyone from the checker at the grocery store to your co-workers that someone wrote a really lousy review of your book, guess what? They’re all going to want to see if it’s true. If they haven’t read your book, they’re going to want to see if the reviewer was right, and once a seed is planted it grows if watered. Don’t water it. Let it die. You know the review is there. If you just let it go, it will die a natural death. Sure, a few people will see it, but if the rest of your reviews are good, that’s what people look at. A friend of mine told me that she routinely throws out the one star reviews (figuring those are vendetta reviews), and the five star reviews (figuring most of them were written by the author’s friends and family), and concentrates on what’s in between. Write the best work you can write and if you get a bad review or two, oh well. Comes with the turf!
Dames of Dialogue interview with Dianne Harman
I’m always amazed when people tell me they have a hard time coming up with ideas for books. They’re everywhere, from the time we get up in the morning until we go to bed.
For instance, I went out in the yard this morning to water the plants. It’s spring and everything’s in bloom or budding. I looked at the roses. How often has a rose been the springboard of a romance? What about the big bee that’s buzzing around the wisteria blossoms? How does it know when the wisteria will bloom? Where does it go when the blooms fade? Children’s book? Possibly. “Follow the Bee.”
The milkweed is ready to host the wannabe monarch butterflies. I’ve pretty much decided that our garden is their last stop on their way to Mexico. From what I’ve read, it takes five generations to get to Mexico, beginning in the northern states. Well, what about the families who host these five generations of butterflies? What effect does watching the caterpillar turn into a chrysalis and then a monarch have on a family or an individual? You could even couch it in terms of a miracle. Maybe somebody rediscovers their faith or decides to become a lepidopterist. The possibilities are endless.
And what about the young mother holding an infant with another toddler in her grocery basket in which the only items are two cases of beer. Who did she buy it for? Herself or someone waiting at home? It’s a far different thing to buy two cases of beer on a Saturday afternoon, but at 8:30 a.m. on a weekday? A lot could be written about how she got to that moment.
Driving down the street and seeing the attractive woman jogging. Seeing her later that afternoon, once again jogging. Why twice a day? Running from something or to something? Maybe she’s meeting someone at the park or maybe even a tryst in a motor home on a side street. Maybe her home life is so bad that she has to get out of the house as much as possible. Does she have children? Endless possibilities for stories in that job.
Blue Coyote Motel by Dianne Harman
I began writing Blue Coyote Motel because it was 106 degree in Palm Springs, California when we were there for a wedding. The air-conditioning was wonderful. I remember turning to my husband and saying, “Wouldn’t it be interesting if someone put a ‘feel good drug’ in the air-conditioning and everyone felt good all the time?” And so the novel that went on to be a quarter finalist in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award contest and Goodreads Psychological Thriller for April was born. Tea Party Teddy, due out momentarily, was born when I sat next to a bigoted, narrow-minded politician two nights in a row at dinners in Sacramento, where my husband was a California State Senator. Wouldn’t it be interesting if his wife had an affair with an Hispanic man? And so it goes… Ideas, they’re everywhere!
Links: Twitter: @DianneDHarman
Romance is the most popular novel genre. Pure and simple. It accounts for about 40% of what people read. People want to feel good and reading about a hero and a heroine who develop a relationship and the obstacles they encounter and then work through is at the core of this genre. And according to the Romance Writers of America, “romance novels reward characters who are good people and penalize those who are evil…their relationship will likely be rewarded with unconditional love.” So the relationship between two people in love is at the core of the genre along with an “HEA” or a “Happily Ever After” ending.
While some people consider women’s fiction to be a subgenre of the romance genre, technically, because the heroine’s relationship with her family and friends may be as important as her relationship with the hero, it is considered to be a different genre.
So where do all the other books that have romance at their heart, fit in? The subgenres are endless. Here’s a few I’ve identified and their percentage of the romance genre when I could find them: contemporary (16%), historical (17%, Goth, western, Regency, emotional, suspense (7%), inspirational 6%), comedic, paranormal (9%), and erotic.
The biggest percentage belongs to what is called category romance (40%). Certain guidelines apply to these novels. They are no longer than 200 pages, which means that the story is pared down to the essentials. There are almost no subplots or or minor characters. They have a distinct identity which may involve similar settings, characters, time periods, levels of sensuality or types of conflict. And they tend to be numbered as part of a series. Often these novels are part of monthly titles by large publishers such as Harlequin/Mills & Boon.
