Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What's Holding You Back? Part 2: SQUARE PEG / ROUND HOLE


ABA or CBA. Single title or series. Novella. Short stories. Suspense. Mainstream. Science Fiction. Romance. Historical. Thriller. Mystery. Fantasy. Time Travel. Western. Women’s Fiction. Chicklit. Young Adult. Kid’s books.
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Take a moment to think of all the variations and combinations of the above. The book lengths. The time periods. The settings. The tones. The styles.
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Boggles the mind, doesn’t it?
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Do you know where YOU fit in all this?
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For some writers, this is a no-brainer. They write the “book of their heart,” sell it to their dream publisher, and their timing catches the wave of a growing market trend with a perfect fit.
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But for others, especially those who have been waiting in the publication world wings for what seems like an eternity, you may begin to wonder if you’re in tune with God on this whole writing thing--or pursuing your own path. Maybe you’re torn between inspirational and non-inspirational. Angsting between contemporary and historical. Or between romance and young adult fiction. Maybe you’re not sure what you want to write at all. Or maybe you’re really, really, really certain about what you want to write---but it doesn’t fit what editors are buying.
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So what’s an unpublished writer to do? (Or a published one whose books are no longer a “hot” item in a shrinking market niche?)
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In 1997 I was writing non-inspirational, chicklit-flavored romantic suspense stories-- stories that were finaling and winning RWA contests. “Won’t be long,” I was assured by many judges. “You’re writing publishable stuff.” But major health setbacks with a long recovery--followed by increasing day job demands--sidelined me from seriously writing toward publication for 7-8 years.
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As my interest in writing resurfaced, the growing “inspirational” fiction market caught my eye. When I was in college, I wanted to write a well-researched historical with romantic elements and inspirational depth. I had a title. Had my characters. My setting. Opening chapters and a ton of research completed. A fledgling plot simmering. But there wasn’t a market for “Christian” fiction back then, let alone anywhere to learn how to write it. And by the time inspirational fiction came into vogue, I seriously doubted I could write for that market anyway. Didn’t you have to be an ex-missionary? A pastor’s wife? Have a Bible college degree? Be someone with a known ministry platform? Be a much more perfect person than I am?
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But I began to seriously pray about it, deciding to explore where God might lead by entering contests with my “inspirationalized” stories--while still submitting non-inspirational versions to other contests. Surely the outcome of that venture would make it clear where I “belonged,” right?
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Nice in theory . . . but while my stories finaled and placed in inspirational categories (and one even won the ACFW “Genesis” in 2006), the non-inspirational versions continued to win contests, too! Yikes! So much for “laying out a fleece!” Maybe God didn’t have a preference for which route I took? Both versions were founded on a Christian worldview. Neither version would bring Him shame.
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However, the market was rapidly shifting. Chicklit waning. First person point of view falling out of popularity. The fun-flavored, “kinder, gentler” romantic mystery/suspense that I wrote had for the most part given way--even in CBA--to stalkers and serial killers and intrigue-type story lines. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy reading those types of books, let alone have a desire to write them.
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So there I was--at a crossroads. SQUARE PEG. ROUND HOLE.
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It was in late summer/autumn of 2007 -- when I was spinning around in circles of increasingly unproductive frustration and indecision -- that “Plan B” (see last month’s post) emerged from the unpubbed Seeker contingent, challenging us to “think outside the box,” to prayerfully dig deep, and to give God permission to do whatever HE wanted to do with the gift he’d given each of us.
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So in 2008 I “stepped out of the boat” and wrote my first from scratch inspirational romance targeted for Steeple Hill. I didn’t know if I, the queen of subplots, could tell a story in a mere 60,000 words. Didn’t know if I, a natural first person POV writer, could write in third person, let alone from a convincing male viewpoint. Didn’t know if I could write a story that didn’t contain a mystery—how did you keep readers turning the pages without one? I still had grave doubts that I had time to write for publication at all. Nevertheless, I wrote what became “Dreaming of Home.” That’s the book that in 2008 won the only contest I entered it in, the book that brought a request for a full manuscript and, shortly thereafter, a publishing contract for an October 2009 release!
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At long last—Square peg, square hole! Round peg, round hole!
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Amazingly, I discovered during the writing of that book that I LOVE writing small-town inspirational romance—something I’d never previously considered doing. Now, in retrospect, it’s a perfect fit for a coal miner’s daughter who grew up in a close-knit Christian family in small farming and mining communities. For someone who values extended family relationships and long-term friendships. For someone who enjoys reading stories that call to the heart and give readers hope and encouragement.
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So, how do YOU discover an answer to “Where Do I Fit?” A starting place may be to set aside time in the coming days, weeks and months to give serious and prayerful thought to the following questions. Not off-the-top-of-your-head responses, but digging down deep ones. Answer them, think about them, then go back and answer them again. Analyze your responses. Pay special attention to the “why’s.”
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1) What books do I enjoy reading most? Which ones do I read more than once? Why?
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2) What movies do I enjoy most? Which ones do I watch again and again? Why?
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3) What do these books and movies have in common? Suspense? Humor? Action? Romance? Setting? Time period? Characterization? Tone? Friendships? Family relationships? Why am I so drawn to these common elements?
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4) Are there reoccurring themes or premises that appear in what I read, the movies I watch, and the stories I write? Why am I drawn to these themes? Premises?
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5) What do I value most, deep down inside, that I want embedded in the stories I share with the world? What message do I want to deliver? Why? Can this message only be delivered in the type of book/genre I’m currently writing? Why or why not?
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6) What do I have the most fun writing? Why? Which stories energize me? Which ones can’t I get out of my head? In which of my stories do I most often get “in the zone” so that time passes and I’m not even aware of it?
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7) What do those who read my stories (family, friends, critique partners, judges) feel my story giftedness is?
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8) What’s most important to me—getting this “book of my heart” published now or getting my foot in the publishing world door and establishing myself in hopes it will later find a home?
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You may discover from your answers to these questions that you’re currently writing exactly what you want to write. Nevertheless, maybe your story hasn’t found a home yet. Are you willing to wait patiently for the market to come around? (Markets DO change. Constantly.) Do you smooth that square peg’s edges a bit to make it more saleable in today’s round hole market? (Maybe cut it down from 150,000 words to 75,000? Add more romance to the plot?) Can that contemporary find new life as an historical—or vice versa? Do you dare to set aside a story—or even a genre—and possibly discover something new and different that you may love as much—or more—than what you’re currently writing?
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Ultimately, it’s a decision YOU have to make. One you need to have a peace about so you don’t wallow in frustration as you await God’s timing.
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Hopefully you won’t have to go on such a long and winding road as I’ve traveled! Yet I fully understand that every twist and turn brought me to where I am today. I couldn’t have written the books I’m writing now—or will write in the future—if I’d have fast-tracked straight to publication right out of college. But I’ll always wonder . . . could I have been a better listener sooner? Dug deeper earlier?
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Prayerfully answering the above questions over a period of months led me to what I’m writing now. But the answers also opened my eyes to the fact that if on down the road doors close to contemporary small-town romance, that doesn’t have to sound a death knell to my writing. My love of history makes me a natural for historical romance. I enjoy women’s fiction, too. And still have a soft spot for “kinder, gentler” romantic suspense should that genre ever revive. I realize from my responses to the questions that I have an untapped versatility to write many “books of my heart,” no matter what twists and turns the market takes. Remember, it never hurts to have a back-up plan!
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I’m sure everyone in Seekerville is as interested as I am in hearing your thoughts regarding the questions posed. While digging deep takes time and effort, sometimes it helps to think out loud. Putting your thoughts into words and receiving feedback can often help crystallize the answers.
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If you’d like to be entered in a drawing to win a copy of my current release, “Second Chance Courtship,” please leave a comment and your e-mail addy as well!
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Glynna Kaye’s Steeple Hill Love Inspired “Dreaming of Home” is a 2010 “Carol Award” and “Maggie Award” finalist, as well as a first place winner of the “Booksellers Best” and “Beacon” awards. Her next books (also set in Canyon Springs, Arizona) are “Second Chance Courtship” releasing February 2011, and “At Home In His Heart” debuting August 2011!

