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PERFECT. Why Would You Write That?

Last Thursday, Ruby sister June Love started the awesome, lively discussion on how writers handle writing through difficult times, and many writers offered great advice. I stated that my writing was an asylum for me during difficult times, which was indeed true.

My life has been in a funk, to say the least, the last few years. Sometimes, I don’t know which way I’m going and for what reason. I’m sure many of you, if not all, have had times when you’ve felt the same way.

Several months ago, after some heart-wrenching news, I opened my file to continue work on my next romantic suspense—because you need to keep putting one foot in front of the other, you know— and the words simply weren’t there. Tears rolled down my cheeks and my chest was so tight with pain. My fingers were stilled on my keyboard. I just couldn’t bring myself to write and put someone in danger. I needed laughter and love in my life at that moment. So, I did what any sane writer should do. I closed my romantic suspense file and started a new work. It was the best thing I could’ve done.

I found myself submersed in the lives of one down-on-her-luck Charleston, S.C. restaurateur and one yummy maple tree farmer who had one goal.

No. Not to fall in love.

After totally screwing up Thanksgiving, Dylan’s goal is to make Christmas special for his two, small nieces whose parents were deployed overseas and would be absence for the holidays. However, when Darcy Witherspoon arrives in Black Moose, Vermont, his thoughts do turn to the forever kind of love that suddenly seems apparent all around him. My fingers flew across the keyboard, and with my crazy-ass schedule in a little over six weeks I wrote the end to my new holiday novella, PERFECT.

Now, some might question whether writing a contemporary holiday novella, with not a suspenseful word in it, will dilute my brand as a romantic suspense author. BRAND seems to be big a BIG word in the publishing world—a rule of sorts for marketing. To them I say, “I don’t know. I like reading both. Maybe, I’ll bring a non-romantic suspense reader over to the darker side.” And, actually, I think I’m marketing myself—a unique writer with many likes.

All I know is if I hadn’t written PERFECT, I might still be sitting in front of my laptop, getting frustrated, and perhaps depressed because I needed happy, happy and wasn’t listening to my own needs. Instead, I went with my gut, finished a novella that made me chuckle, and while doing so, the oddest thing happened. Near the end of PERFECT my muse turned back to my unfinished romantic suspense.  I’m now ready to dive back into the second of the C.U.F.F series with renewed enthusiasm. I hope to finish the rough draft before the Christmas holiday hits, so that I can work on C.U.F.F.’s third book during the Ruby Writing Fest.

I truly believe if you listen and give yourself what you need, in the end you will be a much happier person.

 

What do you think about the question of an author diluting their brand by writing in different genres?

PERFECT BLURB:

Dylan Kincaid totally screwed up Thanksgiving and now he’s faced with Christmas. Thrown into the frightening role of both mother and father while his brother and sister-in-law are off serving their country, all Dylan wants is to make Christmas perfect for his two nieces. But time is running out.

Down on her luck Charleston, S.C. restaurateur, Darcy Witherspoon is licking a wounded ego when she arrives in Black Moose, VT and meets the handsome Maple tree farmer. Wanting a happy holiday herself, she teams up with Dylan to make a perfect Christmas.

Neither is interested in a holiday affair, but the magic of Christmas has something more everlasting in store for the couple. An absolutely perfect love!

I hope you’ll check out PERFECT over the holidays.  It’s available at AMAZON and will be available at B&N.com soon.

43 Responses to “PERFECT. Why Would You Write That?”

  1. Gwyn says:

    I think, in this publishing climate, anything goes. However, I write my alternate genre under another name just to keep thing simple for readers.

    Perfect sounds perfect! Love me a good Christmas story.

    • I understand what you mean about keeping it simple for readers, and I think if you’re an auto buy situation, where a reader automatically buys your next book because of your name, you might be right to use a different name. But how many readers do that? I still read my favorite authors’ book’s blurbs. If it isn’t my cup of tea, I pass. Yes, I’ll admit there are some readers who just click buy, but…. And our covers should definitely reflect the story contained.

      I’m looking to brand myself as an author who writes small town setting, folk in trouble, and heroes who walk out of the aftermath stronger and in love.

