(A story about genres.)
I have always wanted to be a writer. Since the seventh grade when I got an A on a descriptive paragraph I had to write for English. The teacher praised my use of alliteration, and I was hooked. That is, after I looked the word up in the dictionary because I had no idea what she was talking about. My paragraph about a frog jumping into the still pond waters and the little circles of waves that reached toward the shore one after another was just something in my head. The rest came naturally.
I was bitten by the writing bug early on, but I sincerely thought that no one could survive on a writer’s income. Maybe because I was told by my many English teachers that most of the authors we studied in school—Oscar Wilde, Cervantes, Edgar Allen Poe, Herman Melville, and John Keats—all died penniless.
So having ‘writer’ be my Plan A for life was not going to cut it. I went on to college and studied history and political science. I would get my four-year degree and go on to law school. (Quit laughing, it’s really not that funny.)
What is funny is how God steps in with other plans that I had never considered.
I met my husband and realized that I wanted to be with him more than I truly wanted to go to law school. A decision that I’m so glad I made. I won’t say it was hard to make, just weird giving up a long-time dream and having to tell everyone, “Oh, I changed my mind” when they asked about law school.
Shorty after we were married, he had the opportunity to do some contract work in the Caribbean. Of course we jumped on the chance, and the next thing I knew, I was basking in the sun and surf while everyone else I knew was back home freezing.
I’m hyper by nature and not working soon got the better of me. I found myself getting a bit bored. My mother would send me books to read and there was a place in town to buy a few paperbacks, but it didn’t take long before I learned that the best way to get reading material was to write it myself.
It was on February 14, 1992, that my sister-in-law and I sat down to write the world’s greatest pirate romance. To this day, I’m a little unsure about this moniker, but since neither she nor I can stand the thought of reading it and having it fall from grace, we’re going with it. LOL!
Though Beyond Yesterday never made it onto the store shelves, Bastian and Lindsey did something much more for me. They told me I could write. And furthermore, I could possibly make some money at it.
About a year later I switched from historical to contemporary. My writing partner went on to other things, but I plugged away at the computer, entering contests and winning a few. I sold my first contemporary romance in the early spring of 2000. I was over the moon, but also pregnant. And let me pause here a moment to say, I am not good at being pregnant. A difficult year and a couple of rewrites later, I had a beautiful baby boy and my rights back to my contemporary romance. The publishing house was small, the editor was having some personal problems, and the house folded.
I’ll skip all the family drama and triumphs for the next eleven years, but I continued to work a full-time job and write every chance I got. I submitted to publisher after publisher until one day I decided to see if I could enlist an agent’s help.
Surprise, surprise! I signed with the Seymour Agency and the rest is history.
I found an agent and everything should be smooth sailing now. Stardom here I come!
Uh…not quite. Mary Sue (my agent at the time) worked tirelessly for a couple of years to sell my latest contemporary romance. The other books I had written were waiting for that day when I got my big break. But that break seemed a long time in coming.
I called her one day and to talk to her about my contemporary, and she gave me advice that would change the course of my career. She told me I should write an Amish romance.
Amish Romance? Is there such a thing?
She assured me there was, told me to check out some other authors of Amish romance, and give it a try. Honest to heaven, I thought she was kidding. When I realized she wasn’t, I started doing research for Saving Gideon.
What brought about such a change? I had been writing seriously for eighteen years. I had sold one book, then I had a house collapse, too many close calls with Harlequin to count, and all I wanted was a chance to show people (and by people I mean editors) what I could do. I had been saying for years, “I can write. I know I can. All I need is someone to tell me *what* to write, and I’ll do it.”
Well, someone had just told me what to write. So I did.
In the meantime, still a little skeptical about the popularity of the Amish market for books (boy, did I miss the call on that one), I continued to write and try and sell the many contemporary books that I had written over the years. The following February, I signed with a small digital-first press, and my debut book, Brodie’s Bride, was published in June of that same year. It was now 2011.
In September 2011, I signed a contract with B&H for the Clover Ridge Series, and my career was off in two different directions.
I know it may seem a little odd to some readers that I write in so many different genres. (Can you say ADD?) But at least it keeps me from getting bored and it helps me push myself a little more as a writer with each book I write.
The contemporary books help me make my Amish books a bit sexier than some that are out there. And—I like to think—a little more realistic to human nature. I love to take a simple touch or whisper and turn a character inside out with no more than that.
The Amish books help me make my contemporary books more thoughtful and emotional. Each love scene can’t just be about the physical. It has to be about the emotional as well…even more so.
Writing historical books helps me keep things in perspective and takes me back to the days when I started writing–the pirate romance, not the frog-in-the-pond paragraph from seventh grade.
And the mysteries push me out of my comfort zone. They make me take a different look at my characters and help me make my romance characters more intriguing and insightful.
I know that not every one of my readers will enjoy every one of my books–some of my blood kin can’t say they love everything I write. That’s okay. In fact, it’s perfect.
I love writing and sharing my stories with all sorts of readers. I love connecting with readers and often times more genres means more readers I get to meet.
Are there any more genres in my future? You betcha!
And I hope somewhere in all my words you find a genre (or two) that suits you!