Guest posts

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I've been thinking a lot lately about my chosen topics and genres. I know I'm not writing things that are going to be top sellers because they aren't what people are reading at the moment and while I believe I'm a good writer and I write readable and enjoyable books, I don't believe my stories are going to be the next Harry Potter or Twilight in terms of originality and scope. My fantasy isn't dystopian or filled with vampires (although my sequel to Cleah has some really hideous Dark things that kill people and devour souls), and I don't write romance because it just doesn't call to me, and my YA mystery is edgy to some degree but the herione isn't popular or trendy. I also don't write cozies or adult murder mysteries. My short stories are each different, but they are about surviving despite the odds and they don't always have the nicest of lead characters.

So, I can't help but ask myself this question: "Hey Brenda, if you want to write books that sell, why don't you pick topics that people are reading?" Well, I have to reply to myself "I don't really know." I do know that the stories that pop into my head just seem to arrive without warning. One day they aren't there and the next day they are. My short stories felt like I was channeling, as did the first Cleah (this second book is much more work - no invisible winged muse sitting on my shoulder and channeling the words to me on this one). I wrote the YA with the topic of a foster child as the heroine because of the kind of work I do - I wanted foster children to have a character in a book who was like them - there aren't many out there.

I also know that if you pick a topic to be on the band wagon you have to write quickly because that wagon passes by before you can blink - or in the case of us struggling writers - faster than you can get an agent and a book deal. That means that if I picked a YA fantasy of dystopian worlds or vampires that trend would be gone by the time my book saw print. I also know that I am limited by my own reality - I am who I am and I want to tell my stories, not alternate versions of others.

I'm not saying that the reason I'm not a best seller is because I write the wrong story line and that those of you who are more successful are just riding a trend - I truly don't mean that - but I do believe that for myself - a good writer but not a Charles Dickens or an Emily Bronte or JK Rowling in terms of innovation and scope - I just sometimes wonder if I shouldn't be more attentive to the current reading habits of my prospective target audience.

Well, I don't have an answer for myself. What about you?


  1. I think you should be true to yourself as an author. Understand your audience, yes, but don't follow fads to the detriment of your enjoyment of what you are writing. All of these crazes are started by someone who went out on a limb and tried something new and, if what you do is good and authentic, you will find a market regardless of whether or not it's The Thing Of The Moment. On the other hand, if you write just to make your fortune, I think that will show in a negative way.

  2. Your topic sounds interesting, and meaningful. Foster children deserve a voice.

    As for your question...I think the stories find us, for a whole murky soup of reasons. But audience comes into play much, much later.

  3. I really agree with both Agriptina and Jenny - but sometimes I sit at my computer and question myself. I don't want to sell out and I don't want to restrain the stories I have to tell, but still....

  4. I have to agree with Agrippina and Jenny. My story lines find me. And I went through exactly what you are going through when I first released Easter's Lilly. It is not written in a traditional style and the story line is somewhat unique. It illustrates my own personal voice and although some people may not like it and find it too untraditional, some people really do. I have thought about writing my romance in the third person instead of the first person but I write best in the first. Besides that, I know plenty of people who write romance in the third person and still don't have any thing published.

    I feel that we are all different and that is what makes the world of reading so exciting. There are so many different authors with so many different styles and if we were all the same, how boring would that be? Pretty dull.