Category Archives: Market Lines

The Unlocked Secret of the Niche Market.

So what is Niche Marketing? Wickepedia says, “A niche market is the subset of the market on which a specific product is focusing.” Really, Wickie? Who wrote that? Is that the best you’ve got? Of course they go on to explain further with words like demographics, market shares, and some other marketing terms and examples that didn’t do much to help me figure out how to define where my books might land on the book shelves.

The first question a professional marketer asks is, “Who is your target audience?” Truly understanding this question is probably the number one best marketing tool a writer can have. We’d all like to say, “everyone, of course.” And while that may be sort of true that many different demographics might enjoy your book, it’s more likely and infinitely easier to reach a smaller group of readers specifically interested in your genre, subject matter, and characters. Think “low lying fruit.”

Targeting “your” readers may be easier if your book falls into a specific genre. If you’ve written a cozy mystery about a librarian who is a quilter turned amateur sleuth, you might consider marketing your book to librarians and quilters, a pretty small “niche” market that might be easier than trying to reach “everyone.” This is why agents and editors want to know what “genre” you are writing. So they can determine the marketability of your book based on their experience with that particular readership and their understanding of where the market is currently trending. Women 30-55 years old are the greatest book-buying demographic that marketers are competing for. Publishing houses are trying to meet that supply. So sending a query for your “Sci-fi/ Historical, Inspirational/ Regency might be a tough sell.

The problem for many authors is that our stories don’t always fall into one genre. Diana Gabaldon had difficulty getting OUTLANDER published at first because she couldn’t clearly define it as a romance, a historical, a science fiction/fantasy, or a time travel novel. Of course it’s all of those, but it was so fabulously written that some smarty-pants publisher decided that they would take a chance and market the book to readers across multiple genres, essentially including “everyone,” and the series took off.

It worked out well for her, but most of us aren’t so lucky. In most cases, if your book falls outside of a specific proven market, agents and editors don’t want to touch it. Most of my rejection letters a few years back were because my manuscripts didn’t “fit the market.”

Now that I’m self-publishing, I see their dilemma. When I put my books up on Amazon, BN, and Smashwords, I have to pick categories that best describe them so that they are listed where my target audience would find them (good old search engine optimization-SEO). The frustrating part is that the choices are limited to the old model of publishing and haven’t caught up with new trends. “Teen/YA fiction” refers to books with protagonists ages 14-17 and are a subcategory of “children’s fiction”. But the books coming out these days for teens are arguably for a much more mature audience, and the demographic isn’t so clear-cut. Ideally, they should be much more delineated. There should be choices that would target older teens and adults who enjoy reading about that all-important transition from teen life to adult experiences. I had no idea when I chose my categories that some sites would lump my books into “Children’s fiction” because I labeled it a YA. They aren’t likely to find a readership there!

So what’s a writer to do? Well, you can choose to write for a particular market, ie; cozy mystery, romantic suspense, thriller, or romantic comedy. This is a very viable approach and is the most likely road to becoming traditionally published if you do your research and watch what’s selling and who’s selling it, and target your agent/editor query appropriately. But if you consistently find your stories falling into “genre no-man’s land,” you can join the new age of genre-bending authors who have literally created new markets by taking risks and writing what they want to write, self-publishing, and then finding their readers by focusing on certain niche markets and using that SEO to their advantage.

Whether traditional or indie-published, when it comes time to market your books and find your readership, look at who your target audience really is. Be creative and look at it from all angles and try different approaches. If you aren’t reaching readers by promoting the book to one segment of the population, try another. My book ON THIN ICE could be marketed to ice skaters, teens who become pregnant, sufferers of eating disorders, or teens experiencing the grief of losing a parent. Over time, I can market this book to several different niche markets, keeping it relevant as long as I can keep reaching new readers and targeting new niche audiences who might not otherwise have found the book. That’s why SEO is so important. And why creating whole new genres may be the best way for your target audience to find you.

Heaven is for Heroes 72 dpi 600x900 WEBSITE USEFor instance, I’ve been promoting HEAVEN IS FOR HEROES as a “Contemporary YA Romance.” But the story deals with the tragedies of war, overcoming loss, and the determination of one seventeen year old girl to find the truth—pretty mature themes that 14-17 year-old readers wouldn’t necessarily be looking to read about. Because of the protagonist’s age, the book falls into the YA market, but our hero is a nineteen-year-old Marine Veteran struggling with a difficult recovery, which changes the demographic for this story. Because the focus of the book is a tenuous teen romance with the underlying plot of a family’s search for peace in time of war, HIFH will appeal to adult readers as well as older young adults, but listed as a YA, it may never reach those adults who might enjoy the book.