95 comments :

  1. Wow Glynna I totally didn't know that you wrote your first Love Inspired inspirational (have to qualify that!) in 2008! I guess I thought you'd always targeted Love Inspired.

    This is such a great post for people unsure about where they fit in.

    Technically, it's only 10 pm here in California, so I have chamomile tea brewing. When Ruthy wakes up, she can start the coffeepot. :)

    Camy

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  2. I've been wrestling with this myself. And one thing that was left off that big ole list of choices at the beginning of the post was the epic.

    I don't see epics any more (or maybe they're flying under my radar). Everything has been turned into series fiction. But to me, there's still a significant difference between chopping a big story up into chunks and reading it as one united body of work.

    Needless to say, I haven't come up with concrete answers yet because I still don't understand myself and exactly what I want. I'll be thinking about this for a good while to come.

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  3. The coffee pot's set.

    Glynna, I've taken a lot of the same twists and turns you described. I juist haven't hit the jackpot yet. Like you, I would love to see a return of the "kinder, softer" romantic suspense.

    I'm starting revisions on my just finished wip. Considering what my next project will be.

    Helen

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  4. Glynna~ I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed this post. I've said a hundred times, I'm just starting out, and posts like this give me courage. They let me know it's ok to work at it for a long time before I'm published.

    Flexibility is a big deal. I'm working on one historical story that is the first of 3, but I have some other ideas waiting in the wings.

    I already have Second Chance Courtship. I also have Dreaming of Home (thank you so much for the copy) and I recently reviewed it on my blog. I announced that a few days ago, but I wasn't sure if you saw it.

    Thanks again for your wonderful advice.

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  5. Morning Glynna, What a terrific post.

    Plan B was a turning point for many of you. Due to circumstances I missed out on that venture and it shows. I'm still waffling. I have been sitting quiet and listening for a change and it does make a difference.

    Thanks for all of your wonderful posts. They always hit the spot.

    I know one thing I don't waffle about and that is food. smile. I'm bringing a tray of pastries to munch on, a platter of delightful fruit, and a tray of chocolates for later in the day.

    Have a wonderful day Glynna and Seekers.

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  6. Thank you so much for sharing this post. I think this is from where I am emerging. I wrote my first book a few years ago, but it didn't go anywhere. I entered several short story challenges and won or placed many times. One of those short stories turned into a book. Before I could finish it, I entered the NaNoWriMo challenge and began a brand new project. It is unlike anything I've ever written and I love it! It is currently over 100,000 words and I'm seeking representation.

    I understand what you mean about being open to God's leading you to change. My latest project is unlike anything I've written or even considered writing. I am seeking God's leading as I continue to write. I want to be malleable in God's hands, to write only what He leads me to write.

    Thank you for sharing your journey. I've only been serious about writing for a few years. I have been in the place you describe, wondering if I should keep writing or stop wasting my time. God gave me encouragement (I discuss it on my blog) and I'm back to writing.

    Thank you again for following His leading!

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  7. Ah, Glynna. The Road Less Traveled, girlfriend.

    Plan B.

    Plan B took the unsold Seekers out of their comfort zone and challenged us to not only listen to God's plan, but shift gears. After all, you don't go up a mountain in fifth gear, right? Naw, you down-shift to third, let the car work for you.

    "It is insanity to do the same thing, the same way, and expect different results."

    Einstein. Smart dude.

    Glynna, thanks for a great reminder of choices, hard work and perseverance. And Sandra, a combo pack of children's books and romances isn't anything to sneeze at, darling!

    Loving the pastries. And Helen, thanks for the coffee! It was 4 degrees up here this morning. Hot coffee is just the ticket!

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  8. I love Glynna's writing! I know if it's a Love Inspired book it has got to be good! Would love to read this one.
    Going to get the coffee now!
    plhouston(at)bellsouth(dot)net

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  9. Okay...Blogger's having fun at my expense this morning. Will try thiS AGAIN!