      Thank you for commenting, Gwyn. I hope you enjoy PERFECT.

    • Diana Layne says:

      I write in two genres under one name, and I have trouble keeping up with that one name and all the promo-I’d shudder to consider two-although if I ever go to YA, I would choose a different name.

      • A very good point, di. Promo is definitley something to consider. Since we’re in a digital world and most promo is done through social networking– okay, I just shuddered too thinking about handling two Facebook, tweeter, etc. account– I’m going to say, “OMG, NO!”

        My head hurts now.

  2. Addison Fox says:

    Autumn:

    What a wonderful post – thank you for sharing your journey with us.

    I think you’ve hit on so many important things here, but I’ll take the “brand” thing first. I’m no expert and I don’t want to totally fly in the face of conventional wisdom, so I’ll put my reader hat on for this one…..

    I don’t care what the romance sub-genre is if it’s an author whose voice I love. I’ve followed Jayne Ann Krentz across contemporary, historical and paranormal….I’ve followed Nora from the most intense romantic suspense to the most fun, frothy contemporary (::sigh:: over the Bride Quartet)…I’ve read Roxanne St. Claire from category to romantic suspense to YA to her new contemporaries. Readers read and further, readers read authors they love.

    Second, I think there’s a bigger point underneath your post. As writers, our creative well is an incredibly deep gift but there times when that gift flies in the face of what life is throwing at us. How awesome is it that during a time that was difficult, you found a way to keep that well full and re-charge yourself in the process.

    All I can say is GO YOU!!! and I can’t wait to read PERFECT!!!!

    Addison

    • Kat Cantrell says:

      Well said (and I totally agree!).

    • Thank you, sister Addison. (Feeling humble) I can’t imagine myself not writing and the days I don’t write a ‘thang’, I feel like a sloth. When I write, it lifts my spirits. Sometimes, it’s a chore to start but, one line and I’m off. And, if I only write one that one line or a paragraph my mind is thinking about the story the rest of the day.

      My gift has been my salavation.

    • Tamara Hogan says:

      Addison expressed what I came in to say much more cogently than I ever could!

      In technology, we have a saying: KISS. Keep it simple, Stupid (or Shorty). I read and shop for voice, and sometimes when authors assume multiple pseudonyms to avoid diluting their brand {{shudder}} it actually makes it HARDER for me to find their work. Just a wee bit counter-productive!

      Congrats on PERFECT, Autumn – and on being wise enough to realize you needed a change of pace.

    • Cate Rowan says:

      I fourth what Addison said. Autumn, write what your heart says and embrace the benefits. I’m so glad you wrote PERFECT!!!

    • Addison, well said! I completely agree!

  3. Hope Ramsay says:

    Autumn,

    Thanks for posting this. I agree with Addison, and I will offer up something my father used to tell me when I was young. “Conventional wisdom isn’t very wise.”

    I think publishing houses like to keep things simple, but they don’t call all the shots anymore and we, as authors, should be more interested in branding ourselves than ourselves in one particular genre.

    As for PERFECT — I’ve been looking forward to reading this one ever since the New Jersey Romance Writer’s conference when you were telling me all about the story over cocktails. It sounds like a wonderful story, just like all your stories. :)

    • Thank you, Hope. I loved sharing our problems in NJ. I’d really like your feedback since you’re the queen of smalltown folk.

      I’m hoping the novella will be a hit with those who want a quick, fun read with a good dash of sexual tension.

    • Addison Fox says:

      Hope:

      I LOVE this point on “conventional wisdom!!!!” :-)

      Addison

  4. Kat Cantrell says:

    Hi Autumn, I had to chime in because I’m a two-genre girl. I have both contemporary and a futuristic romance coming out next year. I’m not worried about diluting my brand because like you said, it’s still me. My books are all about sassy heroines who find grand, sweeping passion. One of them just does it on another planet. :) We’ll see what happens…good luck with Perfect! It sounds fun.

    • Thank you, Kat. I’ve listened to many RWA workshop sessions on branding and basically those speakers feel the same way. When a reader reads my books, whether it’s contemporary or romantic suspense or any other genre I might try, they’re still going to get my voice, my style, my depth of characterization, my theme. The plot will be frightening or funny and hopefully my covers will tell the readers which is which.

