I’d just finished reading a passage of my WIP to my writing group, and one member was like, “Wow, Dave, it’s amazing to see you write a book with no sex or swearing.”
And I was like, “Hell-o. My Fairy Dogmother.”
And then everyone in the group was like, “Oh, yeah.”
The experience illustrates a problem any writer who doesn’t stick strictly to one genre is likely to encounter. The previous four books I’d brought to my group were snarky novellas about a horny, potty-mouthed, screw-up witch. The WIP has all the snark, horniness and blue language of a Hallmark Christmas movie. But so did My Fairy Dogmother, which I wrote before The Incompetent Witch Series.
So what gives? Am I daring or just stupid? Is it wise to write spicy and sweet, Paranormal and Regency, Romantic Suspense and Romantic Fantasy?
Writing guru Kimberly Grabas says that exploring multiple genres “equals more work (and often) less income. It’s hard to build traction in one genre, let alone several. Switching or jumping genres leads to building multiple smaller audiences instead of steadily building a larger, more engaged fan base. Momentum is your friend, and sticking to one genre and writing books in a series (and releasing them back-to-back) is more lucrative, and builds a readership faster, than diversifying.”
New York Times Best-Selling Author Rebecca Zanetti kinda sorta disagrees, arguing that indie publishing has changed the game. “A few years ago, conventional wisdom dictated that an author should only write in one genre—at least until becoming well established. With the advent of ebooks, many authors have published across genres quite successfully. What’s fascinating is watching how readers committed to one genre will follow an author into another imaginary realm just because they enjoy that author’s work.”
The takeaway might be that writing in multiple genres could be either daring or dumb, but nobody knows until you do it.
My first series falls under the heading Contemporary Romance, the most popular genre when I wrote it. It’s set in Hollywood, so there’s plenty o’ carnality and cursing. The second series, listed as Humorous Supernatural Romance, was originally published in the Kindle Worlds program as a spinoff of books penned by a very successful Amazon author. The audience for those already existed, so I had expectations to meet.
Meanwhile, My Fairy Dogmother and my WIP are targeted toward much different readers and their expectations, and I intend to use both to test the trad publishing waters.
The marketing gurus—including Gabras, Zanetti and multi-platinum author HM Ward—say is that it’s not bad to write in different genres, but suggest a few things to keep in mind if you do.
In addition, keeping up on marketing trends can help. “Branding,” Grabas says, “isn’t nearly as corporate or commercial as it’s believed to be. It’s your style, your unique voice, and the combination of recurrent themes, character types, settings, and ideas that make up the familiar elements characteristic to your writing.” It includes things like your website colors, logo design and tagline and social media presence and the tone of your newsletter.
Zanetti notes that having the right cover design and book descriptions go a long way in telling readers what your books and series are about, lest they become confused and buy a book they’re likely to despise. On the other hand, Ward says that many readers might be willing to explore a genre they never considered just because they like you!
And then, there’s this: Tastes change. Contemporary Romance fell out of favor for a while, so it probably wouldn’t have been a great idea for me to keep flogging that horse. The supernatural Kindle Worlds books sold pretty well until Amazon killed the Kindle Worlds program—and I had a lot of fun writing them.
So, even if I’m being stupid, I have no regrets. And, who knows, maybe someday the discussion will be about genre-hoppers and niche-specialists, much in the way “outlining” and “pantsing” are now both recognized as legitimate approaches to writing a first draft. It may just come down to who you are and/or what you’re writing at the moment.
by: Dave Thome
Dave lives in Shorewood, Wisconsin, where he and his wife Mary Jo run a writing business. An automotive news writer by day, he’s penned several screenplays, including a few that came this close to being made into movies, and has indie-published several novels under the name DC Thome, including the Fast Lane Romance Series. He’s currently republishing The Incompetent Witch Series, which originally appeared as Kindle Worlds books
Wisconsin Romance Writers of America is pleased to announce the finalists of the 2019 Write Touch Readers’ Award Contest!. Winners will be announced at the Write Touch Conference in Milwaukee, April 4-7. Congratulations to all our finalists, and a big thank you to all our participants, judges and volunteers!