    Good morning, CAMY! Or rather good evening in YOUR case! No, I'd never written a "straight" romance, let alone considered Steeple Hill until 2008.

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  10. BK -- I can think of a number of other book types that I "missed." Yes, epics and family sagas under a single cover that used to be so popular are now rare. I'm just guessing, but that may be because of printing costs. The publisher can possibly make more money off one split in to 2-3 volumes as well. And some readers these days are intimidated by "big" books.

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  11. GOOD MORNING, ANDREA! Thanks for the review! No, I hadn't seen you mention it before. Have been pretty much out of Seekerville for a week and a half due to day job demands and a killer cold. :(

    Sounds like you're well on your way with historicals (a popular genre once again!), as well as having a "back up plan."

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  12. GOOD MORNING, SANDRA! You may not have found what you might think of as your "sweet spot," but you're not sitting on your laurels either! Lots of kids books, a romance coming out from Avalon this Spring, and several requested manuscripts in the works! With all you have going in the "real world" I'm amazed at how productive of a writer you are!

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  13. HELLO CHRISTINE! Sounds like that NaNoWriMo story REALLY took off!! I'll have to go check your blog to hear more about the story behind it and how God confirmed for you that you should persevere and keep writing.

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  14. GOOD MORNING, HELEN! Thanks for putting the coffee of for us! Like you, I have a fondness for suspense that isn't quite So 'gritty.' LOL!

    I LOVE the revision stage you're starting. That's where the story really takes off and comes alive for me. Have fun!

    And YOUR jackpot is out there, Helen. Just keep hanging in there.

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  15. MORNIN' MIZ RUTHY! You're right, that Plan B was a kick in the seat of the pants for some of us. Took our moored, compassless ships and cut them loose to sail the 7 seas!

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  16. HI PATSY! Thanks for stopping in and for the encouraging word about my writing!

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  17. Glynna,

    Great advice! Even though it's hard sometimes we need to redirect our focus.

    Don't enter me in the contest, I have your book. : )

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  18. Loves 2 Read Romance - LauraFebruary 23, 2011 at 8:19 AM

    Thank you for sharing your amazing journey with us Glynna. You gave us a lot to think about what kind of books we want to write.

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  19. GOOD MORNING, ROSE! Yes, sometimes it takes a stick (or two!) of dynamite to blast us out of our ruts. Ruts that we sometimes don't even know we're in, let alone how we got there!

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  20. Great post, Glynna! I didn't know your writing started out at such a different spot from where it ended with publication of your first book. I did the same thing.

    When I joined RWA I automatically began with contemporary romance because it seemed it was something I could write. But before I always envisioned myself as a mystery or suspense writer. I loved women's fiction and historicals, but writers advised me against that because they were harder to get publishers.

    I ended up writing historicals and that's where I'm at now. I could switch if I needed to. Recently I discovered I love family sagas (I used to read them a million years ago) set around the turn-of-the-century. Like the Masterpiece Classic series Downton Abbey. Maybe next book I'll try that although I don't think anyone would publish it right now! But the tastes and trends do change...

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  21. HI LAURA! Sometimes it does take considerable time to step back and think about what we want to write, determine if it fits the current market--and decide do we CARE if it does or not.

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  22. A very encouraging post, Glynna, and something for all of us to keep in mind--published or not.

    It seems like a good idea to take an "inventory" every so often, even if you've published numerous books, just to be sure what you're doing at that time keeps you on the right (God's) track.

    I never thought I'd write historicals. I've always been a contemporary mystery/suspense reader for the most part, but it's where He's led me, both in writing and reading. And that mystery/suspense works great in the 19th century, too!

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  23. GOOD MORNING, CARA! Oh, that's right! You did start out writing contemporary. So wonderful that historicals came back into popularity so your "Ladies of Summerhill" stories found a home.

    Yes tastes and trends do change, which is why it's so important to be flexible in this business. And not only do tastes and trends change, but an editor who currently loves your work may switch publishing houses or retire and your new editor may not take an interest in and back what you write. So it's always good to have a back-up plan if you want to REMAIN published.

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  24. GOOD MORNING, SANDY! You're so right that periodic "taking inventory" is a wise idea for both unpublished and published writers. It sounds as if you've found a perfect combination in what you're writing now even though it wasn't your first intent. You're catching the upswing in the renewed popularity of historicals while incorporating the mystery/suspense elements you love!

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  25. What a great post! I loved your story, and I would love to win a copy of your book!

    lizzielaura17(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  26. Omigosh--this is totally me! I first showed up here on the Island because Ruthy invited me to blog about how winning an RWA contest got me a contract for the historical of my heart. After that, I wrote a couple more that didn't fly with editors. I got discouraged and started floundering around, driving myself and my poor family crazy.

    After 2 frustrating years, my muse went MIA. I finally realized my creative well was dry, and it was MY OWN FAULT. I took this wonderful gift God blessed me with and ran it into a wall. I thought it was broken forever. In an effort to preserve my sanity, I gave myself permission to give up. I didn't write a word for a year. Read a lot of books. Enjoyed cheering on our kids' sports teams. I was remarkably happy that entire time, just living in the moment and not wishing for something I couldn't have.

    Then something amazing happened. I started seeing bits and pieces of scenes in my imagination, started thinking in descriptive phrases. I've read that's when you know your writer's block is finally going away, and for me it was true. I hadn't broken anything. I just needed a breather.

    Thanks to Ruthy (air kisses here), I dusted myself off and started following the path my new-found inspiration led me to. In 3 months, I finished a contemporary inspirational romance that my agent loved and helped me polish before sending it to Melissa Endlich. After a round of revisions (my first revision letter, btw), it's back on her desk.

    The difference this time is I know she might not buy it. All that work may not result in a contract. Or it might. The most important thing for me is I've reclaimed my love of writing for its own sake.

    Very simply, I'm a writer, and writers write. Whether we're published or not, we love putting words together to tell a story. It can be maddening, drafting and revising, trying to get it just right. We know it's nuts, but we love it anyway.