The hero’s age and the subject matter make it fit more appropriately into the New Adult genre—a relatively new niche market targeting 19-23 year-old readers previously forced to read “teen” novels or jump right into “adult” romances. This segment of readers wants more than the typical high school experience, but they may not be ready for the white-picket-fence-via-total-abandonment-to-love-and-sex that rules the adult romance world. They are looking for relatable characters faced with real life issues that they themselves might be facing; such as leaving home, going off to college, or dealing with friends coming back from war.

Filled with moments of poignant reality, hard lessons, and the angst and sexual tension of first love, HIFH combines family drama and the relationship between childhood sweethearts, Jordie Dunn and Alex Cooper, who must overcome some pretty “grown-up” obstacles to find their way to a hopefully ever after ending.In Savage Cinderella, Brinn is eighteen and Justin is twenty-three. Add the subject matter and this book clearly falls into the New Adult category rather than YA. I might have tried marketing my books as Mainstream fiction and put them up against books from authors like Nicolas Sparks and Jodi Piccoult, but that would again put me in a very large pool with some very big fish, and without publisher backing, it’s tough to swim in that pond. Literary fiction is an even tougher sell than genre fiction.

With many of today’s YA books fitting more appropriately into the New Adult category, this niche market is catching on. Entangled Publishing, St. Martin’s Press and I believe even Harlequin Teen are adding New Adult titles to their acquisitions. Publishers are finally willing to recognize that yes, college students do read for pleasure in their limited time, and that they want more of what the New YA market has to offer. There are loads of twenty-something’s looking for books that go beyond the teen dramas focused on high school but who still want stories that deal with all of those wonderful (and hideous) firsts. Many of my readers fit into this category. If I had to guess, my average reader is between 19 and 33. That’s a pretty big demographic, but by listing my books as YA, I’m potentially focusing on the wrong group of readers. I don’t want to misrepresent the books by having them listed in the “Contemporary Romance” section either, since they definitely have a younger voice and reader expectation is important to consider.

Re-branding my work might take a bit of time and effort, but if it means reaching my target audience, I owe it to my books…and my readers to give it a shot.

Have you thought about who your target audience is, and what niche markets you might be missing?

WIND OVER MARSHDALE is blowing your way! Welcome Tracy Krauss

Katy Lee here with my fellow John 3:16 Author Network member and fellow Romantic-Suspense author, Tracy Krauss. Tracy has a new book out that just screams, “Read me!” Whenever I find a book or author that I enjoy, I like to share the find with you. So today, I have invited Tracy Krauss to tell us a little bit about herself. Sit back and relax and grab a mini buffalo burger to celebrate her latest release, WIND OVER MARSHDALE

Tell us, Tracy, how do you battle the doubt monster?  We define the Doubt Monster as: the nagging feeling while writing, that your prose is terrible, you plot is silly, your characters are insipid and no-one in their right mind would read this drivel, let alone buy it.

I ignore this beast. I’ve found that editors are a wonderful substitute.

Ha-Ha! They are a beast all their own, for sure. But we need them. And talk about a beast …these burgers are great! And apparently good for you.

So, have you thought about writing something that is completely different for you?  Perhaps writing in a new genre or just taking a story someplace that you haven’t done before.

Sure. I am a huge Science fiction fan and I’ve often thought about writing something more speculative since it is my favourite genre to read. I’m not sure if I’m imaginative enough or have enough technological savvy to pull it off, though. Maybe because I love reading it so much, I feel as if I couldn’t do the genre justice… Besides romantic suspense novels, I do write comedy stage plays, so I suppose I’m already stretching myself in two very different directions as it is.

Comedy stage plays? Wow! Talk about pressure to be funny! That’s great that you have the gift to make people laugh.

But what would you do if you couldn’t be a writer any longer?

I’ve already had a taste of what this is like. A few years ago I underwent eye surgery for a congenital eye disorder and I was blind for about two months with another three months recovering where I couldn’t read anything or use a computer. Once I was able, I installed a disability app which allowed me to view things in a huge format – about three words per screen, but I found this too difficult, so I just didn’t write for five months. If this ever happened again, I would get ‘dragonspeak’ or some kind of voice activated software. It was just too hard.

