Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The F Word

My name is Deb Stover and I'm a genre slut--technically, a sub-genre slut.  My published novels, short stories, and novellas all fall under the romance and/or women's fiction umbrella.  However, from there they pretty much run the gamut.

Time travel, historical, paranormal (ghosts, reincarnation, angels, curses, witches, devils, fairies), fantasy, contemporary, suspense/mystery, western, sexy and not-so-sexy, humorous and serious, scary and not-so-scary, and...so forth. 

Yep, I'm a serious sub-genre slut....

My brilliant literary agent advised me a decade ago that I should focus.  I cringed.  The "f" word?  F-f-f-f-focus?  Only write one kind of book?  Seriously?

Yes, seriously.  In order to build my readership, I should f-f-f-f-focus on one sub-genre for several books and stop being so, er, promiscuous with my muse.

This is like the desert island question.  If you were stranded on a desert island with only one book to read, what would it be?  Voracious readers consider this a special level of hell.  One book?  Yikes!  What a nightmare...

So, just as I decided to try f-f-f-f-focusing on contemporary paranormal romance for a while, my personal life went into the tank.  My husband's cancer came out of remission and became terminal, my health took a horrible turn, and I spent approximately six years pretty much unable to work.  I finally finished The Gift, which is a paranormal contemporary romantic suspense psychic empath ghost story (big grin), and realized, after losing my beloved husband, that I did not want to f-f-f-f-f-f-focus on this type of book.

Life is too short, and writing is too hard, not to follow our muse.  Yes, I absolutely agree with my brilliant agent's F-word advice.  She's wise far beyond her years.  However, I realize now I need to f-f-f-f-f-focus on the books of my heart.

I need to practice what I preach.  I often tell beginning writers not to write what they don't enjoy reading.  I ask them what type of book first made them sit down at the keyboard and type that first manuscript.  So I asked myself those same questions.

I've just completed a proposal I warned my brilliant literary agent is "classic Deb Stover."  Bless her, she said, "That sounds wonderful."

Let's hope she still feels that way when she reads it.  :)

Writing is hard work--really hard work.  Before we publish, we do it for love, and because our Muse demands we breathe life into the characters who haunt us day and night.  There's no money, no royalties, no deadlines.  It's all for the passion and pleasure of storytelling.  And, if we get lucky, we get both.

I got lucky back in 1995 when my first book was published.  I have to say that almost every one of my published novels have been books of my heart.

I'm ready to get lucky again.

Happy writing and reading!



  1. I'm very proud of your fffffffocus. You are a champion of champions and a wonderful writer.

  2. beautiful thoughts from the heart, Deb

  3. I completely disagree with your agent. In order to get the most out of your career and your skill set, you should write the books you want. The only thing I would pass along is the advice of Kristine Kathryn Rusch, who says that you should write across multiple genres with multiple pseudonyms--not to hide who you are, but to brand the name and experience. Readers who love your paranormals should not have to pick up a sexy one and go, "ugh." Different pen names would tell readers what kind of a reading experience they would get with each name. Keep on writing!

  4. @Deb - Nice article. I like your creative use of the F-Word (it's not done too much these days.) The best stories are always the ones that live in your heart.

    @thea - I've got a pseudonym to match each one of my personalities (let alone genres)... so many that they had to start their own support group (www.pseudanon.org), afraid that I'd whack the ones that weren't productive. B^)

    Ron Heimbecher (the one that's NOT a pseudonym)

  5. Thanks for the feedback!

    TheaH, I've watched a lot of writers do what I've done, and some who've written under androgenous pseudonyms in multiple genres with reasonable success. It's certainly possible. And my point is the same as yours--write what we want. Absolutely!

    Ron, I have some friends who were told by publishers they had to take a pseudonym--more than once--because of "bad numbers." In my humble opinion, since they weren't changing genres, that was a mistake. The publisher wasn't supporting the books. Every time a writer takes a new name--especially in the same genre--it's back to square one. Now, clearly, there are sometimes really good reasons for a fresh start.

    I parked the domain for my maiden name a decade ago, just in case.... :)

    Happy writing, all!