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  27. ANDREA C -- What a beautiful story of perseverance and renewed inspiration to write! And what wise words for all of us to guard the gift God has given us. It sounds as if that latest story just flew off your fingertips! Best wishes for a sale to Steeple Hill, but it sounds as if you won't anything keep you from writing now!

    And isn't our Ruthy wonderful!?

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  28. Loving this, Glynna! I am absolutely a ship without a rudder right now. Have a NF MS done and being considered by an agent. Halfway through a Biblical fiction. Working on a proposal (with some other awesome ladies) for a tween devotional. And that doesn't even cover the children's book I wanna get published some day, and the several ideas for assorted genres "on the back burner." I'm SO gonna look over these questions!

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  29. Good morning Glynna Kaye,

    28 posts already, affirming your heartfelt journey! You're onto something!

    This especially resonated: Both versions were founded on a Christian worldview. Neither version would bring Him shame.

    YES! I have a heart for kids so for now, I write kidlit. But the Lord has led me to the secular market, which widens, but narrows the field of publishers (if that makes any sense).

    Taking the Christian Writers Guild course 7-8 years ago clinched it. I hope one day to take the next course level. As some here know, the CWG is a great way to help answer those excellent questions you posed!

    I know what you mean about prayerfully considering the direction. The Lord seems to have opened a door wide... a BIG SCARY door, but we're forging through and we'll see.

    Don't enter me, thank you. I'm already a blessed recipient!

    We appreciate the post today. Thanks for sharing!

    PS - contemplating 75-150K words makes me laugh. Now I WROTE that many, and many times over. Ha! But after revisions, polishing, coach and critiques, my MG (middle grade) novel is right at 32K, complete. Which is towards the TOP end of where a MG novel should be. :)

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  30. Love, love, LOVE this post, Glynna -- the title, the message, the writing!! My fingers are just itching to get in to Second Change Courtship, which is next up on my TBR.

    I especially appreciate and concur with points 5 and 6 as a means of pegging where one fits in the market:

    5) What do I value most, deep down inside, that I want embedded in the stories I share with the world? What message do I want to deliver? Why? Can this message only be delivered in the type of book/genre I’m currently writing? Why or why not?

    That was key for me. Spiritually, I wanted to convey a passion for God that was like breathing to the characters, presented in an open and easy lifestyle as natural and real as air. Romantically, I wanted to heat the pages up between the hero and heroine in tandem with romance for God, hopefully to heat up the soul as well.

    And then, your point #6) What do I have the most fun writing? Why? Which stories energize me? Which ones can’t I get out of my head? In which of my stories do I most often get “in the zone” so that time passes and I’m not even aware of it?

    Gosh, this was such a no-brainer for me, although I know there are authors who are so multi-talented in various genres that this point might be difficult to peg. But for me, the most fun I have is when I'm writing either a spiritually passionate scene or a romantic one, fingers and keyboard smoking more than the dinners I burn while glued to my keyboard!! So I know without a shadow of a doubt that I am snug as a bug in my peg hole, not likely to fit anywhere else.

    GREAT ADVICE, Glynna. This is a keeper.

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  31. HI JOANNE! Sounds as if you're one busy lady with a lot of diverse irons in the fire! Maybe one (or more!) of them will set you sailing soon in the direction you want to go!

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  32. GOOD MORNING, KC! Yes, I'm a strong believer that you DON'T have to write for the CBA publishers to be in tune with God's will for your writing. So I'm wishing you the very best!

    I've heard good things about the Christian Writers Guild courses and your comments confirm them.

    I'd LOVE to write a book for 5th/6th graders. Those were the "golden years" of reading for me as a kid. I've started several thru the years, including a medieval fantasy based on a story in the Bible. Who knows...maybe someday!

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  33. HEY, JULIE! Your story is a wonderful example of someone fully KNOWING right from the beginning what it is God wants them to write and sticking to their guns until the tide turned for historicals and the door to their "square peg" passion opened for a perfect fit!

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  34. I love this post Glynna! Maybe because I just found my niche in Western romance about a month ago after writing romantic/suspense. I enjoyed writing the romantic/suspense (which are set in the West also, so I can always market them later) but nothing touched my heart and soul like my current project. Although, I think that's kind of the fun of not being published is you can experiment with all genres without being tied to one. Not that I wouldn't gladly give up the experiment for a contract. :o)

    Your point number five: What do I value most, deep down inside, that I want embedded in the stories I share with the world? What message do I want to deliver? Why? Can this message only be delivered in the type of book/genre I’m currently writing? Why or why not? Resonated with me as one of my dearest friends (who is also a writer) and I had an in depth discussion about a similar topic. We were both trying to decide if we wanted to write inspirational or mainstream romance. And how would each fit into what we believed and our values. After numerous emails back and forth and weighing the good, bad and ugly of each, my final thought was I want to write stories that I would be proud for her two girls (now 8 and 4) to read when they’re old enough and say their Aunt Kirsten wrote.

    I already have Second Chance Courtship (I picked it up after reading the interview with Trey). So, leave me out of the drawing.

    --Kirsten

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  35. HI KIRSTEN! Wonderful point about "experimenting" while you're unpublished. Once you're published, agents and editors often frown on switching things around. At the beginning they want to build your readership for a certain type of book and once you're established they want to KEEP your loyal readership happy with the same type of book.

    So it's important to be writing what you love, NOT just for the market. But what you love and what finds a home in the market can still be one and the same if you apply a little creativity and find that deep down inside peace about it.

    Glad you enjoyed Trey's interview! And thanks for buying the book!

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  36. THANKS EVERYONE FOR STOPPING BY THIS MORNING! Wish I could stick around and chat, but have to be out-of-pocket for awhile. Will check in later!

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  37. Wonderful questions to ponder, Glynna!

