Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Find Your Genre…The Groundhog Way

with guest Meghan Carver.

What an honor to be a guest on Seekerville today! I feel like I’m sitting at the banquet table with the royalty of writing. I’ve been reading and commenting here for quite a while, but to actually guest post? What a thrill!

Happy Groundhog Day! Will it be six weeks of winter or six weeks of spring? Here in Indiana, it’s more like two days of winter, four days of spring, a week of winter, a day of spring…. Well, you get the idea. 

In case you need a reminder, Groundhog Day is the day that Punxsutawney Phil emerges from his hole in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, with great pomp and ceremony. We’re talking men in tuxedos and top hats! If the groundhog sees his shadow and pops back into his hole, that means we get six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t see his shadow, then we get an early spring.

For some of us (ahem…me), seeking publication can be a bit like Punxsutawney Phil popping out of his hole year after year. I’ve flopped around from genre to genre until I discovered what fit best. (And I’m guessing it fits since my debut novel, Under Duress, comes out this month! )

My first pop out of my hole was to try children’s picture books. I have six children, so I was spending an extraordinary amount of time reading children’s books. I can do that, I thought. I set out to write a picture book for each of my children’s birthdays, each at the requisite thirty-two pages and illustrated by my then eleven-year-old. The children were thrilled, but it didn’t take much reading of writer and agent blogs to realize how incredibly difficult it is to find a publisher for children’s literature. Back into my hole I went.  

The next time I showed my head above-ground, I had written a legal suspense. My dream since grade school was to write a novel, and my dad, a lawyer, had hooked me on John Grisham and Scott Turow. I have a law degree, so I can do that, I thought. I pecked away at my laptop and finished my first novel. I did have an agent write that I had a voice that made him want to read on, but it was still a rejection. A couple more rejections later, I retreated into my hole.

My next pop out of my hole was with women’s fiction. I had always enjoyed women’s fiction, and I had a great idea for a series. I’m a woman, so I can do that, I thought. I completed Book One, entered a contest…then saw my shadow and popped back into my den. 

Time-slip novels. I like those! They’re a nice blend of contemporary and historical, not too much research but enough to keep it interesting. I can do that, I thought. I went to work in my den on a time-slip novel, this one relying heavily on the life of my paraplegic father. I tapped away until The End, edited, then submitted to contests and agents. A few rejections later, I retreated underground again, thinking I should just shelve that one as a tribute to my father’s unparalleled life.

Okay, what next? I scratched my furry little groundhog head and wondered what I could write that might hasten the advent of spring. Since speculative fiction was out for me, I was quickly running out of genres. Romance? Romance was popular, always is popular, but who wants to write kissing scenes? Eeew! (Says the writer with six children.) Well, at my first ACFW conference ever, the Lord brought into my life a sweet and encouraging Love Inspired Historical author who had just sold her first book. (Hi, Angel Moore!) I left that conference energized, thinking I can do that! I got right to work, but I never did pop out of my hole with that one. The Love Inspired editors announced a search for suspense stories. 

When I did finally pop out of my hole with romantic suspense, I knew I’d found my genre. With my second romantic suspense manuscript, the winter of waiting was over. 

So, what’s a groundhog to do while in the hole? How do we find the genre that fits us best? 

Read widely. Read lots of different genres to see which resonates with you. Which is most interesting? Which fits your voice? Your personality?

Pray. Seek God’s wisdom about the opportunities before you. He will guide you if you’ll listen.

Seek Godly counsel. Talk to friends, both writers and readers, who know your writing. 

Write widely. Try your hand at different genres that interest you. You’ll know best how much time to spend. It may not be an entire novel but a short story or flash fiction.

Study the industry. So much of what I’ve learned about writing and publishing (which really isn’t that much, despite my masquerading here on Seekerville as a guest) comes from reading blogs and attending conferences. You have a good start by being here at Seekerville! Agent blogs provide much education as well as editors on Twitter, and it’s hard to go wrong with time spent with your ear to the ground at a good writing conference.

So, let’s talk! What’s your genre? How did you discover it? What advice would you share for finding the right place in the publishing landscape?

By sixth grade, Meghan Carver knew she wanted to write. After earning a degree in English from Millikin University, she detoured to law school, earning a Juris Doctorate from Indiana University. She then worked in immigration law and taught Comp 101 at the local college. Now, she home schools her six children with her college professor husband. When she isn’t writing, homeschooling, or planning the family’s next travel adventure, she is active in her church, sews for her kidlets, and reads. 

Leave a comment today for an opportunity to win a print copy of Under Duress. Winners announced in the Weekend Edition.

Family on the Run

Criminals are trying to kidnap attorney Samantha Callahan's adopted daughter, Lily—and she has no idea why. So when bullets start flying, Samantha and Lily speed off in her car…and crash right into help. Ex-cop Reid Palmer is shocked when former law school classmate Samantha rear-ends his car and then climbs in with her daughter and begs him to drive. Now they are on the run, and Reid will do anything to protect them and figure out why kidnappers are after Lily. As they struggle to evade capture, Reid begins to realize that Samantha is more to him than just a woman in trouble. But with the enemies closing in and their motives finally revealed, will Reid be able to make sure justice is served?


  1. Welcome as a guest,Meghan. Loved how you used the groundhog to write your experience! I've found that in Alberta, atleast, if he sees his shadow, we have six more weeks of winter. If he doesn't, we have a month and a half until spring! I would love to be entered to win your debut novel UNDER DURESS!

  2. Great post Meghan. You made a nice analogy between finding the right genre and getting published with the great Punxsutawney Phil. Now that you are published, is the process similar or is it more on finding your initial niche?

