What’s In a Genre? Choosing Your Genre Niche

genre

gen·re
/ZHänrə/
noun | 
a category of artistic composition, as in music or literature, characterized by similarities in form, style, or subject matter. (via Google)

There are many levels of genre within writing. Fiction and non-fiction. Within fiction there’s romance, suspense, epic, tragedy, fantasy, etc. Within romance (for instance) there are subgenres such as Christian romance, erotica, historical, contemporary, paranormal, young adult, etc. The distinctions can go on and on to include some as distinctive as born-again Amish paranormal suspense.

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Recharging

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As you read this, I’m traveling to North Carolina to meet up with my best friend. She’s my person. One of the few in this world who truly “get me.” Someone I can be 100% myself with at all times. We’ve laughed, cried, worried, prayed, parented, and traveled together. For the next four days, being with her will recharge me. Without fail, being with this friend provides a unique opportunity for me to regroup, breathe deep, and return home refreshed.

It doesn’t hurt that she lives in the exact area of the North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains that inspires much of my writing. Laurel Cove, the fictional town in my first novel, is inspired in part by Burnsville, the town in which my friend was born and raised. Now just a short few miles down the two lane highway, my friend lives amongst a tall dense forest, in view of a picturesque mountain lake. The refreshing, cool summer breezes are matched only by the subtle sweet scent of wildflowers and pine. It’s a slower pace at mom-and-pop cafes, roadside antique stores, and porch wind chimes. Only the rhythm of cloggers at summer festivals on the Parkway call a tap to your toes.

Doesn’t it sound enchanting? Trust me, it is.

I hope to get some great photos to share with you on this place that has soaked into my creativity and fed countless stories into my mind like the cold mountain springs. Stay tuned…while I’m away recharging.


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WHAT I’M CELEBRATING:

I am so grateful and excited to tell you that my not-yet published novel, Someplace Familiar, has placed 3rd in the Short Romance Category in the Touched By Love Award Contest, announced last night at the Faith Hope and Love Award Ceremony at the Romance Writers of America Conference taking place in San Diego! What a thrill!


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WHERE I’M WRITING:

Look for my guest post on learning from a child today over at Jennifer Slattery’s blog, Lives Out Loud. My daughter taught me something pretty special recently about being a child of God.

How Hiatus Helps and Hurts

Hiatus

It’s been a month since I clicked “publish” here. As I mentioned before the break, I felt in my heart that a hiatus was necessary. In these weeks, I’ve traveled to Florida to celebrate my grandfather’s 90th birthday, took a trip to small town Alabama to visit my parents and their new chickens, and moved just a few miles away to a new apartment. One thing I didn’t do? Write.

That’s right. Not one single word. I didn’t take even one look at my finished manuscript. I made no headway on a developing plot for my next book. I had no word-count deadlines, no chapters to submit for critique, no first/second/or third drafts to review.

And, I’m okay with it.

As I prepare to come out of hiatus and back into a regular writing routine, I’m reflective of this time “off.” A lot of good, I feel, has come out of this break.

  • I took time to mull. I’m not good at letting new ideas sit and permeate in my head. I usually dump words onto the page as soon as they come to me (true pantster-style) without much regard for how it will work in the overall story. This hiatus has allowed characters to come into focus in their own time. I actually see more of the developing story. It’s good.
  • I miss writing. Writing had become a chore I willed myself to begrudgingly do. I think this had a lot to do with the recent agent rejection I experienced after thoroughly making edits/rewrites that she had suggested, only to find out she never read them before her polite “no thank you”. After a month of no writing, I miss it. There’s a refreshed sense of something missing. I’m a writer who needs to write. I’m thankful to feel that again.
  • I’ve focused outward. Us writers are naturally introspective, I’d say. Easy to get lost in considering how our own writing, worlds, feelings are going. This hiatus has allowed me to focus on some friends (some authors, some not) and really pay attention. I’ve fostered some friendships, bonded over some challenges, and strengthened ongoing relationships.
  • I better connected with the other me’s. When you spend so much of your day writing, platform building, reading about writing, researching your next story, and planning for conferences, it’s hard to remember your other roles. I’ve connected with my other me’s — wife, mom, daughter, friend, aunt, home cook, wannabe world traveler, etc.

No doubt this hiatus has helped in many ways. Good for the soul.

However, there are also a few ways I can see a month-long hiatus hurts, too. Can you relate to these challenges I’m noticing coming out of a planned break?

  • My muscles have atrophied. Going with the notion that ab object in motion stays in motion and a body at rest stays at rest…my creative muscles have lost some of their trained agility and built-up stamina. Like getting back on a bike, the first several rotations of the pedals will be the hardest before I settle back into coasting.
  • Part of me doesn’t want to start back. Writing is so hard, guys. It’s been nice to have my evenings back. To not feel guilty when I didn’t reach a goal. To say “yes” to my family more often. To not worry about what others think, if the next agent will work out, or if the next book will take two and a half years like the first. It’s easier not to write. Just like retraining my creative muscles, I have to remind my heart and mind why it is I do this. Not for the accolades or success, but because God puts stories in my heart that he wants me to tell.

Ultimately, it is the calling to write that will get me back on track. It’s the reason that I’m writing this post and will write again on Thursday…and every Tuesday and Thursday. I’ll write in the evenings and on weekends when my family schedule allows. I will submit chapters to my critique partners because I need their input to make my writing better. I’ll work hard to prepare to pitch my first book to another round of agents and editors at next month’s ACFW Conference in Nashville. And I will trust that God’s still in charge and has good things planned for me.

This hiatus is over.


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TODAY’S TWEETABLE:

How Hiatus Helps and Hurts. Reflections from an author coming
off a month-long writing break. — TWEET THIS!

Surviving Disappointment

disappointment

Just in the past few weeks, an epidemic of disappointment has spread around me. In my life and in the lives of those I love, it has threatened to steal joy, extinguish dreams, and plant seeds of self-doubt. It seems the perfect time to consider weapons at our disposal to survive the inevitable force of disappointment. Continue reading

It’s Not You, It’s Me: Unexpected Rejection

rejection

During the last several months I have been in contact with a literary agent whom expressed interest in my first novel after meeting at a conference. I like to compare these months since to a season of courting. Our first date was at the conference, second date was sending a full book proposal, third date was a lengthy phone call that resulted in her request of the full manuscript, and our fourth date included her request for me to fluff the book a little more in some specific areas. It seemed things were looking very promising. Soon, maybe we’d “go steady” — be exclusive and she’d sign me. (Pardon the cheesy analogy.)  Continue reading