    I know for sure that I'm meant to write romance, and I did NOT know that when I started writing. I wasn't sure what I was supposed to write, except I was pretty sure I did NOT want to write romance! HA! But it didn't take me long to realize that since I LOVE romance and it's my favorite thing to read and watch, and since all the book ideas I was getting were romances ... well, I figured it out, finally. Duh! And I understand the WHY of romance and the value of it, and the way God sees it. So I'm totally at peace with it! Which is a good thing since my second romance

    Comes

    Out

    In

    November!!!

    Zondervan upped the release date. :-)

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  38. WTG Melanie!!!!!!

    Woot Woot Woot!!!!

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  39. What a great post! I'm one of those newbies - trying to find the hole MY peg fits in is part of the fun, but can also be frustrating. I'm pulled in two different directions in my writing, but I have a feeling that when the dust settles and both books are finished I'll have no doubt about which way God is taking me (maybe even both!).

    And please enter me in the drawing - jandrex(at)juno(dot)com

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  40. Hi, Glynna! Sorry I missed you this morning. Have a sick 5 year old and a hubby with a broken collar bone, so I've been a little pre-occupied.

    As to your points:

    1-4) Across the board, I LOVE romance! I LOVE the damsel in distress and the knight in shining armor rescuing her. Maybe it's a little old-fashioned, but I love it. After all, isn't that what Christ has done for us, His bride?

    5-6) What do I want to embed into my stories the most? I want to SHOW how in our human frailty we are made strong in Christ by walking with him, living/abiding in him - that being a christian isn't simply saying a sinners prayer...it isn't living a perfect life...it's living each moment - good or bad - in a closeness with Christ that carries us through every moment of every day. That even when we make mistakes, He takes it and makes something beautiful out of it. That ultimately he is in control of all things and we can take comfort in that - even in the midst of great anguish.

    6)I'm not really sure what I have the most FUN writing. I don't think it's any particular kind of scene, rather I think it's the scenes that click - no matter what type they are.

    7) I think I'll take you up on finding out what my readers think my story giftedness is. I'll do a book give-a-way. If anybody wants to donate an autographed book for the cause, let me know. Otherwise, I'll use my "101 Facets of Faith" devo book.

    8) At one time, getting the book of my heart into the published arena was my priority. Now, I think it's more just being productive in whatever I'm doing. Getting anything that is well written into the world of publishing makes me happy. I have published articles and short stories - some which I had to write under a psuedonym. But, as long as they are out there encouraging and being a blessing to others, that makes me happy. It's becoming increasingly less about me and more about others as it should be.

    Right now, I'm praying about and considering what Vince, James Scott Bell, and my hubby have been talking about - epublishing stories on my own. I'm not sure I'm ready for that just yet, but I am looking into it.

    Thanks for the great post and please add my name to the drawing: lr dot mullin at live dot com.

    ~Linnette

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  41. Wonderful post, Glynna! You know, I never realized what all was going on while y'all were doing Plan B. What an amazing journey! I'm so glad you've been sharing bit of it.

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  42. MELLIE!!! That's wonderful!

    Glynna - I've already got SCC and loved it :).

    I like reading lots and lots of things. Romance, suspense, military, historical, pretty much anything that's not horror. I prefer a strong romantic element, but it's not necessary. I reread stuff that grabs me. Regardless of genre.

    :p

    However!!!! I did have my phone mentoring session with Camy last night! [Have I mentioned how much I love Seekerville and not just because you can win stuff ;)?]

    Talking to her fit a few pieces in the puzzle. The completed MS I've got out right now, while very romantic in nature, doesn't fit the 'rules' of romance. The books after it in the series DEFINITELY don't and felt more like WF to me. She pointed out that this one really is WF too because it doesn't follow those rules.

    So... Women's Fiction with a strong romantic element I suppose it is =D. That actually makes me feel much better.

    The one I've got as an RS right now doesn't really fit the RS rules either... I'm wondering if it might actually be a WF with romantic suspensy elements... But then I can't use the opening I've got now because it's very much a suspensy opening. /sigh/

    And to get it all ready in time for Genesis next week... :p

    The first one is nearly ready. The second one... we'll see...

    But thanks to Seekerville at least I'm learning the rules now ;).

    I do need to ponder these in more detail later. And I will.

    But right now...

    Genesis is calling my name...

    =D

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  43. You know....this radical splinter group of Seekers...Plan B....makes me a little nervous.

    Sure you SAY you were plotting BOOKS. But I know you all...I know the depths of your plotting ability.

    I want the password to THAT yahoo group RIGHT NOW!!!!!!!!

    And if it needs to be passed on to the authorities....we all know it's best if you all turn yourselves in.

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  44. You'll get nothing out of me, Connealy. Brat. You'd contracted like a butt-zillion books by that time. All we wanted was to sweep your dust.

    ;)

    Andrea, sending prayers heavenward that you're one of next Friends of Seekerville to get that call. Andrea and I met as newbies years ago and we've fed this friendship through sorrow, joy, pain and success. That's what friends are for, kiddo, and I love your work ethic.

    Umm... no more time off, 'kay????

    ;)

    And my 'focus' of what I need to put in a book is salvation for women who've been hung out to dry for various reasons.

    Female empowerment CAN help romance. I'm just sayin'....

    Only I do have to fight off the Women's Fiction side of me (GGGGGRRRRRRRRRRRR) to write from the romance side of things...

    and if I don't, Melissa has a rolling pin with my name on it.

    Which she's used.

    I wonder how much we could get for that sucker on e-bay????

    :)

    Hey, Zweigle's hots and fresh burgers from Texas Hot in Wellsville.

    And graham cracker cream pie for dessert.

    So worth it!

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  45. GREAT post, Glynna.
    Wow! How thought-provoking. I'm printing it out so I can go through the questions one by one.

    Okay, this may come as no surprise (since I can't seem to find my genre), but I LOVE to watch all different types of movies.
    Elements that are present in all of the movies I watch?
    Always romance.
    Mostly some humor too.
    But I love anything from Indiana Jones to Jane Austen. My movie shelves has the movie Leap Year, Lord of the Rings, and Love Comes Softly.
    And I rewatch them ALL! Sigh.
    Books I reread:
    Well, I have one shelf that has all my 'inspiration-starter' books. When I'm in need to write a certain scene, I'll pull one of these books out to inspire me :-)
    I have mostly historical romance (some Seekers), but a few contemp romance (with comedy)on that shelf - along with Austen, Alcott, and Bronte. (Would they be considered contemp novels, since they wrote about their own time periods? :-)

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  46. Glynna, Great post chockfull of wisdom!! I enjoyed reading your journey to publication.

