I'm not a trouble-maker, really. In fact, I'm a peacemaker, but I don't tend to do things in a normal fashion. I'll pull weeds from my garden while in my PJ's, on the way home from the bus stop, holding the dog leash with one hand. I'll decide to clean the toilet as I'm rushing out the door, late for a doctor's appointment. I'll sit in the car and put my makeup on rather than doing it in the bathroom with a lighted mirror. (I have a large purse with a stash just in case I'm stranded overnight and need to look good).
I have no idea why I do these things. I don't know if I'm rebellious, stubborn, or just need the challenge. You would think I"m a pantser when it comes to writing, but in fact, I'm more of a plotter. I do a lot of brainstorming but then I do tend to plot it out or I'll get caught up in a whirlwind and never get out. But I do have trouble with genres. Maybe because I love both romance and mysteries, I blend them, and that's okay. Lots of people love romantic suspense. It's a huge market. But lately I've run into a problem.
My series with Sourcebooks is marketed as romance. Paranormal romance. I don't call it that, because there's a lot more going on in the book than romance. What about the demons, plots to destroy the world, betrayal, and the sword fights? That's suspense. So I call it Paranormal Romantic Suspense. Herein lies the problem. I turned in the second manuscript in the series, and my editor said it opened with too much suspense. so I revised it, took out my wonderful villain scene and some suspense, and moved it to later, so that the hero and heroine appeared on the same page faster. I thought I was in good shape, but my editor called me and said it still had too much suspense. She said it was reading like a really good suspense with romantic elements. Well heck! What do I do now? I thought the book was darned near perfect.
I called my CP, talked it over for four hours, and decided that my editor was right about one thing at lease; there needed to be more emotion and a stronger connection between the hero and heroine earlier in the story. I know where I went wrong. This story started long, long ago, and at one time I had way too much romance going on too early, so I cut too much. I added some back in, made it stronger and sent it off again. But I find I'm confused. Of course there are distinctions in genres; romance, romantic suspense, and suspense with romantic elements, but I find it much simpler in theory than in practice, and I'm not sure where I lie. Personally, I don't think you can have too much suspense in a romantic suspense, as long as the romance is strong too, but maybe I'm wrong. Honestly, I think if my editor had read the entire story first, she would have been far more comfortable with the romance level anyway, but I have to say, her comments caused me to make the story stronger.
So all's well that ends well. Actually, I don't know how it ends yet because I'm waiting on her edits to see if I've got the best of both worlds or if I'm still too heavy on the suspense. Either way, I love the story.
So I wonder how you guys feel as writers and readers? As writers do you feel like you do a good job sticking to your genre, or do you blur the lines? As readers, does it bug you if the lines get blurred?
In the meantime, here's an excerpt from the first book in the series, Awaken the Highland Warrior to be released May 3rd. It's available at online booksellers for preorder.
Bree's fingers tightened around the metal disk as she ran through the graveyard, zigzagging past leaning headstones. Her lantern swayed, throwing shadows on the crypt looming before her, its stone walls the color of bones. Thick vines crept over it, sealing in cracks left by time, while gnarled branches from the twisted oak hovered like outstretched arms. Protecting...or threatening?
An owl screeched overhead as she scurried up the crumbling steps, wishing night hadn't fallen, when shadows twisted into monsters and spirits came out to play. The burial vault lay open near the back of the crypt, waiting. Blood rushed past her ears, a sound like all the angels' wings beating in unison. She moved closer and peered at the chest inside. It was ornate, made of metal and wood, with green gemstones embedded in each corner. It looked ancient, like it belonged in a museum or a pyramid, or perhaps Solomon's Temple. The beauty of it struck her again, as it had when she'd first discovered it.
She set the lantern on the edge of the burial vault and studied the markings on the chest. Swirls and shapes like writing shifted in the amber glow. Stretching out a finger, she touched the surface. Warm? She yanked her hand back and hit the lantern. It crashed to the floor, throwing the top of the crypt into darkness. Dropping to her knees, she scrambled for the light. A sound cut through the silence, scraping, like fingernails against stone. She grabbed the lantern, not daring to blink, then remembered the wind outside and the claw-like branches of the old tree.
She placed the lantern securely on the vault cover she'd pushed onto the alcove and unfolded her hand. The metal disk she held was three inches in diameter and appeared to be made from the same metal as the chest, not silver, not gold. One side had deep grooves; the other was etched with symbols. With trembling fingers, she lined up the disk with the matching grooves on top of the chest and pushed. There was a series of clicks as the notched edges retracted.
A voice rushed through her head. What lies within cannot be, until time has passed the key.
Bree whirled, but she was alone. Only stone walls stood watch, their secrets hidden for centuries. It was sleep deprivation, not ghosts.
She pulled in a slow, steadying breath and tried to turn the disk. Nothing. Again, this time counterclockwise, and it began to move under her hand. She jerked her fingers back. A loud pop sounded and colors flashed...blue, orange, and green, swirling for seconds, and then they were gone. Great, hallucinations to go with the voices in her head.
Her body trembled as she gripped the lid. This was it. All her dreams held on a single pinpoint of time. If this ended up another wild goose chase, she was done. No more treasure hunts, no more mysteries, no more playing Indiana Jones. She'd settle down to a nice, ordinary, boring life. She counted.
She heaved open the chest.
Terror clawed its way to her throat, killing her scream.
The man inhaled a harsh breath and his eyes flew open, locking on Bree. A battle cry worthy of Braveheart echoed off the walls. Bree jumped back as metal flashed and a rush of air kissed her face. Petrified, she watched him crawl out of the burial vault, a wicked-looking dagger in his hand. Her scream tore loose as she turned and fled.
Fingers grazed her shoulder, and she glanced back. The last thing she saw before her feet tangled with the shovel was the dead man reaching for her.