I’ve heard great things about the voice software. Glad you are healed, though.

They say that every author has a partially completed, quite-possibly-terrible half a story shoved in a drawer somewhere.  What is yours?  What is it about?  What makes it terrible?  Would you ever consider picking it up and finishing it?

I don’t know if it’s terrible, but I just lost interest in it. It’s called ‘Spirit’s Call’ and it’s about a modern native woman who is grappling with her identity, including her interest in native spirituality. I actually used some of the same themes in my latest release WIND OVER MARSHDALE, so I’m not sure I want to write another story about this. If I ever feel fresh inspiration to finish it, I might, but right now I’ve got too many other things on the go that actually interest me.

It’s hard to keep that interest up to keep going. You definitely have to care about the story or your lack of caring will come through on the page. I think that would be worse than forcing the book just to get it done. So good for you for recognizing that.

How do you come up with your shtick?   By shtick I mean your voice. That thing that identifies the story as belonging to only you …something that says these are the type of stories that are your brand.

I think it’s what some people call ‘edgy Christian’ or ‘edgy inspirational’. My work definitely has a redemptive slant, and I write from a Christian worldview, but I don’t shy away from topics that some might consider taboo. I write what I think is relevant in today’s post-modern society.  As well, I certainly do not want my characters to come across as wishy-washy. You know the kind – Mr. or Miss Perfect.  I prefer what I call ‘authentic’ characters that make mistakes; that sometimes think lustful thoughts; that don’t always pray or do the right thing. This to me is much more believable. It’s honest. This isn’t always easy to pitch to typical Christian markets. I have found that there is a market for this type of writing, though, and it is growing.

And I love that the market for this kind of inspirational is growing. I think more people will give a Christian book a try if they can relate to it.

Now, what’s the most dangerous or risky thing that you’ve done?

You must be kidding. I have actually done way too many dangerous and risky things, but not by choice. I am naturally rather passive. I prefer sitting on the couch. Really. However, God in His sense of humour put me with a man who loves adventure – and unfortunately for me I often get dragged along. Let’s see … stranded on the tundra in a polar bear denning area for the night; chased by a stampeding herd of wild buffalo – on foot; caught in ten foot waves out of sight of land in sub-zero water in a tiny aluminum boat with no life jacket; canoe nearly tipped over by whales – again no life jacket… I always tease him that someday I’m going to write a book called ‘Life With Gerald’, and believe me, it might not be pretty! We’ve moved umpteen times in our married life, many of the places north of the 60th parallel in the far north. (Not some namby-pamby idea of ‘north’ – I’m talking the real deal, as in ARCTIC!) It has given me lots of fodder for writing and it has made me very resilient.

Yowza! You COULD write a book, even if it is a book filled with little research tidbits for us writers who are too afraid to “go there” for their books.

And speaking of writing a book … Tell us about your latest book!  

WIND OVER MARSHDALE is my fourth novel and the first that I’ve published with Astraea Press. My other three novels, AND THE BEAT GOES ON, MY MOTHER THE MAN-EATER, and PLAY IT AGAIN, were all published by Strategic Book Publishing. I enjoyed working with SBP, but my agent found a contract for this latest book with Astraea and I have had a very good experience with them so far. WIND OVER MARSHDALE is about a small prairie town that looks peaceful and quaint on the outside, but underneath there are all kind of issues, especially with racism, sexual promiscuity, and the occult. Thomas Lone Wolf is a Cree man on a mission to build a heritage site near the town based on some ancient archaeological evidence. He and his children aren’t prepared for the level of prejudice they begin to face. Rachel Bosworth is the new Kindergarten teacher, fresh from the big city and running away from a hurtful past. Con McKinley is a local farmer, who also happens to be single and good looking. A love triangle of sorts develops, with the two men unwitting participants. As well, eccentric twin sisters bombard the town; one with her legalistic religious views and the other as a practicing witch. The local pastor has little effect trying to keep his parishioners in line since he is involved in some unsavoury business of his own. The lives of these and many other unusual characters weave together into a surprising climax.  Beneath it all is a thread linking everyone’s problems to the spirit realm; an ancient curse from the past that must be dealt with once and for all.

Like I said, it just screams, “Read me!”

Tracy, tell our readers how they can find you after today?

