The Risk of Bucking Trends

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When I brows my local bookstore or page through the latest “new release” catalog and see pages and pages of Amish-set fiction, I often think, “Why can’t I write one of those stories?” Right now, “Bonnet fiction” as it’s often called, is one of the hottest-selling types of inspirational fiction. People can’t seem to get enough of stories that depict a simpler, quieter life.

But those aren’t the people and places that come to life in my heart and beg for their story to be told. My stories are less conventional; my characters are rougher around the edges, and my settings less gentle. I admire those who write Amish stories, or those who write Steampunk, or westerns or whatever other genre makes their eyes light up and sends them scurrying to the keyboard.

My stories are a little bit different, and that has caused me no end of frustration. I have had more than one editor say my writing was “ahead of the curve,” when it comes to Christian fiction. I’ve never been quite sure what to do with that statement.

My new book, Angel Falls, is one of those different books. When it releases in March, it will be TEN years from the time I first wrote it. It’s set in Brazil and my hero and heroine are not your usual story people.

When I first sold it in 2004, I was thrilled. But mere months before release, the publisher said I had to significantly change the story in order for them to publish it. My editor and I made big, sweeping, painful changes, but the publisher still wanted more.

So I had a hard choice to make: change the story so significantly that the heart and soul was ripped out of it in order to get it published, or say no. After much soul-searching, I said no. My agent spent the next year trying to find another publisher. Nobody wanted Angel Falls.

That hit me really hard and I didn’t write anything for a long time. I became a boat captain (which I love) but eventually, the stories called me back to the keyboard.

My next book was also unconventional—TRAPPED is about a gator-trapping heroine—and it released in 2009.

Angel Fall’s time has finally come and I am thrilled beyond measure at the wonderful endorsements I’ve received from best-selling authors who’ve taken time to read it.

I wish the process hadn’t taken quite so long, but I believe in the Great Creator’s perfect timing.

(Angel Falls is now available for pre-order at Amazon and B&N, if you’re interested.)

If your writing, or art, or music is unconventional, a bit off the mainstream, a little different, don’t be discouraged. Be true to the dream you’ve been given and follow it, even if the road is long and winding.

You’ll be glad you did.

Is your dream a bit different or unconventional? How are you dealing with that?

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    The Conversation

  1. Connie,
    I hear you! My debut novel is cross genre was worried I wouldn’t be able to find a publisher for it. I did find one, but still have people raise their eyebrows when the learn I’m a Christian because the story is not targeted towards believers . . . on purpose. The next two books in the trilogy are the same.

    Like you, I don’t mind making changes to a manuscript, sometimes brutal ones, but not at the expense of the heart of the story. Good for you for sticking to your guns.

    God’s perfect timing. . .

    • Connie Mann says:

      Thanks, Collette–and right back at you! Way to go on sticking to your guns.

      Many writers have had to make that same hard decision and have chosen differently than I have. Even with the wait, I’m glad I made the choice I did. Like you, I believe God’s timing is always perfect.

  2. Connie, congratulations that your book will finally be releasing soon!! I’m thrilled for you.

  3. I hear ya sister!!! Nobody wanted my Zombie Romance for 5 years…I got several comments about how it didn’t quite fit, but it was an intriguing idea and wished me luck. Carina Press looked at it a couple of times and asked for major changes…and after 5 years, I as so tempted. But it would have changed the journey of the story. Finally, TWRP picked it up and it will be out this year. We are still working on edits, but the nature of the story is intact. It’s worth the wait.

  4. I’m so glad you didn’t give up. Readers can clearly see when a book has been written from the heart and I’m sure your ‘Angel Falls’ is one of those.
    As for the trends: There are so many trendy books out now that I’d rather not read. I’m certainly not going to write them.

    • Connie Mann says:

      Thanks, Sandra. Angel Falls is definitely written from the heart. I so hope readers will fall in love with my hero and heroine, too.

      I’m with you on trends. There is nothing wrong with stretching and growing and trying something new, as long as we can get excited about it. But just writing to a trend? No thanks.

  5. Jannine Gallant says:

    I feel your pain. I have a historical set in an unconventional time. AND, not a duke or earl in sight! LOL Agents and editors have said they like my writing but the period won’t sell. Still hoping someone will take a risk and try something new! Your story gives me hope!

    • Connie Mann says:

      I’m so glad my story encouraged you, Jannine. Things do tend to cycle in this industry, so don’t give up. Your story’s time will probably come around again, too. In the meantime, keep writing and keep moving forward!

  6. Maddy says:

    How encouraging – ten years! That said, recently [I can’t remember where] I read a publishers ‘call for’ and they specifically said ‘no Amish.’ So maybe that trend is over in any case. I definitely agree that we should stick to the niche and be true.

    • Connie Mann says:

      Hi Maddy, I do think topics/settings/genres tend to cycle in this industry. Fortunate writers can adapt to the changes in the marketplace without losing their excitment for their stories! Sometimes you have to wait. And sometimes you try to adjust while being true to your story. 🙂

  7. Congratulations on finally seeing Angel Falls in print, Connie! Trends can be so frustrating. My stories are always a bit “different”, too. I always seem to be behind the curve, so I’ve just quite worrying about it.

    • Connie Mann says:

      Thanks so much, Alison. I’m very exciting about seeing Angel Falls in print! I’m so glad you’ve quit worrying about trends and are just writing your stories! Good for you…

  8. Hi Connie –
    I write, among other things, over-forty heroines. This seems to be an aversion for publishers. The book that won the most RWA chapter contests, and now, since it was published by a small press, it has finaled and finished in several reader choice contests, it still hasn’t reached the right audience.

    I have a second over-forty romance out now, too, and once people find out about it, they like the idea of more mature heroines. It’s finding the audience that drives me nuts.

    • Connie Mann says:

      I hear your frustration, Lynne. Finding the right audience can be really hard and really frustrating. I’m so glad you’re not giving up, though. There is room, imho, for all kinds of heroines, including over-forty!