    Your journey is quite interesting and that sure makes a nice background for a novel! Your main character Samantha is an attorney. Is she based on you?

    Thanks for the giveaway and happy Groundhog Day! Let's hope for spring!

  3. Hi Meghan, wonderful first post! :-) Welcome to Seekerville. I'm a reader and even though I've been one since I was in my mother's womb, I never really nailed down my favorite genre until a couple of years ago. I love both Historical & Suspense with romance thrown in for good measure. I do read other genres but I keep coming back to these two. I think I owe my love of Historical Romance after the discovery of Julie Klassens books. As for Romantic Suspense, I'd probably accredit either Terri Blackstock or Dee Henderson. From those books, I've discovered similar authors. The Love Inspired line of books....oh you should see my bookshelf full of those, at least 200 (all genres/authors), with just as many already read!! So to say I am a huge LI fan would be an understatement...lol!!

    I USED to read the regular Harlequin books before I became a Christian. Afterwards, the secular scenes in them became quite uncomfortable and I went looking for something similar but without the smut. I don't remember how I discovered my first LI book, maybe at a yard sale or used bookstore? I was hooked from the very first one I read, since then I've scoured eBay, yard/garage sales, thrift stores, used bookstores & the like for any titles I didn't yet have. I've given a ton away after I read them, often to my sister-in-law or donated to my library.

    Now I have a vast variety of books on those shelves (yes LI included) & have discovered many new authors in the past 2 years or so. I think Facebook has played a good part in that & from there I've followed many author blogs or review blogs. I've also entered many contests to win books & therefore have supplied my huge appetite for them! Instead of a crazy cat lady when I grow up, I'll become the crazy book lady & probably own my own library by that time....lol!!

    Please add my name for your book....I already know it's one I'll enjoy! :-)

  4. Congratulations, Meghan, on the publication of your book! And thanks for sharing your journey! And your tips - all good!!

    I've been "writing books" for years, which means I had a half-dozen half finished manuscripts going at all times. In the meantime I wrote news and features for small town newspapers, and truly enjoyed it, but I never got over the desire to write a book. A few years ago, I finally completed my first book (middle grade fiction) and excitedly sent it off to various agents, and bam! Absolutely nothing happened. I realize now it was awful, but at the time I just felt defeated, and, like you, crawled back into that ground hog hole.

    After that, I spent a lot of time tinkering with all the old WIP I had on hand but my heart just wasn't in it. Then a little over a year ago, I felt that God was leading me in a different direction and I got to work on it. Now I have a finished (until someone tells me differently) book of inspirational fiction - a humorous contemporary romance. Typical in many ways: boy meets girl, boy loses girl, girl tries to poison boy :-) and yet filled with what I believe God wants me to share about His word.

    My journey's just getting started, and I'm sure there will be more instances of ground hog behavior in my future, but hopefully I will remember your advice.

    Please enter me in the drawing for Under Duress - and again, congratulations!

  5. Welcome to the other side of the podium, Meghan. (Meghan is one of the sponge writers who studied her craft until she sold. Way to go!!!)

    I have caterers coming in the early am (Ruthy time) with carrot cake muffins and coffee and tea.

    Congratulations on your release. I love the cover and am excited to read this!!!

    Now regarding genres. I thought I was going to sell in romantic comedy but those lines folded. So here I am.

  6. Laura!! My kind of writer!!!

    (e. Typical in many ways: boy meets girl, boy loses girl, girl tries to poison boy)


  7. Wonderful post! After reading the blurb for your book, I know I will have to read it.

    I am still very much in the popping in and out stage and finding my way. Contemporary, suspense, historical, childrens, non fiction, biography.

    I am so thrilled for you. Congratulations. I can't wait to see your book on the shelves.

  8. Thanks, Tina! I told someone recently that as many people as I kill in my head each day I always assumed I'd write murder mysteries - she laughed heartily, and then backed away from me a little :-)

  9. Good morning! It's late here, but it's exciting to see so many comments already!

    Marianne, hi! Ha, yes! I can imagine that anywhere in Canada it's still six weeks of winter.

  10. Annie (Just Commonly), good morning! :-) I'll be sticking with romantic suspense for a while. That's what readers will expect, and I'm in the middle of another story I love. Samantha is not really based on me, except for the lawyer part and wrangling a 10yo. I am adopted, but I've never adopted. And I'm not as pretty as she is. :-)

  11. Hi, Trixi, and thank you! You've named some terrific authors. I'll join you as your twin crazy book lady. My children think we have nearly as many books as the public library!

    Facebook has been a terrific place for me as well to find new authors, although I think my reading time drastically decreases every time I log in!

    Thank you for your vote of confidence! :-)

  12. Laura, hi and congratulations on finishing your story! A romantic comedy where the girl poisons the boy? I'm hooked! :-)

    I have found that I can write something when my heart isn't in it, but the story is missing that je ne sais quo. When you love it, it's a joy!

  13. Tina, thank you for having me here! As late as I'm going to get to bed, I'll need that coffee in the morning.

  14. Hi, Wilani! It's tough to figure out, isn't it? So many great choices! I get ideas for stories in other genres, but then I either try to mold it into a romantic suspense or I make copious notes and shelve it for another time.

  15. Loving the picture of the groundhog. A great post thank you.

  16. Congratulations on the release of your debut novel, Meghan! I hope your release month is a blast. It will be a whirlwind of activity, I'm sure.