**denotes WisRWA member
Contemporary – Short
Contemporary – Mid-Length (tie for third place)
Contemporary – Long
Romantic Suspense (tie for third place)
Young Adult (tie for third place)
The Write Touch Conference is “Write” Around the Corner.
April 4th-7th, talented writers from all over the country will be heading into Milwaukee to hobnob at WisRWA’s Daring and Decadent Conference.
We’re excited to show off some of Wisconsin’s home-town writing talents!
Amy Reichert, Valerie Biel, Angie Stanton, and Bobbi Dumas will be presenting sessions at the conference and they are all proud to call Wisconsin their home.
Author Amy E. Reichert’s 1st book, The Coincidence of Coconut Cake is often used as a guide for Milwaukee visitors! Amy is a true fan of our terrific city so it was only natural for her to give it a starring role in her book. Set in Milwaukee, her story highlights the Brewers, Milwaukee’s food scene with its array of terrific restaurants, the summer festivals, custard, the scenic lakefront and the amazing Calatrava. Before dinner Friday April 5th, Amy will be welcoming conference attendees to Milwaukee. On Saturday April 6th, Amy will work with writers on their editing skills.
Since “Coincidence” was published, Amy has penned three more books: Luck, Love & Lemon Pie, The Simplicity of Cider and The Optimist’s Guide to Letting Go. All are placed in or around our great state of Wisconsin. Get to know Amy here: www.amyereichert.com
Once upon a time, Valerie Biel graduated from the University of Wisconsin with degrees in journalism and political science. Now she lives in rural Wisconsin with her husband and children, and writes…a lot. Her debut novel Circle of Nine – Beltany was honored as a 2015 Kindle Book Award Finalist and has won other awards.
#WisRWA19 is excited to have Val present a workshop on Saturday April 6th .
If you’re attending the conference and looking to self-publish your book baby, Val’s workshop, Indie Publishing Blueprint: 1st Steps to Publication, is perfect for you.
Learn more about Valerie Biel here: http://www.valeriebiel.com/
Angie Stanton lives in Madison. Her 1st career plan was to be a Rockette, but living in the Midwest, dancing didn’t quite work out. So she took her daydreams, perfected them into stories in her head and started to write them down. Even though she never made it on a stage to kick up her heels, she’s still, a huge fan of musicals. Her latest book, If Ever, takes readers on a dream ride from a reality dance show to a Broadway musical. Angie will be presenting two workshops at #WisRWA19. She’ll guide you through the publishing process when your book baby is first born and she’ll help you create another revenue stream for your book with an audio version. To find out more about Angie go here: https://www.harpercollins.com/author/cr-107475/angie-stanton/
Bobbi Dumas lives in Madison, WI and we are excited to have her join us in Milwaukee at #WisRWA19. Bobbi is a freelance writer, book reviewer, and a huge romance advocate. Bobbi founded Read-A-Romance Month and writes about books and romance for NPR, The Huffington Post and Kirkus. On Saturday April 6th, Bobbi will be presenting an interactive workshop to help writers get to, “Know Thyself!” She’ll work with writers and guide them through the often twisty journey that comes along with being a writer. Bobbi loves to talk about books and writing and will share it all with attendees at #WisRWA19! You can read Bobbi’s latest Kirkus review here: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/features/author/bobbi-dumas/
Congratulations to the following WisRWA members on their new releases this month.
Saving the Scot by Jennifer Trethewey
I have been writing for a long time. (My first history book came out in 1998) I have 27 books in print, am an award-winning, Amazon best-selling author. But I’ve been struggling lately. Struggling with all the things going on in the writing world, making me wonder why I do what I do – other than the fact that I love creating stories. And it seems each year things are getting worse.
First, we have to deal with Amazon taking down reviews, eliminating KindleWorld, changing the way we publish our books with them, and just plain making it difficult for authors to make a living.