For authors, it can be a real problem to decide where their book fits. Plot devices encompass almost all other genres (and possibly all), but again, the defining term in romance is “HEA.” So, it seems to me from what I’ve read, that if it ends Happily Ever After, no matter what the plot genre, it can fall into a romance genre. For example if it’s a romance that takes place in a science fiction story, it can be categorized as a science fiction romance, but it could also fit in the romance genre.
The one subgenre that seems to create a problem is time-travel romances, simply because of their very nature. Often the protagonists are in different time periods and it’s impossible for them to be together at the end of the novel. To give up the aspect of time-travel would put it in a complete different genre.
As the world gets smaller due to our increased ability to communicate,it’s also become much easier, through sophisticated tracking methods, to determine who reads these sub-genres. For example, multi-cultural romance novels tend to feature African-Americans and Hispanic protagonists, but there are very few with Asian or Asian-American characters. Are the characters a direct reflection of who reads the book? In other words, if not many Asian women read romance novels, there probably aren’t going to be very many novels with Asian heroines. The sophistication of determining who reads what will definitely lead more authors to write specifically for those groups.
I also think we’re going to see a type of rebellion against the words “hero” and “heroine,” which some believe are quite sexist. If there is a science fiction love story about two lesbians, where does that fit in? Even if they get together in an HEA ending, technically there is no “hero.” So will there soone be a subgenre which includes “Lesbian Science Fiction Romance?”
I think we’re at the tipping poing of subgenre and yes, genre expansion. Stay tuned. Keep in mind that as the years go by, what was once considered to be one subgenre will fit into another. For example, contemporary romance is considered to take place after WWII, but in the near future some of those novels will fit into historical fiction. The evolution of the genre and subgenre is alive and well!
One of the most common questions asked of a writer is “Did that really happen?’ Or maybe, “Is that really someone you know or even you?” Pick up any novel and you will see a disclaimer, usually within the first page or two. It reads something like “This is a work of fiction. Names, places …” You get the drift.
I had a mentor when I began writing who told me to emphatically tell everyone that my novel was a work of fiction. He had a horrible experience with one of his employees who was certain that she was the one portrayed in a love scene. She wasn’t, but she never believed him and left his firm. An acquaintance of mine, upon finding out that I was writing a tell-all about California politics, asked that if I put her in the novel, would I please make her a man and then no one would recognize her, a not uncommon way that writers work people in who might be recognizable.
Works of fiction are just that, works of fiction created in the mind of the author. However, when writers write, it’s hard not to put bits and pieces of a writer’s life in the book. It can be in the form of an experience one has had, a person someone has known, something seen or even an imaginary world created in the mind. An idea for a novel has to come from somewhere.
I’m always curious as to why a writer writes in a certain genre. We bring a lifetime of experiences and baggage that cause us to write the kinds of novels we do. Some people prefer the world they’ve created in their mind to the real world and they write of that. Others are realists and their worlds are reflected in everything from horror to erotica. Or maybe there’s worlds we wish we were in and so we write in genres such as romance. If you need a happy ending because your life isn’t very happy, why not pen a novel with one?
I find I rely on things I’ve seen, places I’ve been or experiences I’ve had. In Blue Coyote Motel, am I Maria or any of the characters? No. Yet, when I was just beginning to write the novel a priest with a large cross sat next to me at dinner. At a wedding the following night, a couple from Brazil sat next to me. They were the springboards for certain characters. I have trekked to the Thyangboche Monaster in Nepal. I spent time in Provence and a Mexican restaurant in Phoenix is based on one of my favorites in Santa Barbara. Were they added just because? No. They were integral to the novel.
Tea Party Teddy is a political tell-all about politics, corruption and infidelity. Is it true? No. It is a work of fiction. Are incidences in the novel based on things that happened? Some, yes, some no. However, when you are in certain situations, more than likely an element, a mannerism, or something will find its way into your novel.
In the second book of the Coyote series, there is a man who has studied at the Cordon Bleu. He is a food connoisseur and as such, lots of references to food. Why? It worked for me. I’ve attended cooking schools all over the world and love to cook. Is it relevant to the book. Very!
I often think about a young mother I saw several months ago at the grocery store. She had a toddler in her basket and a baby on her hip. She was in front of me in the check-out line. It was 8:30 on a weekday morning and all that was in her basket was beer. I rather imagine she will be in one of my books. I don’t know her and I’ll probably never see her again, but she probably will be a character in some future book.
Who knows? Maybe you’ve already been put into someone’s book!
I’m the Romance Moderator for the Goodreads Group, Modern Good Reads and I recently posed the question: “How Important is Sex in a Romance Novel?” It was not a real surprise to see there were more comments on that than anything else I’d asked. Whether you’re a writer or a reader and whatever the genre, there’s a good chance sex will be in the book. Quite simply, it sells!