    I write historical romance. I'm a bit old-fashioned and can be a mite wordy, so my voice lends itself to this genre. I tried writing a contemporary romance once, but my characters sounded like young people from the 1970s. Foxy heroes just don't cut it anymore. LOL I didn't bother to finish that story because it was as stinky as Limburger cheese left in the sun on a roasty toasty California summer's day. Instead, I returned to my historicals, where I can wax eloquent and get away with it--to a certain extent anyhow. =)

  17. I love your story so much, Meghan Carver!!!!! As one who has tipped her toes into multiple pools, it's fun to find a pool where the water is Just Right!!!! Congratulations on your debut, congratulations on being such a cool cat, and just on being you!

    I love the "kissing scenes" remark and the mother of six. So funny!

    Welcome to Love Inspired. Welcome to the world of sweet, fun, delightful books priced where every consumer can buy them. As one who embraces the race that knows Joseph, I am thrilled with my chance to be a Love Inspired author and happy dancing to welcome so many Seekervillagers into the room! Yay!

  18. I love that Laura is poisoning boys. I think that's probably justified.

  19. Yes, the caterers have arrived and the carrot cake muffins are divine! Fresh coffee and tea and right now the great state of Iowa can rest in the arms of a blizzard while returning to normal as the pundits move east to New Hampshire... and we can talk writing and romance and God and chocolate.

    I'm all in!

  20. Hi Meghan,

    Congratulations on your novel! I'd love to be entered in the drawing, and I enjoyed your post today!

  21. Loved your analogy. I've popped my head up a few times too. Your book sounds great so please put my name in the drawing.

  22. Great post, Meghan! Congratulations! You're certainly one determined woman, dabbling in several genres until you found your own little nook. I'm so happy for you!
    Please enter me in the drawing,

  23. Good morning, MEGHAN! Congratulations on your release and welcome to Love Inspired! It's always so exciting when another Seeker Villagers reaches that publication dream.

    I have manuscripts in various genres stashed away, too, probably never to see the daylight! Others I may eventually dig out and dust off, either to rewrite or to cannibalize for another WIP.

    Love your ground hog comparison of testing the genre waters! :)

  24. And Phil has said our warming trend will continue... Mary, maybe this is the only blizzard in Omaha this year! Let's pray it's so!

  25. Hi Meghan Welcome to Seekerville. What an amazing story of persistence and I LOVE the analogy to groundhog day. smile

    Congratulations on your debut novel coming out. Woooo hoooooo!!!!!!

    It is always so fun to see another Seeker friend sail off unpubbed island. yippee!!!

    And I chuckled about all your experimentation with genres. I did the same thing. And yes, isn't it incredible how difficult to publish children's. And those author organizations generally aren't at all like romance authors who help each other and really offer support. whew!!!

    Thanks again for posting such a great post and joining us today. Have fun.

  26. Congratulations on your debut release!!! It sounds great. And the heroine and her daughter have the same names as my neices's wife and oldest daughter. How fun! :)

    One of your points was to read widely. Naturally, we gravitate to certain story lines. I've never figured out if that's nature or nurture, but either way, we do have our favorites. Reminds me of a recent online conversation where a newly self-published author was advised to list her book as inspirational because her characters went to church a couple of times. By her own admission and dismay, she got a lot of flack from readers because the book had a lot of elements that were clearly not inspirational.

    All I could think of was why she was listing it as Christian/inspirational if she wasn't reading the genre?

  27. Good morning, Mary Preston! Isn't he cute with his bulgy eyes? :-)

  28. CONGRATULATIONS MEGHAN on your debut release! May you have much success in your writing career!

  29. Keli, good morning and thank you! You do a wonderful job writing historicals! I know what you mean about the language. I find myself listening to the way younger people talk, because someone who is fifteen years younger will have different word choices. (Unless they're my children and they've picked up '80s lingo from me... Cool beans, man! :-) )

  30. Ruthy, thank you! I LOVE being a part of the Love Inspired community. And it definitely is a community! The camaraderie is so much more than I imagined. God has blessed me greatly not only with the genre but with the publisher and the authors.

    Did I hear someone say chocolate?

  31. Hi Meghan:

    The title of your book, "Under Duress", brings back a lot of memories of having to teach students the difference between, 'duress', 'menace' and 'threat'. It's no easy thing to do.

    Do you find yourself, as a novelist, using the precise legal definition of terms in your fiction or do you use the more ordinary everyday meanings that the public uses?

    You didn't mention one of our local, Tulsa, favorites, William Bernhardt. Is he on your reading list? He is very approachable and he loves talking about writing.

    Here's my big question: Are you sure your problem getting published was in selecting the right genre? Couldn't the problem have been simply getting enough experience to advance your skill level to the publishable point?

    To wit: the old saying that you always find lost things in the last place you look! (That's not because it was in the last place; it's because you stop looking when you find wherever was lost.)

    BTW: Amazon would not let me preorder your book! Is someone up there 'under duress'? Please put me in escrow for a chance to win a Kindle version of your book. I really get into legal thrillers but they are almost never also romances.

    I'm really looking forward to reading your debut novel.


  32. Meghan, it's SO good to see you here. I'm so proud of you, my friend. I love to read thrillers, so I have completed three thrillers. I know they need lots of work, so I'm revising and trying my hand at a World War II thriller. We'll see how this goes. Lots of research. Good post today, Meghan. I enjoyed it.

    Don't put me in the bowl for your book. I bought four yesterday at my local Wal-mart. My husband kept rolling his eyes because I was gushing to the cashier that the author was my friend. God bless!