Last year there was the whole “Cockygate” fiasco, where an author thought she should be able to copyright a word, with a couple other writers following suit. And some who think they can copyright an idea. Thankfully they didn’t win. But it was another hoopla taking us away from our writing.
Plagiarism has been around probably since the first and second writers put words or symbols to paper, rock, or whatever their medium was. Well-known authors have plagiarized other well-known authors. Unknown authors have done it. Authors who proclaim to write best-selling books, only to find out most, if not all, of them were copied from many, many authors and then blame it on ghostwriters. How can you even call yourself an author if you don’t even write your own material?
It has been said that we should be honored that someone thinks so much of our work that they want to copy it. Honored? More like angry. It’s our work, not theirs. Again, thanks to readers, they seem to always get caught. But it’s one more thing for authors to worry about. Are these words I’m putting together sounding like someone else’s? Is the story I’m writing too close to someone else’s? Is my title just like another, or several other ones? Will someone come after me because I’ve used the same character names in my books as in theirs? Will someone think I’m writing about them?
Book pirating has been around since e-books came into being. It was only a matter of weeks after my first romance came out, that I was told by a reader that she’d seen my book on a site for free. I was shocked. How did this happen? Why did it happen? What can I do about it? Thankfully, this book was a traditionally published one and my publisher handled it. But, once again, it showed up on another site. Dealing with it as an indie author is another whole matter.
One book pirate recently said he was doing authors a favor by offering up our books for free, since if a reader likes a free book, they may then purchase your others. How does that work when all our books are on pirated sites? And it’s not just us unknown authors this is happening to. Nora Roberts, Christie Craig, Linda Lael Miller, Kat Martin, just to name a few. Even Michelle Obama has been pirated.
It seems as soon as you request your books be taken down and they’re removed, they pop back up again. Or if a pirate site is removed, another one is created by the same person. It’s frustrating, irritating, and outright stealing by readers.
On one site, I have one book listed, on another two, and those the ones I know about. The one book has been viewed 652 times. It doesn’t say if it’s been downloaded that many times, but let’s say it has been. I figure I’m out over $2,600. I don’t even want to think about how much I’ve lost from other sites. And think about someone like Nora Roberts. Almost her entire list of books is on one site. She must be out millions.
I can’t understand why people think it’s all right to steal these books from us. I’d never, ever take money from their pocket or paycheck, yet that is what they are doing.
I’ve been thinking about what to do to keep my spirits up and keep writing. I have to remind myself that I love, love, love creating plots and putting characters in interesting situations. I have to remind myself how far I’ve come since I started this journey.
I have a bulletin board in my office where I have a lot of sayings, pictures, awards, etc. posted. Yesterday, for the first time in a long time, I started reading some of the sayings. Here are a few of them:
“Don’t let someone who is no longer in your life, continue to run your life.”
“You are never given a dream without the power to achieve it.”
“It’s always too early to quit.”
“Every day is a good day…some are just better than others.”
“Some succeed because they are destined to. Most succeed because they are determined to.”
“To thine own self be true. Write every day.”
“A professional writer is one who didn’t quit.”
These are good reminders to keep going. Never give up, no matter what outside forces are against us. Keep writing, my dears.
by: Tina Susedik
Tina Susedik is an award-winning, Amazon best-selling, multi-published author with books in both fiction and non-fiction, including history, children’s, military books and romances. Her favorite is writing romance stories where her characters live happily ever after. Tina also writes spicier romance as Anita Kidesu. She lives in northwestern Wisconsin where winters are long, summers short, and spring and fall beautiful.
Congratulations to the following WisRWA members on their new releases this month.
My Racy Reverse Harem Book Club by Lina Jubilee
This exciting conference weekend in Milwaukee is coming up so fast it’s making my head spin.
There will be so many opportunities to meet your writer squad, rejuvenate your writing spirit, learn your craft, relax and discuss your passion for writing and love of storytelling!
Storyteller, Lisa Cron is excited, too!
