Between a Rock and a Hard Place

I’ve been facing a dilemma for a while now. I think it’s a silly dilemma, but unless it’s life or death, most usually are. They are usually not of your own making as well, at least in my case. My current writing dilemma is making me a little bit irritated, but maybe you guys have some thoughts on it that will help me decide what to do.

As you may be aware, I attempted my first romantic suspense story during NaNoWriMo. The characters were the easiest I’ve ever written–the story flowed from my fingertips with few moments of “what the heck should they do now?” or “what is she going to say to that?” Some of the characters are a little too fond of sexual innuendo and some of them are alpha males, so while the book doesn’t contain more than a simmer, it’s too much for a line like Love Inspired Suspense.

Not only did I fall in love with these, the two tamest of the characters so far, ideas for other people in their world took off. I have outlines or ideas for three more romantic suspense offerings. But beyond these four stories that I am happily charting? I don’t know if I have any other suspense books in me. The first book was a fun adventure into something new, and the others are characters from that bold new thing that just clamored for their own story. I don’t have any other suspense ideas waiting in the wings. But I have a TON of Love Inspired things waiting.

I have a big connecting event that links eight stories I’m tentatively calling the Always Series. I’m still getting to know the characters, but I love them and their stories. I have a little something from most major tropes and I can’t wait to twist them into something that’s uniquely mine. They feature strong Christian characters whose beliefs are put to the test and the things that they’ve held onto that aren’t like God are stripped away by this life changing event. And there are other stories beyond this series–Pleasure’s story, Josie’s story, Hope’s story, Patience’s story–that are not connected but would fit with the Love Inspired line. Not to mention stories that fit neither of these modes. I love and read all sorts of stories and want to write all sorts of stories. I still haven’t given up hope of branching into memoir, literary fiction, and non-fiction Christian living. But it doesn’t seem possible to do it all the way I would like.

I spoke to some people familiar with Harlequin, my dream home for my romances, and they have said that Harlequin prefers that as a new writer you build your audience in one line. Only veteran authors write across lines after establishing their audience and building a solid fan base. So if I sell my romantic suspense first, I would be committed to romantic suspense for the foreseeable future and then would have to speak with my editor and agent if applicable to try and work out writing for another line. Also, there is the general rule of thumb that if you write for the inspirational lines you should write across lines. I’m sure I didn’t say that correctly, but that’s the gist.

The only options I could think of are to write one genre under a pen name, go with another publisher for one genre, self-publish one genre, or give up on a genre…for now. I’m not new to writing by any means. I’ve spent 25 years with all of these stories backed up in me waiting to spill out. I’ve taken classes and attended workshops and have followed forums, boards, and threads. I have developed my voice if not my following. I don’t want to give up on getting ALL of the stories I have within me out to the masses.

One other option presented was to try and gear the romantic suspense stories to Love Inspired Suspense, but the characters won’t work within that line. For example, Mallory’s best friend Emma is bawdy and full of sexual innuendo and Jake’s body makes Mallory think about liking her way around his abs, even if she doesn’t do it. A lot of the fun of the stories is this offbeat humor and flirty fun. I’ve been told that not having premarital sex may not fit with the other romantic suspense lines, so I may have to submit my romantic suspense elsewhere for that reason anyway.

Does anyone have any suggestions? Does anyone know of another reputable publisher I should be considering? How do you solve your writing dilemmas?

XOXO,

Erica

P.S. A couple of things:

1. I am going to be adding reviews to this site! That was part of the original purpose, and I have a few reviews on here, but I want to start reviewing some Harlequin titles and get my readership up to be approved for Love Inspired titles through NetGalley. I will create a tab for reviews and link all of the pertinent details. I also review Harlequins (not inspy) on Harlequin Junkie. All my reviews have Erica tags.

2. There will be other changes to the site that I am working on but they aren’t ready to be revealed yet. Any changes you would like to see?

I Propose I Write A Book

One thing that is different about this Some College project for me is that I think I have a story I can approach an agent with, something that could be shopped around and sold. The only thing is, I didn’t know the first thing about that. Luckily, I follow a blogger with an agent who is working on her book proposal to send to said agent to shop around for a publisher (or there is already a publisher interested? I’m very fuzzy on the details). Through the powers of internet research, I find that a book proposal is a great way to get your work into the hands of a publisher. Apparently, agents can shop these around, and book publishers can get a good idea of what your work is about and whether or not they want to advance you money for it.

The first thing that really brought this into focus for me was reading Eat Pray Love. Elizabeth Gilbert publisher purchased Eat Pray Love and advanced her money for travel before she embarked on her travels. I don’t know how involved of a book proposal she wrote, whether she knew that she would use the unique structure she decided to use or if she included statistics and comparison titles in it, but I do know that she was able to secure a LOT of money and, more importantly, time and experiences.