  33. Hi, Jackie, and happy groundhog day! Will it six weeks of winter or six weeks of spring where you live?

  34. Good morning, Bettie! Keep popping, and you're in the drawing! Thank you!

  35. MEGHAN! Congratulations on your first release! I can't really answer as to the question you posed on finding your niche/getting published (firmly on the island...good thing I have y'all to talk to or I'd have to find Wilson to hang out with), BUT, I am so happy for you! :)

    And your first guest post is a delight. Fun way to use a holiday (is it a holiday? or just a day with a name? These are the questions that don't keep me up at night.) to analogize the path to publication.

    Yep, you're definitely in Indiana with me. None of that fluffy freezing white stuff, but I've got mid-fifties and thunderstorms!

  36. Oh forgot to say WOW! about your new LIS. And would love to win it :)

  37. My genre niche...I've written some short historical fiction pieces that could be expanded. And I've really enjoyed doing the research on those.

    I've toyed with some young adult stories.

    I spent a year or so writing really bad poetry. ;)

    I've puddled around with a children's story or two.

    I've begun a few inspy stories.

    Who knows? I'll eventually settle in somewhere, and even if I never publish a one, I'll enjoy sharing them with those close to me. And reading all the wonderful books others publish!

  38. Jill, hi! Determined or crazy? :-) Of course, I didn't realize it at the time, but as I was writing, I was learning and practicing, not just the writing rules but also about the industry. I gradually became aware of writer and agent blogs that provide such a terrific education. I found the opportunities to interact with editors. I learned the lingo of the industry. Please don't think I'm saying I know it all! I'm still very much a newbie and still learning. Whether I get to comment or not, I'm at Seekerville every day soaking up the wisdom from these authors. But, in hindsight, there was no way I was ready for the publishing world with my first book.

    Wow, got a bit long-winded there. I brought blueberry muffins!

  39. Hi, Glynna, and thank you for the welcome! I love your word "cannibalize." I hadn't thought of it that way, but I know exactly what you mean. Just yesterday, I was plotting and realized a scene I had written in my very first manuscript would be perfect in the current story. It'll take some rewriting, but the idea works.

  40. Goodness, Meghan,

    Commenting at 1 am and up again at 9 am. You are a better Groundhog than I am.

    What's your writing schedule like anyhow, with homeschooling.

    Sounds like you're a lot like Virginia -night owl writer.

  41. I'm in New Hampshire and I can't wait to send the pundits back.
    Good post, Meghan, and always encouraging when one of us gets Off The Island.
    I READ everything, but I write inspirational historical romance. That's what grips me, those are the stories God gives me the ideas for. I like learning about different periods of time, as I write or as I read, and I like the writing about the struggles people had. There is nothing analogous to the Oregon Trail in current American life. It's like Abraham going forth to he knew not where.
    I agree with Keli too. I'm out of touch with current American culture and would have to do research to WRITE a contemporary.
    Right now I'm not doing mysteries or suspense because I haven't learned how to plot them, but I haven't ruled them out for the future. But whatever I do will have a Christian component.
    I agree with Ruthy, these stories need to be told, and they are SO much better written than the "Harlequins" of my mother's day. Plus I love going to the Walmart book section and seeing all the writers I "know" from here.
    A catch-up day, may be back later, love you all.

  42. Meghan, don't ever have any regrets about your children's stories. They love them because they are from YOU. Not everything has to be "published." These can be keepsakes, and I love the idea of your 11-year-old illustrating them.

  43. Sandra, hi! Yes to persistence in just about anything we attempt. It can get awfully cozy down in that den. :-)

    I was shocked when I learned the difficulty in publishing children's books. There are so many on the shelves that I thought the market was wide open! As it was, I think I maxed out with the books I wrote for my children.

  44. Welcome, Meghan, and congratulations on your debut novel!

    Great advice about reading and trying out a variety of genres while finding your niche! I actually began my career with the Writing for Children and Teenagers course through the Institute of Children's Literature. My daughters were around 9 and 10 then, so with all that inspiration underfoot, writing for kids made sense. Early in the course, I began selling my short stories and articles, and I was thrilled! In the meantime, I had a fair amount of interest but no takers on several children's and YA novels I'd written.

    Then the girls grew up. So I switched to women's fiction and romance. Even then, it was a long journey--and you're right about writers conferences being among the best opportunities to learn, meet other writers, and develop both craft and marketing skills.

    And it does take a TON of persistence to succeed as a writer. I think back sometimes about how different my life would be today if I'd ever let those times of discouragement lead to completely giving up.

  45. Wonderful thoughts, Meghan! Congratulations on persevering, and I'm looking forward to reading your book.

    I'm a romantic at heart so I always knew inspy romance was the genre I wanted to pursue. I also adore small-town life, families, and kiddos so Heartfelt Homespun Fiction seems the perfect fit for me. I'm not preachy or pretentious, yet I want to write stories that glorify God and ones that communicate grace despite our many human failings.

    Kudos to you for discovering your niche!

  46. Pam, thank you, and how neat about the names!

    Excellent point about reading in your genre. I feel bad for that self-pubbed author, but I agree she should have read inspirationals first.

    I'll be at ACFW this August. I wonder if anyone will mix us up again? :-)

  47. Good morning, Vince! In this instance, duress is the everyday meaning. In law, duress is a term found in contract law. For example, a contract signed with a gun pointed at your head would be found invalid by a court. Sorry, no contracts in my book. :-) But I loved the title because it has a lawyerly sound to it.

    I don't know William Bernhardt, but I'll look him up. Thanks for the suggestion.

