Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Two sides of the same coin - writing twin genres

I'm always delighted when Author Misty Evans stops by. She has such fantastic insights. Today she's promoting her books Witches Anonymous and I'd Rather be in Paris. For those who would like to leave a comment, you'll be entered in a drawing to win one of her new releases. Please welcome Misty Evans.
I
'm the mother of twins. Twin sons and twin genres. My stories are my babies, just like my real kids, but neither my sons nor my genres resemble each other.

One of my sons is a brunette who plays guitar and loves baseball. He wants to be a veterinarian. The other is a blond who plays drums and loves skateboarding. He wants to be Albert Einstein. People who meet them for the first time don't believe they're twins. If I hadn't been there for the c-section that followed twenty-two hours of labor, I might not believe it either.

My stories are just as opposite. I write both CIA thrillers and paranormal comedy. Why? One lets me explore the darker side of life and the other lets me have fun with that side. Two sides of the same coin. Also, I'm a Gemini, so having a split personality is second nature to me. LOL.

I've had folks ask how I can switch gears from one to the other. For me, it's more like tuning in a different radio station. Some days I'm in the mood for U2 or Bruce Springsteen. Other days, Prince and Bon Jovi are more appealing. Luckily my voice accommodates both.

There are advantages to having fraternal twins. People don't mix them up or assume they have the same likes and dislikes. Each boy has an independent identity. They don't fight much because they rarely like the same thing. If one is struggling with his science homework, the other can help. If one wants to learn how to do a kick-flip, he has a teacher in the bedroom next to his.

The same applies to writing two distinct genres. WITCHES ANONYMOUS, my recently released paranormal comedy doesn't compete with the second book in my Super Agent series, I'D RATHER BE IN PARIS (out this week). Yet, the two genres reach different niche readers and draw more fans to my writing.

There's sort of a built-in bonus with writing multiple genres as well. Paranormals continue to be popular while suspense novels are relatively flat. But as we all know, publishing is cyclical. One day suspense may boom again and paranormals will go flat. Either way, I can sell stories.

Disadvantages with twins like mine arise, though. As toddlers, one boy hated timeouts and would become an angel the second I threatened him with one. The other loved to spend time by himself, even if it was on a chair in a bare corner. I had to be more creative with his discipline.

So, too, with my genres. Humor can lessen the impact of a dramatic moment if overdone. Tension can take over and turn a lighthearted conflict dark and suspenseful. Each genre is unique, and while both can incorporate humor, drama and love, sprinkling the right amount of those elements in the perfect spot is key.

For example, this scene in I'D RATHER BE IN PARIS showcases Lawson and Zara in a suspenseful car chase, but I added a touch of humor....

Lawson had two options. Evade the threat or eliminate it. "Get up here and drive."

"What?"


"Come on, you're a woman of action, right? You wanted to drive, so get up here and drive the damn car."

Zara's head rose from the backseat, her gaze catching his in the rearview mirror as she leaned forward. "Stop yelling at me."

Lawson reached back and grabbed her arm, hauling her into the passenger seat. She flailed and fumed and once she'd righted herself, he saw she'd exchanged the robe for her leather jacket and miniskirt. She
tugged the hem of the skirt down and sent him a scathing look. "What exactly--?"

"Take the wheel. We're going to exchange places, okay?"
"While the car's moving?"

Lawson flipped the steering wheel up as high as it would go. He set her hand on the wheel. "You're going to slide on top of me, got it? Like you're going to sit in my lap."

Her hand tightened and Lawson saw her shift into spy mode. A second later, she climbed across the gearshift and slid between his legs.

He released the wheel and extracted his body from around hers. "Keep the car on the road, but don't make it easy for them to shoot us again. When I give you the signal, I want you to pull the hand brake and crank the wheel to the left like you're doing a hard U-turn. You're going to turn the car counterclockwise and land on three o-clock. The car will be blocking the road and I'll be facing the motorcycle. Got it?"

