Hi, folks! I hope you all had a great weekend. First off, I’d like to thank Liz for inviting me to visit with you all today. It’s my second time to visit, so thanks, Liz!
So, what brings me by, you may be asking? Well, I’d like to take a tiny bit of your time to talk about being an author in transition. You see, after spending my entire writing career spinning contemporary romance tales, earlier this year I came to a fork in the road, and following the advice oflegendary baseball player and philosopher Yogi Berra, I decided to take it.
I truly loved writing contemporary romance stories, but like so many authors, I never succeeded in building a following. Despite the challenges I was facing in developing that following, I was prepared to continue writing romance and had support from my publisher to keep at it. But then an opportunity arrived, practically right out of the blue.
I won’t bore you with the details, but earlier this year, I made an offhand comment to some fellow writers at my literary agency about something being a great idea for a mystery. My agent responded by challenging me to write the story. So there I was, facing that fork in the road. And the career decision that came with it.
Should I stick to the well-lit, paved romance road or should I step onto the scary, unknown road of writing a new genre?
After some soul searching, I took the unknown road. And seven months after opening my big mouth, I’m pleased to tell you I have a three-book contract to write the Rushing Creek Mysteries for Kensington Publishing’s Lyrical Press imprint. The first book is currently in my editor’s hands and will be published next year.
While I’m thrilled to share this news with you, the reason I’m here is to talk about the lessons I’ve learned as I’ve “started over” by writing in a new genre.
You see, for authors, writing in a new genre isn’t as straightforward as taking the path on the left instead of the path on the right. We spend years building a brand, a persona. And with that brand, there are expectations readers develop. In my case, I’ve written seven books under my real name, Jim Cangany. When a reader picks up a Jim Cangany book, he or she expects a love story with sports added into the mix. It’s the same thing when a reader visits my website, author page on Facebook, or my Twitter profile. Jim Cangany is a contemporary romance author.
So, one of the things I’ve done as I walk down the path of a mystery writer is create a completely new identity for my mystery novels. Choosing a pen name, J.C. Kenney, was the easy part. The more involved parts included building a new website, www.jckenney.com, along with creating new profiles on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I realize this next item may sound over the top, but I also grew a goatee and had a new author photo taken to help drive home the new persona.
Man, where did all that gray come from?
For now, I’m living a split personality, author wise. I continue to promote Jim’s romances while I build a following for J.C.’s mysteries. Going back and forth on Twitter and Instagram can be a challenge, let me tell you!
Another thing I’ve had to do is adjust to writing from a different point of view. For the most part, romances are written in third person, alternating between the points of hero and heroine, so we know that they’re thinking. For my cozy mysteries, I chose to write in the first person, from my protagonist’s point of view, so the only thing we know is what she knows. It was an adjustment at first, but I’ve gotten into a groove with it now.
Enough with the mechanics, though. Now, it’s time for the big question.
Will starting over by writing a new genre be worth it?
To be honest, I don’t know. What I do know is I truly love writing stories. I believe I’ve been given a golden ticket to keep writing and reach a new audience for my stories. Which, of course, leads to more questions. Will this new audience be bigger? Will I make any money writing mysteries? I don’t know.
All I can tell you is that at the end of the day, I’m going to keep doing what Liz, and Nan, and Ava, and all of the Word Wranglers do.
I’m going to keep writing. Because it’s a passion. And that’s something worth holding on to with both hands.
So, tell me, what’s your passion? I want to hear about them? Until next time, thanks for reading, and be sure to get Liz’s new book, The Happiness Pact, when it comes out. It’s an amazing story, which is something else I know. Without a doubt.
Jim Cangany lives in Indianapolis with his wife, two sons, and a sleepy kitty cat. A lover of all things fast, he spends his time following motorsports when he’s not writing romances. Find Jim Cangany at JimCangany.com, on Facebook at Facebook.com/JimCanganyAuthor/
, and on Twitter @JimCangany.