Guest Blogger Dale Mayer

Hi everyone, a big thanks to Melanie for inviting me today.

If you’re lucky, you know exactly what you like to read, and if you’re a writer, you’re clear about what you like to write. You know the requirements of the writing you do and you can fit nicely into what the agents can sell, the editors want to buy, fitting perfectly into their marketing plan – are you that lucky? Maybe, and if you are, good for you!

I’m not. And as more cross genre books end up on my TBR pile, I get even more confused. I started writing romance, and then the suspense ended up developing to the point of overshadowing the romance. I thought that meant I wrote romantic suspense. Only, my suspense books all have psychics in them. That’s a paranormal element. Except, according to the contests I entered, there weren’t enough paranormal elements to fit the category. I spent a lot of time trying to sort out the percentages of what went into each and finally threw all the formulas out because I couldn’t write to match them.

I realized that I needed to look at whether any of these elements could be removed and have the story still hold. In my case, none of them could be removed – at least, I didn’t think so. Then the next book evolved into more mystery and less romance. The romantic element was still there and the paranormal elements grew stronger. Not enough to pigeonhole myself as a paranormal writer, however. Sigh.

Although, judging your own work though is no easy feat. There’s an excellent article on this subject that’s worth reading to see where your work falls in the scale here .

Entering contests can add to the confusion. My one manuscript has been a finalist in single title, romantic suspense, women’s fiction, and mainstream fiction with romantic elements, but only the beginning pages were ever read. For years I doubted my own work and wondered what the heck I was actually writing. In fact, I’d finally decided I wrote mainstream fiction – the umbrella term for all of the above. So I started calling my work mainstream or commercial fiction, depending on what agents were requesting – can you see what I’m getting at? My style was fluid.

In reality, however, what it really meant was that I was guessing. Hoping to get an agent that could read my work and say, “Hey, you write paranormals!” Or some other genre.

It wasn’t’ until my manuscript Tuesday’s Child became a finalist in Brava’s Writing for the Stars contest, where editors read the entire manuscript, that I realized, hey, I really do write Romantic Suspense – at least, in that book. It helped settle something inside in relationship to my own writing. My entry is the only romantic suspense in the list of finalists. Is RS dying? I hope not – not now that I know that’s what I write. The bottom line is go with you heart and write the best damn story you can.

So tell me, what genre do you write? Has your genre changed over time? Do you cross the genres Do you write in more than one? Or are you like me – confused a little, hoping for clarity, and willing to be convinced in any direction?

You can learn more about Dale and her work here on her website.

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10 Comments

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10 responses to “Guest Blogger Dale Mayer

  1. Dale, I’m saying Cattitude is a paranormal romance, but though a cat and a woman change bodies, it’s light on the paranormal. Except for my WF, my books don’t quite fit into any category. But now that I’m self publishing, I’m no longer concerned about it. It’s such a relief!

  2. Dale-

    My first book is romantic suspense, then the next two are contemporary romance. I thought I might be changing away from suspense, then I got this fantastic book idea that I just have to write. It’s romantic suspense. LOL

  3. Chris Bailey

    I’m in the same boat, desperately seeking an answer! I’m (perhaps foolishly) hoping someone will be so taken with my main character that they’ll tell me what I’m writing. The heroine investigates the villain until she winds up in jeopardy, but there’s a strong career element and a little romance. Point me toward the suspenseful women’s fiction with romance elements shelf. With my latest story idea, I’ve started with pitch lines for it as mystery, women’s fiction, and young adult–and I’m writing a little bit of each before I decide which has the greatest pull for me.

  4. Well, my current WIP is a dystopian suspense with a little romance. Not sure where the market is for that. And I have a new series idea that is essentially urban fantasy but there’s no romance in it.

  5. Cathy P

    First, congrats on Tuesday’s Child and the Brava contest!
    My stories tend to be mysteries with a strong romance subplot, which is apparently another atypical blend. I’ve played with different tones and varying portions of plot/romance. Like you, the stories have been finalists in RS, mainstream with elements and I think, once as single title (not sure how that happened) Maybe I need a crash course in marketing!

  6. Edie, that has to be a huge relief. I hate trying to fit into the ‘categories’ as defined by the publishing world. I don’t fit! I’m not sure I’m enough of a conformist to even want to. But I do want a writing career. sigh.

  7. Hi Sarah, thanks for visiting. Our muse is a fickle thing, isn’t it? I just started (yeah, out of the blue) writing YAs and they are defying my pattern. I love it! Good luck with that fantastic book idea!

  8. Hi Chris,
    Isn’t it frustrating! I keep hoping for that agent that will exactly where my work belongs. That’s a cool idea about starting with a pitch and see which way the story is strongest. I like starting with a log line so I can remember the overall tug of the story. So far my adult and YAs are very distinct, but give my muse time…Lol.

  9. Hi Cindy, I think most books on the shelves have a relationship in it to some extent – but having that ‘romance’ element is a different story. My last suspense had no sex until I did the rewrite and realized it really was required so it went from a suspense to an RS. It didn’t start out that way! I think if we worry about where the market is, we probably won’t write. Maybe the market needs to change…I don’t know about you but I love reading the cross genre or ‘out of the box’ stuff. Now if only we could persuade the editors of that!

  10. Hi Cathy, thanks for the congrats! Isn’t it bizarre on the contest finals? That’s one of the reasons why being a finalist in Brava’s contest helped me – it wasn’t about the first chapter/pages etc. They read the whole book and agreed it was RS. Whew. Now I know some of my others have less romance and more suspense. My YAs are actually going from suspense to mystery. It’s such a fine line!

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