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Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Stick to your genre

Romance Writers Report, the monthly magazine for the RWA, has an article, “Common Mistakes by New Authors” by Irene Goodman. I'm not precisely a new author, but I'm not old enough to ignore it. Ok, I'm old enough if you look at my birth certificate, but publishing-wise, I'm drawing lopsided hearts in kindergarten. I read the article.

The heading is “They Don't Pick a Genre and Stick to It.” Can I steal your paragraph, Irene? Nah, that's cheating. I'll paraphrase and earn my time on this blog. Here it is, the unbelievable, side-splitting, mixed genre plot Irene uses as an example of “They Don't Pick a Genre and Stick to It.”

Lady cop trips and knocks hunky doctor over during a hurricane while organizing relief effort. They joke, fall in love, debate going to Africa to save kids from malaria, but he dies. She drowns her sorrows and wakes up in a distinctly not fairy tale 12th century castle with a hidden parchment, which she just happens to find before she gets kicked out and goes to work as a wench in the local tavern. The slovenly tavern keeper is murdered, so stalking the killer, she goes toe to toe with the sheriff. They banter and fall in love, but he's a vampire, so she curls up alone with the parchment and wakes up back where she belongs. She approaches a sexy professor and between them, they decipher the magical parchment and use the information to stop an evil cult from taking over the world.

Sounds good to me. Of course, the professor is alpha, enigmatic, tall, and dark with the name Illinois Smith (don't you dare think Indiana Jones.) She falls in love with Illinois. The poor girl is on her third love. Three strikes and you're out, which can't happen, not to our lady cop, who by the way, has to have the most improbably exotic name possible. How about Isa Lora Lee? I like that.


The only other thing I need to know before I steal this exciting plot and write the book is: sweet or erotic? Figuring out the heat level isn't as easy as it sounds. If I write a 'dirty' book, my brothers will laugh at me and I won't be able to hand my business card to anyone at church. If I write a 'sweet' book, it'll end up with a boring cover and no one will look at it. So I'll go to the middle. Sex only once a chapter and not until the third, which means I can throw in a fling in the castle with -- how about the butler? Can we have a butler in the 12th century? Butlers never have fun; it's time one did. Maybe he'll wear chaps and carry a lariat.

Keeping the heat level in mind:

With her doctor love, Isa Lora Lee will hold hands.

The butler likes to tickle.

She will have wild hot sex with the vampire since that is the only kind vamps know how to do. (I read lots of Katie MacAlister -- that's research.)

But it has to be special with the professor. I have the idea to end all ideas! Isa Lora Lee and Illinois Smith will explore the mysterious world of lesbian sex. Does that count as a surprise ending or is it just a plot twist?

Don't forget a dark moment. The evil cult is turning people who like romance novels into Miss Marple enthusiasts. Agatha Christie's heirs, whoever they are, are thrilled, but e-book publishers are folding for lack of sales. That will make every reader's heart sink. Isa Lora Lee and Illinois Smith save the day, night, and all the hours in between (if there are any left over.)

That will make my book an alternative religious time traveling western paranormal, medical historical mystery/comedy. If Isa Lora Lee is over age forty, I can hit the mature reader. I hope I didn't forget anything.

It's a bit much. So pick one genre and stick to it, ok?

Ann Tracy Marr writes award-winning paranormal Regency romance (sorry, that's two genres.) A computer consultant in the Midwest, Marr lives with her husband, two cats, and plots that don't bounce off the wall and break mirrors.

The picture provided is NOT of Marr; it's one she uses to brand her work. Her face wouldn't sell brimstone to a demon. Her books include: Thwarting Magic, Round Table Magician, and To His Mistress. For details about her series, visit her online. Hint: it is romance with a splash of magic.

1 comment:

Miranda Stowe said...

Love your post. I was laughing the whole way through. And I'll definitley keep your advice in mind! Thanks.