    I would consider it more of a journey than a problem. But you're exactly right. I needed to learn and to practice as well as to find the right place. I'm not sure what's going on with Amazon. It says it's in stock. But I hope you're not disappointed. It's not a legal thriller, a la John Grisham, but a romantic suspense with lawyers. That said, I agree that we need more legal thrillers with romance. I have a plot saved on my hard drive....

  48. Kelly, it's in stores?! I'm heading to our Wal-Mart later this afternoon. I can't wait to see if it's there! As wonderful as it is to see it online, I'm guessing nothing compares to seeing it on the store shelf. And you bought four??? Thank you!!!!

    Your speed in writing amazes me. I'm praying for the day when your name is on the cover of a book, friend!

  49. Sarah, thank you! You're in Indiana? Are you a member of ACFW and the Indiana chapter? It's a great group, and we have a meeting coming up in March. Kelly Bridgewater will probably be there, too. Keep writing, keep reading, keep praying. It's an exciting journey!

    Isn't the weather crazy? Just today, it started out in the 30s, then it's supposed to swoop up to 60 with a chance of tornadoes, then another cold front comes in and we're back down to the 30s tonight. If I was a groundhog, I wouldn't come out at all.

    1. Meghan, I am not in ACFW, just can't afford to right now. A job hunting I will go, a job hunting I will go... :( However, I love to support authors, and I'm so glad you've reached the mainland! Wave to Ruthy and the others for us islanders ;)

  50. Here in Nebraska we each have to find our own ground hog and luckily, we have. There is a family of the living in our Morton Building and My Cowboy, who's a decent shot, can't seem to get them all.

    So, even though the giant rodents are undermining the foundation of a very expensive building, we're all set for Ground Hog Day.

    And considering Winter Storm Kayla is raging....nope, no Groundhog.

    The thing is, in Nebraska, we have turned talking about the weather into an Olympic sport. And we complain, comment and analyze (especially complain) at a level of Mastery that very few can obtain.

    To score a perfect ten you need to artistically and nimbly complain about the bitter cold in the morning and the vicious heat in the afternoon.

    Luckily this is not difficult.

  51. Tina, I think it's adrenaline. It's been difficult to sleep knowing my dream is coming true and there's a book with my name on the cover.

    I would love to be a Ruthy, up with the chickens and getting my word count in before the household wakes. But I married a night owl, so it's hard to get to bed early. Sometimes it happens.

    I would love to be a Virginia, my brilliance shining late into the night. But I really start to droop, so I mostly just read. If I'm really jazzed about a scene, sometimes it happens.

    My writing time has typically been in the afternoon, when school for the Littles is done and the Bigs can finish up on their own. I also get to the library on the weekends.

  52. Meghan, I soooo with you. I HATE kissing scenes. Eww. I didn't say I didn't love be kissed, but I sure don't won't to write 'em. I put them off until last. I'll jot down a few unflattering words to describe the kiss and add a note to come fix it later. LOL.

    This is such an inspiring post! I love that you have written so many books tryin to find your niche. I can only imagine how much you learned going through the process.

    Can't wait to read your books.

  53. Squeeealllllll! Happy Release Month, Meghan!!!!! Don't enter me in the draw because I've ordered the book -- should be delivered this week, I hope

    Love the Groundhog Day theme here. As luck would have it, our Ontario groundhog seems to be the only one who has predicted a longer winter. Sigh. I guess I can't grumble too much because we really haven't had much of a winter.

    Like you I have dabbled in genres. Picture books and middle grade mysteries were what I started with. I transferred the love of mystery to grownup romantic suspense. Dabbled in fanfiction in that genre which gave me a lot of experience and a ton of completed stories. Also have a certain fondness for Regency/Gothic too. I'm concentrating on romantic suspense now though -- burrowed away in my groundhog hole, writing this winter season away. :-)

  54. Meghan, it's so fun to read your words here. :) Your suggestions for finding genre are spot on. Sometimes we try a few things before landing in the right genre.

    I started out in Women's fiction, wrote two books in that. And loved writing them. Then, I switched to romance, which has been fun (and I'm getting used to writing kissing scenes ;) ). I found that I enjoyed the challenge of weaving a hero and heroine's stories together. I'm looking forward to beginning my next one.

    I'm so looking forward to reading your book. Please put me in the drawing!

  55. KB, hi! Amen to the Christian component! The world needs more of that.

    Thank you for the sweet encouragement of my children's stories. I imagine that someday when I'm a grandma, those will be the stories my children remember the best and with the most fondness.

  56. Meghan I wrote in a lot of different genres before I got published.

    I got rejected so many times that, at some point, I just decided I was going to write to entertain myself. It seemed likely that no one else would ever read them so why not?

    All my books are romance, except one series I wrote--maybe two books with a vision for seven--that was a Christian version of Harry Potter. With a little child who doesn't know he's an angel sent to earth to earn his wings and unknowingly be that angel who visits people to see how he's treated. Oh, and there was another series about child geniuses. That was fun.

    But I don't have those anymore. Lost in a computer crash.

    But within the romance genre I wrote contemporary sweet, romantic suspense, police procedurals, one sort-of sci/fi. Not fantasy or anything, just a drug that doesn't exist that my heroes (two spies) have to find or die.
    A gothic. Prairie romances.
    And I wrote westerns. Those are just the ones I finally sold. And I think they worked because I'd found my voice. Not that those other books weren't good stories, and I've sold a lot of them, but somehow that historical cowboy voice just worked most smoothly and I also ENJOYED writing in that voice and still do.

    So maybe it's about a comfortable fit for the author. Which one is most fun, most authentic.