      Thanks again for commenting and if you’re looking for a holiday story, I hope you’ll give PERFECT a try .

  5. Diana Layne says:

    PERFECT sounds wonderful, and I’m so glad it jump-started your muse! Hugs.

  6. Interesting topic, Autumn, and I love that taking a break from RS to write something different recharged you. I recently ran into a similar situation, and I actually have a contemporary on the back burner, but what recharged me was switching from the new series I was starting back to writing a book in my Mindhunters series. Getting back into the heads of familiar characters was like coming home, and the words and plotting have come so much easier. Like you, I’m hoping, after I finish the rough draft of this one, I can get back to the new characters/series with a new outlook.

    Can’t wait to read Perfect! Congratulations!

  7. June Love says:

    Autumn, I can’t wait to read Perfect. It sounds like my kind of book! I know things in your life have been difficult, and I admire your ability to switch gears in order to preserve your creativity.

    I love what Hope said about branding ourselves instead of branding ourselves in a particular genre. I feel the same way.

    As a reader, just give me one name to keep up with and write the best book you can. That’s all I ask. I’m more likely to read a book in a different genre by an author I’m familiar with because I trust them.

    Thanks for such a thought-provoking post!

    • Rita Henuber says:

      June I think no matter what genre an author would always use the same theme in their stories. That comes from our voice. I don’t think I could change my theme at all, ever.

  8. I’m kind of in the same situation where life has made writing dark, gritty, romantic suspense a lot tougher than I’d like. Which is frustrating and stressful, because all I hear is how important it is to build your brand and I suddenly feel like a failure as a writer. It was eye-opening to realize that life could interfere with my plans like that.

    But a wise woman (I’m looking at you, Kat! ;) ) told me that I need to keep writing–whatever made me happy. So, like the others have said, I’d worry less about diluting your brand and just enjoy the journey. You’ve certainly earned it! ((Hugs))

    • “Enjoy the journey” – well said.

      Sometimes it’s just hard to go to the dark, gritty side of life. As a parent of young kids (who are obviously getting older), I’ve also wondered about what they’d think about me writing about violence/killers. And sometimes my mind doesn’t want to think about the dark threats out there (as a parent).

    • Kat Cantrell says:

      I’m just selfishly on the lookout for more Cynthia Justlin books ;)

    • Rita Henuber says:

      Enjoy seems to be something we’ve forgotten about. Remember the joy writing that first book? Why are we denying ourselves that joy on the books we write now? I went back to discovering it and am much happier.

  9. Rita Henuber says:

    Think about the reader for a moment. Does a reader only read one genre? I have my favorite but I do read others. I will read a different genre by a favorite author. Let me thow out a the names of a couple authors who have changed. James Patterson, Suz Brockamn, JK Rowling, Darynda Jones. Consider when all men think alike only one man is thinking. Publishers want to stick with what they make money doing. They aren’t in the risk taking business. I feel this is why Independent publishing has moved forward so fast. Readers want different things. Authors who take the chance and step outside the box are our pioneers. So keep it up.

  10. Kim Law says:

    This novella sounds so darn good, Autumn!! I seriously can’t wait to read it. Just have to get a little past my own crazy-ass schedule ;)

    And congrats to you for figuring out what DID work for you during that time. I feel writing something is so much better than sitting there writing nothing. Seems like a good plan to me!

    Good luck with this one. I hope it flies off the cyberspace shelves!!

    • Elise Hayes says:

      Agreed, Kim. I love the way Autumn find a way to keep writing, when the dark side of romantic suspense wasn’t the world she needed to be in for a while.

      And I’ll admit to being biased toward laughter and comedy. The world can be such a hard place at times, and for me, meeting those challenges with laughter (when I can manage it) seems like a much better option than meeting them with tears. I don’t always make it to the laughter, but I do try…

      • Amanda Brice says:

        Hey, there’s a reason why I write funny mysteries rather than the (admittedly better-selling) grittier thrillers and suspense. :)

        Anyway, back to branding. I don’t think branding only refers to genre. The author’s voice also plays a big role, and I have no doubt that when I read PERFECT I’ll be able to tell it’s an Autumn Jordon book regardless of the fact that it’s straight-up contemporary as opposed to romantic suspense.