We are so happy to introduce everyone to Lisa Cron, author of Story Genius and Wired for Story.
Lisa Cron’s writing intensive kicks off on Friday morning April 5th at 9am. Originally, Lisa’s intensive was scheduled only for the morning, but she loves talking about writing and to writers. So Lisa is going to work with writers all day at this workshop. All day!
We’ll kick off the intensive at 9 am and go until 4:30 pm on Friday April 5th. As we don’t want anyone to suffer from information overload, we’ve planned a coffee break in the middle of the morning and afternoon sessions and a lunch break from 12-1:30 pm.
If all day is just too much for you, relax. You can jump in and participate in the intensive in the morning or afternoon, whenever you’re most comfortable or most inspired!
There will be plenty of time to meet Lisa, talk about writing with her, work on your own writing and ultimately, you’ll become a better storyteller!
Here’s the description of Lisa Cron’s intensive so you’ll have a solid idea of what to expect when attending the workshop:
“Every writer wants two things: to tell a story that hooks readers and never lets them go, and to find a way to accomplish that without going through the long slog of endlessly writing draft after draft. This workshop will give you actionable ways to meet both goals. Instead of rooting around in your “plot” for the story, you’ll unearth the key elements specific to your story that will then create the plot, bring it to life, drive it forward, and give it meaning. These elements have little to do with the surface events or “writing well” and everything to do with what we’re hardwired to respond to in every story we read (turns out the brain is far less picky about lyrical language than we’ve been lead to believe). You’ll be able to zero in on what your story is actually about before you write word one, or if you’re in the midst of your umpteenth rewrite, before you write another word. You’ll not only produce a more powerful novel, chances are you’ll drastically reduce your rewrite time.”
For more information about the conference, Lisa Cron’s intensive, and to register, click here.
by: Tricia Quinnies, Write Touch Conference Coordinator
If you’ve ever experienced the heaviness of writer’s block, you know you’ll never want to stare at a blank page, without an idea, ever again, period.
Let’s learn from the bad times and turn them into something good. Here are a few tips I use to build an idea factory, when writer’s block may hit again.
Collect ideas as they flow. You may be on vacation, at a restaurant, in bed at 2 a.m., and plot ideas, conversations, scenes, and characters are falling at your feet. Write them down right away! Grab a pad of paper, record thoughts on your voicemail, send yourself an email or text. Don’t let those great ideas slip away. You’re a writer, those ideas are interesting to you, they will be interesting to your readers.
For example, I was filling my soda cup at a fast food restaurant when a young girl stepped up next to me. The way she moved with grace and confidence reminded me of the main character of a story I was working on. I went back to my table and recorded my observations, her hair color, the way she moved, how she dressed.
Here’s another example. I was at an art museum and a strange exhibit captured my attention. The folk-art I studied that day became the background of a story. I hurried to the museum coffee shop to write down the essence of the exhibit. What attracted me to it. How I felt about it. How it looked. Then I searched websites for more information. I still have those notes and refer to them as I edit.
Eavesdrop. When you hear an interesting conversation, tune your ear to the cadence of the discussion. Everyone knows that one person who uses unique turns of phrase, or thinks differently than anyone else. Channel them the next time you are stuck in a rut and need to add new patterns to your dialog.
Seek your characters in magazines, newspapers, or the internet as you move through your day. Cut pictures of your characters out of department store ads when you find them. Download photos. Hang them on a wall where you write, along with their bios. When you need inspiration, take a good long look at the pictures again.
Watch for situations that are stranger than fiction. What happened to your co-worker, neighbor, children? Does your friend have a litany of stories about her bad dates? Ask her if you can borrow some for your next book.
Immerse yourself in research. Search websites for more information about the setting of your story. If it’s set in a Victorian era home, tour one near you. Record your impressions.
Ask questions. When you find someone knowledgeable about the subject of your book, like that historic home, talk to them. When they go on a tangent, follow it by asking questions. They’ll likely bring up a tidbit of information no one knows about, but it would be perfect for your story. Maybe there was a secret tunnel that used to connect a barn to the home’s cellar. Is that the way your main character snuck into the home on that fateful night?
