Monday, October 05, 2009

The Great Re-evaluation of 2009

Well, I managed a second place finish in the Toronto Golden Opportunity contest, breaking my past winning streak with this contest. And sadly, no request from Leis Pederson despite the 8/10 rating. Unfortunately there were no comments on the scoresheet from her so I have no idea why she chose not to pick it up for further inspection. I’ll tell myself it was due to timing and economy.

To be honest, while disappointed, I wasn’t crushed. You see, for the past little while I just haven’t been feeling things writing-wise. It’s almost like I’ve just been going through the motions. Yesterday, before the contest results came in, I started giving it some thought. Did I want to give up on writing? That was a resounding no. For one, I really have no back-up plan. There is nothing else I want to do. This is it for me. But when I asked myself did I want to keep writing historical romance, well that answer wasn’t quite so clear.

The problem I’m having right now is the trends in the market. You keep hearing how editors want that ‘sexy historical’. They want you to try something different. But by different, they don’t really mean a new setting, a new time period, a new anything really other than a new way to fit more sex into the book. At least that has been my take on it based on the information and feedback I keep getting. It is beginning to feel like more sex, less story. And I prefer the opposite – more story, and sex only when it is appropriate to the story and the characters.

It seems to me the parameters of what is acceptable are getting narrower, not broader. The timeframes continue to be mostly restricted to Regency (getting the lion’s share), Victorian, and those Scottish highlanders, with maybe a little medieval thrown in from time to time.

When I originally started writing historical it was because of the variety. I was excited that I could pick and choose from a vast array of times and settings. Along with the usual – Regency, Victorian and the Scots, there were also Cowboys and the Civil War, the American and French Revolutions. Crusading knights and medieval lords. Pirates even! Where have they gone?

Anyway, my point is, this has all led me to re-evaluate what I want to be doing. Lately, I have had the urge to write something deeper. Something more from my gut. Grittier, more emotional maybe. I'm not entirely sure what.

So I have decided to put my regular writing on hold for the month of October. I am going to play around with some new ideas and see what I come up with for NaNo. I’ll resume the edits on Invitation to Scandal in December. I still like that story – I still like all the historicals I’ve written. I’m just not sure they are what the market is looking for. But I’ll do the editor/agent search in December either way and see what happens.

As for next year, that depends on what happens with the manuscripts I have out for submission right now, but my current plan is to not worry so much about pumping out the manuscripts to add to my inventory, but instead to take the year and work on a book I love, maybe take the time to do some thorough research and write historical mainstream, or develop the YA novel I’ve been toying with for the past few years. Or maybe I’ll work on a contemporary story with romantic elements. Who knows? Whatever it is, it’ll be a story I want to tell the way I want to tell it.


Anne MacFarlane said...

Kelly, I think, more than anything, you have to fall in love with the book you're writing. And believe in it. And sell it like it's the best thing to hit the editor's desk since Harry Potter - or Twilight.

Amy Ruttan said...

You don't have to tell me about the historical market.

Basically it's just Regency with more sex thrown in.

Before I was writing too much sex, now I'm not writing enough.

My EC books are way to hot for mainstream. I can sell my ECesque type of books, and I think that's what I'm going to stick with for a while.

Julia Smith said...

You know better than anyone that I'm writing the farthest thing from the current market that I can get. But I just stumble on...

I'll be the first in line to want to see your grittier side.

Bonnie Ferguson said...

You have to follow your own heart on this. I'm sure whatever you decide to write will be fabulous. :)

Tess said...


I totally hear you. Even if school wasn't getting in my way these days, I'd be having problems as so much of what I hear is about having more and more sex in the books and less story. I have nothing against love scenes - I write them, but generally my characters lead the way. I'd have real problems if I was forced to create love scenes for them.

Enjoy your month "off" and I hope you find a story to write for Nano that really grabs you :)

Peggy said...

Kelly, I think that's why I eventually gave up trying to get published. The kind of stories I loved and wrote, aren't what's selling. I'm a story gal all the way. Hope you're able to break the mold and change the market back the way it use to be.

Cat Schield said...

Sometimes changing up what you're writing revives your enthusiasm. That's what I did last year when I burned out writing short contemporary. The switch to YA was a great opportunity for me to stretch. Why not try a historical YA?

Lexi said...

Sounds like a good plan. Good luck!