Website: http://www.tracykrauss.com

Blog: http://www.tracykraussexpressionexpress.com

FB: http://tinyurl.com/Tracy-Krauss-Author-Fanpage

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/TracyKrausswrtr

Amazon: http://www.kraussamazon.com

Purchase links:

Publisher : Astraea press http://astraeapress.com/#ecwid:category=662245&mode=product&product=12328252

Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Wind-Over-Marshdale-ebook/dp/B008ARYQPA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1339803471&sr=8-1&keywords=wind+over+marshdale

Barnes and Noble – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wind-over-marshdale-tracy-krauss/1111512160?ean=2940014767682

Marshdale. Just a small farming community where nothing special happens.  A perfect place to start over… or get lost. There is definitely more to this prairie town than meets the eye. Once the meeting place of aboriginal tribes for miles around, some say the land itself was cursed because of the people’s sin. But its history goes farther back than even indigenous oral history can trace and there is still a direct descendant who has been handed the truth, like it or not. Exactly what ties does the land have to the medicine of the ancients? Is it cursed, or is it all superstition?

Wind Over Marshdale is the story of the struggles within a small prairie town when hidden evil and ancient medicine resurface. Caught in the crossfire, new teacher Rachel Bosworth finds herself in love with two men at once. First, there is Thomas Lone Wolf, a Cree man whose blood lines run back to the days of ancient medicine but who has chosen to live as a Christian and faces prejudice from every side as he tries to expose the truth. Then there is Con McKinley, local farmer who has to face some demons of his own. Add to the mix a wayward minister seeking anonymity in the obscurity of the town; eccentric twin sisters – one heavily involved in the occult and the other a fundamentalist zealot; and a host of other ‘characters’ whose lives weave together unexpectedly for the final climax. This suspenseful story is one of human frailty – prejudice, cowardice, jealousy, and greed – magnified by powerful spiritual forces that have remained hidden for centuries, only to be broken in triumph by grace.

Link to an excerpt: http://tracykrauss.yolasite.com/wind-over-marshdale-first-chapters.php

QUESTION: Readers, Tracy is here today to answer any of your questions and comments. So give her some love! And how were your burgers????

Lessons I Learned In The Woods by Becky Wade

Hello, Katy Lee here, along with the wonderful author of My Stubborn Heart. I was blessed to review a copy of this book a few weeks back, and when I finished I immediately invited the author to share the day with us. I’m so excited she said yes! But more than that, like any good storyteller, she came prepared with a story!

So, Becky Wade, take it away! 

Imagine a princess who set off on a journey toward a pink and glittering castle.  She’d fallen in love with the castle through her recurring dreams of it and so she worked for years to reach her destination, overcoming obstacles, honing her navigation skills. 

At last — finally, joyfully — she arrived!  She lived in the castle for a few years, enjoying its splendor.  But on one fateful afternoon, the owners of the castle came for her, politely escorted her across the moat, and raised the drawbridge against her.

Bitterly confused and disappointed at her banishment, the princess settled into a cottage in the village.  A benevolent town Elder gave her a miniature pony as a gift.  The Princess adored the pony, so she decided to pour all her heart and attention into the care and raising of miniature ponies.  She tucked away her dreams of castles.Years passed. 

The town Elder paid her another visit.  He showed the princess a beautiful drawing of a castle constructed entirely of flashing diamonds.  He spun enchanting stories about the place.

Her old hopes stirred.  She wanted, down deep within herself, to see the diamond castle.  But she knew firsthand how perilous and difficult the expedition would be and how disappointing the destination might prove.

The Elder reassured her. He promised to walk beside her and to help her across every mile of their joint quest.  All that He required of her?  To expend the effort the trip would demand.

So, taking her ponies and her frayed courage in hand, the princess set off into the woods behind the Elder in pursuit of a castle of diamonds.

 CAST:

Princess: Me.  (Don’t you love being a writer?  One can give oneself the role of Princess!)

Pink Castle: Publication of historical romance novels for the general market.

Elder: God.

Ponies: My kids.

Diamond Castle: Completion of a manuscript for the Christian market.

 

The above tale is, in a nutshell, how I found my niche in the world of books and publishing.  I first set out on my writing journey eighteen years ago and, as you can see, I took a circuitous route!  Here are a few of the lessons I learned in the woods….