The responses were all over the board. A lot of the readers posted that they like to see sex in a romance novel if it fit the characters. In other words, if they were shy types, it probably wouldn’t be appropriate to put in the graphic details, but it would be fitting if they were outright sexual. There was also some discussion that if it was a young adult novel, romance would be all right, but there probably should not be outright sex.
Another reader mentioned that there was kind of an unwritten contract between the writer and the reader. It was up to the writer to indicate just how steamy the novel was going to be and then the decision whether or not the reader felt it would be of interest to them was theirs, all based on the book’s blurb or the beginning of the book. It caused me to think about e-books and how important it is for the reader to be able to sample the book. This allows them to make the decision whether or not to buy the book. E-books don’t have back covers where blurbs are usually put.
There was a concensus that if sex was thrown in just to titillate, or as one reader so aptly put it, “a freebie,” it not only wasn’t appropriate, it was uninteresting. Other felt that sex was a huge part of romance and they wouldn’t enjoy reading a book that didn’t have great sex scenes.
One contributor made the comment that “crude and unattractive language will move the book into the less than romantic zone.” Quite a few indicated that they felt sex and romance were two different things. The plot also became an important part of the discussion. If sex fit within the plot’s romantic theme, it seemed to be all right. Once again, how descriptive the sex scenes should be were dictated by the characters. Softer terms for softer characters; cruder terms for cruder characters. Another contributor felt that life without sex wouldn’t be so great, so his characters should have steamy moments. Many expressed comments as to how difficult it is to write a really good sex scene. Readers don’t like to read sex scenes if they’re poorly written.
I posed the question: “Do you think the age of the characters dictates how much sex is included in a romance? For instance – is sex between 60 year olds as interesting as sex between 30 year olds?” One contributor said sex below the age of 18 and over the age of 50 was not something he’d want to read about it. Then he qualified it in a later post to include supernatural people who may live hundreds of years. I then made a statement “So I’m getting the feeling that reading about sex in the assisted living home is out!” Here’s one man’s comments on that, “…if you had a particularly obnoxious old man, and he was having fun with a nurse in the assisted living home… But those are definitely closed bedroom door scenes. Don’t want the details, no thanks.”
In closing, a reader wrote,”I think a character’s intentions, motivations, vulnerabilities, passion, etc…the overall state and exposure brought to the scene makes it powerful and seduction stems from a person’s mind, not in their genitilia.” I would add one thing to that. How pertinent is to the plot?
And as always, every reader is different and brings to the book their life experiences, which makes for a wonderful smorgasbord – something for everyone!
I’m a baby boomer. Yup, there I’ve said it. Now you know approximately how old I am. Big deal. According to the Internet, and we all know that everything on there is absolutely true, there are approximately 76 million to 79 million boomers in the US, approximately 28% of the population. That’s a lot of people!
So what is a baby boomer? A pure definition is someone who was born between 1946 – 1964. But it’s an elastic group. Other sources say it refers to children of men who served in WWII. Throw in Vietnam, Woodstock and those who like to rebel (and yes, my dog’s name is “Rebel”) or people who like to boom or make noise, and it becomes a mindset. The one thing I’ve seen agreement on is that it refers to the upsize in births following WWII.
What are they reading? Probably everything. I certainly do. However, I can almost guarantee you that “boomer lit” is a small, if nonexistent, part of their reading material. And why? Because there is so very little of it out there. I have spent untold hours on the Internet searching for books, particularly for women, that fit into “boomer lit” and what have I found? Very, very little. To give you an idea of how this group of women is regarded in genre literature, it is often referred to as ”hag lit,” “matron lit,” “hen lit,” and finally “lady lit.” As in any genre, there are some very good books written in it, just too few!
I found a list on Goodreads that showed 535 books for boomer lit. That’s for both men and women. If you’re a boomer woman, looking for a boomer book, and if it’s assumed that half of those are written for boomer men, that leaves you with a grand total of 267 or 268 books to read. Compare that to other genres such as suspense, erotica or mystery.
There’s a series I’ve read by Nancy Thayer, the Hot Flash Club. I like her books. They deal with women’s issues as we age, often with a terrific sense of humor, but while the title certainly denotes a certain age, I’m not sure that’s how I want to be thought of. I think I’m a lot more than that. The Ladies of Covington is another series I found in that genre. I’ve read them and they, too, are good, but I found them a little too old for me and a little too stuffy.
