I realized yesterday that I’m a complete and utter blockhead. Yeah, I know you’re all shocked. *rolls eyes*
I’ve referred to my totem animal the horse many times. How sometimes I just want to kick the stall down and charge off into the hills, wild and free. How hard it is for me to settle under the saddle sometimes, or to take my place in the harness. It’s not the work I mind. I love the work.
It’s the idea of constraint.
I’ve always had a super hard time categorizing myself. Early on, I was told I was too category when writing contemporary romance so I gave it up a long time. Yet my category efforts weren’t category enough. My fantasy is often too fantasy for romance readers, yet I can’t call a book a romance when major characters die, even if the ending is super happy and positive. My Jane Austen Space Opera series isn’t really SFR. But it’s not really steampunk either, unless you widen up the accepted time period and allow nanobot technology instead of steam.
I finally realized yesterday where I get myself into trouble. It starts at the very beginning, when I’m brainstorming an idea. Here’s how the last few days have gone.
- I want to develop a new paranormal romance series.
- I don’t want to do vampires or werewolves because everyone does them.
- I don’t want to do demons because I love Larissa Ione’s demons.
- I don’t want to do witches or angels either. Everyone’s done them already.
- Hmmm. Change gears. What about the underlying mythology?
- I don’t want to do Celtic. Everybody’s done Celtic.
- I don’t want to do Norse. Egyptian. Same reason.
- I picked Maya because a). I love pyramids and b). blood sacrifice and c). not very common when I started the idea. But I had several comments about the weird/unusual/hard to pronounce/understand names. The blood stuff was “disturbing.” Hmm.
Hmm. So I went to Amazon and started looking through the bestseller lists to look for trends. What’s popular right now? What’s selling? What kinds of titles are people using?
Right away, I noticed there were 15,000+ books listed generically under “Romance->Paranormal.” Hmmm. That’s a TON of books. Then I noticed that there were only a few sub-sections of Paranormal listed, like Demons and Devils. Not shapeshifters. Interesting.
So then I went to the publisher’s store where I plan to submit this idea, and examined their tags under paranormal romance. They were different tags than Amazon, but still very specific.
Now here where’s I’m a blockhead.
My gut reaction: I can’t do something in those tags. It won’t be different enough.
Yes, that’s the horse kicking down the stall and running away for no apparent reason.
I asked myself. Self? Do you want to be 1 book in 15,000 paranormal romances? Or do you want to be 1 book in 700+ Demons and Devils? Or less than 300 psychics?
Wow. Yeah. I’m ashamed it took me so long to figure that out. I’ve only been writing something like 9 years now…
In my efforts to always be unique and different, I make myself hard to categorize. I don’t fit within boundaries very well because I DELIBERATELY choose to find something outside of the box.
That’s not a bad thing, if I control it. I have to stand out in some way, but I need to narrow the field if I can. It’s only smart.
I want to be smart.
So yes, write what I love. Find the unique. But also pick something that is easily categorized. I don’t have to write vampires. I don’t have to write werewolves. But there are other things I do love that will keep the muse interested and excited.
While I’m writing Mama C’s first draft, I’ll be building a paranormal romance trilogy that fits squarely in my sweet spot. It will have shapeshifters, masks, demons, and Native American mythology and I’m quite excited about what I have so far!