My purpose in writing a book proposal wouldn’t be the same as Ms. Gilbert’s. I don’t need the money to have the experiences to write the book; I had that for free. My purpose in writing a book proposal will be to have something concrete to send to an agent that proves that my little book deserves a chance to sit on a shelf and be picked up and read by someone other than my mother. Aside from the aid in finding a publisher, do the statistical research and evaluating the market is a great way to get thinking about what happens once “butt in chair” has accomplished all it can and it’s time to try and sell this thing.

I’ve taken a look at the methodology for a study that was done regarding the very thing that my book is about, and I have noticed that I am EXTREMELY qualified to write this book. They “disproportionately-stratified” a sample to “over-represent” me. There was a program on American Radio Works specifically targeting this issue. The group of people who fall into this category is growing. The government attention is being drawn to this issue. This is the perfect time to get this book out into the world. That’s why I couldn’t write it any sooner.

All of this is a long way of saying I’ve started working on a book proposal for Some College. Prepare to see many angry posts about how I never should have started this stupid thing, how I’m never going to find an agent, let alone a publisher, and how I’m going to have to lose a ton of weight and get staggeringly beautiful to deflect from my otherwise failure at life status at my 10 year high school reunion in 2013. Please, please, please pray for me and my sanity.

On a totally unrelated note, I have contacted a graphic designer to create a logo for me, which is step one in my journey to self-hosting my own website. I think I may have a domain name and overarching concept for the site (which will not affect this site…for now), I am playing with color schemes and a possible theme for the  look of the site, as well as an updated About me section. I have been looking into a good camera to start adding pictures to my entries, as well as finding a photographer for a professional photo shoot to capture my whole vibe. Next will be trademarking and licensing, etc. This is a long term project, a one step at a time thing. I’ll keep you posted as things progress. Wish me luck!

Why Not YA?

When I was a teenager, the summer before I started high school, my Horizons-Upward Bound English teacher read an excerpt from my manuscript, Fatal Obsession (yes, that’s really what it was called; I was tweleve when I started it). She suggested that I should be writing Young Adult Fiction right now (which was, of course, at age 14). I never did that. I don’t know why I didn’t then, but as the years passed, my interest in YA fiction passed as well. Once I wasn’t a “young adult” literature wise (I still consider myself a young adult in real life, LOL), I never read or wrote any fiction in that genre.

The other day when I came across the note my teacher had scribbled on a copy of FO, I wondered about finishing it (I even mentioned it in The Girl Who Couldn’t Commit). The story is good. I love those characters. Why not finish this book? Why not shop it around for publication? Because it probably wouldn’t sell.

I wasn’t a typical teenager (I mean, I was writing a novel at 12! Hello!), and the things I wrote, while about teenage issues, weren’t typical of teenagers I knew. That way more true today. My main characters didn’t have sex or go drinking as a matter of course (although, my victim did those things when she was in her “bad girl” phase); those behaviors were the atypical ones in my story. The trend now seems to be having characters more in line with the characters in the movie Cruel Intentions than the books I grew up with.

I’m not ready to “get real” and admit that most teens are going around sleeping with everyone in my fiction. I don’t want to write what to me amounts to adults with teenaged emotions. Compared to Twilight or the Zoey books that were coming out when I left my YA phase, my character’s downward spiral is akin to her joining the real world.

As a teenager, I felt passionately about things. I wanted to be in love and have a boyfriend (I didn’t have a real boyfriend, someone I went on a date with, until my early twenties…told you I was abnormal). I had a crush I wrote awful poetry about (I’m lying; my poetry was wonderful :D). But to be quite honest, if my crush had become my boyfriend, I wouldn’t have known what to do with him. I would’ve been angry if he tried to hook up with me. I wasn’t that type of girl (and I’m still not). Most of my characters aren’t those types of girls, either.

So I admit it. I’m out of touch. I can write about peer pressure. I know about bullying. I can even write about those soul-rending emotions that we all had as teenagers that we just knew we would die from. But I can’t write about teenagers having sex as if it’s no big deal, as if they are mature enough to decide they want to sleep with all of these people and have babies. As if it’s legal for them to get drunk at 16 and not remember hooking up with that guy/girl last night. If that’s the current market, Fatal Obsession is fatally wounded, and will be buried until I die. I’m sure my well meaning husband (should he survive me) or children will discover it and publish it posthumously, when it’s really antiquated.

What do you think? Have I been given the wrong impression of YA Fiction? Is there a market for old fashioned values? What are you not willing to do to sell a book?