        I’m a genre-jumper myself, and unabashedly so. (Although I admit to waiting until I had a few books in the same series out before I released anything in a different genre.) Right now I only have YA funny mysteries out, but within the next year I’ll be adding a straight-up contemporary YA and a YA time travel. And I have plans to write a YA historical mystery, not to mention I have a rabid fangirl who wants me to write an adult romantic comedy featuring ballroom dancing (and I’m seriously considering it).

        But the thing that’s consistent — that you’ll see throughout my work, regardless of genre or even age level — is humor and a 1st person POV. My heroines are chatty and make witty observations. I’ve been told that reading my books are like having a conversation with a good friend. And that’s not going to change. The voice will always be there, and I truly believe that’s a big part of branding. (And in my case, I always manage to find a way to sneak dancing in there somehow.)

        Congrats on the new release, Autumn! I love that cover, but even more than that, I love that you were able to find a way to continue to write even when the going got tough. (I need to learn from your example!)

  11. Shoshana Brown says:

    Seems to me that it’s a lot better to write an awesome romantic comedy than to push yourself to write a subpar romantic suspense because the words just aren’t there. I can’t wait to read PERFECT! :)

  12. Jenn! says:

    An author’s brand can be their voice. It doesn’t have to be this genre or that. It’s the author’s brand of storytelling. Of course, if a distinct brand is built, it will be harder to make an easy slide from genre to genre and not confuse readers. But it’s not impossible. ‘Writing As’ tags are useful. :-)

    So happy for you, Di.

    Congrats on the new release and the re-energized you.

    Jenn!

  13. Yay for you, Di! Like others have said, an author’s voice can span more than one genre. In fact when I sold my romantic suspense to Carina, they specifically asked to publish it under the name I used for the medicals I write for Harlequin. So I do think there’s something to be said for readers following you from one genre to another.

    Love the blurb and the cover for Perfect! Can’t wait to read it. Congratulations, again!

    • Elise Hayes says:

      Oh, interesting, Tina! It makes sense to me that an author’s voice could become the basis for their brand–but it’s interesting to see that confirmed in publisher preferences regarding your name.

  14. Kate Parker says:

    Congrats Autumn on the romantic comedy. When my world tilted, I changed from contemporary to historical because the present was just too depressing. You did the same, only going from suspense to comedy. It kept you writing, and I’ll bet that made you happier in the long run. There’s something very freeing about sitting down to write something that brings you joy.

    • Elise Hayes says:

      Agreed. There’s a reason I studied comedy (as a lit major) in college. Tragedies were just too darned depressing. I figured I could spend my time writing papers about something that made me laugh, or something that made me cry–and I chose the laughter. It’s also, not incidentally, why I love romance and the satisfaction of its happy endings (however hard fought it might have been to get to that ending).

  15. Liz Talley says:

    I missed this yesterday because life jumped out in front of me…or rather rear-ended me, but I often wonder this same thing. I have lots of different facets of Liz and I wonder if I turn to my historicals, will that mess up what I’ve already built?

    I really have to think not.

    I’m still not sure what I will do with my historical books, but they sit there and wait on me, tapping their proverbial foot, patient. I know they’re there and maybe I’ll get back to them one day.

    But I LOVE the sound of the novella and it sounds just perfect for a sweet pick me up in the madness of the holiday. Glad you listened to your muse…we’ll all benefit :)

    • Amanda Brice says:

      Please, please, please clean them up and do something with the those Regencies! I haven’t read your Regencies, of course, but I would imagine I’d still hear a Liz Talley-esque voice in them. And lots of romance readers genre jump.

      If you’re afraid of diluting the sassy Southern vibe you’ve built up, then publish the Regencies under the name Elizabeth Talley. It would still be abundently obvious to everyone that it’s from the same author, but it would give at a glance the idea that it’s a different feel. Liz writes contemporaries. Elizabeth writes historicals. :)

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