When I worry about not fitting into the romance box or why some contest judges don’t get my dark, brooding occult detective hero, Phaeton Black, I turn to two people. One is my crit partner, a.c. Mason, who sees my brilliance and always encourages me to stay true to myself and write the stories that are inside me, and not to a strict category format.
Then there is Donald Maass. What can I say? Some discouraged or frustrated writers open a bottle of Jack Daniel’s, others turn to the Bible. Me? I open up my dog-eared copy of How to Write the Breakthrough Novel and take solace in his words.
I once had an editor suggest after reading my synopsis, that perhaps the novel didn’t need two subplots in addition to the romance story.
Donald Maass has never found himself reading a novel and stopped to think: This novel is just too layered and complex.
Recently, several agents have written to tell me how much they enjoyed my story/characters and loved my voice/writing, but the manuscript was a tough sell in this market. I have come to understand this coded phrase means: Red Alert! Warning! Danger! Cross-genre novel.
On one of his recent blogs, Donald Maass noted: Everyone writes cross-genre these days.
My crit partner, Mason, lives in Canada and recently attended a Toronto RWA chapter meeting where Donald Maass was the guest speaker. She and I consulted for hours about what questions she might ask him during Q&A. She managed to get the first and only question answered.
Any advice on how to pitch/query if you write cross-genre?
Mr. Maass had a couple of interesting remarks and some advice on the subject. First of all, in mainstream fiction, the lines between genres have blurred considerably, while romance subgenres have not. He also noted that as more and more fiction is sold over the internet (books are e-catalogued for searches in multiple genres facilitating more opportunity for sales.) these genre distinctions are apt to blur even more. Think about what has happened to the business of selling music and you can easily figure out the trend.
From a practical standpoint, he advised cross-genre writers to mention (in their query) some successful cross-genre writers/novels close to your own work. In my case I write historical paranormal with romantic elements and/or historical suspense with romantic elements. So, I might mention Amanda Quick, or Gabaldon or any number of other writers who use time travel or historical settings in which to set a mystery or suspense thriller.
Why is it that in everything I do or try to accomplish in life, I find myself ahead of the curve? And is that a blessing or a curse? Actually, if you could see my face right now, you would be able to make out a twinkle in my eye and a bit of a grin.
For me, the road will be longer and fraught with obstacles, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have made up my mind I am a women’s fiction writer and not a romance writer, and I am happy for the first time in a long time. I feel like I have found my place I the world.
Thanks in large part to Mason and Maass. Muah!
G. Jillian Stone
There are fields in time that burn with desire. Meet me there.
Jillian is currently finishing the second book in The Yard Men Series. Set in late Victorian London, Scotland Yard detectives have never been as wickedly sexy or as brilliantly clever. To read more about her latest work in progress, THE SEDUCTION OF PHAETON BLACK, please drop by her website: www.gjillianstone.com