After all these years, you’d think I’d know which genre is best for me, but it turns out I’ve only now figured it out.
Having an older sister, who started school before I did, I learned to read early and loved reading. One of my grandmothers always gave me a book as a Christmas present, and I haunted the public library. It was four blocks away, but I walked there and carried home as many books as they’d allow someone my age. The one on top of the pile was open so I could read as I walked home. Fortunately traffic was light, so I avoided cars going up and down curbs crossing streets. When they built a new library less than a block from our house, I was in heaven.
I read almost everything, and especially whatever was popular at the time. In other words, mostly mainstream fiction. So, when I began to do my own writing, I leaned toward the types of stories in the mainstream magazines and in best sellers. I even sent my early stories to New York magazine publishers, but never sold any. I didn’t try novels, thinking I’d have to work up to it.
Years passed, life happened, and my big breakthrough came when I took a writing class in the town where I lived and, as a result, was able to join a writing critique group. We were about 30 women who met in a vacant room in a Sears store. Listening to the readings, I learned almost all the others were writing romance novels, and even selling them, but I had never read any. I borrowed three, read them, and decided I could do that. Plus, the income would help with tuition for my son’s private parochial school. I gave myself two years to try, and one year later, I won a romance writing contest. Membership in RWA and sales followed.
However, I still read mainstream novels, as well as my favorite, mysteries. I even wrote mysteries and submitted them to editors, but never clicked. I joined an online mystery critique group to try to learn why, and my writing did improve, but sales didn’t come soon. However, my first mystery will finally be published in November, and I’ve just signed a contract for two cozy mysteries.
The latter happened so surprisingly I realized what had been missing all along: voice. When I wrote in first person and let my humorous side come through, the editor offered the contract after reading only three chapters of one of the two books. I asked why the quick decision, and she said, “When I finished reading the three chapters, I wanted to continue. Your voice, plus the fact you sold so many romance novels and I can trust you to turn in good stories, made it an easy choice.”
Plus, as Joe Konrath often says, ”Luck always plays a part.” Self-publishing and Amazon have given opportunities to thousands of writers. Some of my early romances are leading second lives and adding coffee money to my bank account. The other thing I learned is that it’s never too late for luck, or the right style and genre, to strike.