Getting Published -- The Long and Winding Road

I haven't held an actual paying job outside the home for many years. Most of my books were written while I was working as a "domestic engineer" and a mother. Being self-employed gave me the chance to do volunteer work at my kids' schools, such as putting out school newsletters and chaperoning field trips. Many field trips....

I've always written, just as I've always breathed. I didn't start trying to sell my work until well into adulthood, though, and got off to a good start in the f/sf field with several short story sales. It took a while to sell a novel. Sabazel was actually the third novel I wrote. The first two were science fiction and will remain forever locked away in my closet -- I don't want anyone to blackmail me with them! Let's just say they were good learning experiences.

Sabazel started a four-book multi-generational saga which is set in a fantasy Middle East and India and was inspired by stories of Alexander the Great having an Amazon lover. I then went on to write contemporary novels set in today's world, albeit a world where ghosts are real, magic works, and history is far from dead and buried.

I've never written a "straight" novel, although a dozen or so of my short stories have no fantasy element in them. I find it even harder to write a story without some sort of romantic element. I don't do this deliberately, no--I would never choose deliberately to restrict my sales! Marketing departments and booksellers are only now, I think, catching up with those readers who like genre-blending books. And you can see why. If it's your job to get a book into the hands of the public, you have to tell them what it is, you have to find a slot in the bookstore to put it in.

My recent books are more likely to show up as mystery than anything else, although Shadows in Scarlet, for example, is paranormal romance with a mystery element.

As for why I weave together the genres, it's because I like getting the whole picture of a situation, not just a small corner of one. Mystery is a vital part of romance, isn't it? And ghost stories are fun--in fiction, at least. I've had a couple of ghostly experiences that weren't fun at all.

I have forced myself to become more of a plotter over the years, simply because it cuts down on the amount of re-writing. It's also easier to sell a book if you can describe what happens in it ahead of time. But I only know so much about the story before it begins -- the main characters, a broad outline of events, the setting. Many of the specific events and minor characters only come to me as I'm actually writing them down.  I'm still trying to learn to trust myself in this, to go ahead and start writing it and know that it will come together in the end.

My muse is a handsome young piper (I wrote about him in a short story titled, oddly enough, "The Muse") and he can be a bit temperamental. Drop-dead gorgeous, though.

Aren't they all? 



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