You know the saying about old dogs? Well, old dog or not, I plan to learn some new tricks this year. If you read my last post, you know I took a somewhat traumatic early retirement from the day job at the end of 2012. You’ll be relieved to know I’ve already started filling the void with writing plans for the new year.
My first three published books were western historical romances, and while I enjoyed writing them, the sales have been disappointing. Westerns still have a cadre of devoted fans, but the Midwestern settings and non-traditional story lines of my full length novels failed to capture much attention. The jury is still out on the recently-released novella, The Treasure of Como Bluff. It has a more traditional setting (
in 1879), but it’s humorous and features
a female paleontologist—not a sheriff or cowboy in sight. I had so much fun
writing it that I’m working on another short, humorous western—working title: Delilah and the Badman—about a woman who
inherits a saloon but would rather bake pies. Wyoming
I admit it—I like to write stories with a twist. As a result, I seem to have trouble writing to readers’ expectations. (Perhaps that’s the explanation for the sales problem.) I get bored with the “same old, same old” of modern popular fiction, but many readers have the opposite response. They seem to take comfort in endless minor variations on popular themes. There is no other possible explanation for some of the things we see in print.
At any rate, after Delilah and the Badman I’m switching subgenres. I may go back to westerns someday if the market changes, but for the time being I’ll stick to contemporaries. I started my first contemporary, Unwritten Rules, thinking it would be romantic suspense, a much more popular subgenre and one I enjoy reading. However, once I started writing it became clear that any suspense would have to take a back seat to snappy banter and silly situations. (I guess I’m just not as serious as I used to be—must be a function of old age.)
Unwritten Rules is about the owner of an all-female bodyguard agency and the sexy ex-CIA-agent-turned-bestselling-author she signs on to guard during a national book signing tour. Writing it was a total hoot. It’s finished and has been through a couple of beta readers. I want to incorporate some of their suggestions, polish it up one last time, and try something else new. I’m going to dip my toes in the self-publishing pond.
For many of you that’s old hat, but for me it will be a brand new challenge. I figured since I have to do all my own promo now anyway with a small publisher, I might as well jump in for the whole kit and caboodle. I’m not looking forward to the formatting thing, but I’m dying to design my own cover and have several striking images in mind.
Wish me luck!