    I read historical romances and that's what I wanted to write. When I tried to sell my first manuscripts, the popularity of historical romances had waned. Not a good time for a newbie to break in.

    I'm grateful I didn't sell because I checked out inspirational romances and discovered exactly where I belonged. I love writing the spiritual journey of my characters! My themes focus on forgiveness and honesty.

    Janet

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  47. Good luck with the Genesis, Carol.

    Btw, if I said that 'forgiveness' seems to be a pretty common theme throughout all of my stories, wouldn't that also be one of the key elements of a inspirational novel?
    Most of mine have a very intense theme of reconciliation.

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  48. This is such a great post, Glynna.

    Great questions for all writers to ask themselves. I always knew I'd be writing romance. I started off writing secular with a hint of mystery, but now know that inspirational is just the right fit. I love themes of redemption, forgiveness, and unconditional love!

    Don't enter me in the draw as I already have your book in my TBR pile!

    Carol, I've also just sent in my two entries to the Genesis. First time entering this contest for me, so I'm excited to see what they think!

    Cheers,
    Sue

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  49. Carol and Susan and all Genesis entrants...

    Love that contest. Loved entering, loved the feedback and the finals and wins. ACFW did a great job of working to present their published and aspiring authors with a great experience, even back when it was strictly romance writers.

    Man, that makes me sound old. And slightly pathetic to have been unpublished for THAT LONG....

    But not as long as Mary, so that's okay. Let's see, Katie was in KINDERGARTEN....

    And then when Mary got published, she was a SENIOR in high school, right Mary?

    Something like that.

    teeheeheeheeheehee....

    Sorry, off track. Pepper, I think you're not only adorable, but normal. I think most of us love things all over the place, so at this point do the Karen White approach and WRITE WHAT YOU WANT....

    Now, mind you, that might not get you a contract, but it does get you experience, and most of us are much more likely to actually SIT IN THE CHAIR and write if we, umm...

    Like what we're doing.

    Mary is VERY MEAN to her characters.

    I don't know what that means, but I thought you should know.

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  50. I enjoyed reading about your writing journey and considering the thought-provoking questions you shared. Thanks for this good post! Blessings!

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  51. Glynna,

    Thanks for sharing your journey to publication. I started out writing single-title suspense without the romance. In fact, the first book I penned was a military suspense.

    We had lived at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, CA, so my story involved huge war games and a murdered general. No sale, of course.

    I wrote more books, eventually added a love interest and realized I liked romance. Before long, I was targeting HQ Intrigue.

    I had considered the Christian market but had only read sweet romances. When Steeple Hill expanded their Love Inspired Suspense line from two to four books a month, Senior Editor Krista Stroever spoke at a GRW meeting I attended. I pitched my secular story and she was interested. Long story short, I added a faith element and it sold.

    So from the beginning, I stayed on the suspense path but made a few turns along the way that led to what I write now.

    Whatever you Plan B girls did worked. Thinking outside the box or making a slight shift in genre or switching POVs...often that small change can make the difference between a rejection and a sale!

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  52. Hi Glynna:

    I like your “Canyon Springs” setting so much, I’m going to start looking for real estate. About how far is it from Flagstaff and is it to the northwest?

    I have two questions:

    (1) Do you have any idea how many romance authors got the call without going the contest route? (A percentage will do.)

    (2) Isn’t it possible that the type of romance a person likes to read and wants to write may not be what they would be best at writing?

    Will Rogers said: “When you go fishing, do you use bait you like to eat or bait the fish like to eat?”

    Vince

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  53. Ruthy,
    If Mary is mean to her characters, does that mean they do what she says?
    Just wonderin? ;-)

    And I LOVE writing what I write - all the weird and assorted parts of it.
    Until someone tells me to do otherwise ('someone' meaning an agent or editor), then I'm going to stick with writing what I enjoy.
    Which can change depending on the day, time, what I ate for dinner, and whose book I'm currently reading :-)

    Right now, I'm working on historical and reading Mary Connealy, and Siri Mitchell (in fiction). Very different.

    In nonfiction, I'm reading In Christ Alone by Sinclair Ferguson - WONDERFUL book!
    Oh sorry, got off track.
    Surprise, suprise.
    It was Ruthy's fault.

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  54. An exchange between me and my editor the other day, in an email about something else.

    Mary: I set my hero on fire yesterday. Strange business being a writer.

    Editor: Good for you. I love it when writers are mean to their characters.

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  55. Note to self: Never piss Mary off! Never volunteer to be a character in her books!

    LOL!

    Sue

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  56. Would love to read your book, Glynna!! Thanks for the chance!!

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  57. Hi, Glynna. I enjoyed this post a lot, and for me, it kind of went hand-in-hand with the question of “what’s holding you back in your writing?” always afraid my stories are not going to be original enough! That everyone reading them will get that nagging déjà vu feeling in the back of their heads, or even worse, they’ll automatically think “This is just like _____ (insert book here)” and slam it closed, tossing it into the published authors “reader’s slush pile.” I worry about that with editors, as well as friends, family, potential readers. I know that there is nothing new under the sun, and that it’s all about the spin your put on a story, but I get discouraged about it.

    The questions you posed are great and I will definitely have to answer them, and come back to them a few months later and see what, if anything, has changed.

    Please enter me for a chance to win your book.

    road_to_avonlea_17(at)yahoo(dot)com

    -Whitney

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  58. HI, MELANIE! Congrats on the November release! Sounds like you took some winding roads to find your niche, too!!

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  59. HI JAN! I think it's important as we seek to discover which direction we "should" go with our writing to remember that if we get off course, God is really great about getting us back on the path of his choice if we're willing to let him.

