Think Out of Your Box

cat in tray 001On a hot day last week I wandered into the living room to take a break and found our rather large cat, Bobbi,  sleeping in a hand-carved wooden tray on my coffee table. With her in the tray were two huge pottery red birds, which she had pushed around to make room. A part of her hung out on all four sides and her head was propped on the rim. Good thing she is a bob tail, cause there wouldn’t have been room for a tail. After I took this first photo she opened her eyes a slit, studied me for a while, then went back to sleep. She had made room for herself in her “box” by hanging out of it just a bit.

We live in the country and prefer open windows and fans for cooling rather than a closed up house that separates us from the very reason we live in the country. The surrounding country, with all it’s fragrances, sounds and breathtaking view. Therefore our cat and her humans do not live in an hermetically sealed environment. She often finds unusual places to place herself, both inside and outside the home.

It occurred to me that we writers often do the same thing,  making choices in which we do not exactly fit. We have to think out of our box.  Ever ask yourself why you write what you write? I’ll bet it’s because it’s what you enjoy. Then along comes marketing and promoting and we learn something just a bit different is selling well. It’s possible to adjust our writing a tad so that our stories will attract readers.

I’m not  talking about scouring the market, seeing that cozy mysteries are selling well, and sitting down to write one when you have no idea where to start. Or erotica. Geez. I really enjoy some of the erotic books I’ve read. And they do sell quite well, but I wouldn’t have the courage or know-how to really jump into that box or tray or whatever.

Back in the 90s when I was trying to sell what I hoped would be my first published book, I wrote what I thought was a Western historical. It had a woman protagonist, a sexy cowboy hero and they got along really well, but I didn’t add actual love scenes. Came the time I had an opportunity to sell that book. Editors were seriously considering it after I pitched it at Western Writers of America. If I would romance it up a bit, they would probably buy it. It just wasn’t the in thing to have a female protagonist in a standard John Wayne/Clint EastwoodWestern. Did I do that? You betcha. But that didn’t stray far from my story. I could still write historicals, which I enjoyed researching, I could write about women “winning” the West, my favorite topic. All I had to do was add some serious love.

I’d never read what was termed a romance, but had a friend, Lisa Wingate, who wrote them. She helped. And my daughter had a few suggestions for the love scenes. Finally I got to where I could write a Western Historical romance with no sweat. I learned to think out of “my box” without being uncomfortable or feeling inadequate.That book became Moonspun Promises. Today it is available as an e book on Kindle as Montana Promises.

If I had good sense, I would have kept the original title, it would Google much better than the new one. There are too many Montana titles out there. I learned a lesson from that too. Before you choose a title, Google the ones you like, then go to Amazon and search for each one. That will help you know if there are others out there with your title. That’s not good.

My message, I guess, it pick your niche, your genre, whatever you prefer, and hang in there with it. If it needs a bit of tweaking then give it a go, but don’t try to fit yourself into a category you know nothing about and don’t enjoy writing. I guess I’m saying stay in your box, but think out of it, if that makes sense.

Wolf Song

Wolf Song

Speaking of titles that cause problems, Wolf Song, my paranormal romance, has that problem. I’ll give a copy of Wolf Song to someone  who shares a story about trying to write in the wrong genre and its consequences.

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About veldabrotherton

I'm primarily a writer, but I also speak and teach workshops and co-chair a large critique group. My brand is SexyDarkGritty and that applies to my western historical romances, mysteries, women's fiction and horror novels. After almost 30 years in this business, I still have something to learn and attend conferences to network with other writers, publishers, editors and agents.
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4 Responses to Think Out of Your Box

  1. Linda Apple says:

    Awwwww, Bobbi. 🙂 Great advice Velda, as always!

    • Thanks, Linda. Been missing you. School’s out, I guess baby sitting has picked up. Enjoy, And gardening too, I’ll bet. Keep Neal busy canning that produce this summer. Loved his relish. A bit of sweet a bit of tart. Our neighbor across the way made a big pot of pisole and brought us some. New Mexico recipe and is it ever good. Hot. I miss going to Red River, but there’s no way I could get around there with any means available. Too rough. Now that it’s hot and steamy I’m feeling a lot better. Bones don’t hurt so much anyway. We celebrated Father’s Day at Jeri’s. She cooked fried chicken, I took potato salad and there were other fixings topped off by watermelon. A good day. Last weekend we went to her best friend’s new house for a cookout. What a lovely place they have. A log house. Haven’t told you the story of that best friend. Will do so someday. Love you and think of you a lot.

  2. Connie says:

    Good to see you are still giving all your writer friends encouragement and advice. I’ve always loved you for your unstinting generosity in sharing your experiences, including successes and failures both. Great article. Get out there in the sunshine and warm up those bones!

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