I love books. I write them, but that’s not the reason.
I love books because the good ones catch you off guard, pull you into their world, and make you become the characters You hear what they hear, see what they see, feel what they feel.
It’s what all writers hope to achieve.
It’s what I hope to achieve one day.
While I write contemporary romance, I mostly read historicals with a few romantic suspense novels in the mix. My favorites in these genres are old classics: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier and Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell. I also read a lot of regency period romances and tried my hand at writing one once.
So why do I write in the contemporary genre?
When I decided to write novels, I had a plan. First I would write contemporaries (write what you know) and then I would write historicals (write what you love). My ultimate goal is to write a Civil War romance set in Charleston. But I had to perfect my craft first. I’m not there yet.
I wrote “practice” books with segments I sent to contests, getting feedback, learning the craft from others. Romance Writers of America has dozens of chapters that hold an annual writing contests for this purpose. Each time my contest scores and comments came back I’d make changes. Over time the scores got higher and finally I found myself in the finals, meaning my practice books were going to editors and agents who were the final judges.
But still they didn’t sell.
On the verge of giving up I sent one off to a rising e-book publisher who accepted un-agented manuscripts. Six weeks later I had a two-book deal for my practice books. I was off and running, energized, sure I could now turn to writing historicals.
I dug out that old Regency, edited it, and sent it to my editor. It needed work, she said. Lots of work. Back to the drawing board.
Successful independent authors urged me to try self-publishing. I was too chicken to try to do that with the historical, so I wrote a couple more books in the “wine country” series and got chosen to write a novella for the St. Helena Vineyard Kindle World launch. The second novella in that world will be released in April.
Six contemporary books later, I still want to write historical romance. I still read them for escape. They are my favorites. But now I am turning to early California for my plots. Is this time period popular? No. But they will become my new practice books. I majored in history with an emphasis on early California. I’ll be—once again—writing what I know.
Will I abandon Mary Jo Putney and Julia Quinn, queens of Regency romance? Absolutely not. I will also read the latest thrillers with a few contemporaries thrown in for good measure.
How about you? What are you reading?