Sunday, October 28, 2012

Taking Chances

There are a number of different approaches you can take to writing. There's the structured formula, following a basic outline of a story. Then there is following a popular trend. Then there is doing the first, but adding your own spin to it.

And then there is chaos.

Hi. I'm Chaos.
I even thought about naming book three, "Chaos".

I will be the first to admit that when I begin writing a book, I have no idea where it's going. I think one step ahead and every so often, I get a glimpse of the bigger picture. The further into the story I go, the clearer it becomes. That's how I work creatively. The story drifts down like tiny snowflakes, and I'm busy packing them together to make a snowman. I'm not sure when it will stop snowing, how much I'll have to work with, if it's wet or dry snow to see if it sticks, or what that snowman will look like when I'm done, let alone how big he'll be.

Oh, I have a general idea. Round bottom, round head, some coal for eyes. But somewhere along the way, he gets a little lopsided. His head turns out to be more square-shaped, and since his mouth won't hold the buttons, I have to use candy. Then, on a whim, I decide to make him evil Holiday snowman and grab a Halloween pitchfork from an old box and stuff it in his side.

My writing process is comparable.

I sometimes wonder if when you write a book that has you shaking in your boots, that you've got it right. I haven't published enough books to test this theory out. "Sterling" was a big risk because of the flip I did on what a Mage is, and I was afraid I'd have Mage readers lighting torches and showing up at my apt. It was also paced differently than most Urban Fantasies that start out with a bang and they're off and running. It was a slow climb up Mt. Everest, but this was actually key in transitioning from the human world to the immortal world, as well as subtly building that relationship with the reader without them realizing it until later books.

Then came "Twist", and I thought "Holy shit, readers are going to hate me."

I truly did.

Nobody throws in a twist in the second book; they get introduced in the first and we see it coming. And who just invents their own unique Breed of paranormal? Gulp.

I didn't realize until I began reading reviews that readers of "Sterling" had a very definite way of how they saw the series going. Last minute, I came up with the title "Twist". It was the most appropriate title. So, I sat back and waited for the backlash.

Much to my surprise, Twist became even more popular than Sterling. Twist launched the series from the lower end of the bestseller list and I actually was just three or so ranks away from hitting the Amazon top 100 paid books. I made the top of my genre, but the success was astounding.

I don't think I'll ever be able to predict a book's success or failure.


Then there's that elusive AMAZON TOP 100 list. Not the top 100 in each genre (which I've managed to slide to the top on at one point or another), but the Top Paid. The crem della crem. The most purchased books on all of Amazon, in all genres.

So today, I glanced at the list. What are the chances I could ever end up there?
Answer: Slim to Dream On.
Especially given what books are currently on the list. So, I scrolled down, page after page.

Crime Thriller
Huge author who could write on a napkin and people will buy it regardless
Crime Thriller
Erotica (holy f*ck)
Crime Thriller
Adult Romance
Adult Romance
Epic Fantasy


No Urban Fantasy. 
No Paranormal Fantasy. 
No Paranormal Romance.

The Indie authors I've seen who hit the list previously wrote Urban Fantasy or YA. Then they wrote an erotica/adult romance, and ended up on the list. Seems easy enough, right?

And this is why I'll never end up on "The list".

I have a contemporary romance on the back burner, but I put it aside. I kept asking myself why I reached a "stuck point". I have a great concept for a story, but I realized that the paranormal world truly excites me in a way that few books can. I love reading other genres, but writing is a whole other animal. This may explain why I put "Book Yellow" aside and started on "Book White", which began with the intentions of being a straight romance and derailed into a paranormal ride. I decided to let the train go off the track and now I'm SO excited about writing "Book White". (Check out my WIP page for why I'm color coding these)

There is a cool factor to being on the Top 100, not to mention getting put under a huge spotlight, but that also comes with a lot of attention, and I kind of like being the Dark horse, coming up from the rear. Maybe I'll just lurk in the shadows for a while.Shadows are cool. Spotlights require sunglasses, and I never looked cool in shades.

I'd love to see these genres really take off with the general public. Now and again we have our Twilight Books, but that falls more under YA (which is on "The List"). So if you have any friends who strictly read romance and crime thrillers, please send them an Urban Fantasy or Paranormal Romance for Christmas on their Kindle.

Let's work together to convert the masses, and show them what a truly engaging experience the world of the paranormal is.

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