  • The first time I chased the dream of publication I took a traveled road.  I studied the craft.  I joined writer’s organizations and local chapters.  I was desperate for someone to read my work, so I enlisted critique partners and entered contests.  I traveled to conferences.  I practiced hard by churning out one manuscript after another.  Lesson #1: The traveled road is one route to publication.
  • I never felt right about some of the content in my secular romance novels, yet I managed to rationalize my concerns away.  Well, God Himself eventually stepped in and closed that door firmly.  Lesson #2: If you don’t feel 100% right about some facet of your work and/or have to rationalize away concerns — you’re headed in the wrong direction.  Stop and reassess.
  • The second time I set out, this time with the goal of writing a novel for the Christian market, my instincts directed me to veer off the traveled road and to follow instead a narrow pathway. I wrote the book in a solitary way, just me and God.  No organizations, no critiques, no contests, no deadlines.  Lesson #3: Follow your instincts because God speaks to you through them.  Narrow pathways can also lead to publication.
  • Since I only had an audience of One to please, I wrote the book of my heart, the way that I loved it, and exactly as I wanted it to be.  I stumbled backwards into a modern setting, which turned out to offer a great backdrop for humor, which turned out to suit a quirky, casual, wry author’s voice I’d never known I possessed.  Even better, though?  The writing brought me such joy!  The most joy I’d ever encountered in a project.  Lesson #4: The real blessing isn’t in the destination of publication or happy readers or career success.  The real blessing is the satisfaction that’s found en route, in the doing of the work. So choose a trek that deeply delights you.

What have your instincts told you about your writing journey in the past?  Or what are they telling you now?  Have you made any wrong turns along the way?  Or have you reached a goal only to find you might have been slightly off-course the whole time?

 

And let me just add my two cents, Becky…I totally felt your joy in writing this story! It came through perfectly on every page. And readers, it’s got a hot hockey player in it…what’s not to like?!

My Stubborn Heart is available now from Bethany House Publishers and you can purchase it here through Amazon!

A Sensational CBA Debut in Contemporary Romance!  This summer author Becky Wade makes her CBA debut with a fun — and funny — contemporary romance.  Amidst the light-hearted banter and laugh-out-loud moments is a compelling spiritual journey of one woman’s choice to listen to God and wait on him.  Filled with humor and authentic romance, My Stubborn Heart is shaping up to be the hit of the summer.

Kate Donovan is burned out on work, worn down by her dating relationships, and in need of an adventure. When Kate’s grandmother asks Kate to accompany her to Redbud, Pennsylvania, to restore the grand old house she grew up in, Kate jumps at the chance.

Yet, she discovers a different kind of project upon meeting the man hired to renovate the house.  Matt Jarreau is attractive and clearly wounded — hiding from people, from God, and from his past.  Kate can’t help but set her stubborn heart on bringing him out of the dark and back into the light… whether he likes it or not.
 
Becky Wade makes her home in Dallas, Texas with her husband, three children, and one adoring (and adored) cavalier spaniel. Her diamond castle (an inspirational contemporary romance titled My Stubborn Heart has just been released by Bethany House.
 
Readers: We would love to hear your comments and questions, but first, I’m going to through the first question out there…Becky, what is next for you? Spill it!  

What is Middle Grade?

Hidey-Ho Scriblers – J Monkeys here.  How are ya?  I’ve been thinking about my Livingston-Wexford Series lately as I’m gearing up to start writing the 3rd book in the series.  It really is a Middle Grade series because it is at its heart a quest story, an adventure for the 14-year old main characters.  The series deals with some potentially dark issues (the main characters’ entire families seem to have been slaughtered by dark forces pretty much unknown) but that happens off-screen (at least so far).  The series doesn’t tackle gritty YA issues of sex, drugs and eating disorders.  But Middle Grade is so wide a genre, that I don’t want my books to get lost.

Consider this.  The following books are all in the Middle Grade genre:

  • The Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey
  • Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys
  • Charlotte’s Web by EB White
  • JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books
  • The 39 Clues series
  • Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series and the Kane Chronicles
  • CS Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  • The Enola Holmes series by Nancy Springer
a page from Captain Underpants

Here’s the problem. Captain Underpants is a great series for kids in grade 2-4. It’s very engaging and funny with wonderful pictures on every page.  It has a straightforward story with few if any subplots.  It’s a Middle Grade Book.