    Anyway, Ground hog stew for lunch. They're tough little things, but the crock pot tenderizes them. (just kidding, we're having potato soup)

  57. Meghan, I'm so thrilled for your sale! And loved this post about popping up like a groundhog. :) I didn't try quite so many genres, but it did take me a while to stumble on inspirational romance.

  58. I also have this theory that the old "Write What You Know" theory was at work in my writing, because I really know cattle and rural life and rural men (meaning my husband).

    But also I think "Write What You Know" might have come out of an earlier time when it was so hard to do research. So if you didn't 'know' a topic it was really hard to find all you needed to, to get it right.

  59. PS I have Under Duress in the house right now. It was on pre-order and it just arrived!

  60. Mary, I'm sorry you lost those books! Do you have print copies somewhere??

  61. Thanks for the fun smile the groundhog gave me today! One thing that's really helped tighten which age group and which genre for me is just reading a great deal of fantasy at different reading levels. Making lists in Goodreads helps to kind of categorize it in my approach, too. Also testing it out on kids has been a super asset in lots of ways. I had 85 kids volunteer to ready my MS at our school. Now I have kids coming up to me asking when it will be out (please Lord). I love being a part of this community but since I write fantasy gem mysteries, it's great to connect with those authors as well. Some are so friendly, others are witty, and I learn a great deal from watching their paths forward and interaction with their fan base, too.

    I'd love to read your book also and best wishes!

  62. Connie, that's so funny about how you handle kiss scenes. :) It seems a lot of writers are uncomfortable with them. I don't mind writing them. I just fear they're all too alike! LOL

  63. Meghan, thanks for this!! I'm glad I'm not the only writer who has struggled to understand the mystery of genre. ugh!

  64. Meghan, you are so talented. You have a way with words and humor too. Congratulations on this book. I absolutely loved the book and couldn't put it down. Can't wait to read more of your work.

  65. Meghan,

    I'm thrilled about your book!!! Woot! UNDER DURESS! Congrats!

    Loved learning a bit more about you. Didn't know you had a law degree! Smart lady! I'm impressed, for sure!

    Thanks for sharing your road to publication. I host a small writing group at my church and many of the ladies start out wanting to write children's fiction. I did as well...years and years ago. As moms, the genre seems a good fit. Like you, all too often, we/they find how difficult publishing in that genre can be.

    So glad you found Angel Moore. She's a lovely lady who steered you into the right genre! Yay!

    One of the special memories of my many conferences is the ACFW Conference when we met! So glad you stopped by my breakfast table. A lovely grace-filled moment!

    Rejoicing with you on your success and looking forward to the long writing career God has planned for your future!

    Love and hugs!

  66. Myra, hello and thank you! What a great journey and love those publications of short stories and articles! I completely forgot to include that part of the quest for publication. I had a few articles sell early on as well as a quiz to Focus on the Family's Clubhouse magazine. What a boost of encouragement those sales provide! That was another tip I picked up at an early writers conference -- start with shorter pieces for periodical publications.

  67. Cynthia, hi! I admire so greatly those writers who have always known what they wanted to write. And you write those stories so well! Your tagline is perfect -- Heartfelt Homespun Fiction. Readers know exactly what they're getting and love you for it. (Is tagline the right term? See, I'm still learning. :-) )

  68. Mary, you always make me laugh! So your cowboy finally got a few of the pesky groundhogs and they went right into the crockpot? How do you season them? :-) It reminds me of a scene in the second Sherlock Holmes movies with Robert Downey, Jr., where he is commenting that he has never had such a glorious hedgehog goulash. "I can't remember ever having had better."

    We have some Hoosiers who do a decent job complaining about the weather, but I doubt they compare to your Cornhuskers.

    You have me beat on the search for a genre! But once you found your fit...wow! You go, girl! (But I'm dating myself with my jargon.)

  69. Hi, Meghan! Congrats on your debut release! Love your writing story, too. I don't think I'll ever forget our first meeting. Truly God drew our hearts together in friendship. I'm honored to know you. Well done!

  70. Connie, hi! The kissing scenes are getting easier to write the more that I write them. The first couple were just really awkward. But the presence of Lily, Samantha's ward, in the story added some levity that made it easier. :-)

  71. Kav, thank you, and I echo the squeal!!!! I love reading Regency. It's so popular! But the research scares me. :-)

    A lot can get done in six more weeks of winter. Brew some tea (or your preferred beverage) and keep at it! You can do it!

  72. Meghan, what a clever way to compare Groundhog Day with genre finding! Interesting to see all the genres you tried. I'm always impressed with inspirational suspense writers...having plotted a bit in that area, I know it would be hard to tuck in all the necessary elements for a good story. MEGA congrats to you!!! (And please DO put my name in for your giveaway!)

    As a mother of two boys and a former elementary school teacher, I thought I would write adventure-style children's stories. I saw a need for chapter early reader books........and I still haven't given up that thought. Now with grandchildren, I can see the types of books they like, so that interests me. My five-year-old granddaughter loves to write stories, so that is great to see her passion developing, encouraged by her parents' love of books.

    My current writing passion: I enjoyed reading romance, so that was what I decided to write. Having two relatives who write romance was a plus. I can "talk writing" with my DIL because we "understand" each other.....fun! Then finding Christian romance was perfect! I know God directed me to the right place......and the right groups for encouragement. Thank you, Seekerville!

    Again, thanks for your post, Meghan. Congratulations and happy Groundhog Day! In my area, he's not going to be seeing his shadow today even if he DOES dig out from under a couple feet of snow!