She dropped her hand and repositioned the seat. "And what are you going to do?"
Lawson hauled the gun out of his waistband. "My Dirty Harry impersonation."

"Oh god." She gripped the steering wheel in a ten-and-two position. "We're going to die, aren't we?"

On the flip side of the coin in WITCHES ANONYMOUS, when Amy is telling her best friend Keisha about her Biblical-size troubles, I needed to show Amy's intense emotional state without losing the overall humorous tone of the story.

Pushing herself out of the chair, Keisha left my office, shaking her head and muttering under her breath. Five minutes later, she returned with two cappuccino milkshakes. She plunked one down in front of me and dropped back into her chair. "Okay, spill it. All of it."

Sitting back in my chair, I sipped the cold milkshake and told her about my visit to the Garden of Eden and Gabriel's missive. When I was done, she was staring, openmouthed, at my gremlin. "Your life is never dull."

"Tell me about it. I can't decide what's worse -- a demon-possessed sister with a slave hex hanging over my head or an angel of God dumping the future of good and evil in my lap."

"This is bad. Really bad." Keisha shook her head in a slow arc. "What are you going to do?"

Taking a long pull on my straw, I swallowed the cool, coffee-flavored ice cream and met her eyes. "It gets worse."

All the muscles in her face tightened in fear. "Worse?"

"Lucifer told me he loves me."

Her eyes lit up, her face muscles relaxed and she smiled. "I knew it. That man is fine, no matter what you say."

"He is not
fine. He's the Devil."

Chuckling under her breath, she stood and shuffled to the door. "Don't you just love a happily-ever-after ending?"

"Happily ever after?" I slammed my milkshake down on the desk. "Do you understand what I'm dealing with here? I could snap my fingers and you could die. I could wake up tomorrow and have to clean dog poo off my sister's shoes -- my shoes -- and tell her she's prettier than Gwyneth Paltrow. Come on! My life
sucks."

Keisha and her psychedelic hair shook with laughter in the doorway. "Love conquers all." She raised her milkshake cup to me and winked again before disappearing.

"That's it?" I yelled at her. "That's the best advice you've got? Love conquers all?" Growling in frustration, I kicked the side of the desk. "Just so you know, I'm hiding your romance novels!"

Do you want to write twin genres? Lots of authors do it successfully and you can too. Dial your internal radio station to something new that interests you. Read all you can in the genre and get a feel for the tone each story requires to make it work. Then give it a try. Maybe write a short story, like I did, to get your feet wet and see if you like it. While writing in distinct genres requires a bit of labor, you'll end up with two beautiful babies to love and nurture. And who knows? You may want to try for a third.

Misty Evans is an award-winning, multi-published author of CIA thrillers as well as paranormal comedy. Her recently released witch lit novella, WITCHES ANONYMOUS, is part of Samhain Publishing’s Tickle My Fantasy anthology. The next story in her Super Agent series, I’D RATHER BE IN PARIS, releases March 17th. She is currently flipping the coin to juggle her twins as well as writing the third Super Agent book and sequel to WITCHES ANONYMOUS.

42 comments:

KL Grady said...

Yay, Misty! As always, we love having you here.

My question for you is whether you ever feel the urge to go for triplets? ;) Seriously, how do you manage time commitments to your fave genres? Is it organic and which ever way your creativity tugs, or do you specify certain days/times for one or the other type of manuscript?

Debbie Kaufman said...

I can completely understand the pull into twin genres. I love switching gears and adding variety. Right now I'm only working on one project, but have plans for others that are completely different. I guess that will be an author branding problem :)

Terry Odell said...

As the mother of fraternal twin daughters I understand. They're definitely two different people, even though they're sisters. Sure makes you rethink that 'nature-nurture' thing so prevalent back in my youth.

I write romantic suspense and contemporary - but would love to try a straight mystery. But definitely not going to try for triplets -- besides, my twins have an older brother.

Donnell said...

