Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Confessions of a Multi-Genre Author


Today's guest is Cindy K. Greene, fellow Bookspa friend and Wild Rose Press author. With a talent for writing that can't be contained by any one publisher, Cindy has books, novellas, and short stories available from four publishing houses, and across at least as many genres, with more planned. Please welcome Cindy today as she tells us how she keeps it all straight!

Confessions of a Multi-Genre Author

I spent a good deal of time contemplating what I should say to Liana’s readers ever since we scheduled my blog date. And it never fails that my greatest inspirations hit me in the shower. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to invent something for writers to record those bits of inspiration before the steam settles? Hopefully I’ll remember everything that went through my mind.

This of course leads me to my topic at hand—my role as a multi-genre author. When you start in this life we call the writing game, one of the first things you learn (after how to utilize proper POV, of course) is that as a published author you must brand yourself. No not like cattle—more like Frito Lay, Nestle, or Ford. That means you sell your name more than any particular book. When you pick up a Stephen King or Nora Roberts novel, you know what you’re getting before even reading the blurb. Readers need to get to know you—how you write and what you write. In the large New York publishing houses, their authors typically have to BRAND themselves and only write in but one genre. But…what about those of us who love to skip around and experiment in the genres?

EXCEPTIONS TO THE RULE

There are some big names who jump around in the genres. James Patterson is known for his mystery/suspense/thrillers. But wait a minute, he’s also penned some award-winning young adult titles and even a series of romances. Hmm. Meg Cabot also comes to mind. She writes for the young adult, the middle grade kids and contemporary romance for adults. She even has a couple historicals under her belt. And let’s not forget her new vampire novel; although, I hear some people would like to forget it.

When I’m asked: ‘What do you write? What’s your genre?’ I seriously have to make out a list. And I make no excuses for it. I love skipping from genre to genre, stretching my writer’s legs or fingers—or to be more precise my imagination and my writer’s niche. It keeps the writing fresh and exciting. I finally branded myself in a general sense with ‘Bringing Sweet Romance to the Heart.’ My subgenres include: Inspirational, Young Adult, American Victorian Historical, Western Historical, Mainstream Contemporary, and Romantic Suspense. I’ve even written a high fantasy. I told you it was a lot.

So, I’ve been asked, ‘how do you write in all those genres? I feel like I’d get confused.’ Well, here’s my confession—it’s very easy to get confused. If you write in several genres you have to go through steps to bring it all together. Let me take you through an example.

I recently started working on my latest YA story, Sold My Soul to a Frog. In doing so, I had to purge from my mind the voice and tone of my just finished mystery. I was now an almost eighteen-year-old girl full of insecurities while watching my life spin upside down. So, first step, I have to read some YA books. Meg Cabot is my favorite (yes, I know I already mentioned her). I also enjoy Polly Shulman although she’s only written two books for the YA. I listen to music that’s for the young or young at heart. And then I watch lots of teen movies. Basically, I get into the mindset of the American teen. I do the same thing for whatever genre I’m writing. It’s like I am priming myself to write. You see there is a tone, a set a verbiage that is necessary to each sub-genre. I have to get myself into that place before I start writing. Now if you only write one genre that isn’t really a problem. No matter what you are reading or watching it won’t affect your writing. You’ve trained yourself how to write your genre. But when you write several genres, you have to equip yourself to write many different ways and your muse needs a reminder as to what hat to put on today.

Okay, now I’ve confessed. Now let me offer you readers a prize. First I’m running a great Christmas contest on my blog. All you have to do is watch the book trailer for my holiday romance, All I Want for Christmas, and send me an email. And if anyone is interested in getting a free read today, send me an email at cindy@cindykgreen.com. Put FREE READ in the subject and let me know if you want the humorous contemporary, My Grand Epiphany or the historical western, Second Chances.

Here is a little piece from my best friend’s romance, All I Want for Christmas. Read another excerpt on my website.

Blurb: Best Friends or True Love? Only Santa Knows.

