Why Do I Jump Genres?

Guest Post by Barbara Edwards

medium_6338763999I’m Barbara Edwards and I wish I knew more than the excuse that it has to do with the way my mind works. I do love variety in my reading and have a penchant for history. That’s why my first two full-length novels were historical romances. Another Love is set in New England and Annie’s Heart in 1972 Kansas. Although I’m familiar with both locations I needed to do a ton of research. I wanted all the details right. Funny how my interest in history had me spending more time reading than writing before I was done.

I did reveal a tendency to write dark plots. The next turn was into paranormal. I don’t think my stories are scary, but my editor does. Readers do. So I guess they are. I’m in the process of writing a Series set in a small mythical, New England town. My editor and I had a hot discussion about my first title and she won with Ancient Awakening. I still don’t ‘like’ it, but stuck with Ancient Blood and next year’s Ancient Curse. I think after that I’ll pick another lead.  If you have any suggestions let me know. Then I can argue with you.

I tried writing a humorous contemporary romance that got rejected.

And in there I wrote a contemporary romantic suspense called Rachel’s Rescue. I recently pulled it to do major rewrites. It has technical references that are dated. Wow things have changes in ten years.

Last year another well-known writer suggested writing shorter books to fill in the gap between the longer novels and keep readers aware of your name. I tried it. Let me tell you, for an author who writes 90 to 100 thousand works to drop to less than 50 thousand is hard work. And it took me longer to learn the new skill. The only reason I hung on through three rejections was because I’m stubborn as heck. Maybe I’ll go back to that funny one after all. Why not? It’s written. It does need rewrites, but I only have time. And talent. Snicker.

My short holiday romance is available now on kindle and free on from October 8th to October 12th. Journey of the Magi is available here:  http://amzn.com/B00ES5DZEQ  I hope you take a free download.

I did start another short holiday romance, hoping to have it come out next year, but I may get side-tracked by another genre. A paranormal romance is already in the works with another werewolf. I’m not promising anything.

About the Author

  • Caribbean 12-23-2012 026I’m Barbara Edwards and a native New Englander. I’m a graduate of the University of Hartford with a Master’s degree in Public Administration. I write poetry for myself and novels when I need to tell a longer tale. I’m fascinated by the past so naturally turned to writing historical romance. The dark paranormal stories evolve from nightmares. The romance comes from my belief in people’s basic goodness and longing for love.
  • I lived in Florida for several years and am past president of the Central Florida Romance Writers and a member of Romance Writers of America.
  • When I returned to Connecticut, I founded the Charter Oak Romance Writers, a Chapter of Romance Writers of America, along with several close friends.
  • My husband is a retired Police Sergeant. We share an interest Civil War re-enacting and travel the Eastern states to participate in events. I love visiting museums, galleries and battle sites, gathering information for my stories.
  • I taught Romance Writing at Manchester Community college for three years.
  • I’m fond of gardening and growing antique roses with limited success.

Please follow, friend or like me. I love to hear from my readers.

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photo credit: Tau Zero via photopin cc

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On Writing: Advice from an Agent That Changed My Life

You Cannot Write in a Vacuum

Guest Post by Renee Charles

advice from writing agents

Image credit: stock.xchg/gerard79

You know the drill; write, revise, repeat. We all do it, we sweat over each word till it’s perfect and then the next, and then the next, building sentences into characters and worlds that breath all their own. Tedious labor of love, and once its finished we are so proud …for about 5 minutes.

Then begins the arduous task of querying. And when the publishers and agents don’t respond, or worse respond with a form letter, our high sense of accomplishment wanes. Why is this? If I have studied Strunk and White, and read the greats, and subscribed to the newsletters and magazines that teach and mold, why am I not hearing back? What key component am I missing? I was determined to see it through. I figured if I throw enough spaghetti at the wall eventually something would stick.

Then it happened an agent answered the phone when I called to get the name to send my query. He actually answered his own phone. I stuttered then managed to give him enough info about my WIP that he actually asked me to send him my book. Woo hoo! I just knew I was in. When I got his no thank you letter I was devastated. So after the five stages of grief, I summoned the courage to call him again. And yes he answered his own phone again. He remembered both our previous conversation and my submission. Then he told me the thing that changed my writing life.

“You cannot write in a vacuum.” He told me to find other writers, to critique and be critiqued. To network and become part of the writing community.  At first I didn’t understand the value of his statement. By nature writers write alone. Community? But I knew I was at a standstill and desperate to break out of the stagnate pond that I had been swimming circles in. So, I did what he told me. With my first critique I understood. Think of it as the difference between studying medicine from a book and cutting into a cadaver with a scalpel.

Within six months I had a writing contract. I have writer, agent and publisher friends on Twitter, Yahoo groups, and Facebook, all from whom I learn at least one new thing each and every day that pushes me ever forward toward my dreams (supporting myself and my family with my craft). It all started with one timid request to join an online critique group. They were patient and kind. Although I am still a loner by nature, the connections I have made are invaluable. The great thing about technology is you can try a group and if you don’t click, find another. Have coffee tweeting with writers across the nation and learn from them. You will be a better story teller in the end.

“You cannot write in a vacuum.” I will never forget those words, or the man who took a moment to change my life and my craft.

What words changed how you write? Who has impacted your craft so deeply that things will never be the same?

About the Author

Author, Renee Charles believes all love is legendary. Being the only female in a house full of giants (husband and two teenage boys) she tends to lean toward the macabre, but inevitably the softer side shines through.

Whether life leads her to a snow covered mountain top, sun dappled forest, or the bottom of a ravine (yes, ditches happen) she always has a pen and note pad ready so wherever the next adventure takes her, she can take notes.