Now that you’ve got raw material to work with, peel back the onion. While your ideas are still fresh, ask yourself why the person in the ad captivates you? Is it his stormy eyes, his wavy hair? What part of the old house interested you most? The hand carved furniture? The exquisite fireplace mantel? The patterned wallpaper? What would it be like to crawl though the secret tunnel?
Take time to write down details as they appear in your life. Don’t let them go. Save them so that the next time you experience writer’s block, pat yourself on the back. You now have an idea factory ready to propel you forward.
by: Laura Dritlein
Laura Dritlein is a former freelance reporter for local newspapers and magazines. She is currently working on editing two novels with the goal of publishing them. She is constantly in search of new characters and story ideas.
Congratulations to the following WisRWA members on their new releases this month.
Succubus Heart (Succubus Sirens Book Two) by Lina Jubilee
Beneath the Assassin’s Touch by Katherine Hastings
It’s happened to every reader. You have the weekend off. Rain is pouring down. The coffee pot is sputtering, and those tantalizing smells seduce you to crawl under a blanket and pick out your next great read. So, you hop online, go to your favorite bookstore and start scanning those covers. One calls out to you, so you click, excited to see what it’s about. The blurb looks exciting, you’re ready to buy, but you decide to glance at all those reviews just a short scroll away. Five stars. Not bad! You read a few sentences in and… gasp! They just revealed the plot twist! Ruined the ending! Stole the joy you would have gotten from uncovering it yourself. The horror! Now that the plot is revealed before you even opened the first page, you back out and buy another book.
As a reader, I’m infuriated when someone’s spoiler review appears without warning. As a writer, I’m sad for the author who will no longer get the sale of that book from me, and perhaps more books if I enjoyed it and sought out the rest. All because a reviewer didn’t realize they had broken proper book reviewing etiquette.
Last night I was on a message forum where a well-known author came on and she was devastated a reviewer put the who-dun-it in the first review of her new release. Ouch. Not only is that devastating for an author who worked hard to craft a story and unveil information to you piece by piece, it’s sad for the readers who will no longer get to enjoy the surprise that one reviewer got to experience. On that post, author after author, and reader after reader came forward with similar sob stories. And as a reader who won’t read a book that’s been spoiled, I felt awful knowing authors will inevitably lose sales because of it. And the saddest part? Most of these were five-star, raving reviews. Reviewers who enjoyed the book and wanted to support the author by taking the time to write a review had accidentally cost them sales and caused them heartache as well as ruined the experience for those who would read it after them. It was then I realized, maybe people just don’t understand book review etiquette. Maybe we just need to spread the word! So, after polling authors and readers, we have compiled the list of things you should and shouldn’t do when you review your next read.
1) Review that book
This is a post about etiquette, yes. But it’s important to remind people just how much your reviews help support authors. The good, the bad, and the ugly. We want your opinion and your feedback. Your reviews boost book sales and help rank. If you enjoyed a book, give the author the biggest gift you can… your review. But when you do, just be mindful of other eager readers who want to enjoy the surprises.
2) A Book Review is not A Book Report
No one is quite sure how this came to be, but when writing a review, people don’t want a play-by-play of the book. They want to know your overall thoughts on story, craft, and characters. Let them learn the play-by-play as it’s intended… by reading it. A review that reads like Cliff’s Notes is most definitely laced with spoilers and the bottom line is no reader wants to know that stuff before they read a book. Do you?
I’m going to put two reviews below as an example.
When a handsome swordsman comes to Camelot, he discovers the one thing he can’t battle away… his feelings for the beautiful Guinevere. Their growing passion for one another could destroy them both, and they must each choose between their loyalty to their King or loyalty to their hearts. But when Arthur’s old enemy returns with a vengeance, it’s up to Lancelot to put aside his feelings and fight beside his king to defend not only Queen Guinevere, but all of Camelot.
