My Books!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Jill of all Genres

Hello! We are very fortunate today to have Linda Swift with us. Linda agreed to guest blog for me, so Linda, take it away.

Jill of all Genres

We are all familiar with the expression "Jack of all trades and master of none." And when it comes to writing, I often think of myself as "Jill of all genres" and fervently hope the logical conclusion "Master of none" does not apply here. Writing instructors and "how-to" writing books all advise us to focus on one genre and become proficient in it. If we write a certain type material, we will become known for that and readers know what to expect from us. Makes good sense, doesn't it? I have two very good author friends who have done this quite successfully. Both write historical and contemporary, romance and mainstream. All books by one are set in Texas and the other always writes about the sea.

So why don't I do this? Good question and I'll try to answer it. I began writing poetry as a child, then I wrote in longhand a 500 page romance at sixteen. Life happened and my next writing was children's stories for my son and daughter. I went to college belated after my children were in school and one summer I enrolled in a poetry class, the Jesse Stuart Creative Writing Workshop. I wanted to sign up for fiction but admission required a short story and I had only a few poems. Teaching, working toward two additional degrees, taking care of a husband, house, and two children left little time for writing. But I did write poetry.

My children grew up, left home, and we moved to another state. Still teaching, and attending college, I finally had an opportunity to take a fiction writing class. It was here I wrote my first short story that was submitted to the Indiana U. Writers' Conference, winning the Fiction Skills Scholarship for that year. More short stories followed, many published in small literary magazines. I wrote a few plays, one of which was produced on TV by a local theatre group. And I began to wonder if I'd spent 13 years preparing for a career in education when I really wanted to be a writer. I stayed in education, which I did enjoy, for 20 years, then my husband and I took early retirement and I became a fulltime writer. It was a shock when I compared my former salary to the $69. I earned that first year. Both money and recognition were slow to come and it was almost ten years before Kensington published my first two novels. The line closed just when my next book was to be released. Demand for mid-list authors shrank, my agent was ineffectual, and I was an orphan until I discovered ebooks.

In three years, four publishers have released six of my books and one short story. I am contracted with three additional publishers for release of four books and two short stories in 2011 and have two books under consideration elsewhere. My books include poetry, contemporary and historical romance, women's fiction, and mainstream. The settings are all over the U.S., St. Croix, and England. So you see, I really can't focus on a single place or genre. I have led a nomadic life and my work reflects that. And this requires numerous publishers in order to match my potpourri of material to their requirements. My focus now is on novels set in any historical period but for the life of me, I can't narrow the setting to any one place. My plots focus more on inner feelings and conflicts than with edge of your seat action. But I hope that my readers will find a common thread running through my work that they can relate to, regardless of the genre. And that thread is an honest portrayal of human emotions told in a story from my heart.

Thank you so much for inviting me to be your guest, Elaine. I hope you and your readers have found something of interest in my visit. I invite you to visit my web site to learn more about my available and coming soon books.

TO THOSE WHO WAIT, my just released contemporary mainstream is an example of ordinary people facing extraordinary problems and overcoming them. This is not a HEA book and the conclusion may not satisfy you if that is what you require. But I predict you will laugh and cry as you read it and feel real empathy for the people caught in events beyond their control.

HUMANLY SPEAKING: Conversations With God is a volume of prose poems that reflect my own questions about some of the people and events in the Scriptures. My hope is that it will cause you to examine your own feelings and seek your own answers.

Both books are available as ebooks and also will be in print very soon.


Linda Swift said...

Sorry I'm late checking in today. This is my day to go to a dance session in the monring with my husband and a Tai Chi class in the early afternoon also with him. But I see everyone has been busy today so I'm hopeful we will have some visitors later. I'll be around to answer comments till bedtime.

Danielle Thorne said...

Hi Linda. I think it's fascinating to read authors that write in different genres, and as you do this, believe it shows a diverse life experience. I suppose sticking with one genre is smart for selling to a certain audience, but having the ability to work in many different styles with different stories and settings is a gift.

Good luck with your new release. I can't wait to check it out soon!

Celia Yeary said...

