Wednesday, February 25, 2009

WHO Am I?

When I’m burnt out on editing and writing, I like to visit blogs. Usually blogs written by other writers, editors, and agents.

Saturday night, when I was feeling too sick to write but still bored, I caught up on some agents’ blogs. I started with one I like to visit and hopped to several new ones from there.

One of the agents seems to love American Idol as much as me and she was describing her job and we writers in American Idol terms. I could sooooo relate. In fact, it simplified her thought processes for me. Obviously, I’m too hooked on Idol. At least my family thinks so.

Anyway, I think she got one point across to me very clear that I’ve vaguely thought about. I’m not sure I like it as I’ve been doing it all wrong – if I’m to listen to her and Simon, that is.

Did you see and do you remember American Idol season 4? The one where Carrie Underwood won and Bo Bice was runner up? My favorite season to date (closely followed by last season and Season 5).

Anyway, I remember Simon telling the contestants in Hollywood Week, “Only three of you know who you are musically.” By that he meant Carrie who was country all the way, Bo who was a southern rocker, and Constantine who was a hard rocker (at least up to that point). Simon obviously liked those three as he had liked Fantasia, season 3’s winner who also knew who she was musically.

The agent made a point that we need to know who we are as writers. She explained that we need to pick a genre and stick to it.

Oi! I’ve been all over the place!

I’m listening to the Beach Boys on my MP3 player as I write this – getting back to the music analogy. When you think of Beach Boys or Jan & Dean, you think “beach and car music” and NOTHING else. Those two groups, two of my favorites btw, know exactly who they are. Just like Carrie Underwood is all country and she knows who she is.

I’ve been trying out different subgenres, just about everything except historical: contemporary MF romance is my main thing, but I’ve also written time travels (which is probably my favorite), comedy (my second favorite – but I’m not sure I always hit the mark as comedy is so subjective), space sagas, vampires, and lately MM and MMF.

WHY???

Well, one of my publishers once told us we needed to be business people and write to the market. I know she meant within reason. She wanted me to write multi-racial romance which I tried, which was a dismal failure. I got a couple hate emails so I didn’t venture back there. She also said that what I wrote – contemporary MF romance (sweet) was not selling well except in NY. She also counseled me to tone down the comedy, or maybe to lay off.

This was a long time ago. But I think I lost my identity and forgot who I was. I wrote a couple vampire romances which were supposedly hot as hell. Mine didn’t sell nearly as well as my contemporary romantic comedies (which none of the e-publishers wanted as they seemed to think there was too much competition from NY – and if I couldn’t sell any one of them to NY, then I wanted to sell them elsewhere).

And then I fell into MMF by accident. I signed up to write an MMF for an anthology thinking it meant two straight males who would adore one lucky female. That turned out to be my biggest seller, even bigger than American Beauty. Its first month out my cut (and I only got a third of the take) was triple that of AB. So hoping I’d found a goldmine, I wrote another, The Perfect Gift, which is my bestseller at a different publisher.

Maybe I should have stayed with just that change (MF to MMF). But I didn’t. MM came into vogue so I tried that.

Now, out of my 50 plus books published (some are out of print), I have 3 vampire romances, a couple time travels, about 35-40 MFs, and lately 3 or 4 MMFs, one MFM, and about five MMs. Most are erotic romance in the past five years, since AB came out at Ellora’s Cave. I’m working on an edit for The Wild Rose Press now for a sweet romance. Honestly, it was supposed to be a sequel to American Beauty, but the theme just refused to be erotic, so I changed the heroine’s name and changed the story enough so it’s no longer a sequel and stands totally on its own. But that means yet another subgenre.

At this point, I’m not sure which ONE subgenre to move forward to. Simon would hate me. He’d be all over my back. So would this agent. I’m still undecided.

Until I read this post Saturday, I was actually thinking about writing something for TWRP’s cowboy series which sounds awesome – but that would mean yet another subgenre.

Can you see how conflicted I am? I’m writing this long ass post instead of editing or writing a new story.

You'll also want to see what Amarinda Jones, Anika Hamilton, Anny Cook, Barbara Huffert, Brynn Paulin, Bronwyn Green, Dakota Rebel, Kelly Kirch, Molly Daniels, Sandra Cox, Regina Carlysle, and Cindy Spencer Pape are up to, so make sure to visit them also. :)

4 comments:

Cat_Johnson said...

Hey Ashley,

Here I am reading your blog instead of writing my WIP, but anyway, I think I can speak to this topic.

I think it is okay if you cross multiple genres, as long as there is a unifying factor. In Idol terms, it would be how last year David Cook could take any song from any genre, but he sang it in his unique style and made it his own. You could close your eyes and now it was him. Chris Daughtry could also do that. Remember when he sang Johnny Cash's Walk the Line but it sounded nothing like the original song?

In writing, making a book your own would mean applying your unique writer's voice to it no matter what genre it is. A reader should be able to tell an Ashley Ladd book by the tone, the characters and the voice no matter if it is time travel, or paranormal, or alternate lifestyle.

I think in my books, whether it is one of my military romances, or my cowboy menage or my contemp paranormal Greek God stories, my voice is distinct and my characters sound like my typical characters. My Greek Gods are smart asses, just like my cowboys and my soldiers. My most recent reveiw for Rough Stock read something like "the characters are typical Johnson".

So, I hope all this helps. Now back to the book!
Cat

Regina Carlysle said...

Damn it! Just wrote a long response and it disappeared. I'm going through this too, Ash. I KNOW menage is big, huge and makes money. I LIKE money but my current characters just aren't cooperating. Last night I decided they just don't wanna play ball so this will be contemp. m/f and if it doesn't make buckets of money, so be it. I'm sick of fighting with them.

Molly Daniels said...

Ditto what Cat said.

As for myself, I'm sticking with contemporary m/f and my women's fiction. I do have two sci-fi and one weird m/m subplot, but as they've been on the back burner for a while, I may not finish them. All depends on if they decide to come out and 'talk' to me again:)

Amarinda Jones said...

I reckon write what you know and avoid jumping onto the fads like everyone else as they never ring true

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