Hi, Misty! Thanks for joining us here today. Your discipline is amazing. I figured it out. Dealing with twins was perfect preparation for your writing. You had to learn to flip your muse switch at the drop of a button. Question: So do you write on the same story on the same day? Or do you work, say on one story for three days on, the next for three days off, I'm curious about your system.

Beth Caudill said...

I love reading multiple genres, but I'm still trying to find myself in writing one genre. Maybe in the future.

At least you will never be bored with everything you have going on.

Misty Evans said...

Hi KL! Love being here. It feels like home away from home. :)

Time...I'd love to bend it. I'm one of those folks who over commits, freaks out, and then drops everything and starts over. Can't quite do that with the boys or the stories, but I have learned over the past few years to be very protective of my time in other areas. The family and the writing come first.

As far as dividing my writing time between the two genres...the CIA thrillers take way more actual time to reasearch and to write, so they are my first commitment. Usually, I need a break from all the drama about two-thirds of the way through so I can recharge my mental batteries for the climax. That's a great point for me to write some comedy and play around with ideas for new stories.

However, any time a good idea hits for either genre, I write it down or type it up. Getting the bones of a scene or a plot or even just a funny line of dialogue is like planting the seeds of each story. Then when it comes time to write it, I have lots of fodder.

There are definitely days when I can't write humor, so I stick with drama. The reverse is also true. That's one of the advantages to writing two different genres!

Misty Evans said...

Debbie, you sound like my kind of writer. I love variety too. I've dabbled in mysteries, contemp romance, and dark paranormals. Next I want to try urban fantasy.

Authors in general are more diverse with their branding these days. Lots jump genres. I can't imagine only writing one genre and then branding myself within that box. I mean, that's like saying I can only ever be vanilla when I maybe I want to try rocky road, and bubblegum, you know?

Find the genre your voice REALLY shines in and once you get that nailed, branch out and try new things. Writing is a smorgasbord. Enjoy it.

Liz L. said...

I loved your excerpts, Misty. I am currently working on a fiction and a nonfiction project and finding it hard to switch gears. So my appreciation for your success with it is intensified.

I also love that your twins are so totally different.

Thanks for sharing this with us.

Misty Evans said...

Hi Terry! I didn't realize you had twins too. Cool!

I'm with you on the nature-nurture arguments. How can two boys born one minute apart be SO different. Not just physical characteristics, but personality, learning abilities, everything?? Crazy but incredibly fun to watch as they grow and change. I sincerely hope this means they'll never like the same girl at the same time! LOL.

A straight mystery sounds fun and with your suspense writing experience, the elements would come naturally to you. I hope you try it!

Misty Evans said...

Donnell, thank you for having me today! I always love visiting the Five Scribes.

Yes, having twins taught me to write scenes in my head before I sat down at the computer. That way I could make the most of my time when the boys were napping. I still do that, even now that they're older and in school.

I try to stick with a daily writing schedule and which story I work on has a lot to do with what kind of deadline I'm on. The paranormal comedy is easier to write in the evenings or on weekends when I don't need blocks of time to research or brainstorm with my favorite FS writer. *wink* So school days, I typically work on the thrillers. Unless I'm blogging!

Misty Evans said...

Beth, I love to read multple genres too. Figuring out your favorite genre is the key to deciding which genre is a good fit for your writing. Experiment a little and see which genre or genres you enjoy the most and why.

Even when I wrote a contempory romantic mystery two years ago, I realized the story really kicked in when I got to the suspensful, drama-filled climax. It was fun to write that story, but it reinforced that suspense and thrillers are where my voice comes through best.

Misty Evans said...

Liz, switching between fiction and nonfiction is tough. For ten years before I wrote my first full length fiction novel, I was in the business world doing interviews, writing press releases and editing newsletters. A different part of your brain gets a work out with fiction.

The easiest way for me to switch between the two is to grab a great fiction novel and dive in. Reading fiction for even ten mintues triggers the creative side of my brain and puts me in the right frame of mind to write.