LINDA--some might call you Multi-talented! to write different kinds of poetry, and romance, and historical--each in a different place--I think places you in a unique class. And good for you!
Both your Humanly Speaking and To Those Who Wait were quite wonderful. In fact, I'm waiting for the print version of Humanly Speaking,even though I also have the eBook. And I'm still mulling over the events and ending of To Those Who Wait.
You do know how to hold a person's attention.
Congratulations on your releases, and may you have many more. Celia

Linda Swift said...

Thank you for heeding my SOS and stopping by, Danielle. I envy you those wonderful sea stories. And you are able to apply your knowledge of all thing nautical in so many different genres even Regency and that takes real talent. I have read them all so are and look forward to many more.

Linda Swift said...

Celia, you are too kind. It's so nice to have friends you can count on for support, isn't it? And I'm glad you forgave me for the ending of To Those Who Wait. You DID foregive me, didn't you? I'm eagerly awaiting your WCP release and our "twin"releases on Desert Breeze next month. Here's to sales.

Diane Craver said...

Hi Linda,

I can relate so much to your post because I write in different genres. A marketing director at one of my publisher's told me I needed to narrow it to one genre. I write inspirational romance but also have written contemporary romance that isn't inspirational. I wrote a chick-lit mystery, women's fiction, and historical fiction. LOL I haven't been able to stick to one genre - although everything is contemporary except for one book.

I haven't written poetry but did write a play which wasn't published.

I think you should keep on writing what is in your heart because you have accomplished so much with writing in different genres. Congrats on your awards! I know someone else who was dropped from Kensington after having 3 books published by them. Sorry it happpened to you, too, but glad you discovered ebook publishers.

Interesting post, Linda!

StephB said...

I think it's great that you're able to tackle different genres. I think that just broadens a writer's perspective. And it appeals to readers of diffrent genres. If you have a reader of a contemporary who likes your style, they might cross over to read your historicals.

I like Diane's writing. I've read her inspirational/contemporary/historical/mainstream stories and I enjoy them.

I guess, as a writer, I try to appeal as a writer as opposed to appealing to a genre specific audience. I hope that makes sense. I don't want to be labeled as a "paranormal" writer, but I do want readers to think of that first.


Linda Swift said...

Hello Diane, thanks for visiting. I guess we are "birds of a feather" here. Sometimes I am frustrated wearing so many hats and want to focus more narrowly. But I have all this material I've already written and it's in every direction and I feel an obligation to each and every bit of it to try and get it published. I want to touch people's hearts and I can't do that with stories stashed in a closet. Linda

Linda Swift said...

Hi Steph, what you say makes perfect sense to me. And it is more important to be a good writer than a good paranormal of inspirational writer. And it is possible that if you are known as a good writer, that your readers will follow you into other genres when you go there. I do think I write in each of these generes at certain phases of my life and now I want to focus on historicals. Could it be because I'm getting pretty historical myself??? Thanks so much for stopping and giving us such thoughtful comments, Steph.

Nikki said...

Hi Linda. I'd like to point out that writers and publishers often have conflicting goals. Writers want to write, publishers want to sell. If a writer is successful in a particular genre, the publisher will push for more of the same. After all, Ford doesn't make toasters. We writers, on the other hand, tend to be open to the Muse in whatever guise she chooses. So we can write an eerie sf story of a fox one day, then a tear-jerker portrait of an old man the next (to take examples from my own work). At the moment of inspiration, it doesn't matter if readers will follow us. Just keep writing from your honest, generous heart.

Linda Swift said...

Hi Nikki, and thank you for your very thoughtful comments. You have a great point there about the publishers. I have an English author friend who was published in the mid 90s and she has one publisher, writes at least one book per year for them, and all are successful. A case in point.
I guess my own example of having seven publishers and all kinds of books out there is the opposite side of the coin.

Elaine Cantrell said...

Linda, you're one busy woman! Poetry is beyond me so I'm super impressed.

Linda Swift said...

Elaine, please don't be impressed. The best definition I've heard of poetry came from a college prof who taught poetry classes. He said poetry is like prose, only shorter on the line of the page. He took all the fear out of writing POETRY with those words!