  73. Sarah, a basic ACFW membership is $45, and the Indiana chapter dues are $12. Something to keep in mind. (Pam can correct me if I'm wrong.) We would love to have you!

  74. Jeanne, hi! I noticed when you switched from women's fiction to romance and thought then that our paths were running parallel. :-) I agree with the enjoyment of weaving together a hero and heroine POV. It's entertaining to write a male perspective.

  75. Missy, thank you! I like your use of the word stumbling. It can certainly feel like stumbling to us. It did to me! Or is God ordering our steps? I think I need chocolate to think through this more clearly. :-)

  76. Mary, I'm glad you specified your husband! :-)

  77. Elizabeth, fantasy? Wow! I never thought I had enough imagination for that. Beta readers can provide a great shot of encouragement, can't they? And 85 of them? Good for you! Prayers for your success!

  78. Sharee, hi! The comments are revealing to me that it's a common struggle. We are not alone! :-)

  79. Jessica, thank you!! So fun to see you here!

  80. Oh, Debby, I have been SO blessed by your encouragement! I am HONORED to share the shelf with you this month!!

    If you'll be at ACFW this August, may I beg a seat at your table again? Angel is going as well, and we've talked about what a time of refreshing it is.

    I had no idea so many moms have tried their hand at children's literature. What a wonderful and loving legacy to leave to the family.

  81. Angel, hi!!! In the week before that ACFW, my very first, I was under some serious spiritual attack. It was stuff like I'd never experienced before, and I almost didn't go because I was so discouraged. But I knew I needed to and the spiritual attack was probably an effort to keep me away. Then, we met, and you said the most wonderful things about me to me after that orientation session. I think I had tears in my eyes because your words were such a balm after the viciousness earlier in the week. I will always be grateful that you followed the Lord's leading!

  82. Sherida, I think there's a big need for adventure-style middle grade fiction, something with a strong Christian message, although I have no idea what publishers think. My children inhale books, and it can be difficult to keep up with them. If you need beta readers, I can supply a few! :-)

    It's raining here now, and my children wish it was snow.

  83. Meghan, if we coordinate our outfits, we could really mess with their minds! lol

  84. Meghan, you're close. :) ACFW dues are $65 for new members, but then $45 a year after that. Conference deets are being added to the website daily. Registration isn't open yet, but keep your eyes peeled. The board has unveiled some new options for sponsors and attendees that are generating excitement. Y'all can keep an eye on updates at www.acfw.com/conference

  85. WOW, Meghan, what a journey you've had, my friend -- and what a background to help with that journey!!! SO glad you found your niche and SUPER CONGRATS on your fabulous debut! It really sounds and looks good!

    You said: "But who wants to write kissing scenes? Eeew! (Says the writer with six children.)

    LOL ... "I do, I do!!!!," says the woman jumping up and down, waving her hands in the air. And honestly, with six children, I would think you would too!! ;)

    I'm a highly passionate person whose two greatest loves are God and romance, so THAT is the genre I want to write. I will admit, however, due to traditional publishing, I've been forced to choose one or the other, so I chose the CBA in order to be able to write passionate application of God's precepts. But the dream of my heart is to write both in a new genre not restricted by traditional publishers, so for the first time, as an indie writer, I am hoping and praying I have found my new niche. :)

    I wish you the very best, my friend and long and happy run in your new genre! :)


  86. You know, I'm surprised the ground hog even made it out of his hole. I finally got to FB just now and have been looking at all the snow pictures. What a blizzard. Praying everyone stays warm and safe!

  87. Congratulations Meghan on your new book. It looks really good. I love inspirational suspense. Please enter me in the drawing.

    I loved the analogy to Groundhog's Day. No actual groundhog around here today in the Nebraska blizzard. I have written short stories and article for publication for many years, but haven't had as much success with that lately. Trying to write my first novel. Maybe I can keep above ground and not have to hop back into a hole.

    Enjoyed reading about your path to publication. I love to read how others do it.

  88. Pam, thanks for the dues information. I've received my renewal notice, and I guess that's where I got the $45.

  89. Oooh, sounds interesting! I found those books from Shirley McCoy's blog. I'd love to read yours!

  90. Julie! You are amazing at writing kissing scenes! I'll admit I wondered what you might say to my hesitancy. :-) I need to study the master.

    Indie publishing is opening up so many opportunities! Prayers and blessings on your endeavors, and thanks for the encouragement!

  91. Sandy, good job on the articles and short stories. Those can be tough to write. Keep working on that novel, and keep praying! A blizzard makes for good writing and reading weather.

  92. Shecki Grtlyblesd, hello! So glad you found inspirational romantic suspense! You're in the drawing, and thank you. :-)

  93. Meghan, welcome post side to Seekerville! I loved reading about your writing journey. I'm impressed with all the genres you tried and delighted you ended up writing romance with a heroine on the run from danger. No time for groundhog holes for your heroine, or for you! :-) Can't wait to read your book. Btw, I named the heroine of my WIP Lily.

    I haven't heard the verdict but I'm hoping there's no sunshine in PA and we'll have an early Spring.


  94. Janet, hi! Lily is such a great name. (Now I'm thinking of Joe Fox in You've Got Mail. "Rose, such a great name.") It's old-fashioned but sounds contemporary at the same time.

    Definitely no time for groundhog holes...unless she twists her ankle in one as she's on the run and that slows her down. Hmm....

    I don't know the verdict either, but here we've had wind, downpour, and then sunshine, all in less than thirty minutes.

