I took a little time off. Call it a voyage of self-discovery. Hell, call it what it was – a reality check.
The simple truth is that I doubted myself. I know… it’s shocking, but there you have it. I too have doubts. I let one person’s opinion matter more than others. Not that I should have discounted it, the opinion was valid and deserved consideration. Someone had to have the courage to tell me what they thought even if I didn’t want to hear it. But I took it to heart and let it eat at me when I should have just accepted it for what it was and moved on.
Here’s what happened.
I sent out several chapters of a work in progress and asked a few of my favorite betas to read it. My only question was: Does this have legs? I wanted to know if they felt like the story had potential or if I’d gone too broad on the topic. Five out of the six betas liked it. They pointed out a few issues that I would need to address if I was going to make it work, but they liked the premise.
The sixth beta – not so much. He told me that it was “fine,” but he didn’t feel an urge to read more. He already knew that my gal would kick butt and take names. He told me I was “predictable.”
As we all know, it wasn’t personal. It was honest and damn important feedback. I just couldn’t see it for a little while; nor could I accept that there was nothing wrong with being “predictable.” It took a bunch of conversations with other authors and readers to understand that it’s not only okay to be predictable in some ways – it’s important.
If you read certain authors, you know what you’re getting each time. It’s why you buy and read their books.
A Harlequin romance will always be feisty girl meets hot guy, they connect, sex, misunderstanding, sex, misunderstanding, and happy-ending. Women buy them because they know exactly what they are getting and it’s what they want. They don’t want real life, they want the fantasy of what a romance novel offers.
Everyone picks authors based on their likes and the predictability of those authors. You read Dean Koontz and Stephen King because you want the crap scared out of you. You read Michael Connelly because you love Harry Bosch and you like cop novels. You read John Sanford’s Prey series because you like psychos and cops. You read Russell Blake because they’re fast paced and fun.
My ten faithful readers buy my books because they like what I give them.
I write books about strong women who generally have some type of problem to overcome. They often have a military or law enforcement background because these are the people most likely to be put in the positions I want them put in. The books are action, adventure, and suspense with a healthy dose of non-gratuitous sex connected to a non-sappy love story.
My heroines are sometimes the damsel in distress, but they are never completely helpless and they are never, ever, drama f***ing queens. They’re independent, resilient, resourceful, and in most cases, willing and able to fight back. They are also tender-hearted, love dogs, want to find love, and almost all of them are flawed in some way. Life, their jobs, wars, discrimination, and crazy people may have battered them, but all of them will attempt to stand on their own two feet. And all of them just want the love of someone who accepts them for who and what they are.
My heroes are almost always the doers of the world. Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and cops. Who wants a hero who has no idea what to do when the s*** hits the fan? They’re often men who’ve seen a little too much of the dark side of the world, but they aren’t afraid of confrontation, and they don’t suffer fools. This is rarely the first rodeo for these guys.
And, my people are not “youngsters.” I prefer them to be in the mid-thirties or early forties. I get tired of perky and inexperienced. Give me someone with some life experience who’s made mistakes and knows what they want in a job, a relationship, and in life.
So, yeah. I am predictable. I write what I like to read. Each one is better than the last one. And each one will leave you satisfied.
This is my niche.