Wow! This book has all the feels. It’s a gripping historical romance novel filled with action, adventure, and romance. The writing is beautiful. I practically felt like I was back in Camelot. The characters were wonderfully crafted, and I rooted for them every step of the way. The pacing was perfect, and I had trouble putting it down. I loved this book and highly recommend it for anyone who wants to get on an emotional roller coaster and never get off!
This book starts in Camelot and Guinevere is betrothed to the King. She really seems to love him, but then she meets Lancelot, his newest knight. After she’s kidnapped by King Arthur’s enemy, Arthur sends Lancelot to find her and they end up succumbing to their love. She cheats on her husband with Lancelot and when he finds out he’s devastated. Eventually she chooses her husband over Lancelot and he’s banished, but when Arthur dies at the end she gets to be with Lancelot after all. It was a great story and I highly recommend it.
Can you see the difference? One reads like a book report while the other tells us nothing to spoil the story but tells us how the reader FELT about the book. And that’s the most important part! Did you like the story? Too fast? Too slow? Could you identify with the characters? These are all very safe things to address, and they are actually helpful to potential readers. But let’s leave those book reports back in High School.
3) If it’s not in the blurb, don’t put it in the review
This is the safest way to make sure you don’t ruin a book for anyone else. Blurbs are carefully crafted to give away just enough info to make a book enticing, but not too much to take away the fun of discovery a reader gets to enjoy when they read a new book. When writing a review, I’m careful to never disclose anything specific the blurb hasn’t already told us. I don’t add in plot twists, endings, who-dun-it’s, or anything you wouldn’t have gotten from the blurb.
In the two reviews above, you’ll see in the first one no spoilers were leaked but you still got an idea of my feelings on the book, as well as an idea of what it’s about. It’s action, adventure and romance. Emotional. Hard to put down. In the second one, I told you exactly what happens! As a new reader, when you open that book you already know many of the major conflicts AND you even know how it ends. As a reader, if I read that first review, I would put that book in my cart. If I read the second review, I would shout curses at that reviewer for ruining a book it sounds like I would have loved. I would back out without buying it and go find another book. So, when you review, if it’s not in the blurb, find a way to get your point across without revealing any additional information.
4) Write the review you would want to read
Having a hard time coming up with a review that isn’t a book report? Try to think about what you wish you would have known before you started it. Without giving away too much, try to help the next readers decide if this is the right book for them. Do you hate cliffhangers, and it ended in one? Tell us that! Don’t tell us what the cliffhanger was but tell us you were disappointed it requires you to purchase book two in order to get the ending. Do you love sex scenes and this writer did a fantastic job? That’s a great thing to add and can help readers decide if they want a book with steamy sex scenes or not. Was it too violent for you? Say that. Readers who like violence in books will purchase it, and it will steer away those who don’t have a taste for it. These are all things that can help you write a book review that actually helps guide buyers and doesn’t ruin the book for the people who read it.
5) Use Spoiler Alerts
If you decide you absolutely must write a review that includes info not already in the blurb, please PLEASE write in all caps at the very top of your review *SPOILER ALERT!* This gives any readers who like to be surprised plenty of warning to flip past your review and not have a book experience ruined.
That’s it! Those are the five simple rules to writing a review that will have both authors and readers singing your praises instead of cursing your screen name. Your reviews are SO IMPORTANT and we want to encourage you to come forward with how you felt about our books. But just be mindful when doing so and let the readers who come after you share in all the joy of discovering a story the way an author intended. Let them share in your surprise.
by: Katherine Hastings
Katherine Hastings loves love. It’s why she writes romance novels. Getting lost writing a romantic adventure is one of her favorite pastimes. When she’s not on an adventure with her characters, she can be found at her home in Wisconsin snuggling her husband, two Boston Terriers, and the world’s naughtiest cat. Two things make Katherine want to leave her happy home these days… going for rides on her dressage pony or floating at the beach in her big inflatable raft. Writing her novels while floating in the lake is one of her ultimate pleasures… that and Fried Wisconsin Cheese Curds, of course.