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!
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?