  95. There was definitely no sunshine in my neck of the woods today, so I'm going with the "early spring" prediction.

    I have a "Lily" in Every Tear a Memory. She's the heroine's teenager sister and quite a handful! I grew her up for Lifetime Investment in the Seeker novella collection With this Spark.

  96. Congratulations, Meghan! Aren't we lucky you continued your journey until you found your genre! May there be many more books to follow.

    I enjoy books that take place in the western US -- historical as well as contemporary suspense, mystery (like the Longmire books). For years, I read non-western mysteries and suspense. But I always come back to the west :-)

    Nancy C

  97. Nancy, thank you! You've said something interesting about setting. I wonder, as well, if it takes some time for a writer to figure out a good setting. I'm sure there are settings that feel more comfortable than others.

  98. Shecki Grtlyblesd !!! Welcome to Seekerville.

  99. Hi Megan. Congratulations on the release of Under Duress. Thanks for the suggestions on what to do when in a waiting mode. The first 8 yrs. it was essays then articles then short stories before I attempted a novel. I knew my genre would be historical and quite recently historical romance. I find these stories more difficult because of the additional arc the romance novel requires. My hat's off to those who write in the romance category. I certainly hope the groundhog here in PA is telling the truth. Loved your analogy, Megan.

  100. Thanks for the tips, Meghan. Congratulations on the release of Under Duress! I ordered my copy last night, and I can't wait to read it.

  101. Hi Meghan
    Congrats on your debut month. Yay! I hope things go smoothly for you and that you get maximum enjoyment. I really enjoyed your post too. I've debated writing stories for my little guy. I think all moms do at some point. I think it's cool that you actually did get yours written and illustrated.

    I think I'm still finding my way, one gopher hole at a time. :) I'd love to be in the draw for Under Duress. My wish list keeps getting longer with all the Seeker villagers getting off unpubbed island.

  102. Meghan!! I loved this! So encouraging. And I'm super proud of you. I think it takes most of us a little bit to find our perfect fit. And that's okay. I am always so blessed by you. XOXO

  103. Good evening, Pat, and thank you! Historicals are fascinating, and I tip my hat to those who write them. :-) If Phil is right, I should say Happy Spring!

  104. Deb, hi! You should write those stories. I'm sure he will cherish them some day.

    Gopher holes work, too! :-) Maybe you pop out a little sooner each time?

  105. Shelli, hi!!! I'm so glad you stopped by. You are one of the most encouraging ladies I know. A little bit or a long bit doesn't really matter as long as we're seeking His will. :-)

  106. Meghan, Hi. It was great to read about your writing journey and how you kept at it. When I read the words law school, I knew I had to comment because I've run into many law school graduates and attorneys who have turned to writing, including myself.

    Congratulations on your first published novel. I write both sweet contemporary and inspirational romance, but I have only recently switched to also writing stories in the inspirational category. When I decided to write, I debated whether to write mysteries (I grew up reading Trixie Belden) or romance (I also grew up reading romance novels), and romance won out. It's just taken a while to sort out genres and now I alternate between the two genres of romance I write.

    Thanks for sharing.

  107. This comment has been removed by the author.

  108. Marsha, thank you! And thanks for popping in! :-)

  109. Let me try this again, but with the words in the right places. :-)

    Hello, Tanya! When I was applying to law school, the dean said that my English degree wouldn't help me at all in my studies. But law school is basically reading and writing. Each case is a story. I loved those studies because of the glimpses they gave into people's everyday lives. A successful lawyer is a lawyer that can write well, or at least hire someone who can write well. :-)

    Prayers for your success! Keep at it, and good job in persevering!

  110. Hi Meghan:

    The link to your book, "Under Duress", goes only to the print copy. This page does not have a preorder button. However, if you go to the Kindle version of the book, there is a button to preorder it.

    Here is the Kindle link:



  111. Such a great post. I write in contemporary and historical fiction (and have a YA trilogy) but there's no way I could write a mystery or suspense. Although I love reading them, it's just not where my mind works the best. Can't wait to read your book, Meghan!

  112. What a great post! I like the comparison with the ground hog!

  113. Meghan, thank you so much for sharing the story of your journey! I've been rambling through the genres in a similar fashion. I think I might have found my voice and comfort level for storytelling in upper middle grade--but it's too soon to say for sure. Could be something else entirely. Must write more....

  114. Meghan - I missed your post yesterday. I must have been in my hole with the ground hog. (There's actually one living in my barn - I always hope he isn't looking for his shadow when I enter the barn!) Your journey with venues is encouraging. Homeschooling six kids- you are a super hero!

    Did he see it? I hope not- I'm so looking forward to spring – except for the moles which have made a maze out of my yard.

  115. Meghan, how neat you related your blog to Groundhog Day. Very unique and inspiring. I could see my own writing path through the genres in the last several years. Good luck with your new book an keep them coming.

    P.S. I love the title.

  116. What a fun post, Meghan! Thanks for sharing how you settled in your genre. I've always wanted to try to write romantic suspense just because I love reading it. Seems it would involve a whole new set of research parameters, though, so I haven't branched out just yet. I do find myself putting suspense threads in most of my historicals. Must be all those Nancy Drew mysteries and Dee Henderson books I read in my teens. :)

  117. What an intersting post! I am a reader and reviewer, not a writer, but I was encouraged by your post none the less :) So glad you have found your genre. I would love to win and read your book!

  118. You are sure getting lots of comments. Excellent column. Hope the book flies off the shelves.

  119. Hello, I'm ready for Spring! Your book sounds mysterious, it would be one I'd pick up. Wishing you much success with it!