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?



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?


False Starts…

I think I spoke too soon, as per usual.

After looking through the editor’s work and seeing some of the comments about the editing of the book I knew she worked on, I grabbed a copy for myself. Once I’d read some of the book, I acknowledged that some obvious grammatical errors and typos were distracting me from the content of the book. I knew that I didn’t want that to happen with my book. As a reader, I know how a bad editing job can make an otherwise wonderful book suck, for lack of a better word. I’d rather my story tanked on its material rather than its editing.

Even though I had to go back to the drawing board on editing, I did come up with a better solution for me. I realized I know a guy. The guy who runs the singles’ ministry is a college English teacher (I realize teacher isn’t the word; I believe he’s an adjunct professor? Semantics). Not only does he have a proven background in English, he leads a singles’ ministry, which means he  has extensive knowledge of the subject matter. He can copy edit and edit for content, and he would be one of few people I would trust to edit the content. I also found an advance reader, someone who is quoted quite a few times in the book herself. She’s a psychologist who attends my church and has done some pre-marital counseling for me (no, I’m not married or engaged, but I’ve had pre-marital counseling–twice. That’s another story for another day, and not half as interesting as it sounds). So the people are in place, but is the book ready?

The short answer is no. I got hung up on the writing of the chapter I didn’t want to write (somehow, I am not surprised by this). I had a goal to be done with the book by the end of March, but things picked up with the website (which is coming along well), I got invited to speak at my aunt’s Authentic Self seminar (which is in May, but I started working on right away so I could preview it here), and things at work began to change. All legitimate excuses that don’t get me any closer to a finished book. But I’m back on top of it, dear readers. The book hasn’t died on the shelf yet. I am going to finish those parts I don’t want to tackle, and I’m going to wrap up the other chapters in a way that makes it all worth the wait for this book.

Even though I feel like this project is one I’m meant to write and have gained a wealth of experience and growth through the writing of it, I find myself missing my fiction projects. I want to get conclude some of those stories. I think there is a market for them. But I realize that finishing this project is not just important to me, but to all the people who can benefit from reading it. Let’s not downplay the fact that I am known to abandon ship when the writing gets tough and move  on to something else. I need to prove to myself that I can finish a work and get it out there. I have to get to the end of writing and editing and have a finished product if I’m ever going to publish. We can’t all be Donna Tart and take ten years to finish a book.

So, keep my book and my writing in your thoughts and prayers. It is moving forward. I want to make it perfect for my readers, some of which have been waiting years to read my work. Meanwhile, sate yourselves with reading a few shorter non-fiction pieces in my Untitled tab.