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  60. This post so rings true, G. I remember being in the church pew discussing with God what I was supposed to be writing. In the end when I took my hands off the situation everything fell into place.

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  61. Oh, dear, LINNETTE! Sick kid AND injured hubby!

    I like the sound of what you want to embed in your stories! I think people so desperately need to know there is hope for them in Christ, no matter what the circumstances of their life.

    I totally understand about wanting your stories and articles of hope and encouragment to circulate where God wants them most.

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  62. CAROL M -- Isn't Camy the greatest? She has this neat gift for seeing below the surface of a story and getting right to the heart of it. Sounds as though she's helping you recognize and potentially shape the type of books you're writing so they'll will fit the appropriate market!

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  63. MARY, MARY, MARY! Your paranoia is showing! :) Actually, we didn't have anything so fancy or permanent as a loop, we just emailed back and forth for several weeks.

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  64. GREETINGS PEPPER! Sounds as if you're as eclectic of a reader as I am! And yes, I think you could say Austen, Alcott, etc., were contemporary authors because they were writing about THEIR "here and now."

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  65. AH, JANET! Another who knew what she wanted to write and waited for the tide to turn that brought historicals back into popularity! And thank goodness--I hate to think of missing out on the stories you're writing today!

    Speaking of which...just a reminder to everyone that Janet's March release, "Wanted: A Family," will be on the store shelves SOON!

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  66. SUSAN AND CAROL -- Hoping for great feedback and Genesis finals for both of you! Great contest with encouraging, knowledgeable input from the judges.

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  67. RENEE ANN - Thanks for stopping by!

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  68. DEBBY -- interesting how your original writing was straight suspense, then was gradually shaped and molded to bring in romance and inspirational aspects. Then how it all worked out and came together with the Love Inspired Suspense opening up. Talk about perfect timing!

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  69. GOOD EVENING, VINCE! Fictional Canyon Springs is located in the general area of the White Mountains/Mogollon Rim territory southeast of Flagstaff. Although I do mention other real-life communities in the region (like Show Low and Pinetop-Lakeside, Holbrook, etc.), I've kept an "exact" location deliberately vague. There are a lot of little communities with "mountain country" flavor around here. I borrowed bits and pieces from a number of them and blended them with little towns I grew up in to create Canyon Springs.

    1) You know, I don't have a clue about how many romance authors got the call WITHOUT going the contest route. I'm guessing the vast majority of them, but I don't have anything to base that on.

    2) I think it's entirely possible that the type of book someone likes to read/write the most isn't what they'd be BEST at writing. But how often does a writer attempt to write a type of book that they have no interest in reading or writing?

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  70. OMG, Glynna! You wrote my story! Secular historicals stole my heart. I loved them and wanted to write them. But too often I received feedback from judges that hinted toward not quitting my day job any time soon. Can you say discouraging? Square peg, round hole...big time!!

    Then I tried a short contemporary featuring a rodeo cowboy. All of a sudden, I began winning contests. You'd think that would be enough to make me go full tilt into the genre that seemed to accept me...aka...square peg, square hole.

    But, as I wrote cowboy stories, my heart felt like something was missing. Then at at conference, I met Anne Goldsmith. Since I was a finalist in the contest, I had a chance to meet with her. She told me the obvious, Tyndale House published Christian romance.

    Duh.

    So I began reading the market and found the hole in my heart begin to fill. My 100,000 word inspirational stories now did really well in the inspy contests, but not with the inspy editors. Back to Round peg, square hole.

    Deep sigh.

    FINALLY, I tried cutting down the book, massaging the inspy angle and submitted to Steeple Hill.

    I felt the pat on the back when the good Lord finally smiled.

    Steeple Hill was the home God wanted me to reach for over all those years.

    Round peg. Round hole. Happy.

    You are a wonder, G. This was such an awesome post, filled with lots to think about. And recognize in the life of a writer.

    Sorry I could comment earlier. Scheduling to do anything on time is a challenge right now. Glad I didn't miss you, though!!

    Yayayayayay!!!!

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  71. Glynna and Ruthy, How sweet you are and I want to thank you for your words of encouragement. I needed them today. smile

    And Vince, my professor at ASU. when asked what we should write, stated "Write what you love to read" You need to read a lot of the type of books you want to write so that you have that innate sense of story.

    You'll LOVE Arizona Vince. Such variety from red rock desert to the riparian river valleys that are carved from the Mogollon rim that has the largest stand of Ponderosa pines and on up to the alpine region filled with quaking aspen. We have awesome wildlife including 16 types of hummingbirds, majestic elk, and gila monsters. We are the newest state in the lower 48 yet have civilizations dating back thousands of years.

    Oh my. i did get carried away. Can you tell I love Arizona?

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  72. HI, WHITNEY! I think ALL writers have the same "fears" you do about originality and the need to stand out from the crowd. And really and truly, just as you mentioned, so much of it is about HOW you tell the story and the "voice" and point of view you tell it in because each of us brings something to the tale that no other person can.

    Right after I sold my first book in 2009 and it was scheduled to release that same year, I wanted to jump right in and write another one so I'd have a second book coming out in 2010.

    I took a few months to do the preliminary writing, scene storming, etc., required to pull together a proposal. THEN just as I was really getting into it, I saw in the few brief lines of an RT Book Review a book that sounded IDENTICAL to mine. Same basic situation. Mortified, I panicked. Called the whole thing to a grinding halt and started from scratch on ANOTHER second book--a book I then couldn't get completed before the end of the year, so it meant I had to go over a full year between books. And you know what? I later found that other book and bought it--and it was NOTHING like what I'd intended to write except for the boiled down to a couple of lines concept. I had an entirely different type of hero & heroine, a different "take" on everything. Like night and day. I learned my lesson the hard way that no one can tell a story EXACTLY like I do.

    So DON'T let that concern intimidate you!