The 39 Clues series is for kids 8-12 years old.  That’s 2nd-6th graders.  It’s a fast paced adventure series where kids travel the globe on a quest to win their late grandmother’s estate.  All their relatives are trying to kill them.  It might be a little dark for an 8 year old, in my opinion, but hey, I’m not your kid’s parent.  It does have a lot of great history and geography in the series.  Each book is pretty straight forward, there aren’t a lot of subplots, but there is an arc that holds the series together.  It’s a Middle Grade series.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is intended for kids in grade’s 4 and up.   We all know that series get’s pretty dark, and the books get pretty thick.  The subplots are complicated enough to have spawned a zillion websites.  It’s also considered a Middle Grade book.

The Enola Holmes Mysteries are fun, quirky mysteries where Sherlock Holmes younger sister is solving crimes and avoiding capture by her brothers in Victorian England.  It’s also a Middle Grade series intended for kids in grades 4-6. 

Here’s a sample paragraph from page 43 of The Case of The Gypsy Good-bye:

“This modern metropolitan dungeon was not only chokingly dense and shadowy, but also dank and dripping.  The tunnel was even darker, and I had no lantern.  Still, that must be the way she had gone…confound my own daring, which might one day be the death of me.  As a child, I had always been the kind to cross a river not by walking on the bridge, but by balancing atop its balustrade.”

The whole series is written in lyrical, but somewhat complicated, language/grammatical structure.  And there were a number of words that I had to look up…pulchritude for example.  It means beauty or comeliness.

When you compare one end of the Middle Grade spectrum (Captain Underpants) with the other (Enola Holmes) it’s hard to imagine that they could be classified in the same genre.   Nancy Springer’s style of writing alone almost makes the series Adult Literary Fiction, in my opinion.  Don’t get me wrong – it’s a wonderful series.  I just can’t imagine that I would have understood much of it when I was eleven.

So what am I to do with my books?  I’ve been calling them a ‘Tween Adventure series with elements of the paranormal.  That’s quite a mouthful, I know.  But I want to appeal to twelve-year olds.  Do you remember being twelve?  I wouldn’t have been caught dead with a little kid’s book like Captain Underpants when I was twelve.   Today’s ‘tweens are even more status conscious than ever.  I guess I’ll stick with ‘Tween Adventure and hope it takes the world by storm.

Today’s secret: if you don’t like the genre your book fits into and you are Indie Published –  make up your own genre name.  If you are confident enough about it, hopefully people will assume you know what you are talking about and maybe it’ll catch on.

Today’s question: what’s your favorite genre?

Author, Leanna Ellis, Shares about Taking the Scary Step Out of Her Market

Happy Sunday, Katy Lee here. I am very excited to have Leanna Ellis visiting with us today to share her story on how Plain Fear: Forsaken came to be. As an Inspirational writer, there are pretty strict guidelines to follow when writing for this market. One of them being, absolutely no vampires. But Leanna had a story to tell, so what was she to do?

Leanna Ellis is here to participate in the Scribes Spooky Theme Week to talk about a scary step she had to make. After all, taking the risk to blurr your market guidelines can be pretty scary. So please, give Leanna a warm welcome!

Happy Halloween! Oops! Did I say something wrong? Did you know that little phrase can be fairly controversial? There are certain camps regarding Halloween.There are those who embrace the holiday with all the gore and such and drape their houses in cobwebs. Then you’ve got those who allow their kids to dress up and enjoy the candy but no gory or other-worldly costumes. Then there’s the group that shuns the holiday because of its roots in paganism. So I didn’t mean to offend anyone by saying ‘Happy Halloween,’ but I just meant it as a friendly greeting. Like Halloween, we each have to figure out what is right for us and what is right for our families. And this is true in writing too.

In light of all of that, it seems very appropriate to discuss my current release, Plain Fear: Forsaken, which is a bit like Halloween, somewhat controversial. Some people may love the idea. Others may withhold judgment until they’ve heard more about it or even read it. And others will shun it just because of the subject matter. Just last week, I received this great review where the reviewer said, “Plain Fear Forsaken is a book that screams to be opened. It offers a fresh portrayal of vampires and their complex world, while taking readers on a journey of love and heartbreaking loss. This haunting tale is wonderfully written, with such intensity that you will not put it down.” Obviously a really nice review. Within an hour, I received an email from a reader who called my book, “Evil.” Did they read the same book? Apparently. But like Halloween, it’s not for every reader and it was a risk to write it, much less publish it.

