You know, the more books I write, the clearer my brand becomes to me. It’s taken me a while to hit my stride and figure out what my sweet spot is. You might have noticed that earlier this year, I swapped out my lovey-dovey Cardinals for the the hot pepper mouth on my main page. That was because I figured out that my brand wasn’t sassy Southern romances (although I certainly do write those), but snark + heat. I do love me a dirty, mouthy heroine.
I had a lot of fun writing books like Sold As Is and the Natural Beauty series, but there’s a certain restrained quality about the stories that I can recognize now because I’ve got some distance from them.
Now, I don’t mean they’re clean. They’re not clean. There’s definitely sex, adult humor, and swearing. What I mean is that compared to my newer stuff, they’re downright staid. When I was writing those, I put a pretty big damper on my natural voice, because I didn’t know how far I could push the envelope. I didn’t know what the boundaries of mainstream were. I still don’t know where mainstream ends because it changes with each passing day, but I can happily write in that blur zone.
You’ll note there’s a huge difference been a story like On the Ropes (coming next year) and the first book in the Hearts and Minds series, Saint and Scholar. I don’t mean just the heat levels, though it’s true: Saint and Scholar is decidedly sensual. I think there’s a sex scene and a half, and my editor had to really drag it out of me because I was terrified of scandalizing someone!
Pffffft. What a difference two years makes in a series, huh?
I’m still trying to figure out what my hard limits are, but I know for certain I can’t write books for folks who like sweet and folks who like down-and-dirty at the same time. I gotta pick a team and stay on it…at least as far as this pen name goes.
I choose hotter, edgier, snarkier, because that’s ME in real life (well, the hot part…not so much on my yoga-pants-and-bathrobe days). So. I’m just gonna tidy up the back list a little bit.
Some of my freebie short stories may disappear soon. (I’ll archive anything that doesn’t tie into a series.) The Natural Beauty series will be available through the end of the year–the bundled collection at Amazon and as individual titles everywhere else–and in January I’m archiving it. Any sweet-to-sensual stories that I have with a publisher will stay with the publisher. I just won’t be adding any new stories to the worlds.
I gotta say it feels good to know the direction you’re being blown in.