Her own romance began in an insane asylum. Luckily, both she and her husband only worked there. But it makes sense her romance novels have strange beginnings that lead to passionate endings. Romance with a twist.

In the face of zombies, werewolves, and big foot she always seems to find a happily ever after to leave you with a sigh at the end.

On Writing: Keeping the Faith

What to Expect When You’re Reading Christian Fiction

Guest post by TC Slonaker

writing christian fiction

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I am a Christian. What does that mean to me?

Here’s the main point of what I believe – I have sinned. Even though I couldn’t help it, I still deserve to be punished for my wrong. Why? Because when I die, there are only two possible outcomes: being with God forever (in heaven) or not being with God forever (eventually in hell). There was only one way to erase all sin. God had to cast away His perfect Son, Jesus, as the  sacrifice for sins.

Christianity is not my religion; it is my way of life. From the time I first discovered Jesus, God, the Bible, and church – when I was seven years old – until now, there has been one thought always in the corner of my mind:

“Is God pleased with the life I am living for Him?”

My theology in a nutshell. I believe a lot of other details, but that’s the crux of it.

Back to the original question: What does that have to do with my life?

God has put more in my life than just worshipping Him in church. While my regular job is in my church, I also have kids and talk to their friends’ parents. I play softball. I dawdle on Facebook and Goodreads. I have an extended family. All the while, trying to make sure I am giving the best Christian example I can.

I am also a writer. How do I incorporate the above into my writing?

Well, the Bible has already been written. And we are encouraged in the good book not to add one iota to it for dire consequences. So what’s left to write?

Writing about people.

Here’s the problem. Remember how I said that all people have sinned? That actually works pretty well to make for interesting books. But wouldn’t God frown on reveling that sin?

As a Christian, shouldn’t I be writing about how to do it right? What being a Christian looks like?

The truth would be more honest, wouldn’t it?

For example, there is a situation in my first novel, Amity of the Angelmen, where a young priest (Father Mackenzie Abel) falls in love – and perhaps takes it a step too far – with a 17-year-old girl. Especially in light of all the bad press the Catholic church has received recently about abuse among priests, I was extremely nervous about putting this in.

Here’s the deal. Mackenzie is not perfect, even though he is a priest. He makes mistakes. When you read the book, you will probably like the character. (The most frequent question I receive about the book is, “What happens to Mackenzie?”) So, if I have done my job as an author correctly, you will feel his pain in knowing he did what he shouldn’t have done. Some of you will think, “Good for him!” Others of you will think, “What are you doing?” But you will all know that he knows he has sinned.

I’m not condoning it. I’m simply saying it happens.

A book I have slated to come out possibly next year gets even darker with the life of the suicidal child of an alcoholic. I really struggled writing it, because I have no experience with a life like that. But I know it’s out there. And this is a story of how God can use even someone with no self-worth to become the commander of His army.

My books aren’t about perfect people. (Amity is afraid to do as she’s told. Asher is prideful and uses his popularity in using girls to fill his loneliness, Malachi is an angry delinquent with plenty of blood on his hands, and Caedmon could be responsible for the death of his parents.) None of that is new to God. There is hope for these four. When the Israelites needed to get through Jericho, they used the help of a prostitute. That prostitute wound up being in the bloodline of Jesus Christ.

Maybe you don’t necessarily write Christian fiction, but you are struggling because a book you are writing is going to a place that scares you. What do you do when you have to write something you don’t believe?

Take a deep breath. Remember you are writing fiction, not a Guide Book to Life. No one should be reading your book for advice on how to live their lives. If they do – just blame your character. (And be sure to escape your character’s mind after he does the dirty deed.  You don’t want to get any ideas of your own!)

So, I am a Christian writer. What does that mean?

I tell it like it is, and God gets the glory for any good that comes of it. So read on, and be comforted that you are not alone.

Finding Balance and Bravery

Balancing Personal Beliefs with Entertainment in Writing

Guest post by Sydney Logan

Balancing spirituality in writingMy journey into publishing has been a whirlwind with its fair share of stumbling blocks. Interestingly enough, my biggest writing “struggles” have come from trying to find a balance between my real life and my life as an author.

I am a public school teacher, and I write contemporary romances with grown-up people who do grown-up things (curse, have sex, etc.). I also live in a rural conservative community where the church is the moral compass.

I know what you’re thinking – what I do on my own time is my business. Well, in a perfect world, yes. But when you live in a tight-knit community where everyone knows everyone’s business, it doesn’t always work that way.

I worried and stressed over how my first novel, Lessons Learned, would be received. It was a fine line I had drawn for Sarah—she didn’t agree with homosexuality, but she loved Matt and wanted to protect him. Not to mention, the deacon of the church (also the school principal) bullies the gay teenager and blackmails his teachers. My characters also have pre-marital sex and say curse words.

In my mind, offending someone was inevitable.

I worried endlessly about how the book would be received here at home. Would I upset Baptists? Liberals? My students’ parents? My colleagues?

(Yes, I care far too much about what people think of me. It’s a problem. I’m working on it.)

Despite all that worry, I still published the story I wanted to publish.

It has been five months since the release of the book, and I have to say that my fears (so far) have been unwarranted. Sure, I’ve received some online reviews wishing I had taken a stance one way or the other on the issue, but that wasn’t the purpose of the story. Lessons Learned isn’t about “taking sides.” It’s about tolerance. It’s about finding a way to hold true to your beliefs without persecuting someone for their own.

It’s a lesson we all need from time to time.

I’m not fanatically religious, but I am a spiritual person, and when I’m feeling anxious, I turn to Scripture. This is my favorite verse:

balance and braver

So, with my second book (Mountain Charm – July 2013), I am determined to be courageous and brave.

As long as I don’t offend any Appalachian witches, I should be in good shape.