Liz L. said...

Great advice. I'll give it a shot.

Thanks again.

Ellen said...

Hey Misty!
Wonderful post :) And many congratulations on the release of I'd Rather Be in Paris! Now that you mention it, I'm sort of a mom of twins myself---women's fiction and contemporary romance. But I'm pretty sure I don't balance the lot as well as you do :)
Congrats again!!

Misty Evans said...

Hi Ellen! Balance is not in my vocabulary. LOL. And I know for a fact that you are just as creaive as I am at keeping many balls in the air. :)

Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment! I look forward to reading more of your fiction, either genre!!

LuAnn said...

I would imagine writing two different styles allows you to pick which style you feel like writing each day, depending on your mood!

Edie said...

Hi Misty! I just read KL's comments about triplets and cracked up. I write women's fiction and paranormal. My voice is the same in both, but my writing in paranormal is tighter and my women's fiction is chattier and in some spots, more lyrical. I enjoy them both.

Misty Evans said...

LuAnn, you're exactly right. I have to keep both of my personalities happy!

Mood always effects my writing, so having two different genres gives me freedom to express myself in many ways.

Misty Evans said...

Edie, KL cracked me up too. I would take on a third genre before I'd go for physical triplets. Yikes. When I had my first ultrasound, the tech scared the heck out of me, first by telling me there were two babies, then by searching for more!

I love your paranormal stories, btw. I hope I get to read more of them!

Carolyn Matkowsky said...

Great blog, Misty. You've given me inspiration for my own writing. Your stories both sound wonderful. Good luck.

Carolyn Matkowsky/Cara Marsi

Misty Evans said...

Carolyn, thanks for posting a comment! It's nice to be an inspiration once in awhile instead of a mother/nag. :)

Keep writing! I enjoy your contemporary romance voice very much!

Cathy M said...

Hi Misty great blog post, it was so nice to get to know you. I too am the mother of twin's, though mine are identical and are actually St. Paddy's Day babies, to boot.

I haven't read your stories yet, but your excerpts have me wanting to remendy that, so funny. I have quite a few authors that I enjoy reading that give me wonderful stories in more than one genre. When I fall in love with an author's voice, I tend to follow them through out all their adventures.

Nancy said...

Hello, darling Misty! (And darling Donnell!!)

I agree that it's fun to write in different genres, tho I'm pubbed in only one so far. I find, too, that if I get stuck on one project and work on the other, it kick starts me for the one I put aside.

My genres aren't as different as yours - paranormal mystery romance, and cozy mystery. Tho when I throw my fledging screen writing in the mix, I guess that's triplets. :)

Thanks for another excellent blog, Five Scribers!

Light,
Nancy
www.nancyhaddock.com

Channon said...

Hi Misty, WOW!! I do not know if I could handle twins. I had one at a time and still had problems. LOL I came over here from the Cafe. And Witches Anonyous sounds like fun. I really like anything paranormal. But my family still think I am never normal. HEE HEE.

Misty Evans said...

Cathy, I do the same with favorite authors. Any genre they try, I will read. If I don't like it, well, nothing lost. I can return to one of their other genres. But if I DO like it, I've just opened up another avenue of reading adventures.

St. Paddy's Day twins? How cool!

Helen Hardt said...

Misty, nice to meet you. Your books sound wonderful. I write in several genres myself, though they're all sub-genres of romance. I have two boys, too, though mine came three years apart, thank goodness! You moms of twins amaze me. I enjoyed your post!

Helen

Misty Evans said...

Nancy, your paranormals are fabulous! I can't wait to read Last Vampire Standing.

Jumping from one genre to another is a great way to jumpstart creativity. If you get stuck with one story, spend time with a different one. Great idea!

Good luck with your cozies and the screenwriting!

Misty Evans said...