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  73. HI, AUDRA! You've had quite the winding road, too! I remember reading a few opening chapters of some of your historicals--they captured MY attention! But while they were good, you're such a natural for the Colorado cowboys--like hero Gabe in your January release "Rock Mountain Hero." SIGH. I know all the readers who loved it as much as I did are eagerly awaiting the next one!

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  74. Ah, TINA, our very own Dr. Phil who asked us repeatedly IS IT WORKING? I can quite honestly say, without reservation, that I would NOT be published now if it wasn't for "Plan B" encouraging me to get my hands off the steering wheel. THANK YOU.

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  75. HI SANDRA! I think the state tourism board better recruit you to promote Arizona! You'll have Vince packing his bags and heading this way before the week is over! It IS such an amazing state. Such diversity and rugged beauty. Skies bluer than anywhere I've ever been in my entire life. And the 360-degree sunsets! WOW.

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  76. Great post, Glynna---thanks for sharing your journey AND also for those important questions we need to consider. Right now, I'm at peace with what I'm writing (even though I still pray for the Lord's direction). I'm striving to become more disciplined with my writing--which is my biggest challenge right now. I tend to be "easily distracted" at times (my husband says it's because of all the cats, LOL).~ I already have your book (LOVE it!) so no need to enter me. ~ Thank you again for this post. Blessings from Georgia, Patti Jo :)
    p.s. A BIG congrats to Melanie on the November release - YAY!!! :)

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  77. Hi Sandra:

    I already love Arizona. I worked on the missile sites around Tucson in the summer when I was in college. I love the big empty. I’d live there now if my wife could leave her parents. I love Lake Powell and want to go back again the next chance I get. Maybe one day I’ll get to live there. In the meantime, I can read books that are set there.

    Also, teachers will tell you to write what you love to read. That makes sense but what if what you love to read, is something you’re not good at writing?

    Coaches see this all the time: players want to play the position they love. Maybe they want to be the quarterback and they may know everything about the position and yet they will never make the team as a quarterback but they could make the team in a different position.

    I’m not suggesting anyone write about something they have no interest in but rather something they may have only a little interest in.

    But think about it: What if a publisher said “If you write a cozy mystery, we will buy it.” Would you write it? Especially, if you were still waiting for the call. Or would you hold out for quarterback or nothing?

    In essence, do you want to be a published author or will you only settle for being a published author of (fill in the genre or subgenre). In a way, this is Plan C.

    Vince

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  78. Hi Glynna:

    I was off in the wrong direction on “Canyon Springs”. I like to try and pinpoint fictional towns. I have Tina’s town fixed and I think I have Myra’s Oklahoma location down as well given how long the ride into Tulsa takes. I agree that it is best not to be too exact. You might want to have a lake with a waterfall nearby in a future story.

    I’m already looking forward to book three.

    Vince

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  79. HI "CATMOM!" I can see how all the kitties MIGHT be a distraction! I mean, how can you resist picking them up to cuddle--which means fingers OFF the keyboard! Glad to hear you know your "niche" -- AND are enjoying MY book! :)

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  80. GOOD MORNING, VINCE! The terrain here in Arizona can change so rapidly, can't it? You have snow-capped mountains in Flagstaff, but only 30 miles to the south (and dropping about 3000 feet lower)there's the red rock country of Sedona and 90 minutes "down the hill" you're in the desert. Glad to hear you're looking forward to book #3! "At Home In His Heart" will release in August of this year!

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  81. Hi Glynna..thanks for the post. I have to admit I feel God's nudge right now to write historical romance...although that could change in the future:) I guess I need to watch for the 'signposts' along the way to see what editors are looking for, etc. Making changes where necessary:)

    I would love to be entered for a chance to win your new book:)

    lornafaith(at)gmail(dot)com

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  82. Glynna, I'm sitting down with your questions to clarify what I will write next. This post was just what I needed to read. And I would love the chance to win your book.

    laurarussellromance at gmail dot com

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  83. I really agree that we have to take the market into account when deciding what to write. But there's a wide selection in the market--we just have to find our niche. How?? Thanks for all the great thoughts. Would love to win your book.

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  84. Glynna, you spoke to the thoughts that continue to fill my head. Category or single title? I don't see so much category with Black leads in the inspirational sector or with settings outside of small towns. (I can do small towns, if I have to.) But what about those bigger stories with weightier subjects and more subplots than I tend to see in category? Is this a chicken-egg situation? Can I do both? Should I master one before attempting the other, and if so, which?

    I've gotten to the point where I try not to think about any of this anymore. It's hard, but I try. I think I need to focus my energy on simply writing a good story. Then see where it might fit.

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  85. Glynna, what great questions. I find, since I've been "studying" with all of you at Seekerville, that I tend to 'analyze' not only the books I'm reading but movies too.

    May God richly bless you all this week.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52[at]yahoo[dot]com

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  86. thanks for sharing your thoughts today.

    ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

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  87. Hi, Lorna! Historicals (depending on time period) are VERY market-friendly right now, depending on the publisher targeted. :)

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  88. Laura R -- glad the post was helpful. I'm sure there are many other questions we can prayerfully ask ourselves, but these might be a good start!

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  89. Patricia - Category books seem to be VERY slowly opening up to more racial and ethnic diversity, which I think ALL CBA publishers need to do as we have such a diverse readership in this country. If they want to tap into that growing market, meet reader demands, they need to take steps to do so. I think the subplots will always be not so fully developed in category compared single title due to the word count constraints. When I was at ACFW last year or the year before, the Love Inspired editor said that they were open to big city settings IF they weren't "office romances," but more neighborhood-oriented with a small-town feeling.

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  90. CINDY W - So happy you found Seekerville "University" and have come here to learn along with us! The wonderful thing about writing is we're ALL growing as writers and learning more about the craft and the industry. We're ALL in need of a support group regardless of unpublished, newly published, or old-timer published status!

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  91. Thanks for popping in, Apple Blossom!

    And thanks to EVERYONE who stopped by this week. I've dropped by to read posts all along, but due to playing "catch up" because of a cold and day job demands, haven't always had time to sit down and respond.

    Hope you all have a FABULOUS writing week ahead!

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