Kathryn Graham hates Christmas. She hates the snow, the decorations, the whole nine yards. Nick Pringle on the other hand can’t get enough of the season. He may be her best friend and fellow writer at Redburn Weekly Magazine, but sometimes his exuberance gets on her very last nerve. Now they’ve been assigned to cover the orphan toy drive story. It’s just a puff piece not the serious journalism Kathryn hopes for, but maybe—as Nick says—there are no old stories just new angles. Nick Pringle has been in love with Kathryn practically since the day they met. When he realizes that she’s lost her Christmas spirit, he figures he’s just the guy to help her find it again. He enacts a plan to send her anonymous gifts from Secret Santa, but will any of this really make a difference in her? Will she ever see him as anything more than her smart-aleck partner even after their passionate kisses? Then again maybe he’ll get what he wants for Christmas after all.

Excerpt: (Kat and Nick having a platonic afternoon at the movies.)

Halfway through the film, Nick’s fingers brushed over Kathryn’s wrist and a surge whipped through her like an electrical charge. His hand ended up on her knee, and he leaned over close to her ear. “You have any more of those Milkduds?”

“Huh?” Oh, candy. He just wanted more snacks. Well, of course, what other reason would he have for touching her like that?

“Here,” she whispered and held out the container to him. His face remained close to hers, his warm hand still molded to the shape of her knee. She accidentally moved in too close and her forehead bumped his cheek. Looking up at him, Kathryn saw he wasn’t smiling. His eyes had grown serious and all thoughts of candy dissipated. His attention dropped to her mouth and suddenly Kathryn couldn’t swallow. Could he possibly be considering kissing her? Just then, he turned his attention back to the movie and lifted his hand from her knee.

An unexplainable inclination took over as Kathryn pushed his hand back to her knee. His face whipped back to her. Questions filled his features. His chest moved up and then down. He smoothed his hand over her pants from her knee to her thigh and back again. Her skin pebbled under the material at his touch. This was soon followed by heat tingling from her stomach to the tips of her toes.

She leaned in towards him and he met her halfway. And just like that their lips met. Giddiness spun through Kathryn’s head with sparks tingling her skin. The kiss was light and sweet yet searing all at once. Lucidity began to return to her the next moment. What was she doing? Oh, right, she was kissing Nick Pringle. She was kissing a co-worker. Worse yet, she was making out with her best friend. What was she thinking? She had to stop and yet it was the last thing she wanted to do. The whole idea was ludicrous. An outrageous act and yet somehow her body’s sole response was that it wanted more. Whoa! Had it been that long since she’d had a date? Time to reign in those annoying hormones which threatened to take over her sanity.

She broke off the kiss and rested her hand against his chest. She could feel his heart speeding at the rate of a train. A train wreck is more like it. Ay-yi-yi! How was she going to get herself out of this one?

Available at Champagne Books, All Romance e-books and Amazon.

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Cindy K. Green is a multi-published author with degrees in History and Education. Previously a middle school English & History teacher, she now homeschools her own children and writes in several genres: Inspirational, Contemporary, YA, Suspense and Historical romance. Find out more about Cindy and her books at http://www.cindykgreen.com/.

23 comments:

LK Hunsaker said...

Hi Cindy and Liana! I do that with mood setting, also. When I go from my contemps back to my Rehearsal series set in the 70s, I binge on 70s music. It does take your mind elsewhere.

Nice post on branding yourself. :-)

Cindy K. Green said...

Hi Lorraine! I bet you do listen to some major tunes for your 70's series. I'm sure that really gets you into the time period. Thanks for coming today.

Miss Mae said...

Yes, it must be hard to write in different genres, but you're such an accomplished writer, Cindy, that you do it with flair! :)

Cindy K. Green said...

Thanks MM! I appreciate that. It takes some work but I really have fun with it.

Lynne Roberts said...

Hi Cindy and Liana,

Cindy, I write fantasy and romance, and I have to take a breather between the two or it just reads... wrong. There's a different mind-set for each. (IMO) ; )

I loved the excerpt and the idea behind ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS.

Good luck!

Cindy K. Green said...