Thanks, Helen. I don't know about the other twin moms here today, but for me the first year was...um...difficult. I came from the business world, was a Type A personality, and had read every book under the sun on motherhood and twins. All that went right out the window! Which left me a bit overwhelmed. Two babies and no sleep. Bad combination.

After the first year, things got much easier. Phew!

Romance sub-genres can still be very different in execution. Good luck with yours!

Misty Evans said...

Hey, Channon! Are you recovered from yesterday's St. Pat's party at the Cafe? That was fun.

Having twins can be just as incredible as it is challenging. My kids are pretty cool and I'm glad they're two very different boys.

Thanks for stopping by.

J K Maze said...

I love both, wouldn't be able to buy one and leave the other. That car scene is delicious. And the scene referring to Lucifer is intriguing. I'm drawn to stories about twins, maybe because I was one.

Joan

Misty Evans said...

JK, glad you enjoyed the excerpts. I hope other readers will love both my genres as well.

Twins are fascinating. There are few stories out their for young twin boys. Wish someone would write some! Hardy Boy type stuff would be great, if anyone's listening!

Donnell said...

http://samhainpublishing.com/excerpt/i-d-rather-be-in-paris

By the way I'm disqualified from either entries because I own both books LOL. However, just had to say I read an excerpt listed on Samhain's website for Misty's new release. I read this version when it was a gleam in her eye, and it's so much deeper now. Well done, Misty. I'm popping off for the rest of the day, gang. Wanted to thank Misty for her thought-provoking article, for doing her give aways and for great entertainment. We'll let the winners know tomorrow! Happy reading and writing!

jwhit said...

Thanks for this motivating post, Misty. I hope it's not too late for questions [I'm on the other side of the planet, so don't always get in on the game at the same time as other readers on here.]

1. Are you writing under your own name in both genres? And what was your thinking around that decision?

2. Do you have an agent for both genres. one for each, or an agent at all? What is their view on your branding choice?

3. I don't know how long you've been published, but assuming it's longer than these two books, have you received any feedback from readers on this choice to write in multiple genres?

Sorry if that is too much to go into. I don't have any pubs yet, but am thinking ahead, having written YA mystery, adult mystery, and developing a scifi project.

Thanks for any insight!!!

Chiron said...

I love both excerpts!

Misty, I really relate these days, as I'm preparing my light, romantic women's fiction for release and simultaneously writing a psychic suspense. Both genres appeal to me for different reasons. The real key is I truly love both genres and both 'voices'.

Thanks for sharing your own story!

Smiles,
Chiron O'Keefe
www.chironokeefe.blogspot.com

Misty Evans said...

Hi JWhit. Yes, I use my pen name Misty Evans for both genres. I considered taking a different name for my paranormals, but developing a whole other presense with a second pen name didn't appeal to me.

Many authors write under more than one name and make it work for them. I think it's all in your mindset. In my case, I didn't want to separate my writing images. It's a lot of work and I find it challenging enoug just to handle this one. LOL.

If you're looking for an agent and you have plans to become published in multiple genres, be sure you discuss this up front. You want an agent who will be as versatile as you are and able to support your career, whether you stay with one main genre or branch out into mulitple genres. I had one agent when I sold the first book in my Super Agent series (Operation Sheba). Witches Anonymous won a spot in Samhain's Tickle My Fantasy anthology through a contest I entered. And I submitted Paris on my own.

My editors were really key as far as believing in my stories. They don't worry about the diversity, only that I tell good stories. Their belief, which I share, is that readers will follow you as long as you produce emotionally satisfying stories.

My readers are my lifeblood! Ninety-nine percent of them read many genres, so my books give them a nice selection to pick from. There will be a third book in the thriller series and a sequel to WA coming up soon.

Good luck with your writing. YA is hot and I know my publisher is actively looking for space operas if your scifi happens to fit that genre...

Misty Evans said...

Hi Chiron, sweetie! So glad you had time to stop by. You hit it on the head...both of your genres appeal to you for different reasons. Mine too. I think many of us have more than one version of our voice and it's fantastic when we can let both out to play. Some days we like to sing Streisand and some days we prefer The Beatles, right?

