Saturday, October 12, 2019

Stepping out of my comfort zone

by Lorraine Bartlett / Lorna Barrett / L.L. Bartlett

Before I'd sold any of my cozy mysteries, I was trying out different genres. I'd done sweet romance short stories, written four Jeff Resnick books (but hadn't yet sold them) and written two cozy mysteries (Victoria Square) and hadn't sold them, either. So I decided to try women's fiction. But then Booktown came along and I abandoned that book, of which I'd already had a substantial amount written.

Back in early September, I was in my basement to empty my dehumidifier, and I saw a box that had been sitting in our storeroom for years. Every time I went down there, I was that box. But I hadn't opened it for years. I don't know what made me look into it, but--I did, and there was a printout of the women's fiction book I'd started years ago.

I didn't know where I was going with the book, and it turns out I had given myself two options. Write it as women's fiction or take the character and write it as a cozy. I had much more written on the women's fiction than the cozy. In fact, I only had a chapter written because I entered (or was going to enter) it in a writing contest. I said, then the opportunity to write the Booktown series came along and I abandoned it.

As I write this, I don't know if there will be a 15th Booktown mystery. My contract is up and because the cozy genre is saturated (with 20 to up 70 cozies being offered to the cozy reading audience every month), traditional series are being canceled right and left.

So I thought it might be fun to resurrect my character, Sabina Reigns. I was flipping through a magazine one day and a pencil drawing in the back caught my eye. Mr. L told me it was a family piece of art, but it just looked like how I imagined Sabina to look like. The drawing was my inspiration.

Who is Sabina Reigns? A mom, a wife, and an interior designer. Except ... she isn't a wife by the time the story begins. Her husband has announced he wants a divorce, and that sends Sabina down a rabbit hole in a quest to find out who she is and what she's capable of doing. And the book explores what motherhood means to three other women who touch Sabina's life in some way.

I found another story in that box I intend to rewrite. It's a "guy" story, so that will go out under my L.L. Bartlett name (when I get around to it). The problem with writing so many series is that there's only so many hours in a day. Sabina will be a stand along book.  A number of cozy authors have taken the leap into women's fiction. Will I be one of the successful ones? Who knows.  Will I write more of them? Who knows.

Are you open to reading women's fiction?

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