And speaking of winter, I'm sure we all enjoyed our share of reading as we took breaks from writing during cold snaps, right? What other profession can you pursue where your free time is engulfed with the joy of "researching?" I've never heard of an author who didn't voraciously read.
So, the important question I pose today is: What's on your shelf?
(Ha, I kinda feel like the barbarian for Capital One asking "What's in your wallet?" hee)
Take a look at your nightstand, your livingroom table, your keeper shelf and tell me -- besides the cup of coffee and assorted magazines -- what do you see?
A book? Lots of books?
What kind of book? Well-read or hot-off-the-press?
A romance? An adventure? A thriller?
Chances are you have a central theme in the books you hoard, covet, and collect. Now, compare them to your current WIP (work in progress). Are they the same genre? They should be. The old adage remains true: write what you know. And if you've spent years reading and consistently coming back to the same genre, that's the genre of book you should be writing, polishing and working up a killer spiel to present an editor or agent at this year's ACFW conference.
Because it's obvious you enjoy that genre. It brings you comfort in your rewards. You look forward to carving out moments in your day to follow the characters you love on the adventures you yearn for.
If that's the kind of book you love to read, chances are it's the kind of book you'd write well yourself.
You've got to love what your writing or the enthusiasm will not come through, the emotions will be forced and the research to make it feel real will be just this side of daunting. If you love romance, for example, don't be ashamed of it. Embrace it and put all your passion behind it. Don't try to write a scifi fantasy if that's not the section of the bookstore you camp in. The deadliest mistake an author can make is to write to a market you have no interest in just because it's hot.
If you wouldn't read it, you will not be able to write it.
By writing what you read, you're giving yourself a huge advantage. You've studied the masters, the authors who have engaged your interest enough to have you come back and buy a second book. The rhythm of the genre beats in your heart and the cadence of the words flow from your fingertips. You've studied the characterization; you anticipate the excitement of the plot points. It's a part of you and what better way to channel your emotions and the inner story of your heart that's just dying to come out?
Every kind of writing has it's own expectations and conventions. You can't have a great romance without the hints of passion and purpose (Julie described it best); great Western wouldn't be the same without a shoot'em up scene or two (no one is better than Mary); a great sci-fi has to engage the reader and introduce them to a new world that's different enough to create, yet familar enough for us to identify with (I believe we have a closet sci-fi writing Seeker thinking about this).
Readers expect a certain amount of convention in the genre and they'll expect it from your books, too. Don't overlook all those years of reading romances or mysteries or Amish-time traveling-werewolves as just whiling away the time. Consider all that effort as pre-pub research. Put it to use.
Write a book you want sitting on your nightstand or kitchen table waiting for you to steal a couple minutes and indulge in a few pages. Put your passion to work and write that book that others will want sitting on their tables and chairs just waiting "to take them away."
Hmmm, I started with a credit card slogan and ended with Calgon. There's got to be significance in that somewhere, LOL!
Now for the fun stuff : )
I've implored the Seekers to share their keeper shelves, bedside tables, and all-round places in their homes. They've done a great job of revealing their reading passion. Now it's up to you to guess which photo goes to which Seeker. I'll be giving away prizes to three lucky winners who guess all of them correctly.
What you have to keep in mind is the PERSONALITY of the Seeker, the life they give their books, and consider where their inspiration might come from. I won't lie, a few of the pics are real stumpers, but don't worry, there'll be clues along the way. And oh yeah, you can think out loud all you want, hypothesize to high heaven, work together! I can't wait to see what y'all come up with, LOL!
Match up the photo with the appropriate Seeker: Audra, Debby, Glynna, Janet, Julie, Mary, Missy, Myra, Pam, Ruthy, Sandra, Tina.
I'll have a drawing for three prize packages for three winners! C'mon, time to get creative!!
I'll even start us off with a hint: I'm published with LI, writing contemporary cowboy themes, but before I got The Call, I finaled in both the Contemporary and Historical categories of the Genesis in the same year...and won the Historical Romance category with my Regency era manuscript. NOW can you tell which pic is mine?
Maybe the other Seekers will drop hints about themselves throughout the day...you never know...
How well do you know your Seekers???
We'll have three winners here, too.
I'll be a mystery to the winner just which Seeker is sending you their book