Hi Lynne,
You are so right. There is a particular mind set for each genre.

Alison H. said...

You're a writer after my own heart! I write Western historicals and Romantic Suspense, too, and have been struggling with the whole issue of branding recently. It's nice to know I'm not alone. It can be done and done well. Thanks for the great post.

Maggie Toussaint said...

Hi Cindy and Liana,

I completely get where you are coming from, Cindy. Writing in multiple genres requires being able to retool your focus completely. I'm hoping to eventually carve my own road between romance and mystery, a sort of romysterance, so that I don't have to keep hopping back and forth.

Enjoyed your excerpts!

Best wishes,

Maggie

Sheryl said...

Having enjoyed your multi-genres, Cindy, I can safely say your experimenting works. :)

Funnily enough, I spotted your Meeting Mr Right on Line on my shelf last night. That made me smile. Whatever genre your write in, you're writing it right (try saying that after a wee dram!) so keep stretching those fingers and go, girl!

Um, shower dilemma??? Hmmm. I know! A battery operated tape recorder. A big old-fashioned sort, so you can set it and leave it!

Good luck, Cindy. Great blog, girls!

LoRee Peery said...

Sounds like just the story for a good holiday read, especially if the weather is all Christmasy. I write to a variety of music, more for my mood than what I'm writing. Good post.

Mona Risk said...

Hi Cindy, good post. When I change stories or even POV, I enter my protagonist head and live through him or her. I smile, cry and love through them, and then my voice changes and follows my character.

Cindy K. Green said...

Just got back from lunch and thought I'd check back in. Wow, lots of comments.

Thanks everyone for stopping by. I thought this article might insight some interest. In the small press, we do have a lot of multi-genre authors don't we. Nice to know we aren't alone. Thanks for the comments today. I do appreciate them.

Cindy K. Green said...

Mona that's great what you say about living in your characters head. It's so important so that each character has a distinctive voice. Great advice.

Cindy K. Green said...

Ha Sheryl! Meeting Mr. Right. That title is out of print now but I keep thinking about rewriting it and lengthening it. Maybe one day.

Mary Ricksen said...

Cindy you are amazing!
I love to read a variety of genres and have the utmost respect for anyone who can write in more then one! Good luck and many sales!

Great blog as always Liana!

Tricia Schneider said...

Hi Cindy!

I do the same thing when I change genres. I immerse myself in the time period and let all the influences infiltrate my mind. Books, movies and music are great devices. It's a very instinctual thing, I didn't even think of it as a writer's tool until I read your post.

Excellent tip for writers! :)

Amy DeTrempe said...

I love how you branded yourself. I am still working on something for myself on how to combine the historical sweet, historical fiction and historical inspirational.

Angelica Hart and Zi said...

Wonderful article. Since we also are multi-genre, we identify. We especially like your take on branding yourself. I know we are certainly looking forward to reading All I Want For Christmas, sounds fabulous.

Sean McLachlan said...

I smiled at your comment about having to shift gears between projects. I mostly write history and travel, and in fiction I write fantasy, horror, and mainstream contemporary. I do a lot of mental shifting.
I find all these projects actually help my writing rather than distract from it. When I'm stuck or feeling stale with one project, I'll work on another (deadlines permitting). What mood I'm in also affects which project I'll work on. It's healthy for a writer's creativity to branch out and try different genres.

Tanya Hanson said...

Congrats on your versatillity, Cindy! Keep up the good work. I loved your excerpt and I totally love Christmas stories. oxox

Cindy K. Green said...

Thanks for all the comments for All I Want for Christmas. I appreciate everyone coming by and reading the article. Hope it has helped someone. Take care All!

StephB said...

Cindy, I've read several of your stories, your inspirational, westerns, and young adult and I love your writing. You enage the reader right away with any genre you write. I would read whatever you wrote because I like the Cindy K Green brand.

Awesome thoughts about writing multi-genre. I do the same and find enjoyment in the challenge of it.

Smiles
Steph

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Really interesting, Cindy - look forward to reading your varied books.