Amish and vampires? Really? Yes, really. I’m asked a lot how this book came into being. Forsaken actually began as a joke. I was at a book signing and another author and I made a joke about we should write an Amish/vampire story because those were the two genres that were selling incredibly well. It really was a joke. I didn’t rush home and start writing the book. But I suppose some seed was planted in my warped little brain and took root. Soon a character was speaking to me about her story and wanting me to write it. But I resisted. However, there was a very intriguing element that I couldn’t seem to ignore. To me, this was a Phantom of the Opera type story, with a love triangle, and a clear dividing line between good and evil. So just playing around with the story idea, I wrote the prologue and first chapter. Then I set it aside because I was busy meeting other deadlines. Besides what was I to do with an Amish/vampire story?

Really, where would an Amish/vampire story ever fit? I was writing in the CBA (Christian Booksellers Association) where Amish is very popular. Why couldn’t I write a traditional Amish book? Well, that’s just not how my brain works. I mentioned my story idea eventually to a couple of writer friends. They laughed but in a good way and encouraged me to write it. Well, I wasn’t so sure.

However, I was becoming obsessed with the story and very passionate when I spoke about it to anyone. I spent a lot of time in prayer over this book, because I didn’t want to write something that God didn’t want me to write. Also, I knew I’d have to leave the Christian market and sell it in the secular market. I wasn’t about to make that move without God’s clear direction. He began to show me in more ways than one that this was the book He wanted me to write.

More than a year passed, and I was at a writer’s conference minding my own business and not pursuing this story at all. An editor said the perfect submission would be…you guessed it! An Amish/vampire story. So I made an appointment to meet that editor and just talk about the idea. It almost felt like when an addict first admits she has a problem. I felt like I was teetering on the edge when I said, “I’m a writer and I’ve written an Amish/vampire story.” Well, she requested it.

Then I had to tell my agent about it. Thankfully, my agent loves the way my brain works. I caught her at the same conference and whispered to her that I’d had a request for a book I hadn’t even told her about. When I said, “Amish/vampire,” she laughed out loud in a joyful way. Gotta love an agent like that.

After she had read the prologue and first chapter, we had some serious discussions about ABA or CBA (secular or inspirational) and adult market or young adult. We both felt that in order to have a book about good versus evil, you have to be able to show evil and in the inspirational market I would be hindered in that way. I was once told that I couldn’t have a character say ‘pee.’ Really. Also, my agent and I decided that even though the heroine was young, the topics were adult. In YA novels, the characters are often in school and dealing with issues teenagers deal with. But in the Amish world, kids stop going to school at age 14. They’re making big decisions about their life much earlier than Englisch teenagers.

So began the submission process. Some editors got it, and some didn’t see how the two genres could ever be combined. Thankfully, Sourcebooks had a visionary editor, Peter Lynch who got it and gave Forsaken a chance. It’s honestly been great working with him, and I know God led me to this publisher.

What I love about this story is that it shows the battle of good and evil. Yep, I guess that reader did get part of the theme of the book. Evil doesn’t always appear with pitchfork and horns though. Quite often, evil is appealing and attractive and hooks us in before we realize what has happened. Such is the case with my heroine Hannah. She simply loved a boy. But she opens her heart and her mind too easily and the consequences could be devastating. Even though this story is published in the secular world, it has a powerful spiritual message, a message the world needs to hear.

In Plain Fear: Forsaken, Hannah Schmidt, a young Amish woman mourning the mysterious death of her beloved Jacob, must decide between two brothers, between good and evil. When she learns her first love is now the vampire Akiva, she must forsake him and cling to a new love, a lasting love, one that will save her soul.

To read an excerpt, click here. Bonus Alert: Plain Fear: Forsaken is available for the Kindle and the Nook for only $2.99! I believe it’s only for another week. Don’t miss out!

Winner of the National Readers Choice Award, Leanna Ellis writes women’s fiction. Known for her quirky characters and wacky plots, don’t let the quirkiness fool you as Ellis probes deep in the heart and plucks at the heartstrings. She lives deep in the heart ofTexas with her husband and children and an assortment of dogs and cats, including her crazy labradoodle, aka Hilo Monster, and her new kitten, Sawyer.

To keep in touch with Leanna, you can find her at:

www.leannaellis.com

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Leanna-Ellis/49487472434

Leanna, thank you so much for sharing how Plain Fear: Forsaken came to be. Stepping out of your market can really be a scary thing to do. It’s a risk we are glad you took.

Readers: Leanna is giving away a free copy of her book to one lucky commenter who posts before 10/30/11 -11:59PM (EST) Good Luck!