Only one week before Saving Sarah May drops — March 3! I’m both giddy and nervous. If this book does well and people like it, there are two more in the series. Going into a new genre can be a bit nerve-racking. I’ve always enjoyed romance. Well, technically I just really enjoy reading good stories. But romance is no exception. I’m not one of those readers who sticks to one genre or a specific sub-genre. If it looks good, I’ll read it, genre be damned. Perhaps that makes me a bit of a book whore.
As a writer this has probably been my biggest Achilles heel because I don’t want to limit myself to a single genre. I get bored easily, which makes branding a bitch sometimes. Most writers spend their career writing one specific genre or sub-genre. As an often result, their books start sounding alike. From a reader perspective, I will read an author until I get bored and start seeing the same things over and over again. Then I move on. Don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t make me like an author’s work any less. I just get tired of the same “Unsuspecting, sexually repressed submissive woman meets Dominant male who helps her explore her sexuality, embrace it, and empower it via BDSM.” Or “Seeming ordinary human female learns vampires, mythical creatures, witches, were-beasts are real and falls in love with one of them, drama ensues, danger and death lurk around every corner, and sometimes she finds out she’s ‘special’.” For me, I can only read the same storyline so many times before I need a break from it. I’ll go back, certainly, but only after I’ve sufficiently had the repetitious formula scrubbed from my brain. Sometimes it takes a few years since I’ve been known to binge read certain authors or sub-genres.
Usually I just hitch my branding on the fact that I write thrilling fiction, often with occult and paranormal overtones.
But not this time. This year that changed when I finally finished a romance novel that has been brewing in my brain for a few years now.
It was back in 2013 that I was on vacation and had a dream about several women unlucky in love, finding peace, comfort and healing in each other and the promise of starting over. It started with a character named Sarah, who lost her fiance in Iraq. I knew I had the start of something. Even if it was just a glimmer.
To test it out, I shared the idea with my friend Connie, who at the time was the senior acquisitions editor of 5 Prince Publishing (she’s now the COO). I remember starting to tell her about the story and realizing it wasn’t fully formed yet. I always call this my “Worst. Pitch. Ever.” even though it amounted to me telling a friend about this brilliant (not brilliant) idea I had for a novel. I knew a few things, like the book was set in Ireland (one of my favorite places on the planet) and there were some nice Irish men involved. But that was about it. For a few years I would jokingly threaten to write this book until one day in January 2015, Connie challenged me to put my money where my mouth was. “So write it. We’re looking for submissions. Here’s a due date.” I don’t know that those were her exact words, but close enough.
A lot of fellow indies have asked why I bothered with trying to get a traditional contract on this one. My answer: because I felt I needed marketing help in this genre. It’s outside my comfort zone, unlike paranormal romance and erotic romance. It didn’t make sense for me to try contemporary romance alone.
So after a lot of pain and suffering (I really did open an emotional vein for this one), I produced Saving Sarah May. I don’t think I’ve cried that much writing a book in my 25 years as a writer. I don’t think I’ve ever hated a character as much as I hated Kate. In the end, 5 Prince Publishing offered me a contract on it.
It turned into a fun story and I’m excited to share it.
Of course that’s where my nervousness is right now. I am curious what readers will think. I don’t think I’m destined to become a great romance author, but I do think I’ve written an interesting story that readers will enjoy. Especially if you like character driven pieces. I told a few friends not too long ago that this book is probably the closest I’ll ever get to writing “literary” fiction.
So if my romance novel does well, expect to see the other two in the series tentatively titled “Emily’s Choice” and “Keeping Kate”. If it flops, then we know that it wasn’t my genre. I enjoyed writing it no matter what happens. 🙂