I love something I read from Rochelle Hollander Schwab and I paraphrase, “the sex drive doesn’t die with the arrival of the invitation to AARP.” Great, huh? And how many women do you know in their 50′s who happily let their hair turn grey,stay at home playing with their grandchildren and bake chocolate chip cookies. Not many, I’d wager. The women I know are facing their 50′s and up in stilettos, grabbing at the second part of their life with all the gusto they can.
That’s not to say aging doesn’t bring changes. It does. We’ve been called the “sandwich generation” because so many of us care for aging parents as well as children who flew the nest only to return. I asked my sister-in-law, a boomer as well, what she thought the main concerns of boomer women were? I think her answer probably reflects the thoughts, hopes and fears of most women of that age: parents, children, health, aging,careers, lost loves and new loves, and lastly financial concerns. That may not cover everything, but it’s pretty close.
So coming full circle. I think this is the most overlooked, underwritten genre out there. Any time there’s a potential audience of 76 – 79 million people, and you have to think a lot of them read, that is just huge! If there were that many potential customers for a certain type of widget, you can take it to the bank that the widget would be made and marketed! So my advice is, if you want to write the next blockbuster book or series, write in the genre of boomer lit! When you make it big, I’d appreciate it if you’d give me a little recognition for guiding you in the right direction. Thanks!
As some of you know, I am the Romance Moderator for the Goodreads Group, Modern Good Reads. In the last few weeks, I’ve had numerous conversations regarding the genre of Romance and I’m fascinated with what I’ve found out.
For instance, one of the hard and fast rules regarding a book that can be put in the genre of “Romance” is that it must have HEA. For those of you who don’t know what that is, and I was one for a long time, it’s “Happily Ever After.” Here are some of my thoughts on that. I remember many years ago my mother-in-law told me that a group she was in would exchange books, romance novels, but they had to put their initials in it so they’d know whether or not they’d read it because they were all so similar. I don’t know about you, but if I have to put my initials in a book to know whether or not I’ve read it, I know I definitely don’t want to read it!
A problem I see with this definition is the circumstances of the tension – usually boy meets girl, boy and girl encounter some problems with the budding relationship and then the issues are resolved and it’s an HEA. However, if readers know that it’s going to be an HEA, do they become as involved in the plot as they would be if they didn’t know the outcome? And I’m just posing some questions, here, I don’t have the answers. But for me, it dilutes it.
Another thing, and I think a pretty seminal thing for today’s writers, is the aspect of the sub-genre. Can you call a book a Romance if it’s a very strong love story between aliens and one of them dies or gets killed at the end or some such thing? In other words, if you put Romance/Paranormal does the sub-genre mean that it doesn’t have to have an HEA? I don’t know. There’s a gazillion sub-genres a writer could use. I have used Romance/Suspense for my book, Blue Coyote Motel, because I think that describes it. Would it fit into the hard and fast rules of “Romance?” No. Does it matter with a sub-genre? In other words, do you have some wiggle room if you add a sub-genre? I would like to think so.
And what about Gone With the Wind? Would that fall into the Romance category? Or do we need or even have a separate category for love stories that may not have an HEA? The problem writers have with writing love stories is that there is not a specific category for them. And why does that matter? Writers are asked to categorize their books by bookstores, Amazon, Bowker, etc. It’s makes it much easier to put them in their “proper place.” Think of the book store with signs denoting Sci-Fi or Mystery, etc. I understand that, but trying to fit a book that has a very romantic element along with several other strong threads or elements in the novel, really makes it difficult to pigeonhole.
Several people have said you just look for people who like what you write and they’ll follow you. Yes, but first they have to find you. And, what about the people who say that they like to read thrillers, or mysteries, or … You see where I’m going. It would be very easy for someone to miss a fabulous read because the writer was forced to put his or her book in straight jacket categories.
Another person told me that the sub-genres were kind of like those moving targets in a booth at the fair. They changed with the times. That’s probably true, but I still maintain a good book is a good book.
So where do we go from here? I think writing the best book you can write is the starting point. When it’s finished, and believe me, it may start in one genre and cross over to another quite easily as the characters dictate what’s going to happen. Then I think the author needs to sit back and take a long look at the book. Are there a couple of main genres in the book? If the author is too wrapped up in it, might be a good idea to get a couple of other opinions. I’ve had opinions on Blue Coyote that range from Alfred Hitcockian to Romance to Pschological Thriller to Mystery to Twilight Zone to Americana to… So what I ‘ve done is go back and occasionally change the genre listings. To write a book specifically for one group to make it easier to market would cause the muse on my shoulder to fly away. I couldn’t do it. I have to write the book that demands to be written. To do otherwise would be pandering, but it sure would make marketing a lot easier!