I tried to stick to writing in one romance sub-genre from the very beginning.
Really, I did.
I told myself I didn’t have time to develop multiple platforms and author brands, so I’d better stick to one. But whereas my first novel is a romantic suspense story, the second insisted on morphing into a paranormal romantic suspense. And the third…Oh god, let’s not even go there yet!
I told myself I was experimenting with different subgenres in order to discover The One, that magical arena wherein my stories would germinate, grow and blossom like well-fertilized morning glories. Surely when I determined my one true subgenre I would joyfully cast aside all other subgenres and write happily forever after.
Classes and workshops taught me more about the craft of writing, but didn’t help me settle into a comfortable niche. I did find my core story (the theme that unfolds in every book I write, no matter the genre.) Mine is you have to decide who you really are.
Irony; gotta love it.
Contest judges loved my ‘light, breezy comedic voice.’ A famous writing instructor told me I write dark romantic comedy.
What the heck???
While struggling through my identity crisis, I researched and outlined two more paranormal romantic suspense stories. Was I on to something? Was this blended genre The One?
Then something happened to me that had never happened before. Out of nowhere, the phrase the fixer-upper boyfriend popped into my head as if someone had spoken the words aloud. I stopped in my tracks halfway through the living room on the way to the dirty clothes hamper.
Great book title, I thought. Reeks of teenaged angst.
My monkey mind was off and running with a YA story. I wrote a rough outline of the book and the characters. Loved them! Who wouldn’t love writing about a mad-scientist mother, zombie boyfriends, a frustrated medium, a tragic accident with a time machine, and a runaway teen protagonist on a quest for absolution?
Other than the fact that this story was not a paranormal romantic suspense, the plot holes were problematic—until I took a Steampunk class online and found the story a perfect home in an alternate Victorian Age.
Me, write a Steampunk YA? Ack!
In desperation, I brainstormed commonalities among my stories. This is what I came up with:
- Identity issues
- Underdog protagonists
- At least one canine character whose actions affect the plot and/or character arc
- Second chances
- A comedic voice
- Paranormal elements (That first story? The RS? Originally, I wanted the protagonist to have a psychic ability, but I talked myself out of it.
I decided to build my platform around these commonalities. Publishers need to know where to shelve my books, so I’ll brand myself as a paranormal romance author. Overall, I’ve found paranormal romance readers to be flexible and adventurous readers. I don’t think mixing it up a little will put them off, whether they are adult or young adult readers.
What do you think?