I love Sidekicks and can't wait to get my copy when it's released!!

fcammer2 said...

Hi, Misty! I came over from the Samhain Cafe to visit you. Both of your books sound wonderful. I can't imagine having twins. I sweated it out both pregnancies though because twins and triplets are on both sides of mine and hubby's families. My paternal grandma was a twin. My dad has twin brothers. He also has a sister that was the only surviving child of triplets. On hubby's side, my father in law had an identical twin brother and my hubby has twin sisters. So the odds were definitely there. I tell both my daughters when you decide to have a family you might get it all at once. LOL!

Misty Evans said...

Hi Sherry! Glad you could make it. Sounds like you dodged the twin bullet. Twins run on my mother's side, but until I had mine, there were not any twins for over twenty years. After mine were born, a cousin got pregnant with twins too. They say twins sometimes skip a generation. In our case, it seems true.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Misty, I enjoyed your excerpts. You know, as a Gemini on the cusp of Cancer, I can sure relate about twins. I think there are two or three people roaming around inside me! You've done a wonderful job making your "separate" selves toe the line.

Joanna Campbell Slan
www.joannaslan.com

Misty Evans said...

Joanna...another Gemini! Yay! I absolutely understand the two or three people inside me routine. To add to the Gemini state of things at my house-both my sons are Gemini, as is my mother. There are a lot of personalities running and clashing here.

Donnell said...

Congratulations!!!! To Helen and Sherry: Misty drew your names and will give you either your choice of Witches Anonymous or I'd Rather be in Paris.

I will contact you privately. Thank you, Ms. Misty Evans for your twin conspiracy theories. I for one thing you're on to something!

Cynde L. Hammond said...

Hi, Misty!

Whenever I see the words twin or triplet anywhere, my ears perk up. Our Family Tree is loaded with multiples on both sides, and oftentimes, they don't bother to skip generations.

So as not to bore you to tears, I'll just tell you that in our little family unit, my sister Sande and I are twins (originally triplets, but our sister, Cande died shortly after birth) and we also have a set of older twin step-sisters (all from my father). While growing up, you would not have known we had different mothers, even though my mother is MUCH MORE beautiful than the other woman...much! (In fact, she STILL is, at age 85!)

Sande and I could have been described as the typical twins that were exactly alike in every way. We dressed alike, got along well, were inseparable, and even had our own little "twin" language. We were so alike that when we had x-rays taken of our teeth for getting braces, the slides were mixed up and they discovered that even the SHADOWS were identical, so they ALL had to be redone! Even so, we were referred to as "mirror twins," for reasons I will share with you, IF I win your contest. If not, the world will be in suspense. (Just kidding! It's a long story, that's all...)

The other set of twins (my sisters), on the other hand, were called "identical," but were no more identical than most fraternals of today are. They looked very much alike, but not as much as Sande and I did. They didn't like the same things, nor did they have the same hobbies, but they DID marry brothers!

By the same token, my first husband was a twin and his twin wanted to marry my twin, but she said "no way!" Good thing, because I am no longer married to him.

I plan on writing a book about all of our twin escapades--of which there are many. We have had that twin connection all of our lives, where I feel her pain and we know what each other is thinking. I have even had her morning sickness and labor pains for her!

I don't think that this was quite what you were looking for, but I wanted share these things with you.

I enjoy your excerpts so much! Also, in answer to your question:
"Do you want to write twin genres?" My answer is a resounding, "Yes!"

In fact, right now, I'm working on my first novel, a crime-mystery type story for Young Adults. At the same time, I' ve been working on a short-story that's a surprise. I don't want to jinx it by saying what it is, but I'm having so much fun, that I'm contemplating switching over for good!

I hope I haven't talked your ear off completely! Continued success with your twins and your writing.

Sincerely,
Cynde Hammond

http://cyndes-got-the-write-stuff.blogspot.com/